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Audience Of One

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Halfway through dispatching the little shits who’d interrupted both his surprisingly well-poured Guinness and his perfectly civil conversation with the son of his murdered colleague, Harry realised he was showing off. He could have had them all begging for unconsciousness on the floor in ten seconds flat with a simple roundhouse kick and a sharp umbrella follow-through, but – he hadn’t done that. He was taking them down one by one instead, with moves that were efficient, certainly, but even he had to admit were bordering on the ostentatious.

Well, now.

He glanced mid-spin through the flailing limbs of his unfortunate sparring partners, and saw that Eggsy was watching with an expression that could only be described as, well - not jubilant per se - but a little more than keen.

How endearing, Harry thought, before schooling himself and finishing the last two louts with a series of reliable whiplash strikes. They collapsed in a heap and silence returned to the pub. Harry turned to see the proprietor making a perfectly rational decision to summon the authorities; a single amnesia dart put a stop to that unwelcome business.

The exertion had left his mouth dry. Harry returned to his pint, taking note of Eggsy’s gleaming eyes and ramrod-straight posture. He’d enjoyed that.

Well, why wouldn’t he? Harry could pull a few tricks out of the bag when necessary. It was almost a shame to dial up the second amnesia dart - but needs must.

“Sorry about that. Needed to let off a little steam. Heard yesterday a friend of mine died,” he said, watching for any reaction. “He knew your father too, actually.” Eggsy was still just staring at him. Harry felt a flash of guilt: this was really very indulgent. Cat and mouse stuff. He wasn’t going to leave the boy with his memories in tact, so why was he feeding him these tidbits about his father?

He drew himself to his feet. “Well,” he said, setting his watch and aiming square in the face, “I do apologise, Eggsy. I shouldn’t have done this in front of you.”

Just like that, Eggsy came to life, putting both hands in the air as if Harry had him at gunpoint. Astute boy. “No, please,” he said quickly, “I won’t say nothing, I swear—If there’s one thing I can do, it’s keep my mouth shut.”

Harry felt a prickle of interest. He wasn’t unmoved by the boy’s pleading face, and loyalty was the condiment that Harry needed to make any professional relationship palatable. Not that this could be a professional relationship - surely. Surely not. Could it?

Harry kept his hand aimed straight at his face. “You won’t tell a soul?”

“Ask the feds,” Eggsy insisted, all shivering earnestness. “I’ve never grassed anyone up.”

“Is that a promise?”

“On my life!”

God spare him, Harry did have a soft spot for youths who did a good line in imploring. He drank in the open posture and furrowed brow for perhaps a second or two longer than necessary, then dropped his arm.

“Much appreciated, Eggsy,” he said, enjoying the sound of the name on his tongue.

Relief washed over Eggsy’s face, leaving his mouth soft and his eyes shining, but his hands came down slowly, his body broadcasting that he didn’t yet quite trust the threat had passed.

Harry picked up his umbrella, as if turning to go, and palmed a two-way audio bug into his fingers. “You’re right about the snobs,” he remarked, letting his voice indicate that they were entering a new, lighter chapter. “But there, too, there are exceptions.” He clapped Eggsy’s shoulder, squeezing to ensure the bug clung tight. The heat of his body came easily though the cheap fabric of his terrible clothes, and another prickle of interest joined the first - a more prurient one. One look at Eggsy’s unguarded upturned face made him quash that thought, however. Now was no time to allow things to become improper. “Best of luck with everything.”

He walked out of the pub, aware of Eggsy’s gaze following him with the heat and focus of a military searchlight.

Once outside, he drew up against a secluded corner and awaited Eggsy’s exit. What the young man did next was going to define every future interaction: if he ran, that would tell Harry one thing; if he gloated to some scummy friends, that would tell another.

After a few long moments, Eggsy emerged, cap pulled low over his forehead. He walked off stiffly, in the direction of the main road. The lazy prowl of his earlier stride was gone; he walked like he had stones in both pockets.

Harry touched his glasses, tuning out of the normal channels and into the bug alone. He was still open to the emergency line, but he didn’t want to be disturbed by the more mundane channel activity. He had a young man’s loyalty to observe.

From audio alone, and without his laptop, it was difficult and unimportant to track him geographically. It sounded like he was progressing down increasingly busy streets in a self-conscious half-run. Hurrying towards a friend to confide in? A dealer? A prior engagement of which he had not seen fit to appraise Harry? Hm.

Time to go back to the office.

*

Settling back in his chair, Harry opened his laptop and called up the maps. The blinking dot named Unwin had made its way into SE15. The dot had stopped - on a main road. Probably waiting for a bus. Probably on his way home. No guarantee. Harry switched the audio from his glasses to the office’s main speaker and sat back in his chair as the noises of a South London street filled the air: traffic, chatter, occasional shouts.

Harry listened idly as he brought up Eggsy’s file. He was boarding a bus, Harry was sure of it; there was the double beep of contactless payment, a shift in ambient noise, the stomp stomp stomp of hasty feet making their way upstairs. Then the growl of a large ill-kept engine, the noise of the traffic muted but ever-present, an occasional distant siren. The footsteps stopped in a flurry of fabric noise - exactly like a long-limbed young man throwing himself down into a bus seat - and for a few slow seconds there was nothing at all.

Harry perused the Unwin file, almost stopping listening. Eggsy’s achievements really had been remarkable, for someone so disadvantaged. He—

A catch in Eggsy’s breath came through the loudspeaker, and Harry stilled.

It came again - and now Harry was listening, he could hear the rest of the exhalation as well, a shuddery breathy sound.

Harry frowned. Surely not. Had the blood… upset him? He didn’t look like the sort to be fazed by a little violence. But looks could be deceiving. Or did he have ties to those little shits after all?

He stared at the monochrome picture of Gary Unwin on screen – a defiant, hard face, both doubting and challenging the camera with the same half-sneer. He did not look like the sort to become distressed by a little light bloodshed.

Eggsy’s breathing became harsher, more obviously laboured. It sounded exactly like the early soft noises of anguish – but that, Harry was positive, did not fit. Eggsy’s picture seemed to mock him, still and silent, giving him nothing.

Ah,” came Eggsy’s voice, barely more than a breath itself, but the sound of it got under Harry’s skin, molten heat flushing over him.

Mounting certainty spurred his fingers into life: a few clicks found the bus route, the operator, the CCTV encryption. A moment later Harry had a new window open onscreen: the live feed from the camera at the front of the empty top deck of the bus, and there, right on the back seat, Eggsy.

Eggsy’s breathing had turned to panting, and Harry almost didn’t need to look to know what he was actually doing. He—did look, though.

He made a quick, thorough study of his new acquaintance: posture, taut; shoulders, shaking; face, abandon. The seat in front blocked the rest of the view. Harry tried to zoom in, find another angle to look between the seats, or maybe down from behind him, but the bus’s cameras were pathetic and the best he could get was a grainy close-up of Eggsy’s clenched teeth and snarling lips. He zoomed back out, eyes locked on the tell-tale shiver of movement in his right bicep – definitely touching himself.

So that was it. Turned on - by the violence? By Harry? By the humiliation of his enemies? By something, certainly, and enough to make him want to masturbate on the back seat of a bus where anyone could see.

Harry cleared his throat. It had been a long time since he had been that turned on by anything.

Eggsy gave him a gift, then: tipping his head back against the seat and closing his eyes, revealing the smooth line of his neck, and worrying his lower lip between his teeth. His breathing was becoming deeper, the sounds filling Harry’s office, and Harry could almost feel the heat coming off him, building under his own clothes.

He shifted in his seat, trying to shake off the bright aggravated sensation that was filling his head like pepper-spray.

It was a breach of his privacy, to watch - Harry knew that, of course. He wasn’t so inured to the daily routine of global and individual surveillance that he’d forgotten the basics. But under the circumstances - Eggsy had seen fit to start this up in broad daylight on a London bus, for God’s sake - Harry couldn’t bring himself to feel particularly guilty, either. Nor could he prevent another image coming to mind, of himself taking the seat next to him. It was rather warming to imagine leaning in and pressing his mouth to the taut line of Eggsy’s throat, tasting the smooth skin there, feeling the bounding pulse against his tongue. He would reach down, enclose Eggsy’s frantic hand in his own, and—

There was a sudden screech of bus brakes and a volley of car horns, and Eggsy froze, looking around, the movement of his arm stilling.

Well, that is what you must expect when engaging in private pursuits on public transport, Harry thought, trying to ignore the flush of disappointment that went through him, and then the engine revved again and Eggsy visibly relaxed. He started moving again, slower this time, face turning contemplative, eyes closing halfway.

Harry couldn’t help but admire his tenacity. And the tight grit of his jaw, the way his lips were parted as his breathing picked up, matching the subtler rhythm of his arm.

Had he taken his cock out, or was he touching himself through those terrible baggy jeans? Harry swallowed, staring hard at the seat in front, its dreadful loud pattern. Technology had failed him: surely the Kingsmen should be in possession of X-ray vision by now.

“Mmh,” Eggsy grunted, and Harry felt it all up and down his spine. He smoothed his hand over the back of his neck and found the skin was damp; his palm felt very warm. “Mmh,” Eggsy said again, the loudspeaker giving Harry a seventy-decibel crystal clear impression of what it would be like to have Eggsy huffing out helpless sex noises right against Harry’s ear.

“Ah, fuck,” Eggsy gasped, eyes closing, face flooding with colour, and then he stuffed his fist against his mouth, teeth closing on his knuckle. The sounds of his breathing became wetter, harsher. Was he going to come? In his pants?

Harry wet his lips. You dirty little—

He didn’t get to finish the thought, and Eggsy didn’t get to finish his self-worship, because the bus hissed to another abrupt halt and the next set of noises was the too-loud thudding of multiple feet hurrying upstairs.

Harry watched Eggsy register their approach, eyes flashing open as he dropped his fist and clenched his teeth anew. He looked positively savage: eyes almost black, sweat on his upper lip and temples, nostrils flared, pink cheeks. Harry realised his own teeth were gritted as well. His own cock was a warm weight in his lap, half-hard and slowly getting harder. His own equilibrium was… dangerously compromised.

Eggsy blew out a breath and tugged his cap low across his face, obscuring his eyes but leaving - it seemed to Harry - his bitten lips obscenely on display. Harry stared for a few long seconds, thoughts coming thicker and faster than he could shut them down: Well, now. What a poor show of impulse control. How ruled you are by instant gratification—how ruled you could be by the right hand. How could I—

He cut himself off as soon as he realised the direction of the thoughts: utterly inappropriate.

Eggsy made a quick movement that could be nothing other than tucking his cock behind his waistband, then folded his arms over the seat-back in front and rested his forehead on the back of his wrists. Harry could still hear his breathing, coming slower now, deep but unsteady.

The next bus stop, Eggsy launched himself up and fled the scene, cap tugged low enough that Harry didn’t get a glimpse of his eyes despite scrolling between three - four - CCTV cameras. Eggsy left the bus and hurried away, in the direction of his estate but not quite making a bee-line for it; Harry watched the tracker flicker across the silent screen, heading off the road and into the silent green expanse of Peckham Rye Common.

Nice day for some fresh air - taking the opportunity to clear his head, Harry thought, not believing it for a millisecond. This young man had only taken his hand off his cock when a bunch of strangers hove into view; it was beyond doubt that he was now going to do anything asides from put that hand right back where it wanted to go.

The sounds of the park filled Harry’s office: the chatter of birds, the whistle of wind in leafy branches, distant shouts of team sports from far away. He heard the slap of Eggsy’s feet on tarmac for a few minutes, and then a door slammed and his footsteps became softer, higher-pitch: the squeak of trainers on tiled floor. The screen confirmed it: Eggsy had gone into the gentlemen’s toilet.

Harry tapped into the park’s surveillance, but it was no good: he could see the building Eggsy was in - a brown-brick one-story graffitied monstrosity, the doorway revealing dimly lit blue tiles - but there were no damn cameras anywhere inside.

He listened to the flimsy bang of a stall door shutting, the scrape of a bolt slamming home. In a toilet stall, then. Harry bit the inside of his lower lip as the metallic click of a belt buckle filled the room, followed by a rustling that could only be those baggy jeans being shoved down to the floor. Eggsy’s breath was hitching already, the quiet panting of prolonged arousal. He’d have his hand around his cock by now, possibly both hands, falling on himself with greedy eagerness to just bloody finish.

Harry tried the camera on Eggsy’s mobile phone, but it showed only darkness - probably in his pocket.

“Fucking hell,” Harry murmured, amused by his own frustration. “What if you were meeting with a terrorist cell? You’d be quite beyond our reach.” He ignored the fact that if this were a simple suspicion of terrorism, he would, firstly, have back-up, and secondly, there would be no qualms about going down there himself.

But if he went down there himself now…

He pictured it in a hot rush. Pushing into that ugly building, padding across the blue tiles, finding the only closed door in the row of stalls and listening first hand to what was currently filling his ears: the ragged panting of Eggsy trying to find completion in peace. Harry wouldn’t waste a single moment of it, instead tapping one knuckle on the closed door, listening to the surprised stutter of Eggsy’s breath, the inevitable pugnacious, “What the fuck?

He’d choose his words carefully. Light, conversational. “You seemed to tear off in rather a dreadful hurry. Wondered if it was anything to do with me?

And then - this was a fantasy, after all, Harry could skip any tedious parts - the door would swing open, and Harry would finally get to see him, all of him. He’d close the distance between them, take Eggsy’s face in one hand and Eggsy’s cock in the other, and he’d kiss that well-bitten mouth open, tasting its gasps and curses as he stroked him right to the brink. He’d get him there and keep him there, until Eggsy was approaching insensible, and then he’d—

“Fuck,” Eggsy started chanting, under his breath, snapping Harry out of his reverie and back to the here and now. Harry found his hand was in his lap, and he was toying with himself though his trousers, fully hard and absolutely glorious to touch. So much for not getting so turned on he had to masturbate in public. Not that this was public, per se, but the point remained. Still, he hadn’t actually put his hand inside his fly; his self control hadn’t been irredeemably compromised.

“Fuck… fuck…. Fuck…” The tenor of Eggsy’s voice was changing, from whispered breathlessness to a rasping, almost guttural plea.

It was beyond Harry not to imagine him, his face taut with exertion, dewy with sweat, mouth red and chest heaving. God damn it but he wanted to be there.

“Fuck yeah, fuck yeah, do it… do me… “

And that was almost Harry’s undoing. He pressed heel of his hand against his cock, sending out dark pulses of pleasure that made him take deep, heavy breaths. Do me - that was Eggsy asking for it, possibly asking for Harry himself, and although whatever it was remained unknown, it wasn’t unreasonable to imagine guiding Eggsy to his knees, unzipping and crowding in and fucking his mouth, no, not unreasonable at all.

Or else - without the visual, Harry had no idea where Eggsy’s hands actually were. It wasn’t impossible that Eggsy was riding his own fingers, shoving them back there and imagining Harry’s dick. He could be pressing his forehead against the wall, peachy arse tipped back and two fingers sunk inside, wishing with every gasp that Harry was lining up behind him. And God, how Harry wanted that right now. That first push would be so sweet, hearing Eggsy moan and sigh as Harry’s cock breached him, sliding slowly inside, and Harry would reach around, pry Eggsy’s hand away from his dick, and replace it with his own. And then it would be perfect, the push-and-pull symphony of fucking, feeling Eggsy buck between Harry’s hand and his cock, utterly reactive, shuddering, his.

Harry swallowed at the last and rocked up against his hand, one finger teasing the metal tab of his fly, aching to nudge his fingertip in there and pull it down, free himself, get a proper handful, start to stroke—and then Eggsy groaned, “Oh, god… fuck… god—yeah—” and fell to silence but for gasping, and Harry ground his teeth and forced his hand away from his lap.

There: it was over.

God fucking damn.

The white noise of Eggsy’s panting filled the room, which somehow seemed to amplify Harry’s own rapid breathing.

Harry tipped his head back, staring at the ceiling rather than Eggsy’s accusative picture on his computer, and gripped the arms of his chair with both hands until his fingers were aching more than his cock.

Gradually, gradually, he willed his erection to subside, and after a few long minutes he felt clear enough to look back at the screen.

The victory of self control over his baser instincts felt positively hollow.

Even before Eggsy’s breathing had fully settled, the park noises started up again. A moment later, the blinking dot on Harry’s screen started to move. Now he was headed for the estate; now he was headed home.

It occurred to Harry that he should have wondered earlier why on earth a teenage boy in need of a wank would detour to a grimy public convenience rather than seek out the private four walls of his own bedroom.

Ten minutes later, the reason became abundantly clear. Eggsy let himself into the flat to the clunk-click of several heavy-duty locks and the sound of a blaring television.

“Eggsy!” came an instant, female cry, thick with real fear. “Just go, he’s gonna—“

The words dissolved into a soft scream and the noise of a scuffle broke out, followed by the sound of Eggsy yelping that made Harry sit bolt upright, eyes going narrow. The shouting got louder, and Harry determined three disparate participants: a bloodcurdling female voice, must be the mother; a male voice, enraged; and Eggsy, already so recognisable, panting again.

“Who was you with in that fucking pub? I wanna know the name of the geezer you was with.”

Eggsy’s voice rang out loud and earnest: “I wasn’t with no-one—“ he protested, and then there was the skin-on-skin sound of a slap, and Eggsy gasping in pain. “I don’t know what you’re on about!” he tried again, and dissolved into another yelp. “I don’t know what you’re fucking on about!”

“Fucking tell me his name!”

“I don’t know what you’re fucking on about,” Eggsy shouted, voice cracking now, and the noises of the fight became thicker and faster.

Harry frowned, watching the beacon blinking deep and still in the housing estate, thinking about loyalty and professionalism and impulsive young men. Then the shouting intensified as a metallic swishing noise of a blade cut through the air, and that was it: enough.

“I could kill you right now,” the man was yelling, mad triumph in his voice, “and no one in the whole world would notice—”

Harry pressed the button on his desk, letting his voice carry a mere fraction of the sudden anger sweeping over him. “But I would.”

Enough watching: it was time for Harry to step in.