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Every Club's Got a Secret Handshake

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Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.

 

They do now, of course, but they didn’t always. Harry is the one who taught Eggsy to make the perfect martini, who could play at least three different instruments and who used to be a doctor with a cool head and a surgeon's touch. His hands have saved lives, changed lives, and they still do both of those things, but Harry’s being a blind tit over the whole thing and can only think about what he's lost, and not what he's kept.

 

The doctors (Merlin) had told Eggsy that although the bullet hadn’t lodged within the brain, it had done plenty of damage without needing to. It broke the skull over Harry’s inner temple and just over his eyebrow, narrowly avoiding taking out the eye entirely. Although they reconstructed the area, there was still some high chance of heavy scarring and some idiosyncrasies with skull formation afterwards. There was also swelling around the brain, bad swelling, and until it went down and Harry woke up, they couldn’t tell what the lasting neurological effects might be. He might not remember Eggsy. He might not remember the Kingsman. He might not remember how to talk, how to walk, how to smirk at Eggsy and call him an idiot without saying a thing.

 

He might not be Harry.

 

So it's so beautiful it hurts, when Harry wakes up for longer than a minute or two, actually wakes up and focuses on Eggsy and says in a voice thick from disuse but perfectly clear,

 

“I have a devil of a headache, Eggsy.” He blinks at Eggsy in his smart, dark suit and his smart, dark glasses and his stupid, sappy smile, and he adds wryly, “I take it we won then. Gentlemen don’t brag, Eggsy, even in their actions.” Harry chides, seeing Eggsy's shit-eating grin, and the boy's grin turns into a gawk.

 

“You beat up an entire bar of tossers just to show off for me.” He points out incredulously, and Harry laughs for the first time in three months. And when Harry does this, and Merlin comes running in to check on him and breaks into a rare, relieved smile at the sight of Harry awake, aware, and actively laughing at Eggsy. Eggsy can’t stop grinning either, because Harry is okay, his Harry is okay.

 

Later, the bandages come off. The dip in the bone is barely noticeable, all things considered, and the scarring isn't as bad as it could have been. Eggsy thinks that he looks rather dashing with the star-burst scar, cutting through his eyebrow rakishly and spreading a little onto his forehead like he’s Harry Potter instead of Harry Hart. The Man Who Lived. Harry frowns when he sees the outcome himself, vain bastard, but he doesn’t seem too put off. Harry Hart seems to be the luckiest man in the world.

 

And then they realize that his hands aren’t just shaking from weakness, or disuse, or any other vaguely annoying but ultimately temporary state. They are just shaking, and they won’t ever stop. And that’s when Harry looks like his world is going to end--not when he got shot, not when V-Day was literally ending the world, but now, when he looks down at his shaking hands and realizes that his whole life is going to change. He's lost this one little thing from his brush with death, not his life, not his mind. No, Harry Hart has lost his hands, and to him that is a thousand times worse.

 

A Kingsman needs steady hands, he tells Eggsy. I’ll resign quietly, he tells Merlin. Eggsy will make an admirable Galahad, he tells them both.

 

And both of them tell Harry that he can kindly fuck off if he thinks he’s getting off that easily. Kingsmen once had an agent with two prosthetic arms, and she’d been one of the best agents that they’d ever had, Merlin tells Harry primly, so Harry’s problem is nothing to axe him over. He can’t resign anyway because he’s Arthur now, and they need an Arthur or else the whole bloody organization will go to shite. And Eggsy already has a codename, Excalibur, and he’s not going from being the badass sword of legend back to being the knight with the gooiest heart, Jesus.

 

“He technically failed the test,” Merlin reminds Harry one evening, “I couldn’t give him any of the established knighthoods without breaking some pretty big rules--the 'old boys' pitched quite a fit over it, I can tell you. So I made him a new one. Am I good or am I good?” He asks him with a devious smirk. It’s the same smirk he gives Eggsy the same job offer, boiling it down to:

 

“Arthur and his trusty Excalibur, fighting evil side-by-side ‘til death do them part. Sound good to you?”

 

And Merlin doesn’t tell them, but both had looked at him with wide eyes and breathed,

 

“God, yes.”

 

And it does sound good, it sounds bloody amazing, but there are some hiccups on the road to bloody amazing. For example, the hands. It’s become this tortured little tongue twister that Eggsy hears every time Harry sees his hands shaking and looks a little more broken.

 

Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.

 

Harry’s hands shake when he signs his name on all of the reports and forms and other annoying pieces of paper that fall to the newly minted Arthur. The signatures always look like they’ve been signed during a seismic event, all squiggly and off kilter. Eggsy sees him looking down at the pen in his hand, and he hears him think: Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.


So, Eggsy badgers Merlin until the man orders (with far less reluctance than he pretends, and Eggsy knows he’s seen Harry’s face while signing paperwork too) that all reports must be typed and submitted electronically—to save paper, of course, because in this perpetual disaster zone that V-Day has created, every little bit counts. They watch Harry tap, tap, tapping away at the iPad on the table in front of him, no chance for his fingers to shake with the quick jabbing motions and no one to see if they do, and Merlin gives him a subtle nod across the briefing room after the meeting concludes. Eggsy goes for a fist bump, but is brutally rebuffed. Merlin may be an excellent partner in crime, but he's also a bit of a prick.

 

Harry’s hands shake when he's holding a gun—actually, Harry’s hands should never, ever be holding a gun, at least according to Merlin. He is very careful about the way he says it, but he makes it very clear that Harry is not to be making use of a gun on base when anyone is within shooting distance (which is all the time), and he is not to be making use of a gun at all on missions, even when he’s cleared for them. Eggsy sees him looking at the new recruits tromping across the green towards the shooting range and he hears him think: Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.

 

So Eggsy bemoans his lack of skill in using grenades, EMPs, flash bombs—anything that can be thrown with loose accuracy and still have devastating effects. Harry tuts and tsks over Eggsy’s shortcomings and takes him aside for private lessons. Eggsy already knows exactly how to use all of these things, but he watches Harry show him how to properly use a smoke bomb without choking on the fumes yourself, watches the content smile on Harry’s face as he falls so easily into the familiar movements, and once Harry is done Eggsy purposefully botches his own attempt so that Harry will have to show him again. It’s partially because it makes Harry happy, but mostly because Harry’s smile when he’s happy is really fucking gorgeous and Eggsy is selfish, okay?

 

Harry’s hands shake when he’s pouring tea. The saucers rattle when he carries the tray to the table, more tea ends up outside of the cup than in it when he tips the pot, and sometimes the cup jerks at his lips and a drop or two of tea ends up sloshing down his front, staining his starched white shirt or crisp blue tie. Eggsy sees him peering down at his otherwise immaculate attire and he hears him think: Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.

 

So Eggsy gets rid of the saucers, because saucers are for ponces anyway. He pours the tea himself when he gets the chance, because Harry is teaching him to be a gentleman and a gentleman always pours the tea for his guests. When Harry insists, Eggsy nods easily and if the teapot tips a little as the man pours, well, Eggsy doesn’t have super-spy reflexes for nothing. It’s a training exercise of a sort—catch the tea in the cup with minimal movement and without alerting the target to the danger. If Harry spills that drop or two of tea on his tie, Eggsy will spill three or four on his own shirt and get biscuit crumbs on the lapels just for good measure, and he just dares anyone to comment because he will kick their arses to Kingdom Bloody Come and back if they try.

 

Harry’s hands shake as they do up the buttons on his shirt, as they loop that perfect knot in his tie, as they tie the laces on his Oxfords into a faultless bow. Eggsy only knows this because he once saw Harry getting ready in the morning—not that Eggsy was trying to sneak a peek or nothing, these things just happen (and if he happened to get a peek or ten they certainly weren’t sneaked because sneaking’s for perverts)—and he never, ever lets on that he does know. Harry takes a whole twenty minutes in the morning, twice as long as his usual ten (and how a man can look as put-together and picture-perfect as Harry Hart does in either time frame is beyond Eggsy). Eggsy sees (but only the once, because he’s not a creep) Harry redoing another missed button on his shirt with frustration on his face, and he hears him think: Harry Hart’s hands surely shouldn’t shake.

 

So Eggsy takes thirty minutes getting ready in the morning, times it on his phone and everything, and makes sure every day that his hair isn't brushed or his tie is askew. Harry scolds him about proper appearances, waiting for Eggsy at the door with his umbrella on his arm and not a hair out of place. He beckons Eggsy closer, close enough to feel the heat of Harry’s body against Eggsy’s and close enough to smell the man’s cologne, a brand that Eggsy never even heard of before he met Harry and now can’t get enough of. Harry tugs expertly at the snag in his tie, one swift movement with no time for tremors, and pats at it until it lies flat with light, quick movements. He brushes a hand against Eggsy’s messy hair and pushes it back from his face with soft, almost tender care, and Eggsy closes his eyes just for a moment and pretends that it means more than it does, that his hair is messy from Harry running his hands through it as he kisses him. Harry tells Eggsy as they head out the door that he really should work on his morning routine, he’s taking far too long, and Eggsy huffs and puffs and staunchly refuses to shorten his routine even a moment. He grins when he sees Harry hide a smile.

 

Harry’s hands shake when he sits in the cold, white hospital wing and waits for Eggsy to wake up. Eggsy doesn’t see Harry’s hands shake this time, as he is in a medically induced coma and isn’t seeing much of anything for a while. Merlin sees however, as he breezes in to check Eggsy’s chart whenever he has the time (he makes the time, once every two hours whether there’s a world crisis or not). He sees Harry pressing his hands tightly together in front of him, like he’s praying, and maybe he is. His hands are shaking like leaves in the wind, worse than usual with terror and adrenaline. It’s been three days and Eggsy still hasn’t woken up. Three days, three shots to the chest, two broken ribs, significant internal hemorrhaging and swelling around the heart. Harry hasn’t left his side for a moment. Merlin hopes that Eggsy can tell, wherever he is.

 

Roxy sees Harry’s hand shake too, running his fingers over the contours of Eggsy’s face, lingering over where the tubes encroach, ugly and ungainly against his pale features. She watches as he threads his fingers together with Eggsy’s, and it takes three tries (three days, three shots), but he just keeps going until everything slots together and then he doesn’t let go. He just doesn’t let go, and the whole time he’s whispering to Eggsy, and she only catches bits but she hears ‘please’ and ‘please’ and ‘please’ a lot. She slips away before he can see her because she knows that this, what she’s seeing, is just for Harry and Eggsy, and that inconsiderate jerk had better wake up soon so that he can appreciate it.

 

So Eggsy wakes up, because he can feel everyone mentally bitching about it and he might as well shut them up. The first thing he sees is Harry, unshaven and rumpled in the chair next to his bed. The first thing he feels is Harry’s hand shaking in his own, maybe not steady but warm and calloused in all the right places and perfect. He takes a deep breath, throat still sore from the tubing that had been stuffed down there, and he whispers Harry’s name. It sounds like a gunshot in the silent ward, and immediately Harry jolts awake and meets Eggsy’s sleep-fogged eyes with his own bloodshot ones. Harry stumbles to his feet, makes it the single step to Eggsy’s bed, and then fairly collapses on him, ever so careful not to jostle any tubes with the care of man who knows exactly where each of them goes from personal experience.

 

It takes Eggsy a moment to realize that it is a hug and not Harry passing out from lack of food or sleep, and he returns the embrace only a moment after that, ignoring the tug of the IV in his hand and burying his face in Harry’s hair and just breathing. Harry is murmuring, ‘thank you, thank you, thank you’ over and over again, and Eggsy isn’t sure whether he’s thanking Eggsy or Merlin or someone else entirely, but he stays quiet and holds Harry as tightly as he can with weak arms until Merlin comes to check on them. He still doesn’t let go, and neither does Harry, even though it’s a completely ungentlemanly position.

 

Harry’s hands are shaking when they put the keys in the lock of the front door. Eggsy is finally allowed to go home, and his ribs are still a little wonky but he would have gone batty if he’d spent one more moment in that rickety hospital bed choking down porridge, and even Merlin knew well enough to cut his losses and send him home. Eggsy doesn’t say a word when Harry misses the lock on the first try and has to push it in again, because he’s home with Harry and who cares if it takes a second or two longer to get inside? Not Eggsy.

 

He leans maybe a little bit more on Harry than he needs to as the man helps him upstairs. Actually, he really doesn’t need to lean at all considering his legs are probably the only parts of him uninjured at this point, but Harry isn’t setting him straight and there’s no way Eggsy’s passing up a chance at Harry-touching. Harry is so gentle when he lowers Eggsy onto his bed and he sounds so fond when he says that JB chewed up Eggsy’s old slippers (an act of God, Harry claims, given the state of the things), but Harry would just fetch Eggsy the pair Harry had bought to replace them. Oh, and there’d been a matching robe for a great bundle deal so he’d bring that too, it was no trouble. Harry shuffles back into the room with a deep blue robe and slippers that look like they must have cost a small fortune, and Harry tells him that it was really nothing, he just thought Eggsy might like them, and Eggsy realizes once again why he loves this man, why he’s fucking gaga over this man.

 

He dutifully puts on the ridiculously fluffy and warm robe and slippers while Harry slips off to make him tea—the man is a mother hen like no other, Eggsy is learning.

 

“I decided to make it chamomile, because Merlin cautioned that caffeine might not be advisable for the time being and the decaffeinated ones taste rather foul. There’s lemon and honey for your throat, of course, and—“

 

Harry’s hands are shaking when they lose their grip on the mug and it falls to the floor. It’s a sturdy thing, one of Eggsy’s heavy-duty ceramic monstrosities rather than Harry’s bone china, so the cup remains intact, but the tea splashes everywhere, soaking Harry’s shoes and the floor around them. Harry looks down at the tea seeping into the floor and through the fine leather of his shoes and Eggsy hears him think—no, Harry’s not quite thinking anything, instead he’s feeling, far too much. Eggsy can see frustration and embarrassment and distress on his face before Harry looks up and meets his eyes.

 

And then Eggsy sees shame.

 

Harry Hart’s heart should never feel shame over his stupid shaking hands.

 

“I… I apologize. I’ll get a towel, another cup…the same cup, if you’d like, I could rinse it out beforehand of course, but—“

 

“Harry.” Eggsy interrupts, because Harry looks ready to run and Eggsy doesn’t think he can catch him with two broken ribs. And suddenly Eggsy knows that he needs to tell Harry right now that there’s nothing wrong with his shaking hands and Eggsy doesn’t care about the floor and there’s oceans more tea where that came from.

 

“Harry, I fucking love you and your fucking hands.”

 

Oh. Or, now could be the perfect time to confess his undying adoration of his flustered mentor in a flurry of profanity. That too.

 

“What?” Harry says, and the only good thing about this situation is that Harry doesn’t look ashamed anymore. He looks shocked, flabbergasted really, and while that’s better than ashamed it’s not exactly bolstering Eggsy’s confidence about this whole confession thing. “I’m sorry, I think I just misheard you.”

 

“Did you hear the part that I love you?” Harry nods dazedly. “And your hands?” Another slow nod. “Nope, you heard right. Now sit down and take off your shoes and socks before you get tea trench foot.”

 

Harry obeys, looking a little shell-shocked, toeing his shoes off meekly and folding his soaking socks inside of them like they're not already ruined. He hesitates, obviously looking for an alternative seat, and finally gives in and sits on the bed. He’s practically falling off the edge, so Eggsy reaches over and yanks the man closer. He settles against the covers with crossed legs, and watches as Harry hesitantly does the same. He looks fairly awkward in this position; it’s sort of adorable actually, but now is not the time to be teasing.

 

“So. Love. Me. You. Thoughts on that?” Eggsy asks after what feels like hours of stretching silence. There are several more stretching hours before Harry answers.

 

“I suppose I’m not entirely sure… I mean, of course you’re fond of me. I am your mentor and your friend. It’s really not as much of a revelation are you’re making it out to be.” Eggsy snorts.

 

“Yeah, no, not fond in a mentor way. More of the strip-you-out-of-that-stupidly-attractive-suit-using-only-my-teeth way, followed by the fuck-you-so-hard-it-registers-on-the-Richter-scale way, topping it off with the make-you-tea-and-kiss-the-smile-off-your-face-for-the-rest-of-our-lives way.” Harry looks, if possible, even more stunned. “So.” Eggsy finishes awkwardly. Perhaps he’s gone to far. He’s pretty sure Harry got the point a damning sentence or two ago, but it’s hard to stop once he’s started.

 

Harry’s shock slowly fades to something even worse and impossibly better: hope. Like it’s not a sure thing, like it’s going to be taken away at any moment, but oh how he wants it.

 

“You realize that there are dozens of reasons why this is an awful idea.” Harry cautions him. “I am more than twice your age, I hold a position of authority over you, we have entirely different personalities that clash at every opportunity.” He stops, giving Eggsy a defeated look, like now that he’s put out these piss-poor excuses Eggsy’s going to cut and run on him.

 

“That’s three. You said dozens.” He quibbles somewhat pettily, and when Harry opens his mouth like he’s going to start rattling off some more reasons until he reaches a dozen, Eggsy interrupts, “And, just for comparison, I can think of about a million that this is an awesome idea. Only about fifty percent of them have to do with the bedroom.”

 

“Only fifty percent?” Harry echoes, and there is a thread of his old humor underneath the faint disbelief still present in his voice. “You’re rather underselling yourself.”

 

‘Well, fifty percent of a million.” Eggsy reminds him. “That sounds like a pretty good pitch to me. But I’m not the one buying.” Despite the insouciance of his words, Eggsy is pretty much hanging on every breath Harry takes, hoping it will be the one that says yes.

 

“If you change your mind about this at any time—“ He says, and Eggsy waves him off.

 

“Yeah, yeah, you’ll be all noble and gentlemanly and let me flee into the night without a peep, but Harry, love, it’s not going to happen.” He soothes. Harry’s lips quirk, amused.

 

“Actually, I was going to say that I know at least a hundred persuasion techniques to convince you otherwise, and at least fifty percent of them involve the bedroom. The other fifty percent mostly involve thumbscrews and pliers.” Well then. Eggsy grins at the man, leaning back against the headboard like he’s not scared out of his mind.

 

“Kinky as hell, Harry, but let’s stick with the first fifty for now.” Harry’s eyes seem to light up as they take in Eggsy grinning and crooking a finger. Harry manages to get up on his knees and crawl over the bedspread, which is… wow, really hot, how does he do that? He’s straddling Eggsy’s knees and leaning in and the hesitant tenderness in his eyes is only matched by that of his hands.

 

Harry Hart’s hands shake when they cradle Eggsy Unwin’s face as he kisses him for the first time. Harry is a fucking fantastic kisser, considerate but still rather thorough, all things considered. Eggsy might be a little enthusiastic in his response but honestly, he’s wanted to snog this guy for the better part of a year, and now that he’s got him he’s got some fantasies that need enacting, is what he’s saying. A lot of these fantasies involve kissing and he’s not quite sure which one he wants to do first, so he gets a little muddled, but Harry seems to be enjoying it all the same.

 

Harry pulls back far too soon, and Eggsy makes an annoyed sound and tries to follow that sinful mouth as it moves away. Harry’s a little out of breath (hell yeah, Unwin, not so bad at all), and the color is high in his cheeks. His eyes look almost black, the pupils are so dilated, and disheveled and dark-eyed is a very good look on Harry Hart indeed. It’s not quite as good as the look of Harry Hart when he catches his breath and gives Eggsy a slow sort of smile that just… shines. It fucking glows with all the things that Harry hasn’t quite said yet, except he’s been saying them forever and Eggsy’s only now getting the hint. Idiot—he’ll make it up to Harry later.

 

Harry’s dark, bright eyes actually look a little wet, now that Eggsy’s looking closely, and he knows he’s not that bad a kisser, so that can’t be what’s making Harry cry. Judging from the smile, it’s the good kind of crying. Actually, Eggsy’s feeling a little damp-eyed himself, and he knows his own smile is twice as goofy as Harry’s incredibly goofy smile.

 

Something shifts then, in Harry’s eyes as he watches Eggsy's face, where his hands are resting tenderly. His smile slips a little and softens in a not-nice way, a little sad, a little sheepish.

 

“My hands are shaking.” He murmurs, and it sounds like an apology.

 

Eggsy wants to tell him all the things he’s been thinking over the last few months. He wants to say that Harry’s still Harry, and Still Harry is pretty fucking brilliant. He wants to say that he didn’t fall in love with Harry’s hands, he fell in love with Harry’s smile, laugh, heart, and none of that’s changed a whit so neither have Eggsy's feelings. He wants to say that Harry’s the best Arthur the Kingsmen have ever had, everyone’s saying so, and no one is saying anything about a few shaky signatures that only bother Harry. He wants to say that he will do Harry’s paperwork every day, shoot where Harry points every time, make Harry’s tea every evening, and dress Harry (and undress him just as quickly) every morning. He’ll do these things, and not because Harry needs him to. No, he’ll do them because Eggsy wants to, wants it more than anything in the world, every day for the rest of forever.

 

Eggsy wants to say all of these things, but he’s still a little out of breath from snogging Harry and he’d really like to get back to the snogging Harry bit, so he reluctantly pulls his hands away from where they’ve been playing with Harry’s hair and puts them up for the man’s inspection.

 

Harry looks at them wonderingly, moving his own so that they meet digit to digit, all of them trembling like crazy.

 

Eggsy may be a crack shot, but that’s only because he’s not nervous when he’s shooting a gun. This, right here? This is fucking terrifying, and it’s also the best thing that’s ever happened to him (except possibly walking out of a police station with a chip on his shoulder and meeting a softly smiling Harry Hart). And when Eggsy Unwin gets nervous, his hands shake.

 

This whole relationship is going to be like dating during an earthquake. Eggsy can’t wait.

 

“Well look at that. So are mine.”