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Once Upon a Different Lifetime

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"So how about it then?" he asks sometime after his fourth martini. His shoes are off, his jacket tossed somewhere he can't recall. He's pleasantly drunk, feeling nicely warm all over.

"How about what?" Harry asks. He's seated in the armchair to the left of the couch. He hasn't come quite as undone as Eggsy, but the shoulder holsters are long gone, as well as his tie. He's loosened the top two buttons of his shirt and rolled up his sleeves, revealing rather nice forearms. He's not drunk, though, Eggsy's certain of that.

(Well, pretty certain.)

"Your name in the paper," he says. "How many times?"

"Just the once, I'm afraid," Harry says with a bit of a smile.

This is about what Eggsy was expecting, but he can't deny the little thrill that goes through him at having his suspicions (hopes?) confirmed. "Well, you was definitely born," he says. "So no marriage, huh?"

"No," Harry replies, and sips at his martini.

Eggsy glances down at his glass; it's nearly empty, but he doesn't really remember drinking it all. They've been sitting here sipping martinis for what feels like hours, while Harry shares stories of his past missions and Eggsy pretends not to admire the fuck out of him. He has no idea what time it is or even how long he's been here. Long enough to go upstairs and use Harry's bathroom once, long enough to start feeling like he could eat something. Not long enough to want the night to be over with.

"Any reason why not?" he asks. He really hopes it comes out sounding perfectly casual, like he doesn't have a lot riding on the answer to his question.

A lot of what, though, he doesn't really know. He's kind of afraid to look too closely at it.

"The life of a Kingsman agent doesn't particularly lend itself to long-term relationships," Harry says. "It becomes rather difficult to explain the absences, and such things as the unexpected side effects from close range proximity to gunfire."

For some reason Eggsy finds this utterly hilarious, and he laughs. He can just imagine it, though. Sorry, honey, didn't mean to get blood on my cuffs again. Guess you better try that new laundry detergent.

When he stops laughing, Harry is looking at him with some bemusement, his brown eyes softer than Eggsy has ever seen. Between that and the almost unholy amount of bare skin he's got on display, Eggsy has never wanted him more.

And that's it, isn't it? That's the thing he can't let himself think about. Because it's wrong and it's unprofessional and he's drunk and Harry maybe is, too. Because Harry is twice his age and a hell of a lot more sophisticated. Because there's no way Harry Hart could ever want someone as rough and uncultured as Eggsy Unwin.

But Eggsy still wants him.

How can he not? He's wanted Harry ever since that display in the Black Prince. He's not an idiot. He knows Harry was showing off for him, letting him see what a Kingsman could do, so he would be interested enough to want to join. And he's interested, there's no doubt about that.

But it's not Kingsman that has laid claim to him. It's Harry.

Harry, who he can't have. Not now, at least. Not when he's drunk and stupid and not yet Lancelot. For now he'll have to stick with his dreams and his imagination. They've got him this far; he can stick it out a little bit longer.

And at least now he knows that Harry was never married, which clears the way ahead.

Harry is still looking at him, maybe trying to figure out what was so funny about the last thing he said. Maybe, possibly, in his wildest dreams, thinking about Eggsy the way Eggsy thinks about him.

It could happen. Sometimes he catches Harry looking at him with a thoughtful, assessing gaze that has nothing to do with his test scores. And earlier tonight when Harry's hands were on his, guiding him through the steps of making a martini just right, it seemed like Harry's touch lingered maybe a little longer than was proper. Like he leaned in a little bit closer than he needed to.

It's stupid. He knows it's stupid. Harry would never. But what the hell is he supposed to think, after everything that's happened tonight?

And just what the fuck kind of tradition is this anyway, spending 24 hours with your mentor before the final test? Is Roxy with Percival right now, all silly drunk and thinking about shagging him? What exactly does Kingsman expect from him right now?

"It's getting late," Harry says, breaking the silence.

Well, that's it, then. The moment (not that there really was one) is gone.

Eggsy shifts on the couch. "Yeah," he says. On the floor at his feet, JB startles awake at his sudden movement and briefly looks up at him before putting his head down on his paws again and going back to sleep.

It occurs to him that he has no idea what to do about any of the practicalities of staying here. If he's even staying here. He's just been assuming that he's going to stay the night. Not that he's got so much as a toothbrush on him. But maybe Harry will send him back home, or to HQ. Maybe Harry is sick of him.

As soon as he thinks this, he knows that this is what's going to happen. Of course it will. No one ever wants him to stay. Why should Harry be any different?

To postpone the now-seemingly inevitable moment of his departure, he raises his glass in what might be a toast, and he says, "You know, I never did get to thank you."

Harry gazes steadily at him. "Thank me for what?"

"For giving me this chance," Eggsy says. It's a little difficult to think straight with four martinis in him, but during the day, when he's sober, he knows perfectly well how amazing it is that he's been given this opportunity. When Harry was in the coma, Eggsy wanted nothing more than to talk to him, to say the words out loud, but since Harry woke up, there just hasn't been a chance for it.

"You can thank me by not fucking it up," Harry says, and he's maybe joking. With him it's hard to tell.

Eggsy grins anyway.

"Roxy is good," Harry says. "Very good. But you can do this, Eggsy." He never once breaks eye contact. "We're not allowed to wager on the candidates, but if we could, my money would be on you."

Still grinning, Eggsy says, "Aww, Harry, you say the sweetest things when you're drunk."

"Do you think so?" Harry gives him a wry smile.

"I do," Eggsy says. "Yeah."

They look at each other, and it's like the temperature in the room instantly goes up ten degrees. Eggsy isn't just feeling warm now, he's fucking burning, lust pooled in his belly, and all he can think is does Harry have the faintest clue how incredibly hot he is right now, sitting there with his sleeves rolled up and a martini glass in one hand.

He wonders what Harry would do if he got up right now and went over to him. If he set his hand on the back of the armchair beside Harry's head and leaned down and kissed him.

He wants to do it. (Oh God he wants to.) He wants to know what Harry tastes like. He wants to feel those lips on his, and the touch of those long fingers on his skin. He feels like he's been slowly drowning ever since he watched Harry take down Rottweiler and his gang without getting one hair out of place, caught helplessly in the undertow that Harry leaves in his wake. Maybe if he grabs onto Harry hard enough, he can find his equilibrium again.

Or maybe not. He might be drunk, but there's just enough rational thought remaining in his brain to know that there's never going to be anything between them. Harry is too much of a gentleman to laugh if Eggsy tried to kiss him, but he would never let it happen, either.

Still. No guts, no glory, as Ryan likes to say.

He sets his glass down and gathers himself to stand up.

And Harry says, "I would ask if you want another, but I don't want you to be hungover for your test tomorrow."

Eggsy freezes. What with the martinis and the temptation of Harry sitting so close, he forgot all about the final test. The thought manages to cut through much of the drunken lust muddling his brain, although he's still nowhere near sober. "So you gonna tell me what it is?" he asks. "The test?"

"Eggsy." Harry gives him a look of disapproval that cuts him to the quick, because jeez, it was just a joke. "You know I'm not allowed to tell you anything."

"Yeah, I know," Eggsy says quickly, eager to show that he didn't mean it. "I was just testing you." There's a part of him, though, that's maybe just the tiniest bit disappointed. He thought maybe their growing closeness would let Harry bend the rules just a little and give him something. Not spill the whole secret of the test, but maybe tell him just enough to give him an edge over Roxy.

But deep down, he's glad Harry didn't tell. Even drunk, he knows he wouldn't ever feel right if he got the job by cheating.

Harry makes a little humming sound and sips at his martini. His throat works as he swallows, and Eggsy's mouth goes dry at the sight.

The test is forgotten again. Nothing he can do about it anyway. Not right now.

Right now is for this moment. Sitting here on Harry's couch in Harry's house, watching Harry drink a martini that Eggsy himself mixed, a drink that Harry had sipped and then smiled as he pronounced it to be just right. The compliment had made Eggsy flush all over with pleasure, and given him a strange, almost flustered desire to earn another bit of praise.

Right now is for the way the light falls on Harry's face, so much softer without the glasses, his hair falling out of its careful styling. Right now is for the heat coursing through Eggsy's veins and pulsing in his cock. Right now is for seizing what might be his only chance, and saying fuck it to the consequences.

He sets his glass down on the couch cushion beside his, and stands up. He walks toward Harry, and he's maybe weaving a little, but he's pretty sure he's starting to sober up, and even if he's not, his gaze is certainly steady enough.

Harry watches him approach, his expression perfectly calm and neutral. Whatever he's thinking, it doesn't show on his face. He could be eagerly waiting for Eggsy to get closer. Or he could be making out his grocery list. Impossible to tell.

Eggsy stops in front of the armchair. Earlier in the evening Harry sat like a proper gentleman, legs crossed and all. Now he's not exactly slouching, but he's sort of spread out, knees wide, an Eggsy-shaped space between his thighs.

It would be rude to ignore an invitation like that, and Eggsy is supposedly here to learn how to be a gentleman. So he steps neatly into that space that's just made for him.

Immediately he feels even warmer, the heat of Harry's legs on either side of his hips, Harry sitting directly in front of him, still gazing calmly at him. Waiting for him to do whatever it is that he's going to do.

Which is something Eggsy himself hasn't quite figured out yet. His heart is hammering in his chest and his jeans are too tight and he knows Harry knows that, even if Harry hasn't once looked away from his eyes. But he's come this far, and he's not the kind of guy to just give up, especially when he hasn't even tried yet.

So he says, "I think I'm gonna kiss you now," and he leans down.

Harry doesn't move. He just says, "No."

Eggsy freezes, bent over a little. "What?"

Harry looks up at him, still perfectly calm – but his eyes have gone dark, giving away the truth. He's nowhere near as composed as he's pretending to be. Still, his voice is as quiet as ever when he says, "It's improper. And you are drunk."

Slowly Eggsy stands up straight. He feels hot all over, this time with a combination of shame and recklessness. "What if I don't care?" he says.

Harry doesn't take the bait. "A gentleman does not take advantage of someone's inebriated state."

Having known that was coming, Eggsy smiles, open and inviting. "What if I want you to take advantage of me?" he smirks. "I'll even ask nicely, say please and all."

"No," Harry says, but he wants to say yes, he does, Eggsy fucking knows it – it's written all over his face. "You don't know what you're saying."

"Oh yes I fucking do," Eggsy retorts.

Harry still doesn't move, but he's breathing faster. There's something in his eyes now, something almost like longing. It's nothing Eggsy has seen from him before, and it fills him with unexpected hope.

Harry does want him. He's certain of it now.

He leans in again, just a little bit. "Tell me you don't want it," he says. Deliberately he looks Harry up and down, letting his gaze linger just a little bit too long on Harry's lap. He doesn't see anything there to encourage his hopes, but then again, Harry's been drinking and he's older. No doubt he's also had a hell of a lot more practice at keeping himself under control.

So yeah, Eggsy isn't daunted one bit.

"It doesn't matter what I want," Harry says. His voice has slipped into a deeper register; the sound sends a thrill down Eggsy's spine and makes his cock harden still further. "We cannot do this."

"We could—" Eggsy starts to say.

"Do not ask me again," Harry warns. He shifts a little bit in the armchair, and though it's not much of a move, his intention could not be clearer if he reached out, planted both hands on Eggsy's chest, and shoved him backward.

"Yeah," Eggsy mumbles. "Okay." He backs up a couple steps. He feels stupid and embarrassed. He's had way too much to drink. He's just completely fucked up everything. "Sorry. I shouldn't've… I'm sorry."

Harry sets his glass down on the small table beside the armchair. He stands up, but leaves a few feet between them, coming no closer toward Eggsy. He takes a deep breath. "Eggsy, we have both been drinking, and it's late. We are neither of us thinking very clearly right now."

Eggsy just stares at him, waiting for the yelling to start. Waiting for that moment when Harry's eyes turn cold and harsh. Waiting to be thrown out.

"And though I don't know how much good it will do now, I will say this to you. I am rejecting your advances for this night, and this night only." For a moment Harry looks uncertain; one shoulder swings forward, like he's about to approach Eggsy. Then he goes still again. "I don't know how much of your behavior tonight is due to the alcohol, but if you still feel the same after you've passed your test, then we will talk."

Unable to believe what he's just heard, Eggsy simply stands there. It can't possibly be true.

Harry really does want him.

And then the rest of it sinks in. The realization that Harry thinks he's only making a drunken pass, that he doesn't really mean it.

It's a startling discovery. He never once thought that maybe Harry's been just as nervous about this as he was. He's been so wrapped up in worrying that Harry wouldn't be interested in his inexperience and chav ways, and meanwhile Harry's been having his own worries. His age, maybe; or the fact that he's Eggsy's mentor.

Maybe Harry thinks he was just taking the piss tonight. Mocking him and his bloody-minded insistence on always being a proper gentleman.

Maybe they've both been fucking idiots, and wasted way too much time.

"Yeah," he says. "I mean it. Every word. And I'll still mean it tomorrow." He lifts his chin. "So I guess I ain't sorry after all."

Harry looks at him for a long moment, and then he almost smiles. "Good," he says. Not in his usual decisive tone, but quietly. Warmly.

They're only standing a couple feet apart. Even though he still feels too warm in his own skin, he can feel the heat emanating from Harry's body. He can see it too, in Harry's eyes.

Fuck it, he decides.

He moves in, and he's nowhere near fast enough, Harry could stop him one-handed if he really wanted to.

But this time Harry lets him.

The kiss is everything he thought it would be. And it confirms in one single instant what Eggsy already suspected – that when it comes to what he really wants, Harry Hart is no gentleman at all.

Harry's mouth covers his, immediate and demanding. This is no sweet first kiss. This is possession, staking a claim.

It's exactly what Eggsy wants.

Harry tastes like gin. He cups Eggsy's face with one strong hand, tilting Eggsy's chin up. Eggsy opens his mouth to Harry's tongue and clutches at his arms, bunching up that white dress shirt so he can feel the muscle hidden beneath.

Fucking hell, he's not just burning up, he's going to burst into flames any second now. His cock is like iron against the seam of his jeans, and his skin is on fire where Harry is touching him. His head is swimming in a way that's got nothing to do with the martinis. His mouth slides over Harry's, and he moans a little, wanting more.

Harry freezes, then abruptly pulls away.

Eggsy curses his own stupidity, but it's too late, it's done, and he lets go of Harry and then just stands there as Harry steps to one side, putting some space between them once again. The air between them feels supercharged; the hairs on Eggsy's arm want to stand up, and he wonders why Harry even bothers moving away, because he knows perfectly well that Harry can feel it, too.

But it's all about propriety again. The kiss was a fluke, a one-off. He knows it won't be happening again. Not until he's passed all his tests and become Lancelot.

Which could be as early as tomorrow. In twenty-four hours, he might be standing here for real.

The thought makes him smile. Him and Harry together at Kingsman. Together outside of it, too.

"You should go to bed," Harry says. His voice is a bit thick, and his eyes are dilated, the brown nearly swallowed up by black. "It's late."

"Yeah," Eggsy says. "Okay."

"He's your responsibility tomorrow, but for tonight I'll let JB out. Everything you need is in the guest room," Harry says. "Make yourself at home. I'll wake you in the morning. You needn't worry about being late."

"After my test," he says. "Yeah?"

Harry inhales through his nose, his chin lifting imperceptibly. One hand flexes at his side, like he wants to reach out for Eggsy.

Or so Eggsy likes to think.

"Go to bed," Harry says again. "We'll discuss this later, after you become Lancelot."

He already knows that Harry is a man of his word, but he has to make sure. Just in case. "That a promise?"

"Yes," Harry says. "It's a promise."

Satisfied, Eggsy says, "All right." He smiles again, happier than he can remember being in a really long time. "Good night, Harry."

Harry smiles back at him, warm and affectionate. "Good night, Eggsy."

He weaves a little as he climbs the stairs and makes his way to the guest room. Everything he could need is laid out here, and he frowns a little because he has no possible idea when Harry might have done this for him. But there's a toothbrush and a razor and a comb and a set of towels neatly stacked on the edge of the bed, just waiting for him.

And then it hits him. Harry didn't set this stuff out for him tonight. He did it this morning even before he left his house. He did it with complete confidence in Eggsy's abilities, fully expecting Eggsy to succeed on the skydive and pass the test on the train tracks.

Harry, it seems, believes in him more than he does.

Musing about such things, it doesn't take him long to get ready for bed. Soon enough he's curled up beneath the covers, his face buried in the softest, nicest pillowcase he's ever had the pleasure of lying on. He closes his eyes and feels the room spin gently around him. He's exhausted from the long day, the skydive, the terrifying moments when he was bound to the tracks, thinking he was about to be cut in half by a train.

He thinks about how Harry's lips felt, and the warmth of Harry's body pressed against his. His softening cock twitches against his thigh, tormenting him.

It would be a simple matter to slide his hand beneath his borrowed pajamas and finish himself off. It wouldn't even take that long, either. But he can't, though. Not here. Not in Harry's house, wearing Harry's pajamas. He'll be fine. He's tired enough that he can be asleep within minutes, as long as he doesn't dwell on things he shouldn't be thinking about.

It's not until he's almost asleep that he realizes that Harry said "after you pass your test." After. Not if. As though it's already a done deal. That's how strong his faith in Eggsy is.

The thought makes him smile as he snuggles his face deeper into the pillow. And then he's asleep, thinking of nothing at all.

****

He wakes up in the morning to a mouth full of sand, a dull ache in his back and hips, and the smell of bacon cooking.

He opens his eyes and experiences total disorientation. He's wearing strange clothing, lying in a strange bed, in a strange room. This isn't his childhood bedroom, or even the Kingsman barracks he's grown used to.

Then JB barks from behind the closed door, and Eggsy suddenly remembers.

All of it. The skydive and the hard landing, which explains why his joints ache today. The party in the club and the terror of being tied to the train tracks. Charlie's undignified exit from Kingsman. The novelty of seeing the inside of Harry's house with all those pinned bugs and ridiculous Sun headlines. Making martinis and learning how to be a gentleman.

Kissing Harry, and the promise of their future together.

Out in the hall, JB barks again, maybe sensing that Eggsy is up. Or maybe just being a pain in the ass. He's not the world's most well-behaved dog, in spite of all his training.

He knows he should get up, but for a long moment Eggsy just lies there in bed anyway, lazy and all sprawled out. He hasn't had any privacy since that first night he arrived at Kingsman; the barracks that the recruits stay in has absolutely nowhere he can be alone. He savors the silence now, the knowledge that he can do what he wants, that he can relax and just be himself.

But he's got to pee, and he can smell breakfast, and he can't lie here forever. So at last with a small groan, he pushes the covers back and gets out of bed. He's not sure what is expected of him now. Judging from the smells, breakfast is either ready or almost ready. There's probably not enough time to take a shower. He might as well pick yesterday's clothes up off the floor and get dressed.

Then he sees the red dressing gown draped across the footboard of the bed and the slippers resting beneath it. And Eggsy knows, he knows, those things weren't there last night when he went to sleep. He might have been half-drunk still, but he remembers all the items that had been set out for his use, and they were most definitely not there.

Which means at some point while he slept, Harry came in here. Left him the robe and slippers. Maybe stood there watching him sleep.

It's kind of a creepy thought. But it's also strangely comforting. It's good to know Harry really does care, that he's not just going through the motions because Eggsy is his candidate for Lancelot's position. Or worse, because he feels guilty about being responsible for Lee Unwin's death.

And maybe while Harry was standing there, he thought about Eggsy. Maybe he liked what he saw, Eggsy lying in bed. Maybe he's looking forward to tonight just as much as Eggsy is.

Excitement curls in his belly. He's suddenly eager to get the day started. Whatever his final test is, he's ready for it. He's ready to become Lancelot, to become a Kingsman.

He's ready to be with Harry.

He combs his hair with his fingers, trying to tame the worst of his bedhead, then steps into the slippers. He hesitates only a moment before he puts the dressing gown on and belts it about his waist. It's a little too big, too broad in the shoulders, too long in the hem. It smells of Harry and his aftershave, and while he's still behind the closed bedroom door, with no one to bear witness, Eggsy raises his arm and buries his nose in the soft fabric of the sleeve. He inhales deeply, breathing in Harry's scent.

Out in the hall, JB barks again. Feeling a bit stupid, Eggsy drops his arm and squares his shoulders. He opens the door.

He uses the upstairs bathroom, then shuffles downstairs. The slippers are too big as well, and he has to be careful not to walk right out of them. He can't see Harry anywhere, so he just heads for the door. JB runs ahead of him, tail wagging and tongue lolling out of his mouth, then stands at the door waiting on him.

"Yeah, yeah," Eggsy mutters. "I'm comin'."

He opens the front door and lets JB out. The pug trots happily onto the little patch of garden in front of Harry's house and lifts a leg. Eggsy stands just inside the door and gazes out at the morning. It's still early, but he can tell it's going to be a pretty day, sunny and warm.

A perfect day to become a Kingsman.

JB comes back inside, and Eggsy shuts the door. He turns around and there's Harry, like he just materialized out of thin air. He's dressed in gray trousers, a perfectly pressed white shirt, and a tie studded with white polka dots. Completing this ensemble is a white apron.

Eggsy just stares. Nobody in the history of ever has made an apron look sexy.

Until now.

"I hope you're hungry," Harry says. He seems unaware of the picture he presents. Which most likely means he knows perfectly well what Eggsy is thinking right now. Because Harry, as Eggsy is finding out, can be a little shit, too.

Eggsy clears his throat. "Yeah," he says.

"Good," Harry says. "Then take a seat."

Eggsy moves toward the dining room table, and then stops. Arrayed on the table is a positively alarming amount of dishes and silverware. This can't possibly all be for breakfast, he thinks as he pulls out the nearest chair and sits down. "What's all this?"

"This," Harry says, "is your next lesson. How to behave at a formal dinner."

"Yeah, but this is just breakfast," Eggsy protests weakly. He counts three forks including a tiny little thing with only two prongs, three spoons, three glasses, and a coffee cup turned upside-down on a saucer.

"You shall just have to use your imagination," Harry says. "And by the way, how is your head this morning?"

"Okay," Eggsy says. He'd feel better with a shower, but he's surprisingly clear-headed in spite of all those martinis last night. Maybe there really is something to the notion that expensive alcohol doesn't fuck you up so badly.

"Now then," Harry says. He disappears into the kitchen and returns with a plate of kippers. "First course is the fish course. At a dinner this will be shellfish, which is why you have an oyster fork." Eggsy looks in bewilderment at the silverware bracketing his plate. "It's the little one," Harry says.

Eggsy spots it and picks it up. "Looks more like something you could use at Kingsman," he jokes.

"Who says I haven't?" Harry replies. He keeps a straight face, but just by the way he says it, Eggsy understands that not only has Harry used the tiny little fork as a weapon before, but that he's probably killed with it.

He swallows hard and sets the oyster fork down again.

Across the table, Harry meets his eyes. "Relax, Eggsy," he says. He smiles a little. "As you said, it's only breakfast."

Eggsy nods. "Yeah," he says.

Only breakfast.

****

Two hours later they're walking through the streets of London, headed for the shop on Savile Row. Eggsy hasn't been here since that first night, his cheek aflame with pain from where Dean hit him, full of anger and confusion and a sick sense of despair. He had never really entertained the idea of not showing up, even though he hadn't had the faintest idea what Harry could want from him.

One thing he had known for sure, though. Nothing in his life would ever be the same. Even though he hadn't been the one to take out Dean's filthy little gang in the Black Prince, he would be the one to pay the price. Walking aimlessly through the city, he had begun to seriously think about leaving for good. It would mean abandoning his mum and sister to Dean, but in the long run it might be the best thing for them. He certainly couldn't protect them if he was only hiding out from Dean and the others – or worse, laid up in hospital.

And then Harry had made his offer, and Eggsy had known right from the start -– hell, from the very moment he walked through that door -– that he would agree to whatever Harry was going to say. I never met a tailor before, but I know you ain't one, but it hadn't really mattered who Harry was. He was always going to say yes.

He looks over at Harry now, and he can't help smiling. The sun is shining, and Harry's glasses have gone dark, shading his eyes. His umbrella swings forward with every step. He's absolutely beautiful, and Eggsy knows he's got to face it. He's head over fucking heels in love with Harry Hart.

But God, how can he not be? He loves everything about Harry, even his flaws like the too-short temper and the fact that he maybe drinks a little too much and the way he just can't seem to help himself from showing off when he's around Eggsy. He loves the fine suits and the little dimples that appear when Harry smiles. He loves that Harry has so much faith in him that there was a toothbrush waiting in the guest room for him last night. And he loves the way Harry kissed him, and the warmth of Harry's hand on his face.

He's going to become Lancelot today, Eggsy vows. He's going to become a Kingsman.

And then tonight, he and Harry are going to have that talk that they promised each other. And the next time they kiss, they won't stop there.

The next time, it's going to be for real.

****

And then Kentucky happens. And V-Day.

And everything falls apart.