“Harry,” Eggsy said, finding him in his office one Friday evening, voice uncharacteristically quiet.
Harry looked up. “Yes?”
He took in the figure lurking at the doorway. Eggsy had taken to wearing just half his suit when he was off duty: the dark tailored trousers paired with his white shirt only partly tucked in, no jacket or tie. Harry wasn’t sure if he loved it or hated it. It gave Eggsy an air of rumpled refinement; dressed enough to pass for smart, but with a hint of something that Harry had unwisely allowed himself to think of as freshly-fucked insouciance, which was of course a completely inappropriate way to think about a colleague.
“I’ve got a - question,” Eggsy said.
Uncharacteristically timid body language, too; not yet venturing into the room. Harry frowned at him. “What?”
Eggsy opened his mouth, then hesitated, focusing on Harry’s glasses instead. “Uh, are you on comms?”
Harry shook his head. Eggsy must be distracted, not to notice the glass of single malt resting next to Harry’s laptop; just a single measure, a reward for ploughing through paperwork this evening even though Merlin had said he wouldn’t need it until Monday. “No - technically done for the day.”
“Cool, okay, good,” Eggsy said, and Harry tilted his head, curiosity mounting. Eggsy's long fingers were fiddling with the button on his cuff; when he saw Harry looking, he stopped and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“You know you can ask me anything,” Harry said, which earned him a momentary blinding smile.
Harry returned his smile, and for a long moment they were just looking at each other.
Then Eggsy blinked, scratched the back of his neck, and blew out a quick breath. “Alright, well, the thing is, Harry…” Another pause, and then, all at once: “Look, can you teach me what men want?”
Harry almost knocked his glass off the desk. “What men what?”
“Want,” Eggsy said.
Harry looked around, half expecting to see Merlin half-hidden somewhere biting his fist in silent mirth. “What men want?” he repeated, faintly. The very idea.
“Yeah,” Eggsy said, looking relieved that Harry got it at last, and now he came into the room and let the door swing shut behind him, strode over towards Harry’s desk. His earlier discomfort had evaporated; in fact, it seemed to have swapped hosts, and was now making itself at home in Harry’s chest instead. “Like,” Eggsy said meaningfully, raising his eyebrows, “for a mission?”
Oh. “Oh, I see,” Harry said, his voice sounding hollow in his head. “For a mission.”
“Mm,” Eggsy said, nodding vigorously. His expression turned pained for a moment. “I just don’t know what men want, y’know?”
Harry began to suspect he was going to develop a headache. This really was the last thing he wanted to think about. He had spent some considerable effort over recent weeks not thinking about Eggsy’s various charms, as he watched the young man’s confidence flourish along with his talents. The thought of those talents being put to a use like this was not pleasant at all. “Which men?”
“Posh ones,” Eggsy said, without hesitation. Then, “Uh, older… posh ones. Not that old,” he added, hastily, and gave Harry a grin that almost seemed apologetic.
“Right,” Harry said, taking his glasses off and rubbing his eyes. “Gay ones, I presume?”
“I reckon,” Eggsy said. “I mean… Yeah.”
Harry eyed him doubtfully. “Can you give me a few more - er - details, of this mission of yours?”
“Soz, mate,” Eggsy said, grin broadening. “Classified. But I can tell you it’s… in Soho.”
“In a gay bar.”
“Which is why I, like,” Eggsy said, and he seemed positively relaxed, now, his consonants softening almost to the point of a drawl, “need your help? As a more experienced agent. Need some pointers on, like, how you would do it. Or if I was trying to get in wiv’ you, how would I get started, you get me?”
“Indeed,” Harry said, making a mental note to have a stern word with Merlin about sending the new recruits on this sort of thing. They’d come to a unanimous decision, he’d thought, during their last Kingsman exec meeting, that the so-called ‘honeypot mission’ archetype was better suited to the last century, and that if at all possible they should be avoided in future. And yet here Eggsy was, being drafted despite being one of their newest recruits into a mission that seemed to fit precisely that archetype! And furthermore, he must have been woefully underprepared, hence this entire sorry conversation.
“So…?” Eggsy was saying, cocking his head, and Harry sighed.
“Yes of course I’ll help,” he said, closing his laptop and pushing it to one side, steepling his fingers on the desk and resolving to give the poor boy his full attention. “Fire away.”
“Right,” Eggsy said, and then hesitated, eyes darting sideways. “Uh.”
Harry waited patiently for Eggsy to get over whatever psychological obstacles he was grappling with.
“I don’t s’pose,” Eggsy said carefully, drawing a figure of eight on Harry’s desk with his forefinger, “you’re like… hungry or nothing?”