1. A gentleman never tells about conquests, private matters, or dealings. His business is nobody else's.
“Lesson number one,” Harry says. “Manners matter.”
Eggsy nods, not really paying attention. He’s sitting with his legs propped up on the table in front of him, playing with a lighter that he hopes really is just a lighter and not a hand grenade in disguise; to say Harry would be displeased if Eggsy tried to have a smoke and ended up blowing the shit out of the training room they’re in is understating things, though Eggsy could probably use the excitement. And the fag, too. Preferably both at the same time, see if that’ll be enough to chase the boredom from his bones.
“A gentleman is only as good as his manners,” Harry continues as he drifts across the room. He has his hands clasped behind his back and his head inclined, just a little, his eyes turned away such that Eggsy can throw small, split-second glances at his bum without him noticing, nice. “Strip away the sophistication and finery from a gentleman, and you’ll find that manners are what’s left. Kingsmen are first and foremost gentlemen, and courtesy is what defines us.”
Eggsy flicks at the spark wheel, and yup, that’s a lighter alright. Big fat lot of help that is — he’s still stuck in etiquette class with Harry, who’s a great guy and a killer mentor, not to mention fit as fuck, but even he can only make decorum so interesting, especially after Eggsy’s spent the whole morning learning thirteen different ways to kill a man with his bare hands in under twenty seconds. Point being, it’s not Harry’s fault for having drawn the short straw on this, and also Merlin’s going to pop a gasket if Eggsy doesn’t clear his Advanced Gentilities module by the end of the week, so he’s doing this, okay, even though it’s so boring he thinks he might literally die.
He doesn’t spend a lot of time with Harry these days. Certainly not as much as he’d like to, they’ve been too busy. Ever since everything went to hell and back almost a year ago things have been going tits up all over the radar; everyone’s jumpy about the world almost ending again, it appears. Wants to have a go at it themselves before someone else beats them to the punch. Eggsy can understand the feeling. Maybe he should update his bucket list, get down to putting things on it like 1. See if Harry really is as fit under that suit as Eggsy thinks he is, and 2. Find out the kinds of noises Harry makes in bed when Eggsy’s screwing his brains out.
More and more things on his bucket list have to do with Harry and his incredibly trim body, nowadays.
Harry turns on his heel, and Eggsy swiftly lifts his gaze from Harry’s arse to his face. “It will come as no surprise to you that the simplest of gestures are often the most important ones. Greeting someone good-day, for instance. Offering assistance when possible. Please and thank-you. Little things such as that can take you further than you’d believe.”
“Kay,” Eggsy says, and Harry sighs.
“Am I boring you, Eggsy?”
Eggsy shrugs. God, he could really use that smoke right about now. “It’s all basic stuff, innit?” he says, because it’s true; as far as he’s concerned, the Advanced Gentilities module is nothing more than a public school behaviour lesson repackaged with a shiny label, not that the Kingsman core training department will ever admit to it. “I think I’ve got most of it covered already.”
“Your feet point to the contrary,” Harry remarks, and Eggsy puts his legs down with a pout. “If you truly are proficient, I don’t suppose you’d be able to tell me the exact manner profile you would assume if you were impersonating, say, an English delegate at a Chinese dinner party?”
Eggsy thinks about it for a while, then says, musingly and with full seriousness, “Hungry, I guess. For egg rolls? Also lo mein, if they’ve got it.”
He can see Harry trying very, very hard not to smile in the way he groans like Eggsy’s answer is giving him a hernia. “Incorrect,” Harry says, rubbing the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Perhaps we should leave dining room etiquette for now. What else have you been learning, so far?”
“I dunno.” Eggsy twists his mouth, thinking back over postures and handshakes and differently-sized forks that are only supposed to be used with starters or salads for reasons he still can’t quite wrap his head around. “A bunch of different stuff. Something about giving presents.”
“Have you been signed off on your PUA training?”
Eggsy smiles grimly at that. “Bit of a runaway train, that one,” he replies.
This time, Harry doesn’t even try to conceal his smile. He folds his arms and cants his head to one side. “Then let’s see how much you’ve learnt. Assuming that I’m an objective, show me how you would initiate and maintain a conversation.”
Standing up, Eggsy runs a hand over his hair and saunters around Harry’s desk, a roll in his step. Eyes meeting Harry’s once on the fly, as if by accident, and then returning with sparked interest and the corner of his mouth curled up as he approaches, swirling an imaginary martini glass in his hand. He looks to the carpet to break eye contact for a second, and when he looks up again his gaze travels the entire length of Harry’s body from toe to eye level in one deliberate slide.
Once he’s standing less than a metre from him, Eggsy nods, just the barest dip of his chin, before he flashes his best, sauciest smile at Harry, who raises an eyebrow but doesn’t say anything. Then, with another nod, Eggsy leans forward slowly so he can just about whisper in Harry’s ear and still be heard loud and clear.
“Nice arse,” he purrs. “Wanna fuck?”
It’s worth it, oh, it’s so fucking worth the look on Harry’s face and the second hernia-groan he produces, which is fathoms deeper and more pained than the first but still similarly tempered with reluctant amusement. Eggsy lives for that groan. He wonders if it’s the same groan he’d hear if he tongued Harry’s cock the way he imagines he likes, just under the head with his hands holding Harry steady, if Harry would groan like that with two fingers buried in his arse and another two pushed down his throat as Eggsy fucked him, slow.
Yes, Eggsy’s aware that he thinks about that groan far too much for his own good.
“I don’t want to have to fail you, Eggsy,” Harry warns, though his eyes clearly do not mean it.
“What? That’s what usually works,” Eggsy argues, throwing his hands in the air. “I’ve scored loads with that, I’ll have you know.”
Harry seems to consider him for a moment, then rubs his chin and sighs. “Granted,” he says. “Unconventional but effective, maybe, but for now we have a syllabus to keep. And it would do you good to remember that modesty is every bit as important as manners. Gentlemen do not boast.”
Eggsy blinks in confusion. “But I wasn’t boasting.”
Harry clears his throat. “I’ve scored loads with that,” he repeats, like he’s reading a newspaper headline out loud. “Sounds a lot like a boast, wouldn’t you agree?”
“It’s… not?” He looks at Harry with his head cocked, trying to grok his meaning. “I mean, it’s just a fact, that’s all.”
“Boasts are very often facts at their core,” Harry reminds him. “Whether or not you choose to make reference to them is entirely up to you.”
“Okay, okay,” Eggsy groans as he waves a hand and makes his way back to his chair. “I take it back, I’m sorry, I haven’t slept with anyone and a saint would have more game than I ever will. Happy?”
By right, this should earn him a well-deserved scolding, or fifty lines of Virgil, or whatever it is that kids get as punishments when they talk back in finishing school. Except Harry just smiles at him, says amiably as he removes his glasses to clean them, “You know, one might consider what you’ve said a boast, too.”
Eggsy huffs and rolls his eyes, but he can’t keep himself from smiling as well.
2. A gentleman doesn't clash in public with enemies or exes, or worse, with out-of-fashion contrasts, colours or styles.
Eggsy enjoys field training the most. No matter how much of a letdown any of his modules are, that usually changes the moment he’s out there with nothing more than a suit and gun, fending for himself and doing the things that have Harry saying to him at the end of every debrief, you did very well, as always. Sure, Eggsy likes it when it’s Merlin who’s singing his praises too, or anyone else for that matter, but there’s just something about the tone of voice Harry uses when he’s complimenting Eggsy’s weapon scores that makes him feel taller, shining bright as the morning sun and just as warm.
And if Harry tends to make any other part of Eggsy taller on a regular basis too by the mere act of smiling at him, then, well. That’s another thing altogether.
Today, they are in Trafalgar Square. It’s early in the afternoon, and too hot, and Kingsman-issue Bespoke suits may be bulletproof but they’re not the most breathable things to be wearing in thirty-degree summers. Eggsy tries to concentrate on Harry’s instructions, he really does, but his shirt is sticking uncomfortably to his back and his suit jacket feels twice as heavy as it usually does; why they can’t do this inside the National Gallery, which is right next to them and fitted all over with air-conditioning, he has no idea.
“There.” Harry indicates the person in question, a tall man with a brown suit and briefcase, and looks at his watch. “That one. You have thirty seconds starting… now.”
Eggsy shakes his head to clear it, straightens his back and sets off at a casual walk towards the man, with whom he bumps shoulders when they’re close enough. The man drops his briefcase and it bursts open, scattering documents all over the pavement in sheaves.
“Oh, beg your pardon,” Eggsy exclaims, stooping down to gather up the sheets of paper before anyone can step on them. At the same time, he takes in the stain on the man’s tie, the tan of his wrists, how he hesitates to take a step with his right foot and stands with most of his body weight on his left. “That was careless of me, I do apologise, sir.”
“S’alright,” the man says, though a hint of a scowl suggests otherwise.
Eggsy clips the briefcase shut again and hands it back. “If there’s anything I can do for you, sir, anything at all —”
“I said it’s alright,” the man snaps and tramps away.
“Wanker,” Eggsy mutters, before returning to Harry.
“Present your findings,” Harry says when he’s back.
Eggsy crosses his arms. “University lecturer, divorced, keeps a small dog. Possibly a Pomeranian,” he recites, going for the obvious ones first. “Vegetarian, though only started recently, plays tennis, but hasn’t for a year at least. He’s not seeing anyone at the moment but is thinking about it; the custody battle is going to put that on hold for a while, probably.”
“And time.” Harry presses a thumb against his phone and a checklist with several boxes ticked off scrolls down Eggsy’s glasses. “Seven out of eight, that’s rather decent.”
“High blood cholesterol?” Eggsy reads, incredulous. “How was I supposed to get that?”
“Anyone with that drastic a diet and lifestyle change this late in the year isn’t doing it for fun. Also, more glaringly, you missed the prescription refill in his briefcase.” A snapshot opens up as Harry says it, the writing on it scrawled and only just about legible.
“Simba — sinvasto — simvi — fuck it.” With a groan, Eggsy clears the picture from his glasses. “That wasn’t fair. I get to pick the next one, yeah?”
“Yes, you do. Choose wisely.”
“And then we can go?”
“If you do well. Big if.”
“Fine.” Eggsy scans the crowd, looking out for a dead giveaway. Maybe the accountant having lunch on the steps, or the art curator trying to pick up the American tourist by the fountain, or the guy walking towards them with short blond hair and a Clippers windbreaker and a face Eggsy thinks he might have seen somewhere before —
Oh fuck, he realises, and tries to avert his gaze, but it’s already too late.
Eggsy forces a grin before he turns around. “Rob,” he answers, and lets himself be pulled into the shoulder bump. “Heya. How’ve you been?”
“Not bad, not bad.” Rob whistles as he looks Eggsy over from top to bottom to top. “Fuckin’ hell, it’s been ages, how’re you? And what are you — oh, top class, Gary, mate. Those are some killer threads you got there. You never said anything about working for no bank!”
“I don’t,” Eggsy says quickly. “It’s, uh. I’m interning somewhere.”
“Nice, nice. This guy your boss?”
“Huh?” Eggsy takes too long to figure out Rob’s looking at Harry, who has gone eerily silent and whom Eggsy wouldn’t put past to start firing off knockout darts at any given moment. “Oh! Um, no. No. This is my, uh. My uncle, yeah.” He thinks Harry stiffens next to him, but is too preoccupied with defusing a potential breach of security to check. “Came down from Glasgow the other day, so I’m just, you know. Showing him around London.”
“Pleasure to meet you,” Harry says, and he may as well be Merlin for the way his words suddenly grate together. With difficulty, Eggsy stamps on a rising smile.
“Gary, you never told me you had Scot in you,” Rob says. “Never would’ve guessed I’d been shaggin’ a bloody Scot all along!”
Eggsy can tell that Harry most definitely goes tense at this, even without looking. Right, not good, then.
“Listen, Rob, mate,” he says, and makes sure it doesn’t sound like he’s pleading, “My lunch break’s only an hour, and I promised Uncle Greg I’d show him some paintings, so —”
“Yeah, alright Gary. I get it.” Rob punches his shoulder genially and grins. “It’s just, wow. It’s great to see you again.”
“And you,” Eggsy says, tugging Harry away by the arm.
“Who was that?” Harry asks once they’re inside the National Gallery.
Eggsy grabs a leaflet from the front desk and thrusts it into Harry’s hands. “A friend,” he replies, stuffing his hands down his pockets.
Harry looks at the leaflet, doing nothing for too long a while before he begins to flip through it with the air of a tailor picking at unsatisfactory seams. “Do you regularly engage in congress with your friends?”
Eggsy’s face heats. “Yeah, sometimes.”
There is no way on earth that the leaflet is sufficiently riveting to explain how Harry’s eyes are boring into it. “He called you Gary,” he says on a new tangent, placid enough about it for Eggsy’s hackles to rise even higher. “Why?”
With a shrug and a snort, Eggsy says, “S’my name, innit?”
“Not even your own mother calls you that,” Harry points out.
“So? What’s your point?” Eggsy retorts, and it emerges surlier than he intends, but come on, what the fuck? So he wanted to be Gary for a bit at some point in his life, just for the hell of it, and found that it never quite stuck. And even if that weren’t the case, there’s absolutely no reason for Harry to be busting his balls about some guy Eggsy used to muck around with, none at all.
“Do only people who sleep with you get to call you Gary?”
“Piss off, Harry.”
Harry turns the last page of the leaflet over and slides it into his jacket. Then, he checks his watch and looks pointedly at Eggsy, hooking his umbrella on his arm. “Well?”
Eggsy frowns. “Well what?”
“The paintings,” Harry says coolly, with a small smirk. “We have fifteen minutes left on your, hm, what was it again, lunch break. Weren’t you going to show me a few, Gary, my good lad?”
Oh, the bastard. The unbelievable bastard, Eggsy thinks, but with all his experience of low blows he figures that one deed of bastardry deserves another. Two can play at this game, so without even faltering he smiles as if to split his face open with it and beckons Harry to the gallery adjacent to them, relishing the startled look on Harry’s face before saying, “Sure thing. Right this way, Uncle Greg,” and it turns into the only thing that can be what Eggsy knows he’s thinking but will never actually say, you little fuck.
Yeah, Eggsy loves field training.
3. A gentleman is always happy to serve, whether it's opening the door, picking up the bill, or merely calling a cab the next morning. Ask him for help and he cannot refuse.
There’s an attack on Kingsman headquarters, one morning.
Nobody sees it coming — nearly a hundred years and they’ve scarcely been found out, let alone hit so close to home, Eggsy will be told afterwards. It happens like this: Eleven o’ clock and Eggsy’s being measured for a tux in one of the fitting rooms, when suddenly he hears the front door being kicked in and glass breaking under a combination of gunfire and loud voices. A blaring alarm goes off as he throws his suit back on and picks up his umbrella and bolts into reception, where he’s greeted by six men in full SWAT gear and attack formation, and he has barely half a second to dive behind the front desk before bullets start hailing down on him.
“This is Gareth, reporting armed hostiles at UK headquarters,” Eggsy yells into the intercom, opening his umbrella and standing to fire off a shotgun blast. It fails to connect and blows a hole in a mannequin instead, but also breaks up the men as they dodge out of the way. The momentary lull allows Eggsy to relocate to a better cover spot behind the stairwell, a fusillade following in his wake. From there, he lets loose another shot to cover the store tailor, who has a pair of hand pistols and is returning fire from around the fitting room door without even blinking, and actually manages to hit one of the men in the head. “They have me and Dagonet pinned down. Requesting backup from all available personnel nearby, bring any weapons and ammunition you have.”
“This is Lancelot,” Roxy replies immediately. “I’ll be arriving at your location presently, ETA ten minutes.”
“Make it five, Lancelot,” Merlin grunts. “This is Merlin, roger on that last request.”
“This is Galahad, copy that,” Harry says, and then, tersely, “Hold on, Eggsy. I’m on my way.”
With that, Eggsy leaves his spot and tries to force back the men shooting at him with a volley of shotgun blasts, but the back of his umbrella flashes an integrity warning after repelling a number of shots; Eggsy curses and retreats, not having expected armour-piercing ammunition, and by the time he’s back in position four of the five remaining men have advanced further into the store, trapping Dagonet in the fitting room. Two spray the door with bullets while the other two continue to close in, their rifles trained on Eggsy’s position and set on full automatic fire.
In the seconds that they pause to reload, Eggsy ducks low, takes aim, and blows through the shins of the men firing on Dagonet with a single concussive shot. As they fall screaming, he twists the handle of his umbrella until SMOKE scrolls up in big red letters and squeezes the trigger. Thick white fumes spew copiously from the tip, filling up the inside of the store in seconds. Blind fire bombards the shelves behind Eggsy and showers him with broken glass and splinters as he quickly stealths his way back to the front desk.
“Gareth,” he hears Dagonet buzzing in over the intercom, voice laboured with pained breathing, “Gareth, what’s your status?”
“Gimme a minute!” Eggsy yells, vaulting over the counter and kicking the rifle from the hands of the enemy closest to him. As he lands, he hooks the handle of his umbrella around the ankle of the other and yanks, tripping him. The one he just disarmed unholsters a pistol, but Eggsy kicks him twice, once in the knee and once in the balls, shoves him back and sends him flying through the display window with his last shotgun cartridge.
Before Eggsy can retrieve the dropped pistol, however, a foot slugs him in the stomach, knocking the wind partway out of him. The man on the floor draws his own pistol, leaps back to his feet and starts firing at close quarters; Eggsy twists to avoid getting hit and opens up his umbrella again to shield himself. He counts three deflections, then darts forward to elbow the man across the face, only the man doesn’t stagger as much as Eggsy expects him to. Instead, he grips the edge of the umbrella as Eggsy tries to bring it up between them again, wrenches it aside and fires.
The bullet tears into Eggsy’s side, a white-hot burst of pain that rips right through his suit jacket and explodes down into his hip, but it’s not enough to stop him from grabbing the man around the waist, rolling his entire body weight backwards and slamming him against the floor in a bone-crushing suplex. There, they briefly wrestle for the gun, culminating in Eggsy forcing the ironsight into line with the man’s jaw and firing into the bottom of his skull.
Eggsy disengages himself from the man’s dead body and stands up, panting. He only remembers there’s a sixth aggressor when two more bullets plough into his chest and he stumbles back, gasping from the shock and pain. Umbrella now out of reach, he rushes his advancing foe through the clearing smoke and the surprise attack pays off when he throws a wild backhand and it connects with the barrel of the man’s gun. It clatters into a corner, and the firefight boils down to a melee.
Now, Eggsy’s normally aces at close combat — just ask Roxy, or whoever gets to be his sparring partner for the day — but being shot three times tends to make even an expert significantly less of a fighter. He lashes out, calculating the angle of his punch so that it collides with his opponent’s jaw, and he feels something crack under his knuckles. A second later, he ducks under a haymaker to the face, but the man knees him in the gut. Eggsy chokes and swerves around another barrage of blows, parrying and trying to get low enough to kick his opponent’s ankles out from under him, except the man is fresh to the fight, much faster and nimbler, and is going for the spots on Eggsy’s suit that are already damp with blood; for every hit Eggsy blocks two more land where it hurts, sapping even more energy out of him.
A punch skids past his cheek, missing entirely, and Eggsy counters by smashing the heel of his hand into his opponent’s masked face. The man reels back, his leg coming up to swing at Eggsy’s hip; Eggsy intercepts it with his elbow and retaliates with a kick of his own, which cuts through empty air. He uses his residual momentum to pivot himself and fires off a second kick with his other leg, and this time it does connect with the man’s side with a bodily thud, except his foe wraps an arm around Eggsy’s knee and jerks him closer, and Eggsy only sees the combat knife when it plunges deep into the fabric of his suit jacket, the hilt coming to a rest just above his right breast pocket.
Fuck me, Eggsy thinks as the knife pulls out dark red at the exact same time that something hard smashes into his temple, and he crumples face-first to the floor.
He expects the man to finish him off there and then, because that seems like the most sensible thing to do, but he just steps over Eggsy and runs up the stairwell, leaving him behind. Stabbing’s a new sensation altogether, but boy, Hot Fuzz is bang on the dollar — it hurts like a motherfucker. Lying where he is, Eggsy can taste blood bubbling up at the back of his throat, and fuck, that’s not good, is it, but then again dying rarely is. Christ, he hopes Dagonet is okay. It’s been a while since he last heard from the tailor, who sounded just as Eggsy’s feeling right about now.
Not seconds later, he hears expensive shoes on wood, soles crunching against broken glass, and then someone’s strong arms are around him and a familiar voice is saying in a panic, “Eggsy, fuck, fuck. God, fuck. Eggsy. Eggsy!”
Eggsy feels his eyes flutter as he opens them to see who it is. Harry’s worried face swims before him, which is… okay, it’s not every day that he gets to see Harry this flustered about anything — if it were any other time, he’d joke about trying to die more often if that’s all it takes for Harry to flip the fuck out. But they’re still not out of the woods just yet, so Eggsy coughs up more blood and says, instead, “Harry, listen — there’s one more guy. He got past me… upstairs. You gotta stop him.”
“You’re wounded,” Harry says. His face has gone ghastly pale, which is how Eggsy knows he’s out of it for sure.
“Yeah, I know,” Eggsy murmurs, and winces. It hurts to talk, or breathe, or even be. “Got outnumbered… had em’ on the ropes, you should’ve seen it, Harry, it was so sick…”
“My god, Eggsy. You’re okay, don’t you worry, you’ll be, you’ll be alright —”
Huh. There are now actual, honest-to-goodness tears in Harry’s eyes. Happens when you have two generations of Unwins die in front of you, Eggsy supposes. What was it for Dad again, a grenade? Something like that. Nowhere near as exciting as being shot three times and then stabbed in the chest. Way to show the old man how it’s done, going down in a blaze of glory, and the thought makes Eggsy want to laugh.
“Harry,” he grits. “Harry, do me a solid, yeah?”
The hand at Eggsy’s cheek stops trembling, but Harry’s shattered expression still threatens what Eggsy fears, I will not leave you to the dark.
So he grins through the pain, pokes Harry in the tie and growls, “Fuck him up.”
And just like that, there he is again. Harry’s eyes are still shiny with tears but they have turned cold and hard and feral, like a switch’s been thrown inside him, the intent sharper and more lethal than any knife. He nods faintly, releases Eggsy and stands back up, drawing a gun from his jacket and chambering a round as he does so.
“I’m coming back,” Harry tells him, and his voice is low but perfectly steady. “I’ll come back for you, I promise.”
He turns to move off, and his fading footsteps are the last thing Eggsy hears before a coughing fit overtakes him like his chest is about to burst and he shudders and everything finally goes dark.
The aftermath is messy.
Repairing the store is the easiest part. It’s figuring out how the attack ever came to be in the first place that has the entirety of Kingsman on crimson alert for the the rest of the month. Merlin is a nervous wreck by the time they are able to lower it to red, and Eggsy can’t blame him. As far as he knows, nobody’s gotten past what happened with Arthur — when fifty loyal years of fighting the good fight somehow still equates to treachery, it really does make a spy wonder.
Eventually, it’s uncovered that the men who stormed the store that day were seeking MI6 counter-intel on a bad lead from goodness knows where; how they were pointed to where Kingsman just so happened to be is almost too unbelievable a notion to comprehend, but there you go. From there on out, it’s a matter of burying their tracks and ceasing all operations for a while, until any more possible leads out there have had enough time to run cold and for their discretion to be reestablished at a satisfactory level once more.
And as for Eggsy, well.
Plastic tube in the throat, not a pleasant thing to wake up to. He and Harry could compare notes one of these days.
Merlin brings him a copy of the incident report in the infirmary a day after Eggsy regains consciousness. It’s two hundred pages long, and mostly comprises things Eggsy already knows, which is why he doesn’t give it that much thought until he flips to the casualty list on another of his skims through. Yup, two agents critically wounded — Dagonet, five rounds removed from the abdominal cavity; Gareth, two from the torso and one from the lumbar region, and a penetrating injury to the right lung — and six fatalities, five of which Eggsy doesn’t have to take a second look at to remember the details of what happened in the store that day.
It’s number six that has him reading carefully for the first time since he received the report. The man who nearly killed Eggsy was recovered from the briefing room, long bled to death against a wall. Findings from the coroner describe brutal injuries, ranging from several broken bones to multiple blunt force trauma to being shot repeatedly in areas that would have disabled but not killed. Excessive force is highlighted in red under the comments section, among other things. What stands out are the nine documented stab wounds to the chest and abdomen, all of them made with the same combat knife left in the body. The first two would have been more than enough to incapacitate, the report notes, the third unquestionably fatal.
The agent attending claims self-defence, and there are no further comments below that. After Eggsy is done reading, his heart monitor is beeping fast enough for him to worry he’s alerted the medical staff when there’s a knock at the door.
It’s Harry who enters, a bouquet of flowers in his hand. “Good morning,” he says.
“How are you feeling?”
“Like I just almost died,” Eggsy groans, and Harry chuckles as he takes the chair by Eggsy’s bedside.
“Let’s hope you won’t ever get used to it.”
Eggsy eyes the flowers. “Are those for me?” he asks, pointing.
“Why, yes.” Harry sets them on the table, right next to the water jug. He leans back and crosses his legs, smiling at Eggsy. “Thought your convalescence could use a bit of brightening up.”
“Oi, they’re fake, you cheapskate,” Eggsy exclaims once he’s examined them more closely.
“Artificial,” Harry corrects him gently. “I was informed that real flowers would not be permitted on the ward. Infection risk. And they cost me twelve pounds, mind you.”
“They let J.B. in here before,” Eggsy complains. “What’s a couple of poinsettias?”
Harry shrugs and lets his hand rest on the bed railings, just centimetres from Eggsy’s robed shoulder. Eggsy swallows and pretends not to have noticed.
“So,” he says, fingers worrying along the cotton hem of his blanket.
Eggsy tries to think of a better way to ease into it, but can’t. “So Merlin gave me this,” he continues, and nods at the folder in his lap.
The expression on Harry’s face remains neutral. “You’ve read it, I assume?”
Taking as deep a breath as he can with all the stitches that are keeping his chest together, Eggsy says, “That last guy, the one who, um. You know. Sounds like he was pretty messed up when they found him.”
“He was a nasty piece of work,” Harry says. “I don’t doubt you ran into difficulties trying to subdue him.”
“Yeah, but like.” Eggsy closes his eyes, trying not to think about how painful it had been to be stabbed just the once. When he can talk again, he surprises himself with how much distress is contained in his own voice. “Nine times? Really? You had to give it to him nine times? What’s up with that?”
“I was merely following the spirit of your request. Why does that upset you so?”
“What are you talking abou — oh, my god.” Eggsy covers his eyes with the hand that isn’t trapped in a sling and resolutely does not swear. “I didn’t mean — it wasn’t supposed to be like — Jesus, god. No. No, no, no. You’re not pinning this on me,” he snaps. “Don’t you dare chalk this up to what I said, I was dying, Harry, for fuck’s sake —”
“He hurt you,” Harry interjects coldly, and the rest of Eggsy’s words freeze solid. “He tried to kill you and almost bloody well succeeded. If I had to do it a second time, I would kill him the exact same way.”
Eggsy blinks. His tongue sticks to the backs of his gums. For a moment, he doesn’t dare breathe. He lowers his eyes to the folder and finds himself wishing he never opened the fucking thing in the first place.
Leaning in, Harry covers Eggsy’s uninjured hand with his own, fingers spread around the IV line in it. The skin of his palm is warm and stippled with gun callouses, and Eggsy looks up at him.
“I thought you were,” Harry says, almost a hush, all of the ice gone from his voice, and then he can’t seem to continue. Suddenly, they are back in the store, with Eggsy bleeding out and Harry coming apart in front of him and nothing to be done about either one. It’s that look of his that does it again, that quiet, helpless terror which Eggsy only knows from a similar feeling he’d had himself the day he watched Harry get shot in the head.
Never again, he’d thought, after somehow, against impossible odds, Harry had come back to them.
“You must understand that,” Harry starts again, and stops. His jaw tightens. “I would never have you harmed. Never. I would do anything in my power to keep that from happening.”
All that’s missing from this scene now is Harry leaning further forward to kiss his eyelids, Eggsy thinks, and then they could very well call it a movie. That would be alright with him, though, wouldn’t it? Very much so. Harry’s mouth is so close to his, and the misery in his eyes makes Eggsy want to kiss him, show him that everything is going to be alright for them. He doesn’t.
Ah, fuck it.
They’ll make a movie of it some other time.
“I didn’t get my tux finished, y’know,” he mumbles.
The noise Harry makes is torn between amused and exasperated. “I’ll bring you back to complete the fitting when you are well.”
“Sure. Just… promise me you won’t go mental on Dagonet if he sticks me, alright? Poor sod’s been through enough already, jeez.”
Harry says nothing at first, like he’s trying to figure out if Eggsy is being serious or just kidding, but then he smiles and says, “I won’t,” and Eggsy tosses the report onto the table, behind the flowers.
4. A gentleman never reacts to rudeness. He pretends he doesn't recognise it and moves on like it never happened, because it never should have.
He’s discharged a few days early because he won’t stop bugging Merlin about it, day in and day out until he gets the green light, and in the end, they’re more than happy to let Eggsy go. Doctors don’t even come close to the kind of patient Eggsy can be when he’s restless enough to attempt escaping with a growing regularity, such that he wakes up one morning and discovers he’s been clandestinely tied to the bed, and even then it’s a challenge he ultimately triumphs over within two hours of captivity.
“If you end up back in here any time soon, I’m keeping you for a month,” Merlin warns him as he’s being wheeled out.
“Don’t count on it, Merlin,” Eggsy replies sweetly, flicking two fingers up at him as he passes, and Merlin shakes his bald head.
As it turns out, getting released from medical is a walk in the park compared to rehab. And there are a lot of those on good days, when Eggsy’s battered body chooses to cooperate and he can take short ambling strolls in St. James’ Square without falling over every few steps or so. He’s given a cane to use, but fuck that, and he won’t even contemplate returning to the wheelchair. He’s twenty-five, bordering on twenty-six, which means he’s young enough to heal from his injuries but old enough for the process to tick along like lagging. That’s what he gets from the doctors, anyway. Intercostal neuralgia, he remembers. Just a fancy name for damaged nerve fibres and the recurring pain that keeps him up at night. He doesn’t really understand how it works. Wikipedia tells him everything and nothing at the same time, like his specialists. Both agree on the bottom line that he’ll eventually be fine, but until then it’s just a matter of time.
Too slow, too slow. Months pass and he can walk normally again but it takes two minutes in the dojo for him to be keeled over on the sparring mat, struggling to breathe. Back in the infirmary, Merlin looks at his face and doesn’t seem to have the heart to take the piss. Bully for him. He’s not the one who hasn’t so much as seen the front of a mission dossier for all of the new year, or stumbles on the way to the loo when he gets up in the morning. Eggsy has no choice but to use the cane in those early hours, after a while. He would say it makes him feel like an old man, but Harry’s almost twice his age and can definitely kick his arse into the ground, and he’s never been fond of irony.
In physio, he does weights and sprints and exercises designed to keep his strength up. Well, they’re supposed to, anyway, even though it feels like he’s slipping further back with every day that goes by. The routine of motions he is given change between the sessions, but it’s all the same to Eggsy. Weeks of standing on one leg for thirty seconds at a time before switching to the other, every last tedious and inconsequential movement that sometimes still manage to leave him breathless, and then one day the frustration boils over and he’s flinging the kettlebell in his hand into the gymnasium mirror as he screams, “Fuck!” at the top of his lungs.
Chest heaving, stomach aching, it takes him longer than he should to register that someone’s tutting at him from the doorway.
“Am I interrupting?” Harry asks.
Eggsy continues to glare at the cracked mirror, in which he can see Harry behind him. Shards of glass slip from the frame and break into smaller pieces around the kettlebell lying just below it. He curls his hands into fists and wills back the urge to go to town on what’s left of the mirror. That much, he is still capable of.
“Fuck off,” he snarls in lieu of bloodying up his knuckles.
“Good afternoon to you, too.”
“I mean it, Harry. Fuck off.”
“As do I. It’s a lovely day outside.”
Eggsy turns and finds Harry standing next to him, almost close enough for their elbows to touch. Surveying the mess, Harry clucks his tongue and shakes his head before looking mildly at Eggsy. “Had a row with the mirror, I see.”
"Leave me alone,” Eggsy mutters, turning away.
“So you can break even more things, hm? I think not.”
“What’s the matter, Eggsy? Why are you so upset?”
“Fuck. Off.” His teeth grit around the words.
“Throwing a temper tantrum now, are we?” Harry says levelly, and Eggsy hates it, hates him. “How very unbecoming of a Kingsman.”
Everything seems to go a bit numb after this. Eggsy thinks his ears might be ringing. “Get out,” he says, barely above a whisper.
Harry just looks very, very unimpressed. “No.”
Eggsy unclenches and clenches his hands. He can’t stop thinking about how brilliant it would feel to sock Harry in the jaw right now. “I’m not going to ask again, Harry.”
“If you want to have a go, then come on.” Harry inclines his head and puts his hands behind his back. “I’m not going anywhere. Let’s see if you’ll do better with something that can defend itself for a change.”
Oh, that is it. Eggsy lunges at him, building as much inertia as he can for a punch that gets stopped with one hand. He swings low with his other fist, aiming for Harry’s ribs, but that too is arrested by a swift downward jab of Harry’s elbow. By pure reflex, Eggsy rotates his torso to throw another hook, and a flare of pain erupts all along the length of his left side; he gasps, wavers, and Harry catches his elbow all too easily. So trapped, he braces himself for the obvious counter-blow, but it doesn’t happen.
“Still want to do this?” Harry says, releasing his grip on Eggsy.
The sucker punch Eggsy tries to deliver fails miserably — Harry’s forearm slams down on his before he can even come within a couple centimetres of Harry’s stomach, nudges forward and pushes Eggsy off-balance with a flick. He plants his feet again, following up with a pair of straight crosses, the first of which Harry dodges by leaning out of the way. The second merely glances off Harry’s wrist as he brings it up to protect his face, brushing Eggsy aside and leaving him wide open to what should be yet another counterattack.
Except this time, Harry just reaches out and prods him lightly in the chest with two fingers, and it is then that Eggsy’s rage knows no boundaries.
“Fuck you!” he screams as he unleashes a storm of wild punches, all consideration for proper technique forgotten. “Fuck, fuck, fucking, fuck! Fuck! You! Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck!” None of his blows reach where he wants them to. Harry doesn’t even budge from where he’s standing as he staves him off without hitting back once. Eggsy keeps on punching, punctuates each and every swing of his fists with another curse, another spittle-flecked obscenity, and it all feels too good to stop. This is the fear, then: that he’ll never be able to fight again, or be trusted to carry his own weight, that Kingsman will choose the noble way out like they always do and save his life by taking away the only thing that has ever given it meaning. There is so much about that which has burned him deep down for far too long, with no outcome he can bring himself to touch.
“Fuck you,” Eggsy’s sobbing, after a full minute of fruitless seething has passed. His hands batter the front of Harry’s suit feebly like a child’s, all of the fight in him gone like air from a punctured tire. He has never felt so humiliated nor useless in his life, and under Harry’s unhappy look, he fractures. “Fuck you. Fuck… fuck you. Fuck — fuck…”
He sinks to the floor and Harry follows him down, arms wrapping around his shaking shoulders, and Eggsy moans, “Fuck you,” but Harry doesn’t seem to hear as he murmurs, “It’s okay,” while Eggsy keeps whispering, “Fuck you,” and Harry pulls Eggsy close to him, holds him tight with, “I’m here, it’s okay,” into Eggsy’s hiccough-divided “Fuck you,” against Harry’s warm, broad chest, and a hand smoothing down the back of Eggsy’s head and Harry’s voice repeating softly in his ear, “I’ve got you. Oh, my dear boy. I’ve got you.”
5. A gentleman is always on target with witty remarks, interesting facts, and conversation starters that bring the best out of everyone.
Harry starts accompanying him to physiotherapy the week after. He really doesn’t have to, and it’s very charitable of him to do so — Eggsy suspects that he’s busier than he lets on, because for all the saving the world that they do, Kingsmen generally don’t have very much time for themselves, and less so for others. But when Eggsy walks into the facility every Wednesday afternoon Harry is always there without fail, waiting at reception with two cups of coffee, one white and the other black with sugar. He lets Eggsy choose first, has both when Eggsy isn’t in the mood for either and cracks jokes about over-caffeinating. It’s something to laugh at. Eggsy’s grateful for that.
The facility staff don’t like it when people sit in on outpatient sessions, but Harry does it anyway, occupying a chair by the door and staying in the gymnasium throughout Eggsy’s exercises. Sometimes he reads a book, but most of the time he watches on, a passive observer. Normally Eggsy would not be okay at all with being looked at while being asked to do silly things like squats and hops and leg-raises, but Harry’s scrutiny is… reassuring, in a way. As much as it is unnerving for most other people sharing Eggsy’s time slot, it makes him feel like he’s being looked out for, that he’s not alone in this.
At times, they go and get food together when Eggsy’s done for the day. Anywhere at all or whatever it is that strikes Eggsy’s fancy — the tea shop just down the block; the Krispy Kreme on High Holborn; newspaper-style fish and chips with the two of them hunkered down by the roadside, Harry a peculiar sight in his three-piece suit and glasses as he picks his way through the grease. Eggsy loves it. They spend so much time together now. He comes to look forward to Wednesdays the most out of any day of the week.
By the end of May, his sides stop hurting. June, and he’s relearning parallel bars, the pommel horse, assorted flips and turns on the balance beam. They come back to him easily enough; his body seems to have yearned for it as much as his mind has for months.
He’s discharged from physio midway through July, and gets upgraded to light duties by the Kingsman medical board within the week.
“They say I can start doing stuff again,” Eggsy tells Harry over scrambled eggs and fresh coffee. “Actual, legit Kingsman stuff.”
They’re having breakfast in the HQ mess, and it’s been half an hour since Eggsy got back from medical. Harry has a copy of the Independent and is filling in the crossword with a pen. Only crumbs remain of his toast slices, but his mug is still filled to the brim with dark roast. There’s a spot of jam on his lower lip that Eggsy’s been studiously pretending not to notice for all of breakfast, even though there’s no doubt that being polite would be easier than imagining leaning across the tabletop to kiss it off.
“That is very good news,” Harry says, and scribbles down another answer in the corner.
“They didn’t say what sort of things I’d be allowed on, though.” Eggsy taps his fork into his eggs, squishing the runny mess further down. “D’you know anything about that?”
“Only what I’ve heard.”
Tap, tap, tap. Eggsy’s appetite quivers, teeters to the verge of fizzling out completely. “What have you heard?”
Harry regards Eggsy carefully, then puts his pen down and folds up the paper, setting it aside before he leans back and steeples his fingers in front of him. “Nothing too complicated,” he says. “Shouldn’t be more difficult than, say, conducting a training exercise for the new recruits.”
“I don’t want to conduct a training exercise,” Eggsy grumbles. “I know how it all happens, I don’t need any of that.”
“Nonetheless. It would be highly irresponsible to put an agent back in the field without ascertaining if he is fully able first. Not to mention dangerous.”
“I’m ready, Harry,” Eggsy says, and means it more than anything he’s ever said. “You’ve seen me, I’m good to go. There has to be something out there that I can do. Anything.”
Harry sighs, and Eggsy thinks that he might just give in, but then he picks up his mug and says, “I never told you about my own time in candidacy, did I?”
"Uh.” Eggsy feels a frown creasing his eyebrows. “No.”
“Back then, the first task wasn’t figuring out how we weren’t going to drown,” Harry says, blowing on his coffee. “It was figuring out how to stay alive in a burning room for thirty minutes.”
The mental image pops into Eggsy’s head without him even trying to picture it. “…fucking hell.”
Harry smiles over the rim of his mug. “Exactly my first thought when I woke up.”
“How did you do it?”
“Wet cloth over the mouth and nose, keep away from metal and anything that might catch fire or conduct heat, find a source of fresh air, if possible,” Harry lists. “It’s all we could do since we were locked in and there was no way out. Also, they’d turned off the taps and all the plumbing.”
Eggsy grimaces into his plate. “That’s messed up.”
“Hm, it was. Someone died, in the end.”
Eggsy raises his eyebrows. “Just to shock you lot, yeah? Like they did with Amelia.”
Harry’s grim look doesn’t lift. “No. Someone did actually die.”
Harry has a sip of coffee, then smirks. “Just kidding. He was an analyst. Vancouver division.”
“You prick,” Eggsy mutters.
“I’ve been asked to conduct my own fair share of training as well, you know,” Harry says, having some more coffee. “It’s not always fieldwork. Why, I remember the third batch I took — there was this lad, Jacob, his name was. Smallest runt you’d ever seen, and he got a minute twenty-seven seconds on the standard assault course. First run.”
“Shut up.” It’s been a long while since Eggsy’s done a full rundown himself, but his last timing — a minute forty-five — raises eyebrows.
“It’s true. Didn’t make it in the end, though, and I was sorry to see him go. But, that’s Kingsman for you.” Harry smiles. “We only take the best.”
Eggsy squints at Harry, just a little. “Why do I get the feeling you’re trying to tell me something?”
“My point is, Eggsy, sometimes you learn the most when you get to teach,” Harry says, setting his mug down. “Things change, or happen differently, and we adapt. We transform when we encounter the need to. Why do you think Merlin is the most skilled, most well-rounded individual out of all the Kingsmen?”
“Might have to do with the stuff that’s missing from the top of his head, I dunno.”
“That is a very beastly thing to say,” Harry admonishes, but he’s smiling as he does so. “But back to my point. Cadets surprise instructors all the time. You of all people should know that.”
“Fine, okay. I get it. I’ll give it a go, teaching the scrubs,” Eggsy says, and snaps at a forkful of eggs. “If it gets you and everyone else off my arse crack.”
“I knew you’d come round,” Harry says pleasantly, picking his newspaper back up and resuming the crossword.
6. A gentleman asks non-invasive questions to keep a conversation going and attention focused on others. He makes them feel like the most interesting person he's ever met, whether that's true or not.
It’s autumn when Eggsy fires a gun for the first time that year.
“Most excellent,” Harry notes, pulling the scores up on his tablet and displaying them on the range monitor.
Eggsy releases the empty clip, checks that the gun chamber is clear and lets the slide snap back into place. “S’not bad, I guess,” he says glumly, waving the gunsmoke from his face and staring down the range at the target.
“Ninety-three percent accuracy puts you among Kingsman’s best marksmen,” Harry says as he taps at his tablet. The target board flips over for a new one and a fresh clip rises out of the counter, next to Eggsy’s resting hand. “Considering how long you’ve been off-duty, I’d say it’s a phenomenal accomplishment.”
Eggsy glances at the scoreboard hanging from the wall. “Roxy got ninety-eight percent yesterday.”
“She also happens to be a Marine-level countersniper. Apples and oranges, Eggsy.”
“Yeah, but —”
“Scoring system up in two minutes. Load your rounds.”
Eggsy does, flicks the safety on and stands looking at the countdown on the monitor over his head, focusing on his breathing, keeping his posture steady.
“It’s your birthday tomorrow,” he hears Harry say to him. “I suppose you’ve got plans?”
“Uh.” Eggsy scrunches his face up, thinking. “Mum wants to have lunch at Nando’s. Gracie’s coming along. Then we’re going to see Jersey Boys after.”
“And in the evening?”
“I dunno. Pub, maybe?”
“I see,” Harry says thoughtfully. Above them, the timer continues its countdown. One minute remaining.
Then: “Come over to my place. I’ll make you dinner.”
Eggsy nearly drops his gun. “Er,” he says, blinking. He can’t remember the last time he visited Harry’s outside of that day he knows they both still pretend never actually happened. “Okay.”
“Indian alright with you?” Out of the corner of his eye, he sees Harry smile at him and tries not to flush. “I’ve an authentic Maharashtra curry recipe, if you like spicy food.”
“Sounds great,” Eggsy blurts without thinking. It’s just as well — he’s not overly fond, but he’s okay with that, he has a pretty sturdy palate and, you know. Never turn down free food. At least, that’s what he’s excited about. He hopes.
“Do you need a ride? I can send a car out to get you.”
“No, that’s okay. I know where you live,” Eggsy says, and kicks himself internally, because phrasing. As if he needs to give Harry the slightest hint as to how Eggsy still looks his address up on Google Maps from time to time and knows exactly how to get there from within a two-kilometre radius by car and public transport and walking, just in case he actually does get up the courage one day to knock on Harry’s front door and kiss him on the front step in front of all his neighbours.
He should probably delete the app off his phone some time soon. Probably.
“Very well,” Harry says. “Seven o’ clock, then?”
“Seven,” Eggsy agrees, and he has just enough time left to grin back at Harry before the buzzer sounds and he sends three bullets cleanly into the square box over the target’s heart.
He changes his clothes two, three, six times after coming home from the theatre to wash up and get ready for dinner, and at five minutes to six he’s standing in front of his mirror in his underwear, wondering what Harry would have to say if Eggsy just turned up at his house naked. A lot of things, most likely, but who knows, maybe Harry would even be thrown enough to offer a shag. Dress for the outcome you hope to achieve, they used to say in school. Just another set of words to live by, he supposes.
In the end, he decides on the suit, because it has always been what he’s had the most luck with, and the sense of propriety that comes with wearing it might be exactly what he needs to stop thinking of different ways to jump Harry’s bones every other minute. He even clips his dad’s medal on his lapel, for good measure. Then he stands and looks at himself and puts his glasses on and thinks, yes, this should do very nicely.
He flags down a taxi to Harry’s house. It’s raining, and the city traffic is horrendous, and it costs him nearly thirty quid, but whatever, it’s his birthday, okay? Plus it’s always nice to remind himself that he can afford things now, that he has enough on his Kingsman account to indulge without being profligate about his expenditures. The injury payout had been obscene — he moved all of it over to a trust fund for Gracie, the only course of action he felt comfortable with regarding so much money in so little a span of time.
Umbrella opened above him, finally doing what umbrellas are supposed to do for once, Eggsy rings the doorbell and waits. He hears footsteps coming down the stairs, the sound of a lock and chain being released, and then the door opens and Eggsy has to clench his teeth to keep his jaw from dropping.
“Good evening,” Harry says warmly.
Eggsy thinks he should say something in reply, but he is, for want of a better word, speechless. Harry’s wearing a tuxedo that looks tailored to within an inch of its life, seams following the contours of his impressive body to outline his arms and shoulders and chest, its dark navy blue colour still somehow bringing out the mellow brown of his eyes. A matching knit tie flows from his collar to the waistcoat that’s just only visible over the top button of his jacket. He’s had a haircut and some styling done, just so that the silver at his temples stands out more so than usual, drawing attention to the tender little crows’ feet at the corners of his eyes. In the homey orange light leaking from the foyer, he looks devastatingly handsome.
Eggsy’s never wanted to fuck anyone as much as he does right there and then.
“Would like to come in, Eggsy? You’re getting rather wet.”
“Yeah,” Eggsy breathes. “Okay.”
“Can I take your coat and umbrella for you?”
“Yeah,” Eggsy repeats, which is all he can say, really, and it’s not his fault. Like, okay, he’s already known for the longest time about Harry Hart being some two-in-one all-round BAMF slash debonair god, but this — how is this even possible, it’s not fair, it’s just not fair for any mortal man to be this attractive.
“You have impeccable timing,” Harry says as he hangs up Eggsy’s coat and umbrella. “Food’s just done. I do hope you’re hungry.”
“Starving,” Eggsy mumbles, crouched down for the dual purpose of unlacing his shoes and avoiding eye contact with Harry.
“Had a good birthday so far, then?”
“It’s been alright, I guess.” Now that his Oxfords are off and on Harry’s shoerack, there’s nothing else to keep Eggsy moping about on the floor. He takes a bracing bite of air before he stands back up next to Harry, who nods in acknowledgement. “I didn’t know we were going all out for tonight,” Eggsy says.
“How do you mean?”
Is Harry serious? Where is Eggsy even supposed to begin? “Harry,” he says, fishing about for anything to latch on and failing, because it’s hard to explain that Harry’s everything is a problem for Eggsy at this particular moment in time. "You look like you’re about to meet the Queen.”
“Why, thank you, Eggsy. I appreciate you saying so.”
“I thought we were just,” Eggsy continues, but he doesn’t actually know what he thought, so he shakes his head. “Dinner, yeah? It’s just dinner. I dunno — it’s a bit much, innit?”
“Nonsense. It’s your birthday,” Harry says simply. “A day of joyous celebration. Nothing wrong with dressing up for the occasion.”
Eggsy looks down at his own suit, which is pressed and well-fitted and still very smart, but… come on, call a spade a spade, standing next to Harry and relative to him, to say that he feels like a under-dressed twunt would only be halfway to the truth.
As though reading his thoughts, Harry claps him on the shoulder, says with burgeoning sincerity, “You look stunning tonight, by the way.”
Look who’s talking here. All the same, it’s impossible not to smile at that.
“Thanks, Harry,” Eggsy says quietly, lifting his hand to hold Harry’s wrist. His thumb brushes Harry’s skin near the junction of palm and cufflinks. He thinks he sees a glimmer of something, almost, in Harry’s kind eyes.
Harry smiles back at him. “Come now. Dinner awaits us.”
The curry is out of this world.
Eggsy has three servings in total before his waistline starts to feel a bit uncomfortable. Harry stops at two, asks him if he would like some dessert, and while Eggsy’s too full he’s also physically incapable of turning down chocolate torte. It’s supersweet and rich, enough so that Eggsy can practically feel his blood sugar levels hitting the roof, but he reasons he’ll need the energy in the coming weeks when the real missions start to pour in.
Throughout dinner, Harry asks after Eggsy’s family — Mum’s got a job in a shop and Gracie has a sitter now — whether he enjoyed Jersey Boys that afternoon — Eggsy didn’t even know who The Four Seasons were prior to that, which Harry finds shocking — and notices the medal Eggsy has on his lapel — they decide, after a while, to talk solely about happier things in their lives. When they’re fed and watered, they transition to Harry’s study, where Harry pulls the cork on a bottle of wine and pours out two glasses, handing one to Eggsy.
“To your birthday,” Harry toasts.
“To Kingsman,” Eggsy replies, and clinks his glass against Harry’s.
Newspaper headlines paper the walls around them. Eggsy remembers a few from the last time he was here — the one with the dirty bomb and frankly terrible pun; Germany - 1, England - 5; Margaret Thatcher; blah, blah, blah, blah. He doesn’t get most of them. Harry and his own little jokes, probably. He takes a mouthful of wine and gestures at one of the posters with his glass. “They’re behind you?” he reads out loud.
“Hm, no, that’s not it,” Harry says. He points out the column next to the block-letter headlines. “That’s what you want.”
“DI photo stalker is jailed?”
“That’s what you’ll find on the official records.”
“And unofficially?” Eggsy asks.
The corner of Harry’s mouth quirks. Navy tux, wine glass, Harry’s smile; Eggsy’s face goes hot enough for him to be thankful for that the lights have been turned down. “Let’s just say ASIS is very grateful that there still is a Sydney Opera House,” Harry says casually.
“No kidding?” Eggsy turns on the spot, doing a quick count of the posters. There are at least fifty on the wall behind Harry’s desk and fifty more opposite it, and the odd pair decorates strips of wall between the windows. Over a hundred missions, hundreds and thousands of lives saved. He gets dizzy just thinking about how many people would not be in this world if it wasn’t for the man sipping wine behind the desk in front of him.
“Do you ever wish they knew?” he asks, because he’s pondered it himself countless times since V-day. Seven billion on his ledger is a big enough number to think about, less the handful of nutbags who were in on Valentine’s scheme. He kind of wishes he’d kept some of the headlines from the week after that happened, to be honest.
“Birth, marriage, death,” Harry replies. “You know how it works, Eggsy.”
“I didn’t mean that. I meant,” Eggsy pauses, wonders how not to be as rude or direct about it as he can, if it’s even his place to press the question. “They.”
Harry rolls the stem of his glass between his fingers. He does understand, Eggsy can tell. “I used to,” he admits. “I was young once, after all.”
“Could’ve fooled me,” Eggsy says, grinning.
Harry chuckles. “Hard to believe, I know.”
“So why, then?” He sweeps through a couple more — Going Going Gone; Hairy Mary; All’s Well That Ends In Wales — before turning back to look at Harry. “If you’re okay with no one knowing, what’s up with all this?”
For a long time, Harry doesn’t say anything. He appears to be reading some of them himself, his eyes darting about the room as Eggsy watches him expectantly. The silence stretches out into a full minute. Dark rain continues to scrape the windows. Then Harry finishes the wine in his glass, stares into the bottom of it, and says, “Sooner or later, you’ll find that you can’t help but think only of the ones you don’t save, Eggsy. After a while — a very, very long while — if you know they’re safe, and going about their lives, then. That’s fine. That’s all you ever dare to ask for.”
“So you’re saying,” Eggsy begins, and Harry only speaks when it’s clear that he isn’t going to finish.
“They remind me to keep fighting,” Harry says, helping himself to more wine. “That no matter what, some things make it worthwhile, in the end. Twenty-six years and I’ve never once regretted becoming a Kingsman. It’s my hope that it’ll be very much the same for you.”
Twenty-six years, Eggsy marvels. Exactly his age down to the day. It's a staggeringly long time to be alive for, let alone to remain the saviour of anything. But he’s not wondering about the lives they’ve saved between them anymore — instead, he can’t help but think of Harry, starting out twenty-six years ago, with no fathoming of all the people he’d eventually come to mourn. He must get so tired, sometimes. It’s never really occurred to Eggsy to see things like that.
Harry drinks half of the wine he’s poured, sighs appreciatively and sets his glass down. “I have a present for you, by the way.”
Eggsy looks at Harry, a familiar ache beginning in his chest. “Oh, Harry, no —”
But Harry’s already holding out the box, polished wood resplendent in the dim light. “With compliments,” he says. “Many happy returns, Eggsy.”
“Harry, you shouldn’t have.”
“A birthday without presents?” Harry says, sounding appalled. “Makes as much sense as New Year without fireworks.”
“You made dinner for me,” Eggsy almost wails, and this should be answer enough, but Harry just blinks and furrows his eyebrows like Eggsy is being purposefully dense.
“I don’t see how that has any standing on this.” Harry raises the gift in his hand, as if figuring out its weight. “But if it makes you more comfortable, we might consider this a… congratulatory present. For your imminent return to active duty.”
Eggsy stares at the box and wishes, wishes that he knew how to be less difficult of a person. “I — Jesus, Harry. I don’t know what to say.”
“A thank you would be just fine,” Harry suggests, and indicates the gift again. “Take it.”
There’s nothing else Eggsy can say or do, so he complies. Holding it in his hands, he turns it over to examine it. The box is slender and compact, and it reminds him of those they have on display in the shop, the kind that houses their pure silk ties and most expensive Breitlings. He unfastens the latch on the front, aware that Harry’s looking on beside him, before he counts to three in his head and opens it.
Inside, there is a pair of gloves. Thick leather, by the look of it, with near-invisible stitching along the material and small metal buckles at the wrists. Brown, like single-malt whiskey, like the colour of Harry’s eyes. He takes them out of the box, holds them up for a better look, and his gaze flicks to Harry automatically.
“Go on,” Harry says, smiling. “Let’s see how they look.”
The gloves fit Eggsy perfectly. They’re lined on the inside with something sinfully soft — silk, or cashmere, more likely — and he flexes his fingers, trying them out. “So what, do these let me climb walls, like Spiderman?”
“Don’t be absurd,” Harry says, and Eggsy waits for him to explain further. “They’re to keep your hands warm when it gets cold. That’s all.”
“That’s it?” Even as he tries, he can’t feign disappointment. He settles for an impish grin instead, and Harry laughs.
“I’m afraid so.”
Eggsy looks down at his hands. A burst of sudden longing threatens to catch him around his heart, and he lets it. “Thanks, Harry,” he says softly.
“You’re very welcome, Eggsy. Do you like them?”
“Like ‘em?” Eggsy laughs. “I love ‘em.”
“The buckles are a little tricky to work with, so if you want to fasten them, it’s just like this, see…”
Eggsy’s mind goes blank at this point, because Harry’s hands have moved to his wrist and are working the strap into the buckle with a gentle, careful efficiency. The movement of Harry’s fingers holds Eggsy rapt, the contact of his skin all too precious even through the muffling leather. He doesn’t dare move, or do anything at all for fear of shattering this moment between them.
“…then this bit goes here, and you’re done.” Harry lets Eggsy’s hand rest in his palms and smiles up at him. “Simple once you’ve got it.”
Blinking, Eggsy bites the inside of his cheek, and the okay sticks in his throat. He can’t even bring himself to swallow it down. Harry’s face is so very close to Eggsy’s hand in his hands and it would be the easiest thing in the world to reach out and touch him. It could even be an accident, for all anyone knew.
“Eggsy? Is something wrong?”
There is no way in which Eggsy can answer that. How could he ever, with what Harry does to him by the mere fact of existing, what he means to Eggsy by virtue of who he is, and then he has to go ahead and pull the whole damn rug out from under Eggsy with all of this, making him realise over and over that he will never feel this way about another person again. That nobody else could have his whole heart the way Harry always will. What is Eggsy supposed to do with that, then? What when he’s stuck like this for the rest of his life, wanting and wanting what cannot be his?
Harry looks at him, eyes filled with concern, and it’s that which does it for him: Eggsy can hold back no longer. He brings his leather-clad fingers to Harry’s face slowly, strokes once, twice before he can begin to fathom the extent of his own daring. He keeps them there against his better intentions, cupping his cheek, lingering along the side of his jaw. Harry’s eyes flutter to Eggsy’s hand and his own fingers shift to take him by the arm. Softly, softly, now. Like the ticking of a clock, agonising to behold but altogether inevitable. Then, after several seconds, after forever, Harry breathes in and turns his head to press a kiss to Eggsy’s bare wrist.
Eggsy stops breathing.
“You,” Harry murmurs, and for a fleeting, gut-twisting moment, Eggsy thinks he’s going to pull away, or worse, apologise, but — no, Harry tugs him lower instead, angling Eggsy against the front of his own body until Eggsy’s kneeling in his lap and their lips are level enough to meet. Harry kisses him without any trace of reservation, breathes against him like it’s the most normal thing in the world. Then, he starts to move, his tongue playing into Eggsy’s mouth and meeting teeth, and Eggsy feels his stomach flip in a manner that has nothing at all to do with curry and everything to do with rising arousal.
“Harry,” Eggsy whispers, before he’s pulled into another kiss. He fists his hands in Harry’s lapels as he seeks harder and surer and more of him, his open mouth working over Harry’s and taking his tongue even deeper, and quick, kiss him, quick; he tries not to gasp, oh, he tries, but he’s shaking like there’s an earthquake under his skin and it pushes the air from his throat. Harry grabs at his arse with one hand and wraps the other around his back, pulling Eggsy further down onto himself until Eggsy’s practically lying on top of him.
Their glasses clack together. Harry makes a lovely, frustrated little noise, and before Eggsy can rectify the situation, both their glasses clatter on the desk behind them and Harry’s hand is returning to stroke the back of Eggsy’s neck. “Won’t be needing those,” he murmurs, and Eggsy anticipates another round of kissing to commence, but Harry leans up to mouth wetly over the side of his throat instead, and the moan that breaks from Eggsy is no sound he has ever heard himself make before.
Experience deserts him. His hands slip uselessly down the front of Harry’s tux, the ocular image of dark navy spread out beneath him like an ocean. He wants to touch Harry, but he grips the armrests of the chair they’re in and holds himself stock-still. This isn’t his first with someone else — far from it — but it’s his first with Harry, and he’s wanted such licence to do this for so very long that he has no idea where to even begin.
“Will you,” Harry murmurs below his ear, and Eggsy nods without hesitation. For Harry, anything. Eggsy would move the world for him. Whatever he’s about to ask, it could never be anything else but yes.
“Don’t stop,” Eggsy begs. Harry obliges accordingly, gives him exactly what he wants with small sucks along the border of his jawline. The first tentative scrape of teeth is merely to test. The second and third come confident and deliberate, and Eggsy pants over Harry’s shoulder, into the backrest of the chair. Desire surges him like a tidal wave, an unmistakable bloom of heat expanding from within his chest and coiling down into his groin. Too many things attempt to flood Eggsy’s mouth at the same time: swear words, carnal noises, Harry’s name rising out of him like a confession. He’s discovering me, he realises, and almost moans again with the thought, turning it into a whimper instead as Harry kisses his way back to Eggsy’s lips.
“I have wanted this,” Harry says thickly, his hands beginning to roam. They grip Eggsy’s shoulders and drop to his ribs and separate from there, like he himself can’t decide on which parts of Eggsy he wants to touch the most. Seizing this opportunity, Eggsy guides Harry’s hands to his thigh and lower back before kissing him and palming Harry’s erection through his trousers — fuck, Harry’s cock. He wants to hold it, taste it, suck on it for hours, and for Harry to let him.
The gloves make it difficult to pry apart Harry’s flies, but Harry is on it immediately, unclipping his braces as well and lifting his hips so that Eggsy can shuck both trousers and briefs down with one quick jerk of his wrist. Eggsy wraps his fingers around Harry’s cock, slides to a kneel on the floor and drops his head into Harry’s crotch to go down on him as far as he can without choking. Fingers twine into his hair just as a throaty unhh floats down to greet him, and Eggsy swears he goes lightheaded at all the blood rushing from his brain to his cock at that singular utterance.
“Oh my god,” Eggsy says, or at least tries to, because it comes out all muffled around Harry and he doesn’t want to have to pull off, not even for a second. Harry tastes — well, he tastes like cock, big surprise, but Eggsy puts his tongue all over, lets the glans rub generously against the roof of his mouth, and the plethora of grunts that this coaxes from Harry makes it the best damn thing Eggsy’s tasted in years. He noses into the thatch of coarse hair below Harry’s navel, just to breathe him there, just like that, perfect. He fondles Harry’s balls with a gloved palm, and then the hands at the top of his head tighten as Harry starts to come with a broken groan, and it’s messy but glorious, and beautiful, so fucking beautiful that Eggsy’s almost in tears.
Once he’s done swallowing, he cleans Harry with his tongue, savouring the taste of him while he can, and making sure he’s gotten all of it before he lets himself be hauled up into Harry’s arms again. The kiss that follows is deep, threatens to smother. He puts his tongue in Harry’s mouth and Harry licks at him unabashedly, eyes hazy with orgasm but still dark and unmistakably wanting.
“Let me,” Harry purrs, reaching down to unbutton Eggsy’s trousers and fish his aching cock out of his pants. There’s already an abundance of precome for Harry to slick him with, which he does so while continuing to kiss Eggsy. His free hand pets Eggsy’s hair. Eggsy sets his palms against Harry’s shoulders and braces a foot against the floor. The space between them isn’t wide enough for Harry to get a good enough angle for his stroking, but that’s fine with Eggsy; he grinds into Harry’s hand, and it takes no time at all before his breathing hitches in his throat and the rush punches through him and he’s unwound, coming hot and sticky all over Harry’s lap.
They keep kissing for a bit after that. When Eggsy’s cock has gone soft enough, he goes boneless on top of Harry, striving for even more contact with him. He wraps his arms under Harry’s armpits, curling up around his shoulders and hanging on tight, completely and utterly besotted. Harry clings back, bracketing Eggsy’s thighs with his legs, and he sighs up into his mouth.
“I love you,” Eggsy mumbles, and it’s getting to say it for the first time since he’s known that makes something in him lift. If he listens carefully, focuses with all his being, he can almost feel Harry’ heart beating. Is this it? he thinks, closing his eyes. Am I yours?
“I know.” He feels Harry’s thumb drawing across his cheek, rubbing tenderly at the corner of his mouth before slipping inside, just barely. Harry tips his head back and brushes a kiss against Eggsy’s lips and when he smiles at him, Eggsy breathes. “Happy Birthday.”