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i blinked (and there you were)

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***************************************

Amy: Could you? Could you if it was me? Could you do it?

Rory (her husband): To save you, I could do anything.

 

The Doctor: What the hell are you doing?!?!

Amy: Changing the future. It's called marriage.

- Doctor Who, The Angels Take Manhattan

***************************************

Life goes on, after Harry dies.

It seems unfair that it does sometimes, Eggsy admits. Sometimes he feels like time should have just stopped when Harry died, that it should have respected the magnitude of his loss in some tangible way. But that isn’t how the universe works, Eggsy knows; time goes on no matter what, and so Eggsy forces himself to as well. It’d be a grave insult to Harry’s memory if he didn’t, Eggsy knows, because Harry believed in him in a way no one had before. Kingsman was Harry’s last gift to Eggsy, and Eggsy refuses to waste it.

Besides, he looks damn good in a suit, if he does say so himself.

Still, there is a clear progression of his life, after Harry. Because Eggsy had loved him, from almost the moment he’d sat back down in the pub after cleaning Dean’s goons clocks, and Harry died never getting to hear him say it.

That sort of thing leaves wounds that take time to heal.

And so, in the progression of his life, 2015 is the year of grief. Eggsy sleeps in Harry’s red robe until the smell of him disappears, and occasionally looks over his shoulder when someone calls him Galahad, expecting to find Harry standing right behind him. He spends hours pouring over every report and video recording of Harry’s tenure as Galahad, trying to find even the tiniest remnant of the man still in them, but feels only more alone every time he does. Still, he is an exemplary agent; he starts his own wall of mundane front page articles, and by the end of 2015 there are 12 of them already.

It doesn’t make him feel any better.

2016 is the year of anger. Eggsy drinks a little too much, has unwise sex with some dodgy individuals, and his post mission reports start to skirt around phrases like “excessive use of force.” That bloody church in Kentucky reopens and starts preaching its hate again, and Eggsy finds himself tempted to go there and kill them all himself, because why do they, pathetic little hateful people that they are get to rebuild and be again when Harry, who was ten times the man they all were combined, is still fucking dead? He breaks three mission related records and adds 17 more articles to his wall.

Let no one say anger isn't a motivating force.

2017 is the year of acceptance. Eggsy goes to a Kingsmen therapist and actually starts dealing with his feelings like a mature adult. He loses his chav accent and develops a fairly decent posh one, because Harry might have thought that being a gentleman was unrelated to the way you spoke, but gun running members of the House of Lords disagree, apparently, and bulletproof suit or not getting shot fucking hurts. He is still himself - relentlessly loyal, irreverent of most things and appreciative of a little sense of the theatrical - he is just more...refined. He learns the art of patience in holding his tongue when playing cards with a disgusting human trafficker. He can seduce a cold blooded assassin with charm and grace, speak fluent French and passable Italian, and he can sit with Lords and heads of state and look like he belongs, like he’d been born in a suit like this.

By the end of 2017 he’s got 40 articles on his wall, and he’s the best knight the agency has, to the teasing consternation of Roxy, who is undeniably the second best and aiming for the top, as always.

There will always be a part of him that loves Harry, Eggsy knows. That part that thinks of all that they could have been and mourns the loss. That remembers the warmth in his chest that had bloomed whenever Harry’s smiled at him, and the hint of desire he’d felt looking at the curve of those lips. But now, three years on, Eggsy can feel those things and not let them consume him. He can think, Harry would have loved that when he executes a particularly wicked maneuver on a mission without a twinge of pain accompanying the thought.

Eggsy’s grown into the man he thinks Harry saw in him, is finally living up to that potential, and finally, it’s a realization that no longer comes with crushing sadness. He thinks, three years after Harry’s death, he might be ready to start moving on, so to speak, and he knows it’d be what Harry’d of wanted for him.

He thinks, perhaps, 2018 will be the year of peace.

And then in April, Merlin sends him to investigate the fact that people have started disappearing after visiting a graveyard known for it’s angel statues.

Peace might not have been the right word.

The progression of his life gets a little more...complicated then.

***************************************

The first thing Eggsy would like to make known when he arrives at the graveyard is that these are some seriously fucked up statues. Eggsy’s never been one to startle at scary movies or the like, but there is something about these things that just creeps him the fuck out. They’ve all got their hands to their eyes like they’re weeping, or hiding, and Eggsy can’t shake the irrational feeling that they’re somehow peeking out at him behind from their stone hands.

Like they’re waiting.

Lovely, Eggsy thinks, rolling his shoulders to try and dispel the tension that’s gathered there, it’d just be his luck to survive Harry’s death intact and then lose his wits over a few statues.

Still, bizarre feeling aside, Eggsy’s got a job to do, and so he activates his glasses feed and says, as protocol demands, “Galahad checking in at the site. No suspicious activity to report as of yet.”

The statues, he thinks pointedly to himself, don’t count.

Merlin, the ever faithful voice in his ear responds as expected, a causal humour born of familiarity in his tone, “Acknowledged. A thorough sweep through is probably in order, and then I’ll let you stop chasing wild geese.”

And Eggsy’s about to shoot some quip back, some little witticism that will make Merlin huff with laughter under his breath, because that’s their thing, but then something moves in the periphery of his eye, and Eggsy whips around, trying to track the movement.

But all he sees is a statue, wings tucked into it’s back, eyes playfully hidden.

A statue that was not that close a moment ago.

“Merlin,” Eggsy finds himself saying, barely able to trust his own eyes, but that one angel was way further away, he knows that, “I think that statue moved.”

“Galahad, what are you talking about?” Merlin asks, with his yes, really, that isn’t funny tone, but Eggsy’s got bigger problems, because he knows there wasn’t a statue behind him a moment ago, and now there is.

“Merlin, there’s something wrong with these statues, I mean it,” Eggsy says, as serious as can be, staring at the one in front of him and, in the reflection of his lens the one that is definitely now behind him, that now has it’s hands away from it’s face to bare its sharp teeth.

Teeth that sharp are never a good sign.

The fact that it’s a statue, and it’s hands have one hundred percent moved to expose said teeth is probably also not a good sign, Eggsy thinks.

Eggsy -,” Merlin starts, voice somewhere between concern and patient reassurance, but Eggsy never hears how that sentence was going to end, because Eggsy blinks, and then Merlin’s just gone.

Eggsy is too.

***************************************

When he opens his eyes, barely even a second later, Eggsy finds himself in an alley in what is unmistakably London, graveyard no where in sight and nothing but static in his ears.

To say he’s confused would be...greatly understating the matter.

He taps his glasses a few times, tries hailing Merlin, and when he still gets nothing but static, he starts to worry a bit, because the glasses are fine, he discerns, they’re still transmitting.

It’s like...no one is there to receive it.

“Oi mate, you alright there?” A voice says, pulling him away from that disturbing thought, and he looks up to find a man standing there staring at him a bit suspiciously. But what catches Eggsy’s eye is the fact that the guy’s got a haircut and wardrobe that he apparently stole from the eighties, or something because that hair is just not ok, and he’s pretty sure he can see shoulder pads in the guy’s jacket.

There’s this foreboding feeling starting to grow in the depth of his stomach.

“No, I’m just...” Eggsy starts, and then, because he’s lived in London all his life and this is wrong - the cars are too old and the streetlights aren’t what they were yesterday - he finds himself asking, that feeling starting to move to his chest as it grows, “What’s the date?”

“April 8th,” The man says, with a look that Eggsy knows is him wondering what kind of bender Eggsy’d been on, but Eggsy can’t even begin to feel relief at the fact the day is the same, because now he’s finally got a good look at London, and there are a few things missing.

Eggsy can’t see The Shard or The Eye from here, and so he asks, because he’s got this terrible feeling that might not be because of where he’s standing but when, “What’s the year?”

“1988,” The man says, like it should be obvious, lifting his eyebrows high as he asks incredulously, “How much did you drink last night mate?”

And Eggsy’d write it off as a prank, as a late and truly unfunny April Fool’s Day joke, except for the fact that there is a red news kiosk right beside him, the kind where you stick in the money and take the paper, and Eggsy can read the front page from where he’s standing. The headline, truly banal, proclaims, English Pound Note ceases to be legal Tender, but the date, innocuous and innocent in the corner is what catches Eggsy’s eye, holds it and his breath hostage.

April 8th, 1988.

“Not nearly enough,” Eggsy manages, standing on a street corner three years before he’s even born, and wishes desperately for a pint or five.

***************************************

Look, Eggsy’s a London boy, through and through. He might have shed himself of the estate accent of his youth, but he still lived there, and as such, he remembers all the alien shite no one ever talks about. The Christmas it rained ash, that spaceship that hit Big Ben, The Battle of Canary Wharf and the 456 and the way parents held onto their children a little closer that year. The unspoken rule about being from London might be that you don’t mention any of this shite, because somehow most of the rest of the world seems to have forgotten it, but people like Eggsy, a dyed in the wool Londoner, remember. Point he’s trying to make is this: the knowledge that aliens exist makes suddenly ending up in 1988 after investigating moving statues a possibility, rather than a sign of mental illness.

Still, that doesn’t mean Eggsy doesn’t allows himself five minutes to panic and freak out. Five minutes to just stare at the date at the paper and think, what the bleeding fuck?

And then those five minutes pass, and Eggsy does what any mature, cultured gentleman spy would do when confronted by a situation like this.

He breaks into Torchwood.

Apparently, Eggsy thinks as he leaves in record time, needed info in hand, their security in 1988 was shite.

***************************************

The answer to how he’s ended up here is...somehow both helpful and equally unhelpful at the same time.

The Weeping Angels, Eggsy reads on the stolen Torchwood intel. Aliens that pose as statues, and kill their victims by sending them back in time and feeding off their years not lived in the present. The politest psychopaths in the universe, a note reads, scrawled in what looks like a doctor’s chicken scratch on the edge of the page by someone who clearly had a perverse sense of humour. A one way trip, the report concludes; you get transported by the angels, and it’s the slow road back to the present for you.

Eggsy lays his head back on the wall, takes stock of his situation. He’s lost 30 years - three years more than his entire lifespan up ’til now - in the blink of an eye, and now he’s stuck here, in 1988. Three years before he’s even born. Arthur, the prick, is sure to be heading up the Kingsmen, and Merlin, if he’s even there would be...20, maybe. Fuck, so fucking young.

Shite, even Harry’d only be...

Alive, Eggsy thinks, and finds himself sitting down hard from where his knees can’t hold him.

This is 1988, and Harry’s 23, and alive.

Suddenly, being stuck in 1988 doesn’t seem so bad.

***************************************

The problem of being stuck with no identification three years before he is even born is not really a problem. The Kingsman certainly have the ability to fabricate him an ID that could have him strolling into Buckingham Palace and meeting the security checks if he so pleased.

The problem is getting into the Kingsman. Because yes, Eggsy discovers after doing a little recon, Chester King is most certainly Arthur, and right up until the moment Eggsy’d killed him, Chester King had pretty much hated his guts.

To be fair, he’d probably have hated him after that as well, if not for the whole ‘killed him’ thing.

But that needs to be overcome, and so it will be, Eggsy thinks, because he has a plan and he won’t let anything get in his way. And it’s not a very complicated plan, really; in theory its quite simple. In 2015, on Valentine’s Day - can’t say the man hadn't had an active sense of irony - Richmond Valentine killed 400 million people. One of them was Harry. Now, Eggsy finds himself in 1988, and Harry is alive, and Eggsy’s plan quite simply is this; keep Harry that way, no matter what.

The 400 million other people he’ll also save are really just icing.

And so, Eggsy needs to get into the Kingsman.

And then, as luck would have it, as if fate itself is smiling on him, Tristan ends up dead, and Arthur needs a candidate and well, never let it be said that Eggsy is not an opportunist.

Besides, Arthur valued self preservation above all things. Eggsy’s got an...angle he thinks will work with good old Chester.

“Chester King,” Eggsy says to him in greeting, seating himself across from him uninvited in the little cafe that Chester is in, offering his own fake name with a confident smile, “Gary Ward,” because he finally got around to watching Pretty Woman, and Doolittle would be too fucking obvious.

So much of him begins and ends with Harry. It’s only fair his name does as well, Eggsy thinks.

“Have we met?” Chester asks, with the false indulgence of someone who knows the answer already, and Eggsy smiles at him in kind, blandly, but eyes just a little bit too sharp, because Eggsy isn’t the man he was the last time they met, and Chester King is little match for the man he is now.

"A couple decades from now, actually, so you needn’t worry about not remembering,” Eggsy says casually, gesturing to the waitress and ordering a cup of tea with a smooth smile and a wink that flusters her before turning back to Arthur and...spinning the truth just a little bit, “You were...personally responsible for making sure I became a knight.”

Killing Arthur, after all, was his very own special ‘last test.’

Arthur raises an eyebrow at that, but Eggsy thinks its less his claim to be from the future and more that Eggsy certainly doesn’t quite match the ideal of what Chester seemed to look for in proposals; namely blue blood and a classist attitude to match his own. Still, for all that Eggsy is sure that Chester suspects he is less than what he appears, he also takes satisfaction in the fact that he can’t prove it, because Eggsy truly has refined himself into the model of a true modern gentleman, and the grudging acceptance that he can see of that fact in Chester King’s eyes is the sweetest reward he could ever hope to receive.

It’s possible that Eggsy still harbours a few sour grapes where Arthur is concerned.

Still, that’s besides the point, so Eggsy lets it go and says instead, cagily, “I’ve found myself taking a one way trip to here from 2018, courtesy of a few angels,” because he’d bet his life that Chester King has stuck his fingers into Torchwood and UNIT intel.

“I see, and now you wish to rejoin the agency in the here and now,” The man says, because Eggsy has excellent instincts, and then, so fucking smug, like he’s humouring Eggsy, “And are you going to offer me knowledge of the future as a bribe?”

Well now, that just won’t do, will it?

“No,” Eggsy says, taking in the smug little fucking twist of his face and deciding to see if he can’t wipe that look off as he says causally, as if he is discussing the bloody weather, “But do I know how you die. Nominate me for the position of Tristan, and I’ll make sure it doesn’t happen that way.”

And then, with a little self satisfied sip of his tea, because Eggsy might be a gentleman, but he thinks even Harry’d of forgiven this one, all things considered, “And bribe is such a dirty word. Consider it an...incentive.”

You can bet that smug little smirk is no where to be found.

But, for all that Chester King was a treacherous snake and a classist prick, even Eggsy had seen that he’d been a brutally pragmatic man. Chester King had sold out his organizations morals and ideals because he’d judged that Valentine was the best way to ensure his own survival, and the fact that they had similar ideals on class had been a side benefit, of that Eggsy is sure.

Chester nominates him as his candidate for Tristan.

Eggsy does love being right.

The trials aren’t run by Merlin, but a man in his 60’s who introduces himself as the knight Kay, but other than that, they’re largely the same as Eggsy’d faced before. Accordingly, with that unfair advantage, Eggsy passes every single test with flying colours, and quite cheerfully shoots the dog, another little pug he’s named JB - though this time for James Bond - because Eggsy’s been a Kingsman long enough to know the weight of a gun with blanks in it versus the weight of one with live ammo. Though, in the name of honesty, he’d have shot, Eggsy knows, even if it had been a loaded weapon, and he can’t make himself feel bad about that. He couldn’t kill the dog for the Kingsman, after all, but for Harry, he’d killed a man.

And this, one must never forget, is not for the Kingsman.

“Tristan,” Chester says, grudging admiration on his face as he offers his hand to Eggsy, and Eggsy only smiles, does not gloat, because he is a gentleman as he takes the hand, shakes it once firmly and returns, “Arthur.”

Eggsy is a Kingsman, and he can follow this Arthur no matter how little he thinks of him.

Eggsy’s loyalty was never to the king anyways.

***************************************

Merlin - the Merlin he knew - it turns out, is actually part of the organization. He’s not in charge of training the candidates yet, but rather head of what Eggsy assumes passes as the 1988 equivalent of a tech division. He’s 21 if he’s a day, just as snarky and possessive about his things as his future counterpart, and sporting a full head of black hair.

Somehow, it’s the hair that throws him.

Still, Eggsy likes him just as well as his future counterpart, which is a handy thing, because Arthur sends him out on several incredibly dangerous missions back to back, to prove his worth Eggsy is sure, and so Eggsy once again gets to spend a lot of time with Merlin in his ear. The tech in in 1988 is certainly less impressive; communications are once again limited to actual earpieces and transmitting cameras are only an idea that exists in the R&D development, but they still have lighters that are actually grenades and poisonous knives in expensive oxford shoes, so Eggsy gets by just fine.

He does, however, exchange his spy glasses for a pair of plain old regular ones with glass lenses, and puts them and his watch away in a safe in his home that only he knows the code to. He doesn’t mind changing the future to save Harry, but he’s wary about introducing tech from future into the past, because he’s seen one too many sci-fi movies to think that’s a good idea.

Besides, the glasses record and keep the last 24 hours on them, and they’re the only video he has of his mother, Gracie and Roxy. Eggsy might be committed to his plan, is really alright with being stuck here so long as it means changing Harry’s future, but that doesn’t mean that sometimes he doesn’t sit in his new home at night and nurse a glass of scotch as he watches his mum get Gracie ready for school and later, Roxy tease him about some thing that had happened on a mission and punch his shoulder lightly.

He is happy where he has found himself, but that does not mean there are not things he misses fiercely from his previous life.

Still, he refuses to let himself dwell on such things, because only unhappiness lives in those thoughts, and so he throws himself into every mission and assignment that Arthur gives him, acing every one, because no matter the time period, Eggsy really is an exemplary Kingsman.

Accordingly, this is how in Prague he meets Lancelot, Roxy’s predecesor’s predecesor, who is a ginger haired man named Ben. He’s in his mid thirties, with movie star good looks, blue eyes, and a roguish charm.

He’s also, to Eggsy’s view, entirely aware of and enjoying his position as the agency bicycle.

Case in point, their second mission together in Paris.

“You know,” Lancelot purrs to him, after they have disposed of a particularly nasty drug ring, as he sprawls himself out on the couch beside Eggsy, invitation clear in the very bold hand he runs up Eggsy’s thigh, “Arthur’s picks are never as pretty as you.”

Eggsy finds himself taking a ride or two.

Because look, Eggsy wasn’t kidding when he realized that he was ready to move on from Harry, and there is a part of him that still means that, still realizes how important that is going to be. Because the Harry that will be proposed for Galahad’s yet to be vacant seat, Eggsy knows, won’t be the Harry he lost, and Eggsy thinks it’d be truly unfair to this Harry if he acted as if he was. The Harry Eggsy had loved and lost had a quarter century on the one that he will meet, twenty five years to become the man that he was, and it would be unproductive to judge the Harry of now by the standards of the Harry of then. The love he has for his Harry will undoubtably colour his interactions with this new Harry, Eggsy knows, but he too also wants to endeavour to be a gentleman and treat him how he deserves; to approach this new Harry as his own man, not as the ghost of someone Eggsy is still chasing.

So Eggsy sleeps with Lancelot.

Because, well, who better to pass his time with? Lancelot is handsome, easily charming and very attractive. He is, Eggsy discovers, also excellent in bed, and entirely uninterested in any type of emotional strings beyond friends who fuck, making him entirely perfect for Eggsy’s current needs.

He’s also, Eggsy thinks, safe, because Lancelot comes with an expiry date. It’s a morbid thought to be sure, but it’s true enough. It’s easier not to get too attached to Lancelot because he knows how this ends, and so Eggsy flirts and fucks around with the man and it’s all light and string free and nonexclusive, and just what Eggsy wants.

Arthur, naturally, doesn’t approve, because contract killing is apparently fine with his moral compass but buggery is beyond the pale, but Eggsy can almost see in his eyes the ruthless pragmatism win out over his moral disgust. The unspoken rule of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ runs quite strong in Chester King’s Kingsman, and that works just fine for Eggsy, who is entirely willing to engage in a little ‘see no evil.’

Eggsy’s not sure what 2018 would have become, but 1988 and 1989 become the years of contentment. Eggsy starts a new wall of articles, and adds 14 in 1988, and by the end of 1989 he has 27. Arthur, for all that their relationship will never be close nor fond, considers him a successful agent, and Eggsy has a friend that he fucks in Lancelot, and a friend that he most certainly does not fuck in Merlin, and Eggsy feels satisfied with this life he’d never thought he’d live.

And then 1990 rolls around, and Eggsy is 29, and he knows that this will be the year of Harry.

Needless to say, he is looking forward to it.

***************************************

1990 also brings with it a visitor he never expected to see, in the form of a man in a brown suit and chucks and a pretty bottle blonde who stumble into the shop on one of Eggsy’s cover shifts that Arthur makes them all do.

To be fair, a tailor who knows nothing about suits would be a terrible cover, Eggsy admits.

The girl is very pretty, Eggsy notes, for all that she’s wearing a style of shirt and jeans that won’t be in fashion for another 15 years and when she turns the man, and asks quizzically, “What are we doing here? You never change your clothes,” Eggsy can hear the same London lower class accent that he used to have in her voice.

He thinks he knows who these two are.

“Rose...” the man gently chides, and Eggsy hides his smirk, because there is a blue police box on the street corner where one wasn’t a few moments ago, and if the Torchwood intel he stole is correct, the girl has a point. However, the man doesn’t get to finish his sentence as he spots Eggsy, and says, rather bluntly, a frown starting to form on his expressive face, “You’re not supposed to be here.”

“No,” Eggsy says very politely, to the alien he knows is called The Doctor, with what he is sure is a cheeky glint in his eye, “Are you?”

“Yes, yes, you’re very clever. The Angels?” The Doctor says, and then before Eggsy can reply, with a dismissive wave of his hand, fast and just this side of manic, “Yes, of course it’s the Angels. But you’re not planning to just ride your time out, are you? You’re planning to change things.”

“Just one thing in particular,” Eggsy says agreeably, because he can’t see any reason in lying to the man whose made a hobby out of changing history just because he can.

“It’s never just one thing,” The Doctor says dismissively, shooting a brief look at the girl, who is looking on with some confusion, before returning his gaze to Eggsy to accuse, “You humans, all so bright but you never stop to consider the consequences of your actions.”

Eggsy’d mention that he’s considered them and simply doesn’t care, but honestly, he feels like that might be splitting hairs.

“Please, feel free to enlighten me,” Eggsy says instead, and it is a genuine entreaty. Eggsy’s committed to doing this no matter what happens to him or the world, but it couldn’t hurt to actually know the possible outcomes, and this happens to be the only man in the world who could tell him them.

“The universe is all about it’s checks and balances,” The Doctor informs him, amping up in intensity as he warms to the topic, “You keep enough in the black, integrate yourself into this timeline deep enough, then maybe you create an alternative timeline, separate from your original and you’re fine, you get to stay.”

And then, changing direction, the warning clear in those paradoxically old eyes, “But you if you don’t, if you find yourself still stuck in your original timeline, then you’re a paradox, and the universe wipes you out - you just fade away. Is your one thing worth that risk?” The Doctor finishes, and for all that Eggsy imagines he thinks he’s just delivered bad news, Eggsy’s honestly pretty pleased, because the two alternatives are both ones he can live with so long as Harry lives too.

So Eggsy simply looks at the girl, and then back to The Doctor and asks, because this is the fastest way to explain the sheer magnitude of what Harry meant to him, “Is yours?”

When The Doctor has to break their eye contact to look at his dirty white chucks, Eggsy knows he’s got it.

“I’ll give it 400 million lives,” Eggsy says quietly instead, and means every single word, “I just want one in return. And he’s worth those 400 million to me,” and then politely, but also entirely rhetorical, “Does that answer your question?”

He thinks, in those too ancient eyes, he might see the light of approval.

“So no, thank you,” Eggsy says politely, because this is the only way he can have Harry be alive, and at least now he knows that if he succeeds his mum and Gracie and Roxy will still be out there somewhere, and he knows they’ll be alright without him, “I won’t be needing that ride you’re thinking of offering me.”

“You’re probably making a mistake,” The Doctor warns him, and Eggsy says only, “It’s mine to make,” and not, for him, no I’m not, because it would be truly ungentlemanly to preach to this man in particular on the lengths one is willing to go for someone they love.

And then, he turns his attention to the pretty blonde The Doctor called Rose they’ve been unintentionally ignoring, and notes that he can see as clear as day that she’s in love with The Doctor. And since he can’t help but feel sympathy for her for that, Eggsy takes one of the long-stemmed roses out of the tall vase on the counter and offers it to her with a flourish and a wink, “A rose, for a lovely Rose,”

Eggsy has time to notice that she is especially pretty when she blushes, before The Doctor is herding her away with what sounds like a jealous, “You and your pretty boys.”

Just before they clear the door Rose throws back over her shoulder a “Thank you,” tongue tucked cheekily between her teeth and Eggsy looks at the millennia old alien painfully smitten with a twenty year old London girl, and reminds himself that there are, in fact, love stories more tragic than his own.

And so Eggsy watches his only chance at getting back to his own time shuffle his pretty blonde back into his big blue police box of a time travelling space ship, watches it until it has wheezed and faded away.

And then he gets back to the business of folding pocket squares. It is 1990, and in a matter of months a young Harry Hart will be proposed as a candidate for the position of Galahad.

He’s exactly where he wants to be.

***************************************

Eggsy, for all that he had scoured Harry’s old Kingsman records, doesn’t remember exactly the date and the circumstances under which the current Galahad bit the bullet, so to speak. That would be why he isn’t expecting Lancelot to come out of the bathroom of the hotel room they’re sharing in Monaco after taking down a small terrorist organization and announce solemnly, “Galahad is dead. We’ve been called into HQ, to present our candidates and help with the training.”

Eggsy’s been waiting for what feels like forever for this moment.

“Well,” Eggsy says, and kisses Lancelot for what he knows will be the last time, because for all that he has enjoyed his time with the man, with Harry so close it is undeniably over, “We’d better go then.”

Harry is waiting for him.

***************************************

“Merlin,” Lancelot says in greeting when they make it back to the English HQ, and Merlin looks up from his clipboard and returns, with a gesture towards the two way mirror, “Tristan, Lancelot. Fresh new crowd.”

And so Eggsy makes himself look casually through at the young men gathered there, tries not to let the fact that his heart is currently in his throat show as he scans the group. He notices his own candidate, a marine he notified from the plane to show up, a perfectly nice young man that Eggsy knows will pull his parachute too soon because of a pathological fear of heights talking to the plant for the training, a spotty faced man from the tech department.

And then he catches sight of the young man standing in the middle of the room, all soft cheeks and brown eyes and fluffy chestnut hair, so painfully young and beautiful and his heart does one long, slow roll in his chest.

Harry.

That fuck, he’s adorable is the only thought running through Eggsy’s mind right now is...understandable, he decides, staring that those cheeks that he can’t decide if he wants to pinch or bite.

He was prepared to see Harry alive again.

He absolutely not prepared for this level of fucking cuteness.

“My word, who proposed the one with the hair?” Lancelot says, pulling Eggsy out of his rather unabashed staring of said hair, which thankfully has seemed to have gone unnoticed.

“You’re one to talk,” Merlin fires back, because Lancelot’s hair related vanity is well known in the Kingsman circles, before he flips through a few sheets and then reads off one of them, “Harry Hart, 25, Belvedere’s proposal. RAF, excellent scores in all of their training reports, nothing but glowing reviews from his superiors.”

...Eggsy is absolutely not plotting on how to get his hands on a picture of Harry in his dress uniform.

“The puppies look like they’re more dangerous then him,” Lancelot returns, teasingly dismissive, and Eggsy can kind of see where he’s coming from with that, because this Harry is all soft and unsure, with none of the smooth confidence and lethal polish that his Harry’d had.

Naturally, he still makes an unfairly appealing sight.

“I think he might surprise you,” is all Eggsy says, trying for casual, but something in his tone must give him away because Lancelot turns to him with a glint in his eyes that Eggsy knows never spells out good things.

The last time he’d seen that look Lancelot had shot down a helicopter with a fucking handgun and Eggsy’d had to parkour his way over a moving truck to avoid getting hit by damn thing as it fell.

Lancelot, in case he hasn’t mentioned it before, is fucking nuts.

“Tristan is playing favourites already I see,” Lancelot announces, with an air of devilish delight, because that look never lies and there’s nothing he loves more than being a fucking wanker, “And with the prettiest one no less.”

“Oh, go soak your overly groomed head,” Eggsy fires back, instead of the you have no idea he wants to say, and Lancelot reels over-dramatically, placing his hands over his heart and pasting a terribly false look of offence on his face.

Arsehole, Eggsy thinks with some fondness.

“Gentlemen, as fun as this is, one of you does have to go in and give the speech,” Merlin says dryly, peering up over his clipboard at them unimpressed, because despite time travel, some things apparently never change.

It is, as always, a strangely comforting thought.

“Tristan can do it, impress his pretty boy with the hair,” Lancelot decrees, batting his lashes at Eggsy outrageously, and Eggsy, in a gesture much more suited for the chav he once was, gives him a two fingered salute.

Lancelot, because he is a shameless fucker, only laughs delightedly.

Eggsy, because he’s a gentleman, just takes the high road and goes in to give the speech. It is only, he reasons, half because he wants to stare at Harry some more, which he thinks is fair, given how long he’s waited.

Honestly, the other half is that he really wants to give this speech. The draw of being on the other side, and all that.

It’s kind of a badass speech, after all.

And so Eggsy walks into the room he was twice a trainee in, and stares at all these young faces that wish to be Kingsman, and the one he knows will actually succeed, and starts the speech.

“I am the agent codenamed Tristan, and you all are about to embark,” Eggsy drawls, looking these oh so young faces who stare back at him completely absorbed in what he’s saying, “On the most dangerous job interview of your lives.”

And then he makes the mistake of looking at Harry, whose looking at Eggsy like he’s utterly enraptured, and Eggsy’s hands practically twitch with the urge to run his hands through that bloody hair, to see if he couldn’t make this boy version of Harry purr.

He is so fucked.

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The players, for your viewing pleasure.

Eggsy Unwin/Gary Ward/Tristan - 29

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Isn’t he just a suave little bugger?

Harry Hart/Galahad - 25

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I’m sorry, but look at that hair. That hair is that big because it is hiding the secrets of how to steadily get hotter with age from all the rest of us poor mortals.

Merlin - 23

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Finding pictures of young Mark Strong with hair is a lot more difficult than I thought. Ignore the pilot shirt.

Ben/Lancelot - mid to late thirties

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Yeah, let's be honest, you were already imaging him as Ben!Lancelot, weren’t you.

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