Like everything else that fucks up Eggsy's life, it happens too suddenly for him to actually do anything about it. One moment he's out with his mates getting a pint to drink – next he's being fucking arrested with little word about what the fuck he's done now.
"You don't know what you's done? Let me tell you, boy," Dean says, when they graciously let his fucker of a stepdad in to see him. "You gone and killed your mum, you bastard. I found her, just a couple hours back – dead. In a pool of her own blood. And you're not even fucking sorry, are you."
"What the fuck are you on about?" Eggsy asks – gapes, trying to catch up. "Where's mum?"
"Dead," Dean says, cutting, that fucking look in his eyes which would've meant bruises and bleeding if they were home – if they weren't sitting under a two way mirror, for all the fucking cops to see. "Dead, you hear me? Because you fucking killed her. Because you got high and you fucking beat her to death."
Eggsy opens his mouth and lets out a garbled sound of what the fuck. "Mum is – what? What?! Where's the baby?" he then asks, almost catching up with that – fuck. "Dean, where's my baby sister – where's Daisy?"
Dean fucking grins at that.
According to him – and according to the cops – Eggsy was high that morning. According to them, he went and lost it. Something about the baby making noise, grating on his nerves. Good thing he didn't take it out on the helpless fucking infant, they say – his mum stood in the way. So he took it out on her. And the baby probably shut up at some point because apparently he left it at that, left Michelle lying dead just next to the crib. Dead.
His mother is fucking dead.
Dean was the one who found her, who called the cops and who, of course, pointed a helpful finger in Eggsy's direction with numerous anecdotes about breaking and entering, and couple of battery charges, and drug related arrests.
And Eggsy can't even fucking say anything – because in the morning, when the time of death says his mother died, he'd been in a slightly fancier part of the city. Breaking and entering, among other thing. He'd been with a couple of his mates and sure, he could use that as an alibi that he hadn't been anywhere near his mum when she'd… except he can't because fuck it, he's no fucking snitch and his mates got it just as bad as he does.
Except not as bad because fuck, they're not facing decades in jail for a murder they'd not done, were they? No, that's just Eggsy, staring flat with disbelief at Dean who he bets still has her blood under his fucking finger nails – who's just grinning at him and getting away with it. Getting away with him and murder both.
Eggsy's mum is fucking dead and her loving husband is fucking grinning.
"Now, Eggsy," the cop, whatshisname, says. "There's no doubt that you're going away for a long time, but we can help you – we can make it little less bad. You've been involved in a lot of shit over the years, a lot of trouble. Now would be a good time to come clean with all of it. Clean with some names."
"Fuck you," Eggsy answers, staring at the two way mirror. He can just see his own reflection and it looks pale as fuck – his eyes blown wide open, his hair askew, where the fuck did his cap go? The hell does it even matter. He's fucked and he looks like it.
He's fucked, his mother's dead and fuck, he doesn't even know where Daisy is.
"Where's the baby?" he asks, turning to the cop. "Where my sister? And don't you fucking tell me you're leaving her with 'im."
"Why? Should we leave her with you instead, so you can kill her too?" the fucker asks.
They are – they fucking are. Dean's getting away with it and they're leaving Daisy with him. Like she'd survive a fucking month with the bastard as her caretaker. Fuck, she probably won't make it that far. And there's nothing Eggsy can do because his mum is dead and somehow fucking Dean is calling all the shots and there's nothing he can do.
"I want to exercise my right to a phone call," Eggsy says.
"You really got someone to call?" the cop asks, but stands up. "Tell your mates you won't be there for your next job, then."
And fuck it, Eggsy doesn't have anyone to call – who the fuck could help him with this? Even if his mum would've been… fuck. And no one he knew had the clout or the money – or the fucking inclination – to do anything about this. There's fucking no one. Eggsy lets out a sigh and runs a hand over his face and then pulls the ancient mobile closer, staring at it. There's nothing. There's no one.
His mum is dead and his baby sister is going to her murderer and he can do fucking nothing about it.
"Fuck it," he mutters and more in desperation than anything even resembling actual hope, he takes out the medallion he never goes without.
Years he's been carrying the thing and memorising every contour of it – the last thing he had left of his dad, more so now these days, after Dean's gone and destroyed everything else. Eggsy knows the number on the back by heart now. But he still turns it around, and checks it over, just in case. Better not fuck it up, now that he's finally doing it. A hundred times he almost had, but now, now it fucking matters.
121997. The day his dad died.
A more concrete gesture of gratitude, that was what the guy said. A favour. It was supposed to be his mum's choice, what the favour was going to be, except she slapped it away. And so the medallion had been handed to Eggsy instead.
He should've called it before, that first day Dean beat his mum black and blue – should've called it back then. Should've done a lot of things.
"Customer complaints, how may I help you?"
"Um. My name is Eggsy Unwin – Gary Unwin," Eggsy stammers, horrified. Fuck, they hadn't quit somewhere over the years, had they? The number gone to someone else? Fuck goddamn it. Still, it's his last fucking phone call, so he pushes ahead because… what else can he do? "And I'm, I'm fucked. My stepdad gone and killed my mum and they're gonna pin it on me, and Daisy – my baby sister's – gonna go to 'im, and she's probably gonna die too and –"
"I'm sorry, sir," the customer complaints person says. "You have the wrong number.
"Fuck, wait, wait," Eggsy says quickly, and tries to remember. What was that the posh git said? He used to remember it – said it a lot when he was a brat. "Uh, oxfords not brogues?"
The customer complaints person waits for a moment and then says. "Your complaint has been duly noted," she says. "And we hope that we have not lost you as a loyal customer."
And then she hangs up.
Fuck. His last fucking chance and he went and wasted it hoping for a fucking miracle – he should've called Ryan, anybody, asked them to see if they could look after Daisy because Eggsy… well, Eggsy wasn't going to be around to do it himself, now, was he? No. He's going to fucking prison.
The cop peeks into the room. "Done then?" he asks. "To the cell with you then."
Eggsy walks out of the police station, his eyes a little wide as he stares as Daisy. She's wailing like a fucking fire alarm, wringing little fists at his chest – all of two months old and usually doing little more than sleeping, she's not shut up since the social worker handed her over. Handed her over, to him, just before the cops told him to get out of there.
Dean had gone in and confessed, apparently.
"Baby, shh, shh, it's okay baby, we're okay," Eggsy croons to his sister, trying not to panic. He's got no fucking clue what just even happened – how the fuck he got out, how no one stopped him. Hell, he wasn't even asked any questions, just told to get his sister and go, and thank you. Not even a fucking explanation about… anything.
And what's worse, in his pocket there are a couple crumbled up papers he'd just shoved in there, which the social worker called guardianship forms or something like that. He's got a rough idea what that means for him and Daisy and that's about the most terrifying thing about this – right after his mum being dead, maybe.
But Dean's not there. Dean won't be there. Because Dean is apparently going jail. Not Eggsy. Because he went and confessed.
"The fuck just happened?" Eggsy asks his baby sister. "Daisy, what the fuck just happened?"
She hiccups at him, and keeps on wailing, and with a desperate little bounce Eggsy tries to soothe her a bit because people are staring and judging him, giving him the evil eye. He can almost figure what they see. Shitty little punk with a poor little baby. What's the world gone to?
"Eggsy," someone says and Eggsy looks up, half expecting another copper down to tell him that yeah, it's been a mistake, back to the cell with you. Except it not. It's some wanker in a fancy suit and sunglasses with a fucking brolly and everything.
Eggsy stares at him, Daisy wailing at his ear. "The fuck are you?" he then says and bounces Daisy gently, one hand at her neck to make sure she won't get jostled about too much.
"The man who got you released," the posh wanker says, watching him, eyes flickering between Daisy and him. "Would you like a lift home?"
The man who got him released? Fuck. Eggsy swallows and nudges his cheek against Daisy's head. "Don't got much of a home to go to," he says and shit – he has to deal with that too, doesn't he. The flat's in Dean's name and Dean's in prison and now he has to, what, get a new flat? Or at least he has to fucking pay for it – and it's not as if he has any money. Fucking shit.
"No, I don't suppose you would," the man says, considering him and then looking at Daisy.
"The fuck do you want anyway?" Eggsy asks suspiciously, and almost tilts away so that he's properly between the guy and Daisy. Now that he has her he ain't taking no chances with her, that's for fucking certain – he might have no idea what the hell to do, but whatever it was going to be, it was going to be his very fucking best. "Who the fuck are you? Why'd you do this – how'd you do… that?" he asks, nodding at the police station.
The man doesn't answer at first, just looking at him. "My name is Harry Hart and I did it because you asked me to," the man says and pushes away from the wall he's leaning again. "Your father saved my life and I gave you that medal – and with it the favour you just called."
"… Oh," Eggsy says.
The man smiles a crooked, not quite smug smile at him. "Your sister seems to be in some distress," he comments.
"She needs a change," Eggsy mutters, looking down at her. "And food. And probably sleep too."
"Hm. Well, seeing that you don't have much of a home to go to – may I buy you and the little lady some dinner?" Hart asks. "A restaurant bathroom should offer you a chance to change her."
Eggsy hesitates but Daisy's still wailing and people are staring and fuck it. He'd just gotten a miracle get-out-of-jail card. Might as well see how far it would take him. "Yeah, alright," he says. "Need to stop by and get everything, though," he adds. "Don't have nappies."
"That's quite alright," Hart agrees and walks past him. "Come along, Eggsy."
With an inhale and heavy sigh, Eggsy goes along.
They don't end up going to a restaurant after all – they stop by a super market and the customers there all give Eggsy the evil eye because Daisy just won't shut up. So the moment he's got everything picked out – and Hart's paid for it because apparently that was the plan all along – Eggsy goes to the supermarket toilet to clean and change Daisy.
It's weird as fuck, having the posh git in his posh suit looming about as he goes about changing the baby's nappy but fuck it. It was a fucking day, wasn't it? Might as well just go with it.
"'Ere you go," Eggsy murmurs to Daisy, doing everything he can to cheer her up a bit. "Nice and dry. Is that better?"
"You seem fairly adept at handling her," Hart commends thoughtfully, watching as Eggsy offers Daisy her binky and finally gets her to quiet her wailing into a disgruntled, exhausted grumbling instead.
"Used to baby sit when I was younger," Eggsy mumbles. And he's definitely taken care of Daisy more than fucking Dean has. "'E's not getting away wi' it, is he?" Eggsy asks, looking up. "Dean I mean. They're going to lock 'im up, won't they?"
"Mr. Baker will be in prison for a very long time," Hart promises him. "I assure you that."
"Thank fucking god," Eggsy sighs and picks Daisy up, kissing her forehead gently and then resting her against his chest, carefully supporting her head. She's almost worn out, the poor thing – it was just the hunger keeping her up now. That and the general exhaustion. "She needs some milk."
"Which we have bought," Hart says, casting a glance at the plastic bags full of groceries Eggsy had picked out, and he'd paid for. After he'd figured that Hart was paying, he'd rather gone to town with them.
Eggsy gives him a look. "Don't have a bottle and you don't go giving a baby cold formula," he says slowly and then looks at Daisy. She whimpers at him and he winces. "Probably should go home after all – got everything there," he says, rocking her a bit and then grimacing.
The idea of going back to the flat with his mother… not there, it doesn't appeal much. And fuck, there'd been talk of blood. There probably still was blood. If the police hadn't closed the flat up. Probably had, seeing that there was an investigation and all. "Fuck," he mutters. "Any chance we could swing by the Black Prince?" he asks then. "They got everything there."
"Certainly," Hart says with an amicable smile, and that's what they do – Eggsy carrying Daisy and Hart negotiating the bags of groceries. It was hilarious and weird, all of it, but Eggsy was flat out of fucks to give.
The bartender at the Black Prince takes one look at the feebly sobbing Daisy before just accepting the formula and getting out one of the bottles Michelle had left at the pub. Eggsy thanks the guy tiredly and settles down in the nearest booth to ease Daisy into a more comfortable position in his lap so that he can feed her.
"I'll have a pint of… no, actually," Hart glances at Eggsy and Daisy with a thoughtful look. "I don't suppose you have tea?"
It warms Eggsy right up to the bloke, him deciding not to drink in front of the baby. Not that anyone had ever given much of a fuck about that – Dean, his goons and his mother included. And it's not as if Daisy even understands. But it means a lot, that little bit of consideration.
They do have tea, and Hart even manages to smother his displeasure at the cheap brand as he sits across from Eggsy with a chipped tea mug in hand, tugging idly at the tea bag.
"Sorry, bruv," Eggsy says, not particularly sorry at all. "Not 'xactly your kind of place, innit?"
"It's quite fine," Hart says, watching him, watching Daisy dazedly suckling. It's kind of distracting, now that they're sort of comfortable and he's no longer panicking about going to jail or losing Daisy. He has her now – hell, he has her for the rest of her life, probably. Fuck.
"So you knew my dad?" Eggsy asks. "You was in the military with 'im, that it? Like an officer?"
"Not quite," Hart says thoughtfully, watching Daisy. "We worked together, though the details are classified, I'm afraid."
"'Course they are," Eggsy mutters. "But he saved your life, yeah?"
Hart smiles faintly at that. "He did. Your father was a good man," he then says, looking at Eggsy and fiddling with the tea bag label. His smile faded. "The day he died, I missed something. My mistake would've cost the lives of everyone there, my own included, if it wasn't for your father. So I owe him."
"Right," Eggsy agrees, looking at Daisy. Of course nothing was free, even something like this. Especially something like this. Still, he'd take a favour paid for by his father over no favour at all. He's got no idea what to do now, but fuck, at least he had the liberty to figure it out.
"Your father was a brave man," Hart murmurs, looking at Daisy. "A good man."
He looks like he's about to say something else, but instead he presses his lips tight together into a displeased frown and sips his tea.
"Things'd be a bit different if he was still here," Eggsy comments quietly, and eases the rubber teat from Daisy's mouth. She's falling asleep now, blowing milk bubbles as she yawns. He grins at her before taking the dish towel he'd gotten from the bar tender and laying it on his shoulder, following it up with disgruntled Daisy.
"Of that I have no doubt," Hart murmurs, watching him gently burp the baby, an odd look about his face.
Daisy hiccups and lets out a little whine – and then barfs all over the towel. Eggsy snorts at the face Hart makes and bounces the baby a couple more time until he's sure Daisy's good, and then he gently wipes her face before easing her back to his lap. She's out like a light inside a minute.
"Thanks," Eggsy says, folding the towel and making sure he didn't get any on himself. "For all of this. I mean, I know you didn't do it for me, precisely, but still. I got no idea what I'd've done if… fuck. Gone to jail, probably."
"Hmm," Hart agrees, leaning in and watching him fuss over Daisy. "Do you know what you're going to do now?"
"Not a fucking clue," Eggsy admits, leaning back a little. He doesn't have the money to look after Daisy properly. Sure he'd probably get social support and shit, like his mum used to get – but that hadn't been enough to deal with everything. That's why they'd needed Dean because Dean had a job, he'd been supporting them since fucking forever. Eggsy doesn't have that. He has no idea where they're even going to live from now on.
"Shit," Eggsy murmurs and runs a hand over his face. He kind of feels like getting a pint… but no. Not in front of Daisy. Not ever. "I don't suppose you could wave your magic wand again and give me another miracle?" Eggsy asks, turning to Hart.
"A miracle?" Hart asks slowly.
"Or whatever you fucking did. Influence, money, whatever," Eggsy says and waves a dismissive hand before looking at Daisy. "I don't have the means to look after Daisy right," he admits then, stroking a hand over his baby sister's head. "I'm going to fuck this up."
Hart watches him expressionlessly for a moment and then turns his attention to the tea mug.
"I guess that's bit too much to ask," Eggsy mutters, when he doesn't say anything. "Well. Thanks for what you did anyway. It's really fucking appreciated, yeah?"
"Quite," Hart says, still watching him, watching Daisy. Then leans back, crossing one leg over another. "Unfortunately I do not have a magic wand quite that capable – I can't simply conjure you a house to live in and a better life to lead," he says and he actually sounds honestly sorry about it. "But perhaps… I can offer you a job," he adds. "Which could come with a room."
Eggsy looks up, frowning. "Like?"
Hart smiles a little crookedly. "Due to my occupation I'm not home quite as often as I'd like," he says. "Normally I employ a house keeper to take care of things while I am away. But for a while now I have been looking for a… let's say, a valet."
"You fucking serious?" Eggsy asks, half laughing.
Hart shrugs with one shoulder, still watching him expressionlessly. "I've seen your records – unfortunate side effect of what I did for you today," he says. "You're not a stupid young man, whatever you are. Perhaps you could've made better choices with your life, but that's neither here nor there. You're skilled and quick to learn – whatever activities you've taken part of you've always mastered quickly, never mind how quick you were to give them up. I've no doubt you could learn this skill with equal talent."
"You're actually serious?" Eggsy asks. "Fucking… valet? Really? People still do that shit?"
Hart smiles crookedly at that. "People still do that shit, yes," he says.
"So, what'd that entail, then?"
"Mainly keeping the house while I am away – which would happen quite often and sometimes for extended periods of time," Hart says. "Taking care of minor issues – cleaning, maintenance of amenities, dealing with financial issues. Cooking, if you're amenable to it."
"Dressing you like in all of those old movies?" Eggsy asks, smothering a disbelieving little grin.
"Perhaps not that, but certainly doing some chores to that end – most of my clothing requires specialised care, it would ease my way if someone took care of the dry cleaning," Hart agreed thoughtfully. "I would of course have you sign a confidentiality agreement, but I trust you wouldn't have trouble with that?"
Eggsy snorts and shakes his head and then looks down at his sister. "And Daisy?"
Hart smiles down at her. "I'm quite sure there is room for her as well," he says.
"Mate, having a baby around is no easy gig," Eggsy says with another shake of his head. "She's messy and noisy and wakes something like eight times a night. It's a bloody nightmare."
"I'm certain it won't be a problem," Hart says and then adds, "Of course the rooms are sound proofed and further sound proofing may be added."
"Yes," the man nods with a smile and then looks at him expectantly. "What do you say, Eggsy?"
"Fucking… valet, Jesus," Eggsy says and thinks about it, looking at Daisy. It sounds suspicious as fuck – and fucking tempting too. He doesn't like the idea of being at someone's mercy like that again, Dean had been bad enough. But… so far Hart's been a hell of a lot better than Dean's ever been. And what choice has he got?
"Aren't you like a tailor?" Eggsy ask then. "How come you're away often if you're a tailor?"
"Kingsman tailors are quite sought after," Hart says with an amused little quirk at the corner of his lip. "You never know where we're needed."
"Right," Eggsy says dubiously. "A valet," he then repeats again. "You really serious about that? With room and everythin'?"
"And pay," Hart agrees. "What do you say?"
"I reserve the right to kick the shit out of you if you turn out to be a murderer or something," Eggsy warns him.
"As is your right," Hart says and drains the last of his tea. "Well then," he says and stands up. "Let us get your things and get you and your sister settled in. Come along, Eggsy."
With another disbelieving snort, Eggsy stands up. That's apparently going to be a thing now. Well, what was the worst thing that could happen? He'd already faced a future in prison and somehow gotten away from it. There was still a lot of shit to go over – his fucking mother… Jesus, there was a funeral and everything to consider. But for now…
Eggsy goes along.
Harry Hart has a fucking dead dog in his house.
Okay, he has a lot of other things there too – space and fancy shit and this whole feel of everything being just too fucking expensive to actually be touched. But Eggsy feels perfectly justified in getting hung up on the fucking dog because there's a dead, stuffed dog, in Harry Hart's house. And it's in his fucking bathroom too, along with a wall full of dead butterflies, but seriously. A dog.
"Er," is all Eggsy manages to say out loud, because he's this close to getting his baby sister and hightailing it the hell out of there.
"It… was a different time," Hart says, glancing over the bathroom and managing to look just slightly sheepish about it. "I assure you, Mr. Pickle is the only creature I have ever had preserved in such a manner and I most assuredly did not do it myself – I had a professional do it."
"There was a time when people stuffed their dead dogs?" Eggsy asks incredulously, looking between him and the dead dog. Mr. Pickle – fucking really?
"Mounted, Eggsy, mounted," Hart says with the slightest hint of pain in his voice.
Eggsy opens his mouth and then closes it and then opens it again. "Why's 'e in the fucking loo?" he then asks. "Don't you have to stare at 'im every time you go –"
Hart sighs, shakes his head and leaves the bathroom – leaving Eggsy alone with the dead dog.
"Fucking seriously," Eggsy grumbles, casting another look at the dog – fuck, it even looks like it's been brushed and everything. "Like, I'd understand something like an eagle or hawk or some shit like that – but your pet dog?" he grumbles and then remembers that Daisy was in a baby basket in the living room, and now alone with a guy who had his dead dog stuffed – and really, it's not as if Eggsy even wants to stay around Mr. Fucking Pickle. Fucking hell.
Daisy is fine though – Daisy is asleep in the basket, squeezing the comforter in her tiny little hands, binky half drooping out of her mouth.
"So. Getting a bit higher on the suspicious as fuck meter," Eggsy comments at Hart who's fiddling with the tea table's cloth – which is, of course, lace. "Any other weird stuff I should know about before I get the fuck out of here?"
The man has the fucking gall to look amused about that. "I didn't think Mr. Pickle was quite that frightening," he comments, sitting down. "I assure you, there are no skeletons in my closets."
"Just in your fucking bathroom," Eggsy says. "How is that not registering as fucked up for you?"
Hart sighs again, long suffering and snotty. "People have been mounting –"
"Yeah, for like study purposes and shit – you had your pet dog stuffed," Eggsy points out. "Bruv, it's fucked up. Like in the modern day – I don't know or give a shit what it was like way back when but nowadays? Fucked up."
"Yes, alright," Hart says, ever so testily. "Can we please move on from the dog?"
"I don't know, can the dog move on?"
"Eggsy," Hart says, little harder, and gives him a look.
Eggsy throws his hands up. "Fine," he grumbles and sits down on the floor beside Daisy's basket. She's just sleeping through all of it, but then she's used to much worse. "Can't blame me, bruv, because it really is fucked up."
"Yes, thank you, I did hear you the first time," Hart says, running a hand over his eyes. "Now, setting the dog aside, what do you think?" he asked, and looked at Eggsy expectantly. "About the house, that is."
Eggsy shifts a little where he sits, crossing his ankles and glancing around. It's rich as fuck, all of it. The wallpapers are all old fashioned – like, 1800th fucking century, old fashioned. The furniture is all that hand crafted hard wood type that probably cost a couple grand a pop, probably more. Everything fucking gleams and glimmers and Eggsy's half certain the knobs on the cabinets are fucking gold.
It's just… it feels like if he touches anything, he'll get it dirty. Or break it. Probably both.
"Doesn't really seem like you need a cleaning person," he says a little uneasily.
"Of course not – not when I've had a house keeper in and out of the place every day for many years," Hart answers, giving him a look. "The question is whether you think you could keep it to this standard once I break my contract with said house keeper?"
Eggsy shifts again and shrugs. "Maybe," he says. "I mean, yeah, sure, I can try but… fuck, this place is really fancy."
"It's merely a house."
"It's this close to being fucking gold plated, bruv," Eggsy answers. "And I ain't ever done this type of shit before. Turning a vacuum on and off and swinging a mop around is about as close as I've ever got to a cleaning job."
"I've no doubt you can learn," Hart says, watching him and then looking at Daisy. "And as there is the little lady to consider, I am more than willing to grant you certain allowances. It's fine for you to take your time," he adds and then stands up. "Now let me help you carry your things to your room and then we'll see about getting that crib set up."
"Right," Eggsy sighs and stands up too. So apparently they're staying. In a house with this posh freak and his dead dog. "Seriously, though, if there's more dead things around –"
"Come along, Eggsy."
Hart's house isn't, thankfully, huge or anything. Well it's huge by Eggsy's standards – no way his family would've ever had enough money to afford anything near as nice, even as a flat. But at least it's not a fucking mansion or anything. It's an end of mews house done up really nice and posh, but it's not a place of grand open spaces at least. Not that the cramped thing makes Eggsy feel any better, because it basically just means that there's more things to bump into.
It's the sort of house that his mum used to half scoff at on the telly – usually to hide how wistful she was for nice shit like that. Eggsy tries not to think about that too much.
He spends the first day very carefully poking around, Hart half watching him all the while. Dutifully – or as dutifully as he can manage which is not much – Eggsy familiarises himself with the cleaning closet and the kitchen, wincing a bit at the fancy dishware. Even the pots and pans are all really nice and the idea that Hart maybe wants him to cook is a bit terrifying. Not that Eggsy can't. It's just that he can't cook very well.
"I'm sure you can learn," is all Hart says to that, and fuck if that isn't starting to get annoying. What Eggsy can't do the man just expects him to learn, like it's that fucking easy.
"And how do you suppose I learn all this shit?" Eggsy finally asks, getting tired of all the… fucking expectations. "From a fucking cookbook? Don't see any here."
"From youtube, I expect," Hart says, folding his arms. "Isn't that what everyone learns everything from these days?"
Eggsy just stares at him with disbelief and the man smiles. "Come on," Hart then says. "Let's get you… kitted up."
Hart leads him to his office – which is maybe the second weirdest room in the house, right after the bathroom. It's nothing like the rest of the place. The walls are painted all red and they're covered in fucking Sun front pages. Eggsy stares at the headline of "to pee or not to pee" incredulously while Hart rummages through a desk drawer.
"I… just," Eggsy starts and then sighs. "Do I even want to know what the fuck this is about?" he points at the front pages.
"Hm? Oh, I have no idea," Hart says, glancing up and then away again. "I've quite forgotten what that article was about."
"You have it on your wall," Eggsy points out slowly.
"I have many things on my wall," Hart agrees pleasantly and then pulls out a tablet. "This should do for you," he says and hands it over. "Quite enough for any online research you might wish to do. Now, should I get you a new mobile, or will your old one do?"
"Mine's fine," Eggsy says, accepting the tablet and frowning a bit, turning it in his hands. It doesn't have a maker's mark. "So, what, I'm supposed to just google all the stuff I need to know?"
"Seems like the easiest way to go about it, don't you think?" Hart says, and sits down behind the desk. "Before that, however, let's talk contracts and wages."
They don't actually talk much about that, though. The wages are covered pretty briefly along with all the benefits Eggsy gets to enjoy as Hart's valet – mainly the room he gets to share with Daisy, the use of amenities around the house and so forth. The pay is easily the best Eggsy thinks he's ever going to get in any job ever and it takes effort not to gawk at the hourly wage like an idiot – it's higher than Dean's wages had been.
And judging by the looks of it, his hours are a damn sight better too, seeing that he'll sort of live his job.
"I trust it will be quite enough?" Hart asks with an amused tilt to his smile.
"Fuck you," Eggsy answers, and signs the damn thing before the asshole can change his mind about it.
The confidentiality contract which Eggsy has to sign is all legalese and though he's as adept at reading legalese as anyone who's spent extended periods of time dealing with the police, most of it goes over his head. The gist of it is that anything Eggsy learns about Harry Hart or his life or his occupation or anything else involved with the job of being the man's valet, he should damn well keep to himself.
"This is a lot for a valet job," Eggsy points out, even though he has no idea what's a lot for that.
"I value my privacy," Hart answers simply, watching him closely until he signs it. "Good," he then says with satisfaction, and takes his copies of the contracts. "Now, I'm going to show you how I like my tea and then you're going to make it until you get it right."
"You're kidding me," Eggsy says flatly.
"I'm afraid not," Hart says and stands up. "Come along, Eggsy."
Eggsy's really starting to hate those words. But, well… fuck it. Hart's paying him and Eggsy's done worse things for less money. If the man wants him to make his tea then damn it, Eggsy's going to make his damn tea.
And he fucking nails it on the first try too.
Getting settled in at Hart's house is… surprisingly enough not that hard, actually. It helps that Eggsy doesn't have much choice, and then there's Daisy too. Daisy makes everything just a tad bit harder, and so much better because there's just no other option than to just… get on with it. For her sake, he can't really have any hang-ups about it. For her sake he has to make good on it.
After he's poked enough around to get himself familiar with everything, Eggsy does as Hart expects – and fucking researches. He googles and binge watches youtube videos on shit like how best to clean toilets and how to deal with tea stains and every other piece of shit he thinks he has to deal with – learns a lot of useful tricks about cleaning shit that he really would've liked to know a couple years back.
His mum would've appreciated it a lot if he could've…
Well, too late for that, is it?
"Sugar cubes, Daisy-baby, are really fucking handy," Eggsy informs his sister, who's half dozing across his crossed legs, lazily suckling on the bottle as she does. She's taken to Hart's house like a champ – mainly by sleeping a lot more than she usually does. She'd woken up only four times the last night, and each time she'd been pretty quick to settle down again – Eggsy didn't even need to take her out for a walk or anything. It was fucking sweet.
Granted, it it's less noisy at Hart's house than it was at the council estate. And it smells a hell of a lot better. And no one is shouting at her to shut up whenever she had a problem. Tiny little things go a hell of a long way.
Still, it feels like they're a bit out of place in the house, like they're living on borrowed time. Hart might be all patience and indulgence and shit like that, but the man wants him to do a job Eggsy has no idea how to do and Eggsy is still waiting for the other shoe to drop. Especially since despite the whole bit about being away from home often and shit, Hart hasn't actually left once yet.
Apparently, tailors can work from home these days. From their computers. It's the biggest load of shit Eggsy's ever heard of, but what-fucking-ever. He can deal with it – and yeah, he can see where Hart's coming from. Eggsy does have a track record with posh houses, after all, and he could've made a mint with Hart's fucking doorknobs alone.
Sighing, Eggsy leans back a bit, changing to another youtube video, this one about how to care for expensive suits. Hart has a standing contract with some dry cleaning place where he takes his suits to be cleaned regularly, like clockwork, but apparently there's a lot more to maintaining a suit like that. Like proper ironing and shit – Eggsy's not quite sure if he's got to do that, but fuck it. It doesn't hurt to learn.
He hasn't done this much fucking research even when he was checking out a place to rob. Better not tell Hart that, though.
"Eggsy," Hart's voice intrudes on his research and Eggsy looks up. He's standing by the living room door, all neat lines and perfect poise in his perfect suit. "I'm going to the shop for the rest of the day – I'm sure you can manage?"
Well, speak of the devil. "Sure you want to leave me alone here?" Eggsy asks, arching his eyebrows at the man. "Might steal something."
"Will you?" Hart asks, giving him a level look.
"… No," Eggsy mutters and sets the tablet and the baby bottle down on the tea table. "You want me to do something while you're gone?"
"Well… if you could make dinner for when I come back, I certainly wouldn't mind it," Hart says glancing at his watch. "I should be back around six o'clock – seven at the latest."
"I can make something, probably," Eggsy says, frowning. "Just… don't expect anything actually good or anything."
"I'll do with edible for now," Hart assures him with a smile. "Just… try not to burn the house down."
"Wasn't going to," Eggsy snorts and stands up, not quite sure what to do. Being in the house is weird enough – being left alone in the house… well, it was what Hart had planned, wasn't it? For Eggsy to look after the place while he wasn't there? Still, it was weird.
"You know, a lot of people would call you stupid as fuck for trusting me like this," Eggsy points out as he follows the man to the front hall. "What with my track record and all."
"Well… most people are stupid as fuck," Hart shrugs almost carelessly as he checks his own reflection in the hall mirror. He adjusts his tie minutely and then seems satisfied. "Well then. Take care and don't let anyone in, alright?"
"Yeah, sure," Eggsy says, shaking his head. "I mean, I won't. I mean… shit."
"I trust you can manage," Hart says confidently, glancing at him, then at Daisy. Then he nods, turns around and just leaves.
"Well… fuck," Eggsy says as the door closes after the man, leaving him and Daisy alone at the posh house. "Now what?"
In the end, he doesn't actually do anything interesting. He watches telly, watches more youtube videos, and when the time comes, pokes around the kitchen until he figures out what to try and make. Hart's done all the cooking so far with Eggsy mostly just looking over his shoulder and being really damn awkward. Now though, Hart isn't there, and Eggsy has to figure out something.
Thankfully, the internet is helpful as fuck in that he can just feed it all the ingredients he had available and it throws some recipes at his face. He picks what looks easiest, sets the tablet on the kitchen counter, and then he tries to make some vegetable and rice stir-fry. It's probably a bit too common for someone like Hart who Eggsy bets is used to gourmet French cooking and shit. But he doesn't particularly care because stir-fry is delicious and easy and he's less likely to fuck it up than some other recipes the internet suggests to him.
Hart comes back precisely at six o'clock, pausing at the door way to watch Eggsy at the stove. "You really should be using the apron," the man comments and points to where it rests, on the hook by the fridge, just under the dish towel. "It's right there."
"I cooked for you. No bitching," Eggsy answers, pointing at him with the spatula and then wincing as bits of rice rain down on the carpet. "Shit," he mutters, quickly setting it down and then getting a hand towel to clean up after himself. "Um. It's pretty much ready," he says, grimacing at himself.
"Hm," Hart answers, loosening his tie as he leans in to look. "Well then. Set the table and I'll be right down."
Eggsy grumbles after him as he heads up stairs to do whatever. "Set the table my ass," he mutters, picking Daisy's basket up from the floor where he'd set her so he could keep an eye on her. She stares at him and kicks at the blanket, but she looks the happiest she has in… possibly ever. All snug and cosy. "You, missy, are fucking lucky, not having to listen to this bullshit," Eggsy mutters, moving her to the side. Then he grins and kisses her. "Absolute bullshit, all of it. Yes it is, yes it is."
She coos happily at him and with another kiss he gets up and sets the table – and probably gets all the forks and shit wrong, but fuck it. It's stir-fry. You only need one fucking utensil to eat it and if Hart has something to say about it, he can shove it up his arse, keep company with that silver spoon that's lodged up there.
Hart's gotten rid of his coat and tie by the time he comes down, and the line of his shoulders is a hell of a lot looser as he glances over the table. "I see you set the table for two."
"If you think I ain't going to eat what I've cooked, you can just –" Eggsy just barely keeps himself from waving the spatula again. "Fuck off."
Hart smiles and sits down. "I merely thought you might've eaten before. Company would be welcome," he says and glances at Daisy. "I don't suppose I could indulge a beer with your marvellous looking stir-fry?" he then asks with a sigh, rubbing a hand over his neck.
Eggsy gives him a look. "I ain't going to tell you what to do," he says, frowning. "It's your house. Whatever you do is up to you."
"And that's your child," Hart says, looking at Daisy. "And you'll be in charge of her upbringing. Whatever bad examples she gets is up to you. Even here."
That gives Eggsy pause, makes him think of the time at the Black Prince. Fuck, Hart was actually serious about this shit? That's… well. "You're something else, you are," Eggsy snorts. "One beer."
"Thank you kindly," Hart says, smiling almost sweetly at him, and then he waits. When Eggsy just stares back, he casts a meaningful glance at the fridge. "If you would?"
"Oh, you son of a…" Eggsy mutters and gets the beer for him – even gets the proper glass for it because he did his fucking research. He even pours it just right, along the side of the glass. "There, you privileged asshole."
"You're ever so kind, Eggsy," Hart says, smiling, and accepts the glass. Eggsy flips him the bird, and then takes the plates to serve out the food because fuck it, that's his job.
The stir-fry is fucking excellent though.
And then there is his mother. Who is dead. And has to be… dealt with.
"I can offer you assistance in this, if you wish?" Hart offers, after Eggsy's done talking with the coroner about… preparations and shit. "It will be no trouble, to arrange things for your mother."
"No, fuck… no. I'm her kid, it's my job. I'm going to…" Eggsy takes a breath and shakes his head. "I'll do the arrangements myself."
It's not going to be exactly grand, and Eggsy spends most of the whole thing not knowing what the hell he's even doing. Thankfully the coroner and then, eventually, the funeral director are experienced as fuck and guide him through the whole thing, all the arrangements, everything. They're so polite about it too, it's just fucking sad. He doesn't have the money to make it fancy or even all that nice. But he does what he can, trying to come to terms with the whole fucking thing.
Thing is, there'd been a lot of times he though his mum might die. When his dad died, she'd not taken it well – she started smoking, drinking, it got pretty bad pretty fast. And then she'd started dating these fucking assholes – later on he figured it was partly out of this weird, twisted sense of duty, because she thought Eggsy needed a father figure in his life. But most of it was for her, probably, because she was alone, and lonely. They were all stupid as fuck, but there were times when she seemed like she was happy, so he never said anything, no matter how he hated the guys she dated.
And then she'd started dating Dean – and the thing was, it wasn't bad at first. Dean was one of those reliable, sturdy blokes. Sure he was kinda harsh, fucking jaded, but who the fuck wasn't in their neighbourhood? Dean didn't have a criminal record, didn't have trouble with the law, a lot of people looked up to him. Or seemed to look up to him. All in all, he seemed decent.
Eventually they'd figured it wasn't because Dean was a good guy – he was just good at making other people take the blame. Dean always had this band of rapid dogs around him that he somehow always managed to make look slightly worse than he himself was. He was the ring leader, urging everyone else on, fanning the flames. And when they did something that went just a bit too far, there was always someone with a record to blame.
Like Eggsy himself, for example.
Slowly it got worse. There were times when it got… bad. Dean got worse with the drink, with his fucking temper, with everything. And as it got worse, Eggsy and Michelle got worse with it, got worried and fearful and nervous and that made Dean worse in turn and then there were beatings. Dean, blaming them for being afraid of him, for being skittish. Just fucking messed up, all of it. A few times the only thing keeping Dean from beating Michelle to death was Eggsy, standing in his way.
So, yeah. Eggsy wasn't surprised about any of it. He fucking wishes he was. But all he is, in the end, is just resigned because, well. It was bound to happen sooner or later.
He arranges his mother's funeral in this half daze – a simple thing, next to no ceremony, she'd never been that religious. A few of her friends will be there, some of his, nothing much. No relatives, though. They didn't have any of those left. Some words would be said and then she'd be buried and that… would be it.
"And that will be enough?" Hart asks later, when Eggsy goes over the funeral plan in his living room.
"No. No it fucking won't," Eggsy mutters, running a hand over his face and staring at Daisy, who's going to grow up without a mum and with a dad in jail for the murder of said mum. That sort of fucks him up most about all of it – Eggsy got a couple of decades with Michelle, there were good times. Daisy just got a lot of shouting and then fucking nothing.
Hart looks between him and the baby. "Do you need some time, Eggsy?" he asks cautiously.
"I really don't," Eggsy says and shakes his head. Time never fixes anything. What he needs is to keep busy. Get it done. "Just… I'll get this over with and then… figure out the whole valet thing."
"Alright," Hart says, slow, watchful. "If you say so."
Hart of course butts into the funeral in the end, standing beside Eggsy and Daisy, clasping his ever-present umbrella in both hands and just being so fucking out of place amidst the other funeral crowd, in his posh suit and everything. Ain't no one else with a suit.
"Fuck this," Eggsy murmurs against Daisy's woolen cap and his breath hitches because, because… because they're throwing dirt over his mother's coffin and he still doesn't know what the fuck to do with that. What the fuck is he supposed to do now? "Just… fuck this."
"Right," Hart says and rests a hand on Eggsy's shoulder. "Come along now, there's a good man."
"Fuck you," Eggsy answers, wipes at his eyes, and goes along.
Eggsy's not stupid and Harry Hart is no fucking tailor.
Not that he ever actually believed that the man was a tailor – no fucking tailor can spring a murder suspect out of lockup just like that, all the while arranging the unnervingly speedy guardianship arrangements for said murder suspect's sister.
There's also the thing about social workers – mainly the fact that no one seems to have much inclination about getting up in Eggsy's face on Daisy's account. In his experience, that's not quite how shit like this works, people are supposed to do check ups and investigations and be a general nuisance about it. Someone should've at least questioned Eggsy's suitability or something. But apparently when Hart is involved, shit like that just isn't necessary.
And sure, all of that could've just been Hart being rich as fuck and having loads of influence or some shit – but yeah, Eggsy doesn't buy it. Nor does he buy the idea that a fucking tailor would have to travel a lot, the way Hart does. And he does travel – less than a week into their little arrangement, and Hart is away for four days straight and Eggsy's pretty sure the stains on his collar when he comes back are not, in fact, lipstick.
And then there is the fact that during those four days Eggsy had all the time in the world to poke around the house and figure out why it was so fucking weird. And it was weird. It was off.
"See, Daisy-baby?" Eggsy asks, pointing at one of the walls. "Four inches off alignment. Now why would that be, hm?"
Eggsy has done enough burglaring in his life to know house layouts pretty good – it's one of the first things he does when he goes to a new house, whether or not he's casing to rob it. He checks out the lay of the house, the placement of entrances and exists, walls and handy shadowy corners. He'd done it with Hart's house too and he has to admit – it took him a while to see it, see that some walls were too thick considering what they were made of, and that there were several square meters of floor space just… missing.
Oh it was all so very cleverly hidden with all the snobby finery and all that, hidden behind curtains and fancy decorations, walls full of nice paintings, but the fucking layout of the house doesn't work right. Either the people who made it fucked up a lot, in pretty much every room, in fact, or…
Eggsy knocks along the wall, idly, bouncing Daisy gently as he goes, and then stops. There. It's very minute, the difference in sound – the surface is the same, and it's been muffled from inside with something, but there's a different echo to it inside the wall. "That, baby, would be a hidden safe," he says to his sister, knocking his knuckles along it on the wall until he has the gist of its size down. It's big too. "Hidden in a hallway wall. That's a first."
That would've been pretty much fine, though – people generally liked to hide their safes. Except, there's a hidden safe in every bloody room – even in the goddamn bathroom, behind Mr. Pickles, whose little stand actually swings to the side on hinges and that's almost too weird for Eggsy. And in Hart's office, there is probably a whole hidden room, behind the wall of Sun headlines.
All told there are eight safes in the house and at least two small hidden rooms. All very interesting stuff.
It takes so much fucking effort not to break into each and every one of them. But he doesn't. Because whatever Hart is aside… the man's decent. And Eggsy has a surprisingly, weirdly good thing going on here – and he really doesn't want to fuck it up now that he's actually figuring the whole thing out.
But damn… it's tempting as fuck.
So, Eggsy might not be like all those butlers and valets on the telly with perfect poise and expressionless faces and zero fucks to give – he doesn't have a fancy penguin suit to wear and the only gloves he has are for bad weather. But being a valet – or being Harry Hart's valet – isn't actually hard.
After the initial confusion passes and he starts to figure out what Hart really wants from him, it gets a bit easier.
Hart expects the house to be clean – which isn't that difficult to do, thanks to Hart having a sweetly quiet vacuum cleaner and enough chemicals in his cleaning closet to make a fucking bomb with. Eggsy dusts the surfaces and keeps the kitchen polished and the bathroom smells of fucking flowers when he's done with it – and it's easy enough to get into a rhythm of doing it every day too. It takes about three hours to go over the whole house, from top to bottom, but considering how much he's being paid for it… it's three hours well spend.
Hart, eventually, expects him to do all the cooking. Turns out that though Hart is not bad with a skillet himself, he doesn't enjoy the task much – "It's a valuable skill, but there are other things I'd much rather do with my time," the man says. He'd rather sit in his office and do whatever he did for his not-a-tailor job. That's fine, though, because Eggsy's very much not against getting proper warm meals on a regular basis.
As a valet he probably shouldn't be eating those meals with his boss – like, that's not what valets do on the telly, they keep their little servant lives and servant needs nice and separate from their posh masters' lives and needs. But it's not like Hart has servants' quarters and besides, Eggsy doesn't give a fuck. If he cooks, he fucking eats too. And he cooks pretty damn well too, graduating from stir-fry's to a variety of soups and even trying his hand at roasting. Hart never complains, and Eggsy counts that as a fucking win.
One thing Eggsy doesn't like is the fact that, eventually, Hart expects him to get up before him, cook him his breakfast and of course make him his damn tea. Eggsy is very much not a morning person, and getting up at seven fucking a.m. to cook is not his idea of fun. But then, Daisy usually wakes up around six so… fuck it.
"Do you want me to lay out your fucking suit too?" he gripes at Hart one such morning, Daisy dozing off on his shoulder as he serves the man tea one handed – multitasking like a boss.
"How kind of you – the chalk striped one, if you would," Hart says, all smiles at Eggsy's muttered cursing as he unfolds the day's paper – he actually reads the fucking Sun, too. "Also, I will have guests over tonight, co-workers of mine, so if you could prepare a dinner for three, that would be lovely."
"Right. How fancy you want it?" Eggsy asked, juggling in his head the logistics. Well, it wouldn't be that different from cooking for two, and the internet would have his back anyway. "Because I'm still a ways from three course dinners, you know."
"A single course will do, and I want it greasy and disgusting," Hart smiles and then considers it again. "There will most likely be quite a bit of drinking happening, however," he adds and gives him an apologetic smile. "There usually is. Would that be a problem?"
"You're going to get shitfaced with your mates?" Eggsy asks, grinning at the thought. That would be a sight to behold, straight laced and proper Harry Hart just smashed. "I'd pay to see that."
"Eggsy," Hart says, meaningfully and looks at Daisy.
Eggsy looks at her as well, where she's idly gnawing on his hoodie and leaving drool smears everywhere. "Yeah," he agrees. "So I guess I make the food, set everything up and then fuck off for the night?" he asks. "It's fine – I'll go hang out with my mates or something."
That makes Hart frown a little. "That's not necessary," he says. "I merely intended you to take care to keep the little lady on the upper floor."
"Hm," Eggsy hums. Truth be told, he doesn't really feel like going to see his mates anyway, not with Daisy in tow. Though there's been texts and shit, he hasn't seen pretty much anyone from home since coming to Hart's house and… Jamal and Ryan are good people, but they're not kid people. Plus Jamal lives with his dad who doesn't like Eggsy one fucking bit and Ryan smokes like a fucking steam engine. It's not something Eggsy's all that eager to expose Daisy to, now that she's out of the house of second hand smoking that was their flat in the council estate.
"Well, I guess I can take her out for a walk if it gets noisy or some shit," Eggsy shrugs. "So, greasy and disgusting?" he confirms with a snort.
"And lot of it, if you would," Hart agrees, smiling.
Another funny thing about Hart is that he doesn't really eat like Eggsy thought posh gits did. Sure he has table manners fit for the fucking queen and he gets that look whenever Eggsy does something that's not proper during their shared meals. But the actual food?
While Hart's not exactly vocal about what he doesn't like whenever Eggsy tries a new recipe, he is very appreciative of what he does like. And what he likes is fucking high in carbs. He likes pasta over pretty much everything else, every meal should include bread, whatever deserts he eats should be baked and wheaty and so on.
The man will eat whatever Eggsy puts in front of him – and usually he asks for seconds. But praise is reserved for the things that make house moms cringe and check their waist lines. And with that amount of carbs it really should show somewhere… except it doesn't. Harry Hart is fit as fuck.
Not that Eggsy's checked him out.
Still. The man eats like a fucking athlete – and Eggsy should know because he almost became one. He even starts using the half-forgotten knowledge about athlete's diets to add a bit more flair into the cooking, and Hart fucking loves it. Everything from the nutty, bread filled salads to the shake Eggsy makes first for shits and giggles just to see the man drink using a straw, but then again because the man actually asks for it.
How the man is burning all the calories though, that's the question – because he definitely is, has to be, otherwise he'd be filling the suits all wrong by now.
It would be interesting to see if Hart's mates were the same.
"I need to visit the store to get everything," Eggsy says thoughtfully, rubbing Daisy's back distractedly, trying to imagine it. Two other people like Harry Hart. Fucking Christ.
"You know where the car keys are," Hart says, and sips his tea.
The night's dinner is oven roasted potatoes with garlic and carrots, with a bit of chicken on the side. Eggsy makes a salad to go along with it and calls himself pretty much ready. Hart sets the table himself, though – which is a first, but then he apparently has to set out all the glasses and shit just right in preparation for the getting shitfaced portion of the evening.
"How much do you guys drink?" Eggsy asks incredulously, when Hart starts bringing out the bottles. Lots of bottles. Lots of fancy expensive looking bottles. "Jesus, there's enough booze here to put a man in a coma."
"Just about enough, then," Hart says, turning one of the bottles and checking the label thoughtfully – some fancy red wine, or something. "It'll do," he then says and sets the bottle down – and in that moment, the doorbell sounds. Eggsy hesitates, glancing at Hart who calmly straightens a fork on the table.
"Should I fuck off upstairs now?" Eggsy asks.
"And who'll serve the food if you do?" Hart asks, and then heads off to open the door. Eggsy can hear him greeting someone, hear their muffled chatting and then the door closing, and wonders if he should be there, taking the guest's jacket or some shit.
This whole valet thing was just… so fucking weird.
He heads to the kitchen instead to check the food – which sits nice and ready in the oven, waiting to be served. After fiddling with the salad a bit, Eggsy takes out his phone. The live stream from the baby monitor in Daisy's crib shows her sleeping peacefully under the baby blanket, binky lying beside her head, abandoned. Grinning Eggsy leans onto the counter and just watches his baby sister sleep, happy and safe in his nice, sound proofed room.
Fuck, but he loves that Daisy can just do that – can be at peace and safe here, no noise to bother her.
"Eggsy?" Hart calls from the dining room. "Could you bring us some tea please?"
"Yeah, yeah," Eggsy says and quickly pushes the phone back in his pocket. He makes the tea to Hart's precise specifications, adds a dish of fresh lemon, sets it all on one of the several fancy trays Hart owns, and then carries it to the dining room. And there he sees Hart's mate number one.
It is of course a posh git in a fucking suit.
"Huh," the man says at the sight of Eggsy, looking him up and down and turning at Hart incredulously. "Well this is interesting. Harry, since when do you have –"
"A valet," Hart cuts him off, motioning Eggsy forward. "James, this is Eggsy Unwin, my new valet. Eggsy, James Lance. We work together."
"At a tailor shop, right," Eggsy says and smothers the urge to roll his eyes as he sets the tray down. "Nice to meet you, or something," he says as he dishes out the plates and cups just like Hart has taught him to do via frowns and displeased little grimaces whenever he'd gotten it wrong. Surprisingly good tutelage that, learning by error.
"Unwin," Lance says, looking between Eggsy and Hart with an odd look about his face. "Any relation to Lee Unwin?"
That makes Eggsy pause and look at the man more closely. "Yeah, that's my dad," he says slowly and then glances at Hart, frowning.
"Jesus. I knew he had a child, but… didn't realise you'd be this old already," Lance shakes his head and stands up and then he fucking offers his hand to Eggsy. "Your father and I were in training together. He was a good man."
"Saved your life too, yeah?" Eggsy asks, but takes the hand, shaking it firmly.
"That he did, that he did, and I'm still very grateful for it, I assure you," Lance nods and turns to Hart, giving him a look. "Harry, you made Lee's kid into your valet?"
"It seemed like the best solution for a… tricky situation," Hart says, sitting down and taking the tea cup Eggsy had served up. "I don't suppose we have anything to nibble on while we wait?" he then asked Eggsy rather wistfully, which probably had something to do with the food smell wafting about.
"There's probably something, yeah," Eggsy shrugs and heads back to the kitchen to check the cupboards for something to nibble. He lays out a plate of biscuits and cake and carries it out for Hart and Lance, and Harry accepts it with a fleeting smile.
"Eggsy," Lance says thoughtfully. "That's a very interesting name. I don't suppose it's your real name?"
"It's Gary, actually, but no one's ever called me anything but Eggsy," Eggsy shrugs, hovering about the table uneasily, not sure what he's supposed to do now. If it was just Hart he would've already pulled up a chair and sat down.
"Hm. I suppose it's very memorable," Lance hums. "So, Eggsy, tell me, how do you like it in Harry's employment?"
"Could be worse, I guess," Eggsy shrugs, and doesn't say what he actually thinks, that it was damn sight better than being fucking homeless – which he might've been otherwise. It's not something he particularly wants to talk about. "So, training with my dad?" Eggsy asks. "You were in the army too, yeah?"
"Something like that, yes," Lance says, smiling.
"What was he like then?" Eggsy asks, tentative and curious because it's one thing to hear about it from Hart who'd been his dad's superior – this guy was an equal. That's different.
"Lee was… very skilled, top of the class," Lance says almost wistfully. "Quite likeable, once you got to know him – which I'm sad to say, not many did. He was very perceptive too, never missed a thing. Which was good for us, I suppose, in the end. It was a damn pity, what happened. We lost a very good man that day."
"Yes, we did," Hart agrees darkly, eying his tea cup and the silence sits heavy between them.
It's broken by the beeping of Eggsy's phone, followed by a baby's cry. While Lance jerked back with surprise, Eggsy quickly digs it out – Daisy has woken up and is squirming and wailing in her crib, getting louder by the moment.
"'Scuse me," Eggsy says without looking at the gents and walks out of the dining room without another word. It might've not been what a valet was supposed to do in company or some shit, but fuck it if Eggsy cares. One of the unspoken agreements between him and Hart is that Daisy is always Eggsy's first priority.
She's gotten up to a proper howl by the time he gets to her. "Aww, baby," Eggsy croons at her as he picks her up from the crib, gently supporting her head and resting her against his chest. "Are we wet and nasty, then?" he asks, kissing her forehead as he checks her nappy. "Yep, we are. Let's take care of that, yeah?"
She wails through the cleaning and changing and all the way downstairs where Lance watches with slightly wider eyes as Eggsy saunters through the dining hall and into the kitchen to get Daisy a bottle. Hart follows him in, of course.
"I ain't going to apologise for her," Eggsy says, bouncing Daisy gently as he gets the formula from the fridge. "She's hungry and there ain't a microwave upstairs, you know. And you can just suck it."
"I don't expect you to apologise – I expect you to do as you must," Hart answers. "Do you need a hand?"
Eggsy snorts at that. Yeah, right. "Get me a bottle, will you?" he says. Hart does so – goes as far as to prepare the formula, putting it in the microwave just the right amount of time before testing the temperature and handing the bottle over.
Funny how he's supposed to be the valet but should Daisy get cranky Hart becomes all helpful and shit. Eggsy's pretty sure the guy's totally fucking terrified of crying babies.
Lance watches them from the doorway, arms folded as he leans against the frame. "Who's the little one, then?"
"This is Daisy Unwin," Hart says and Eggsy looks up at him sharply. It had been Daisy Baker the last he'd looked.
"Indeed?" Lance asks, and makes the sort of definitely not judging you face that Eggsy hates. "She seems spirited."
"She's just hungry," Eggsy says and leans onto the counter, easing her around in his arms so that she can suckle more easily. She grumbles and whines a bit before accepting the teat, but eventually she quiets down. "There's my good girl," Eggsy murmurs to her. "There you go."
"This is getting more and more interesting by the moment," Lance muses thoughtfully, and then looks up as the doorbell rings. "Merl's here," he then says. "I'll just go and get the door, shall I?" and with that he leaves Eggsy and Daisy alone with Hart. Who's frowning at them.
Eggsy frowns right back at him. "Bruv, you're the one who took in a bloke with a baby," he points out. "Don't go getting all pissed about the side effects now – I fucking warned you."
The man gives him a look. "I don't mind, Eggsy," he says slowly.
"Like fuck you don't," Eggsy murmurs, kissing the downy side of daisy's forehead. "Go on," he then says, nodding at the dining room door. "I'll feed her and put her in a basket and get the food and shit in a moment. And then me and Daisy can bugger off to our room and we won't be a fucking bother."
Hart hesitates and then nods, and leaves the kitchen,
"Fucking shit," Eggsy murmurs at Daisy, and tries not to listen to Hart and his mates talking in the dining room. Daisy Unwin, though…
He likes the sound of that.
Hart's mate number two isn't wearing a suit, which is a welcome surprise, though he still has a dress shirt and a tie and everything under his sweater. And there is, of course, that poshness about him that sort of implies that he's not a stranger to bespoke suits either.
"You must be Eggsy," he says, and he doesn't even blink at Daisy in Eggsy's arms. "Pleasure to meet you. My name is Merlin."
"Really?" Eggsy asks with a little laugh. "Like Arthur and knights of the round table, Merlin?"
"Unfortunately yes," the bald man says with a sigh.
"You knew he was here?" Lance asks, pointing a spoon at Eggsy as he looks at Merlin. "You actually knew. How come I didn't know?"
"You were in Chechnya, James," Hart says calmly, stirring his tea.
"Well, that's no reason to keep a fellow out of the loop," Lance says, sounding actually affronted.
Eggsy looks between them and then at Merlin. "I suppose you knew my dad too then?" he asks and okay... that's getting a bit weird now maybe. And suspicious.
"I did," Merlin says, looking at him thoughtfully and then he doesn't say anything, turning to the others instead and sitting down. "You didn't invite others, Harry," he comments, looking meaningfully at Hart.
"I did not quite feel like hosting a large gathering today," Hart answers, sipping his tea. "And I didn't feel like dealing with Arthur today."
"You don't feel like dealing with Arthur any day, if I recall," Lance comments, giving him a look.
"I really don't, no," Hart agrees.
Eggsy leaves them to talk whatever they're talking about alone and goes to check the food. Daisy's finally starting to settle down, so he lays her in the basket, rocking her a bit until she starts dozing off properly, and then he goes to check if the gents would like to eat now. They would indeed.
And they are indeed all like Hart, when it comes to food – Lance fucking perks up when Eggsy brings out the food. Merlin seems a bit more conservative about his enthusiasm, but he seems somehow relieved.
"Do you know, Harry usually gets catering?" Lance says, as Eggsy serves the food. "Not that I have anything against catering, it's just not quite the same as home cooked food. And this looks… delightfully greasy."
"You people are weird as fuck," Eggsy mutters.
"Too many meals in high class, fashionable restaurants, I suppose," Hart says calmly, smiling as Eggsy hands him his usual serving size – the plate's barely big enough for it.
"The servings are absolutely minuscule," Merlin agrees, shaking his head.
Eggsy snorts, and makes sure that everyone gets plenty of food. "Well, there's enough for seconds," he promises. "Ain't no one going hungry in this house."
So yeah. Hart's friends are just as weird as he is.
Hart's friends make very polite drunkards, Eggsy finds as soon as the night progresses through the dinner – which everyone compliments to the point where Eggsy gets the impression they're all on forced low carb diets or something. Though he takes the precaution of taking Daisy back to her crib to make sure she wasn't in any danger, it doesn't really seem there was that big of a need to. These guys are nothing like Dean or his band of hounds, and definitely not like Eggsy either, when he gets drunk. He likes to think he's a funny drunk, but all his mates just call him a hilariously loud one. Nothing like these assholes.
As the first wine bottle is drunk and then another opened, the straight ties loosen and so do the polished accents. Merlin descends into a full Scottish burr, so thick at times that it's hard to actually understand, and the nearly forced tones of Lance's voice soften and every so often Eggsy can hear a bit of cockney in there. Just a bit. There's no rowdiness or shit like that, even as they get on with the bottles they stay polite as fuck about shit like that. Quiet and civil and so on. They all just sort of… loosen.
It's like an actual practical demonstration of "putting weight off his shoulders". Lance pushes his sleeves up and Hart actually loosens the tie completely after a while and Eggsy swears Merlin actually stretches out his legs and puts his feet up on the opposite chair from him at one point.
And the shit they talk about. It's literally the most boring shit imaginable. They actually talk about news headlines and the weather and someone's distant relations – Lance spends a while lamenting on some distant cousin of his that had just dropped out of school. Though Eggsy kind of really hoped to catch something about their actual jobs, they don't talk shop at all. Fuck, they talk anything but work stuff.
Eggsy cleans away the empty dishes, vaguely disappointed about not learning anything really interesting from their drunken babbling.
"Alright, I do believe I'm drunk enough," Merlin says, trying to straighten in his seat as he drains his wine glass. "Let's get on with it, then."
"Well certainly, since you're so enthusiastic about it," Hart says, snorting, and reaches back, towards the side table where the whiskey sits. He doesn't go for it, though, but for the drawer underneath from where he gets out a slim, wooden case. Eggsy leans in curiously, half suspicious that there would be like expensive Cuban cigars in it – but it isn't.
Inside there is a deck of playing cards, and poker chips. Actual shiny poker chips, sitting in neat rows in a tray and everything. Eggsy stares at them for a moment and then smothers the urge to face palm. These fucking gits are actually going to play poker. Of course they are.
"And how much are we putting in this time, gentlemen?" Hart asks, as he takes the chips out and stacks them in neat towers by colour. "Ten?"
"How about twenty? I'm feeling good tonight – I think I could start with twenty," Lance says, rubbing his hands together and leaning in. "And we'll see how it goes after I've cleaned the table."
"Twenty it is, James," Hart says with a shake of his head, and dishes out the chips – a few of this colour, a few of that, pushing them over to Lance who quickly arranges them into a neat line. "Merlin, how much are you in for?"
"Give me ten," the Scott answers, rubbing a hand over his chin. "I've cleaned you mad bastards with less, I think."
"Mm-hm," Hart answers with a smile. "And I'll go with twenty as well I think," he muses and then selects a number of chips himself. He considers the chips thoughtfully and the nods. "Yes, twenty will do."
"And what will be Eggsy's bid, then?" Lance asks, turning to look at Eggsy who's leaning in to see if the chips have any numbers in them. "How much are you putting forward?"
"What, me?" Eggsy asks and snorts. He has a feeling that they're talking sums at least up in the tens of thousands – if not more, fucking god. "I ain't got no money, bruv."
"Nonsense," Lance says and then turns to leer at Hart. "Harry can pitch in for you, can't you, Harry?"
"Pitch in for him yourself, since you seem to be so well in pocket," Hart answers, though he's giving Eggsy a thoughtful look. "Have you ever played poker, Eggsy?"
"Yeah," Eggsy shrugs. "Been a while, though."
"Ah, well. Might be for the best you sit this one out then," Lance says, shrugging. "Maybe next time, then. Something to look forward to."
"Actually, I think I'll pitch in for him," Merlin says suddenly, watching Eggsy thoughtfully. "With two. I want to see what he'll do."
"You're fucking shitting me," Eggsy says incredulously.
"Sit down, Eggsy," Merlin says, even as Hart pushes forth the chips – two yellow ones and four blue ones. Compared to the other's stacks of reds and yellows which are obviously the more valuable chips, it's kind of lame.
"What the fuck am I supposed do with these?" Eggsy asks with scoff, poking at the tiny tower of blues. It barely even wobbles. Yeah, definitely lame.
"You play," Hart says with a smile, and takes out the deck of cards. "Do sit down, Eggsy. Don't shame your gracious benefactor by refusing his support, now."
Eggsy sits down with a sigh and resigns himself to this… whatever this is. Well, maybe they're not actually playing for actual money. Yeah. Fucking right. "What poker are we playing?" he asked.
"Standard five card draw," Hart answers while he shuffles the cards expertly, and then starts dealing them out.
It's pretty intimidating, sitting across from these… mildly drunken but still so fucking posh men, and their high towers of chips. Eggsy shifts in his seat and pulls out his phone, setting it on the table so that if Daisy's monitor goes off he won't miss it. Then he checks his cards. They, of course, suck. Fucking wonderful.
Rolling his shoulders, Eggsy settles in for a short, brutal game.
Then he find out that Hart has the worst tells he's ever seen, Lance can't bluff worth shit and Merlin is probably trying to count the fucking cards. Whatever these guys actually are and whatever they actually do for living, they're probably not from a big time poker syndicate, that's for damn certain.
"Fucking nutters, all of you," Eggsy grumbles while staring at the three cheques that had been written the night previous – that he'd witnessed being written the night previous. One from Harry Hart – for thirteen thousand and five hundred pounds. One from James Lance, for fifteen thousand and two hundred and fifty pounds. And one from a scribble which was probably Merlin, for seven thousand pounds. The rest of the money had gone to Merlin who Eggsy had played into the late hours of the night until Lance had gotten bored watching them shuffle the chips back and forth and decided to call it a night.
Thirty five thousand, seven hundred and fifty fucking pounds.
"Fucking nutters," Eggsy says again and looks up at Hart who's nursing a vegetable shake and a hangover with all the graveness of a martyr. "This ain't real, is it?"
"I'm afraid it is very real," Hart answered, rubbing at the corner of his eye and sighing. Then he smiles. It looks fucking painful. "Merlin usually cleans out the lot of us without much trouble – it was delightful to see him having some trouble."
"Tch," Eggsy answers. Delightful. They'd all stared at him like he was a fucking alien or something, Lance making these aborted what the actual fuck gestures at Hart who'd just stared and then there was Merlin himself. The man was fucking terrifying, no matter how much he drank, the hawk-stare never softened. Hell, it got worse as the night went on.
"What the fuck am I supposed to do with all of this?" Eggsy asks, motioning at the cheques.
"Put it in a bank account, I suppose," Hart says and then looks at him over the pint of green sludge. He eyes the slips of extremely money worthy paper thoughtfully. "Though I suppose you're now well enough in pocket to leave my employment, seek out different accommodations for yourself…"
Eggsy lets out a sort of strangled sound at that and stares at the cheques again. Thirty five thousand fucking pounds. He can leave, can't he? It's enough money to buy a fucking place for him and Daisy. Well… not in London maybe, not anything bigger than a fucking post stamp, but maybe somewhere else. If nothing else, he definitely could get a flat if he wanted to. Could get a lot of things.
"Jesus fuck, you and your fucking mates," Eggsy grumbles, running a hand over his face. It's the sort of money he'd always wished he had, and now that he had it, he had no fucking clue what to do with it. He could get a car like he'd always wanted to. Fuck, he could get anything. Go travelling, go around the fucking world. Get all sorts of expensive shit if he wanted to.
Well, not that expensive, thirty five thousand wasn't a fucking million. Still, it's just so fucking much.
Hart watched him for a moment and then hummed. "If you're open to suggestions – put as much of it as you can into a savings account," he says. "Or if you're at all interested, perhaps invest some. It may seem like quite a lot of money now, but money has the tendency of wearing out fast when you get to spending it."
"I know fuck all about investing," Eggsy says, looking up. "But a savings account or some shit. I could… I could do that, yeah," he nods and then looks at the money. "Um. Do I have to pay taxes for this or something?" he then asks, eyes widening. "I mean… shit, I won it in a poker game – pretty sure that's illegal. How the fuck do I actually cash these in?"
"There is no tax on these," Hart assures him. "Not unless one of us dies within the next seven years, then you might have to pay an inheritance tax. I can talk you through the process, perhaps even educate you on the art of investment if you're interested – or you might simply hire a stock broker. My own is not too bad, if somewhat expensive."
"Shit," Eggsy mutters. Thirty five fucking thousand, for fuck's sake. "Yeah, sure."
Hart smiles and sips his shake. "So," he says. "Aside from that, what do you think you will do with this money?"
Eggsy takes a deep breath and then leans back. "I wanna put some aside for Daisy, just in case," he says, eying the cheques. "And then I'll get some new shit for her, I guess – she's growing out of her clothes."
"And…" Hart trails off and glances around. His arches his eyebrows. "Do I get to keep my valet?"
Eggsy turns to look at him. Hart looks fucking ridiculous standing there, in his fucking velvet bath robe, wincing at the lights. He could leave, go on his own way, get a place, get Daisy nice and settled into their own home. But…
Being in Hart's employment had made him, while not rich, at least moderately wealthy. And there was still a shit ton of things he wanted to figure out. Like all the fucking safes and shit. And besides – he's just starting to figure the valet thing out anyway.
"Yeah," Eggsy says after a while. "I'm staying."
And it's actually pretty fucking ace – to stay because he wants to, rather than because he's financially fucked and has to.
Hart helps him set all the shit up – savings account, tiny little trust fund for Daisy, and then while Eggsy cleans the kitchen the man talks him through the tricky bits of investing which seems to be half maths, half insider information and a shit ton of luck.
"There's some skill involved, in keeping an eye open for those circumstances that may alter the world's situation," Hart says, leafing through the business section of the Times. "I only rarely do my own investing, but whenever I think a situation is about to change – say, if the political situation in the Middle East shifts, which tends to lead to fluctuation in oil prices – then I might dabble a bit in the markets myself."
"Sounds fucking complicated," Eggsy says, scrubbing the pan he'd made the baked potatoes on – the food had been excellent, and it had also burned onto the fucking pan. "That how you made your money?"
"In part – it's how I maintain it, these days," Hart answers. "I gained it by the way of inheritance, originally."
No fucking surprise there, but at least Hart wasn't unbearable like some other trust fund babies Eggsy had the pleasure of meeting. Hart is more of the classy old money kind of guy, rather than the privileged boarding school dickhead riding on daddy's money.
"Where did you learn to play poker like that, Eggsy?" Hart asks then, not looking up from the paper.
"Here and there," Eggsy shrugs, frowning. He'd learned to play at the feet of some of his mother's boyfriends – one of whom was huge on online gambling, so much so that he'd pretty much wasted all of his mother's money in the two months they'd been together. Poker was the easy bit, he knew – it wasn't exactly a complicated game. It was the people playing it that made it complex – that's why the gambler-boyfriend had player real people face to face so rarely. Because he couldn't read people worth shit.
Eggsy, though… there was a time Eggsy robbed people pretty much for living, after his mum's latest shitty boyfriend, and before Dean. You learn to read people pretty good, when the food on your table literally depended on the contents of their pockets. And you learn to hide yourself too – tells in poker are bad enough, but tells while pick pocketing someone tend to get you punched.
"You're very good," Hart comments.
"No, you guys are just shit. Except for Merlin – he was fucking tough," Eggsy shakes his head. "Wouldn't want to play him sober."
"No one does," Hart says, still looking at him, unreadable expression on his face – then he glances away as the familiar cry of a baby sounds through the house. Daisy. "She's awake more now," Hart comments, as Eggsy quickly washes his hands and dries them.
"She's growing," Eggsy shrugs. "Bit by bit she'll sleep less. It'll still be a couple months before she starts finding a proper rhythm."
Hart arches his eyebrows. "Indeed? You seem well informed."
"Bruv, most of what I do around this damn house is online research. I have actual fucking accounts on something like half a dozen baby forums," Eggsy snorts, and heads off to get Daisy. She's woken up wet again, and Eggsy quickly goes through the business of changing her. After getting her clean, he settles her securely in his arms and then heads back to the kitchen, babbling softly to her as he goes.
"There's a good girl, baby," he murmurs, as she quiets down into a quiet grumble. "No need to be crying, is there? No reason at all. I promise there will be enough time to cry once you have to figure this investing shit out, yeah?"
Hart is still there, still in his velvet bathrobe. He straightens up at the sight of the baby, putting the newspaper aside. It never stops being hilarious.
"That thing you said yesterday, 'bout her being Daisy Unwin," Eggsy says thoughtfully. "That for real?"
"No, not quite. But I can make it real," Hart says, watching him and Daisy. "If you want."
"I want, yeah," Eggsy says, looking down at Daisy. She looks up, making aborted mouth noises, blowing soft little raspberries. Fucking cutie, she is.
He's not going to be taking any chances with her. He's not going to be stupid about it. Daisy's his baby sister, but the thing is… he's the only parent she's going to have. Michelle's dead and Dean's never going to get a hand on her if Eggsy has anything to do with it. Shit like that weights on you. Eggsy doesn't want Daisy to be that kid who has to face those questions and try and come up with explanations.
Where's your dad, why don't you have a dad, where's your mum, and shit like that. Nor does he want her to have to answer the question why does she have a different name than her… well. Her dad.
"I want the whole thing," Eggsy says, looking up. "I don't want there to be any chance of Dean or anyone getting her, yeah? That's possible, innit?"
"It's possible," Hart says, folding his arms and watching Daisy thoughtfully. "Mr. Baker is going to be in jail for a very long time, chances are it will never be an issue. But steps might be taken to assure that your guardianship remains undisputed."
"I want that done, then," Eggsy says. "Hell, I can even pay for it now."
"That's not necessary," Hart says fondly and then glances at his watch. "I think I'll head to the shop for the rest of the day. I should have everything settled for you before tonight."
"You're the guvnor, bruv."
All in all though, nothing much really changes. Eggsy has a bit more money, most of which he's fucking terrified to use because… well, he's just not used to actually having money. Every time he looks at something even a bit more expensive, he has this mental freeze of I can't get that, that's too fucking expensive. Even when he can afford it, easily, he stops and squirms internally.
It's fucking weird. Always he'd thought that if he got cash he'd go on a spending spree – but no, fuck, he's never felt more stingy in his fucking life.
He gets Daisy some new clothing, and even buys a stroller, a nice one too that he can put the baby car seat into without too much fuss. It makes shopping much easier, that's for certain, though the price still makes him weirdly guilty. Still, it's for Daisy. He can definitely splurge a bit on Daisy.
He can't get much for himself though. Not that he can't think of shit to buy – the newest Vphone tempts the fuck out of him, definitely, and he keeps going about the tech store and staring at laptops. The tablet Hart gave him is nice and fast as fuck, but a laptop would be something else. And maybe a flat screen telly for his room, so that he can watch whatever he wants without bothering Hart in the living room. In the end he doesn't get either of them.
And that's… mostly it for the money. Well, he idly pokes around the net for investment tips, but he doesn't put any money in it just yet. Hart's investment broker has a chunk of his money already and it's about as much as Eggsy is willing to risk for now – but it's sort of interesting, trying to predict the highs and lows of the market.
In Hart's house nothing changes.
Eggsy wakes up every morning around six and after spending some time with Daisy, usually starting the day with a bath with her, he cooks breakfast before waking Hart up. While the man's eating and reading the newspapers, Eggsy picks out the man's suit, tie and shoes for the day – a task which Hart is leaving more and more up to him because he's a lazy fuck when he wants to be. Then, while Hart's off wherever doing whatever, Eggsy spends three hours every day cleaning the house, dusting surfaces, scrubbing the kitchen and the bathroom, vacuuming and mopping as needed.
He makes lunch, usually just for himself but sometimes for Hart as well if the man's around, and then he spends the rest of the day researching or just mucking about with Daisy. Mostly they just lie about the living room floor, Daisy wiggling around and trying to figure out what the world is while Eggsy watches telly or pokes around online. Sometimes they go out for walks, if the weather's nice. It's freaking hilarious in Hart's neighbourhood – the people there will probably never stop being outraged by him. Eggsy wastes time however strikes his fancy until it's time to make dinner for Hart. He tries out new recipes as the inspiration strikes him, even dabbles in baking a bit just for the hell of it. Sometimes in the evening he draws a bath for Hart. And that's his day, more or less.
How the fuck this is his life now, he has no idea.
Lance comes around a week or so after the poker incident, and he and Hart spend a couple of hours in Hart's study – Eggsy doesn't know what they're on about because the office has the best sound proofing in the house. It seems serious, though.
"Hullo there, Eggsy," Lance greets him in the living room after they're done with whatever they'd been talking about. "Still working for Harry, I see."
Eggsy shrugs. "It's a living," he says, not bothering to get up from where he is, on the floor with Daisy beside him.
"You owe me a poker game, young man – and I fully intend to retrieve the money you so callously stole from me," the man says only half seriously. "We simply must have another round when I come back."
"You going somewhere?"
"Hm. Business trip, you know how it is," Lance smiles and glances at Hart, who's leaning against the door frame. "It shouldn't take longer than a week, perhaps two. With any luck it will all be handled quite swiftly and then we can have another splendid gathering, hm? I haven't been able to stop thinking about that meal since that night. It was simply delightful."
"I'm sure Eggsy wouldn't mind cooking for us again," Hart says, glancing at Eggsy with some amusement. "Not quite as certain about the poker, however. There's limit to how many hits a man's ego can suffer, and trying to play against just Merlin is bad enough."
"Ego, you? A gentleman like you is entirely too polite to have an ego," Lance snorts and Hart accepts that with a slight smile and a somewhat resigned nod. Grinning a bit, Lance looks at Eggsy. "Well then. I look forward to cleaning you out, young man."
"You can try, old man," Eggsy snorts.
"Cheeky," Lance says, and then turns to Hart. "I'll see you when I get back, Harry."
"I suppose you will, yes," Hart sighs, shaking his head. "Happy hunting, James."
"Cheers," Lance says, and leaves, humming as he goes.
Eggsy and Hart look after him and then share a look as the front door closes after the man. "That guys is very… very…" he tries to find a word and shakes his head. "Very," he says, lamely.
"Very much so, yes," Hart agrees with some amusement.
"So, a business trip?" Eggsy asks, and picks up Daisy from the floor, as she's tired herself out and is starting to grumble. "You tailors and your business trips."
Hart glances at him and Eggsy stares at him, eyebrows raised. There's a moment of staring contest with Daisy's soft, mumbled babbling hanging in the air between them. Then Hart smiles, sweet and soft. "So, what's for dinner tonight?"
"Lies and deception," Eggsy answers flatly and stands up.
It'd hard to say which is more annoying – the fact that Hart is so fucking obvious about all the weird stuff, or the fact that he won't come out and say it straight. If the guy's actually trying to hide that there's some strange shit going on, he's doing a pretty damn shitty job at it – and if he's not trying to hide it then fuck it, why not come out and just say it?
Eggsy signed the damn confidentiality contracts, too – he could've kept the damn secret.
He figures in the end that it's just Hart being a bit of a bastard – the man certainly seems to get a kick out of winding Eggsy up. Be it with ordering him around oh so nicely or tripping him up with oh so polite agreements to the most outrageous suggestions, the man just fucking loves making him trip over his own feet. Eggsy once half jokes that one of these days Hart was going to have him fucking shave for him on top of everything else, and the guy's eyes fucking lit up. Eggsy got out of there fast that time, with the man fucking laughing after him. So yeah, Harry Hart is bit of a bastard.
Eggsy has a lot of theories about what the man actually is. He's pretty much ruled out criminal activities – well… some criminal activities. If Hart turned out to be part of some crime syndicate he wouldn't have been overly surprised about it, but he rather doubts it. Hart seems to be one of those strong moral fibre guys, always insinuating about being the better person, being kind and understanding and shit like that. Talking about what a gentleman ought to be like.
Superior to your former self, rather than to your fellow man. If Eggsy didn't know that there was a dead dog in Hart's bathroom, he might've actually taken all the shit the man said about that seriously. But it's really hard to take the man seriously when he's a fucking weirdo under all the finery. A very posh and polished weirdo, but he still has an office wallpapered with Sun front pages, so… yeah.
Whatever the guy is, normal he is not. He's not a tailor, he's not a business man, he's not really even a rich investor, though… actually he is, but that's not all he is. He's something else. Something that requires eight safes and two hidden rooms around the house, that made him sound proof his entire house, something that has him maintaining an athlete's physique under his three piece suits. Something weird.
He's probably not a serial killer though. At least Eggsy fucking hopes he isn't. Truthfully, he can't see how he could've hidden it from Eggsy, seeing that Eggsy was the one who took his clothes out to be dry cleaned. Blood stains are hard to hide.
Except… shit, there are blood stains, aren't there? Not very often, but now and then there's a drop of rusty brown near a cuff link when Eggsy goes about getting the dirty suits ready to be sent for laundering. And he's pretty sure once, after a two day business trip, Hart came back beaten up under his suit. The winces had been barely noticeable, but Eggsy knows intimately when it looks – and feels – like when a man's been punched in the kidneys one time too many.
So, a serial killer is a possibility, though honestly Eggsy's leaning more towards a hit man there – which is pretty ridiculous too. Hart is just so… genial. Sure there are times when he goes expressionless and hard eyed, but it's pretty rare.
Granted that might be because most of the time there's a babbling little baby present.
"I'll figure this out," Eggsy mutters, glaring at one of the walls that hides a safe – a safe which he is seriously contemplating breaking into. Daisy coos softly at him and he looks down at her. "I totally will," Eggsy says and presses machinegun kisses on her cheeks, grinning as she lets out a little gurgle. "Yeah. Just you wait, Harry Hart."
Daisy's surprised gurgle turns into what can only be described as a giggle and Eggsy stops to stare at her with astonishment. She looks at him expectantly, her eyes wide and grinning a little wider he kisses her again and hums. "Just you wait, Harry Hart, just you wait," he sings against her cheek as she shrieks with giggles. "You'll be sorry but your tears will be too late…"
It's the first time she's laughed and it's fucking infectious. Eggsy ends up singing pretty much the whole bloody song at her, swaying and cuddling her close as she babbles happily at him, slapping tiny hands against his cheeks as he croons to her.
"One day you'll be famous, you'll be proper and prim," he sings in the highest voice he can manage, absolutely fucking ridiculous and not caring one bit, because his baby is laughing and happy. "Go to St. James so often you'll call it St. Jim. One evening the queen will say, oh, Daisy, old thing. I want all of England your praises to sing…"
He nearly fucking jumps out of his skin when another voice suddenly joins him. "All the people will celebrate the glory of you..."
Eggsy whirls around, and there's Harry fucking Hart, leaning against the kitchen doorway with his arms folded, smiling at him. "...and whatever you wish and want I gladly will do," the man sings, not quite in baritone, but soft and smooth.
Eggsy just gapes at him, absolutely horrified.
Hart smiles a little wider. "You're full of surprises, Eggsy," he comments.
"You scared the shit out of me," Eggsy answers, relaxing the clutching hold he has on Daisy. "Jesus fuck, bruv. When did you get in?"
The man chuckles and then pushes away from the doorway. "Around the time you were promising to let me drown, I believe."
"I fucking would too," Eggsy grumbles.
"I'm sure you would," Hart agrees, amused and fucking fond, and heads back to the hall. "Could you make me some tea, please?" he calls back. "And perhaps another song to go with it. You have such a lovely voice, Eggsy."
Eggsy flushes bright red and calls back a very eloquent, "Fuck you!"
The man, of course, just fucking laughs at him.
Eggsy fucking hates taking Daisy for her checks ups. He fucking loves taking her for her check ups. There's two particular parts in the process that are so at odds with each other that it just… it messes up his whole day.
Because it's not at all like it was before – with his mum. His mum took care of Daisy okay, took her to her check ups, did everything she ought to – but she went to a different hospital, one that… well, it was good but it wasn't the best. It was the sort of hospital you could expect to see druggies at, expect to see a fight break out in the lobby, that short of shit.
Nowadays, well. Eggsy lives in a whole different part of the city, and while he could just take Hart's car and drive all the way to the old hospital, no fucking way is he going to. Because there's a much nicer one much nearer and Hart went and transferred Eggsy's and Daisy's records there on the first day or something. Besides, the care's better. The people are… nicer.
The people are posh as fuck.
Sitting there in the waiting room with all the happy established middle class mums with their infants and toddlers and whatnot, listening to them talk about their kids and their homes and their fucking husbands. They all always, always give him this look when he comes in, the sort of, Excuse me, are you perhaps lost? type of look. And then they scoot away from him if he happens to sit near and their noses scrunch up at Daisy, at the way he holds her, at everything.
There was precisely once when it wasn't bad and that was when one of the mums present was as uncomfortable as he was – a young business type bird who'd been in an excruciating conversation with this old fucking biddy. She fucking lit up at the site of Eggsy and practically bounced on him.
"If I hear another word about her dear old husband George who makes so much in the entertainment industry, you know, the internet," the bird, Jackie, muttered at Eggsy in exaggerated tones. She was chief executive in some transport company, busy as fuck and a single mum to boot, and apparently even less of a fan of the happy home life talk than Eggsy was. "I might kick her teeth in."
"I might help," Eggsy offered, and they exchanged baby forum contacts just before she went in and he was stuck waiting, with the woman who was now giving him these narrowed looks. Still, it was nice that there was one sensible parent there, every once in a while.
Mostly though, it was horrible. The judgement in the air was usually thick enough to fucking cut and once people even actually fucking whispered behind their hands, giving him sidelong looks. They probably got their drama-of-the-day kicks out of the whole thing, fucking Christ. Once, one of the lavender shaded, pearl adorned lovelies even went as far as to tell her son, loud and clear, not to get anywhere near Eggsy.
"Come away from there now, dear," she said, sniffing. "Don't bother the nice… man… now."
Like he was something dirty and offensive and might fucking stain them.
So yeah, not a fan of the sitting in the waiting room bit. There might've been no suspicious smells and no one was throwing up in the bathroom after a night of binge drinking, but honestly, at least the people from that waiting room weren't fucking cunts.
The doctors though, they were ace – there was one paediatrician there who did give Eggsy a narrow look when he came in, Eggsy switched to another one as soon as he could. The others were okay, and definitely good at their jobs. And in any case, Eggsy could easily deal with all the snooty bullshit just to make sure his baby was okay.
And mostly she was – they had to keep a close eye on her because she was off proper mum's milk so early, and didn't have the borrowed immunity stuff babies needed the first six months. But so far so good. He gets some donated milk from the hospital every time he goes, which boosts her immunity a bit, and the rest is careful monitoring and making sure that if something gets in, it gets treated as quick as possible.
"She's progressing along very well," the paediatrician says after all the measurements and tests and everything's been done and Eggsy's soothing poor poked and prodded Daisy with cuddles and kisses. "You'll be meeting new milestones faster from here on – she should be a bit more active now, taking a more active part in play time. Does she track objects yet?"
"Yeah, she does," Eggsy grins. He was pretty sure Daisy was a bit hooked on Hart's glasses – though it might've been the man's face in general. She'd taken to making grabby hands at him every time he got too near. "She's mimicking expressions a bit too."
"Excellent," the paediatrician says. "Now, you seem to have things well in hand so just keep doing what you've been doing – plenty of play and tummy time to strengthen her muscles. And watch out for any signs of listlessness, weaknesses – if she seems to go backwards in progress. Pretty much all the same things as before."
"Yeah," Eggsy nods, gets Daisy's updated file, and then heads out.
The part about taking Daisy for her check ups which Eggsy loves is heading out of the fucking place, seeing one of those snooty mums outside, and watching their faces when he heads for Hart's Aston Martin and drives off.
Eggsy is in the middle of making some lasagne – his first attempt at it, so far it's coming out pretty good – when Hart comes home. It's instantly obvious something's off because Hart almost slams the front door when he comes in – that is, it actually makes a sound, which usually with Hart it doesn't. The man's generally like a fucking mouse when he moves. But not today.
"We bangin' doors now?" Eggsy asks, when the man comes to the kitchen doorway, and then frowns. "Something wrong, bruv?" he asks at the look on the man's face.
"Could you pour me a glass of brandy, Eggsy? I'll be… right down," the man says, and walks off.
Yeah, something's fucking wrong. Eggsy scowls after him and then glances at Daisy who's happily tucked in a baby bouncer, swinging a soft, jingling ring around. Hart's usually more considerate of her, whenever he drinks – keeps it to his office, more often than not. Question is, is this a special occasion or is Hart starting to spiral down, like Dean did.
It always starts so fucking small.
Shaking his head, Eggsy glances at the oven and then gets out a glass and heads out to the dining room, pouring the brandy and setting it on a coaster on the table. Then he waits, arms crossed and watchful. It's fucking early in the evening too.
Hart comes down from the office after stashing his handgun away. His face is still off – hard and cold and tired – as he walks over to pick up the glass. Then he walks out again, out of the dining room and into the living room where he collapses on the couch, Eggsy following him cautiously.
"James died earlier today," the man says, and whatever Eggsy had been expecting, that wasn't it.
"What?" he asks sharply. "Wait, you mean Lance?"
Hart sighs and leans back against the couch cushions and doesn't say anything else.
"But… what, how?" Eggsy asks, as the words sink in. James Lance, whom he'd seen all of two times. Dead? Seriously? What the fuck? "Was it an accident or… what the fuck?"
Hart says nothing, just stares at the brandy glass. Then he looks up at Eggsy. "I am not in the best of moods right now, Eggsy, and I won't be good company," he says quietly. "Perhaps you should take Daisy out for the evening. Take her somewhere… else."
Eggsy scowls at that, watching him suspiciously. Then he marches over and takes the drink from Hart's hand. "Fuck you, bruv," he says, and walks out again, leaving Hart blinking after him as he walks back to the kitchen where he pours the drink out into the sink. Then he turns the oven off, grabs Daisy – gently – and then heads back.
"Eggsy, what the –" Hart says and then stops as Eggsy sits beside him.
"Don't you fucking do this to me," Eggsy says, tucking Daisy gently in his arms. "Misery drinking is the worst drinking there is. I ain't letting you start on it on my watch."
"Eggsy," Hart takes a breath, looking like he's about to start on something. But then he stops and looks at Daisy instead and shuts the fuck up. Eggsy feels a spark of oddly hollow satisfaction at that – fucking low, doing something like this, using Daisy to manipulate the man, but he don't give a fuck.
"How'd he die?" he asks, while Hart teeters on the edge of settling down.
"You know I won't tell you that," the man says, still watching him and Daisy.
"Yeah, because you're a bit of a twat," Eggsy mutters. "Fuck."
They sit in the most awkward silence for a moment, with Hart weirdly tense and watchful and Eggsy trying to figure out what to do. He knows now – he's done his fucking research – that part of the reason why some people just collapse is because there's no one there to push them up. He'd been too fucking young to do much about his mum's downward spiral and yeah he rather doubts that Hart's all that inclined to go the same way. But he's not taking any fucking chances with him.
It was obvious Lance and Hart had been friends for a fucking long time. Hell, maybe they'd even been fucking for all Eggsy knew. They'd been close anyway. There's little that messes people up better than losing something like that. Eggsy might've not known Lance for long, but it'd been pretty damn obvious the man was easy to like. And Hart, judging by the looks of it, didn't have that many mates.
Just the one now.
"Hey," Eggsy says, nudging at Hart's elbow. "Tell me something about him. Like shit you can tell me."
Hart hesitates, looking away. "He was a bit of a twat too," he says then.
"Yeah, I figured that out. Anything else?"
Hart lets out a sigh and leans forward, resting his elbows on his knees. The line of his shoulders is tense and harsh as he stares at nothing. "James is… was… a fine man. Bit arrogant perhaps, but so are we all, to some extent," he says, awkward and halting. "So very concerned with style – sometimes to the point of detriment even…"
Eggsy listens, watching Hart haltingly unravel his own perceptions of the man. He never says how Lance died, or where, or even what Lance did for a fucking living – just these side-line facts about habits, some of which had annoyed Hart. Like the fact that Lance had a bad habit of intentionally turning up his snobbery to the point of it being aggressive – which sort of indicated some of what Lance had been doing, but not all. It would be pretty interesting, if it wasn't so fucking awful.
Eventually it sort of peters out, the breaks between Hart's recollections going longer until it eventually winds down and Hart's just sitting there, staring at his hands. "Shit," the man finally murmurs and runs the hands over his face. "Fucking waste. Such a fucking waste."
"I'm so fucking sorry," Eggsy says quietly. "He was a good one." One of the nicest snobs he's ever met, right after Hart himself.
Hart leans back with a sigh and just collapses against the back rest of the couch. He turns to look at Eggsy again and Eggsy looks back. The man's eyes flicker down to Daisy, who's fallen asleep against his chest – she's drooling on Eggsy's shirt now, but she usually is and he didn't really even notice.
"I'm not presenting a very proper front right now," Hart comments quietly, regretfully.
"Bruv, you know I ain't ever given a shit about that," Eggsy says flatly.
Hart smiles at that, brief and painful. The air's sort of discharged between them, threads hanging loose and shit, but it's better than the tension from before anyway, and Eggsy let's himself relax a bit. It's still not okay, but fuck it. Hart doesn't seem like he's about to drown himself in drink, so he calls it a victory.
Then Hart sighs, shifts, and drops his head heavily on Eggsy's shoulder.
Eggsy pauses at that, and then looks down at him. Hart has his eyes almost closed and is just making himself fucking comfortable – he even pulls his glasses off and lets them drop in Eggsy's lap. "Just, shut up for a moment, Eggsy," the man says tiredly. He's staring at Daisy again. "Or don't. I don't care. Just don't move."
Eggsy looks up again, blinking at the dark telly on the wall across from them.
Well, alright then.
Eggsy figures that Lance was probably killed. Killed while he was doing whatever he was doing wherever he was at the time. And he can't say that it doesn't make him a bit worried, especially since Hart gives him a couple of long thoughtful looks that night, concerned looks, before shaking his head and then just… going off somewhere. It makes him skittish as fuck.
Because if what Lance did got him killed, and Hart is doing the same stuff, or something similar at least…
It was a bit interesting, working for a criminal or whatever Hart is. The secrecy is kind of sick and Eggsy can't deny that he's having loads of fun trying to figure it out, trying to come up with theories. The safes, the lies, the fucking guns, all that, it was sort of exciting – but in a safe way because Hart was… well… sorta secure.
Eggsy never really felt like he or Daisy were in any real danger in Hart's house. Not before now. Now though he forces himself to reconsider, however unlikely it seems. Because if Lance got killed, there was a chance that Hart would get killed and Eggsy fucking works for the man. Would that put him – and by connection, Daisy – in danger by association?
Shit. It makes a lot more sense, Hart's refusal to actually tells him anything. Plausible deniability and all that shit.
It makes him seriously consider his options for a while – consider the money in his bank, what it could get him, where it could get him and Daisy. Fuck, Hart would probably help them, if he asked him – help them take off somewhere nice and safe and normal.
Eggsy probably should, too.
But he knows what it feels like when Harry Hart relaxes against his side now, knows what it feels like when that man is seeking fucking comfort. Fuck if he knows what to do with it but he can't just… leave now.
"Fuck," he grumbles at Daisy. "Fuck, fuck, fuck.
He's becoming his fucking mum now – soon he'd be coming up with fucking excuses as to why he had to stay or some fucking shit.
"I promise you, Daisy-baby," Eggsy says quietly. "First hint of trouble and we're fucking gone, yeah? First fucking sign and we're off."
Hart is somewhat tense for the next couple of days, staying away longer than he usually does, coming back a bit more tired – working much later into the night than he usually does. Eggsy has a feeling he's either looking into Lance's death or he's had to pick up Lance's slack or something like that – whatever it is, it seems like serious shit.
Merlin comes around a couple days after Lance's death, and at the sight of his exhausted visage, Eggsy bakes him a fucking pie because fuck it, it seems like the thing to do.
"Fucking tiresome, all of it," the bald man grumbles even as he brightens up at the sight of said pie – mango and pecan because they happened to be only topping-worthy ingredients around. "I swear the next time we have to replace a member of the table, I will retire."
"Oh please don't," Hart answers, even as he too leans in to look at the pie. "Then we'd have to train a replacement for you and that's not an operation I'm willing to take. Wait until I retire at least."
"Hmph," Merlin answers, watching as Eggsy cuts the pie and serves them their slices. "This looks lovely, Eggsy," the man says, accepting his slice.
"Bit haphazard, but it all looks the same coming out anyway," Eggsy grins and hands Hart his slice. "So you're replacing Lance in your organisation, that it?" he asks ever so nonchalantly.
"Don't you start," Hart says, pointing a fork at him.
"Hm. I'm actually curious why you didn't put Eggsy in as your proposal, Harry," Merlin says, glancing at Hart, who glares at him. "I've seen his records, same as you. He's fit for it. Better fit that some of the snots the others put forth, definitely. You should see Arthur's candidate, good god."
"Eggsy has other priorities," Hart says sharply, not even looking at Eggsy.
Eggsy folds his arms, looking between the two gents. "And I don't get say in that," he says, arching his eyebrows.
"You have Daisy, Eggsy."
Eggsy frowns, thinking back to the tentative plans he'd made, just in case it all went to shit. He shakes his head. "So your organisation runs trials for the replacements or some shit?" he asks, turning to Merlin.
"Or some shit," Merlin agrees, cutting a neat little piece off the pie and skewering it with his fork. He glances at Hart. "There have been candidates with children before, Harry."
"Yes. And it all turns out so well in the end, doesn't it?" Hart says, eying his own pie and then glancing sidelong at Eggsy. "Would you be willing to put Daisy in day care for extended periods of time, Eggsy? Especially at this stage of her growth."
"No fucking way mate," Eggsy says.
"You could hire a nanny like a reasonable person," Merlin says thoughtfully.
"Bruv, nannies aren't reasonable. Nannies are fucking elite, which I ain't," Eggsy snorts, pushing the pie to the middle of the table and setting the cake server on the plate. A bit more serious he shakes his head. "Hart's right though – I ain't too keen on putting myself in a position that might get me killed. I won't do that to Daisy."
"See?" Hart says and then frowns, turning to face Eggsy fully. "What did you call me?"
"Hart," Eggsy says. "That's your name, innit?"
"Yes, but… say it again."
"Hart," Eggsy says, rolling his eyes.
Merlin grins sharply at him. "Sounds a bit like heart when you say it," he comments.
Hart himself sighs. "Yes. Please, Eggsy. It's Harry."
"Is it? Huh," Eggsy says and pours him some more tea to hide the uncertainty. The fuck?
Merlin snorts gruffly at them, still looking at Eggsy, considering. "There are other positions, you know," he then says, looking back at Hart. "Less dangerous ones. There's never enough support staff."
"Merlin, no," Hart says with a sigh and stirs his tea. "How is the training going otherwise?"
"About as well as should be expected. There are a few that show promise," Merlin says, turning to his pie again. "So far only one truly stands out. We'll see how it develops."
They trail off to talk non work related stuff, talking instead about the news, the people that's been going missing, the kidnappings. Eggsy wanders off to clean up from the baking, and once the kitchen is spotless again he goes to check on Daisy, who's sleeping like a log in her crib.
He wouldn't trade her for the world, wouldn't give her up for anything. But he can't help but wonder what might've happened if…
"Nah," he murmured and leans his chin against the edge of the crib, just watching her be nice and safe. "No fucking way, mate."
Instead of letting the words, there are other positions, linger, he concentrates on something else. Something much more meaningful.
What the fuck is he supposed to do with that?
Eggsy is in the middle of fixing dinner – making some ravioli with ham and cheese filling because he feels like putting in a bit of effort - when the doorbell rings. It's not the first time it's happened, though Hart's – Harry's – house doesn't get that many visitors. But there's the occasional mail delivery, a few people trying to sell something, and once a policeman who'd been called in because some dickhead in the neighbourhood had seen Eggsy taking out the trash and thought he was a fucking robber or something.
That had been a fun afternoon.
Washing his hands of the cheese-ham mush, Eggsy checks his phone for the time and for the baby monitor app, before heading for the door. He peers through the peephole, fully willing to keep the door shut and pretend he didn't hear anything if it turns out to be another sales person – but it isn't.
"Hart ain't here," Eggsy says, opening the door.
Merlin just looks at him, looking tired and tense "I know," he says quietly. "I have some bad news, Eggsy. May I come in?"
The bottom of Eggsy's stomach fucking drops, and he clutches onto the doorframe for a moment, teetering on the edge of no fucking way, don't you fucking dare. "Yeah, sure," he says, his knuckles white before he forces them to relax. He steps back, Merlin steps in and he closes the door. The click of the lock sounds deafening.
"He's not dead, is he?" Eggsy asks, just to get it out of the way before his imagination can get ahead of itself – he'd rather know for sure than imagine Hart, Harry, dead. "Just fucking tell me."
"He's not dead," Merlin says.
Eggsy almost collapses with relief. "Oh thank fuck for that," he groans and runs a hand over his face. "You just scared fucking years off my life, bruv, for fuck's sake!"
"Eggsy –" the Scotsman says and then sighs, motioning at the hall, at the doorway to the living room. "Let's sit down, lad."
And then the sinking feeling is back.
They sit down in the living room, Eggsy taking the armchair while Merlin sits on the couch. And then, without further ado, Merlin speaks out. "There was an explosion," he says seriously. "Harry was in it – he suffered a cervical fracture, some minor burns, sprains… He's alive," he quickly assures as Eggsy blanches. "There was no trauma to the brain. If he wakes up, there should be no permanent damage, though it will be at least two weeks before the cervical collar can safely come off… however he's been unconscious for a while now."
"Jesus fucking shit," Eggsy mutters. "Explosion?" he asks a little incredulously. "Should you even be telling me that, seeing that I'm not supposed to know any of that… other shit?"
"As if you haven't yet figured most of it out already," Merlin says and leans back, watching him closely.
"Fucking…" Eggsy runs a hand over his face. "Explosion. Shit. How long will he be out?"
"We don't know. He might've been exposed to something," Merlin says and smiles mirthlessly at the sound of disbelief Eggsy makes at that. Then he turns serious again and checks his watch. "Two more hours and he will officially be in a coma."
What the fuck is Eggsy supposed to say to that? What is he supposed to say to any of this, when he doesn't even know what the fuck Harry fucking Hart does for his fucking living? Eggsy makes a sort of aborted well, fuck gesture and just… doesn't know what the hell to do.
Merlin looks at him for a moment. "How much do you know about our organisation?" he then asks.
"I know it seems to get people fucking dead," Eggsy answers flatly.
"Yes. But what do you know about it?"
Eggsy sighs, frustrated. "Dad was part of it, maybe. It involves dangerous shit, probably illegal shit too – and cover ups and covers. Fucking tailors my ass. You have a shit ton of power, influence, stuff like that," he says, and shrugs. "I know Hart carries a gun and probably can kill a man with his bare hands."
Merlin says nothing for a moment, waiting. "And what do you think that amounts to?" he asks.
"Depends on whether or not knowing it puts me in as much shit as Hart is," Eggsy answers.
The man across from him sighs and nods his head somewhat reluctantly. "It might."
"Then I don't want to know," Eggsy says, shaking his head. "I got a fucking kid to consider. I ain't endangering her."
"Which I can understand and respect," Merlin says. "But what if by knowing you could actively protect her?"
Eggsy sighed and leaned back, shaking his head. "What the fuck do you want, bruv?" he asks. "You're not here just to tell me about Hart, are you?"
That makes the man smile wryly. "Do you know the password to Harry's personal computer?"
"What's it to you?" Eggsy asks, narrowing his eyes.
"When the explosion happened, Harry was carrying some monitoring equipment, including a recording device. It streamed to his computer, and to his computer alone," Merlin says, leaning in and staring at him hard now. "We don't know exactly what happened. We only know that there was an explosion, there might've even been two, but we don't know. Only way to know, is to view the footage Harry recorded – but his computer is un-hackable. I need the password."
Eggsy stares at him expressionlessly for a moment. "You've tried to hack his computer," he then says flatly.
"Yes I have," Merlin agrees calmly. "For four hours. With no results."
"Well ain't that just peachy," Eggsy says and leans forward. "I've met you three times now, bruv. I don't fucking know you, and I sure as hell don't trust you. How the fuck do I know you ain't some rival of his, that you didn't knock him out and are not out to steal some shit from him?" he asks.
That, weirdly enough, seems to make the man relax a whole fucking bunch – his shoulders actually sloop. "I can take you to see him," he then says. "You will have to sign an additional confidentiality contract, however, but I'm sure that won't be a problem?"
Eggsy let out a mirthless snort at that and stands up. "I'll just get my baby, then," he says and heads up stairs to pack Daisy up.
Confidentiality contracts and bugs and recording devices and fucking explosions, Christ. Well, that's a no for all the criminal syndicate theories, at least.
Secret fucking agents it is.
Merlin takes him to a fucking mansion, because of course there is a fucking mansion. It's one of those countryside estates that show up on telly in all those posh period shows Eggsy's mum used to watch – except so much worse because it's the real fucking thing.
"UK HQ," Merlin says, like that fucking explains anything. Though maybe it does – because UK HQ implied things. You only put a country designation on something if there were other similar things in other fucking countries.
"Of course it fucking is," Eggsy mutters, wondering how many places these people had, in which countries, for what fucking purpose. He doesn't ask, though, watching the perfectly maintained lawns and gardens as they pass them by and arrive in front of the fucking UK HQ.
There Merlin stops and gets out of the car, politely waiting for Eggsy to unstrap Daisy's car seat and pull her out of the car. Eggsy then takes a moment to look up at the fucking mansion with its several stories and fucking marble visage. There's fucking pillars on the fucking thing.
"This way, Eggsy," Merlin says, and then leads Eggsy inside; and of course the place is just as grand inside as it is outside – all brass and perfectly lacquered hard wood, ancient Indian carpets and portraits with golden frames. Hart's house was bad enough – this is where the guy works? Jesus fucking Christ.
Then Merlin leads him to an elevator, and down, under the house, into what can only be described as its bunker section and from there along corridors and into a section that smells heavily of antiseptic. And there, in his own personal room, surrounded by monitoring equipment and the sort of lights that people have in fucking operating theatres… is Hart.
Eggsy pauses, staring at him. Hart looks really fucking strange in hospital pyjamas, without as much as a pressed collar on him. Instead he has a neck brace and a gastric tube and an IV that goes into his bruised inner arm.
"Fuck," Eggsy murmurs, slowly approaching the man while Merlin watches.
"There's still hope, Eggsy," Merlin says. "Like I said, there is no brain trauma at all. We just need to be patient."
"You didn't bring me here because you're fucking patient – you brought me here because you want to access his computer," Eggsy says, gently set's the sleeping Daisy on the floor in her basket, and then leaning over Hart instead. The man looks… "Out of curiosity," he then says, his voice odd, flat. "How often does his fucking job get him landed in a hospital bed?"
Merlin doesn't answer, but the half resigned, half amused face he makes speaks volumes. The man shakes his head and then folds his arms. "The password isn't the only reason why I brought you here – albeit it is the most pressing reason currently."
"Yeah?" Eggsy asks, glancing at him. "And the other reason?"
The man considers him, his expression and then moves forward, looking at Hart. "What you see here," he says, motioning at Hart, "is one of our best agents. Of all the currently active agents, Harry is the senior most one – fifty three, a good fifteen years older than the next one, and he's still doing field work at the same rate as the youngest of our active operatives."
Eggsy frowns at that, looking at Hart. "Right," he says slowly. He has no way of knowing what that actually says about Hart, but it doesn't really surprise him that Hart's keeping pace with younger… agents. Jesus. "And?"
"And he is a bit of an idiot," Merlin says, looking at him. "Refuses a regular handler, among other things. Normally when an agent goes into the field there's a handler sitting behind him, offering technical support all the while – something which is increasingly important these days, not to mention increasingly handy, what with the internet an all. I do what I can, but I'm the Kingsman quartermaster, the administrator of all of its tech departments."
"So, you're Q?" Eggsy asks, not sure if he should be amused or just awed. "Way to go, Merlin."
"The point is," Merlin says somewhat testily, "that I don't have the time to play a handler on the side. Had Harry had a handler that he could trust, I wouldn't need to bring you here, because the handler would've been aware of all the things that happened at the ImperialCollege – we would already have all the facts. But Harry doesn't trust anyone. He streams his data encrypted to his home terminal and he doesn't share it until he's good and ready. It's gotten worse lately, part of which I think is your fault."
"The fuck?" Eggsy asks, scowling.
"Do you know Vglass?" Merlin asks, motioning at his own glasses.
"Heard of it, yeah. Looks kinda dorky on people," Eggsy says, thinking of Richmont Valentine who has a pair on in every TV spot.
"Kingsman has had that same technology for years now, and we've had the time to perfect it. Kingsman glasses can, among other things, record everything the wearer sees," Merlin says. "And Harry doesn't actually need glasses. His eyesight is near perfect."
Eggsy frowns at that and then looks at the unconscious man on the hospital bed. He's pretty much never seen Hart without glasses. "You mean to say he's been recording even around the house?" he asks slowly.
The bald man just shrugs. "He didn't start encrypting all his streams before you came into the picture," he says.
"… The fuck am I supposed to –" Eggsy starts and stops. He doesn't fucking know why Hart had done that and he doesn't want to come up with explanations himself. If and when Hart woke up, he could explain it himself, Eggsy wasn't about start inventing shit.
Though he appreciates the fuck out of the encryption bit. Whatever Kingsman are and whatever they do, he doesn't need them watching his day to day life through Hart's eyes.
"I'm just his fucking valet," he mutters.
Merlin snorts at that. "No you aren't," he says. "You really aren't."
"Fuck off, bruv," Eggsy mutters. "He fucking pays me."
"He's basically giving you an allowance," Merlin says, shaking his head. "He doesn't need a valet, Eggsy. He's barely ever even needed a house keeper – the man is too damn meticulous about his things for that. He's not keeping you around because he needs you – he's keeping you around because he wants to keep an eye on you."
Eggsy says nothing to that, folding his arms and looking away instead.
"Eggsy," Merlin starts, sounding a bit regretful now.
"Shut up," Eggsy says, running a hand over his face. "I'm not a fucking moron, alright? I know. I've always fucking known." It was pretty fucking obvious that Hart was just paying his debts to Eggsy's dad, that he felt he was obliged and that he probably just wanted to keep a fucking eye on Eggsy. The man could've had a proper fucking valet if he really wanted one and he really didn't.
Still, he'd thought that maybe… maybe there was more to it, now.
"So, what? Hart values my privacy to some extend and it's my fucking fault?" Eggsy asks, sighing. "That it?"
"No, Eggsy," Merlin says, watching him closely – probably making fucking notes of his expressions or some shit. And fuck, he has glasses on too, doesn't he? Glasses that record everything. Fucking great. "You mean something to him," Merlin says. "That's what it is."
"Jesus, bruv, whatever that is, it ain't any of your fucking business," Eggsy snaps, firmly stomping down on the warm feeling the words give him. Jesus fuck what a fucking roller coaster this fucking conversation is. "You fucking creep."
"It means fucking everything to me if it means that you could become a handler that he could trust – one that could keep him fucking alive on the field," Merlin snaps back and Eggsy actually backs away half a step at the ferocity of it. "Harry is good but he's impatient, he's reckless, and sometimes he doesn't think before he acts. Makes him a damn good field operative, but as he's grown older he's grown jaded. He trusts less. It will get him killed at this rate."
Merlin takes a deep breath. "We lost James because of that. Granted, James had a handler he trusted implicitly, but he was an idiot in his own special ways," he says and scowls. "He refused to wear the glasses unless it was strictly necessary. It cramped his fucking style," he rolls his eyes at that. "I refuse to let Harry go the same way just because he's too much of an idiot to think ahead."
"Jesus, bruv. Tell me what you really think," Eggsy snorts and then looks away as Daisy lets out a grumble, the noise having woken her up. He turns to her and crouches by the basket, easing the binky back into her mouth and stroking her cheek until she settles.
"Apologies," Merlin says, running a hand over his sweater and straightening up a bit. "James was a good friend and Harry was investigating the same case that got him killed. It… has me somewhat wound up."
"Right," Eggsy says, glancing from Daisy to the bed. "I got my duties already, you know," he then says. "I still got Daisy. I ain't leaving her, not… not even for this."
Merlin snorts at that. "You and Harry, Jesus. Not a lick of sense, either of you. Honestly, Eggsy, I don't expect you to," he says and then couches down beside Eggsy, looking at him. "You know we live in the modern fucking era, right? We have all this wonderful stuff called technology. You could very easily work right from Harry's house, you know. All you need is the right equipment."
Eggsy blinks at that. "Oh," he says.
"Yes. Oh," Merlin says, looking at him flatly. Then he looks at Daisy. "That is, of course, if Harry comes to," he says. "And before that though, I really do need the password. I need to know what happened to him, Eggsy. If he was exposed to something, it'll be on the feed he recorded."
"Right," Eggsy murmurs, frowning at Daisy's sleep slack face and then standing up to look at Hart. Harry. "I ain't giving it to you," he then says. "He encrypted the shit for a reason, I'm not giving you access to what he thought he ought to keep private."
"Eggsy, this is serious –" Merlin starts, standing.
"Yeah, I get you. I'll look in myself. Just… fucking tell me what to get, and I'll get it to you on a flash drive or some shit. But I'm not letting you or anyone romp around his private fucking stuff," Eggsy says, giving him a glare. "If you want me to be his fucking handler or some shit, then that should work for you perfectly, yeah?"
The man stared at him for a moment. "You'll need training," he then says.
"Then just fucking give it to me."
After a crash course in decryption and Kingsman's preferred data structures, Eggsy heads back to the house and, after feeding and changing the by now extremely cranky Daisy, he sits behind Harry's desk and just breathes in for a moment, looking at the red walls with their fucking Sun headlines. Fucking shite, all of it.
Apparently they were mementos from all the cases Harry had cracked – the headlines of the days following events that might've fucked up the world nice and proper, if Harry hadn't been there.
"Right," Eggsy says, and then opens Harry's laptop. It's hooked into the servers that are hidden in the secret room behind the office's back wall – the very one that Eggsy had originally thought held Harry's personal armoury or something, but no, nothing quite as exciting as that. It's fucking super computers instead, the ones that receive all of Harry's feeds and data and which he then screens through personally before sending Kingsman back what they needed to know, and only that. Which was what Harry would've done, if he wasn't in a fucking coma.
The servers are always online and always receiving data from Harry and they can be accessed remotely from pretty much anywhere. Eggsy could've done what Merlin had done when he'd tried to hack into them – could've used any computer anywhere in the Kingsman HQ, but no. If he is doing this, then he is doing it from here. From the office. From home.
Insert password reads on the laptop screen in sort of burnished gold, and Eggsy rolls his shoulders before typing oxfords not brogues into the box below it
And promptly, login failed flashes in front of him.
"Well… fuck," Eggsy says and leans back in the cushy office chair. Well, it would've been a bit too easy, wouldn't it? And Merlin probably knew about that, seeing that the number Eggsy had called to get help is a Kingsman thing – they probably have an actual fully employed operator dealing with dozens of similar calls daily, or some shit.
"Shit," Eggsy mutters and then looks back at the laptop, thinking, wondering, trying to figure out what Harry might've picked out as a password.
It takes him a moment to notice that the login screen has changed – and instead of the insert password there's a different bit of text there. Come along.
Eggsy gapes at it for a moment in disbelief, and then, slowly, starts typing again. Fuck you.
And the damn thing unlocks, text of, Hello Eggsy, flashing briefly at him. And Eggsy's just fucking charmed by it. Charmed and ever so slightly awed that the fucking man had somehow seen this coming. Had fucking prepared for it. Jesus Christ.
In front of him the screen clears out into a semi normal computer desktop, full of folders and icons. Seeing that his laptop was locked up nice and tight, Harry hadn't bothered to try and hide the important things, apparently. All the necessary links are just right there, in front of him, leading to everything he needs – the folder that's full of Harry's recordings is right there, full of subfolders for each and every day since apparently fucking forever.
Eggsy finds the latest day, and opens the folder – there are several separate recordings there, each about an hour long. Apparently even the all-powerful Kingsman tech had its limits.
It had been early morning, around nine a.m. less than an hour after Harry had left home.
Eggsy clicks the right file, and lets it play.
And then he watches how Harry roughs up a mousy little university professor and then he watches the man's head blow up.
"Fucking 'ell," he mutters, wincing and nearly backing away from the computer. There's actually fucking blood splatters on the recording as he hurriedly hits the pause button, looking away. So, that was what Harry fucking Hart did for living. He blew up people's heads. "Jesus fuck, that's… fuck."
It was ever so slightly fucking worse than he'd thought it was.
It takes him a moment to gather himself and rewind what he'd just seen in his head. Then he frowns, turning back to look to the frozen video. "Wait," he murmurs, and drags the control bar back and starts watching again, a bit more closely.
It starts with Harry waiting in the lecture hall, viewing the black boards, going in a careful grid pattern over every one of them - probably to get every bit of the writing he saw on film. Then there's the sound of a door being opened and he turns around to look at the upper end of the classroom – and there's the mousy professor.
"Hello. Can I help you?" the mousy professor asks.
"Yes, I have a question about the anthropogenic force," Harry says.
"Oh! Really? It's actually quite fascinating," the mousy professor says – and then Harry grabs him by the ear.
"My colleague died trying to rescue you, and I'm sure you saw how well trained he was," Harry says, harsh, while twisting the professor's ear in his hand. "So I suggest you tell me who kidnapped you and why they let you go."
"I have no idea what you're talking --" Harry slaps the guy. "I'm not supposed to say it! But it was –" and then the guy starts screaming.
"I barely touched you," Harry says with some disbelief. "Oh man up --"
And then Professor Arnold's head explodes.
Eggsy pauses the video, leaning his chin in his hand for a moment and scowling at the screen. So, Harry definitely could be violent if he wanted to. Fucking lovely. That's totally beside the fucking point here, though. Quickly Eggsy rewinds the video again, and watches it again. And again.
Then he copies everything he needs onto a flash drive – the video and all the data streamed in at the time it had been recorded – before closing the laptop lid, tucking it under his arm, and then heading off to pack.
Later, once he has both his and Daisy's things packed up in Harry's car, he locks the place. It takes a bit of time. He empties the fridge of all things perishable and throws it all out. He unplugs all the devices and then heads to the basement to turn the water off, before activating the cleverly hidden security systems in the house – not just the burglary alarm, but also the self-destruct switch, which, if necessary, will create a very believable semblance of a gas explosion. He turns the power off completely in some rooms – except for the one in the server room, of course, though it runs on its own power anyway.
Then, after turning the thermostat down, he locks the front door and carries Daisy to the Aston Martin, and then heads off – and to Kingsman HQ.
Merlin's waiting for him outside the house – and there's a group of people with dogs running along the driveway as he drives in. Eggsy gives them a curious look but doesn't stop until he's in front of the house.
"You have it?" Merlin asks, coming to the car's side as Eggsy stands up.
"Here you are, bruv," Eggsy says with a grimace, handing the flash drive over. "Whatever it was, it was in the professor's neck. Blew his head from inside out. It was… not very pretty."
"I see," Merlin says, pushing the flash drive into his pocket. "You need a hand?" he then asks, nodding to the back of the car which is full of bags.
"I'd appreciate it, yeah," Eggsy says, even as he goes around the car to get Daisy. "You got a crib here, right?" he asks then, tucking her in his arms and swaying her a bit to keep her from waking up. "Because the thing Harry bought me, we put it together with glue and everything. No way to bring it here."
"Yes, there should be everything you need here," Merlin promises and then looks up. Eggsy does the same as the steps of people running in some semblance of rhythm reaches him – the group with the dogs he'd passed by. Eggsy blinks at them with surprise – he hadn't gotten that good a look at them when he'd driven pass them, and it's only now he sees that they have… suit overalls on.
"Our candidates for Lancelot's replacement," Merlin says to Eggsy. "That is, for James position."
"Right," Eggsy murmurs, frowning. Then he looks down, at the dogs. No, not even dogs. "What's with the puppies?"
"Part of the training – call it an exercise in teamwork," Merlin says.
Eggsy blinks at that and then notices there's a terrier pup in the group. His eyebrows arch and he turns to look at Merlin. "Does this mean every fucking Kinsman has as stuffed dead dog in their house?" he asks incredulously.
The man snorts at that, shaking his head and then stepping around the car to meet the group of… candidates or whatever. "Gentlemen, lady," he says to them and they stop in some semblance of order in front of him. "Good work. Now, I need a couple of volunteers to help us carry some luggage inside."
The candidates look at him and then at Eggsy and then and Daisy and there's a couple of sniggers and several shared looks. "What, we have a nanny here?" one of them asks.
"Our very own pizza boy," someone mutters.
"Who's kid is that?"
"Which one of them?"
"Sir," the lone female in the group steps forward. "I'd love to help."
"Good, thank you Roxy," Merlin says, and then as one of the guys steps forward. "Hugo, excellent. The rest of you, fall out."
There's a lot of grinning as the others pass Eggsy by, which he ignores in favour of looking at the two volunteers.
"Roxy, Hugo," Merlin says to them. "Please help this gentleman carry his things to the eastern wing, room eighteen. After that, you can head back to the barracks."
"Yes, sir," they say in unison.
"Good," Merlin nods to them and then looks at Eggsy. "Meet me in my office once you're settled in." And with that, Merlin turns and heads off, probably to deal with the whole footage thing. Eggsy looks after him and then turns to face the candidates.
"Soo," he says. "Hi?"
"Hi," the young woman says, coming forward and offering her hand. "I'm Roxanne – Roxy."
Eggsy eases Daisy so he can hold her with one arm, and takes the hand. "Eggsy," he says and nods at the baby. "And this is Daisy. Don't mind her – cars put her to sleep."
"That's alright," Roxy says with a grin, stepping aside as the little guy, Hugo, comes forward to shake Eggsy's hand too.
"So, you're not part of the Lancelot candidate trials, what with a private suite and all," Hugo says, glancing between Eggsy and the Aston Martin – obviously noting the very marked difference between a guy in street clothes, and a very fucking expensive car.
"No, I'm something else," Eggsy shrugs with a snort, looking between them and then down at their dogs. Roxy has a poodle and Hugo has some sort of shepherd. "Cute dogs," he comments. "So, trying for Lance… lot, huh. You guys got some shoes to fill."
"You knew the previous Lancelot?" Hugo asks curiously, leaning in a bit.
"We're not supposed to ask, Hugo," Roxy says, elbowing him. "Don't say anything, Eggsy, alright? The less we know the better, really. Preconceived expectations will just make a mess of our training."
"Alright," Eggsy nods and then glances at the car. "So, should get this stuff inside."
Roxy nodds, all business. "You have anything valuable there, something we should be careful about?"
"No, it's just baby stuff mostly – though there's a box full of formula and stuff, it's gonna be heavy," Eggsy says, opening the back door one handed and then walking around the car to the back, to open the trunk. "That one," he says, pointing at the box.
"I'll take that first then," Hugo says. "You want this in the kitchen or something – does it need to be cold?"
"No, just take it the same room as the rest – I'll figure it out later," Eggsy says, while taking the bag with the more important stuff – like Harry's laptop – In it and hoisting it over his shoulder. Roxy takes a couple of bags and then, with the dogs trotting around them, they begin carrying them inside.
Eggsy really does have a fucking suite in the house – like, a bedroom, sitting room, kitchen corner, his own personal bathroom and everything. Merlin had promised that he'd get everything but Jesus fuck. Apparently handlers were a big thing in Kingsman. While Roxy and Hugo helpfully carried his and Daisy's things in, Eggsy checked the linens in the ancient, fancy looking crib that had been set beside the fucking four poster bed which is apparently his now. Once he was sure they were clean and washed with nothing too irritating, he set Daisy down.
Then he went about settling himself in.
"This is the last of it," Roxy says after carrying the last bag – holding most of Eggsy's own clothing in it. "You need anything else, Eggsy?"
"No, that's okay. Thanks," Eggsy says. "Be seeing you around here, yeah?"
"Maybe," she says. "We're going to be training though, so not a lot of free time. But maybe."
"Yeah," Eggsy grins. "Good luck with training."
"See you around, Eggsy," Hugo nods and the two of them head off.
This whole Kingsman thing was going to be weird – but at least there were some friendly people around. "We're getting into some interesting shit here, Daisy baby," Eggsy comments, and then prepares to go over the whole suite with a fine toothed comb.
It's a spy organisation after all. There's bound to be bugs.
Later that evening, Eggsy stands back while Merlin goes through Harry's data. The video is playing on a silent, constant loop in the background while the quartermaster of Kingsman delves into the other recordings Harry had taken – because the glasses automatically scanned fucking everything. Kingsman tech was a good ten, twenty years ahead of everything else on the market, apparently.
Except for tablets and phones – those had apparently caught up just that year.
"So what's the deal with… the whole thing?" Eggsy asks, rocking Daisy gently as he watches the recording play. "What was Lance investigating that got him killed?"
"A kidnapping," Merlin answers. "He was originally investigating a group of mercenaries and their experiments with biological weaponry. I can get you the full file. Lancelot was in Argentina – he'd tracked the group there, to a property on the mountainside, when he took a side mission when discovered that they'd kidnapped someone. A university lecturer."
"Professor Arnold," Eggsy nods.
"Yes. We don't know what happened in Argentina – because Lancelot wasn't wearing his glasses," Merlin says with somewhat gritted teeth. "I'm fucking making it mandatory after this. Anyway, After Lancelot's vitals cut off, Galahad – that is to say, Harry – took over his mission. And since the kidnapped lecturer turned out to be very much on the loose, Harry went to investigate."
"If you can call it that," Eggsy snorts, watching the video. Though Merlin had politely turned the audio off on Daisy's account, there was a transcript of the dialogue playing along with the video.
"Galahad is a good agent, but he's… not a subtle one," Merlin agrees, shaking his head. "The reason he got this mission is not because he's a stellar undercover agent, but because it got one operative dead already. Harry's without question our first choice when it comes to extremely high risk missions."
"Hm," Eggsy agrees, watching Harry plant the lighter and jump out of the window just as everything blows up to shit. He shakes his head in admiration – fuck he was fast, didn't even hesitate. "So, who puts explosives in a university professor's neck, and why?"
"That's the question, isn't it," Merlin says and turns his whole chair around, to face Eggsy. "It was remotely activated – I've tracked the IP address down, belongs to the Valentine Corporation. Which doesn't help us much, seeing that Valentine employs millions of people worldwide."
"Right," Eggsy says, nodding slowly and watching the video. "So, it wasn't just that Harry knocked something off or something – someone was actually listening. And when Arnold was about to grass, they blew his head up to keep him quiet."
Merlin narrowed his eyes. "Someone was listening," he muses thoughtfully, folding his arms.
"So was Harry exposed to something or not?" Eggsy asked.
"Not that the glasses picked up, though he would've gotten a shock when the explosion went off," Merlin says with a shake of his head. "The glasses didn't pick up any chemicals, so however the explosion was induced, it didn't include an actual charge."
"That's good, innit?"
"Only in the sense that at least Harry wasn't dosed with anything. We have no idea how the explosion was induced in the first place. Something to look into," Merlin says and then looks at Eggsy thoughtfully. "In the meanwhile, let's talk about your training. There are concessions we need to make, obviously."
"Yeah, I guess," Eggsy nods, looking down at Daisy who's chewing on her own fist. "I guess I'm going to have it easier than the Lancelot candidates, yeah?" he asks, grinning a little.
"Easier?" Merlin asks staring at him. Then he throws his head back and laughs.
Well that's not terrifying at all.
Eggsy collapses onto the armchair beside Harry's bed with a sigh, Daisy letting out a soft oof in his arms as he does. "Merlin is a fucking sadist," he says to the comatose man, while rubbing soothingly at Daisy's back. "Sorry, luv," he murmurs to the baby, who blows a sloppy raspberry at him. "Yeah," he agrees with her. "That's about it, yeah."
Nothing's much changed on Harry's part in the last week or so. Harry is still in a coma, though the neck brace would soon come off. If nothing else, the bed rest was doing good things to the man's cracked vertebrae and most of the burns have already healed too, with just some discoloration here and there where the suit hadn't protected the man well enough.
Sighing, Eggsy takes off his Kingsman issued glasses and runs a hand over his face. Then he just watches the man for a moment, letting the glasses hang from his fingers. Harry has enough beard growth now for it to actually be called a beard, and it's kind of bothering him. For as long as he's known him, Harry Hart had never been anything but perfectly pristine – even when he'd been totally smashed during the poker game, he'd still been at least on some level well polished and neat. A beard doesn't fit him at all.
Stillness doesn't fit the man either.
"Do you have any idea how much tech you guys use?" Eggsy asks him. "And not just use either – but how much shit goes into completing a single mission? Every fucking thing, every single fucking thing, it's at least seventy percent IT work. And fucking research."
Well, if nothing else, he has experience with that – though there's a very marked difference between the research Eggsy did to learn how to be Harry's supposed valet, and what a Kingsman handler does. Over half of everything Kingsman handlers do is researching. And Merlin is fucking brutal in teaching Eggsy how to do that just right.
Everything is timed. How fast he could bring up blue prints and come up with escape routes, how fast he could find this or that bit of info out, how fast he could figure out how to defuse a bomb, how to neutralise a chemical agent, how to do this, how to do that. You have two minutes, you have a minute, you have twenty seconds, find a way.
Congratulations Eggsy, your agent is now dead and it's your fault.
The only reason he hasn't gone fucking mad already is the fact that he doesn't actually have to learn or memorise the things he digs up – but the act of finding them, of bringing up just the right bit of often times obscure data at just the right moment, that has to be not just memorised, but fucking instinctual. Merlin is literally trying to install it in Eggsy's fucking muscle memory.
Eggsy sighs again, slumping deeper into the arm chair. He's so fucking willing to learn though, if it means that one day Harry might not end up in this situation. Sadly though, the research bit is just the tip of the iceberg. And unlike the Lancelot candidates who, being agent candidates, get their training handed to them on a silver fucking platter, Eggsy has to research and figure his own training out – because that's the whole fucking point.
Because the handlers and the support staff do all the fucking background work – agents just do the field work. It's like choreography – the handlers spend hours upon hours preparing for something that's necessary for a couple minutes of field work, sometimes not even that much. And considering that Harry seems to have trust issues where that goes, it means that Eggsy probably has to cover a whole team's worth of support staff, all by himself, and that's just a shit ton of work.
It's no fucking wonder Merlin jumped at the chance of getting a handler for Harry – considering how busy the quartermaster's job already is, doing a handler's duties on the side had probably been driving the man mental. And so Merlin doesn't pull any punches and he doesn't offer any kindness. And if Eggsy fails, Merlin fucking rubs his face in it and makes him choke on it until he stops failing.
And he's just been here for a fucking week.
From here on out, he'd need to learn how to hack anything and everything electronic from traffic lights to fucking bank vaults, he'd need to learn how to make estimates, time tables, how to coordinate several people, how to clear the way for his agent or possible agents in a hundred different situations, how to predict the fucking future. And he'd need to learn how to maintain equipment too.
And there are probably half a hundred other things he'd need to learn, which he doesn't know yet because he hasn't figured it out – and Merlin won't fucking tell him because what sort of handler would he be if he needs to be told what to do? He is who'd be doing that, he is the back up and the security measure, he was the guy who jumped to action when someone called mayday. There'd be no one behind him but himself.
When an agent failed, at worst he might get himself and perhaps some people around him killed. When a handler failed, a whole fucking network might collapse, hundreds of people dead in one fell swoop.
Eggsy lets his eyes wander on Harry's face for a moment and then looks down at Daisy who's doing her best to crawl up his chest, a look of determination on her little face as she pats around his chest. She's been with him every step of the way – it's even become a thing now. Because whatever happened, Eggsy would still have Daisy – so Merlin forced him to study and handle Daisy, both at the same time. Even when she was asleep in her crib, Merlin kept his attention split between the work and her so that if it came down to it and Daisy would demand his attention during a crucial moment, Eggsy could multitask.
"I love you, Daisy-baby," Eggsy says to her, and fuck it he really does. But there are times when it's starting to get a bit heavy.
Still. If he could help keep Harry alive in the future, it was fucking worth it.
There are other things, less cerebral things, which Eggsy has to get down too – at least prove that he can handle. Ordinarily Kingsman handlers are rarely even in the same countries as their agents, but in case it happened that a handler needed to go with the agent, then they needed to have at least some level of proficiency with the Kingsman tech. All of the Kingsman tech.
"If anything happens to her, I will murder you in your fucking sleep," Eggsy swears while very reluctantly handing Daisy over to Merlin. "Actually I won't even wait that long – I'll just flat out murder you."
The quartermaster rolls his eyes, easily taking the baby in hand and holding her in his arms. It looks weirdly adorable, big gruff Merlin holding her, except that Eggsy knows what Merlin does for a living and this is literally the first time he's left her with a babysitter since his mum died and so he's understandably a bit nervous.
"We'll be fine, won't we luv?" Merlin says, looking down at Daisy, who looks up with fascination. Then she slaps a somewhat sticky hand on Merlin's cheek and claws at him. "Yeah, we'll get along just fine," Merlin says with great satisfaction and then looks up at Eggsy. "Well, get going already."
"I swear, Merlin, actual murder," Eggsy says backing away very slowly, keeping his eyes on Daisy just in case of any sign of distress.
"Go on. I'll call you if something comes up," Merlin says, waving a hand at him and then turning to his monitors. And with a great deal of reluctance, Eggsy goes – and if he left a bug on Daisy and is now listening to her soft cooing and Merlin's typing, well, that's his business.
Of course, the Lancelot candidates are on the fucking firing range too.
"What are you doing here?" Charlie asks, pulling his ear muffs off as they all turn to stare at Eggsy.
"Do they need us up stairs?" Roxy asks, quickly putting the safety on her pistol.
"No, just… keep doing whatever you were doing, I ain't here for you," Eggsy says, taking his pad from under his arm and turning it around. It's his handler pad – which looks like its an actual pen and paper type writing pad from most angles. The paper is touch sensitive, though – it basically works as a keyboard for the glasses and other invisible monitors the Kingsman use, among other things. Handler issue tech. Gotta love it.
As the candidates share looks, Eggsy goes through the list of proficiencies he needs to prove. They hover in front of him, invisible even to other Kingsman. Handler glasses are about three times more powerful than the field models the agents use – handlers don't need their glasses to be bullet proof, after all, so there was more space for actual hardware. And Eggsy rigged his to be private as soon as he figured how.
Not that the candidates even have Kingsman glasses yet.
There's several weapons safes in the firing range – all of them locked up and hidden of course, cleverly concealed in the walls. After checking the list, Eggsy selects one of the gun safes, and opens it. A portion of the formerly solid stone wall suddenly clicks open and then shifts aside, revealing the weapons racks. There's a bunch of Kingsman pistols with their various specialisations, plus a bunch of semi-automatics and one submachine gun. There's also two umbrellas, which Eggsy leaves aside for a moment, grabbing one of the pistols and a clip for it instead.
"How do you have access to that?" Digby asks, leaning in and reaching to try and take one of the umbrellas. "Even we don't have keys to that!"
"I guess I'm just lucky like that," Eggsy says, and presses a key on the pad. The wall hisses shut again and Digby just barely manages to pull his hand back in time to avoid losing fingers. Eggsy arches his eyebrow at the candidate and tucks the pad under his arm, and then heads for an empty firing lane to start on testing the guns.
"I hear you're going to be a handler, Eggy," Charlie says, coming to lean onto the side of the wall, watching Eggsy check the gun over.
"Did you," Eggsy answers, turning the gun in his hand. It fires nine millimetre bullets – and shotgun cartridges if needed. Fucking Kingsman never do anything by halves.
"So whoever becomes Lancelot is going to be shackled with you, huh?" Charlie asks, looking him up and down. "Almost makes me want quit."
Eggsy glances at him, eyebrows arched. "Yeah?" he asks and shrugs his shoulder. "From the way I hear it, you'd be doing most people around here a fucking favour," he says, and after checking the clip, he slaps the magazine in place. Then he grabs the ear muffs off the table in front of him and turns to the firing lane.
Charlie watches him with a crooked smirk. "You're holding it wrong," he says.
Eggsy ignores him, takes position, levels his shoulders and aims, looking down the sight. Slowly he breathes in and out – and fires. It's been a while since he last handled a gun but his weapons scores have always been fucking excellent, and that hasn't changed. Though the first shot goes a bit off the centre, he gets the next ones in and the last four are all bull's eyes.
"You were saying?" He says to Charlie, who snorts at him and heads back to his own lane.
Ignoring how he and the others mutter amongst themselves, Eggsy takes a moment to dissemble and reassemble the gun just to prove that he can, his glasses recording every move. Thankfully he needs to do that only once with each gun type, and doesn't have to disassemble every gun he uses. Once he's done, he takes the magazine out, grabs the pad and heads back to the gun safe to switch to the next weapon.
It takes a couple of gun switches for the Lancelot candidates to get really curious about what he's doing. While Charlie and his two henchmen share grins and whispers, Roxy and Hugo come closer to watch Eggsy go over each weapon as fast as he can.
"What are you doing, Eggsy?" Roxy finally asks. "You're definitely not practicing."
"Proving my proficiency," Eggsy answers, and tugs the ear muffs on. This particular pistol is silenced – but silenced pistols aren't actually silent, and he still doesn't fancy getting ear damage either way. He takes the shots and then goes about checking the silencer, just to prove he knows how, before putting the gun away.
"Are you really going to be the handler for whoever makes it through the testing?" Hugo asks, watching him grab the submachine gun.
"No," Eggsy shakes his head. "I'm taken, thanks."
"You've been picked out already?" Roxy asks, eyebrows arching. "Way to go Eggsy."
"Which one is it?" Hugo asks curiously.
"Sorry, bruv. Classified," Eggsy shrugs, and goes about checking the machine gun. The whole thing with him and Harry is weird even by Kingsman standards and he doesn't particularly feel like getting too deeply into it with the candidates anyway, so he slaps the magazine in, gets a new target, and makes it too noisy for anyone to ask anything.
He's not particularly missed handling guns – but there was something about it that settles some old hurts a bit. He'd loved the idea of being a marine, basic training had been the happiest he'd been since Dean had come into his and his mum's life. It had been a beautiful escape, a place where he could do everything he could, be as good as he could be, without having to fear being beaten for it.
He'd never openly been bitter about pulling out, never once let it show. Couldn't give Dean that fucking satisfaction. But here, on the range, with a gun in hand and a target ahead of him… it's good. It's fucking good.
"Eggsy," Merlin asks in his ear as he puts the submachine gun away. "You didn't leave any milk for the wee lass, and I think she's hungry."
"Shit," Eggsy murmurs and activates his glasses. "It's all in my room, should I –?"
"I'll get it, could use a break anyway. You finish up," Merlin answers.
"Don't plant any bugs in my fucking room, alright, I just got the old ones out," Eggsy quickly says at him.
"It took you this long? Obviously you need more practice," the quartermaster says, and cuts off.
"Fucking –" Eggsy stops and takes a breath. And then he takes one of the umbrellas and takes it out on another target.
Sometimes, when there's time, Eggsy hangs out with Roxy and Hugo in their off time – usually outside in the grounds. While he's taking Daisy out on a walk in her stroller, letting her get some air for once, the Lancelot Candidates are usually running their dogs through their paces and try and teach them tricks and tactics.
Though most of the Lancelot candidates are pricks, Roxy is okay and Hugo isn't too bad either – and they're both in their own special ways terrifying. Hugo, despite being bit on the scrawny side, has multiple black belts, and Roxy was actually in the army, before she'd been put forth in the Lancelot trials.
"It was in the Navy," she tells him while her poodle runs around in it's allotted play time. Roxy's really fucking strict about the dog's time tables, and it actually has a scheduled play time. "I was aiming for the Silent Service."
"Aiming?" Eggsy asks curiously.
"Before this came along. This seems… better," she shrugs and glances at the mansion, smiling. "How about you?"
"Marines," Eggsy shrugs. "Dropped out before finishing basic, though."
"Ah," she says, and doesn't ask. Roxy's cool that way.
Hugo on other hand is youngest of the candidates, just eighteen – doesn't have any military in his back ground. Just shit ton of athleticism and martial arts. "My coach said I could've tried for championships, if I wanted to. I never competed though," he admits. "That was never the point."
Eggsy got the impression that Hugo had known about the Kingsman probably all his life – at least on some level – and had been aiming for it about for as long. Probably a relative to a Kingsman, or maybe someone from the support staff. He doesn't ask, though, because, well. They're still outside. The Lancelot candidates more than Eggsy, but they're none of them part of the organisation yet.
Those secrets aren't theirs yet.
Most of the time though, Eggsy spends his free time in Harry's room. It's pretty much the only place in the mansion that feels anything like home – the suite Merlin gave him is entirely too fancy, as is the rest of the fucking place, and he doesn't much like spending time down below ground level in the actual Kingsman facility, because… well, he doesn't actually have access to anyplace interesting and he just feels a bit out of place down there.
Not that the hospital ward is any better really, but it's where Harry is. Most of the time Eggsy just sits there with Daisy either in his lap, on a bouncer chair or on a pile of blankets, while Eggsy's researching, studying, learning, figuring shit out. It's a pretty good place for it. There's just something extremely soothing about the steady beeping of the heart monitor that keeps him informed of Harry's continued existence.
It would be better if the man would just hurry the fuck up and wake up, but in the meantime…
He's in the middle of studying the intricacies of hacking – which it turns out is nothing like in the movies – when the communications icon flashes in the upper corner of his vision. Frowning, Eggsy turns his eyes to it. Weird, usually Merlin just opens communications – he never bothers to wait for Eggsy to actually answer.
He accepts the call with a couple of blinks. "Yeah?" he asks.
"Gary Unwin?" an unfamiliar voice asks, and Eggsy frowns, turning his eyes downward, to the data feed that runs along the bottom of his vision. In the bottom corner there is a transparent window that is simultaneously displaying the call data, and writing out a transcript of it.
"Percival?" Eggsy says, a bit wary.
"Yes," the unknown voice says. "I'm taking over Galahad's case and I would like to meet with you to discuss the intel he accumulated during his investigation."
Eggsy hesitates for a moment – he might be a handler in training but he's not a handler yet. But… he is only one with full access to Harry's files. And the only way for Percival to know about him would be if Merlin told the guy, and that says something.
"I'm at the UK HQ, in the medical ward," Eggsy says finally. "Should I meet you somewhere or…"
"I'll be right down," Percival says, and cuts off.
"Fuck," Eggsy murmurs, for a moment he just sits there, half slumped in the armchair with Daisy drooling on his chest. Then he sighs and straightens up, easing Daisy into a comfortable position in his lap and supporting her with a hand so that she can practice sitting. "Work, work, work," he mutters at her and then blinks out the contact lists and calls Merlin. "You giving Galahad's mission to Percival, then?"
"Are you going to be belligerent about this?" Merlin asks.
"Just wanted to confirm," Eggsy says. "Also, when do I get a spiffy Arthurian code name?"
"When I say you do," the quartermaster answers, and cuts the communication off.
"Fucker," Eggsy mutters into the now closed connection and then lifts up his so called writing pad again. Using it he accesses Harry's private servers, smiling a bit at the password exchange – come along, fuck you, hello Eggsy. It never fails to cheer him up. Then he starts pulling the right files out.
The door to the room opens not much after, and a man in a solid black bespoke suit steps in. Eggsy glances him over with a somewhat critical eye. He now knows what goes into the making of Kingsman suits – which finally explained the reason why Harry's clothing all weight just a bit too much. Percival wears his armoured suit like a Kingsman should – effortlessly and with style.
"You're Gary Unwin?" the man asks.
"Yeah," Eggsy says. "Sorry that I don't stand up – I got a thing here," he adds, motioning at Daisy in his lap. "Give me your glasses."
Percival arches an eyebrow at him and then takes the glasses off, folding the arms in before handing them over. They're a slightly different design than Harry's – bit lighter and not quite as robust. Eggsy sets them on top of the pad, and then transfers the necessary files into their memory.
"How is he?" Percival asks, looking at Harry thoughtfully.
"Bit by bit inching his way to a hundred percent," Eggsy answers, peeking in at Percival's surface files just because he can. One of the Lancelot candidates' files pops up, but Eggsy doesn't look. Not his business.
"Any word on why he's still in a coma?" the agent asks, glancing at him.
"Nothing," Eggsy says and once the file transfer is done he hands the glasses back to the agent. "Best anyone can say is that he was… just knocked about."
"Hm," Percival answers, putting his glasses back on. "Perhaps once he wakes up he should consider cutting down on the field work," he comments. "Galahad isn't young anymore."
Eggsy narrows his eyes at the man. "You implying something, Percival?" he asks sharply.
The agent glances at him and then smiles. "No need to get defensive, young man. I'm merely thinking ahead," he says and looks at Harry again. "After Arthur, Galahad is the senior Kingsman. And Arthur is certainly not getting any younger. And I'd personally prefer that Galahad was still around when it's time for Arthur to step down."
Eggsy watches the man closely for a moment, not entirely sure if the man was actually saying what he was saying. It was a bit much to come right out like that, criticizing your boss' age and all. Or maybe the guy was trying to get a read on him, offering insults and compliments after each other. Fucking spies, you never could be sure with them.
Instead of acknowledging the word, Eggsy nods at Harry. "You work with him much?"
"We specialise in very different things," Percival says, shaking his head. "Occasionally yes, when the situation required it – but Galahad is a very…" he looks for a word. "Well. I'm more a covert agent myself."
"Right," Eggsy says dubiously. "He's bit too flashy for your style, that it?"
"Undercover work is often best done alone," Percival shrugs and looks at him. "Which seems like something that this Valentine case might require from now on. Merlin tells me you've been working on it during your training – most of the facts come from the research you've done. Can you tell me about it?"
"Yeah, sure," Eggsy says and turns to his pad. He activates a nearby mirror as a screen. "Since we learned about Professor Arnold and the implants, I've been looking into Valentine Corporation and into the missing persons cases – there's been a couple of false alerts lately, people who were reported missing only for them turn up a bit later. Including… these guys," he nods to the window, where a handful of profiles are shown. A couple of professors, a celebrity and one youtuber who did educational videos and had several million followers.
"They all have similar implant scars as Professor Arnold," Eggsy says, switching the pictures to those he'd managed to unearth during his research. It hadn't been fucking easy either. Someone had tried to bury them – but the internet is the internet. Once something was put on it, it fucking stayed on it.
"So this is a wide-spread thing," Percival says, rocking slightly on the balls of his feet.
"Yeah. No way of knowing how many people have been kidnapped, implanted and just released – Arnold was never reported missing, after all. Only way we know about that is because Lancelot stumbled on it," Eggsy says, watching the mirror-screen and then feeding it a list of names. "My theory is that all those missing VIPs? They're part of this."
"But why let some people go, and keep others?" the agent asks thoughtfully
"I reckon they let go the people who promised to keep their mouths shut and those who didn't…" Eggsy shrugs. "Get this though – why are they kidnapping and implanting people in the first place? Like, take Arnold for example. University lecturer. What's the fucking point in grabbing him and implanting him with head explosives?"
Percival casts him a sharp look.
"What?" Eggsy asks when the guy doesn't say anything.
"Language, young man."
Eggsy stares at him with flat disbelief. "Yes sir," he says then, even throws a fucking salute with it.
"Hmm," Percival answers, giving him a narrow look before turning back to the mirror-screen. "Do the kidnap victims have anything in common, any shared qualities?"
"There's three types," Eggsy answers, shaking his head at the man. Fucking seriously. "There's influential people – political entities or celebrities or just generally people who attract a decent sized audience when they speak. Then there the affluent types, so, lots of rich people, investors, business man, a couple CEOs, and an a heiress to a billion fortune and so on. And then there's the intellectuals," he finishes. "Like Professor Arnold. There's fu… there's a lot of missing PhDs out there."
"That's a quite the roster," Percival mutters, eying the screen.
Eggsy shrugs, and turns to Daisy who's making soft, distressed noises in his lap. Gently he eases her into a better position, supporting her with an arm around her waist while lying the pad on his knee so that he can use it one handed. "If they're all part of the same case," he says to the agent. "Hard to know for sure because most of them are missing and all."
"And visiting those we know are implanted would be a waste of time because whoever did the implanting would simply trigger the explosives," Percival says with a shake of his head and pushes his hands into his pockets. "Do you have anything else for me?" he asks, turning to Eggsy.
"Yeah, one more thing," Eggsy says and opens a video clip he'd found on youtube. A Valentine press conference about little improvements to pre-existing technologies and a bit of hype stuff about something big that's coming up. Someone had filmed the whole thing on a phone camera and the quality is absolutely horrible – it's even in fucking vertical video – but there is one moment that makes it worth it. When one of Valentine's techs walks just past the person filming, the camera catches just one frame's worth of the man's profile.
"This is from yesterday and that is an employee in Valentine Corporation," Eggsy says, and pauses the video there. "A minor tech guy, not rich or famous or a genius or anything. Just a nameless techie."
"Well," Percival says, eying the red line of an implant scar running behind the tech guy's ear. "I suppose I have a place to start then." He turns to face Eggsy and smiles. "Thank you for your help."
"Yeah, sure, any time," Eggsy shrugs. "I'm going to keep poking around this, though. It's a bit personal, I guess," he admits. "If I figure something else out, I'll send it your way."
"That'd be appreciated," Percival nods. "My best wishes for Galahad's recovery."
Eggsy nods and waits until the man leaves the room before slumping down again in the armchair and letting out a heavy sigh. "Fucking fuck," he says just because he can. Being nice and proper is fucking exhausting. Still, it's nice to know someone's looking into the whole fucking mess properly again. He just hopes it doesn't get Percival in a coma too – that would fucking suck.
"Well done, Eggsy," Merlin says in his ear. "Your first proper briefing. Bit rough, but we'll work on that."
"Fuck off, I was supposed to be off the clock for the rest of the day," Eggsy grumbles back.
"A Kingsman handler is never off the clock."
Well ain't that fucking great.
Daisy tries to chew on his fingers and Eggsy looks down at her tiredly – and then winces as she bites down pretty hard for a baby. "Hey, you little –" he starts and then pauses as Daisy whimpers and bites down again. Curious, he leans down. "Hey, baby, open your mouth. There you go, open up…" he croons and gently coaxes her mouth open. There, on her lower gum, the tiniest bit of white is peeking through. "Fuck, Daisy, baby. You're fucking teething!"
Daisy makes a face at him, and then bites on his knuckle. Eggsy lets her, smiling even though it kind of hurts.
Then he glances at Harry, lying comatose and completely unaware of the whole thing and it feels a bit like someone's kicked him in the gut. Eggsy's face falls a bit and something in his throat just hurts.
Harry has never as much as held Daisy, but Eggsy knows that the man would've wanted to see this. Would've fucking loved to be part of it. And, shit, Harry has been out for a long fucking while already, he's missing out on so fucking much of Daisy's development and it twists like fucking knife in Eggsy's gut.
Bowing his head, Eggsy kisses Daisy's dark hair, his face crumbling, lips twisting downwards as he stares at the unnaturally motionless and silent man.
What if Harry stays out of it so long he misses shit like Daisy's first steps or something? Misses her first word? The longer a coma lasts, the worse the odds of getting the patient out of it get. Each day, Harry's chances are a tiny bit worse. What if he never gets out of it?
"No, fuck, just… no," Eggsy mutters and then leans back, reaching for his pad again. He's still logged into Harry's servers and it's no task at all to set up his own folders there. Programming his glasses and figuring out the encryption takes a bit longer – he definitely isn't as tech savvy as Harry is, not yet at least – but that's fine. So long as Harry's servers stay secure, it's enough.
Once he's done, Eggsy touches the touch pad on the side of his glasses, looks down at Daisy…
And starts recording.
Bit by bit, Eggsy's skills are tested out. Research, check. Data handing, check. Weapons, check. Hacking, still needs work but check. Agent coordination…
Since the Lancelot candidate trials are going and there's handily so many potential agents running around, Merlin kills two birds with one stone and puts Eggsy in charge of half of the candidates – while he himself coordinates the other half – during a mock-up mission. There's now six candidates left in the whole group – Roxy, Hugo, Charlie, Digby, Rufus and Aiden, the others having been dropped one by one during the testing process, so that's three candidates for each coordinator. The mission itself is nothing impressive or overly complicated – it's just basically capture the flag, just, with spec ops gear and super computers.
Of course, Merlin gives him the fucking assholes, and Charlie, Digby and Rufus all start bitching the moment they hear who's their handler.
"We're basically being fucking handicapped here," Charlie grumbles. "Shit."
"What are we going to do?" Digby asks. "I'm not failing just because we got a shit handler."
"I say we just go at it," Rufus says. "We're better off on our own."
Eggsy, who's sitting behind an array of screens in the belly of the Kingsman headquarters, watches them get their gear ready for the whole thing, and if nothing else at least they know how to put camo on right. It's a luxury most handlers don't get during missions – at most they usually saw through their agent's eyes, if that.
He switches to the head cams and then hits the microphone.
"Gentlemen," he says, almost cheerful. "I'm really fucking happy to tell you that ignoring your handler means instant disqualification. So please do go on your own, and do whatever the fuck you want. I'll swing by tomorrow to help you carry your shit out of the HQ."
"Shut the fuck up Eggy," Charlie says, though he shares a look with Rufus.
"Instant disqualification, you say," Digby says slowly.
"Instant disqualification," Eggsy agrees.
"Fuck," Digby mutters, looking at the others and then turning to check his rifle. It's not a real rifle, of course – it's a kinsman issue training rifle, aka, a paint ball gun which looks and feels very real and probably wouldn't make it through an airport.
"Fine then, Eggy," Charlie says. "If we lose because of you I'm going to fucking –"
"You're going to fucking what? Fuck me over? Make my life living hell? Call for daddy to beat me up? Expect me to give a single fuck?" Eggsy asks and Charlie shuts up. "Now are we going to fucking do this or not?"
The whole thing is one big cluster fuck, from start to finish. Eggsy has near full visuals of all parts of the Kingsman estate, same as Merlin and to keep the playing field level they both agreed not to take any of the cameras or microphones out. It doesn't help him much, though, since Merlin masterfully coordinates his would-be-agents around the cameras, making carefully sure Eggsy doesn't get much of anything. Only thing he has full visual on is the opposing team's flag, which sits underneath one of the cameras – like his team's flag sits under another camera.
And fucking Charlie, Digby and Rufus are slow to react, they question every fucking order he gives, won't stop suggesting better alternatives. Eggsy has to get Daisy's monitor feed up on one of the screens just to keep calm – he's so very tempted just to walk the three idiots out into the open and let them get shot.
But he doesn't because, fuck it, he wants to get this. So he does his damn best to get Charlie and Digby to the flag without being seen while Rufus stays behind to guard. In the meantime, he tries to figure out ways to get Merlin's side taken out.
Digby is taken out by a sniper and Rufus and Hugo go at it for a moment before they both are out after Rufus paint bombs them both. Points for willingness to sacrifice himself for the greater good, but fucking Christ.
"Okay, fuck it – Charlie," Eggsy says. "Find a bush to hide in, yeah? I'm gonna try something."
Then Eggsy hacks the mansion's main frame, gets into the controls, and turns on the sprinklers around the grounds. While Charlie lets out a curse in his ear, Eggsy digs into the controls for the lighting, and turns on a single lamp post, about a hundred meters from Charlie. The one that's conveniently just on top of their flag, actually.
"Shit, did you do that?" Charlie asked. "What the hell are you doing?"
"Trying for a diversion. Get going," Eggsy says, leaning in and doing what he can to confuse the opposing team. Lighting the flag makes it all the more obvious at a distance, but it also makes the location much more open and risky – easier for anyone who gets in there to get the flag to get sniped. It's a bluff, Charlie's half way across to the opposing team's flag, but if it makes Merlin's group hesitate even for a bit… it might give them the time.
Merlin calls his bluff just before Charlie would've gotten to the flag – Aiden runs like a fucking madman for the flag and grabs it and then just stands there, looking around and waiting for retaliation that doesn't come.
"Looks like it's my game, Eggsy," Merlin's voice sounds in his ear as the sprinklers are turned off and all the lights come on in the grounds, signalling the game's end.
Eggsy sighs and runs a hand over his face, knocking his glasses askew for a moment. "Charlie," he then says to his last team member. "Paint bomb the fucking flag."
"That's the first sensible thing you've said so far," Charlie says and throws a paint grenade at Merlin's flag.
In the end, no one's dropped for the team exercise – though no one on Eggsy's team is happy about their scores. Eggsy doesn't particularly give a fuck – he gets his own dressing down, with Merlin taking sadistic pleasure in pointing out each and every mistake he'd made during the exercise, and why he failed.
So yeah. Agent Coordination is still a work in progress.
"Still, you managed to wrangle three belligerent agents with antagonistic disposition towards yourself to following your orders at least seventy percent of the time," Merlin says, stroking his chin as they go over the start of the footage. "By lying to them," he adds, glancing at Eggsy and arching his eyebrows.
Eggsy shrugs, not particularly sorry. "The fuck else was I supposed to do? They would've gone on doing whatever the fuck they wanted, ignoring me all the while. Had to do something."
"Mm-hmm," Merlin nods, and says nothing else.
Eggsy carefully positions his glasses on top of the high bedside table, poking at them until he is sure the camera catches everything at the right angle. He grins at the glasses, backing away and to Harry's side. "Today, we shall be doing a human experiment," he says and rubs his hands together with glee, glancing at the man.
Harry lies, as always, completely stationary and just generally dead to the word, looking pretty much nothing like himself. The beard is… really, really distracting, but Eggsy pushes through, smiling at the camera. "And our test subject is…" he says, making a mock drum roll against his knee before picking Daisy up from the bouncer chair. "This fine creature!" he announces, and shows her to the camera. "Daisy Unwin, currently five months old, weighing approximately fifteen pounds, measuring approximately twenty three inches, she will be our test subject today."
Daisy wiggles in his arms, kicking at the air while he quickly uses a foot to drag a nearby contraption closer and into the view of the camera. "This here, is an obvious torture device, as you can see," Eggsy announces, tucking Daisy in his lap and positioning the high chair in front of him so that it was in front, but didn't block Harry from the camera's view. It's a really nice high chair too, with cushions and wheels and everything.
"Absolutely terrible," Eggsy says with mock horror, pressing kisses on Daisy's hair. "Let's see how our test subject likes it."
It takes some manoeuvring to get Daisy into the chair – she's in a kicking mood and keeps pushing away from the chair, but after a bit of a struggle Eggsy gets her feet into the right places and manages to drop her onto the cushioned chair. She sits there, still kicking and trying to bounce, looking up at him expectantly.
"I do believe she don't give a fuck," Eggsy says, grinning, and kisses Daisy's cheeks. "That's my good girl, Daisy," he says, enjoying her delighted little giggle and kissing her a couple more times just to keep the giggles coming. Then he leans back. "Now, to the actual experiment."
With that, he turns around and gets the pre-readied little plastic dish and equally plastic spoon. He presents them rather dramatically to the camera.
"First time trying solids!" he grins. "This is going to be amazing. Or a fucking disaster, one or the other," he shrugs. "Either way, here goes nothing."
After making sure that the food is neither too cold nor too hot, he gathers a tiny bit in the spoon. "Open up, baby girl," Eggsy says, cooing at her. "Here's something yummy for you. Tested it myself, seriously yummy stuff. Baby food is surprisingly edible. Open your mouth Daisy, baby, here you go…"
It takes some prodding before she gets the idea and the confusion is very evident on her little face as Eggsy offers her the spoon. She doesn't quite grasp the idea that she's supposed to take the stuff on the spoon so he sort of levers it into her mouth and then pulls the spoon back, watching her realise that there's something on her tongue.
"Dah! Dah!" Daisy says with surprise and the baby food goes all over her chin. Wiggling excitedly and banging her little hands against the – thankfully well cushioned – supports of the high chair, she stares at him expectantly until he gives her another spoonful – which she this time accepts a little better. Most of it still goes all over her chin, but she's gotten the idea now.
Eggsy might be grinning like a lunatic. He can't help it. She's so adorable. She's making a horrible mess and he's very quickly realising that he probably should've gotten a bib for her before trying this experiment. Ah, well. Washing machines were invented for a reason.
"I will call this experiment a fucking success," Eggsy grins, glancing at the camera and then at Harry's still form on the hospital bed. Eggsy's smile wanes a little. "We'll be teaching Daisy proper table manners in no time," he says. "Yeah?"
Harry says nothing and shaking his head Eggsy turns back to Daisy, who's patting around her own chin, making the mess even worse by spreading the gooey stuff everywhere. Fucking precious.
"Wake up already, you fucking prick," Eggsy says to Harry. "You're missing all the fun around here. Just… wake the fuck up."
In the end, though, Eggsy thinks he's doing pretty damn well with his training. He's progressing at a rate he knows is out pacing any other trainee handler Kingsman has had in years – and in the fucking modern era of the internet and information technology, that's saying fucking something. He's tearing through his training and acing most of his qualifications and sometimes, Merlin even looks a bit impressed.
He gets some remedial training in agent coordination and even gets to sit in with Dindrane, Percival's handler, watching and learning as she masterfully navigates her agent through one of Valentine Corporation's secure factories.
"Fourteen meters, then take the left – there's an alcove behind the door, use it to recuperate and re-scan. There will be a camera four meters to the right, with a motion sensor, keep an eye on it," she says, her voice calm and level and Eggsy's kind of awed by the… smoothness of it all. Her voice and instructions and Percival's easy reception of it. He doesn't ever acknowledge her, but he obeys her without question and without hesitating.
While Percival follows the instructions, Dindrane is already looking ahead, her various programs running path checks, checking the security, trying to come up with routes – there's this GPS navigator-esque thing actually making paths in red lines on the blueprint maps, which she checks and dismisses and has the computer run another one and another one until she's satisfied, all of this done almost fucking instantly.
"The trick of it is to have everything ready when the mission starts," she tells him. "No matter how fast you are, you don't want to have to stop and pull another thing up in the middle of a mission – no, it all needs to be there just when you need it."
"But you never know what you'll need, do you?" Eggsy asks. "If something goes tits up –"
"I suggest you try out different tools until you figure out the ones you can do the most with, and then figure out how to cover as much ground with them as you can. And I do mean that they have to be fit for you," Dindrane says, motioning at the path tracking program running on its own screen. "Like this one for example. I'm the only handler who uses it, but I find it saves me a few seconds in trying to plot paths and it works in most situations, as long as I have access to the right blueprints. Those seconds saved I can then give to other things. It doesn't work for everybody, but it works for me."
The whole mission is like a dance – Dindrane directs Percival through the whole facility, past the cameras and motion detectors and through all the other security measures, and Eggsy watches with something akin to awe as the agent weaves through the place. The goal of the mission is to have a closer look at the new SIM cards that Valentine Corporation has started producing in the millions lately. Apparently, that had something to do with the head explosives and missing people.
"Well, we don't know for sure, but the timing is more than slightly suspicious," Dindrane says, while Percival takes a careful look at the long line of production robots, Dindrane recording everything.
Percival is eventually spotted while he's sneaking some SIM cards off the conveyer belts and the escape from the facility is fucking spectacular. Eggsy watches the whole time with baited breath, as the agent makes his escape, working seamlessly with his handler's guidance and ducking and weaving through the security until Dindrane orders him to jump out of a window – and the man fucking does it, no hesitation what so ever, he just jumps out of a fucking window.
"Un-fucking-believable," Eggsy murmurs, watching Percival land on top of a moving truck and make his final escape from the facility.
"Nice to have your approval, dear," Dindrane smiles and Eggsy just shakes his head in awe. Then she hits her wire framed glasses. "Percival, your status?"
"That was quite bracing. I'm slightly winded, but I'll do," the agent says with a little laugh and digs out the SIM card he'd grabbed from the conveyer, holding one of them in clear view of his cameras. "Now," he says. "Time to figure out what this is all about."
Eggsy is Dindrane's unofficial pupil for a couple of days, learning the tricks of agent wrangling and coordination from her, before he's tested again – this time in a computer simulation, thankfully, rather than with actual physical people. While the Lancelot candidates get ready for flight training, Eggsy kicks ass and takes names in the simulation. And while the simulation isn't quite the same as the real thing and obviously the stakes aren't anywhere near realistic… he fucking aces it.
"It'll be different when it's Harry's voice in your ear, telling you he's about to be run over," Merlin comments when Eggsy goes in to gloat with sleepy Daisy tucked safe in his arms.
"Yeah, I know," Eggsy answers. "Still, can't say I didn't ace it."
"Mm-hmm," Merlin says and his hands fly over his controls as he stares up at the screen. It shows the interior of a plane, with the Lancelot candidates sitting there in full parachuting rig.
"They getting ready to jump?" Eggsy asks.
"They're just about at the right altitude," Merlin says, and glances at him. "This part has the tendency of including a lot of screaming and shouting and cursing and being generally rather loud. You might want to take the wee lass elsewhere, seeing that she's half asleep."
"Yeah," Eggsy says. "I actually have a request, though. I need to take Daisy out for her check-up sometime soon. That okay with you?"
"You have a date picked out?"
"No, it just needs to be sometime this week," Eggsy says, looking down at the baby. Daisy yawns at him, little white nubs of teeth glinting at him from her pink gums, and he grins at her. "It's just a monthly check up. I go in, they weigh Daisy and shit, and I come out. Usually takes about half an hour."
"Hm. You can do it tomorrow," Merlin says. "I'll take you myself – I have some business at the shop anyway."
"Escorted by Merlin," Eggsy grins. "Sweet. I'll see you tomorrow then."
It isn't until later that Eggsy hears about what the drop test entails for the Lancelot candidates and it makes him rather glad he's not training to be a fucking agent. He might have reoccurring nightmares of being stuck behind a screen listening to Harry being gunned down now, but at least no one made him do a drop without a shoot. The washout rate of the parachute test is fucking high too – four people get the boot.
Hugo, the poor fuck, breaks both his legs in landing, opening his shoot far too late – he leaves the mansion on a gurney. Digby and Aiden didn't land in the target area and Rufus opened his shoot too early. It's down to two candidates now, Roxy and Charlie.
Eggsy is putting all his bets on Roxy, now.
He and Merlin take their leave of the Kingsman HQ early the next morning, leaving the Lancelot candidates to recuperate after the flight test – and they head out in the Kingsman private fucking Metro because the Kingsman has its own private fucking metro.
"Ever heard of overkill?" Eggsy asks while leaning one arm over the back rest and holding Daisy's teething ring with the other so she can mouth it a bit easier.
"It's not in as heavy use as it used to be, I'll grant you," Merlin shrugs, watching the baby. "It was created around the time of the Second World War as a contingency measure, a way to get people out of London fast in case the worst happened."
"Just in case the shop got blitzed, you made your own fucking underground? Yeah. Over kill."
The quartermaster smiles at that, leaning his head back. "The shop was our only HQ back then," he says, thoughtful. "The mansion was owned by the then-Arthur, who'd just finished the construction of an elaborate bunker system. It was a very busy time for Kingsmen – London was nearly bombed several times in those years – and he was somewhat nervous, judging by the records. Eventually he left the mansion and its grounds to Kingsman in his will, it has been our primary HQ in the UK since."
"Fascinating," Eggsy says – and it actually is. He hasn't had the time to look into the history of Kingsman, but it's definitely going on his list of things-to-research-one-day-when-there's-time. "So, what do you need to do at the shop?"
Merlin eyes him for a moment. "How late can you push the check up?"
"It gets a bit crowded around noon, I'd like to be in and out before then. Why?"
Merlin doesn't say, but that doesn't matter – Eggsy finds out pretty soon. After they arrive at the shop and Eggsy gets a look at the actual front of the Kingsman Tailor shop – the very shop Harry pretended to work at. It's about as fancy as he thought it would be, fucking gold everywhere. It's an actual functional tailor's shop too, which is in a weird way kind of hilarious. The people manning it are actual spy tailors.
Then Merlin shows him the hidden features in the dressing rooms, and damn if it isn't cool.
"Aw man, this is sick," Eggsy breathes in the armoury. They have several armouries in the HQ of course – but nothing as fancy as the shop armoury. It's basically a display for the shiniest kingsman tech, and there's just no way to look at the neat lines of weapons and explosives and all the other goodies and not be at least a bit awed by it all.
"This is where our agents primarily replenish their arsenal," Merlin says. "As the HQ is a bit out of the way, as it is. Depending on how things turn out, you might have to come here to restock things sometime so it's good to know what's needed – and of course, as Harry's Handler you might have to come and get stuff from here for him. It's known to happen."
Eggsy nods at that, still watching all the shiny goodies. Then he stops and turns to stare at him. "Wait, what?" he asks. "You're not – are you saying that I'm –"
"This way Eggsy," Merlin says, ignoring him and walking out of the room and into the actual shop. Eggsy closes the secret door after them and then waits, Daisy's basket in one hand and a whole slew of questions in his head.
"Now, gentleman, I have a pretty little case for you," Merlin says, taking Eggsy by the shoulders and pushing him forward and in front of the two tailors manning the shop. "It has been a while since we did uniforms, but I'm sure you can still manage something for him?"
The tailors exchange looks. "In what style, sir?" the elder of the two tailors asks thoughtfully, and Merlin fucking grins.
So, while Merlin looks after Daisy for a bit, Eggsy gets to stand on a stool and shit, his eyes a little wide as one of the tailors – Albert – takes his measurements with deft, experienced hands. He might not be getting a Kingsman suit, but he's getting a Kingsman something and fuck… that means he's made it.
He's made it. He's fucking made it.
"Merlin," he says, coming out of the fitting room. "Is this really it? Am I, did you just –?"
"As far as training and qualifications go… yes," Merlin says and nods at him, with Daisy in his arms, playing with a ball of yarn one of the tailors must've given her. "But you understand, Eggsy, it won't be official until Harry wakes up."
"Y-yeah, but… Jesus," Eggsy mutters, shaking his head. "I didn't know I was already that far, I thought there'd still be a lot of stuff to learn, I thought –"
"Eggsy, you've been tearing through your training like a man gone mad. You have all the necessary tools now – the rest is just experience and practice. And only real action will tell if you're up to the task or not," Merlin says, and hands Daisy over. "Now, as I doubt you'll be willing to leave Harry at his point, you may stay in the HQ until further notice. Until he wakes up you'll be riding shotgun to other handlers and taking up support staff duties to get as much experience as you can, and I expect you to keep up with you self-studies. I'll still put you through your paces, of course. But as of now… I'm relatively confident you can do it."
"Fuck," Eggsy says. "I mean… fuck. Thank you, Merlin."
"Go get Daisy checked up," Merlin says, glancing at the tailors who are watching with a sort of calm reservation. "You can have the rest of the day off to yourself, if you need it. Go see the house, or something. I'll see you back here tomorrow at nine a.m."
Daisy's check-up comes up clean and Eggsy barely notices the looks the posh mums give him in the waiting room, neither when he enters nor when he leaves. The suddenness of his training's end has thrown him off the loop a bit, and he's still in something of a daze when he heads out, trying to figure out what the hell to do next.
"Shit," Eggsy murmurs and then looks down at Daisy in her basket, six months old now and growing fast. She's waving the teething ring around, looking up at him as she does and she's still the focal point of his life and always will be. But fuck…
What the fuck is he supposed to do now?
Harry is still in a coma in the ward back at HQ – it had been over two months now. Eggsy is more than willing to be patient, but the idea that he might have two more months ahead of him makes him blanch a bit. Time went by fast while he was training because there was rarely a moment to have a breather – he was constantly busy, constantly researching, constantly on the move. The idea that he's done with that and still has to wait, has to sit by Harry's bed and watch and hope…
He'll do it, of course he will fucking do it, but it'll be bit worse now, with less to keep him distracted.
Sighing, Eggsy looks up and then frowns. He'd walked a little ways off from the hospital, and is now standing in the middle of the street with people walking cautiously around him. On his left there's a long line of posh looking shops – a jeweller's, a tech store, a shoe shop, a hatters… a barber's shop. Eggsy stares at it for a moment, entertains the thought of getting a haircut since his hair has grown out a bit during his stay at Kingsman.
Then he does a double take because it's not a hair salon – it's an actual barber's shop. There's straight razors and shit on the display and everything.
With Harry still so firmly in mind, the visage of his increasingly bearded face all but burned into his memory, Eggsy eyes the shop a moment and then marches inside, Daisy's basket hanging from one arm.
"I'll pay you a hundred quid if you teach me how to shave with a straight razor," Eggsy says to the man behind the hard wood counter, and the barber blinks at him, looking taken a back.
"Sir?" the bewildered man asks, looking him up and down. "Could you please repeat that?"
"A hundred quid if you teach me how to shave with a straight razor," Eggsy says. When the man just blinks at him, he sighs. "Two hundred."
"I'm not quite certain –"
The barber blinks owlishly at him again. "Well then," he says, still looking more than a bit taken a back. "Right this way sir."
The man probably thinks he's nuts or something – especially when Eggsy explains to him that it's not himself he wants to shave, he's perfectly fine using an electric razor, thanks. But he wants to learn to shave someone else. Still, three hundred quid is enough to get the barber invested in the whole thing, so the man talks him through the process showing the razor types, shaving creams, brushes and even going over aftershaves, making Eggsy weirdly nostalgic for the smell of Harry's aftershave, something he hasn't smelled in months now.
While Daisy falls asleep waiting, the barber, who's very quickly warming up to the whole thing, has Eggsy practice the movements and then they get to it. While Eggsy's holding a hot towel to his face, the barber talks him through shaving himself since he's the only one around the practice on. He shows oils to use to moisturise the face and protect it from razor burn, how to make the lather, and talks Eggsy through dealing with the contours of the face, the techniques.
It's actually not that difficult in the end – it's not quite how Eggsy's used to using blades, but in the end it's no different from figuring out throwing knives. It's all about angles and smooth movements, and trying not to cut himself in the meantime. The whole thing is done in under half an hour, and while Eggsy pats a bit of aftershave on himself, feeling dapper as fuck, the barber explains to him the differences between shaving himself and shaving someone else.
"This is all sick as fuck, bruv," Eggsy says to the barber – who is still looking at him strangely "I want all of the stuff I need to do this by myself. You sell razors, right."
"We do indeed, sir," the barber says and he might not get Eggsy at all, at least he doesn't seem to mind anymore. "And if you don't mind me saying, it's a delight seeing a young man such as yourself taking an interest in these old arts."
Eggsy pays him, buys a whole shaving kit and after the barber's taught him how to strop the blade, he heads out, a good four hundred quid poorer and with a plan in mind.
Eggsy spends the single day off mostly cleaning Harry's house and checking the servers over, just in case. They run on automatic and the secret room they're stashed in has amazing environmental controls but still, it doesn't hurt to check. There's a lot of valuable shit in the servers.
Like a whole folder of captured footage on Eggsy and Daisy, which is all sorts of wonderful and weird. The most viewed piece of footage in it is of Eggsy lying on Harry's couch, asleep with an equally asleep Daisy curled up on her stomach on top of his chest. It's almost five minutes long, meaning that Harry had been standing there, at the foot of the cough, for five minutes just watching Eggsy and Daisy sleep. Creepy and sweet all at once, that was Harry Hart in a nutshell.
After the house is about ready to be left empty again, Eggsy gathers Daisy and his brand new shaving kit, grabs Harry's aftershave from the bathroom along with his preferred shaving cream, and then he heads back to the Kingsman tailors.
"Morning, Merlin," he greets the quartermaster who's sitting on one of the couches in the front of the shop. "I have a favour to ask, if you don't mind."
"And that is?" Merlin asks without looking up from the newspaper he's leafing through.
"Lemme shave you."
The man blinks at that and then looks up at him incredulously. "Excuse me?"
Eggsy grins, lifting the case. "I popped in a barber shop yesterday, got some personal tutelage. I want to give Harry a shave," he says and shrugs. "He's starting to look a bit bushy and it's messing with my head. But I don't exactly want to go practicing on a comatose man. So. I need someone to practice on."
Merlin stares at him blankly for a while. Then he rolls his eyes and turns the page in his paper. "Go get your fitting done, and then we'll head to HQ," he says. "We can talk about your… extracurricular interests later."
"I'm holding you to it," Eggsy says with a grin and a wink, and then leaves Daisy in the man's care. It's something he dares to do more and more because it turns out Merlin's a huge fucking softy and pretty great with kids in general. And it's always hilarious seeing people's faces when they come across Merlin and Daisy together.
"There you are, sir," Albert says, setting the stool for Eggsy to stand on. "Let's check the fit of the trousers first…"
It's all sorts of sick, to get a Kingsman issued uniform. It's not quite a double breasted three piece suit – Eggsy's not an agent after all, nor will he ever be – but Kingsman handlers get their share of the Kingsman goodies, and some sort of suit of clothes made of bullet-proof materials is always included in the deal.
While Albert checks the fit of the trousers, Eggsy pulls on a white button up shirt which looks deceptively thin considering what it's made of. It's a bit heavier than he thought it would be, but the microfiber it's made from is damn hard packed so it's pretty understandable. Over the shirt goes a neatly fitting black waistcoat, and Eggsy can't help but stand a bit straighter, as Albert checks the fit and finds it satisfying. Albert helps him tie his tie and then hands him a set of shiny black oxfords and so, he's about finished.
"Fucking Christ," Eggsy murmurs, running a hand through his hair, pushing it back. He looks fucking amazing, if he says so himself. Turning a bit, he tries to find a posture where the clothes sit a bit easier, pretty much openly admiring the visual he makes in the bullet proof waistcoat. "This is fucking sweet," he says. "You guys are amazing."
"Thank you, sir," Albert says, and presents him with a set of pristine white gloves. "To finish the look," he says and smiles.
And so, Eggsy finally starts looking his part as Harry Hart's valet.
Eggsy meets Arthur a couple days after Merlin semi-confirms him in his position as Galahad's handler – pending on Galahad's opinion of course. In Kingsman, there's a very interesting dynamic of power that has Eggsy pretty sure that Merlin actually rules the whole show, except he has the rest of the organisation thinking he doesn't because they have Arthur.
Arthur, the oldest currently working Kingsman agent – no longer working in the field, but still he's considered an agent. The king of their organisation. Fucking acts like it too, which probably helps with the whole thing of people believing he calls the shots. Except… he doesn't really, because there isn't shit a single Kingsman agent – or a handler for that matter – can actually do without Merlin's say so.
Eggsy puts on his best I'm a good boy, honest face when he meets Arthur, though. Even if it might be in name alone, Arthur is still the supposed head-honcho and if nothing else the agents look up to him – as does Merlin himself, which says something. Probably.
"So, you're the one Merlin has been training as a handler for our Galahad," Arthur says and shakes Eggsy's hand in a weird mixture of firm and limp handshake that somehow putts Eggsy off. "Unwin, wasn't it? Related to Lee Unwin?"
"Yes, sir. Lee was my dad," Eggsy agrees – and he can fucking feel the old man judging him for it, somehow.
"Well. Let's hope you do better than your father," Arthur says. "Now, tell me how Merlin came across you?"
Eggsy has to almost physically smother the urge to flip the man off – do better than his father his fucking arse. "Galahad took me up as his valet, sir," he says instead, through somewhat gritted teeth. "Merlin thought it might be a good basis for a functional working dynamic."
"Well. We shall see."
The old man doesn't like him at all, that's much is fucking obvious. Even on his best behaviour Eggsy knows he doesn't quite fit – even in a nice and proper valet's uniform he's still a bit too rough around the edges, and even when he tries for a posh accent, the chav still comes through. Thankfully though, Eggsy's part of the support staff, so Arthur isn't really his boss – Merlin is. So it doesn't fucking matter if Arthur likes him or not, so long as Merlin does.
And Merlin's lets him get at his neck with a cut-throat, so Eggsy's pretty sure Merlin's okay with him.
"I do not call all the shots," Merlin tells him sometime later while doing just that thing. He's sitting in a repurposed office chair in the middle of Eggsy's suite, looking for all the world to see perfectly calm – if somewhat irritated. "Arthur really is the leader of our organisation."
"Yeah, sure, whatever you say, Merlin," Eggsy says and drapes a hot towel over his chin. "But you can't fucking deny that if you decided to, I dunno, do pretty much anything, you probably could. Blow Kingsman wide open, reveal us to the public, lead all of us to our deaths, so on and so on. Or, you know, just refuse your help which is pretty much the same thing."
To his credit, Merlin doesn't bother to deny it. Eggsy grins at him, and is rewarded with a scathing look for it. "But I too follow orders," Merlin says sharply. "Specifically, Arthur's orders."
"Uhhuh. And where does Arthur get his tech from?" Eggsy asks. "Own up to it, man. You've got all of us on a leash."
While waiting for the hot towel to do its magic, Eggsy watches Daisy, who's in a bouncy chair and by the looks of it trying knock herself out with a plus toy, what with the way she's waving it.
Merlin follows his eyes, watching her past the edge of the towel. "Your kid is almost a member of Kingsman herself," he points out. "And I most certainly don't have her leash."
"Fucking ha," Eggsy answers flatly, not sure how well he likes the idea of Daisy as a member of Kingsman. There was a high probability that she'd be exposed to it – well, she already was, but once she got old enough to understand. Unless Eggsy really did get a nanny or something, and he wouldn't, then there was no way to keep the whole thing from her. She'd grow up surrounded by Kingsman stuff and people.
Merlin watches him coming to this conclusion and snorts. "Bit too late to be having second thoughts, Eggsy."
"Yeah," Eggsy answers, scratching at his chin. He'd shaved with the straight razor that morning and he still wasn't used to the feeling it left behind. "I don't suppose I could get a blanket promise that if she ends up being recruited, it's to a support position only?"
"Didn't think so," Eggsy sighs and shakes his head. Then he looks at Merlin curiously. "I've been wondering about something, actually. Do you have kids?" he asks. "I mean… you're brilliant with Daisy, so you've obviously got some experience."
Merlin shakes his head and tugs the towel down from his face. "Life as a member of a secret agency doesn't really leave that much space for a family," he says. "Some manage it, but I knew I would never be able to balance it – especially not after I ascended to the position of Merlin. I'm far too busy for it."
"Seems fucking lonely," Eggsy says, taking the towel and tucking another, dry one, around the man's neck. Then he picks up the lather and the brush. "But I guess it would be tough. Especially if you had to do shit like lie to your significant other." Like his dad had done to his mum.
"Hmm," Merlin agrees, watching him as he starts to lather his face. "I find that the best chance of a relationship a Kingsman can have… is with another member of Kingsman."
Eggsy pauses, turning his eyes up from the lather. "You implying something, bruv?" he asks, narrowing his eyes.
"Just making an observation," the quartermaster answers. "It is the best way around the whole dishonesty thing – date someone with equal or higher security clearance."
"Right," Eggsy mutters and he really, really tries to keep it in… but fuck it, Merlin's basically dangling the opportunity in front of him and Eggsy's fucking weak to being baited. "That happen often, then?"
"Sometimes," Merlin says. "There are a few established couples within Kingsman – and quite a number of people who see each other casually."
"You mean like just for a fuck?"
The quartermaster gives him a flat look. "And for a chance to actually interact with another human being in a relaxed setting without having to put up a mask in the meanwhile. When you live a life full of secrets, there's power in being able to unload to someone you know you can trust," Merlin says and then smiles. "Go on, Eggsy. Ask."
"Ask about Harry, obviously."
Eggsy says nothing, concentrating on finishing lathering. Then he takes the razor, flicks it open, and holds it delicately in his fingers. "I'm going to cut you now," he says.
"I'm regretting agreeing to this already," Merlin answers with a shake of his head and closes his eyes. He takes a breath and lets out a sigh. "Just keep in mind the sheer enormity of the hell I can unleash upon you if I feel like it, Eggsy, there's a good man."
Yeah. Merlin totally rules Kingsman. No fucking doubt about it.
"Still, Merlin might sometimes terrify the fuck out of me, but fucking happy I don't have to work with Arthur," Eggsy tells Harry later on, sitting on the floor of Harry's room and watching Daisy crawl about a thick blanket. Much to the disapproval of Harry's nurse, the room is starting to fill with baby stuff, with toys and shit strewn about, but Eggsy doesn't really give a shit. "There's only so much snobbery a bloke can take."
He makes a tower of plush, stuffed cubes and then watches with a fond grin as Daisy knocks it down. As she gets distracted by the jingling the cubes let out, Eggsy stands up and then falls into the armchair beside Harry's bed, watching him.
He hasn't yet dared to try and shave Harry. It's sorta okay giving Merlin a shave because the man's more than willing to complain if he goes at it too rough or something, but Harry's unresponsive. If Eggsy accidentally hurts him, he won't say.
"Percival's pretty much cracked the Valentine mission, by the way," he says to the comatose man. "I've been popping in and out of Dindrane's office all week – those two work like a well-oiled machine," he comments, a bit jealous. Sure, Percival and Dindrane have a good ten years of partnership behind them, they know each other inside out, but still. It never stops being awe-inspiring, watching them work so seamlessly together.
"Turns out, Valentine is trying to… hm. Save the world? Or maybe destroy it – kind of the same fucking thing," Eggsy snorts. "There's a lot of weird fucking stuff involved with those SIM cards and all that. Really nasty stuff. The man has better security than the fucking President of the United fucking States, though, so they haven't really managed to get at him. And there's the kidnappings. There's something like three hundred people missing, a lot of them really important. And the people with head explosives. That's a fuck ton of hostages."
He trails off, watching Harry's face with a frown.
"Okay, fuck it. I'm gonna do it. If I cut you, you can chew me out for it later or some shit," he says then and gets up. "I'll be right back."
He has all the stuff already in the room – because he's been trying to find the balls to do it for a couple of days now – so he doesn't actually have to leave to get anything. While Daisy rolls around on her blanket, batting at the toys around her, Eggsy prepares a hot towel at the corner sink and gently lays it over Harry's face before starting to prepare the lather.
Then he gets to work – and fuck if it's not all sorts of weird, touching Harry. Sure, Eggsy's done that before, he sometimes helps the nurses turn him and reposition him which has to be done several times a day, but aside from that he has kept a… respectable distance. Tucking a towel around the man's chin is already bad enough, but repositioning him with another pillow behind his neck just for the purpose of getting him to the right angle, wrapping a towel around his chest and shoulders…
"Fuck this is… yeah, we're doing this," Eggsy mutters and then takes the hot towel off. He then begins brushing the lather in smooth circles, rubbing it in liberally to get it all in there. It doesn't take nearly long enough and then…
"Okay," Eggsy says, takes a deep breath and then takes the razor. He's stropped it already and it's sharp as, well, a razor blade. It's fucking nerve wracking to stretch Harry's skin gently up near the ear and then to actually put the razor on the man's sleep lax face. The first stroke is fucking torture.
And then the hair starts coming off and with a shuddering little sigh, Eggsy sets to finishing the task now that he's started it.
"I've been bouncing around HQ all week," Eggsy murmurs to break the tense silence. "Working as back up for other handlers, helping around in R&D, doing some tests with gear they haven't yet approved for field use. You might get an actual laser pen one day, you know. Not like a pointer but a fucking proper laser. It's fucking amazing. It still over heats and has the habit of blowing up when used too much, but hey. Lasers."
He ends up filling the air with his babble, detailing his first week as a member of the Kingsman support staff. Truth be told, he hadn't actually done that much – he was still a bit on the outside, still sort of in between. He wasn't a techie and couldn't really help with any of the research projects or anything like that, but since he was sort of a handler, people didn't really feel right using him as their assistant. Handlers were sort of the cream of the crop in the support staff – a rank above everyone else. Even if Eggsy hasn't yet been confirmed, it wasn't a secret that he'd been hand-picked by Merlin and personally trained.
"Turns out, that's a big fucking deal," Eggsy muses, wiping the razor on the towel, and then checking Harry's face over. He's done pretty well on the first pass, the hair's mostly gone. Setting the razor down, he gently wipes Harry's face before taking the little bottle of oil and then rubbing it in across the man's cheek and chin in rolling motions, trying not to think about the whole business of so much touching too closely. After he's massaged the oil in, he takes the lather again, and reapplies it for a second, closer pass that should take care of the stubble that's still left.
"And that was before it got out that I was trained to be your handler," he says, taking a moment to clean the razor and strop it just in case. Then he lifts the blade to Harry's cheek again, gently tugs at his skin to stretch it straight and then lets the blade's weight do the work as he starts on another pass.
That revelation had turned heads, alright. Harry was a bit of a legend, both due to his skills and his long track record of dismissing potential handlers. He used to have a handler, about ten years back, but the guy had been killed in action and since then Harry had been flying solo pretty much all the time. It was the unattainable job now, to become a handler for The Galahad. It was a huge fucking step up.
Especially since Harry sat on Arthur's right hand side on the Table.
"Of course, most everyone thinks you'll just give me the finger," Eggsy says. "Like you've done with every other handler Merlin has shoved at you. Especially since I'm, well… me."
Daisy lets out a sound and Eggsy lifts the razor up from Harry's skin, cautiously holding it at a safe distance before turning around. She's turned onto her back and has one of the plush cubes trapped under her. Eggsy watches her wiggle around for a moment, grinning as she finally huffs out a frustrated breath and turns back onto her stomach, wiggling around ferociously.
"I guess walking around with a toddler doesn't much help me there," he muses with a crooked smile and then back to Harry – then almost jumps out of his fucking skin.
Harry's eyes are fucking open and he's blinking blearily, staring up at him. "Eggsy?" he asks, blinking again and then frowning. "Eggsy, what –"
"Jesus fuck, bruv," Eggsy gasps out, his heart pounding and quickly sets the razor blade down into the bassinet of water nearby. "Fuck, Harry," he then says. "Fine fucking timing."
Harry lets out a quiet cough and then frowns, lifting a slightly shaking hand to his chin. "What are you doing?"
"Giving you a fucking shave, Jesus Christ –" Eggsy says and then reaches out for the emergency call button, pressing it. "Fucking of course you fucking wake up while I'm fucking doing this, for fuck's sake –"
Harry stops him with a hand on his elbow. "Eggsy," the man says, a little more alert, eyes flickering over Eggsy's face, his neck, his chest. "What are you wearing? What are you doing here – this is –"
"Kingsman HQ, yes, I know. I work here now. Sort of," Eggsy says, looking down at the hand on his elbow and then clasping it in his own. "You've been out for a while bruv," he then says, squeezing Harry's hand. "Three months now."
"Fuck," Harry grumbles, hand gripping tight for a moment before relaxing again.
"Yeah," Eggsy says, and then straightens as Merlin's call sign flashes in the corner of his vision. Merlin, in his usual fashion, doesn't bother to wait for him to accept the call – just butts in and views his live feed.
"It's about the fucking time," the quartermaster sighs at Eggsy. "I'll be right down."
"Roger that," Eggsy answers, touching the glasses with his free hand and then dropping it. "Merlin's on his way," he says to Harry.
The man's lips thin for a moment with displeasure before he nods and then shifts. "Giving me a shave," he then says, trying to sit up. He arches an eyebrow at Eggsy. "And here I came to the conclusion that it would be one task you wouldn't be doing."
"That was before you got all hairy and weird on me," Eggsy mutters, a little self-consciously as he unwraps the towel around Harry's shoulders and helps him sit up, pushing the pillows behind his back a bit. "I wasn't actually finished, though," he adds and hands Harry a towel. "You have shaving cream all over your face."
"Hmm," Harry answers and accepts the towel. His hands are a little unsteady as he wipes his face clean, but he manages it, carefully manoeuvring around the IV in his arm. "Well, I suspect I will find the whole thing far more enjoyable now that I'm awake and actually aware," he says and collapses against the pillows with a sigh, handing the towel back. "Now, where is Daisy?" he then asks, frowning. "You wouldn't have left her in someone else's care, surely?"
"Of course I wouldn't," Eggsy scoffs and after setting the towels aside, he turns and picks his baby from the floor, folding her gently against his hip and turning to Harry. "She's been with me the whole time, pretty much," he shrugs and then stops as Harry just stares, looking absolutely stricken.
"Oh," the man says, staring. "She's… my, she's gotten big," he says, swallowing. "Three months, you say?"
"Pretty much, yeah," Eggsy says sympathetically.
And then Merlin marches in, all business and efficiency. While Eggsy cleans the shaving stuff away one handed on the side of the room, Merlin checks Harry over, asking him all those post coma questions you ask – what's your name, what's the last thing you remember, and so on – before doing a quick physical exam.
"You have at least a couple of weeks' worth of physical therapy ahead of you to regain muscle tone, but aside from that you're right as rain," Merlin says, before detailing the damage that put Harry in a coma in the first place. Cracked vertebrae, burns, etc, etc… there's no sign of any of it now, time having healed it all, but it had been semi-serious for a while there.
"Ah," Harry answers, rubbing a hand over his neck and wincing slightly. "Have you finished the investigation?" he then asks, glancing at Eggsy.
"Percival's taken it over," Merlin says. "Eggsy's been offering technical support to his handler on and off in the last couple of weeks, so he's well informed and if you're interested, ask him," he adds, glancing at Eggsy. "I'm sure he would enjoy briefing you."
"And why precisely is Eggsy here?" Harry asks, eyes narrowing.
Merlin accepts the look with a flat one of his own. "He's here because you're a paranoid bastard and I couldn't get into your files without his help. He stayed here because I recruited him," he says. "The rest you can talk about between yourselves. You have downtime for the next two weeks, Galahad. Use it well. Eggsy," the quartermaster says, turning to him. "You're off the support roster until further notice, understood?"
"Yeah, sure," Eggsy answers, and with a satisfied nod Merlin turns around, and marches out of the room.
"Shit," Harry mutters after him, running a hand over his face and then looking at Eggsy.
Eggsy looks back and shrugs. "It's been a fun three months," he says, a little awkward.
"So I see. You know I didn't want you involved with this," Harry says quietly. "And I got the impression that you shared that feeling."
"Well, that was before you got pretty much blown up," Eggsy shrugs, hitching Daisy up a bit against his hip and walking back to the man's side. "Also, Merlin pointed out that I could very easily work for Kingsman, and care for Daisy at the same time – that I could do it easily from home, even."
"Merlin is a manipulative son of a bitch who lies," Harry says flatly.
"Yeah, he is," Eggsy agrees with a little grin and sits down on the armchair. "But he's kept his word so far, so I'm pretty okay with it."
Harry says nothing for a moment, just watching him and Daisy, the look on his face hard and unreadable. Then he sighs. "You got into my files, then?" he asks. "I assume you retrieved the feed for Merlin?"
Eggsy grins at him. "Yeah. Love the fucking password," he says, and finally Harry cracks a small smile at him. Eggsy lets himself relax before launching into an abbreviated briefing concerning the head explosives, the SIM Cards, Valentine Corporation, and what the theory so far is.
"If Percival and Dindrane are right and the SIM cards can be used to trigger some sort of violent impulses in people, then… well," Eggsy shrugs. "Then shit, I guess. I'm pretty sure they're angling to assassinate Valentine, but there's a lot of hostages to consider."
"Hm," Harry hums thoughtfully, watching him. "If the effect of the SIM cards is similar as what happened in Uganda, then the death toll of the activation could very easily be catastrophic," he says.
Eggsy nods, looking down at Daisy. There's a shit ton of world leaders and whatnot missing – recently a royal princess of Sweden had joined the list of missing VIPs. Measuring them against the majority of the world population… well, it's pretty fucking terrifying stuff, all of it, and he's damn glad it's not him in charge of the investigation. Percival and Dindrane have it well in hand and he doesn't envy them for probably having to make the choice, if it comes to it.
"So," Harry says, still staring. "What else has been happening while I have been out?"
Later that day, Eggsy packs his things in the suite. Most of the stuff there is Daisy's, of course, her clothing and toys and various necessary items – like the high chair, which is staying in the HQ because chances are Eggsy is going to be brining Daisy there in the future anyway.
Roxy, being the awesome mate she is, helps him carry the stuff to Harry's car. "So, I suppose I won't see you again for a while," she says. "Not unless I beat Charlie to the position."
"Which you will," Eggsy says with perfect confidence. "Won't even take much effort, I bet."
She grins a little, hoisting the duffle bag full of baby clothes from her shoulder and dropping it into the boot of the car. "So, are you heading off on a mission, or should I just not ask?" she asks, pushing the other bags around a bit to make room for the bag Eggsy was carrying in one hand – the other being taken by Daisy, who's doing her best to wiggle out of his hold.
"Nah. My agent's out of the hospital, finally, and I'm taking him home," Eggsy shrugs and yeah, okay, that's not official yet, but fuck it. Harry's still his agent and he'll fucking fight anyone if they tell him otherwise. Except maybe Harry himself. Or maybe definitely Harry.
Fuck, it was going to be a nice and awkward evening at home.
Roxy blinks at him. "I… didn't know your agent was injured," she then says, and there's a look on her face that tells him immediately she knows who he's talking about.
Eggsy glances at her, arching a single eyebrow. "Pretty sure you're not supposed to know anything about the agents," he says somewhat teasingly. "What with you being still just a candidate and all."
"Oh, shut up," She says. "It's just, the agent who proposed me for the trials let slip that there was an agent who was out of commission, that there was a chance that he – um…" she stops, blinking and then blanches a bit. "Ah, well, he just mentioned the agent by code name, and well… you can't help but hear things. This is the Kingsman HQ after all. People talk."
"Uhhuh," Eggsy says, staring at her.
She manages to hold it in for about five seconds. "You're going to be Galahad's handler?" she finally asks, almost bouncing with excitement. "Damn, Eggsy!"
"Well, it's not official or anything yet," Eggsy shrugs, a little taken aback by the sudden enthusiasm. "But it's what Merlin recruited me for, yeah."
"But Galahad, Eggsy. The Galahad!" she says, shaking her head in amazement. "What's he like?"
"Currently, rather wistful for home," Harry's voice says from the entrance to the mansion and Eggsy looks up to see the man coming down the stairs. While Roxy snaps into near attention, Eggsy hoists Daisy up a bit and grins at her before looking up at Harry.
"I see Merlin finally let you go," Eggsy says.
"Not without a sermon and several threats, I assure you," Harry sighs, coming down the stone steps. Despite having just been released, he looks as polished as always – albeit, a bit lopsidedly shaven. Thankfully Eggsy had had the foresight to bring a suit for him earlier on, and so the man didn't have to leave HQ in a bathrobe.
"Are we quite ready to go?" Harry asks.
"Yeah, this was the last of it, we're good," Eggsy nods and glances at the car. "Um. I'm driving, yeah?" he more offers than asks, not entirely sure of Harry's quite good to handle a car just yet. The man's a bit… wobbly.
"If you wish," Harry says, glancing at Roxy and nodding to her politely before heading for the car. "Afternoon, Miss. At ease."
"Sir," Roxy answers and relaxes, still looking a little wide eyed.
Eggsy grins at her, even as he sidles along to open the door for Harry. The man gives him a pleasantly surprised look and sits down, and Eggsy winks at Roxy.
"Fangirl," he mouths at her.
"Piss off," she answers, equally silent. "Catch you later, yeah?"
Eggsy nods, and then goes to put Daisy into her seat behind Harry, buckling her in gently with many kisses.
"That was one of the Lancelot candidates, yes?" Harry asks, once Eggsy's taken the driver's seat.
"Yeah. Roxanne Morton – she's one of the last two left," Eggsy answers, and turns the engine on. "I did bits of my training alongside theirs, so I got to know some of the candidates pretty well. She's going to be the new Lancelot, I'll bet my left nut on it."
Harry doesn't answer, looking out of the window instead as Eggsy backs away from the parking lot, and then turns the car around. It's a good five minutes worth of driving before he speaks again. "I was rather wondering why you were still around, considering that Merlin seems to have snatched you from my employment completely," he then says, and glances at Eggsy. "My handler, hm?"
"Merlin's a manipulative bastard," Eggsy shrugs, grinning at him a bit nervously. "It's basically just an upgrade from valet, yeah?"
"It really isn't," Harry answers, and then says fucking nothing.
Eggsy squirms a bit in the driver's seat, keeping his eyes ahead as he drives on. "Harry," he finally says. "You're not going to be a tit about this, are you?"
The man sighs. "How so?"
"I worked my ass off to get Merlin to approve me," Eggsy says. "Because you went off and got yourself fucking blown up and I didn't even fucking…" he stops squeezing the steering wheel in his hand and then forcing himself to relax. "Fuck, I know you're used to going solo and shit, but you fucking need someone to have your back. Just… fucking give me a chance."
The man looks at him for a moment, his face unreadable. "Eggsy," he starts and then pauses and looks away. "Let's talk about it once we get home."
"We need to stop and get some food," Eggsy says with sigh. "The house's been empty for a while."
"Alright," Harry says, and then awkward silence reigns supreme.
After Eggsy's gotten all of his stuff in, put the groceries away, gotten the water running again and turned up the thermostat, some of the tension has evaporated. Still, once they finally can sit down and fucking talk, they end up sitting in silence for a long ass time. And not even Daisy sitting in Eggsy's lap makes it in anyway better.
"Well, fucking, just… fuck," Eggsy says. "Say something already? You fucking want to, I can see you wanting to."
"Hm," Harry answers, eying the stack of unread newspapers sitting on the dining table. Thankfully there's no bills or anything because Harry had no tolerance for shit like that, and pretty much everything was on direct debit. Just a shit ton of fucking ads and shit. "Well then. Why did you join Kingsman?"
"Excuse me?" Eggsy asks, frowning.
"Why did you join Kingsman? I assume Merlin came here as soon as I was stable, to see if you could get him into my servers," Harry says, turning his eyes to Eggsy and watching him expressionlessly. "And after you did that he must've taken the opportunity to pitch his sale to you as well. Why did you agree to it, when previously you were so adamant about staying apart?"
"Wouldn't say I was fucking adamant," Eggsy mutters, leaning back in his chair. "And 'sides, I didn't fucking jump at it right away, and I didn't let Merlin into your servers. I still fucking haven't. They're your servers, it's your private stuff." He stops and takes a deep breath, looking down at Daisy. Poor thing, stuck between them, but fuck it. If he took her elsewhere, there was a good chance he'd end up shouting at Harry.
"You didn't?" Harry asks, looking surprised.
"Of course I fucking didn't," Eggsy grumbles.
"But… Surely you must've. Merlin had my footage. And Percival, when he was taking over Lancelot's case from me, he must've gotten the files somehow."
"Yeah, he did – I gave them to him," Eggsy shrugs. "Same as with Merlin. I got in and got the stuff they needed and just transferred it over – I never let them access the shit directly. With Lancelot's case, they waited for a while to see if you would wake up, though, since they really wanted you on it. But obviously you kept on with the sleeping beauty routine, and so the case was eventually handed over to him."
Harry stares at him silently for a while. "I… see," he then says and leans back, folding his arms and still looking just… troubled. It's starting to seriously piss Eggsy off. "But… seeing that you could do that, you surely could've done it without joining Kingsman."
"Then why did you? What did Merlin do to –"
"Fucking I don't know. He didn't precisely do anything. Fuck," Eggsy sighs and takes another calming breath. "I guess he did take me to see you, and that was manipulative as fuck now that I think about it. Had to sign a confidentiality contract for it and everything. Bit shady, that, in hindsight."
"And I suppose he then made a very convincing argument about how you owed me," Harry mutters bitterly.
Blinking, Eggsy pauses at that and then turns to look at him. "What?" he asks, a little confused now.
"He didn't?" the agent asks, arching his eyebrows and just fucking daring him.
"Um. No," Eggsy says slowly and leans forward. "Fuck, that's what you think? That I joined Kingsman because I fucking owe you?"
"I'm sure you can come up with other reasons, but you cannot deny that I have done a great deal for you," Harry says, folding his arms and looking down at the table rather than at him. "No matter how you dress it, there is obligation there, surely."
"You…. You actually think I feel fucking obliged to you? You son of – you fucking prick," Eggsy says, struggling to keep his voice calm and even – and still Daisy shifts uneasily in his lap, looking up at him in concern. Taking yet another calming breath, Eggsy drops a soothing kiss on her head and then points a finger at Harry. "I don't owe you fucking shit, bruv."
Harry sighs. "Eggsy –"
"I don't. I really fucking don't. Because, A, I've seen Merlin's footage on the day my dad died, and it was you who fucking recruited him, and I can come up with about a hundred ways my life would've been a hell of a lot better if he was still around, so let's not talk about fucking obligation because you got me beat there, yeah?" Eggsy says, and regrets it a bit when Harry winces, but fuck it. They're doing this now, so he pushes forward. "And B… Actually there is no B, but whatever."
Harry opens his mouth to interject, but Eggsy doesn't let him. "I know that you didn't fucking need to hire me – it was an easy way to, I don't even fucking know, keep an eye on me, make up for shit, whatever. Well, that's the valet thing covered, as well as my and Daisy's living here, and yeah I can see why I should feel obliged to you after that fucking favour, but I don't and I won't because you, bruv, you stopped doing favours for me by the time you started creepily watching me and Daisy sleeping."
That livens the man up a bit, makes his head start up, makes him almost blanch. "Eggsy," he tries again, a little more urgently, and Eggsy stops him, again.
"At some point keeping me around stopped being about keeping an eye on me or doing right by me, or whatever shit you were doing in the beginning. At some point, keeping me around just started being about keeping me around," Eggsy says, while the man fucking squirms in his seat across from him. "And then you fucking decided to keep me."
"Eggsy, I really did not –"
"You fucking did," Eggsy says. "Remember that poker game? Merlin was gearing up to recruit me. He told me himself later on, he saw potential in me, I could've been an agent, I could've been part of the Lancelot trials. And yeah, my dedication to Daisy kept me from that and still would, but there were other options. In the support staff."
"Which still isn't safe," Harry snaps at him.
"Uhhuh," Eggsy says, rather unimpressed. "So we're moving from you're just feeling obliged to you're not safe then?"
Harry frowns at him. "It isn't. Involvement with Kingsman will put you and Daisy at risk."
"Well, you already did that, didn't you - when you brought us here," Eggsy says, waving at the room around them. "Hell, we were probably worse off before. Say some terrorist or whatever captures you, somehow backtracks you here, finds us, feeling nice and secure in our civilian lives, no knowledge of Kingsman what so ever."
The man across from him presses his lips tight together. "Yes, well. Knowing what Kingsman is will certainly endanger you further."
"But now I know to fucking watch out for it, and I know how to fucking defend myself – and Daisy – from it," Eggsy says and shakes his head. "Half of all Kingsman support staff members work from home, you know. Couple of them even work from private fucking bunkers, never setting a foot in Kingsman facilities. Yeah there's still risk, but hell. It's better than going around happy go fucking lucky, oblivious to it all. And you fucking know it."
Harry sighs and runs a hand over his eyes. "Your point?" he asks somewhat testily.
"My point is that Merlin wanted to recruit me. You knew he did. And you could say that it would've put me in danger, but you fucking know that I could've just as well been perfectly safe. Kingsman is the secret organisation to end all secret organisations – no one fucking knows about us," Eggsy says, just as testily. "It could and can be and is safe for those of us who don't go out to the fucking field and get ourselves blown up. Merlin could've easily given me a nice safe secure position in Kingsman. You could've let him, could've been rid of me, free of whatever fucking guilt and fucking obligation you felt. But you didn't. You told him no. Why?"
Harry doesn't answer, just sort of stares at him in mix of resignation and frustration. "You still have failed to answer me, you realise," the man then says.
"Yeah? Failed to answer fucking what?"
"Why you joined Kingsman," the man says and eyes him somewhat warily. "If it wasn't out of obligation, then why did you do it?"
Eggsy stares at him a bit incredulously. "Because, you fucking asshole, you got yourself blown up," he says then, enunciating every word carefully and calmly, bouncing Daisy gently on one knee to keep her from picking up the sheer hostility in his voice. "Do you have any fucking idea what it was like, to have Merlin come in, alone and all serious and shit, all I have some bad news? And so fucking soon after Lance's death too."
The man has the decency to at least look a bit guilty now.
"Bruv," Eggsy says. "Say you fucking went and died. Then what? What would happen to me and Daisy? Would I get another one of these?" he asks, digging out the Kingsman medal from under his shirt, tugging it out of his semi proper collar and letting it hang in the air. "With Merlin telling me he unfortunately can't tell me what happened but hey, good luck with life from here on out?"
"No, Eggsy," Harry says. "No, that isn't what would happen."
The man shakes his head. "I made preparations. You're in my will."
Eggsy stares at him blankly for a moment. "Well that fucking makes everything better then, doesn't it?" he says. "I guess I made a fucking mistake after all, no need to be fucking worried because I'm in your fucking will!"
Daisy lets out a distressed noise and Eggsy turns his attention to her guiltily, hugging her close and crooning a bit to soothe out the sting of his voice. "Sorry, baby," he murmurs, kissing her cheeks. "I won't shout, sorry, sorry, shh…"
Harry stares at them somewhat desperately before looking away. "I had hoped to…" he starts and trails off with a sigh, rubbing at his face and scratching idly at the stubble he still has left. "I really didn't wish you involved in Kingsman," he then says. "I wanted to keep you safe."
"Fuck you, bruv," Eggsy grumbles against Daisy's hair. "It ain't about fucking keeping me safe. You fucking prick."
Harry smiles faintly at that and shakes his head. "I suppose it is a little too late to avoid getting attached now," he muses somewhat regretfully.
Eggsy gives him a look. "You're the one who's got a folder named Eggsy and Daisy full of secret camera footage of us," he says flatly. "You got no fucking leg to stand on, you creep."
"I really did not intend –"
"Yeah you fucking did, with that fucking password and all."
"Eggsy, no," Harry says, shaking his head and letting out a small chuckle. "I meant I did not intend to be a creep. I merely… I…" he pauses. "I don't suppose saying that I filmed most of that footage by accident will fly here…"
Eggsy snorts at that. "You had your dead dog stuffed, bruv. You're A-class creep material. Like, you're the bloke mums warn their kids about when they tell them never give away personal info online and shit."
The man sighs at that leaning back in his chair, and doesn't even try to defend himself.
The air's a bit clearer now, though. Maybe it's not okay now, but, hell. At least the violent tension is gone. They sit in silence for a while, Eggsy calming down and Harry probably processing the whole conversation. Eggsy uses the break in this… whatever this is, to try and cheer Daisy up, finally managing to get out a pleased little rumble from her, so, all's well there. Then Harry straightens where he sits, plucking a bit at his button up shirt. "I really need a bath," he says, making a face. "I smell like a hospital, it is extremely distracting."
"I'll go draw it for you," Eggsy says and stands up. "And then I'll see about food. I'm fucking starving."
Harry pauses at that, looking at him. "I… that would be very kind of you, Eggsy, but… you're not my valet anymore," he says slowly.
"Like hell I ain't."
The bath does Harry some good, and the break does them both some good, letting stung tempers calm down a bit. It's a bit weird and interesting, cooking again. It's one thing he hasn't done much at Kingsman HQ – at all, actually, aside from what cooking he did for Daisy. Still, there's a soothing sort of familiarity to it, and though Eggsy doesn't feel like making anything too complicated, it's easy to slip into the old habits.
The pasta is almost done when Harry comes back in, cosy in his velvet fucking bathrobe. Eggsy looks at him and then takes a double take. Harry's slicked his still damp hair back and away from, his face and it looks sorta… interesting, being a bit too long, curling at the man's neck. That's not what Eggsy's staring at, though.
"You didn't shave?" he more asks than says.
"I rather though you'd finish the job there," the man says, leaning a bit to look at the food over his shoulder. "And I see you've finally learned to use an apron."
"I'm wearing Kingsman fabrics, bruv. I ain't about to get food stains on them," Eggsy says with a shrug, still staring at him. "You want me to shave you?"
"You seemed to know what you were doing earlier, albeit I did not see much of it," Harry muses, scratching at his stubbly chin. "It has been a while since I've gotten the chance of being shaved by someone else. I'm rather looking forward to it."
Eggsy just sorta stares at him for a moment before turning his attention back to the food. "Well… alright," he says, blinking at the food. "After dinner."
The food is done quick enough, And while Harry sits down, examining the hundred or so Sun's sitting on the dining table, Eggsy sets the table and serves the food out. Then he picks up Daisy and sits down with her, with a tiny plate of baby food for her. Harry downright abandons the papers and then almost seems to forget the food too when Eggsy starts feeding her.
"She's eating solids already?" the man asks, a little surprised.
"She's already almost six months old, bruv," Eggsy shrugs, grinning at Daisy and quickly wiping the food she hasn't managed to catch from her lips with the edge of the plastic spoon. "It's still a bit of a trial and error for her, but she's getting there. There's a good girl, Daisy," he says when she obligingly opens her mouth.
Harry leans in, just watching for a moment while leaning his chin on crossed hands. "Has everything been well with her?" he asks almost wistfully.
"Yeah, it's been good. She's healthy as fucking a horse, Daisy is," Eggsy says proudly, kissing the side of her head and then taking a fork full of pasta himself. "Mind you, teething's been a bit difficult, but I reckon it always is."
"And you had her with you at Kingsman HQ?" Harry asks.
"Yeah. It was fun, lemme tell you," Eggsy says – and then tells him. About the mixed reactions – some people being a bit freaked by daisy while others absolutely adored her. There'd been a couple of hilarious incidents with cranky Daisy, with smelly Daisy, with just generally baby Daisy, which got some mixed reactions around the HQ.
Of course, there were always assholes – like Charlie – who never stopped looking down their noses at them, but fuck if Eggsy cared about that. No, he cared more about Jessie, a nervous little techie who got all flustered and happy when Daisy was around, which seemed to do her some good, got her to open up a bit. He cared about Damian, an aeronautical engineer, who did the most hilarious faces at Daisy whenever he saw her. He cared about the cyber hub folks, who did most of Kingsman's everyday hacking, who were the first people to buy Daisy gifts – they bought her soft cubes, which she absolutely loved.
Harry listens calmly and eventually even manages to eat something between his staring, and it clears up what's left of the moody atmosphere until it feels almost normal – feels like it's back before Harry's coma, and it's just them, in the house, no time or Kingsman between them. It still feels like it's been fucking years since then, but still. It's good. It's fucking wonderful.
And then the food's gone and Daisy's kicking about in that play time fashion, so Eggsy sets out her blankets and toys in the living room and leaves her to play before quickly cleaning away the dishes. Harry sits back, washing the food down with a cup of tea, and he looks almost good, almost okay. There's still a bit of a frown there whenever he looks at Eggsy.
"You want that shave now, yeah?" Eggsy asks and he won't be fucking nervous about this. He's shaved Merlin for fuck's sake, and the man can make him disappear.
"If you would be so kind," Harry says and smiles almost just like he used to, before.
So Eggsy gets his shaving kit, and then considers the logistics of getting Harry into that handy leaning back position. There's no nice multifunctional office chair here – and no way is he carrying the one from upstairs down. And what with Harry's coma – and the neck injury – he doesn't really want to make the man sit up right, leaning his head back. It seems like it just wouldn't be too good for the man.
"Living room couch," he then decides, and Harry obliges with little objection, lying down with the couch cushions propping him up right, and Eggsy gets a foot stool to sit on.
"Er," he then says, looking at Harry as the whole thing just… dawns on him.
"Hm?" Harry asks, cool and calm as anything, the fucker.
"Erm. Pre-shave oil," Eggsy says, waving the little bottle. "I'm just gonna massage this in, yeah?"
"Well doesn't this seem luxurious," Harry says, pleased. "Do go on."
Well… okay then. Eggsy very resolutely doesn't swallow or anything, he just pours some of the oil in his palms and the rubs it for a moment to warm it and then… then there's lot of touching and yeah, that's different, this comparison to before, with a less responsive Harry. After initial tension, the man just sorta relaxes into it, and feeling the quiet little hum, pleased as anything, rumble under his fingers does weird things to Eggsy's heartbeat.
He rubs the oil in gently in circling motions and if he runs his thumbs along Harry's jaw and down his cheek bones a couple times more than he necessarily needs to, that's his fucking business. The rasp of stubble is there and yeah a bit distracting, but even that's just… nice. Harry closes his eyes in the middle of it, and when Eggsy applies a bit more pressure, the man moves slightly along it, all relaxed and fucking obliging and fuck.
This is going to be a fucking experience, this is.
"I'll go get a towel for you, yeah?" Eggsy says.
"Mmm," Harry answers.
While Harry's relaxing under the towel Eggsy prepares the lather with maybe a bit more force than is strictly speaking necessary, keeping one eye on Daisy who's knocking toys around again, and the other on Harry who's just fucking melting into the couch.
"Is that my shaving cream?" Harry mumbles, not opening his eyes, not even looking.
"Well, yeah," Eggsy shrugs. "Figured you'd prefer it over the one I bought. Mine's a bit cheaper and doesn't smell near as nice."
"Mmm, considerate of you," Harry hums.
Eggsy takes the hot towel off eventually and then, with Harry still relaxed and just amiable, he starts lathering his face gently, covering him from cheek bones to down his neck. Then he pauses, taking the blade and just staring the man all lathered up for a moment.
"I'm going to start now," he says, a little more nervous now, wondering if he ought to tell Harry that he's not actually that well experienced with this shit yet. He probably should, just so that if something went horribly wrong, Harry would be bit better prepared for it, and yet…
The man is so nice and relaxed and he'd hate to ruin it.
"Whenever you're ready, Eggsy," Harry says and with a deep breath, Eggsy starts shaving him.
Fuck, shaving Merlin – even shaving a slightly more comatose Harry – has fucking nothing on this. The scrape of the blade seems unnaturally loud and Harry's skin looks just so fucking vulnerable and the soft sounds Daisy's letting out in the background doesn't fucking help. Somehow, this is just… a million times more intimate than fucking anything.
…well shit buggering fuck.
Having a bit of an emotional crisis while holding a cut-throat to a man's face was probably not a good idea.
"Eggsy?" Harry asks when Eggsy pauses for a bit too long while wiping the blade.
"I'm fucking in love with you," Eggsy says because fuck it, he's never been a coward and if this goes bad at least Harry can't fucking do much because Eggsy literally has a razor sharp blade on his throat. Surprisingly confidence boosting, that.
Harry's eyes snap open and he stares up at him while Eggsy stares back, weirdly distressed about him. "Ah," the man then says, a little wide eyed, blinking.
"That it?" Eggsy asks, frowning. "I tell you I – and you just say fucking ah. You fucker."
"Fuck you, bruv," Eggsy says and wipes the blade clean before making a move to continue the shave because running away is for wankers and he fucking started it anyway. So the outcome wasn't exactly pleasing but he can live with it. Harry's staring at him all weird, but he can live with it. "Just fuck you."
"Eggsy," Harry sighs, amused and frustrated all at once, and grabs Eggsy's wrist to stop him before he can continue. "I don't know how your time in Kingsman has managed it, but somehow your manners are worse now," he mutters and looks up him seriously. "I have shaving cream all over my face," he says with some resignation.
"I'm the one who put it there, so yeah, trust me, I'm aware," Eggsy snorts at him.
"I can't kiss you with shaving cream all over my face."
Eggsy pauses at that, considering him, considering the words, considering all their wonderful, exciting implications. And then snorts at the man. "Like hell you can't," Eggsy says, sets the cut-throat down and wipes a hand over the Harry's mouth to clear away most of the cream. Then, without further ado, he kisses him.
And okay, the shaving cream does kind of get in the way and it does not taste in any way pleasant, and at this rate he'll never manage to finish the fucking shave but honestly, Eggsy doesn't give a fuck. Harry's hand grips him by the back of his neck and Eggsy's fingers slide along slippery skin and into the man's hair and there's going to be shaving cream fucking everywhere. It's a hilariously awful first kiss.
It's fucking perfect.
Eggsy gets a bit suspicious the fourth day into Harry's two weeks of leave. The thing is, Kingsman don't really go on leave, not like that. Even on sick leave they're still on the call, a Kingsman handler is never off the clock and all that shit. That's one of the most powerful fucking things about Kingsman, about the glasses – that the rest of the organisation can always call on the reserve to back them up. In that sense, a Kingsman is active twenty four seven and always fucking aware.
Plus, there's the fact that Merlin's been in his fucking face about near everything pretty much ever since he signed that confidentiality contract. Even after he'd sort of finished his training, Merlin had still been prodding and poking at him to keep him on his toes, keep him learning. Hell, he didn't even give a shit about whether Eggsy was busy with Daisy or, hell, taking an actual shit – if Merlin felt like bothering, Merlin fucking bothered him. And Merlin bothered him several times a day.
"I think we've been put on radio silence," Eggsy comments to Harry, who's almost through the pile of Suns now.
"Hmm," Harry answers, glancing up. "How so?"
"Merlin ain't fucking with me."
That gets him a single raised eyebrow.
"No, serious. The asshole's been nothing but fucking with me for months – either for training or just for the hell of it," Eggsy says, even as he pulls on his gloves – which had been upgraded to haptic gloves the moment R&D had realised that Kingsman finally had a member who was going to be using gloves most of the time. Activating the glasses, Eggsy very cautiously prods his own records – and yeah. There's no contact coming from Kingsman.
"Perhaps Merlin is simply being considerate," Harry comments, watching his hands closely.
"No fucking way."
Eggsy contemplates contacting Merlin for a moment, just to make sure Kingsman hasn't been blown up or some shit – but no, of course it isn't, he'd know if it was. There's a million fucking alarms in every single estate Kingsman owns, they'd be fucking blaring in his glasses. And there's a weird pointedness to it.
Off the support roster until further notice, Merlin had said.
Harry considers him and then reaches out a hand and hauls Eggsy in by his belt loops. "It has the ear marks of an internal investigation," he then says, even as Eggsy leans against his shoulder and Harry casually loops an arm around his waist. "If you look closely at the signal logs on your hardware, you'll find your trackers are activated."
"Huh," Eggsy says, swaying into the man's hold a bit. He taps the empty air with the haptic gloves a couple times, bringing up the transmission log – and yeah, his trackers are online. Both in the glasses, the gloves, and his fucking clothing. "Well, this doesn't seem worrying at all. Why'd you think it's an internal investigation?"
"Because Merlin practically pushed us out of HQ," Harry says, humming as he leans against Eggsy's stomach, against the neatly buttoned waist coat. "Which entails that my coma cleared me from suspicion and whatever you've done cleared you of suspicion, and getting us out of the way made things easier for the investigation. But he's tracking us just in case."
"Fucking knew it. That asshole fucking rules Kingsman," Eggsy grumbled, and deactivated the glasses and the gloves – aside from the recording, which is still happening, is always happening. Then he looks down at Harry who's pretty much nuzzling into his stomach. "Well hello there."
"Hmm," Harry answers, eyes shut, downright happy. "We should go for a walk, take Daisy out to the park maybe."
"She's still a bit too young to enjoy that, but a walk sounds good," Eggsy says, running his gloved fingers over Harry's hair and just watching him for a moment.
He's very quickly gotten the impression that Harry's one of those sad motherfuckers in Kingsman who'd opted for the no relationships way of handling the secrecy and cover ups involved with the life of a secret agent. The man's just too damn affectionate – hell, he's down right skin hungry at times.
"You cute motherfucker," Eggsy murmurs at Harry, grinning from ear to ear. The most dangerous agent in the organisation, the easily most violent, is a fucking cuddler. He'll never get over that.
"One of these days you will accidentally drop a compliment without profanity." Harry murmurs into his belly. "One of these days."
"And then you'll know I've been replaced by a fucking clone or a robot or something," Eggsy agrees, and then kind of regrets it a bit because Harry chuckles and hey, isn't that an interesting sensation. He clears his throat and then pushes Harry away a bit, away from his sensitive stomach and all the things having Harry there is doing. "Walk," he then says.
"Yes," Harry says, and tugs him down for a kiss instead.
In the news, Valentine Corporation announces their participation in the upcoming tech expo, promising something huge to the public.
Eggsy and Harry go on a lot of walks because A, Harry needs the exercise and B, Daisy loves them. Of course, Harry does other exercises on the side and he goes on a run every morning and every night. Kingman physiotherapy is fucking insane at times, especially for Harry who, being the age he is, has to work a bit harder than the younger agents to keep up his fitness.
And he is oh so very fit, despite whatever dent the coma had made on it.
But still, a lot of walks and they're always just… fucking lovely. It's so fucking domestic, which sort of makes Eggsy all sorts of giddy. It's the sort of shit he wished he'd had when he'd been a kid, the sort of shit his mum had always been too busy for and Dean… well. The less said about that, the better. It's just that boring, normal, disgusting family stuff most kids moaned about and he'd always kind of wished he had experienced, even just once.
And they can be pretty damn hilarious too, because there's Harry in his three piece suit, and there's Eggsy in his valet uniform and they just make a fucking picture with Daisy's stroller and everything, going down the streets. Especially since Harry's sort of all for public displays of affection and more often than not they walk arm in arm. People fucking stare. It's freaking hilarious.
They traumatise the neighbourhood and already one of the established middle class mums has walked up to him, half bitching about them being so outrageous in public and could they please keep it indoors because how is she supposed to explain this to her kids?
"I suggest using your words, madam, or in truly dire scenario perhaps graphs," Harry offers calmly. For a man who's all about manners and propriety, he has zero fucks to give about this sort of shit, and Eggsy's just so fucking besotted with him. It must show on his face because the posh woman huffs in outrage and stalks off, muttering to herself.
"You just don't give a fuck, do you?" Eggsy murmurs, leaning his forehead on Harry's shoulder to hide his wide, utterly delighted grin.
"I find life is too short for prejudices," Harry muses, running a hand along Eggsy's back. "Let's continue on, shall we? Come along, my dear."
"Fuck you," Eggsy answers fondly, just to see the man smile.
And then there's the people who scoff at them for Daisy. That happens a bit more often and it's a bit more polite, the way people go about it. They're all, "But is it healthy for her to develop without a mother," and, "But what about when she's older, going to school. Won't it be… difficult for her…" with the implication being that won't she be a bullied outcast because of her two gay male parents or some shit.
And Harry smiles, all sweet and polite. "Won't what be difficult for her?" and then they watch the person flounder to try and get around the question without seeming like a prejudiced arse.
"Granted," Harry says later on. "I know I haven't much claim to… to Daisy's future as it is but –"
"Fuck you don't, bruv," Eggsy says, picking Daisy up from the stroller, kissing her cheeks, and then depositing her in Harry's arms. He makes certain that he's recording the whole thing too, Harry's started look, Daisy's surprised little gah and then their awkward first close interaction as Harry tries to navigate his arms around the toddler and Daisy realises with much delight that this new person is wearing a tie.
She has a thing for ties. Eggsy's seriously contemplating switching to bow ties just to keep her from chewing his, though on the other hand… that probably wouldn't really help much, would it?
"Um, Eggsy," Harry says with some distress. "I don't – I haven't – what am I supposed to do?"
"Put one arm under her, the other around her back. She'll let you know if she's uncomfortable," Eggsy says, arms folded and grinning like a lunatic because it's just so fucking cute, Harry is cute, Daisy is cute and together they embody the best fucking things in the whole world.
Harry awkwardly resituates his arms, staring at Daisy with a mixture of awe and trepidation and fuck, if Eggsy didn't already love the fucker, this would be the moment he'd go arse over tea kettle for him.
Later that day, they have a nice domestic session of hacking, and Harry Hart becomes Daisy Unwin's secondary guardian.
One thing that never crops up – which Eggsy's fucking glad for because it's not an argument he's really keen on having – is the age difference. If Harry feels it or not, he never shows it, never says anything about it and, thank fucking Christ, the words too old for you never once slip his lips.
Eggsy would seriously punch him if they did.
A week and half into Harry's physiotherapy, their somewhat honeymoon-esque relationship and into the fucking radio silence from Kingsman, Merlin comes around. Not in his usual army sweat shirt, but in a full on suit, all fucking formal and shit. And not just that either.
He comes around with a fucking sword.
"Oh, you're shitting me," Harry sighs at the sight of the thing while Eggsy snorts at it. It's a jewel encrusted monstrosity, the hilt wrought with red leather, the cross guard looking just fucking gaudy. It sits in a fancy box on top of royal red velvet and Eggsy might've not been in Kingsman long enough to be aware of all the fucking traditions, but he can guess about this one.
"I'm afraid not," Merlin says, offering the sword to Harry.
Harry doesn't take it – they sit down in the dining room instead, Eggsy with Daisy in his lap and Harry with a downright stressed look on his face – and then Merlin launches onto an explanation.
"We don't know precisely when it happened, but it hasn't been longer than a couple of weeks, we think. We suspect it was shortly after Percival went undercover to attend one of Valentine's galas," Merlin says. "He must have been implanted with a tracker some time during it, which led Valentine to Kingsman. We don't know what he did to get Arthur on his side, but he did something. We noticed the implantation scar on him just a little over ten days ago."
"Didn't he even try to hide it?" Eggsy asks a little incredulous. "I mean, a bit of makeup and it's pretty much invisible. And we've known about those things for months."
"We have. Arthur hasn't, and so he didn't know we knew," Merlin shrugs. "After we discovered the implantation in the first place, when you screened Galahad's footage on professor Arnold, it was kept on a need-to-know-basis as per protocol as a potential enemy incursion device. Only you, Percival, Dindrane and myself knew about it."
"Ah," Eggsy says. Enemy incursion protocols, he forgot about those. Kingsman has so many fucking protocols that he's never been able to keep track of them, but it makes sense, the head explosives and whatever else there is in the implants being so well concealed and all.
"So, Arthur didn't know we knew about the implants," Eggsy says. "What did he know about the investigation?"
"Only that Valentine was a suspect," Merlin says. "Percival is meticulous about these things, so no one in Kingsman except those who strictly had to know, knew about the progression of his investigation. One of the reasons as to why I've had you aiding Dindrane in the first place is that you were the only one who could. The case was classified to everyone else."
"Was," Harry says slowly. He's still staring at the sword.
"Was; it's been finished now," Merlin nods.
"So, if we were in that in-know group, why the radio silence?" Eggsy asks, bouncing Daisy distractedly.
"Because however it turned out, Arthur had betrayed the organisation. His removal was inevitable," Merlin shrugs. "And considering Harry's position in the organisation – and your connection to him – you two couldn't be involved in it. Besides, we had all the pieces ready, everything was already planned and we were already prepared to go ahead. And with Harry's awakening we had our trigger."
Meaning that while they weren't quite waiting on Harry, again, once Harry was awake they could go ahead with whatever plans they had, certain in the knowledge that they had a fucking replacement for Arthur more or less ready. And they couldn't involve Harry because of how shady would that look, if the replacement was involved in the removal of his predecessor?
"And the investigation itself?" Harry asks.
"Like I said, finished. It will be in the news tomorrow. Percival tracked Valentine's movements back to a base where the hostages were being held," Merlin says, taking out his touch pad and tapping a few keys, sending the appropriate files to Eggsy's and Harry's glasses. "We were in something of a hurry with that, granted. Valentine Corporation was planning on starting to distribute their violence inducing SIM cards free to the public just this week, so we had to move fast."
The gist of Valentine's plan, as far as Kingsman knew anyway, was to distribute the SIM cards to as many people on Earth as possible, and then just turn them on. The ensuing wave of homicidal impulses would then cut the population down from billions to whatever number Valentine felt was a proper sized human population. Because the man fucking seriously believed that humanity was a virus killing the planet and the only way to keep humanity from dying out was a population cull. Keep the virus from killing the host or some shit.
The VIPs he'd kidnapped would be safe from it, either in Valentine's cells or thanks to the head implants. From the implant Arthur had – which Merlin had extracted from his corpse, fucking hell – the implants, while being monitoring devices and fucking head explosives, also protected the wearer from the violence signal. So the rich, the famous and the smart were safe, while the rest of the earth went to fucking hell.
However it went, Percival was going to go after Valentine just when he did – there was no other choice. But with Harry awake, they could also deal with Arthur and the rest of the Kingsman members who'd for some fucked up reason sided with Valentine. So, while Percival was out dealing with Valentine and his kick-ass henchwoman in Valentine's base, Merlin was doing a bit of cleaning in house.
"Percival has already destroyed Valentine's base, which thankfully seems the only control centre for the SIM cards and the implants alike. He will be dealing away with Valentine's satellites shortly, just in case," Merlin says, while Eggsy and Harry both view the files grimly. "Unfortunately we have a very long list of people who were implanted and thus who sided with a genocidal madman – and a large number of those people are very powerful and very wealthy. It's not a very good combination."
"No, it isn't," Harry sighs, and takes off his glasses, running his fingers over his eyes. Then he turns to look at the sword in its case. "I don't suppose I could convince you to consider…" he trails off, rather hopelessly.
"No fucking way," Merlin grins, pushing the sword over. "Besides, do you really want to try and replace me?"
Eggsy snorts, leaning slightly against Harry's shoulder in support. "I fucking knew you secretly rule Kingsman, Merlin, you under-handed fuck."
"Your opinions are duly noted," Merlin says dryly, leaning back in his seat. Then he turns to Harry. "Take the fucking sword, Harry."
Harry sighs again and takes the fucking sword.
So, the headline the day after Percival's mission isn't quite the innocent celebrity nonsense that Harry tended to prefer the headlines after his missions to be – there's no way to kidnap over three hundred VIPs, release them, and then expect for it to not end up in the headlines. There were a shit ton of fucking royalty there, too. Every newspaper in the world runs the story for months.
It doesn't help that there's not a single one among them who actually remembers what the fuck happened. Kingsman is very damn good at inducing amnesia in people and though it's kind of cruel to leave so many people wondering what the fuck's been happening to them for the last several months, it's a tiny bit better than letting them actually know and then maybe lead the world into a nice bit of global panic. There'd be a lot of therapy sessions for the kidnapped people no doubt, but hell, at least they're still alive.
At least the fucking world population of seven billion or so people is still alive.
With the onslaught of accusation and speculation and half a hundred conspiracy theories – people bet on terrorism which, fair enough – Richmont Valentine's unfortunate plane accident goes pretty much unnoticed. The huge announcement Valentine Corporation was supposed to hold is cancelled, and no one but the Kingsman even know that free SIM cards with their sweet promise of free internet forever might've been a thing.
The hundreds of people with head implants say fucking nothing about the whole thing, which is just as well. Each and every one of them goes on the Kingsman watch list, doubling it overnight, and Eggsy is half suspicious that Merlin might have the trigger codes for the implants. He doesn't say he does, but he doesn't say he doesn't either, so… well. It's the usual Merlin level of fucking terrifying but Eggsy's pretty much used to it.
Galahad is officially crowned as Arthur a couple days after the death of the previous Arthur – Chester King. Which leaves Galahad's position open and so another round of trials start. Except, it's not just one round of trials. They also have to find a replacement for Gawain's position, since Irvin King went the way of his uncle. In the meantime, Lancelot's position is taken over by Roxanne Morton because, A, Charlie Hesketh failed the loyalty test and B, Charlie Hesketh had a head explosive. It's a fun week at Kingsman.
"Pretty great time to join the ranks of Kingsman Agents, yeah?" Eggsy says later on to Roxy, who looks fucking smart in her new suit.
"Tell me about it," she sighs. "I'll be running shotgun to Percival for a few months, but still. It's going to be rather busy around here, isn't it? Two agents short, with one agent being so green…"
"Could be worse," Eggsy says. "You could be Charlie and then I'd have to shoot you and then we'd have to run three trials."
"Yeah," she agrees and then looks him over thoughtfully. "What about you though? Arthur doesn't need a handler, does he?" she asks. "Do you suppose I could request you to be my handler? I haven't been assigned one yet, and probably won't be for another couple of months or so. "
"Er," Eggsy says hesitantly. Well that wasn't something he'd considered. "I'll… get back to you on that, yeah?"
So Kingsman is having some changes happening, but overall it doesn't change much. The organisation stands on a pretty sturdy base of tradition and protocol – not to mention a huge pile of money and fucking stellar manners - so a little thing like a couple dead members and the near end of the world isn't enough to shake it too badly. Things are a bit more strained for a while, but everyone knows their job, Merlin runs everything as smoothly as ever, and Harry is going to be an amazing Arthur – one that won't accept head explosives from lunatics – so it's all going to be pretty much okay. It might take a bit of time until everything's normal, but they'd get there.
Still, Roxy's point is a pretty good one. Eggsy trained as handler to an agent who's now become their leader. What the hell is he supposed to do now?
"Well, if nothing else you got your wish," Eggsy says to Harry later, while they're going over all the crap involved with the kingly position of a Kingman leader. Judging by the looks of it, it's going to be stressful as fuck, even if it's basically a puppet position. And Eggsy really doesn't care what anyone else says, because it really fucking is.
"How is that?" Harry asks with a sigh as he reads over the casualty reports from some operation agent Bors had been on. Bors apparently is really fucking enthusiastic with the hand grenades.
"I ain't going to be your handler after all," Eggsy says, shrugging and looking carefully at Daisy in her bouncy chair, and not at Harry. It's kinda hilarious that Arthur's office in Kingsman HQ is now full of kid's toys. It's great fun watching the senior agents trying to keep up a straight face when they see all the bright little plushies and shit. Never mind Daisy's colourful sippy cup which has found a permanent place on Arthur's desk.
"You know, seeing that you're not going to be doing any field work anymore," Eggsy adds.
Harry pauses to consider that, and Eggsy can feel him staring. "Is that what you think?" Harry asks slowly.
"Arthur's basically a desk job, innit? I mean, an important desk job, yeah, but you won't be going out on field anymore." Which is something he's very much for. Anything that lessened Harry's chances of getting himself fucking blown up again had all of Eggsy's votes.
"Yes," Harry agrees slowly, staring at him hard now. "But if you think you're going to be leaving me to do it alone, then you're sorely mistaken, I'm afraid," he says, taps few keys on the tablet and then turns it around. "Your code name and assignment from here on out," he says and then adds, almost after thought, "if you accept."
Eggsy blinks and looks down – and then grins like a fucking loon. "You're one sappy son of a bitch," he says, leaning over Harry's desk to kiss him.
Gary "Eggsy" Unwin, codename Guinevere, Arthur's personal assistant. Fuck yeah he can live with that.
Years later when Daisy's a little older, Eggsy will tell her a bedtime story of his own making.
It will feature an impoverished boy in a whole load of trouble, trying best he can, trying to be good, trying to do well and always falling short because he's always trying to do everything alone, and doesn't dare to trust anyone. He's strong but he's a bit lonely and sometimes though he pretends otherwise, he doesn't know what to do.
And the boy has a magic coin, left to him by his father, which he knows can grant him one wish – but he's never dared to use it because what if he needs it later on – what if something worse comes along, and he'll need help. But one day things go so awfully wrong, one day he finds a baby princess and he doesn't know how to help her, so he takes out the magic coin and he asks for a miracle.
And he gets his miracle – he gets a knight who helps him. But then it turns out that the knight is a bit of an idiot always getting in trouble, and the boy, well, he knows trouble, so he decides to stick around, trying to help the idiot knight who helped him. They learn to work together, helping each other, becoming stronger together. And it's not precisely normal, but it's fun and they're happy and they fall in love.
The knight becomes a king, the boy becomes a great wizard and the little princess, well, she grows up to be the most loved, beautiful little thing in the whole wide world.
And that's it, that's the story. Thank you for reading and commenting. Until next time! :)