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Oxford, Not Vogue

Chapter Text

A pencil dragging across paper was the only sound in the otherwise silent office, its sole occupant so entirely absorbed in his task that he’d forgotten to turn on his iTunes and select a playlist of classical music, like he usually would. No, this time, Harry Hart worked in silence, hunched over his desk with a large pad of professional-grade paper and an artist’s set of pens and pencils. An image was fully-formed on the page, though it lacked color, which was Harry’s main focus at the moment. Watercolor pencils scattered around his desk as he replaced charcoal grey with dark blue without even looking up, but none fell to the floor in a noisy clang.

The image depicted a faceless man in a suit; a double-breasted jacket, long, smooth trousers, a navy-and-red-striped tie, and of course, a pair of black oxfords decorated the two-dimensional mannequin.

Just as he finished filling in the red lines of the tie, the door to his office was knocked upon three times. He said a quiet, but still audible, “Come in,” and soon, a bald man in glasses was entering through the doorway.

“Merlin,” Harry greeted, quickly returning to his work with a quick swipe of the black pencil. “I was just about to call for you. I’m almost finished with the collection- we can start making the pieces next week. I think the photoshoot can take place in a month or two. What do you-…” Harry trailed off as he realized Merlin hadn’t said anything. He looked up again and saw an exasperated expression on his personal assistant’s face. “Merlin?” he asked, now concerned. “What happened?”

“Hugo quit,” he said simply, voice roughened slightly by his accent. “Got a job offer from a foreign brand. He’s moving to Italy in a few days.”

Harry blinked. He set down his pencil carefully and folded up his drawing pad. “I… see. Which brand?”

“Abandonato, apparently.”

Involuntarily, Harry scoffed. “Hmm. Well, that’s just fine. We can find a replacement model before the photoshoot. Call the agency.”

“I have, Harry,” answered Merlin, because if anyone at Kingsman could get away with calling the lead designer by his first name, it was definitely him. “They said they’ll have some headshots in by tomorrow morning.”

“Excellent,” he murmured, already moving to reopen his pad and start again on the sketch. “Do the others know that Hugo quit?”

“As a matter of fact, Rufus took it rather personally. Charlie and Digby are… consoling him now.”

“Consoling, as in…?”

“They’ve left for a pub.”

“Hn. And Roxanne?”

“She was never particularly close to Hugo. Or any of them, really. She’s fine.”

“Just as well. We’ll have a new model in soon, anyway, and it seems like it will be an easy transition.”

Harry nodded once; Merlin took that as his cue to leave the office. He’d closed the door behind him and Harry mused quietly over his almost-completed piece. Hugo’s resignation had only a minor effect on Harry, he would admit, but there were plenty of young men to take his place as one of Kingsman’s signature models. It would only be a matter of time.

 


 

 

An entire month passed by. No new model.

The finished collection was being painstakingly put together by Harry as Merlin contacted the modeling agency to ask for Hugo’s potential replacements. The next day, they received over twenty headshots of attractive young men. Harry thought they would be done by the end of the hour, a new face for Kingsman picked and sorted out, but unfortunately, his artistic sensibilities got in the way at the worst moment.

None of the proposed models seemed to work. By that, Harry meant that they were… lacking something. The headshots were photographed well, and their makeup and clothing weren’t an issue, but… Well, he didn’t know.

They sent back the headshots and apologized, but the agency wasn’t deterred and sent in twenty more the next day.

The same problem occurred, and they were sent back. By that point, Merlin eyed Harry suspiciously, but held his tongue until the third batch of headshots were received and rejected. That was when he decided to intervene.

“Any particular reason you’re being so difficult?” he asked, glaring at his boss through his glasses. Harry only shrugged.

“It’s more difficult than I imagined it would be.”

“Harry,” Merlin groaned. “You’ve looked at over thirty pictures! Surely one of them is good enough?”

Harry leveled his assistant with a pointed stare. “Merlin, you and I both know ‘good enough’ is not enough for this business.”

At that, Merlin reluctantly nodded. He knew. “Nonetheless… There had to be somebody that stood out to you. What about the models some of our signatures suggested? Some of Charlie’s choices were rather pretty. That Edward fellow even looked a bit like him.”

“I think that’s just it. They were too similar.” Harry sat up in his chair, his face serious. “Merlin, what do all of our signatures have in common?”

The assistant blinked. “I… I suppose they’re… upper class?”

A nod. “And?”

“Beautiful?”

“Also true, though not my point. What else?”

Merlin frowned, unsure of where Harry was going with this. “They model for Kingsman,” he said dryly, intending it as a joke.

Harry, the jerk that he was, only nodded once more, solemnly. “Indeed. Rufus and Digby have worked for us since the start of their careers, and even Charlie had only one other brand before us. Roxanne worked several women’s labels, but all of them were designer. None of our models have known failure, Merlin.” Which didn’t make them bad people, he added in his head, if only to relieve his conscience. “And it shows on their pictures. They’re… haughty. Arrogant. Superior. That’s not the image I want Kingsman to be known for.”

Merlin raised an eyebrow. “Arrogant? A bit harsh, Harry. Roxanne has always struck me as a level-headed young woman.”

“I don’t mean to be rude,” he amended. “But even Roxanne, for all her level-headedness, is a woman used to success. And I notice you didn’t mention any of the other signatures.”

His assistant shrugged. “I prefer Roxanne.”

“Do you now?” his tone was teasing.

“Oh, not like that, you prick.”

Harry was laughing at Merlin’s expense when a knock came at the door. When granted permission, a young man slipped into the office. He was very handsome, with dark wavy hair and a pointed nose.

“Charlie,” said Harry, quickly schooling his features back to neutral. “How may I help you?”

“Mr. Hart,” greeted the model with natural ease. “I was just wondering how the hunt for Hugo’s replacement was going.”

“It’s not,” said Merlin, before Harry could speak. “Apparently we need a loser.”

“I… beg your pardon?” Charlie asked flatly. He looked at Harry for confirmation.

“I didn’t mean that, Merlin,” the designer grumbled. “I simply meant that… Well, perhaps it wouldn’t hurt the brand if we tried something different.”

“Different, Mr. Hart?”

“No offense to you or the others, of course. But even you must have noticed how bloody snobby some of our more recent shoots have come out.”

Charlie stared at him for a few seconds before an overly-practiced expression of total understanding came to his face. “Oh, yes, Mr. Hart. I was going to say something myself, but…” a shrug. “It’s a shame, really. Did you… have any suggestions?”

Harry smiled wryly. “Unless you know a model of a different caliber than our usual sort, I’m afraid we’re sunk on this one.”

Charlie nodded, affecting a thoughtful expression now. “Different caliber… Well, Mr. Hart, I can assure you that I’ll tell the others. Perhaps we can find the perfect candidate then?” He smiled radiantly, charmingly… It failed to appeal to either man, but to his credit, Charlie was undeterred.

“Perhaps,” agreed Harry, who now felt very tired. He watched as Charlie excused himself and walked out the door. Merlin waited until the door clicked shut to turn back to Harry.

“Suck-up.”

“Yes. But he’s a good model.”

“How long until you finish the collection?” he asked, changing the subject rather abruptly.

“I’m almost done, actually. I just need the last model. I can’t make his suits if I don’t know his measurements.”

There was a long pause wherein silence reigned supreme. After a few moments, Merlin nodded.

“I’ll request more headshots tomorrow.”

“Please.”

 


 

 

A few days later, Charlie found Harry and Merlin once again, this time with an even more arrogant smirk on his lips.

“I believe I’ve found your man,” he declared. Merlin raised an eyebrow, as did Harry, so he continued. “I have this… former acquaintance. I think he might be just what you’ve described, Mr. Hart.”

A raised brow and drawn-out sigh were his answers. “Oh, really? His name, then?”

“Eggsy Unwin.”

A beat passed before Harry said incredulously, “’Eggsy’?”

“His real name is Gary,” shrugged Charlie. “But he prefers ‘Eggsy’ for whatever reason. It’s the name he’s listed under at his agency.”

“And what makes you think he’s what Harry’s looking for?” That was Merlin.

“He’s definitely not of Kingsman’s usual caliber. In fact, he models streetwear.”

“Streetwear?” repeated Harry, who had to try and hide the disdain in his voice. Obviously, a designer of fine suits and formalwear didn’t think very highly of such… casual clothing. A lot of it didn’t even make sense to him. Why did the youth of today insist on low-slung jeans and insanely-clashing patterns?

Merlin had been tapping away on his tablet from the moment Charlie uttered the (completely ridiculous) name ‘Eggsy’, and he gave a small noise of pleasant surprise from beside Harry. He turned the tablet towards him. “I have to say, he’s fairly decent.”

Harry took one glance at the photo now displayed on Merlin’s tablet, still caught up in his internal ranting about street clothes. Then he did a double-take, staring more closely at the image, which was a simple headshot. The man depicted through millions of tiny pixels was young, though perhaps only a few years younger than Charlie or the other signature models. He had an impressive jawline, square and sharp, and a slight twist to his lips that made it seem like he was always on the verge of grinning. His hair was blond and short, though it was thankfully a relatively normal style, compared to what he’d seen on some other streetwear models. And his eyes… A startling shade of blue (that Harry sincerely hoped wasn’t the product of photo enhancement) sparkled back at him, full of life and teasing.

Eggsy Unwin was more than ‘fairly decent’. He was gorgeous.

He must have been staring for a while, since Merlin cleared his throat and removed the image from his line of sight. This brought Harry back to reality, and he quickly recovered his composure before addressing Charlie.

“And, erm… How do you know this man, might I ask?”

Charlie had the decency to look a little embarrassed. “Well… If you want complete honesty, Mr. Hart, Eggsy and I have… a history.”

“You used to date,” Merlin deduced automatically. Charlie grimaced.

“Yes. Obviously it didn’t work out, but I’m confident we are both professional enough to work together without personal feelings interfering.”

Harry leaned back against his chair, mind reeling. Partly because he was still affected by how unexpectedly beautiful Eggsy seemed, and partly by the knowledge that Charlie used to date a streetwear model. He looked up at his signature model. “Have you spoken to Eggsy about this opportunity?”

“I wanted to get your opinion on him first, Mr. Hart,” answered Charlie. “Well…?”

The designer bit his lip, a habit he’d thought was broken by then, and relented. “Very well. We’ll have to look at more of his previous work, of course, but if we approve, approach him about the job. I’ll give you my final decision in a day or so.”

Charlie’s conceited smirk returned to his features. “Excellent, sir.”

When he left, Merlin spoke in a subdued tone.

“Are you sure about this?”

Harry was quiet. Then, finally, he talked. “Bring me Eggsy Unwin’s portfolio, Merlin.”

Chapter Text


Eggsy Unwin’s life had settled into a routine as of late. He would wake up, get ready, work a few jobs that his agency had found for him, then go to his little sister’s preschool to pick her up. Then they’d both go home to the apartment they shared with their mum, and the cycle would begin again the next morning. Of course, there were variables, such as the jobs Eggsy would take up- besides the modeling (which had really only included a few promotions for local stores and the occasional mall), Eggsy worked odd jobs, like fixing someone’s bike or babysitting the neighbor’s kids. As long as it put money in his pocket and food on the table, Eggsy found himself comfortable with the routine.

So of course, when said routine is disrupted by a knock on the door, accompanied by the sudden reappearance of an ex-boyfriend whose guts he hated, Eggsy was understandably miffed. He’d almost slammed the door in Charlie’s face, too, if the prick hadn’t just waltzed into the apartment, uninvited.

“The fuck are you doin’ here?” Eggsy growled, swearing only because he knew Daisy was out with his mum at the park, walking their pug, JB.

“Nice to see you too, Eggy,” drawled Charlie, in that obnoxiously smug tone of his. He surveyed the apartment with a barely-disguised sneer. “Now I remember why we never had a night in at your place.”

“Get the fuck out,” Eggsy continued, pointing out the door with an adamant finger.

“Aren’t you even curious as to why I’m here?”

“Don’t care. Leave.”

“Oh, Eggy,” Charlie sighed.

“The name’s fucking Eggsy, you twat.”

Charlie waved his hand dismissively. “I’ve always preferred Eggy. Though, if you’d just let me call you Gary, we wouldn’t be arguing about this.”

Eggsy glowered. “If you’d just get the hell out of my place, we wouldn’t be arguin’ either.”

Charlie fixed him with a stare that made it perfectly clear he wasn’t leaving any time soon. Eggsy groaned in frustration and slammed the door shut. He strode past an amused Charlie and flopped down on his couch, arms crossed defensively over his chest.

“What d’ya want, then?” he huffed. “Make it bloody quick.”

“I have a job offer for you.”

Eggsy blinked. He looked over at Charlie and blinked again. “… ‘scuse me?”

“You know the brand I work for now, yes?” Charlie asked, moving to sit besides Eggsy. He looked slightly uncomfortable with the couch, Eggsy noted maliciously.

“Some posh label with fancy suits or somethin’?” he drawled.

“Kingsman,” corrected Charlie. “The world’s most famous line of designer men’s wear. Ladies’ wear too, recently.”

“Alright.” Eggsy sounded thoroughly unimpressed. “So?”

“I’d like to offer you a chance to work there. As a model.”

At that, Eggsy barked out a laugh. “Yeah, right.”

“I’m not joking.”

“Please,” he scoffed. “’M not an idiot, Charlie. I don’t do posh. That’s always been your thing, not mine.”

To prove his point, he gestured to the clothes they were wearing right then. Charlie was wearing a beige sweater and crisp white shirt, over which a neatly-pressed navy blazer had been thrown. His trousers were dark and equally well-ironed, and his shoes were plain black with fancy little buckles on them. In contrast, Eggsy wore a black varsity jacket and a blue polo shirt. He had baggy jeans and worn trainers, and a blue fitted baseball cap. Charlie gave him a once-over and hummed.

“That’s exactly why you’d be perfect.” He leaned in a bit closer; Eggsy pulled back just as much. “You see, Kingman’s lead designer, Harry Hart, is looking for something… different. He doesn’t want another, as you put it, ‘posh’ model. He wants someone new, unique… He’s seen your picture, you know. He was quite impressed.” His voice had a proud lilt to it.

“Ah.” Eggsy shook his head with a small smile. “Shit, Charlie, you never change.”

“Beg pardon?”

“This is all just so you can impress your boss, yeah? Swoop in to save the day by showing off your ex.”

“Not entirely,” he said honestly, since Eggsy never really fell for his bullshit anyway. “I do think he was impressed by you.”

“Listen mate, we both know how this goes. Say this Hart guy thinks he wants someone like me to be his model. He’ll stick with it for a while, but then he’ll get bored or realize that it was stupid idea, and then he’ll kick me to the fuckin' curb and never deal with me again. Where does that leave the me, huh? Square fuckin’ one.” He glared freely at his ex. “Sound familiar?”

Charlie did look angry, too, so Eggsy counted that as a success. “I cannot believe you are so immature.”

“Immature?!”

“That was over a year ago, Eggsy!” Charlie sneered. “I’m almost flattered by how hung up you are.”

“Hung- oh, fuck you!” Eggsy stood up. “You fucking cheated on me, shithead! You don’t get to play the fucking ‘get over it’ card, alright?”

Charlie stood too, his back straight from the reprimand. “Look, I’m sorry, okay?” he muttered harshly. “If I knew how badly you’d take it…”

“Shut the hell up. You don’t get to do this, Charlie. You don’t get to make me think I got a chance at somethin’ good and then rip that all away, and then come back here months later and do the same fucking thing!”

“It’s not the same,” implored the brunette. “This is a work relationship. You and I will only ever have to interact at the photoshoots. And Mr. Hart is a complete gentleman; he wouldn’t fuck things up like I apparently did.”

Eggsy narrowed his eyes.

“Look, Eggsy, I know you don’t have any long-term contracts right now. You want a better life for your mother and sister? Take the job. Kingsman pays very handsomely.”

“… How can I be sure?” he finally asked.

“Well, for one thing, I’ve completely outgrown my ‘chav boy’ phase,” said Charlie flippantly, but all Eggsy did was roll his eyes. “So you needn’t worry about my trying to get you back.”

He nodded slowly. “And Mr. Hart? How do I know he’s as much a gentleman as you say?”

“You can meet him, if you’d like. I was supposed to bring him an answer by the end of the day. Perhaps he’d like to hear it from you.”

“What, right now?”

“Yes, now. Talk to him for yourself. If you still don’t want to, at least you can say no to his face.”

Eggsy licked his lips and thought about it. If Charlie was being for real (which he still doubted), then this was the job offer of a lifetime; he’d be stupid not to take it. But still, he wasn’t sure if he could work with his ex after what happened. That, and he wasn’t exactly ‘Kingsman’ material. He was positive he couldn’t play the part of a gentleman to save his life.

Well, he thought sullenly, what could it hurt to at least talk to this ‘Harry Hart’?

“… Okay,” he relented. “But I’m goin’ to talk. No promises or nothin’.”

Charlie smirked, and Eggsy barely resisted the urge to smack him. “Perfect. Let’s get going, shall we?” He started for the door, but Eggsy hesitated.

“Hold on,” he muttered. He quickly ran to his room and grabbed a pen and a spare piece of paper; then he ran back out and scrawled a quick note to his mum about him going out, and left it on the kitchen counter. Charlie was watching him expectantly.

“Ready now?”

“Yeah.”

They left the apartment (Eggsy locked the door behind him and placed the key under the mat for his mum to find) and began walking towards Charlie’s car, which was a different model from the last time Eggsy remembered. Then again, he wasn’t surprised.

“So…” he said quietly, as they made their way to the parking lot. “What’s this Harry bloke like, anyway?”

Mr. Hart, as I said,” Charlie replied, “is a complete gentleman.”

Eggsy snorted, his smile insincere. “Remind me not to sleep with him, then.”

Charlie frowned, clearly detecting Eggsy’s scathing tone, but chose to ignore it in favor of unlocking his car. They stepped inside and he started the car, beginning the drive to Kingsman’s main building.

 


 

Harry flipped through the portfolio open on his (Merlin’s) tablet. Various photos of Eggsy Unwin passed by with each swipe of his finger, each more captivating than the last. Eggsy, Harry was glad to note, was a very versatile model.

His early photos consisted of simple commercial shots- probably for a catalogue for some department store. Eggsy looked playful and energetic in a blue flannel shirt and bright yellow jeans in one picture, and flirty and wild in another, where he donned an orchid-colored sweater and a sly smile. His expressions would vary and change as Harry looked at all the pictures. Then he reached Eggsy’s biggest project- a photoshoot with Richmond Valentine.

Valentine was to streetwear what Harry Hart was to formalwear; famous and eccentric, he built his brand V-Day from the ground up, and now was well-known for his bright, urban styles. Eggsy apparently had an important role in one of his shoots, which was some kind of campaign to promote awareness of deforestation (as he said, Valentine was eccentric, but at least he had good causes). A solemn, serious Eggsy in a green jacket, camouflage pants, and combat boots. A laughing Eggsy surrounded by stuffed animals, which were meant to represent the creatures affected by deforestation, while wearing a leaf-patterned shirt and harem pants. Harry found himself impressed by the young model, and was a little more than baffled that Richmond Valentine hadn’t thought to secure a contract with him.

He’d been mulling over this fact when Merlin walked in, not even bothering to knock.

“Are you finished yet?” he asked, irritated and subtly demanding that he be given his tablet back.

“Just a moment.”

“… You know, Charlie’s back. He brought Eggsy with him.”

That tore Harry’s eyes away from the screen. “What?”

“Apparently Charlie thought it would be best for you discuss your terms with Eggsy face-to-face.” Merlin’s smile was devious. “They should be arriving any moment now.” Then he walked to Harry’s desk, plucked his tablet from his hands, and walked back out, leaving a stunned designer in his wake.

Harry barely had time to compose himself before, indeed, Charlie came knocking. He allowed him in, but his focus was not on his lead male model- rather, it was on the young man behind him, the very man who had been the focus of his attention for the past day and a half.

He was pleasantly surprised to see that Eggsy’s eyes were really that shade of blue.

“Mr. Hart,” said Charlie, in his most genial tone. “Meet Eggsy Unwin.”

Harry smiled politely, even though Eggsy looked uncertain and merely nodded his head in his direction. Charlie looked ready to roll his eyes, but instead the model excused himself, leaving the two of them alone.

“Mr. Unwin. Please, have a seat.” Harry gestured to the chair beside his desk.

“I prefer Eggsy,” the young man murmured, not meeting Harry’s eyes. Still, he sat down in the selected chair.

“Very well then, Eggsy,” he said, hoping he wasn’t putting the boy off. Judging by his apparel and work, he wasn’t used to such an opulent office- even if Harry liked to think it was cozy. “Now, I’m sure Charlie has told you about the offer?”

“… He mentioned one of your last models up and quit,” said Eggsy slowly, as if he wasn’t sure if he was going to offend Harry or not. “And that you needed a new one to join your ‘signature’ group.”

Harry nodded. “Yes.”

“So… You seriously saying you’d want me to be one of ‘em?”

“You sound surprised. You needn’t be, Eggsy, I’ve seen your work. You’re very talented.”

To his secret delight, Eggsy blushed. “I-I wouldn’t know ‘bout that…”

“You are,” he reaffirmed. “You’re not only beautiful, but you have a diverse range of emotions to show on camera, and that’s something I’m afraid my models have been lacking.” Inwardly, Harry almost cringed when he heard himself say ‘beautiful’, despite the fact that that was essentially a model’s job to be so. Perhaps it was the stunned look on Eggsy’s face that caused it, like he’d never been called such a word in his life. A shame, if that were the case.

“I, uh… Thank you, Mr. Hart.” Eggsy scratched nervously at his cheek.

He smiled at the action. “In fact, while looking at your portfolio, I noticed that I wasn’t the only one to see some potential in you. Didn’t you pose for a campaign shoot by V-Day?”

“Oh, that? Yeah. The ‘deforestation awareness’ thing, right?” Eggsy responded, now a bit more comfortable.

“The very same. I couldn’t help but wonder why Richmond Valentine didn’t offer you a long-term contract.”

“Well, actually, he did.” Eggsy gave a little smile, sheepish. “But I couldn’t take it.”

Harry blinked. “Oh? May I ask why?”

“He wanted to send me to South America for my next shoot for like, two months. And then I’d travel more after that, and… I just couldn’t afford to be away from my family.” He looked down at his lap, feeling Mr. Hart’s curious gaze linger on him. “We… We were in a bad way back then.”

“I understand,” Harry responded. He could tell that pushing further wouldn’t be the wisest thing to do. “Well, Kingsman tends to stay in the country, though we have made the odd trip to Scotland for a shoot. And all expenses are paid.”

“That reminds me…” Eggsy finally looked back up at Harry. “I don’t want to sound pushy or nothin’, but… Exactly what am I gonna get paid here?”

Harry responded automatically, the starting salary rolling off his tongue before Eggsy could even take his next breath. Eggsy’s eyes grew comically large.

“Fuckin’ hell,” he gasped, then turned bright red. “Er, I mean…”

“No, no, it’s quite alright.” Harry’d be lying if he said he wasn’t amused by his reaction. “Of course, the longer you work for Kingsman, the more you’d make.” He sat back in his chair and watched Eggsy carefully. “Any other questions?”

“I…” Eggsy shook his head, presumably to clear away the ridiculously large number he’d just heard. “Mr. Hart, look, I really don’t think I’m…”

“I’m going to stop you right there,” interjected Harry, because while interrupting wasn’t a very gentlemanly thing to do, he could tell that he had yet to convince the young man. “Do you remember what I said about your skills earlier?”

Eggsy let his mouth draw closed, pressing his lips together in contemplative thought before opening them again. “You said I was…” A new wave of red flushed the man’s cheeks. “… diverse.”

“Indeed. Diverse. Adaptable. I believe that as long as you are willing and able, you can transform, and become anything. And besides, Kingsman isn’t about posh, noble types with sticks up their asses.”

Eggsy balked at Harry’s colorful language, though amusement was definitely hiding in his eyes. “It… it’s not?”

“No. Kingsman is, first and foremost, about being a gentleman. And being a gentleman means being comfortable with who you are. Anyone is capable of that. Very few have the courage to try. Well, Eggsy?” Harry tilted his head to the side.

The young man stared at him, something akin to admiration in his gaze, and Harry tried not to feel affected by it.

“I… Okay,” he said. He even looked a bit surprised with himself for saying it, but he soldiered on. “I’d like to at least try. If that’s okay.”

Harry couldn’t help the wide smile suddenly blooming on his face. “Excellent! I’ll have my assistant contact your agency so we can set up a contract. Oh, and we’ll need to take your measurements.” He waited for Eggsy to nod before continuing. “If all goes well, you can start next week.”

He stood up, prompting Eggsy to do so as well, and walked over to the young man. He stuck out a hand and Eggsy shook it, his grip firm despite the hesitance he’d shown earlier. “I look forward to working with you, Eggsy.”

And Eggsy, with a shy smile and sincere (outrageously blue) eyes, looked at Harry, speaking with a soft voice. “Thank you, Mr. Hart.”

 

Chapter Text


 

A week later, Eggsy received a call from Merlin, Mr. Hart’s personal assistant, and received confirmation that his contract had been accepted. Also, apparently, the first set of his clothes for the upcoming photoshoot had been finished, and Mr. Hart had requested that Eggsy drop by the Kingsman building to try them on for a test shoot. Merlin stressed that Mr. Hart had worked tirelessly to complete the outfits, which Eggsy found himself blushing at. He promised to be there within the hour and promptly hung up.

After telling his mum where he was going, Eggsy ran out the door and grabbed a cab to take him to Kingsman. As he settled into the leather seating, he reflected on the strangest past week of his life.

His agent was ecstatic when Eggsy told him about the offer, and everyone else at his agency was abuzz with gossip about how he’d managed to secure the position. Most of them, predictably, centered around his relationship with Charlie Hesketh. They were both salacious and untrue, so Eggsy ignored them and signed the contract.

His mum was equally thrilled. Eggsy had a large grin on his face the moment he returned home from his initial meeting with Mr. Hart; he couldn’t wait to tell her. She’d nearly fainted when he said the number he’d be earning. Though, in a characteristically motherly fashion, she did seem concerned when he mentioned that Charlie had been the one to offer him the job. She’d never liked Charlie, at least not after what he did to her ‘darling boy’ (“Mum, please!”), so she wasn’t sure if working with him was the best thing for Eggsy to do. She quickly backed off, however, when Eggsy assured her that he could handle things.

And so there he was, a week later, on his way to what might as well qualify as his first day on the job. The cab pulled up to the studio, which was a large building that made Eggsy think of a bank more than a fashion house. He’d paid the cabbie and went inside, where a young woman was standing in the lobby, seemingly waiting for him. He assumed so, since the moment he walked in, she made a beeline straight for him.

“Eggsy Unwin?” she asked. Eggsy barely had time to note that she was very pretty before he realized he had to nod to confirm.

“Er, yeah.”

“Roxanne Morton,” she smiled, instantly becoming ten times prettier, as she stuck out a perfectly manicured hand for Eggsy to shake. “Just call me Roxy, though. It seems we’re going to be coworkers.”

“O-Oh!” Eggsy scrambled to shake her offered hand. “I-It’s, uh, nice to meet you.” He wasn’t surprised, really. Roxy was dressed like a Kingsman model should, in a patterned shirt and checkered suit jacket with matching pants, and a pair of simple black heels.

Her smile widened into a grin, probably because Eggsy was making a fool of himself by staring. “Hmm. You know, you’re even prettier than I thought you’d be.”

Eggsy felt the blush creep onto his cheeks. “... Thanks?”

“Sorry, I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” she laughed. “But I was wondering what you must have looked like, to get Mr. Hart so fired up.”

“I… what?”

“He spent most of last week in his workshop, working on your outfits. I’ve never seen him so impassioned.” Roxy sent him a knowing look, which he elected to ignore. "You might be his new muse."

"Yeah, sure," he muttered, because no matter how alluring he’d found Mr. Hart, Eggsy wasn't about to lose himself to illusions.

Roxy sensed his mood and bumped shoulders with him. "Sorry, again. I think it's a good thing, personally. We're finally back on track for the photoshoot. Come on, let's go take your test shots."

Grateful that she'd dropped the subject of Mr. Hart, Eggsy followed the female model through the building. They stepped into an elevator, which had an honest-to-god attendant inside it, uniform and all.

"The Percival room, please," said Roxy, and the attendant nodded before moving to push a button. Eggsy looked at Roxy strangely.

"'Percival room'?" he echoed.

"Oh, right." Roxy spared him an embarrassed smile. "It's kind of an inside joke. See, Kingsman has this thing about suits being like the modern armor." She waited for Eggsy to nod. "Well, that kind of turned into a whole 'Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table' thing. So we've got all these rooms we named after the characters from legend. The Percival room is the photography studio." She let out a small chuckle. "Ironically, our photographer's name is Percy, so everybody calls him Percival anyway."

"That's..." Eggsy paused. "Kind of cool.”

“Mr. Hart’s office is called the Arthur room.”

He figured. “What d'you call Merlin's office, then?"

"The Emrys room," she grinned. "He insisted that we not make fun of his name."

Eggsy quirked a smile, just as the elevator stopped and the doors slid open. Roxy thanked the attendant and led Eggsy out, walking briskly through the long hallway with purpose.

She stopped in front of a door marked 'Photography Studio', turning the knob open with one swift movement and walked inside. Eggsy followed her.

It looked similar to any other photography studio Eggsy had ever been in, except definitely more expensive. It was incredibly spacious, for one thing. The floors were a highly-polished dark wood, while the walls were a pristine white. Various umbrella lights were stationed at random points throughout the room, and different types of cameras were also present. A large white backdrop stood in the center, with a singular armchair, like something Sherlock Holmes would sit in. But that wasn’t all there was.

Two men stood in front of the backdrop, one with a fancy camera secured around his neck via a strap, the other holding a vase full of colorful flowers. They seemed to be deep in debate.

“Percival? James?” Roxy politely cleared her throat, and the men looked up at her.

“Oh, Roxy!” the man holding the vase smiled. He caught sight of Eggsy and the smile grew wider. “And you must be Eggsy.”

“Uh…”

Roxy stepped in to introduce him. “Yes, this is Eggsy Unwin, our newest signature. Eggsy, this is James Lance,” she pointed to the vase man, who was eyeing Eggsy almost predatorily, “and this is Percy Morton, a.k.a. Percival. Also, before you ask, my older brother,” she added, once she saw Eggsy’s mouth drop open to ask that exact question. “Percival is, as I’ve told you, our photographer. James is our set designer.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Percival offered, but his glare at James dampened the spirit of his greeting. “Unfortunately, Mr. Unwin, the set isn’t ready. Someone is making things incredibly difficult.”

James shrugged, turning the vase over in his hands. “What’s wrong with this? A little more color never hurt anyone.”

“It’s a test shoot! The armchair is enough decoration!”

The two dissolved back into their rant, causing Roxy to sigh and turn to Eggsy. “This’ll be a while. Let’s get you changed.” She gently guided Eggsy to a door on the far end of the studio, which opened to reveal a small changing room. It was fit for about three models at one time, and the dark wood floor motif from the studio carried over here, though the walls were a cozier gray, and two black vanities were set up on either end of the room. A zipper bag hung from garment rack, and attached to it was a small post-it note with Eggsy’s name written on it, in such elegant handwriting he couldn’t help but think of Mr. Hart.

Roxy crossed over and picked up the bag, holding it out to Eggsy. “Here you go.”

“Uh, thanks.” He took the bag and hesitated. There weren’t any stalls for him to change in, just an open room. He glanced at Roxy.

“Kingsman models change in front of each other,” she said, amused. “You might as well get used to it now.”

Eggsy blushed reflexively, but then he figured that it made sense. If Kingsman was all for being comfortable with yourself, it would stand to reason that they’d want you to be comfortable with yourself around other people, too. So he simply unzipped the garment bag and pulled out-

Damn. His eyes grew wide at the sight of the outfit. Distantly, he heard Roxy chuckle.

“Not what you’re used to?”

“Not a fuckin’ bit.”

She muttered a few words of encouragement, so Eggsy slowly unveiled the whole thing and set to work. He was very careful when handling the fabric, as if he thought the slightest wrinkle would ruin the whole outfit- which it very well might have, he knew fuck all about suits. He found that he didn’t even mind Roxy’s presence as he undressed (though he was vaguely aware of the appraising look she gave him as his bare chest became exposed), since he was so wrapped up in the quality of his clothes.

A few minutes later, he was done. He stared at himself in the mirror, not believing that he was the bloke in the reflection.

The suit was a light grey, and consisted of a jacket, pants, and a double-breasted waistcoat. His shirt was plain white but ironed to perfection, his tie blue with dark lines patterning across it. A light blue pocket square stuck out of the top pocket on the jacket, and on his feet were a shiny pair of black oxfords.

“Shit,” he breathed. Roxy came up behind him and nodded her approval.

“It suits you,” she smiled. He noticed a small box in her hands. She held it out to him. “Final touch.”

Opening the box revealed a chrome wristwatch, definitely something Eggsy would never have dreamed of holding a short while ago. At this point, though, he was too dumbfounded to react properly, so he merely slipped it on with a half-open mouth.

“And… Hm.” Roxy paused thoughtfully. “Not too much makeup, I think. Just a bit of foundation.” She grabbed his shoulders and steered him to one of the vanities, picking up a bottle of primer once he was seated.

“Normally, we do have makeup artists,” she said, as she dabbed the cream on Eggsy’s face. “But since this is just a test shot, you won’t need too much. Besides, you have very good skin.”

Eggsy mumbled a thank you as she picked up a brush and applied a thin layer of foundation. It was over with quickly; Roxy stepped back to admire her work.

“There we go. I think your hair will be fine for today.”

Eggsy stood, taking a few more moments to look at himself, not really believing what he was seeing. If only his mates could see him now. They’d probably call him a Charlie clone. Eggsy grimaced.

“Something wrong?” asked Roxy.

“I… Well, I already told you,” he said quietly. “Not what I’m fuckin’ used to.”

“You’ll do fine,” she assured him, placing a comforting hand on his shoulder. Strangely enough, it worked, and he calmed down. Marginally.

“What do I even do?” he asked, searching her face for answers.

“Just be yourself. Mr. Hart didn’t choose you just so you could act like everyone else, right?”

Recalling the words Mr. Hart said to him last time- “Being a gentleman means being comfortable with who you are”- Eggsy took a deep breath and nodded.

“Right. Yeah. Thanks, Rox.”

She grinned at him, patting his back and turning for the door. “There you go. Now knock ‘em dead.”

He walked back out with her, finding James glaring at Percival from across the room.

“You won?” asked Roxy.

“It’s just a couple of flowers…” muttered James.

Percival only smirked and then turned his attention to Eggsy. “My, you clean up well.” He held up his camera. “Are you ready?”

Eggsy answered honestly, “As I’ll ever be.”

And so the photoshoot began. Percival had Eggsy try a couple of poses without the armchair, and while moving in the suit felt strange at first, Eggsy quickly grew comfortable. It was as if the suit were a second skin, and in his mind he complimented Mr. Hart’s sewing skills. He stuck one hand in his pocket and leaned his weight casually on one leg, flashing the camera a teasing smirk. He noticed Roxy smiling behind the photographer and threw her a wink, which Percival managed to catch on film. Roxy laughed. James, grudge towards Percival apparently forgotten, watched the shoot with keen interest.

After a few shots of Eggsy standing, Percival sat him down in the chair. Eggsy swung one leg over the other and rested his elbow on the armrest, looking off-camera as Percy took the pictures.

“Now I see what Harry was going on about,” commented James. Eggsy tried not to turn red, and figured he must have succeeded when Percival merely continued taking pictures as if nothing had happened.

Finally, after a few more photos, Percival announced that he was done, promptly leaving the room to develop his work. James gave Roxy and Eggsy a farewell grin and followed, presumably, according to Roxy, to ‘bug Percy some more’. Eggsy felt both relieved and a little saddened that he’d have to take the suit off.

Still, he changed out of the suit with little complaint, replacing it neatly on the hanger, took off the watch, and put his regular gear back on. He turned to leave, only to find Roxy staring at him intently.

“What?” he asked, self-consciously. “Somethin’ on my face?”

“Oh.” She blinked, as if she hadn’t realized what she was doing, and smiled apologetically. “Sorry, I just… I mean, I was trying not to think about it…”

“Think about what?”

“Um,” Roxy bit her lip. “Feel free to ignore this, but… You and Charlie? I just can’t see it.”

Eggsy stared at her for a few seconds, so she began to backtrack.

“I mean, you just seem so nice, and Charlie’s… not.”

And then he laughed. “Yeah, got that right. He’s a right prick.”

“So… It didn’t end well?”

“Understatement.”

She fell in step besides him as they walked out and made their way back to the elevator.

“How’d you find out, anyway?” he asked her.

“Merlin,” she admitted. “He might be the best personal assistant in the world, but he gossips like an old woman. He told me over lunch a few days ago.” The elevator arrived, and they stepped inside, telling the attendant to go to the lobby. Eggsy made note of Merlin’s apparent gossiping habit for future reference. “Honestly, I was kind of expecting you to be…” Roxy trailed off.

“What?” he grinned.

“I don’t know… chavvier?” She winced at the word. “Sorry.”

“Nah. I know I don’t look Charlie’s type. And seriously, after him, he ain’t my type anymore either.” At her raised eyebrow, he shrugged. “I mean, I’ll do my best to work with the bloke, but… You might have to hold me back from punching him once or twice.”

“As long as you do the same for me,” she promised. “And, fair warning, the other models are pretty much the same. They hang out like some clique in a high school.”

“Guess that makes us the loners, then?” he asked, bumping her shoulder, and feeling gratified when she beamed back at him.

“Loners,” she agreed.

They arrived in the lobby. Roxy walked him to the front door and paused.

“I’m actually not too busy right now,” she said. “Wanna grab lunch? I can tell you anything you want to know about Kingsman.”

Eggsy gaped at her. “Really?”

“It would only be fair, since we’re working together now.”

“Rox, you are aces.”

She winked. “I know.”

 


 

Harry sat in his workshop (codenamed the Galahad room), surrounded by swatches of fabric and spools of thread. A half-completed jacket draped over a mannequin, various pins holding it in place. His sketchpad was laid over the desk beside him. He was entirely focused on putting the jacket together, so he scarcely noticed the door open. Merlin stepped inside, a few large photos in his hands.

“Harry?” he called. The designer didn’t look up, but hummed in acknowledgement. “Eggsy’s pictures from today’s test shoot,” he said, and almost laughed when Harry’s head snapped up to attention. He crossed the room and held out the pictures for Harry to take.

Harry all but grabbed at them, scanning the first picture with a trained eye. His heart, for lack of a better term, skipped a beat.

If he’d thought Eggsy Unwin beautiful or gorgeous before, then there were no words for what the young man looked like in a suit. Breathtaking definitely came to mind, though.

“Apparently James approves,” said Merlin, though Harry barely heard him. “And Percival said he was very easy to work with. Oh, and he went out for lunch with Roxanne, so at least he gets along with one of his fellow models.”

Harry didn’t say anything, opting instead to go through the pictures. Eggsy sitting down with his legs crossed, eyes watching something off camera- Lord did his legs look good in those trousers, Harry thought proudly, congratulating himself. Eggsy resting his chin in one hand, smiling like an angel, showing off the watch Harry had selected for that particular outfit. And then, finally, Eggsy standing, one hand in his pocket, winking at the camera, a smirk on his face.

It occurred to Harry then that he might be a little bit attracted to his new model.

He finally looked away from the photos to find Merlin grinning at him. It was his smug, all-knowing grin, indicating that he knew exactly what Harry was feeling at that moment. He’d seen it a thousand times before, and Merlin was rarely ever wrong. So, all Harry said in response was, “I’m fucked, aren’t I?”

“You wanted him,” chuckled Merlin. “You deal with the consequences. Though, I’ll admit, I can see where you’re coming from.”

Harry sighed, pushing away the photos to avoid ogling them any further. “I’ll have the last outfits finished by next Thursday.”

“Excellent. I’ll schedule the first shoot to take place in two weeks, then.” Merlin turned around and left.

Harry removed his glasses and ran a tired hand down his face. He caught sight of Eggsy’s photo winking at him and suppressed a groan.

Definitely fucked.

Chapter Text


 

Roxy Morton, Eggsy decided, was a literal angel come down from heaven.

True to her word, she’d taken the time to explain the history of Kingsman to the brand’s newest signature model, and she did so in a completely clear way. It had been only an hour, but Eggsy was confident that if he were tested right now on Kingsman, he’d do pretty damn well. Well, he’d get an 80%, at least.

As stated by her, Kingsman had its roots way back in World War II, when it was but a small tailor’s shop specializing in bespoke suits. It was owned by Andrew King, who then passed the business down to his son, Chester. Chester King was the one to expand the tailor’s into a brand name, and he enjoyed many years of success as the lead designer until he realized that he had no one to pass Kingsman down to. So, having no sons or even daughters, he entrusted the business to his protégé, one Harry Hart. Now, according to Roxy, Chester was living comfortably in retirement, though he did drop by the studio on occasion to check up on things.

Oddly enough, Eggsy found himself asking more questions about Mr. Hart than the brand. Not that Roxy seemed to mind, as she dutifully answered every one of them to the best of her ability. He learned that Mr. Hart came from a relatively wealthy family, and he’d always aspired to be a tailor. To Eggsy’s surprise, though, he’d apparently served in the military for a short while (and honestly it was hard to not picture Mr. Hart in uniform). Then, after leaving the military, he came to work for Chester King, and the rest was history.

Somehow, Roxy ended up getting a few of her own questions in, mainly concerning Eggsy’s life (he glossed over a few aspects, such as when she asked about his father, but thankfully she didn’t push) and, inevitably, his relationship to Charlie Hesketh.

“We met at a party,” he explained, as Roxy listened with rapt attention. “It was to celebrate the V-Day deforestation collection. Lots of champagne and shit, but it was at a club. Probably the closest to high-end I’ve ever been so far. Anyway, Charlie was there, and…” Eggsy shrugged, staring intently at his cup of coffee. “We kind of… ‘spent the night together’.”

“And then?” urged Roxy.

“Then we just decided to keep seeing each other. I thought it was kinda nice, you know? Dating a posh bloke. Not gonna lie, he bought me a lot of stuff.” Stuff that he’d either sold or burned, but he pointedly left those details out. “We dated for four months before it all went tits-up.”

“What happened?”

Eggsy frowned, the memory of it even now stinging, despite the fact that he knew Charlie was a dick and he should be glad to be rid of him. “He cheated on me,” he said simply. It was a comfort to see Roxy’s face contort in rage.

“He what? Oh my god!”

“At least he was upfront about it,” he admitted, lifting the coffee to his lips. It was lukewarm now. “Came right up to me and said he’d done it.”

Roxy leaned in over the table. “What did you do?”

He smiled proudly. “Punched him right in his pretty fuckin’ face.”

She blinked before bursting into laughter. “I can’t say I blame you!”

“Yeah… Anyway, that pretty much ended things. I didn’t hear a word of him in months, ‘cept for the fact that he ended up workin’ at Kingsman, and then he showed up on my doorstep with that job offer.” Eggsy paused, exhaling a deep breath. It felt… kind of good, spilling the whole story to someone that wasn’t either related to him or prejudiced against the upper-class types, like his friends were. Roxy was one of those upper-class types, and even she seemed to side with Eggsy.

“God… I knew he was a jerk, but now?”

He shrugged. “To be honest, I know it was for the best. We really didn’t have a lot common.”

“Well, still. Nothing justifies cheating.”

Eggsy smiled gratefully at her. “Yeah. Thanks, Rox. You know, for listenin’.”

She returned the smile. “No problem. I know it can be difficult, being the ‘new guy’. Everybody needs a friend, especially in this line of work.”

“What about you?” he asked. “Ain’t you the first and only female signature or somethin’ at Kingsman? How’d you swing that?”

“Oh, well… It was mostly due to my brother,” she said with a shy grin. “I used to work with all these women’s brands, you see. Then Mr. Hart decided to foray into ladies’ wear, and he needed to add a female to the signatures. Percy suggested me, and… Here we are.”

Eggsy hummed, tipping the last of his coffee into his mouth. “Musta been a shock to the other blokes.”

She rolled her eyes. “Please, you have no idea. My first month at Kingsman all they did was stare at me. Then they started talking to me, but it was almost always chauvinistic nonsense.”

“They didn’t get in trouble for that?”

“One of them did.” She grinned wickedly. “Mr. Hart fired this model named Barnaby when I told him he wouldn’t stop calling me ‘baby girl’.”

“Cheers to Mr. Hart, then,” Eggsy said, his admiration for the man bolstering.

“He’s a lovely man,” she said agreeably.

Just then, Eggsy glanced at the clock hanging above the cafe door and started, his eyes wide. “Oh, shit!”

Roxy straightened her back, looking alarmed. “What? What is it?”

“I’m late,” he nearly shouted, toppling over his chair in his haste to get up. Several other patrons shot him a look of disdain (which he ignored). “I hafta pick up my sister- sorry, Rox, but I gotta-”

She held up a hand. “No, no, I understand. Do you need a ride?” she tilted her head towards her car, which they’d used to get to the cafe.

Eggsy visibly lit up. “God, would you? I’d so owe you one!”

Roxy stood up gracefully, smoothing down her trousers. She left a decent amount of money on the table (enough for lunch and the tip) and followed Eggsy back to her car.

She smiled as he bounced nervously in his seat. She was going to like working with him, she could tell.

 


 

It was another few days before Merlin called Eggsy again, to inform him that Mr. Hart had completed the collection and that the photoshoot would commence the following Saturday. For all those days, Eggsy had lunch with Roxy, and it was an unspoken agreement between the two of them that they were now best mates.

As such, when he came to the Kingsman building early Saturday morning, she was waiting for him in the lobby.

“Are you ready?” she asked, her smile challenging.

He grinned back at her. “I ain’t sure. But I’m ready to try.”

A few minutes later, the other signature models came into the lobby, including Charlie. He smirked at the sight of Eggsy and walked right up to him.

“Eggy.”

Eggsy glowered. “Charlie.”

“I saw your test shots,” he drawled, standing just a bit too close than a person should to their ex. “I have to say, I was impressed. You looked surprisingly decent for once in your life.”

“Piss off.”

Charlie only laughed, turning around to rejoin the other signatures, who had been scrutinizing Eggsy from the moment they saw him. Roxy whispered their names in his ear, which he was grateful for, since it meant he didn’t have to wait for them to make the introductions themselves. There was Digby Barker, a blonde with a squarish face and blue eyes, and Rufus Saville, a brunette with gray-green eyes that sneered at Eggsy whenever he glanced in his direction. All of them, Charlie and Roxy too, were dressed in a similar manner, all blazers and sweaters and vests, while Eggsy had only a white cap, black polo, yellow jacket, and jeans. He’d have felt self-conscious, but the snickers he received only made him angry, not embarrassed.

Roxy excluded, they were all pricks.

They then proceeded to pile into the car that had been arranged for them- a fucking limousine, Eggsy wanted to say, but he refrained from giving the snobs any more reason to tease him- and set off to the location of the shoot. It would have been an awkward drive, but thankfully Roxy kept his mind off of their fellow models by talking to him. So they were divided into two groups, but it didn’t seem like it would matter, as long as they could all take a picture together.

Finally, after what seemed like hours of driving, the city scenery outside gave way to a rural landscape, and the car soon pulled up to a large Victorian-era manor. Merlin could be seen standing in front of the door, his tablet ever-present in his hands. Mr. Hart stood beside him, immaculate in a pinstriped suit and oxford shoes.

The models got out of the car, walking towards the two men. Mr. Hart smiled at each of them as they approached, but when his gaze settled on Eggsy, he grinned. Eggsy flushed red in response, choosing to avert his eyes from his employer.

"Good morning, everyone. I trust you're all ready to get to work?" asked the designer. Everyone gave small murmurs of confirmation.

Merlin spoke next. "You'll be changing in one of the spare bedrooms. Once you're done, Percival will be waiting for you in the drawing room. Amelia will show you around." He nodded to a young woman who had opened the door at the exact moment Merlin said her name. She smiled at the models, gesturing to the inside of the house. They filed in after her.

"Amelia is one of our makeup artists," Roxy whispered to Eggsy. "We usually get her, so I'd be nice."

He smiled lazily in response, but stayed quiet as Amelia led them through the expansive manor. He had the good sense to not stare at everything, though that was a hard task when everything in the manor was so damn opulent.

They made it to the spare bedroom, where two garment racks lay stationed against the wall. Each rack had five outfits, one for each model, as indicated by their names, which were written on the bags. Amelia pointed out the rack which contained the first set they would be wearing, then excused herself to the room next door, where she said the makeup would be applied once they were ready. 

Each model grabbed their respective bag and began changing. With the bed as the dividing line, Charlie, Digby, and Rufus stayed on one side of the room, while Roxy and Eggsy were on the other. Though, despite changing in front of Roxy not too long ago during his test shots, Eggsy found himself hesitating when he was about to tug off his polo. And Charlie, the utter ass that he was, noticed. 

“Oh, come on, Eggy,” he said in a smarmy tone. “It’s not like I haven’t seen it all before.”

Eggsy threw him a glare over his shoulder. Then, he got an idea. His glare turned into a sweet smile, as he said with false cheerfulness, “Yeah. An’ it ain’t like you got anything to show off, either.”

He turned his head back, so he couldn’t see Charlie’s reaction, but judging from the shocked silence on his end and the sputtered laughter on Roxy’s, he imagined he’d had the intended effect.

Eggsy smiled to himself and pulled off his shirt without a second thought.

Chapter Text

Harry made a note to commend James for his work- the drawing room looked spectacular. Before Kingsman rented out the old house, the room was rather dreary; sheets covered almost every piece of furniture, and due to age, most of it was unusable anyway. Then Harry turned the task of decorating over to James, as he always did, and expected the man’s usual quality of work, which was more often than not spectacular, but still. James could put this drawing room on his resume and never get turned down for a job, ever.

For starters, the walls had been repainted from a chipping yellow-white to a soft olive green, with gold embellishments looping throughout in an elegant design. Classic but nameless paintings hung tastefully about the room, and the floors had been given a new carpet, dark red and geometrically patterned. For furniture, James selected two pear-colored armchairs to rest in front of the large window at the back of the room, and between them sat an antique table decorated with various baubles, such as photographs, jewelry, and a candlestick. A Victorian sofa, matching in color, was set just slightly off from the center of the room.

It felt like stepping back to the Victorian Era, Harry mused.

And it would be amusing to tell James that Percival had been similarly affected; the photographer’s face was stuck in an awed expression for about three seconds before it fell back to its neutral position, but it was still considered an achievement where Percival was concerned. Percival then proceeded to set up his equipment, and by the time he was done, the models were filing into the room, all dressed and made-up.

Harry gave them all once-overs, scrutinizing every last detail of his work, looking for any flaws. Roxy looked resplendent in a dark-grey-and-red checkered waistcoat, with matching jacket and pants; Charlie wore a dark blue, double-breasted suit with a yellow-striped tie; Rufus’s suit was also dark blue, though his had a grey vest and burgundy tie; and Digby wore a brown suit with a dark green tie. Eggsy was wearing the same suit he’d worn in his test shots, watch included, but Harry noted immediately that real life did the lad far more justice than a mere picture ever could- not that he’d ever say so in front of Percival.

Merlin and Percival both worked to put the models in appropriate positions as Harry stood back, correcting anything that seemed off. Roxy and Digby were told to sit on the sofa, as Charlie and Rufus stood behind them, and Eggsy had been allowed to lean casually on the armrest. They looked like a cohesive collection, though their suits were distinctive enough that Harry didn’t see any redundancy. Percival began taking the pictures. The photographer was directing them to new poses every so often, and this went on for a good half-hour, until they had enough group shots that both Harry and Percival were satisfied. Though, to be honest, Harry’s eyes kept focusing on their newest model more than the entire group.

“Next set,” Merlin ordered, ushering the models back into the makeshift changing room. This left Harry and Percival to wait; though the latter was looking though his camera at all the shots he’d just taken.

“I don’t know if Merlin told you already,” he said suddenly, prompting Harry to look at him, “but I’m rather impressed with that new find of yours. Mr. Unwin.”

“He prefers Eggsy,” Harry replied, though a smile had already started creeping onto his face.

Percival made a face. “I prefer Mr. Unwin. The only model I refer to by name is my sister, thank you.” He paused on one image and turned to the designer. “In any case, he’s far more talented than I thought an amateur streetwear model would be.”

Harry looked over Percival’s shoulder to see the image. It had been enlarged, so that Eggsy was the main focus. His posture was completely relaxed, his smile lazy but his eyes bright, as he adjusted his cuffs while intentionally gazing at the camera. Yes, he looked every bit the part of a gentleman- comfortable and self-assured.

“He pulls off the look rather well.”

Both men turned to see Merlin re-enter the drawing room.

“Indeed,” agreed Percival. “I think this photoshoot will be received warmly. Your work has never looked better, Harry.”

Though Percival’s smile was teasing, Harry found himself nodding in agreement. “I think so, too.”

That made Percival blink in surprise, but Merlin barked out a laugh, which he quickly disguised as a cough when Harry turned to glare at him. Mercifully, though, the photographer said nothing more, and they all waited in silence for about ten minutes before the models to started reappear.

Now, Roxy was dressed in an open-collared pale blue shirt and a blue blazer, her trousers matching in color; Charlie wore a dark grey suit with a pale brown waistcoat and beige tie; Rufus had a pale grey suit and a lilac-colored bowtie; and Digby wore a black suit jacket with an unbuttoned collar and grey trousers. Eggsy’s new outfit was a three-piece suit, with the jacket, trousers, and waistcoat all the same tan color.  A dark brown tie and matching oxfords completed the look.

It wasn’t until Merlin nudged him in the ribs that Harry even realized he was staring. Again. The designer turned away, pink dusting his cheeks as Percival started again.

The pictures this time around were less group-centric; Percival paired off the models in random arrangements and took the photos. The pairs alternated until each model had equal camera time. The last pair to go was Charlie and Eggsy.

Percival had them sit together on the sofa, frowning when they ended up on opposite ends of it, and urged them closer. Now the two were so close their shoulders were touching, and Harry felt oddly uncomfortable with that.

Then, just as Percival was preparing to take the picture, Charlie suddenly smirked, and threw an arm over the back of the sofa, which also meant his arm was around Eggsy’s shoulders. He threw the newer model a smug, though somewhat intense, smolder. To everyone’s surprise, however, Eggsy looked back at him with equal intensity- not quite animosity, but something… else. Eggsy’s lips parted and his body leaned in, just as Percival’s camera snapped, capturing the image forever.

As soon as that happened, Eggsy’s face fell to a frown and he pushed at Charlie with clear annoyance. Charlie blinked, stunned, though whether it was because of Eggsy’s initial reaction or the fact that he’d been shoved so hard that he hit the back of the sofa with an audible thud was unclear. Harry felt strangely gratified as Eggsy stood up and adjusted his jacket as though nothing had happened.

Merlin raised an eyebrow but said nothing more than a simple “Good job, everyone,” as the models all left. Digby and Rufus looked annoyed, while Roxy was smothering a laugh with her hand, and Charlie still looked dazed.

“What was that about?” asked Percival, once they were out of hearing range.

“Charlie and Eggsy used to date,” said Harry tonelessly. “I was told that things didn’t end well between them.”

“Not that it seems to be stopping Charlie,” Merlin quipped. “Though that was most likely just an attempt to rile Eggsy up.”

Percival made a disapproving noise and Harry looked up to see him frowning at his camera.

“Attempt or not, we can’t use this shot.” He tilted the camera so the two other men could see. Indeed, the photo looked far too… intimate to represent Kingsman. From the angle Percival had been at, it almost seemed as though Charlie and Eggsy were going to…

“Delete it, then,” Harry said, so quickly that he surprised even himself. Percival’s eyes flicked up to meet his for a fraction of a second before he nodded and did just that, a soft beep coming from his camera to signify that the deed was done. Merlin gave Harry a searching look.

“I’ll take my leave, then,” said Percival. “The final prints should be ready in a few days.”

“Thank you, Percy,” Merlin nodded. The photographer left the room with a graceful bow in Harry’s direction. As they were finally alone, Merlin gave a loud sigh.

“You’re too bloody obvious when you have a crush.”

“A crush?” repeated Harry, incredulously. “Nonsense, Merlin.”

“Oh? Then please, tell me what you’d call gazing at our newest signature model for almost the entire shoot with a forlorn, ‘puppy love’ look?” Merlin’s tone was scathing, but not necessarily harmful.

“I-” Harry blushed. “It is mere infatuation, nothing more! Eggsy is attractive, certainly, but…”

“But?”

“For god’s sake, Merlin, he’s more than half my age! And he used to date Charlie.” Never before had he said the model’s name with such hostility, and he almost immediately hated himself for doing so. “I very much doubt he’d be interested in a codgy old fool like me.”

“Codgy? Harry, I know twenty-eight year olds who are in worse shape than you.” Merlin stepped closer. “Look, why don’t you just get this out of your system now?”

Harry looked at him curiously- and suspiciously. “What do you mean?”

“Invite Eggsy out to lunch,” he muttered, as though it were completely obvious. “Don’t call it a date if you’re uncomfortable, but spend some time outside of work talking to the lad. You can discern for yourself whether he shows any interest or not. If not, I’ll drop it and you can move on.”

Harry blinked. “And if he does?”

“Then go after him, you idiot.” Merlin sighed, pushing up his glasses. “You’ve been single long enough, Harry.”

At that, the designer rolled his eyes. “Ah yes, this is why I hired you: to monitor my love life with an almost obsessive passion.”

“No, you hired me because we were friends. But we’re friends because I monitor your love life so passionately. Now, ask Eggsy out to lunch, or I’m going to clear your schedule and make the appointment myself.”

It took about five seconds of enduring Merlin’s most earnest stare before Harry sighed loudly and gave up.

“Fine.”

 


 

As his first official day as a Kingsman signature wrapped up, Eggsy felt fucking amazing.

Of course, there was the slight hiccup towards the end, when Charlie decided to be an ass and make Eggsy uncomfortable, but he thought he dealt with it rather professionally. Well, maybe aside from the shoving him bit. But he was asking for it.

Roxy even congratulated him as they changed back into their normal clothes, whispering low into his ear so the other models (who cast them surreptitious glances every now and again) wouldn’t hear.

“By the way,” she added, her smirk growing into more of a vicious grin, “did you notice Mr. Hart?”

A pause. “No. Why?”

“Oh my god, Eggsy,” she gasped. “He was totally watching you the whole time!”

“What? Please, Rox.” However, despite Eggsy’s nonchalant tone, he had, in fact, paid attention to Mr. Hart all throughout the photoshoot, though he liked to think he was being far more covert with his glances than the esteemed fashion designer. It had felt… Honestly? Kind of good.

Eggsy wasn’t about to lie and say he wasn’t dazzled by Harry Hart during their first meeting. The man was bloody gorgeous, for one thing. Then he ended up actually being a gentleman, and one with an interesting take on the world and the people in it. And a gentleman who called Eggsy ‘beautiful’.

Christ. The closest thing to ‘beautiful’ he’d ever gotten was when Richmond Valentine commented on how ‘smoking hot’ Eggsy looked in his pictures, and he was pretty sure Valentine had no ulterior motives behind those words. But that didn’t mean Mr. Hart did, either. Eggsy was almost a little disappointed by that.

They finished pulling on their clothes and as a group, they walked back out the front of the house, where the limousine-car was waiting. As was Mr. Hart.

“Have a lovely afternoon, everyone,” he said, voice somewhat quiet. “The next photoshoot is scheduled for next week. Merlin will send out reminders.” They nodded to show their acquiescence. Just as they were about to pile into the car, Mr. Hart held out a hand and stopped Eggsy from entering.

“A-Actually, Eggsy, may I speak to you in private?” he asked, and Eggsy only nodded because Mr. Hart just fucking stuttered. He gave Roxy a glance and a shrug before he stepped back from the car to stand beside his boss. For a split second, he saw Charlie’s face in the car, frowning bitterly, and felt a wave of satisfaction roll over him.

The car doors were closed, and the vehicle finally started down the driveway and towards the city again. Eggsy waved goodbye, mostly to Roxy, and then turned to Mr. Hart, smiling.

“So, uh.. what did you wanna talk about?”

Mr. Hart coughed, looking anywhere but at his newest model. “I… I wanted to congratulate you. You did very well today.”

Eggsy’s smile turned into a lopsided grin. “Thanks.”

“I trust it was an enjoyable experience for you?”

He nodded. “Yeah, definitely! Never been in such a posh house before. Oh, and those suits you made were fuckin’ awesome.” For a brief moment, Eggsy looked embarrassed for swearing in front of his employer (again), but Mr. Hart laughed, the sound warm and happy.

“Thank you. I’m rather proud of this collection, myself.” Then he bit his lip, and Eggsy tried very hard not to stare at his mouth.

“Mr. Hart?” he asked instead.

He straightened his shoulders in response, putting on a professional face. “Well, Eggsy… I was wondering if, perhaps, you would agree to…” he hesitated for a second. “... have lunch with me?”

Mr. Hart had said that last part with a hopeful gleam in his eyes- Eggsy couldn’t believe it. He stared, wide-eyed, at the designer, his boss, and fought to form the words stuck in his throat.

Just as Mr. Hart started to wilt under what seemed like a rejection, Eggsy blurted, “I’d love to!” With the both of them blinking from shock, he added, in a much more subdued tone of voice, “I mean… yeah. Sounds nice. Lunch.”

Slowly, Mr. Hart smiled. “Very well, then. Shall we?”

As if cued, Mr. Hart’s car, a black Rolls-Royce, pulled up on the driveway. Mr. Hart opened the door for Eggsy, who murmured an awed ‘thank you’ and clambered inside, careful of the leather upholstery. When Mr. Hart settled in comfortably on the other side, he nodded at the driver to go ahead.

They sat in a tense, almost-silence, the only sounds being the world passing them outside the car, and the radio playing classical tunes. Eggsy’s hands gripped his knees, his shoulders rigid. Shit. Why did he agree to this? He was in way over his head.

Mr. Hart apparently sensed this distress and turned towards Eggsy. “May I ask you something?”

Eggsy visibly startled. “I- uh… W-What is it?”

“Why ‘Eggsy’?” His tone was genuinely curious. “I’ve heard that your real name is ‘Gary’.”

“Oh…” Eggsy saw Mr. Hart’s face and blushed. “It was, um… A nickname. M’ dad used to call me his ‘little egg’. Then it turned into Eggsy and I kind of liked it, so…”

“I see,” hummed Mr. Hart.

“I-I know, it’s kind of a weird name…”

“Oh no, I didn’t mean to imply that. I like it.” Mr. Hart, astoundingly, turned pink. “Much better than ‘Harry’, anyway.”

“I like Harry,” replied the model automatically. At Mr. Hart’s bewildered stare, he spoke quickly. “Lotsa cool people named Harry. Like… the magician.” God, he might as well jump from the moving car.

But instead of a scoff, Mr. Hart merely continued with, “Potter?”

To which Eggsy replied, grinning sheepishly, “I was thinkin’ more Houdini.”

Mr. Hart chuckled again, allowing Eggsy to breathe a sigh of relief. They shared some menial small talk, mostly about the day’s photoshoot, and soon enough, the car was now in the city, fast approaching a fancy little cafe. It certainly looked like the type of place Mr. Hart would go to eat- it wasn’t terribly snobby or upper-class, but rather softly refined; elegant, even.

As Mr. Hart got out of the car, Eggsy made to do the same, only to find his door pulled open for him again. He looked up at his employer, who was still smiling gently at him, and pinked for what felt like the hundredth time.

They walked to an outside table, and after a few minutes, had their orders taken- Eggsy didn’t know half the stuff on the menu, so he asked Harry to recommend something, which ended up being this absolutely delicious sandwich.

“Hey, Mr. Hart?” he asked suddenly, swallowing a bite of his sandwich with as much elegance as he could muster.

The designer looked up from his soup. “Yes, Eggsy?”

“Mind if I ask you somethin’?”

He put down his spoon and opened his arms in a gesture that read ‘go right ahead’.

“What made ya wanna design clothes?” He’d heard a basic summary from Roxy, that he’d always wanted to go into fashion, but he wanted the why. And he wanted it from Mr. Hart’s own mouth.

Mr. Hart quirked a grin. “Ah. I’m afraid it’s not a terribly interesting story.” Eggsy leaned in closer nonetheless. “Alright. You see, my father would always take me with him whenever he went to his tailor’s.”

“Kingsman?” guessed Eggsy.

“Indeed. I remember being so fascinated by the process. The measuring, fitting, designing a look that would reflect proudly on the man who was to wear it…” He sighed wistfully. “Unfortunately, by the time I had grown, bespoke clothes were less in demand, and I had joined the military instead.”

“But not forever,” Eggsy smiled.

“No, not forever. I returned home with the intention of going straight back to the military, when I happened to go back to Kingsman’s original store. Only to find it now a fashion house. Obviously, I was enthralled. I spoke to the owner, Chester King, who remembered me and my father from all those years ago, and he agreed to let me work in the shop.”

“You up and left the military just to work in a clothing store?” Eggsy balked.

Mr. Hart shook his head, smiling fondly at the memory. “You should have heard my father. I don’t think he’d ever been so vocal towards me in all my life. But yes, I left a promising military career for one in fashion. Eventually, I started to sketch- little things, on the corner of napkins and such. Mr. King saw them and decided I had potential. Sent me to school to learn about fashion design. When I came back, he offered me the chance to become his protege. I said yes.”

“Then he offered you Kingsman, yeah? Since he didn’t have any kids of his own?” When the designer blinked owlishly in response, Eggsy shrugged. “Rox told me a little bit about the brand.”

“Ah… Then, yes. That is how the story ends.” Mr. Hart sipped at his tea. “Do you mind a similar query?” Eggsy shook his head to show that he didn’t. “Why did you want to become a model?”

The young man flushed, choosing instead to stare down at his almost-finished lunch.

“Eggsy?” asked Mr. Hart, suddenly concerned.

“... D’you promise not to laugh?” he asked quietly.

“... Why would I laugh?”

“‘Cause Charlie did. And Roxy giggled a little when I told her.”

“....Then I promise not to laugh.”

Eggsy peered at him through his eyelashes, looking so innocent Mr. Hart visibly stilled. Then, in a soft voice, the model answered. “Audrey Hepburn.”

A blink. “Audrey… Hepburn?”

“I grew up on her, alright?” he said, somewhat defensively. “M’ dad showed me My Fair Lady when I was a kid and I loved it. So then I watched her other movies. When I was eight, I saw Funny Face.”

“Oh.” He recalled that movie- Miss Hepburn played a young woman who was persuaded to model in Paris by Fred Astaire, who portrayed a fashion photographer.

Eggsy was still going, apparently too embarrassed to stop. “She looked like she was havin’ so much fun, wearing those outfits and havin’ her picture taken. She got to go to Paris, dude. And Fred Astaire was tellin’ her how beautiful she was, even though she thought she looked weird. I… I really liked that.”

“So you decided to become a model,” Mr. Hart concluded, with as straight a face as he could manage. He didn’t want to smile, in case Eggsy thought he found it funny, but in truth, it was adorable. He never would have figured, a someone like him enjoying Hepburn films.

“... Yeah,” Eggsy said, after a while. “I wanted to be a model.”

They finished their meal with more quiet conversation. Mr. Hart paid the bill, and then they got back into his car. Eggsy gave directions to his home, and when they finally arrived at the apartment complex, he turned to Mr. Hart and smiled.

“Hey, uh… Thanks. For lunch. And, y’know, not laughing at me.”

“It was a pleasure, Eggsy,” Mr. Hart returned, his smile equally adamant. “I would quite like to do this again sometime. That is, if you’d like to as well,” he added, the words rushed.

Eggsy grinned. “I’d love that.”

He waved goodbye when he got out of the car, watching the Rolls-Royce slowly drive away until he couldn’t see it anymore. The young model sighed contentedly and went to go inside his apartment, where he’d be greeted by the squeals of his baby sister and the excited barking of his tiny pug, and the relentless questions his mother was sure to have for him about his first day.

After all of that, he mused, perhaps he’d re-watch Funny Face.

Chapter Text

“Don’t sleep with Mr. Hart.”

Eggsy looked up from his phone to stare at Charlie.

“‘scuse me?”

Without even asking for an invitation, the taller model slid easily into the seat across from Eggsy, his gaze intense- and slightly annoyed.

“You told me to remind you not to sleep with Mr. Hart,” he said, dryly. “This is me reminding you.”

They were in the models’ lounge in the Kingsman studio, codenamed the ‘Bedivere room’. Though it was officially designated a break room for all employees, it was typically where the models went when they didn’t have anything else to do- usually, when a major photoshoot wasn’t going on, the models would often do smaller projects, or even help out in other departments. Currently, Eggsy and Charlie were the only ones present, as Roxy had left sometime ago to help Merlin with some of his work (a common occurrence, Eggsy guessed, since Merlin didn’t even protest when she grabbed his tablet and began typing away), and Digby and Rufus had gone out to eat somewhere. Eggsy did wonder why Charlie hadn’t gone with them.

Apparently, so he could scold his ex-boyfriend.

“Well.” Eggsy raised an eyebrow. “Thanks. I guess. I didn’t need the reminder, though.”

“You had lunch with him after the photoshoot,” he pointed out.

“So? That was like, a week ago. I have lunch with Roxy, too. Don’t mean I’m gonna shag her.” Grinning, Eggsy folded his arms on the table and leveled Charlie with a roguish look. “Come to think of it, we didn’t have lunch all that much when we were datin’.”

Charlie huffed. “So?”

“So I don’t get why you think I wanna sleep with Mr. Hart after one lunch together.”

“Well, it certainly took less than that to sleep with me.”

“Oi,” Eggsy’s tone was suddenly stern, his eyes hard. “The fuck’s gotten into you?”

“I’m the one who offered you this job,” Charlie spoke, his expression equally stony. “I’d hate to see you lose it because you couldn’t stop gazing at Mr. Hart’s ass.”

“I don’t-”

“You do. It’s so obvious I almost want to vomit.”

Eggsy stared at Charlie, mouth opened just slightly and eyebrows drawn together in confusion. “Fuck. You ain’t jealous, are you?”

Charlie’s eyes widened just a fraction, though he quickly scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “Please. Don’t flatter yourself, Eggy.”

“Then stop actin’ like such a prick,” he muttered. “It’s not like I’m the only model he’s ever had lunch with.” At Charlie’s silence, he frowned. “... Am I?”

“Of course not. But you’re the only one he’s taken out alone. With the rest of us, we were either with another model or Mr. Hart had Merlin come along.”

Eggsy blinked. “Oh.”

“So, I’m only going to warn you once more.” Charlie leaned over the table and looked Eggsy directly in the eye. “Don’t sleep with Mr. Hart.”

With an abrupt scowl, Eggsy rolled his eyes and held up his hands in a gesture of mock-surrender. “Alright, alright. Jesus. Keep this up and I might actually think you care about me.”

He’d meant that last statement to be a joke. He even smirked as he said it. But something in Charlie’s eyes darkened, and the taller model stood up from the table. He turned and left the Bedivere room without so much as a goodbye, leaving Eggsy to stare after him in bewildered silence.

With room suddenly and woefully empty, Eggsy decided to call it a day and left for home.

 


 

The next photoshoot was a few days later. It was to take place in a large and elaborate garden, housed in an estate just outside of the city. Eggsy couldn’t help but gape as the car pulled up to the large mansion, ten times more impressed than he had been with the Victorian manor they did their first shoot at. But, to his gratification, everyone else had a similar expression of awe, though perhaps not quite on the same level as his.

“Bloody hell,” he muttered. “I know Kingsman is rich and all, but can they seriously afford to rent this out…?”

“It’s free,” Roxy explained from beside him. She was wearing a bright smile as she too surveyed the house. Eggsy whipped his head to stare at her.

“What?”

“This is Mr. King’s home,” said Charlie, from the other side of the car. “He offered to let Kingsman use his gardens for this photoshoot.”

Eggsy whistled. “Damn.”

The car finally stopped in front of the manor, and just like last time, Mr. Hart and Merlin were waiting outside the door. But, in addition to the two men, a third, older gentleman was standing beside them. He was shorter and his hair was completely white, but he was dressed to the nines in a bespoke suit, signifying his status. Eggsy didn’t have to be told who he was- obviously, it was Chester King.

The models got out of the car. Mr. Hart said hello, as usual, and let Merlin explain the procedure for this particular shoot. Since they were to be outside, Mr. King had arranged for tents to be set up in the garden so that they wouldn’t have to go in and out of the house so often to change.

As Merlin was speaking, Eggsy let his eyes drift over to Mr. King, only to be startled when he saw the former owner of Kingsman watching him already. The old man’s gaze was scrutinizing, as if he were trying to find a flaw with Eggsy. Then again, with his Adidas jacket and baggy jeans, Mr. King probably didn’t have to look very hard for something to disapprove of. Eggsy shifted uncomfortably.

Merlin finished up and directed the models to the tents, leading the group at its head. Mr. Hart and Mr. King remained behind. Out of the corner of his eye, Eggsy saw Mr. King turn to mutter something in Mr. Hart’s ear, but he didn’t know what, nor could he stay to see Mr. Hart’s reaction to whatever it was.

“Does Mr. King always look like that?” Eggsy asked Roxy, low enough that Merlin couldn’t hear them.

“Like what?”

“Like he’s just stepped in shit. Christ, did you see the way he was glarin’ at me?”

“Oh, that.” Roxy shrugged. “Pretty much. Dont’ worry, he’ll get used to you.”

“... How d’you know?”

“Let’s just say he wasn’t thrilled about Mr. Hart’s decision to go into ladies’ wear. Ergo, he was not thrilled with the new lady signature.”

Eggsy frowned, shoving his hands in his pockets. “He kinda sounds like a dick.”

“He kind of is,” she admitted. “But that dick still holds significant sway over Kingsman, despite Mr. Hart owning the brand now. Best to keep our mouths shut around him.”

“Right.”

They were quiet for the rest of the way to the gardens. Once they reached their destination, however, quite a few of them gasped.

The garden was a sprawling expanse of green grass, extending beyond the back of the manor to the edge of a forest. Bricks paths wound around the grass, twisting through the green, though all of them lead back to the center of the garden, which housed a large stonework fountain. Surrounding the paths were different kinds of flowers, from lilies to asters to roses, and neatly-trimmed hedges fenced off the space. Just in front of the fountain, Percival could be spotted setting up his equipment, and just off to the side, two decently-sized tents were tucked into the corner. As Merlin had explained, one was for changing while the other was for makeup.

The five models quickly went into the changing tent and got into their designated clothes. The theme for this set was casual- or, at least as casual as a brand like Kingsman could get. For Eggsy, this meant a cream-colored vest and an off-white shirt, with specific instructions to roll the sleeves up to his elbows. His trousers were matched to his vest, and a pair of suede derby shoes finished off the look. When he finished changing, he glanced out of the corner of his eye to see Roxy, and he had to do a double take.

“Geez, Rox,” he said, grinning. “I think this is the first time I’ve ever seen ya in a dress.”

Roxy rolled her eyes at him. “Yes, yes, laugh it up, Unwin.”

“Didn’t mean nothin’ by it. You look great.”

And he meant it. Roxy’s dress was simple but elegant, made of a tan material and ending just above her knees. A black leather belt looped around her midsection. To top it all off, she wore a pair of black heels with beige tips at her toes. Roxy winked at Eggsy and strolled out of the tent to get her makeup done.

A good ten minutes later, and they were all set. It was much the same as the first shoot, though the models were allowed more liberty with their poses and were encouraged to move around. It was meant to feel fluid, loose. And, really, it was kind of… fun. While Digby and Rufus took group shots by the hedges, and Charlie was doing a solo shot in front of the flowers, Roxy and Eggsy took to the fountain, with Percival snapping photos of them each in turn.

Roxy sat like a lady on the fountain’s edge, her legs folded at the ankles, while Eggsy had jumped up to stand over her. They both looked at each other and smiled, only barely aware of Percival’s camera. Eggsy offered a hand to her, which she took, and allowed him to pull her up to his level. She laughed as he bowed formally to her, like a prince to a princess, and he grinned when he looked back up to see her smile. Then Eggsy glanced out of the corner of his eye, and saw Mr. Hart. The designer was smiling at him, the same smile he had when they had lunch together not too long ago. Eggsy blushed, quickly looking back at Roxy, whose expression had changed from playful to knowing- and smug. Too smug. He almost wanted to push her into the fountain.

They took one final group shot in front of the fountain before Merlin told them they were done. Well, except for Roxy; the collection had more casual ladies’ wear pieces, so she was changing into her next outfit as everyone else put their regular clothes back on.

Merlin had walked into the tent just as they were finishing up, when Eggsy was the only one left inside, with amused look on his face as he held up his tablet.

“Eggsy,” he called.

The model turned around. “Yeah?”

“Congratulations. You’ve made the headlines.” Merlin showed him the tablet screen; Eggsy’s eyes widened.

There, on the screen, on some fashion gossip site, was a picture from one of Eggsy’s older jobs- he was wearing winged trainers, harem pants, and a baggy jacket. And plastered above the picture was the headline: ‘NEWEST KINGSMAN SIGNATURE: IS CHAV THE NEW OXFORD?’ An article started below, though only the first paragraph was visible. Eggsy scanned its contents and grimaced.

“‘Has gentleman designer Harry Hart lost touch with the brand’s original message?’” Eggsy read aloud. “Christ, what the fuck? How can they say that about Mr. Hart?”

Merlin raised an eyebrow. “You’re not upset about what they said on you?”

“Only a little. Trust me, mate, I’ve heard worse.” Eggsy pushed away the tablet with visible disgust. “Don’t suppose that was the reason Mr. King was glarin’ at me earlier?”

“He might have seen it before you lot arrived,” conceded Merlin.

“Shit.”

“Don’t worry, Harry took care of things. He showed Mr. King some of the shots you’ve done with us and he calmed down. Well, a little, anyway.” Merlin tucked the tablet under his arm. “As for the rest of the article… It’s just idle gossip. When the collection debuts and everyone sees your shots, I doubt you’ll ever be called a chav again.”

Eggsy quirked and smile and nodded. “Thanks, Merlin.”

“Anytime,” he smiled in reply. He made to leave the tent, but before he did, he turned to face Eggsy again. “Oh, by the way, Harry wanted to talk to you. He should be out by the front of the house.”

Eggsy hummed, and the bald man left the tent. He shrugged his jacket back on and quietly slipped outside. Roxy was still taking her photos, and was being directed by both Percival and Merlin. He shot her a grin and a wave, which she returned with a radiant smile before returning her focus to her work. Then Eggsy strolled back to the front of Mr. King’s massive house, his hands leisurely tucked into his pockets. Briefly, he wondered where Charlie and the other models went off to, before realizing that the posh gits probably could have just called in a ride home. Maybe in a fancy helicopter or something like that- he knew for a fact that Charlie’s family owned both a yacht and a private jet.

Rounding the corner of the house, he nearly stopped in his tracks when he saw the men waiting for him. Yes, Mr. Hart was there, but so was Mr. King. The two older men were engaged in some sort of conversation; Mr. King’s back was facing Eggsy, so he couldn’t see his face, but he could tell from posture alone that something had riled the old man up. Mr. Hart, on the other hand, was facing Eggsy’s direction, and the young model could clearly see the agitation building in his handsome features.

He wondered if it was really wise to keep moving and go up to them while they were talking. He even considered turning back around to watch the rest of Roxy’s shoot, but unfortunately, Mr. Hart had already spotted him. So he had no choice but to take a deep breath and finish crossing the distance between himself and the two men.

“Eggsy,” Mr. Hart said warmly, once he’d reached them. “This is Chester King, founder of the Kingsman label. Chester, Eggsy Unwin. Our newest signature.”

Chester smiled, though the expression was tense and uncomfortable, as was the way he held out his hand. “A… pleasure, Mr. Unwin.”

Eggsy put on his best smile- and he was way more convincing, since putting on smiles was pretty much in his job description- and shook Mr. King’s hand. “It’s an honor to meet you, Mr. King,” he said respectfully. This earned a raised eyebrow from Mr. King and an impressed look from Mr. Hart. Eggsy was happier about the latter.

“Yes, well… Harry here has shown me some of the photos Percival has taken of you,” Mr. King continued. “Compared to your… past work, it’s rather admirable.” He gave Mr. Hart a sideways glance. “Harry does seem quite fond of you as well, the way he’s been singing your praises.”

Amazingly, Mr. Hart blushed, his eyes wide and panicked, and Eggsy could feel the familiar rush of blood hit his own cheeks, but he at least managed to keep a calm face.

“Well, the only reason I been doin’ good so far is cause of Mr. Hart,” Eggsy said, looking Mr. King right in the eye. “He’s been tellin’ me what Kingsman’s all about. Bein’ a gentleman and all that. He’s very dedicated to keeping that idea alive, you know?”

Mr. Hart was looking at him, he could tell, with his eyes still wide, like Eggsy had called him a god or something. Mr. King only looked mildly appeased.

“I do hope you take his advice to heart,” he said. “It is one thing to look like a gentleman. It is another thing entirely to act like one.” Turning on his heel, Mr. King marched back into his home, leaving the designer and the model outside.

Eggsy’s polite smile quickly dropped into a scowl. “Christ. Who pissed in his tea?”

Mr. Hart chuckled. “I’m afraid to say it’s mostly my fault. Chester was not entirely pleased with my decision to hire a streetwear model to work for Kingsman.”

“Yeah, well, you own the brand now,” replied Eggsy. “You can do what you want, mate.”

“And I’ve told him variations of that countless times.” Mr. Hart sighed, rubbing at his temples. “Chester was no doubt a genius to turn Kingsman into the global fashion house it is now, but his ways have always been… traditional.”

“Rox told me about when she was hired. Said he weren’t too thrilled about that, either.”

“No. Nor was he pleased about Charlie.”

Eggsy turned to stare at his employer, eyebrows drawn together. “What? Charlie’s like, exactly what Mr. King would want in a Kingsman model, ain’t he?”

“Aside from one small detail, yes.”

“What detail?”

“His sexual preferences.”

Eggsy’s jaw dropped open slightly, and for the first time in a long while, he actually felt a little sympathy for Charlie. “Oh.”

Mr. Hart shook his head, breathing in deeply. “But, despite his less than enthusiastic opinions, he has never superseded any of my decisions concerning Kingsman. So you needn’t worry about losing your job,” he smiled at Eggsy.

He smiled back. Then, he remembered the website Merlin had shown him. “Oh, right… Mr. Hart, Merlin showed me that article. The one where they’re talkin’ about me and Kingsman…” He bit his lip as Mr. Hart focused his gaze on him. “I just… I’m sorry. ‘S not right, what they were sayin’ ‘bout you ‘cause of me.”

Mr. Hart’s gaze softened significantly. “Oh, my boy, don’t worry about that. I’ve endured far more scathing commentary throughout my career.”

Eggsy nodded, something in his stomach twisting pleasantly at the words ‘my boy’, but he chose not to focus on it.

“Besides, the gossip will stop soon enough. The spotlight will shift from Kingsman to some other scandal in the fashion world; there’s never a shortage of them. Although,” Mr. Hart paused, his face contorting into a thoughtful expression. “Merlin has suggested an interview.”

“Interview? For what?”

“You. To formally introduce you as a Kingsman model.”

Eggsy gaped.

“Of course, it’s not something already in the works, merely something we’ve talked about…” Mr. Hart said, perturbed by Eggsy’s reaction.

He snapped out of it quickly, though, and hastened to reply. “It’s a good idea, I think,” he said, rushed, “but I don’t wanna embarrass ya more than I already have.”

The designer raised a perfectly-shaped brow. “Eggsy, you have done nothing to embarrass me. It is the nature of the media to twist something completely innocent and turn it into ammunition. I wouldn’t worry about it.”

The model sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. “Still…”

At that moment, Mr. Hart’s phone buzzed, causing him to pull it out and scan the message that had appeared on his screen. When he was done, he frowned, re-pocketing the device.

“I’m terribly sorry, Eggsy, it seems I’m needed back at the studio.”

“Oh. That’s alright.” Eggsy tried not to show his disappointment. They hadn’t quite reached the end of their conversation, but Mr. Hart had more important things he needed to do.

“Are you done for the day?” Mr. Hart asked.

“Er, yeah. Rox and I made lunch plans though, so I’m waitin’ for her.”

The designer’s smile was suddenly tight. “I see. I don’t suppose you have similar plans on Friday, do you?”

“I… No. You askin’?”

“If you are amenable.”

He stared at Mr. Hart for a moment before a grin began to snake its way onto his face. “Yeah. Sounds great.”

Mr. Hart’s genuine smile returned. “Wonderful. I’ll text you the details later.”

His black Rolls-Royce appeared not seconds later, like his driver knew exactly when to pull up. Mr. Hart pulled open the door, and just before stepping inside, addressed the young man.

“I’ll see you Friday, Eggsy.”

The model held up a hand in lieu of saying a goodbye, and watched the Rolls-Royce depart from the opulent manor, his heart feeling much lighter than it had been a few minutes ago.

Chapter Text

Not for the first time in his life, Harry Hart was wrong.

The rumors and gossip about Eggsy didn’t stop as he’d hoped- rather, they intensified, and each day that passed since the garden photoshoot found a new piece or article written about the former streetwear model. Most of it was harmless, just conjecture that was obviously made up, and he could leave Merlin to deal with those. Truthfully, Eggsy didn’t even seem too perturbed about the gossip, though he did seem uncomfortable whenever Harry’s character was called into question- yet another quality that endeared him to the boy.

But then, the day before Eggsy and Harry’s scheduled lunch date, a new low was hit.

Harry had barely walked five feet into his office before the door wrenched open, and Merlin was standing in the doorway, his expression troubled.

“... Come in?” Harry said, eyebrow raised. It wasn’t too often that he saw Merlin as affected as he was just then.

“Have you seen this?” his personal assistant asked, pointing down at his tablet screen, which Harry could not see.

“I’m not sure what ‘this’ is, but I’m going to go ahead and say, no, I haven’t.”

Merlin strode over to him and all but shoved the tablet into his arms. Harry would’ve chuckled at his friend’s actions, had he not glanced down at the device within milliseconds of obtaining it. No, instead of laughing, he paled.

Eggsy was visible on the screen, though it was most definitely not a modeling photo, and he wasn’t alone. He was in a club of some sort, the lighting dark, with a few colored streaks of spotlights here and there, and an entire crowd of unidentifiable faces circled the young man- but that wasn’t all. Eggsy had a pair of arms wrapped around his waist, and his own arms were circled around the neck of his dancing partner, their lips dangerously close together and eyes obviously clouded with lust, visible even through the low-quality of the camera. And Eggsy’s far-too-physical partner?

“I…” Harry gaped at the image. “When…” He turned to Merlin, his features desperate.

“I’ve checked- that photo is from roughly six months ago, taken while they were still dating.”

Harry let himself breathe an audible sigh of relief, not caring that Merlin was standing right next to him. “What are people saying?”

“What you’d expect, really. Half of the comments are the usual homophobic nonsense. The other half are surprisingly encouraging. Of course, they don’t know that there’s no longer a couple to encourage, but…”

“And Eggsy and Charlie?” Harry cut him off. “Have they seen this?”

At that, Merlin almost grinned, but kept himself in check. “Charlie was mortified when I showed him. And I called Eggsy; he was furious.”

The designer handed the tablet back to Merlin, and made his way to his desk, collapsing into his chair. As he ran a hand down his face, Merlin kept speaking.

“Now the question is, how do we handle this?” He tucked the tablet under his arm. “You know how Chester is about this sort of thing. I’ve already gotten a very angry phone call from him.”

“Oh, Chester can fuck off,” Harry replied irritably. “He doesn’t own Kingsman anymore.”

Merlin blinked, before slowly nodding. “Okay. Even so, there are plenty of investors who are… uncomfortable with this.”

“Bollocks to them as well.” The designer straightened his back, leveling the bald man with a steely gaze. “Release a statement to the press. Tell them that Kingsman is a brand for every person, regardless of their sexual identity, and that this fiasco will not cause any internal trouble.”

Merlin got his tablet back out and typed in a note of what Harry had just said. “And what do I tell them about Charlie and Eggsy?”

“The truth,” he muttered. “The photo is old and they are not together anymore.”

“That might just cause more questions,” Merlin pointed out. His tablet pinged, causing him to look down. “Ah, speak of the devil…”

“What is it?”

“Eggsy just arrived. He wants to talk to you.”

For a split second, Harry felt a rise of panic well up within him- a feeling he soon pushed down, since he knew he had no reason to freak out. Luckily, it didn’t show on his face, and he managed to keep his voice level. “Send him in.”

Merlin typed a message and sent it. Then he excused himself and left the office. A few minutes later, his door was opened again (knocking seemed a terribly foreign idea lately), but this time it was Eggsy who stormed inside. The young model was visibly upset; his brows were creased downwards, his mouth pulled into a tight frown, and his shoulders hunched forwards. Though he hadn’t bothered to knock, the boy at least remembered to close the door behind him.

“Good morning, Eggsy,” said Harry, though it lacked his usual cheer.

“Mornin’,” was the mumbled reply. “Didja see the picture…?”

“I’m afraid so.”

At once, Eggsy’s eyes shifted to the floor. “I swear, Mr. Hart, that picture’s so fuckin’ old... I don’t even know who took it.”

“It’s fine, Eggsy,” Harry said softly. “You don’t have to explain yourself.”

“But people are goin’ fuckin’ mental about this shit!” Eggsy looked up, locking eyes with his employer.

“It’s a stupid thing to get worked up over,” he stated, voice calm. “We’ve taken care of it, Eggsy.”

His brows creased even further, this time in confusion. “How?”

“Merlin is about to issue a statement assuring the public that sexuality is not something Kingsman concerns itself with. So long as our models do their jobs, it hardly matters who they’re shagging.” A pause. “Of course, we will also inform the press that you and Charlie are no longer…”

Eggsy nodded gratefully. “Oh… Good. But… Is that gonna end it? A statement made by your personal assistant?”

Harry bristled a bit on Merlin’s behalf. “Why would it not suffice? Merlin will be representing my, and by extension, the brand’s beliefs.”

Eggsy held up his hands. “I didn’t mean that-... Look, what I’m sayin’ is, wouldn’t to be better to hear something straight from the source?”

“Well, I suppose, but I don’t…” Realization dawned on Harry as he stared at his model. “Are you talking about yourself?”

He shifted his weight from one leg to the other, clearly uncomfortable. “An interview is an option, innit? Might as well. I can be ‘formally introduced’ or whatever and I can clear up the mess myself.”

“... Are you sure?”

Eggsy nodded, his jaw set with determination. “Yeah.”

A few seconds passed in silence before Harry smiled, admiring the boy for his resolve. “Very well. I’ll call Merlin and have the arrangements set up.”

“Okay.” Taking that as his cue to leave, Eggsy turned around and began walking towards the door. Just before his fingers touched the handle, Harry couldn’t help but speak out.

“Eggsy?”

He looked back. “Yeah?”

“Are we still on for lunch tomorrow?” Harry mentally smacked himself for sounding so… adolescent. But he just felt like he needed to ask.

And he was indulged, since Eggsy beamed at him from across the room and gave a little salute. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world, bruv.”

 


 

 Friday came quickly enough, and to say that Eggsy was nervous would’ve been an understatement. Not about the lunch itself, mind you- he was actually growing increasingly comfortable around Mr. Hart. At least, he swore freely in front of the man, which he never did with any of his other bosses (sans Richmond Valentine, who gave no fucks either way). No, Eggsy was nervous about a different matter. Namely, his upcoming interview.

He had agreed, nay, asked to do one, but that was only because the reaction to that old photo of himself and Charlie had been so strong that he felt incensed, like he needed to speak out and tell the world the truth. Charlie certainly wasn’t going to do it, not that Eggsy was going to hold that against him; one of the few things he respected about the man was his dedication to keeping work and home separate. Though, he suspected most of that was due to his family. Eggsy never met Charlie’s parents, but he always assumed they had a Draco Malfoy-esque dynamic.

Anyway, Charlie wouldn’t dare answer questions about his personal life from a magazine that would publish his words to millions of people. That left the responsibility of clearing up the confusion to Eggsy. Problem was, Eggsy had never actually done an interview in his life. He’d left Mr. Hart’s office the previous day feeling both excitement and dread pool in his gut.

So, the plan now was to ask for advice. Mr. Hart surely had experience with interviews, and though perhaps he had not been presented with the same topics Eggsy would, he could definitely give some pointers to an amateur. Honestly, Eggsy would take anything he could get.

He kept all this in mind as he sat at an outside table, at the little cafe Mr. Hart had chosen for their- well, it wasn’t a date, but Eggsy was allowed to call it that in the private chamber of his own mind. It was a different cafe than the last time they’d had lunch together, but it still had that soft charm and refinement that seemed to accompany every facet of Mr. Hart’s life. 

He’d arrived first simply because he couldn’t wait around in his apartment any longer, and took a cab to the cafe an hour before he’d actually planned on leaving. So he’d been sitting there for the better part of a half-hour, bouncing his leg impatiently as he waited for Mr. Hart to arrive.

Their lunch date was scheduled for one o’clock, and Mr. Hart showed up exactly on time.

The designer looked mildly surprised to see Eggsy already there, and Eggsy tried not to revel in it. Still, as he eased into the seat across from him, that warm smile had already replaced the surprised look. They exchanged greetings, ordered their food, and Eggsy waited for the right opportunity to ask.

As it turned out, though, he didn’t have to; Mr. Hart was the one to bring it up.

“Your interview is scheduled for next Tuesday, by the way,” he said casually, as he sipped his tea. “It’ll be with Kay Canton of Brogue magazine.”

Eggsy stared at him for a moment, before a small smile appeared on his lips. “What, is that like the gentleman’s version of Vogue?”

Unperturbed, Mr. Hart replied, “Essentially. Now, do you have an idea of what you’re going to say?” Eggsy’s silence answered that question.

“I don’t even know what they’re gonna ask,” he admitted.

Mr. Hart replaced his teacup on its saucer. “I could help you, if you’d like.”

“Oh my god, please,” the model said at once, blushing as Mr. Hart looked at him amusedly.

“Very well, then. A practice interview.” The designer straightened up, and Eggsy did the same.

“How’s this gonna work?” he asked curiously. “Is it just random questions or summat?”

“They won’t be random, Eggsy. You’ll need to address the main points brought up in those articles.”

“What if the interviewer don’t ask nicely?”

“Kay is an old friend of mine. I’ve called in a favor he owes me; he’ll be nice, trust me.”

Eggsy frowned. “You sure you wanna waste a favor like that on me?”

“It isn’t a waste,” Mr. Hart replied with sincerity. “Now, let’s begin, shall we?”

Shaking off his nerves, Eggsy cleared his throat and nodded. “Alright.”

“Firstly: considering your past work, what makes you suitable to model for Kingsman?”

Mr. Hart leaned in across the table as he asked, watching Eggsy intently. It almost felt like a job interview, mused the model, even though he already had the job in question.

His answer came to him faster than he thought. “Same thing that made me suitable for all those other jobs. I can adapt. ‘s what bein’ a model’s all about, innit? Changing yourself so you can be whatever your clothes say you are. So yeah, I could be a street kid in baggy pants one minute and a gentleman in a pinstriped suit the next, and I could pull off both looks perfectly-fuckin’-fine, thanks.”

Mr. Hart looked impressed. “Well said.”

“Might have to edit the language though, yeah?” Eggsy grinned sheepishly.

“That will be Kay’s concern,” he responded, waving a dismissive hand. “Next question. This concerns the allegations on your sexuality and your apparent relationship with your co-worker, Charlie Hesketh. How do you respond?”

Eggsy raised an eyebrow at Mr. Hart’s tone; it sounded like he had to force Charlie’s name out. Still, he took a few moments to think before answering.

“Charlie and I used to be ‘involved’ or whatever the fuck you wanna call it. But we ain’t like that anymore, alright? We’re just co-workers.”

“But how are you certain you will remain ‘just co-workers’?” Mr. Hart pressed, voice quiet but firm.

“...” Eggsy sighed. “I ain’t allowed to call Charlie a cheatin’ ponce, am I?”

Mr. Hart paused, blinking in bewilderment. “I… don’t think they can print that, no.”

An aggravated groan escaped the model’s lips. “Okay, fine. Things just didn’t work out. For a reason. But that don’t mean we can’t get our shit together and act professional. We aint fuckin’ teenagers.”

The designer nodded approvingly. “I think that will get the point across. As for the other questions, they’ll be much easier to answer by comparison. Kay will ask about the new collection, and perhaps a few personal questions, though don’t feel compelled to answer anything you’re uncomfortable with. He can be rather… intrusive.” Mr. Hart trailed off with a grimace.

“Well, what sort of personal questions?”

“Your family, home life, etcetera. He may also ask why you got into modeling in the first place.”

Eggsy paled. “Shit. Should I tell him about Funny Face?”

Mr. Hart chuckled. “It’s your decision.”

“Would be weird, though?”

“To be perfectly honest, Eggsy, I found that story quite endearing. I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one.”

“... Endearin’?” Eggsy repeated quietly, red quickly flooding his face. As if realizing what he let slip, Mr. Hart turned an equally dark color.

“I… That is to say, I meant…” Not able to find a way out, he let his shoulders sag with defeat. “Alright, yes. Endearing.” He refused to meet Eggsy’s eyes.

The model was quiet for a while. “... Okay.”

That made Mr. Hart look up. “Hm?”

“I think I can do this.” Eggsy shot him a brilliant grin. “It’s just a few questions, yeah? Piece of cake.”

Relaxing, Mr. Hart smiled in return. “I’m glad.”

They returned their attention to their lunch then, the topic of conversation turned to other things, such as the final photoshoot (which was to take place sometime after the interview). Though some doubts and reservations still sat at the back of Eggsy’s mind, he felt far more confident now, and it was all thanks to Mr. Hart.

Chapter Text

The main office for Brogue magazine was situated in a relatively small building, though that didn’t stop the interior designers from making it seem like a bloody mansion had been crammed into the space. The walls were dark and modern, but where any other office would have had a glass desk for the receptionist, Brogue had an antique wooden desk, with a well-dressed gentleman seated behind it. In some respects, it reminded Eggsy of Mr. Hart’s office. But he never felt quite so apprehensive there, whereas this space had him so keyed up he was like to jolt if anyone so much as brushed his shoulder.

He’d arrived at Brogue approximately twenty minutes before his appointment. The receptionist gave him a once-over, nodded, and told him to wait in one of the plush leather chairs until Kay Canton was ready to see him.

For the tenth time that day, Eggsy tugged at his collar. Mr. Hart had been gracious enough to loan him a suit for the interview, something from one of his old collections, though it had been refitted to hug Eggsy’s figure comfortably. It consisted of a charcoal woolen shirt, and a black pinstriped suit jacket with matching pants, and the customary black oxfords rested on his feet. They were going to take a few photos for the article, so of course Eggsy had to look his best. Unfortunately, he still hadn’t gotten around to actually buying Kingsman-model-appropriate clothes (he and Roxy promised to have a shopping day eventually, but they hadn’t had the time as of yet).

“Mr. Unwin?” a voice called, snapping Eggsy out of his reverie. He looked up at the receptionist with an alert expression. “Mr. Canton is ready. Through those doors, if you will.” He nodded towards a set of double doors down the hallway. Eggsy thanked him and stood, striding purposefully in that direction. He carefully pushed one door open.

Immediately, an older gentleman turned around and saw him. He wore a checkered suit and a green tie, and he was the kind of handsome you saw all the time in old movies- he reminded Eggsy a little of William Holden.

“Ah, hello.” The man smiled. “You must be Eggsy Unwin, yes?”

Eggsy stepped fully into the room and closed the door behind him. “That’s me.”

“My,” he said appraisingly, eyes traveling up and down Eggsy’s form, “Harry wasn’t lying. You are stunning.”

A fresh blush arose on Eggsy’s cheeks, much to the man’s delight. Though, whether he was blushing due to the man’s compliment, or due to the fact that Mr. Hart had apparently called him stunning, was something Eggsy was going to quietly keep to himself.

“Oh, I’m sorry; where are my manners?” The man stuck out a hand and grinned. “Kay Canton, editor-in-chief of Brogue.

The model shook his hand politely. Then, he surveyed the room. It was very spacious, sparsely decorated except for a desk with a computer, a few chairs here and there, and remarkably, a makeshift photography station- a black backdrop stood on the left side of the room, flanked by two umbrella lights, and a camera stationed in the front.

Mr. Canton caught him looking at the equipment and laughed. “Sorry, sorry. I know, a photoshoot in an office, not very professional. But, my space is empty enough as it is, so I figured, why not?” He gestured to the setup. “We can kill two birds with one stone and do the interview and photoshoot at the same time.” He pointed to a strange device sitting on his desk, and it took Eggsy a moment to realize that it was some kind of recorder. “That will keep track of your answers for me. Now, please.”

Eggsy nodded, somewhat dazed by the man’s long-winded explanation, but moved his feet obediently. Soon he was in front of the camera, while Mr. Canton was behind it. Eggsy blinked.

“What, you’re gonna take the pictures, Mr. Canton?” he asked incredulously.

“Oh, please, Kay will do just fine,” he said, adjusting something on the camera. “And yes. I like to have full creative control on every aspect of my articles. If Harry’d let me, I would’ve dressed you up, too.”

Though he didn’t know if he should be grateful, Eggsy made a mental note to talk to Mr. Hart later, about what an… eccentric character his friend was.

“Now then…” Kay licked his lips, peering at Eggsy through the camera lens. “I’m no Percy, but I can take a decent shot.” He stared disdainfully at Eggsy, only for the model to realize he was glaring at the plain backdrop. “Maybe I should’ve asked to borrow James, though. This minimalist style doesn’t suit you.”

“Why couldn’t you then?” Eggsy asked, wondering if this was how all interviews went, or if Kay was just fucking weird.

“Oh, on their days off, Percy and James hardly leave their apartment. I swear, if they’re not bickering, they’re off snogging somewhere.”

At that, Eggsy hummed. Roxy had already told him about her brother and the set designer’s relationship. He’d even stumbled upon them ‘in the act’ in the photography studio, though he’d made a conscious effort to forget about it.

“Oh well.” Kay shrugged. “I suppose we can make do with this. Let’s get started.”

He began snapping pictures and asking questions all at once; it took Eggsy a moment to get used to it. Eventually he just moved about at his leisure and answered Kay’s questions with practiced ease.

“Now, Eggsy. Everyone’s seen your old streetwear photos, and they’re marvelous, really, but what makes you Kingsman material?”

Eggsy smirked, just as Kay pressed down on the button to capture his image. “It’s all about adaptin’. It’s a model’s job, after all. As long as I look and feel good, I can pull off any look. And one of Kingsman’s greatest values is bein’ comfortable with yourself.”

Kay smiled at him from over the camera. “Touche. With that in mind, how did you come to find yourself in the modeling world? Dreams of glamor? Childhood fantasy?”

Eggsy flushed a bit, but held his head up high. He knew exactly what he was going to say.

“A little of both, actually. There’s this old Audrey Hepburn movie- Funny Face?” Kay’s eyes lit up with recognition and he nodded, so Eggsy continued. “I loved that film growin’ up. Used to watch it all the time. Seein’ how much fun Audrey’s character was havin’ made me want to go and try modelin’, too. And whaddaya know, I ended up bein’ pretty good at it.”

“Fascinating,” Kay said, with genuine amity. “I’m more of a Sabrina man myself, but…”

Eggsy laughed, and another photo was taken.

“What about this new collection you’re modeling? Can you give my readers an idea of what Mr. Harry Hart has prepared this time?”

“Oh, it’s brilliant,” Eggsy said honestly. “The suits look amazin’, but it’s still pretty diverse, yeah? And our lady signature, Roxy, looks aces in everythin’.”

Kay chuckled. “I wouldn’t expect anything less from Harry. Okay, now… I realize this might be a little, well, personal, but can I ask you about your fellow Kingsman model, Charlie Hesketh?”

The young model paused, took a deep breath, and nodded. “What d’you wanna know?”

“Well, some clarity, for starters. Are the two of you currently…?”

Eggsy cut him off. “No. We used to be, but not anymore.”

“Doesn’t that make working together… awkward?”

“We’re both adults. We can handle ourselves professionally.”

Kay pursed his lips. “You sure that’s all? You may both be adults, but…”

“But nothin’.” Eggsy’s voice was firm as he crossed his arms over his chest. “I respect Charlie as a fellow Kingsman signature, and he’s a great model, but we ain’t startin’ anythin’.”

Kay was quiet for a long while before he smiled again. “I can respect that.”

Eggsy smiled back, and the magazine editor took one final shot before he straightened his back and gave a content sigh.

“Well, I think that will suffice for today.” He moved around the camera to stand in front of Eggsy, his hand outstretched once more. “Eggsy.”

“Kay.” Eggsy grinned and shook his hand again.

He left Brogue magazine’s main office with that grin still fixed to his face.

 


 

A week passed, and suddenly Eggsy’s interview was the focus of the fashion world. Thankfully, it had its intended effect, and it dulled whatever rumors were still circulating about the young model. Mr. Hart congratulated Eggsy with a proud smile (and Eggsy did not preen, shut up), and the rest of the models were at least mollified into no longer sneering at him whenever he was in the room.

Life was good, Eggsy decided. Good, and unexpected.

“Hey.”

Eggsy looked away from Roxy’s laudatory text message and saw Charlie standing in front of him, his hands tucked away in his pockets. For once, Charlie’s gaze didn’t hold acid, and he actually looked rather pleased to see Eggsy.

“Hi,” Eggsy replied, with no small amount of trepidation.

“I saw your interview,” he stated plainly.

He cracked a grin. “Yeah? Not bad for my first time, eh?”

“No, not bad at all.” Charlie took one hand out of his pocket and used it to rub the back of his neck. It was as uncomfortable as Eggsy had ever seen him. “I… I should thank you.”

“...” Eggsy’s mouth fell open in shock. It took a few seconds to regain control of his jaw. “What?”

Charlie sighed, averting his eyes from Eggsy. “Look, I just… Those rumors about us were not good. And I don’t mean in a ‘ruining the reputation of Kingsman’ kind of not good. I mean…” He trailed off.

“Charlie?”

“My parents don’t approve of my… lifestyle,” he said, and Eggsy stilled. “Never have. That’s why I never took you to meet them.” Charlie’s smile was sardonic at best. “They saw that photo and lost their shit. Started calling me a disgrace and a few... other colorful words.”

Unsure of how to respond, Eggsy only muttered softly, “Shit.”

“Yes, well… Then your interview came out, and you went on about us being adults and professional, and I… kind of told my parents to shove it.”

A second passed, and suddenly Eggsy was fighting to hold in a laugh. “You did not.”

“I did so.” The way Charlie looked completely serious, yet with one eyebrow quirked up, caused Eggsy to lose it, and he promptly began laughing very loudly.

“Fuckin’ hell Charlie,” he gasped. “Was it to their faces?”

He smiled, an actual genuine smile this time. “Of course. My mother literally put a hand over her heart like I’d gone and shot her.”

Eggsy straight-up guffawed at that. When he calmed, he wiped a tear from his eye. “Glad I could help you out.”

“Yeah.” Charlie’s hands were back in his pockets. “Anyway, I should get going. Just wanted to let you know.” He turned around and started walking away without even waiting for Eggsy to respond.

“See you later,” Eggsy called out after him.

It would later dawn on Eggsy that that was the most civilized conversation he’d had with Charlie since they’d broken up.

Good and unexpected indeed.

Chapter Text

With Eggsy’s interview doing wonders for his reputation, it was hardly a surprise that the atmosphere surrounding the collection’s final photoshoot was significantly more relaxed than its predecessors. Part of that was due to Charlie, who no longer exchanged biting words with his ex (instead he and Eggsy were now on rather good terms); the other part was due to Rufus and Digby, who, without Charlie encouraging them, fell into a state of mutual tolerance with the newest Kingsman signature. It was as peaceful as the models had ever been, and Harry was glad to see it.

The final photoshoot was by far the grandest. They were in a four-star hotel, or more specifically, a four-star hotel’s ballroom. The ceilings were high and gilded, crystal chandeliers hanging elegantly from above, as the marble floor beheld impossibly intricate designs that would have had James fawning. An impressive staircase was the center of attention, reminiscent of, as Eggsy put it, ‘Beauty and the fuckin’ Beast’.

As such, the outfits on display were also of a much higher quality than the previous shoots- and that was saying something. The male models wore crisp, black tuxedos, with a few variations here and there. Even Roxy wore a suit, though it was decidedly more form-fitting and feminine than her fellow models. Still, she looked quite pleased. Harry surveyed the models with an examining eye, and frowned when he noticed that something was amiss. Or rather, someone.

“Where is Eggsy?” he asked to the group.

Roxy shrugged. “He was still putting on his tux when we left the changing room. He told us to go ahead.”

“Probably just having some trouble with his bowtie,” piped in Charlie, though he hadn’t said it unkindly. “Shall I go and check on him, Mr. Hart?”

“No, no, I can do that. Just go ahead and get started.” Harry turned on his heel and started towards the changing room, unaware of Charlie’s suspicious stare following him.

He knocked tentatively on the door once he arrived, and still pushed it open even as there was no response. Standing on the far side of the room, in front of a three-sided mirror, was Eggsy. Harry’s jaw dropped.

The young man was resplendent. His hair immaculately sculpted and face made-up excellently, he wore the outfit Harry had tailored himself- a black tailcoat and matching trousers, with two stripes of satin running down the sides of his legs, and shiny black shoes to match. His vest and shirt were both white, the wings of his collar folded up as he fought to control a silk white bowtie, just as Charlie had predicted.

Harry swallowed the growing lump in his throat and stepped forward. It was a struggle to keep his voice even as he spoke up.

“Trouble?”

Eggsy jumped, turning around so quickly he might’ve gotten whiplash. His expression calmed, however, once he saw Harry there.

“Shit, Mr. Hart!” he breathed. “A little warnin’ next time, yeah?”

“My apologies,” Harry returned, as a smile blossomed on his face. He stepped closer. “May I?”

Reluctantly, Eggsy let go of the unmade bowtie and allowed Harry to grab a hold of it. Both men simultaneously gave a sharp intake of breath- for this was closer than they’d ever been before. Harry’s (slightly shaking, but still deft) fingers pulled and looped the strip of silk into a flawless bowtie, all the while keeping his eyes focused on his work. If he’d looked up, he would’ve seen Eggsy’s wide-eyed and reverent expression staring back at him. When his fingers brushed against the skin of Eggsy’s neck, however, Harry flinched and immediately stepped back.

“T-There.”

Eggsy touched the bowtie with an unreadable look in his eyes. Then he returned his attention to Harry and grinned. “Thanks. I’m gonna have to learn eventually though, huh?”

“I could show you another time,” Harry mumbled. “Now, we mustn’t keep the others waiting.”

The model startled again, as though he’d forgotten he was doing a photoshoot. “Shit, right, I gotta go!” He dashed past Harry, shouting another thank you over his shoulder, and soon the designer was left in an empty changing room.

He clenched his fingers into a fist and tried very desperately to forget the warm, smooth feeling of Eggsy’s skin.

 


 

Once again, the male models only had one outfit each for this particular photoshoot, but Roxy had several. She had to reluctantly peel off her fitted suit and put on the customary range of dresses Mr. Hart had designed. To be fair, the dresses were gorgeous, but Eggsy assumed from Roxy’s less-than-amused face that fairy tales and princesses weren’t her aesthetic.

Eggsy, on the other hand, was having a ball- pun intended. If he felt good in those other suits, it was nothing compared to how he felt in his tux. He felt like a celebrity, or a prince- or a guest at the embassy ball from that one scene in My Fair Lady. And it wasn’t helping that he noticed Mr. Hart watching him again. So of course he felt a bit prouder than usual.

Although, after two hours, when the last shots were taken and Percival announced that they were finished, Eggsy couldn’t help but feel relieved- the oxfords were all well and good, but the dress shoes he had to wear were torture on his feet. He barely held in a sigh of contentment as he slipped his trainers back on.

A tap on his shoulder brought him back to attention, and he turned his head, expecting to see Roxy. However, it was Charlie.

“We go out to a club after every successful photoshoot,” he said, without preamble. “As a celebration, of course. And since this was your first photoshoot with Kingsman, you are obligated to come.”

Eggsy furrowed his brows and opened his mouth to respond, when Roxy’s clear voice cut him off.

“I’m afraid he’s right. It’s tradition.” She sent the boys a wary smirk. “But every outing after that you can opt out of.”

“Just not the first,” called Digby, who was tugging his navy blazer back on. Rufus nodded in the affirmative from beside him.

“... Alright.” Eggsy held up his hands and shrugged. “Where’re we goin’?”

They had chosen a brand new nightclub as the venue for their celebratory outing. It was large, sleek, and crowded, as one would expect it to be. Eggsy felt mildly apprehensive going inside, since the last time he went to a nightclub, he ended up in bed with a then-stranger and a four-month long relationship with said stranger.

Charlie must have sensed that distress, since he rolled his eyes and all but shoved Eggsy inside the club.

And surprisingly, Mr. Hart and Merlin had tagged along- apparently, Merlin usually did, presumably to keep a watchful eye on the models, but Mr. Hart’s appearance was rather new. Eggsy thought it was kind of funny, seeing the posh designer amidst a sea of neon lights and scantily-clad young adults, but at the same time, he welcomed his presence. The bar was at least slightly more upscale than your average nightclub’s, so the Kingsman group spent a majority of their time there.

Unfortunately, it also meant that they drank a lot more frequently.

Within three hours, Eggsy learned that Digby was an insane dancer when drunk, having spent the better part of their time there on the dancefloor and absolutely wrecking it, and that Rufus was the kind of drunk who introduced himself to every single person he came into contact with. Though, it was actually sort of adorable.

The rest of them had the good sense to limit their alcohol intake. Roxy spent most of the night trying to get Merlin to dance, with very little success, while Charlie was looking after Rufus and Digby and making sure they didn’t get into trouble. That left Eggsy and Mr. Hart to chat over drinks, something that Eggsy was counting privately in his head as a third date. Not that the first two events were dates.

“So,” Eggsy said, his speech slurred just slightly as he leaned into Mr. Hart. After all, he had to get close to hear him, what with the deafening music and all. At least, that’s the excuse Eggsy was giving himself. “Any ideas for the next collection?”

“A few,” Mr. Hart replied, responding to Eggsy’s actions by leaning back against him. “But I won’t worry about that now. This may come as a surprise to you, Eggsy, but I am not a workaholic.”

“Really now?” Eggsy grinned. “So then what does Mr. Harry Hart do when he’s not designing suits?”

An amused eye glanced at Eggsy through tortoiseshell glasses. “What do you think I do?”

He frowned, face suddenly pensive. “Hmm… You...” Eggsy snapped his fingers. “Collect stuff.”

“What sort of stuff?”

“Uh… I dunno, stuffed animals?”

Mr. Hart laughed. “No. Although, I did have my dog stuffed many years ago.”

“No shit?”

“His name is Mr. Pickles. I should introduce you sometime.”

Eggsy’s grin was threatening to split his face. Of course, just as he was about to further the conversation, Charlie appeared out of nowhere.

“Oi, Eggy.” His face was flushed, indicating that he’d had a few more drinks between the time he’d left the group and come back. “Need to talk to you.”

Eggsy glanced at Mr. Hart and resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “What is it?”

“Just come on, okay?”

The shorter model held back a groan and reluctantly stood up, sending Mr. Hart an apologetic look. “Be right back.”

The designer held up a hand, signaling that it was okay, and Eggsy let himself be led away by Charlie. They walked through the crowded club, pushing past various patrons, until they reached an area where the crowd was significantly thinner and Eggsy could actually hear properly. Charlie turned around to face him and Eggsy raised an eyebrow, unimpressed.

“So what d’you wanna talk about?” he asked.

Charlie took a deep breath. “I want you back.”

It was such a sudden declaration that Eggsy didn’t register it at first. Instead, he just stared at Charlie like he’d sprouted a third arm or something. When his senses did come back to him, or at least start working again, all he could manage was a small, squeaked “What?”

“I mean it. I want you back, Eggsy.” Charlie took a step closer. “I want to try again.”

Eggsy’s mind was going a mile a minute. “I… Charlie, mate, I don’t think… You’re drunk,” he finished lamely.

“Which is the only reason I have the balls to say it,” he insisted. “Look, working with you, reading that interview… I realized I was wrong to let you go.”

Eggsy’s stare suddenly hardened. “‘Let me go’? You cheated on me.”

“And it was a colossal mistake, I know. Nothing I could ever do would make it up to you.” Charlie licked his lips and stared at Eggsy with something akin to desperation in his eyes. “But if you’d give me a second chance, I will try my damndest to fix things.”

“Charlie…” Eggsy wanted to be angry. Wanted to be offended. But he was past the point where Charlie could piss him off, and instead, all he felt was pity. “No.”

The taller model grit his teeth. “Why?”

He paused, thinking it over. “Cause... you and I both know, it ain’t gonna work, no matter how many times we give it a go. We just ain’t meant for each other. Trust me, you know I’m right.”

Charlie was quiet for a few moments before he murmured, “No. No, that’s not it.” He met Eggsy’s eyes with intensity. “It’s something else... It’s somebody else.”

At that, Eggsy’s jaw dropped. “What?”

“Admit it,” he pushed. His voice suddenly grew louder. “Admit you love someone else and I’ll drop it. I won’t ask you to take me back.”

“Charlie, there’s no one-”

Eggsy.”

They stared at each other, both frowning and glaring with all the strength they could muster. But Eggsy, finding no reason to argue with a drunk man, relented first with a sigh.

“Okay fine, you big bloody tosser. I… I do like someone else, alright? You happy?”

Charlie crossed his arms over his chest. “... It’s Mr. Hart, isn’t it.” It wasn’t a question.

“For fuck’s sake,” he groaned. “Yes! Okay! I know I made that joke and asked you to remind not to sleep with the bloody man, but I couldn’t help it, alright?! I fuckin’ love Mr. Hart!” Eggsy all but shouted. When the words left his mouth, though, he snapped his jaw shut with a pop and blushed furiously.

And then Charlie just nodded, like Eggsy had done nothing more than comment on the weather. His eyes flickered to something behind Eggsy, prompting the model to turn around.

He wished he hadn’t.

Mr. Hart was standing there, mouth agape and eyes the size of saucers. A faint dusting of pink covered his cheeks, though it was unknown if that was due to alcohol, or what he just very obviously overheard Eggsy declare.

Eggsy felt his throat go both tight and dry. “M-Mr. Hart?”

All at once, Mr. Hart blinked. He coughed into his hand and smoothly regained his composure.

“Charlie. Digby is about to attempt crowdsurfing. I suggest you go and stop him before he hurts himself.”

Charlie only nodded, sparing Eggsy one last glance before he pushed past him and the designer, leaving the two by themselves.

“M-Mr. Hart,” Eggsy started, but his employer held up a finger, smiling tiredly.

“You’ve had quite a bit to drink tonight, Eggsy. I think you’d best go home. I’ll call you a cab?”

It took Eggsy a few moments to realize that the last part of that statement was a question. He stared at Mr. Hart helplessly before his shoulders slumped and he nodded in defeat.

“I… Yeah. Yeah, I should probably… leave…”

He let Mr. Hart direct him back to the club’s entrance, but spoke no further words with the man. Partly because Mr. Hart had taken out his cell phone and dialled for a cab, but also because he was too mortified to say anything.

God, what was happening? He blurted out his feelings, which he’d tried his hardest to conceal, in front of the very man he had them for! All ‘cause of fucking Charlie! And to make matters worse, Mr. Hart was acting like nothing had happened. Did he not care? Was he ignoring the confession as a polite form of rejection? Or was he hoping that Eggsy would save himself the embarrassment by just forgetting about the whole thing in the morning?

The cool blast of night air was refreshing, but Eggsy still felt his cheeks burning as he tried to process the past five minutes in his head. A black cab pulled up to the side of the club, and Mr. Hart helped ease Eggsy into the back seat.

“Get some sleep, Eggsy,” he muttered, dropping a feather-light kiss to Eggsy’s hairline before stepping back and closing the door. Were Eggsy a lesser man, he’d have thought that kiss to be an alcohol-induced hallucination. But Eggsy knew his limits, and he hadn’t reached them that night. He knew it had happened.

Mr. Hart had kissed him. Albeit not on the lips, but… a kiss nonetheless.

Eggsy went to bed that night feeling both flustered and confused.

Chapter Text

The morning after a rough night of drinking and partying was never easy on anyone. Except, as Eggsy learned, Roxy Morton, whom he suspected was probably superhuman and thus immune to hangovers. Eggsy, however, wasn’t, so he rested his head in between his hands, eyes squeezed shut and breathing short as Roxy merely smiled at him over her cup of coffee.

Eggsy was just thankful that his mother had taken JB and Daisy out for the morning, so his apartment was empty, save for himself and his co-worker.

“You had more to drink than me,” he groaned, rubbing his temples. “How the fuck are you not hungover?”

“I probably just have a higher alcohol tolerance than you,” she replied. She set her coffee down. “Anyway, you said you wanted to talk. What about?”

Eggsy frowned at his kitchen counter, unwilling to meet her eyes. “I… I fucked up, Rox.”

“Hm?”

He took a deep breath. “Last night, Charlie told me he wanted to get back together.” Looking up, he saw that Roxy had raised an eyebrow, but she said nothing, so he continued. “I told him no, and then he started pressin’ me about whether or not I liked someone else, and…” He pressed his lips together and grimaced.

“Eggsy?”

“I ended up blurtin’ out that I… love Mr. Hart?” the model winced.

She blinked, mouth open just slightly, though she didn’t look as shocked as Eggsy expected. He went on regardless, telling her how Mr. Hart himself had been right behind them, how he apparently heard the confession, and how he apparently ignored it and sent Eggsy home. By the time he was finished, Eggsy’s headache had subsided, but a depressed feeling had overtaken him, and he sank to rest his head on the counter.

Roxy listened to the story patiently, responding with a murmur here and there, but for the most part, she wasn’t surprised. It was pissing Eggsy off.

“So, what do I do?” he asked. “Honestly, I dunno if I can even look the man in the eye anymore.”

She turned a far-too-perceptive eye on him. “What if he just pretends it never happened? Would that help?”

“... No, I don’t think I could live with that, either.” Eggsy sighed. “I mean, for fuck’s sake Rox, who hears somebody confess somethin’ like that and just ignore it?”

“Well, you did drink quite a bit last night,” she pointed out. “He might think you just said it because you were drunk.”

“So, what? He doesn’t think I meant it?”

“It seems the most likely. After all, Mr. Hart doesn’t seem like the type of person to just ignore a problem till it goes away.” Roxy reached across the counter and laid her hand on top of Eggsy’s, spurring him to look up at her. “This is what you should do; go to Mr. Hart and tell him how you feel again. But this time, he’ll know you’re sober, so he’ll know you’re being genuine.”

“... How come you’re so calm ‘bout all this?” he muttered. Although, a fresh blush was rising on his cheeks as he contemplated her plan. It made sense, he supposed, but what if things didn’t turn out well? What if Mr. Hart gave him a proper rejection? He doubted it would get him fired, but work would surely be a lot more awkward.

“Please,” Roxy rolled her eyes, “you couldn’t have been more obvious about your crush on Mr. Hart if you’d tried. Frankly, I’m considering thanking Charlie for getting that confession out of you.”

“Shut up,” growled Eggsy.

“Anyway, what’s it going to be?” She tilted her head to the side, gaze inquisitive. “Are you just going to chicken out and act like it was a drunken mistake? Or are you going to woman up and give him a proper confession?”

“He’s… He’s my boss, Rox,” he replied. His couldn’t help but sound a little bit defensive. “Say by some miracle, he wants me too. What if we break up? Or what if he just flat-out rejects me? Shit would be so awkward! And I’m way too young for him, he probably prefers more experienced partners; probably thinks of me more as a kid than anythin’ else, and-”

“Eggsy!” Roxy snapped, and Eggsy’s jaw snapped shut, his teeth clacking together from the force used. Once she had his attention, her voice softened. “You’re thinking of only the negatives. What if Mr. Hart wants you, as you are, and that’s that? Even if you do break up, you’re both professionals. I mean, you work with Charlie, and he’s your ex. I’m sure Mr. Hart would be far more cordial than him.”

Eggsy was silent, unable to find a counter-argument. Roxy let out a small breath of air disguised as a huff.

“Look; you can either not do anything and wonder about the what-ifs… or you can take a chance and hope for the best. You’re a brilliant catch, Eggsy.” She winked. “Mr. Hart would be crazy not to want you.”

“I… I dunno, Rox.” Eggsy stared down at their hands, still intertwined on the counter. “I don’t think my chances are very high.”

“You won’t know for sure until you do something,” came the matter-of-fact reply. “It won’t be as bad as you’re dreading it to be, Eggsy.”

“... Yeah, maybe you’re right,” he conceded, lifting his head. “I mean… other than the best damn job I’ve had in years, what have I got to lose?”

“Atta boy.”

In spite of himself, Eggsy found a smile worm its way onto his face. He still felt like shit, but at least he had a best friend to alleviate that.

 


 

Unbeknownst to Eggsy, a very similar conversation was taking place in the city, centered in Harry Hart’s office.

“I’m not sure what the problem is here…” Merlin frowned, watching as Harry took off his glasses to pinch the bridge of his nose.

“How can you not see the problem?” the designer nearly shouted, exasperated. “For god’s sake, Merlin, I heard Eggsy say he loved me!”

“Again, what’s the problem?” he retorted dryly. “You’ve been in love with this boy for the better part of two months now. I figured you’d be thrilled.”

“I-!” Harry was indignant. “He was drunk, Merlin! That hardly means his feelings were genuine!”

“What, do you think he was just saying nonsense?”

“I think he was confused,” he murmured. His eyebrows drew together as he replaced his glasses on his face. “In any case, he certainly didn’t press the matter when I tried to get him home.”

“Probably because the poor lad was mortified,” commented Merlin. “Wouldn’t you be if you blurted your feelings out like that? In front of the object of said feelings?”

Harry looked at his personal assistant-slash-friend with a wary expression. “... Are you saying Eggsy was being genuine, Merlin?”

“I’m not saying anything. But I do think you should take the young man more seriously. And admit it, Harry, some part of you was happy to hear him say he loves you.”

Harry gave a small, rueful smile. “Perhaps. But to act on what might’ve been a false admission… I’d just embarrass us both.”

“Then wait for Eggsy to confess again.”

He raised an eyebrow, frowning. “You think he will?”

“He’s the determined sort. I have no doubt. It may even be soon.”

“... You sound awfully sure.”

Merlin shrugged, though a smile was definitely playing on his lips. “Call it intuition. And when Eggsy confesses for the second time, Harry, and you know he’s being sincere, I want you to give him a proper response. Preferably in the form of kissing him senseless."

Harry shook his head, smiling both tiredly and fondly. “When did you get so invested in this?”

“When I got tired of watching you pine for a man who’s obviously got it bad for you.”

“Prick.”

“Ah ah,” Merlin held up a finger. “Best friend. There’s a difference.”

 


 

Despite Roxy’s encouragement, it was another three days before Eggsy worked up the nerve to speak to Mr. Hart. The days spent at the Kingsman building consisted mainly of Eggsy peering around corners to make sure he didn’t accidentally run into the designer; by the third day, Roxy had had enough and all but forced him to finally do something.

So as Eggsy stalked off to the Galahad room, Roxy watched him go with a satisfied smile, and became vaguely aware of two additional presences. She turned and saw Merlin and Charlie- the former was smirking, while the latter was focused on Eggsy’s retreating form.

“Finally,” Merlin said, voice low, so that nobody but the two models could hear him.

Roxy hid a laugh behind her hand and nodded. “It’s amazing how much of a push those two needed.”

“How were you so sure it was going to work?” asked Charlie, frowning. “What if Eggsy actually agreed to get back together with me? Then where would we be?”

“I imagined you’d be smug,” shot back Roxy, giving him a half-hearted glare. In reality, though, she couldn’t be too upset with him. After all, he could have refused to help her and Merlin in their little scheme, but he decided to play along anyway. Under the guise of ‘if I see Eggsy send Mr. Hart one more longing gaze I’m going to puke’, of course.

Charlie rolled his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “I might regret this,” he murmured.

Merlin tilted his head. “Hm?”

“They could be even more nauseating if they get together.”

“Well, nauseating and together is better than miserable and pining,” Roxy shrugged.

“If you say so.”

Merlin smiled at their banter and turned, returning to work with his tablet under his arm. Roxy and Charlie remained in the hallway- Eggsy was still making his way to the elevator, though Roxy suspected he was being deliberately slow in an attempt to delay what he saw as an inevitable rejection.

She glanced over at Charlie again. The taller model had his eyes trained on Eggsy’s back, something unreadable in his expression. It made Roxy frown, but before she could say anything, he turned on his heel and left her there alone. She watched him go, shrugging off her feeling of discomfort, and redirected her thoughts to Eggsy, and his upcoming confrontation.

 


 

The Galahad room was occupied by only one soul, as per usual. Harry was grateful for the solitude; it allowed him to focus on his thoughts in peace. No one was there to question why the designer’s mouth was pressed into a small frown, or why his brows were furrowed with a combination of irritation and sadness.

Three days, he thought morosely to himself. Three days, and he hadn’t seen hide nor hair of Eggsy Unwin. Perhaps Merlin’s intuition was wrong for once. Ordinarily, Harry would have been overjoyed to point out Merlin’s flaws, but this particular error only saddened him. He was rather hoping that he’d be right.

The blank page of his sketchbook glared up at him, as if offended that Harry would try and distract himself with work, and then not actually do any work for the past hour and a half. He sighed and pushed the sketchbook away, resting his forehead on his palm and squeezing his eyes shut.

A knock came at the door. He didn’t look up.

“Come in,” he groaned.

The door opened, he heard the shuffle of feet against the floor, and then the door closed. His eyes were still scrunched closed.

“Er… Mr. Hart?” a very familiar, roughly-accented voice said quietly.

Harry’s head snapped up so fast he might as well have snapped his neck. His mind wasn’t playing tricks on him; Eggsy was truly there, looking adorably flustered in his Adidas and hoodie.

“E-Eggsy,” his voice cracked. “W-What, uh…”

“I needed to talk to you,” the model mumbled, staring down at his shoes. “A-Actually, been meanin’ to for a while… You busy…?”

“I- no, no, please,” he gestured for Eggsy to come further into the room, and the model obliged. Harry stood up, but remained behind his work desk. “Is there something you needed…?”

The young man took a few deep breaths before speaking. “It’s… It’s about what happened a few nights ago. A-About what I said.” He peered through his eyelashes at Harry, who said nothing but nodded anxiously. “I… I know I had a few drinks when I said it, but… I was tellin’ the truth, Mr. Hart.” Eggsy tilted his head up, attempting to look proud, but his flushed cheeks did very little to help with that. “I really, really like you.”

“Eggsy…” Harry blinked. Alright, so Merlin had this one right again.

Eggsy was suddenly speaking very quickly, as though Harry was about to say something negative.

“And it’s fine if you don’t feel the same, I can still be professional, but… I-I just wanted to let you know.”

Harry gulped and began to move around his desk. “I’m twice your age, Eggsy.”

Eggsy frowned. “So?” he asked resolutely. “You’re still one of the most fuckin’ amazin’ blokes I know. You’re smart an’ charmin’ and you thought I was beautiful, and shit, no one’s ever called me that before, at least not in the way you did, and I-” he stopped himself, blushing furiously. Though, by that point, so was Harry.

They were both quiet for a while, Eggsy’s words of admiration still hanging in the air, until the young man spoke up again.

“The only reason I didn’t say nothin’ before was cause I didn’t want to start anymore trouble.”

Harry repeated softly, “Trouble?”

“What would the people in those stupid websites and magazines say?” A guilty look had appeared in his eyes. “I don’t wanna hear anyone talk shit about you, Mr. Hart.”

And that caused a sudden surge of warmth to rise up in the designer. “Harry.”

Eggsy gave him a bewildered look. "... What?"

"Please, just... Call me Harry."

The model licked his lips and hesitantly nodded. "... Harry," he tested. "I didn't want people to gossip about you cause of me. Even if we weren't, like, together or anythin', they would still say shit if they found out how I felt 'bout you. So I decided not to say anythin'. Not if I could help it. But then I..." His gaze drifted back to the floor, and he chewed his lip nervously. "Then I had a few fuckin' drinks and ruined everythin'."

"Oh, Eggsy." Harry kept moving until he directly in front of the young man. Despite every part of his brain warning against it, he reached down with one hand and used it to lift Eggsy's chin up, forcing the model to look at him. Eggsy seemed surprised at the touch; his cheeks were so red it was almost comical.

"You didn't ruin anything," Harry said, honestly. He grimaced, bringing his eyes down to bore into Eggsy's. "I'm afraid that was me."

“W-What?” Eggsy stuttered.

“I have been enchanted by you since the moment I saw your photos,” the designer admitted, blushing with a hangdog expression. “You are beautiful, Eggsy, and I find it very hard to believe that I’m the only one who’s ever told you so. Not only beautiful, but honest and charismatic and considerate... I should never have asked you out to lunch.”

“Wha- Why?” asked Eggsy incredulously.

He pressed his lips into a hard line, trying desperately to articulate his thoughts. “I should not have encouraged these feelings. Both yours and my own. You are a young man, Eggsy, with your whole life ahead of you. You don’t want to be saddled with an old sap like me.”

A beat passed. Then, in a low voice, “You… dick.”

“... I beg your pardon?”

Eggsy’s eyebrows drew together in annoyance, or perhaps it was full-fledged anger. “You think I actually care about that shit? Harry, you could be seventy fuckin’ years old and I’d still want you! Don’t try and insult me by actin’ like you were lookin’ out for my best interests!”

Harry stepped back, releasing his grip on Eggsy’s chin, all the while looking dumbfounded. “I did not mean to imply-”

Before he could finish, Eggsy’s hands shot out and grabbed the lapels of Harry’s suit jacket. Fingers curled into the high-quality fabric and pulled- Harry tumbled forwards, a shout halfway out of his mouth, until his lips collided with the young model’s.

It was poorly executed, at first; their lips were at an awkward angle, teeth brushing somewhat painfully together, and Harry was frozen, unsure of what to do. He could either give in and push the kiss deeper, or he could pull away and…

And what?

Harry grumbled and let go of all his restraint. His hands came up automatically, one going to run its fingers through Eggsy’s hair, the other going down to the young man’s waist, pulling him closer. He also fixed his mouth so that it rested more comfortably against Eggsy’s, which caused the model to groan and circle his arms around Harry’s neck.

Seconds later, Harry let his tongue give a tentative swipe at Eggsy’s bottom lip, and was pleasantly surprised when the young man readily opened his mouth, welcoming him inside. They kissed like that for several moments, unreserved and passionate, until the need for air overtook them. When they parted, both panting from exertion, Harry leaned his forehead against Eggsy’s, staring into those oh-so-blue eyes.

The model stared back, the very picture of desire with his reddened cheeks and swollen lips.

“Try and tell me that wasn’t fuckin’ worth it,” he challenged breathlessly.

Harry swallowed back a smile. “Are you absolutely certain that this is what you want?” he asked, his fingers curling tighter around his waist.

“Fuck yeah.” He grinned. Then, seconds later, he deflated, looking once again unsure. “Is it… what you want, though?”

“Eggsy,” Harry said, their lips a hair’s breadth apart. “I don’t think I’ve ever wanted anything more than you.”

The grin returned. “Prove it.”

“Gladly.”

Their lips reconnected, and nothing ever felt more right to either of them than that moment.

 

END