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Overcomes the mind and wise counsels

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“New job for you,” Merlin said, chucking a folder on the desk.

“Sweet!” Eggsy said. He’d been stuck in HQ for nearly three weeks, this fucking leg injury was all but healed up, and he was more than ready to do something - or more precisely, by this point, bloody anything. He was bored shitless, and to add insult to injury Rox was out on a job that was a) in Hawaii and b) sending the number of missions she’d done since V-Day inching over the number he’d done, and it wasn’t like it was a competition, but. It was totally a competition. And she was winning.

“Interrogation testing,” Merlin said.

“What?” Eggsy said. “How is that a job? Anyway, I’ve not long done it, innit. During recruitment.”

“Not yours,” Merlin said witheringly. “Which you would know if you ever bloody read a piece of paper I gave you before you started moaning about what it said.”

"All right, keep your hair on,” Eggsy said. He pulled the folder over to him. It was full, over-full, papers sticking out and a crooked fold in the cover where someone had tried to give it a makeshift spine.

It said on the front, Galahad, and in smaller letters, Field reinstatement.

“Oh no,” Eggsy said, chilled to his fingertips and the tips of his toes. “No way, mate, come on. You want me to interrogate Harry?”

“We need you to take Galahad through the testing, yes,” Merlin said. “It’s one of the last items but an important one. He’s been through extensive psychological testing - the results are all in there and you'll have access to his historical files - but we need to reappraise how he would… hold. If necessary.”

Eggsy stared down at the folder. Harry’s psychological testing: it felt like a goldmine. A dangerous, boobytrapped, explosive goldmine.

“Does he know it’s me?” he said. “Does he know you’re giving me this?”

“Not technically, no,” Merlin said. “However, he’s the one who’s been pushing to get it all done and dusted, and he’s well aware you’re the only other agent not currently on active duty.”

"Can't someone else do it?" Eggsy tried.

"Are you suggesting I ask one of my staff to interrogate one of our most experienced agents?"

"Well, when you put it like that..." Eggsy said.

"You've got three days to prepare," Merlin said. "It'll be the same situation you had, nothing different. He knows the let-out phrase and you'll have your choice of tools and techniques and an hour to see what pushes him into saying it."

"Tools," Eggsy said despairingly. Gawain hadn't gone for pain at all during Eggsy's testing; he didn't know for definite but he'd assumed they knew enough about Dean to know Eggsy wasn't going to roll over for a bit of a kicking. Roxy had come back with a neat row of sutured cuts on her lower thigh, though, and a pale set expression; she'd been quiet for a week after. It had bonded them all, in a weird way: Jonathan had broken quick and been sent home and the rest of them had understood a bit more, been a bit closer, felt a bit more Kingsman for having gone through it.

But now - Eggsy had been there for Harry's struggle to recover from the gunshot wound, to make his body obey him again. Harry might know what was coming, but he didn't think he could take tools to Harry.

"I wouldn't rely on it," Merlin said. His tone was straightforward but his eyes met Eggsy's with perfect understanding; he hadn't been at Harry's side quite as much as Eggsy had, because Eggsy had had nothing else to distract him other than missions and Merlin had had the whole of Kingsman to manage, but he'd been there enough. "The kind of pain he’d be bothered by is off the table. You remember the code if you can get him to a limit?"

"Sir Arthur Wellesley," Eggsy said. All but seared into his brain, that was.

"Good. As with all interrogation training, it won't be recorded. I'll supervise personally, nobody else will be present, and any notes will be destroyed after unless he fails and they're needed for a later try. Okay?"

"Okay," Eggsy said. Then one last go: "Merlin, have I really -"

"It'll be fine," Merlin said. "He knows how it is. You'll be fine."

***

Three days later Eggsy stood at the doorway of the horrible cell-like room the testing was taking place in, vibrating with nervous tension and fervently wishing Harry was a giant wimp who’d have cracked the second the thumbscrews came out. He’d read Harry’s files - the highlights, anyway, there were thirty-odd years’ worth - and all most recent psychological assessments right up until the one last week when they’d signed off the interrogation testing.

He and Merlin had put together an approach to cracking Harry that Eggsy thought the likeliest to get somewhere - it was important to him to please his mentor, he wasn’t going to insult Harry with shoddy work - and because Harry was Harry, it was fucked up. Seriously fucked up, Eggsy trying to goad him with nothing but the knowledge he now had about Harry and his time at Kingsman, the missions and setbacks Merlin had guided him to.

An hour ago Harry had been grabbed in the grounds, blindfolded, fought back and taken out a whole extraction team, been grabbed again and trussed up, and was now tied securely to a chair on the other side of the door, in pitch darkness and with a bag over his head for good measure. He'd hopefully have figured out he was still in HQ and this was his interrogation testing, so would have stayed in the chair and wasn’t lying in wait to terminate with extreme prejudice whoever came through the door (i.e. Eggsy).

This, apparently, was verisimilitude, and verisimilitude, apparently, was very important.

Eggsy had tried to act like that too. He’d tried to be dispassionate, treat it like any mission background to be gone through in a logical order: scope, research, discuss with Merlin, plan, discuss with Merlin, confirm. But every so often he’d be hit with the thought that this was Harry he was looking at taking apart and - feel sick, actually properly nauseated and have to go and sit in the bogs and lie to anyone who came in that he was proper hanging, yeah, big one last night.

He couldn’t do what he’d usually do when he got the jitters, which was find Harry and let Harry make him feel better with martinis or outings or the rambling anecdotes Harry liked to tell, which usually started prim and educational and devolved into shit Eggsy would have found unbelievable on a big screen from James Bond but from Harry was terrifyingly plausible.

Merlin had told Harry Eggsy was doing urgent mission research and Harry had sent a few texts but otherwise left him alone. Eggsy wouldn't've said before that Harry spent half his life blowing up Eggsy’s phone, but when it wasn’t happening anymore it turned out he basically did.

Which was how Eggsy liked it. Because that was the kicker, of course: Eggsy loved Harry, in an embarrassing helpless Thrills & Swoon sort of way, and he’d have cheerfully killed anyone who had so much a glimmer of an idea about a thought of doing to Harry half of what Eggsy was proposing he himself do in there today. A quarter of it.

He should have been put off, probably, by a lot of what he’d found in Harry’s files. Instead he’d just lain in bed every night thinking about how fucking pathetically grateful he was that after all of that and then cherry-on-the-bakewell Valentine, Harry had survived.

He shook himself and pulled himself up to his straightest, best posture. Limits must be tested. Okay, then.

He switched his glasses to their night vision mode and let himself quietly into the room. Harry was a spooky green figure in the dead centre of the room, motionless, his hands tied behind and to the plain wooden kitchen chair. His head was high, his shoulders relaxed. Eggsy paused for a moment and just watched him. Then he reached down for the part of himself that had given Arthur a poisoned drink and taken a fountain pen to his flesh and been happy about it, and stepped forward.

“Hello,” he said. He used his posh Kingsman accent instead of his naturally voice. It wouldn’t make a difference to Harry, but it helped Eggsy to keep that little bit of distance between what they were to each other normally - what they were to each other really - and this.

“Eggsy.”

It was muffled beneath the hood, but Eggsy heard it. “That wasn’t an invitation to speak,” Eggsy said. He did it in his best Harry impression, the courteous yet fuck-you tone he specialised in.

Harry didn’t say anything else. Eggsy came up behind him and stood right at his back, picturing himself as a brick wall, broad and solid. It was a new experience, towering over Harry like this. It was a new experience not to have Harry getting all up in his space: Harry stayed totally still instead of orienting towards Eggsy, welcoming him with his body.

Stood so close, he could hear Harry’s regular breaths, the tiny susurrations stirring the cloth over his face.

“You know what this is,” he said steadily. Harry didn’t answer, but then he inclined his head, acknowledging that he did, and as he returned his head to perfect parade-rest bearing he rocked it back the tiniest bit, his head glancing just off Eggsy’s chest. It felt like forgiveness, already, unearned, and Eggsy took a deep breath.

“Right,” he said, and as planned he whipped the hood off Harry at the same time Merlin brought the lights up to harsh white brightness. With his other hand he flicked his glasses from night vision and onto a display from the room’s cameras. They were transmitting, not recording: Merlin had promised.

The cameras showed him that Harry winced and shut his eyes, but otherwise he didn’t shift at all, staying upright and loose.

If Eggsy had really been a hostile agent, he’d start with a slap round the gob for that. It felt superior, but that was Harry.

It was a grey, empty, dull room. Harry evaluated it with one cool glance and then looked straight up into the hidden camera in the corner. In the edge of Eggsy’s vision it looked like Harry was giving him a direct, piercing stare and he dug his nails into his palm. Harry looked away again, lashes sweeping down and casting tiny shadows onto his cheeks. The light was unforgiving: he looked sickly pale.

“I didn’t bring the box of tricks,” Eggsy said. The silence seemed to swallow his words. Maybe it really did, because Harry didn’t show any sign of having heard. “No knives, that was what Rox got. No drugs. That was me. Did you know that? You were in the coma. Gawain gave me hallucinogens and told me he had Daisy. I hadn’t met him yet.”

“You held out the hour,” Harry said. His voice creaked.

“And the rest,” Eggsy said. “I was sick all night. Never grassed anyone up though, yeah?”

Harry didn’t say anything.

“Bit harder, figuring you out.” Eggsy walked to the back of the room, rapping his heels gun-crack crisp against the tiled floor. He got the chair that was waiting there and dragged it, a screeching counterpoint to his shoes, and set it behind Harry. The placement was measured, close enough to rouse Harry’s defensive instincts, in the spot just where any big movements would be flashes in the corner of his bad eye. Eggsy sat down, letting the fabric of his suit swish against the rigid plastic.

“I got some ideas, though,” he said once he was settled. “I’ve been reading your files.”

Harry’s cheek twitched. It was a new tell: he hated it.

“I thought maybe you and me could talk about some of them,” Eggsy said. He waited, and when Harry didn’t say anything he prodded, “That’s okay, yeah? I might learn something. You like teaching me.”

Harry glanced up at the camera again. He said, “Fine.” His voice was low, dismissive.

“Okay,” Eggsy said. “You going to make all this such hard work? Okay. This was a good one.”

An image kicked in on the wall in front of Harry, the drone of the projector covering soundless first-person footage of a rampage through a factory, white-coated scientists being stunned left right and centre, labs going down under lighter grenades. It had looked to Eggsy almost like a video game, except the motion was too smooth, too human.

He didn’t look now. Watching playbacks from the glasses often made him feel a bit seasick. He said, “Remember this?”

“Yes,” Harry said.

“No more toxins being shipped out to the highest bidder. Well done.”

The footage paused, at the point where the image dropped abruptly a couple of feet, as if the body behind the glasses had gone to one knee. Harry had got up and carried on a few seconds later, but Eggsy felt a shot of protectiveness for him in that long-ago moment, even though Harry was sitting right in front of him now with a hell of a lot more mileage on his tyres.

“Rendering a whole valley uninhabitable for ten years, though - shit, bit less well done, there. Forget they were airborne before you blew the place up?”

He glanced up. Harry’s profile was still. It was funny, looking at him so long from this angle. He looked younger somehow, the slopes of his forehead and nose and chin statue-like without the impact of his expressive eyes and the comfortable lines of his face.

“Something like that.”

“That’s not much of an explanation,” Eggsy said. He propped his feet in front of him and Harry flicked his eyes towards them, fast.

“You’ve read my report. Haven’t you?”

“Yeah,” Eggsy said. He pulled the file from the bag hanging over the back of his chair, licked his fingers and flipped through the pages slowly. They were a bit yellowing, stiff, they rustled. “It doesn’t really say, actually.”

“What do you want me to say?” Harry said. His voice was perfectly even: it almost seemed like a genuine question.

“Tell me,” Eggsy said. “Teach me.”

There was quiet. The projector whined, over their heads: the picture went dark.

“Okay,” he said, then asked, “what was the headline?” He could visualise them all, there on Harry’s bold red walls. They all meant victory, to him - they all meant Harry coming back alive. The rest didn’t matter. “Do you remember?”

“Not off the top of my head,” Harry said. “Something about the royal family, I think.”

“Safe bet,” Eggsy said. “Tell me why. Come on.”

“Well, they’re very visible and lead what could be considered exciting lives, and the public feels a sense of -”

“No,” Eggsy said, very softly. Harry shut up; his jaw clenched. “Don’t fucking play games with me.”

There was another silence. The footage lit back up into life, kept on along Harry’s path of chaos. Eggsy focused on the footage from the present, Harry’s reactions playing out before him, sharpened and larger than life.

He looked okay, normal. He looked as he did on the other side of a lunch table, going along with Eggsy to a mission briefing, yammering about the excellent or whatever qualities of some oil painting he’d dragged Eggsy to see after work. It made Eggsy think about how often, exactly, Harry looked normal, while not-normal things happened in his head.

Because just for a moment, when Eggsy had sworn at him, he’d looked a thousand years old, used and unhappy.

“You were off active duty after,” Eggsy offered.

“Only a couple of months. Medical. Respiratory issues.”

“At first,” Eggsy said. He got the file opened up again and ran his finger deliberately down one page. The paper crinkled. “Cleared up after six weeks, it says here. What did you do with the rest of the time?”

“Had lunch with old friends, mostly,” Harry said tightly. He gave a reminiscent, mocking sort of smile. “Stupid idea, really. Investment bankers; they’ve done more damage than I could do in a thousand operations.”

“Cool story,” Eggsy said, although just the suggestion of Harry leaving Kingsman gave him an actual pain in his stomach. “You should tell it more often.”

He got up. He made enough noise doing it for Harry to know, but as he moved round the room he trailed off the sound, watching Harry’s shoulders tense.

He leaned against the back wall again, letting it hold him up, cool against his damp palms. The lights went off, on again, off for a minute. Two. Three.

The lights glared back on and new footage started playing. This one was a lot less Die Hard. The glasses - Harry - were walking at a measured rolling pace through a nondescriptly high-class hotel corridor, could have been anywhere in the world, recesses in the walls holding flourishing green plants and the walls dotted with crushingly tasteful watercolours.

“Do you know where this is?” Eggsy said.

“I’m not sure,” Harry said. His fingers twisted through and around each other, in the bindings.

“You lying to me?” Eggsy said gently.

Harry’s head jerked, the most tiny movement but uncontrolled. “No,” he said.

“Lots of hotels in thirty years, fair enough,” Eggsy said. “If I tell you it’s in Hong Kong.”

The room was silent: Harry wasn’t even breathing, and Eggsy didn’t either. Then Harry took a shuddery sad breath and a matching misery briefly stopped up Eggsy’s throat.

“The Vales,” Harry said, very quietly.

“I didn’t hear that,” Eggsy said.

Harry didn’t say anything. Eggsy shoved one foot back against the wall and the blunt thud of his shoe made the muscles of Harry’s whole back flinch, the fabric of his jacket crumpling and falling back again to hang properly from his shoulders. Eggsy suddenly noticed it was rumpled up and creasing against the back of the chair, by where Harry’s hands were tied: he was going to be so cross. The status display still projecting from Eggsy’s glasses offered the simple commentary that Harry’s body temp had increased. When Eggsy zoomed in he could see a hint of sweat at the hairline of Harry’s temple and his own hands felt clammy in sympathy.

“The Vales,” Harry said, in something more like his usual tone. His accent was becoming crisper, his vowels more clipped and austere.

“What?” Eggsy said.

“The Vales,” Harry said, loud. For the first time Eggsy could detect what might be a thread of anger. Eggsy recoiled from it by instinct, then shook out his shoulders to go on. A reaction was good: a reaction was what could end this, for fuck’s sake.

“Yeah,” he said, concentrating on his voice staying even. “You remember the next bit.”

Harry on the video was moving more slowly down the corridor now. He stopped in front of room 147 and produced a keycard.

“I remember,” Harry said. “Need you show it?”

“Why not? You watched it loads, the days after. Merlin showed me the records.”

“Merlin showed you,” Harry said. His voice was low and awful; his face was set the way it was when Eggsy watched him spar, absorbing blows.

“He showed me a lot,” Eggsy said. He became distantly aware he knew he was treading on dangerous ground; Eggsy’s gran would have said a goose had walked over her grave.

Kingsman training was about ignoring those instincts. Ignoring them, and replacing them with ones that were more useful.

Harry looked hard at the camera again and then transferred his gaze to the video. Past-Harry was stepping into the hotel room - into the massacre Harry had been supposed to protect them from.

“Tell me why,” Eggsy said again.

“I was trying to understand what happened,” Harry said. “To - learn from it.”

The video blinked out and a vibration started to hum through the room, almost too low to hear. Harry flinched violently. His fingers clenched together, going white with pressure.

“And what did you learn?” Eggsy said. He fingers itched, literally itched, to go to Harry, touch him, tell him it was all right. He looked up at the camera himself. A red light was blinking on it steadily. He didn’t know what saviour he was waiting for.

“Nothing,” Harry said. His expression was bitter but he sounded confused, still. “They were betrayed - oh, you read the bloody details. There was nothing I could have done, with the information we had. There was nothing to learn.”

“Omnipotence would be nice,” Eggsy said.

“Wouldn’t it? I should look for an evening class. Next to tap and local history.”

Harry smirked at him, via the camera; for a moment it was a normal conversation, and they were playing.

“Do you have a front page for them?” Eggsy said.

“Yes.” He said it simply: whatever knife-edge they’d been on was past, and Eggsy didn’t know why. He glanced at the camera again. Transmitting only, no record.

“It’s in the study?”

“Yes. It’s as much part of me as the successes.”

“What would you have done, if I’d asked you about that one? That first time. Before the dog test.”

Harry closed his eyes and abruptly the precipice was back. “I’d have told you the truth,” he said, almost inaudibly.

“Would you?” Eggsy said. He was halfway to Harry now, creeping silently over the floor to the centrepiece he made in the bare room. Harry was straight-backed still, head high; it was just a crappy dining room chair but he made it look like a throne.

“Yes. Do you remember what I told you, before the test? I quoted Hemingway.”

“‘True nobility is being superior to your former self’,” Eggsy said automatically. He didn’t know why the things Harry said were so much more significant than what other people said, but he never had trouble remembering Harry’s words to him.

“That’s it. There he is in the mirror, the former self. And one - trying to learn.”

Eggsy started to say his name, choked it back almost violently. It became a cough and Harry turned his head. Eggsy was too far behind for him to be able to see, but it was the most he’d moved since Eggsy had come into the room. He went back to eyes front, his hands twisting around each other like an elegant threadless cat’s cradle.

There was a metallic shriek from all four corners of the room. Eggsy had known it was coming and he still flinched. Harry jerked hard enough for the chair to scrape against the floor, adding a screeching counterpoint.

“I don’t know what you’re looking for,” Harry said, strained. “Eggsy -”

“Shush,” Eggsy said. His mouth was dry and he had to swallow, with difficulty, before he could add, “watch.”

It was horrible footage. Merlin had tactfully left Eggsy alone, when he’d pointed him towards the operation, and a bottle of Jack on his desk. Eggsy had got only a few minutes in before he’d opened it. Now Eggsy stayed carefully against the back wall, his hands clenching until his knuckles ached, leaving Harry alone on his chair. He kept his eyes open, the least he could do. So did Harry.

It was a firefight. The footage was rollicking, Harry ducking and diving round normal living room furniture. A bullet hit him: it had been at an earlier stage of the bulletproof cloth and the gun fell out of suddenly nerveless fingers, out of frame. Harry picked it up with the other hand, panting hard, came back up over the arm of the sofa and fired. The woman he’d shot toppled back. The man she was shielding dropped her body and shot back. The footage paused on her tear-stained, surprised face.

Eggsy concentrated on his voice, on it being clear and not-bothered. When he trusted himself, he said, “Highlight reel.”

“Of course it fucking isn’t,” Harry said. He sounded upset for the first time. Eggsy brought the projection of him up again. He was pale, shocky-looking. The corner of his mouth, opposite the side where Eggsy had been sitting, looked chewed and raw. Harry looked at the camera suddenly and there was a pleading look in his eyes. “For Christ’s sake, what’s the point of this? It was an accident, it was clearly an accident, you can’t possibly - do you think I meant for that to happen?”

“‘That’? You killed a woman who hadn’t done anything wrong other than shag a bastard. So much for Kingsman not condoning risking innocent lives.”

There was real pain in Eggsy’s voice then, he heard it and winced, coldness gripping him, but he couldn’t help it. Harry closed his eyes.

“Eggsy -”

“Say it.”

“I killed her. It was an accident, I didn’t mean -” Harry was clenching his fists too, hard and desperate. Eggsy wanted to go over, uncurl his hands softly and soothe the marks of his nails in his palms, wanted to stand in front of Harry and block all the pictures, tip Harry’s head against his stomach and stroke his hair and breathe in time with him.

He shook out his shoulders and said, unconcerned, “Do you think it matters what you meant?”

“Mistakes happen,” Harry said, sounding raw. “With what I do - what we do. Mistakes happen.”

“She was someone’s mum. She had two kids and a dog and a front door with fucking roses round it. You just fucking… that’s what you call a mistake?”

“You know it was. Jesus Christ.” Harry looked agonised now. He hadn’t looked away from the camera for ages. Eggsy wasn’t even sure he was blinking.

“Want it off?” Eggsy said.

Harry didn’t look back at the footage but he said, “Yes.” Eggsy had come down yesterday and sat for an hour, where Harry was sat now: he knew Harry could still see it, out of the corner of his eye.

“Ask me nicely,” Eggsy said slowly.

Harry swallowed. He looked away, finally, down at his own lap, up at the footage, back up to the camera with narrowed eyes. His wrists flexed in the ropes. “I should be obliged,” he said, at his most haughty and hateful, “if you would turn it the fuck off.”

Eggsy gave a quick nod and the footage flicked off. He slid down the wall noiselessly, crouched and linked his hands behind his neck and pushed up into it for a moment. There was one more.

(“The church -” Merlin had said. “No fucking chance,” Eggsy had said.)

He stood up again and took a long look at Harry. He was still looking in the direction of the camera, but his eyes were glazed, miles away.

“Let’s talk about Stormy Crescent,” he said.

He pulled a photo out of the very back of the folder. Then he went around and took slow steps until he was directly in front of Harry for the first time all day. The lights brightened by degrees, almost imperceptibly until Harry was almost shying away from the glare. He was tracking Eggsy’s movement like a cat, but he didn’t look at him: finally his gaze went up to Eggsy’s face but slid off again almost immediately.

He looked worn out, now Eggsy saw him full on. Like a statue carved from rock and then left out and weather-beaten for a hundred years.

Eggsy said, “Do you know what I’m going to give you a picture of now?”

“Your father,” Harry said. He paused, cleared his throat. “Stormy Crescent was the operation where he died.”

He darted another glance at Eggsy. He looked shamed, and tired, and scared.

“Got it in one,” Eggsy said. He laid the picture in Harry’s lap gently. Harry took another long look at him, and then he bowed his head down to it.

It wasn’t a Kingsman picture. Eggsy had brought it this morning from home. It was from Eggsy’s sixth birthday, the last one his dad had been there from. Michelle and Lee were on the sofa, looking secure, neat, in love. Little Eggsy was on the floor surrounded by new toys and his face radiated pure joy. Eggsy had been surprised to find he didn’t feel much, when he looked at it: he’d been calm. That had been his life for a while, and then it hadn’t been. It had all got him here.

Harry looked down at it, then up at Eggsy. “What do you want me to say?” Harry said, quietly, looking up at Eggsy with glittering eyes; his voice shook a bit and his gaze searched Eggsy’s face for understanding. “I talked to your father at length about considering his wife and son. He took the risk. You know I regret his death.”

“Right,” Eggsy said. “You’ve tried to repay him, I remember. Took pity on me, seventeen years too late.”

Harry’s jaw was so set it had to be aching, but his eyes were soft. “Eggsy... Come on, that isn’t -”

Eggsy hit him. A slap across the face, open-palmed and with nowhere near his full strength, all sound and fury and signifying nothing. Harry’s cheek showed a livid mark for just a moment and then faded to a pale pink.

The crack of pain on his hand was good. It helped diffuse how badly it hurt, to speak to Harry like this, to do what Merlin had said and make him believe Eggsy was angry with him, harboured grudges over things long since forgiven.

“Don’t say my name,” Eggsy said quietly. It came out in his natural accent again, drawling and rough. He didn’t know when that had changed. “I grew up without a dad. You know what happened to me.”

Harry turned his face back to Eggsy, slowly, and their gazes met once more.

The signs of Harry’s distress had gone as if they’d never been, to the extent that for a moment Eggsy doubted his own senses, his own memory. Harry now looked perfectly, arrogantly composed: if eyes were the windows to the soul then Harry’s now had blinds, blackout drapes, and net curtains.

“You became a terror with no sense of responsibility for himself,” Harry said. “As I told you when we first met. The opposite of your father. He was a good man.”

He sounded cold and distant as the Arctic, and Eggsy felt frostbitten.

“I didn’t have much choice,” Eggsy said, unplanned. “I didn’t -”

“Back to that again? Silver spoons up the arse? That’s a nonsense,” Harry said. He sounded posh and mocking and Eggsy bristled instinctively. He felt angry, small, as soon as Harry started sounding like that. “I thought you’d learned better. You’re all bloody impulse and instinct, that was your problem. All want and take.”

“I don’t,” Eggsy bit out, scrambling. He had to get back on top of the conversation, but the impulse to defend himself was - as irresistible as Harry had said. “You don’t know anything about what I want, Harry, you don’t -”

“Kingsman should have knocked that out of you, at least. Taught you some… discipline. Since your father wasn’t around to do it.”

“Fuck you,” Eggsy said slowly.

Harry gave him a flat, dead-eyed smile. “What charm. Are you trying to live down to every expectation? So much for transformation.”

“Fucking - transformation, I know I’m good at what I do,” Eggsy said. His eyes burned, his throat scratched; he felt exposed, undone. He swayed towards Harry, all the danger and proudness of him somehow magnetic, cutting the floor from under Eggsy even as he was tied and motionless.

“Perhaps that was the problem,” Harry said softly. His gaze sharpened, never leaving Eggsy’s face; he looked intent, almost hungry. Eggsy hadn’t seen this expression on Harry’s ops footage, the person behind the glasses was as invisible and necessary as the man behind the curtain, but he’d imagined it: Harry on a target, sensing weakness and going for it like blood. “Nobody around to give you discipline. Nobody around to tell you how to be - good. Is that it, Eggsy? Is that why you were so eager, for me - so quick to abandon your mother and sister and join the recruitment -”

“No,” Eggsy said weakly. “No, I don’t need that.”

“How do you know, if you never got it? Nobody gave you that, did they, telling you what to do, how to be good, to be good for them? Is that what you’ve wanted all this time, Eggsy?” There was high colour on Harry’s cheeks, red against the paleness of his skin.

“I didn’t,” Eggsy said. The accusing stark glare of the room swallowed up his words, seemed to leave Harry as the only point of reality. “I don’t - you don’t know -”

“Don’t I?” Harry said. There was a gleam in his eye, something awful, triumph and resignation and burning down the world. He said gently, “So rebellious when you came here, and yet you’ve done all we’ve asked of you - all I’ve asked of you - I couldn’t be prouder, did you know that?”

Gentleness, flattery, was harder to bear than the attack: attacks, Eggsy was used to. Eggsy’s head was banging. He wanted to sit down, lie down, he wanted to be in a quiet dark room with Harry warm and steady next to him, not this wild stranger. “I don’t know what you’re fucking talking about, I don’t -”

“Of course you do. Would you be good for me? I’ve thought about it. That’s what I like, Eggsy, beautiful young men who do as they’re told. I’ve thought about you. Didn’t you know that?” Harry’s gaze searched Eggsy’s, frank and clear. He was as tall as he could be, bound to the chair, looking up at Eggsy. The long stretch of his throat was corded and vulnerable, his tie askew. He’d lost a button at his collar and Eggsy had to fight a stupid impulse to tidy him up, put him back to rights.

“No,” Eggsy said. He hadn’t known. He’d always thought it was just him, thinking about it and imagining that Harry might feel the same, might feel even half the pull and wanting Eggsy did.

“You did,” Harry said. His voice held a note of surprise, badly hidden. “Fuck, you did - you would. You want to me to be the one telling you, don’t you? Eggsy, you want to be good for me -”

“Harry -”

“Tell me -”

Please.”

It seemed to suspend there, reverberating like the aftermath of a gong. Eggsy was panting harsh tight breaths; he swore he could feel his racing heart trip and start to beat again.

Harry said, “Sir Arthur Wellesley.”

The lights flickered, dimmed down from the glare to something more normal. Eggsy’s eyes adjusted and he saw that Harry was Harry again, his expression smoothing out of blank shock and into kindness.

Eggsy’s legs felt weak. He went around behind Harry and crouched down. The ropes were just as they’d originally been tied, Harry’s hands clasped tightly round each other. The whole thing, and he’d never really struggled.

Eggsy cut through them with one swift slice. Then he got up, turned around, and walked out.

***

There was nowhere to hide at HQ. The place was networked, camera’ed and bugged to high heaven, but more importantly it was full of professional nosy bastards playing a constant round of whispers. Before now Eggsy’d had a conversation with Roxy at the shuttle and had people asking him about it by the time he’d walked down to the canteen.

So he wasn’t surprised first that nobody else intruded into the library once he’d gone to ground there, and second that Harry came in a discreet interval later, slipping the door closed and walking the perimeter of the room in slow clattering steps until he found the alcove Eggsy was squashed in, on the floor with his knees hugged to him and sod what it did to the arse of his suit.

“Eggsy,” Harry said.

Eggsy looked up at him. His vision was filmy but the rest of him was on red alert, the way he got on ops, everything over-coloured and over-loud, each moment precise.

“What?” he said simply. “Fucking - what the fuck, Harry.”

“I’m sorry, Eggsy,” Harry said. Eggsy squinted up at him, but it was dim in his little corner and Harry was almost in silhouette. His bearing was straight and true, but it always was. “I should have stopped things much earlier.”

Eggsy hugged his knees closer to him. Harry hesitated, and then, moving very slowly, he sat down on the floor next to Eggsy. He was warm, and his presence still felt good to Eggsy: his body by Eggsy’s in the corner still felt like a haven, not like a threat.

“I knew it was a test,” Harry said. “I wanted to pass it. You know what that’s like, Eggsy.”

“I don’t,” Eggsy said. “I wouldn’t.”

Once Harry said that, though, he couldn’t help but think about it. If Kingsman had known him even better - if they’d had even more to hit him with, when he’d done his round of interrogation testing -

What wouldn’t he have done, to stay, and hoped he could deal with the consequences later?

Still, though. There were some tests not worth the passing.

“I’m sorry,” Harry said. “Eggsy, please. He shouldn’t have brought you into it - the way I feel about you -”

“Harry,” Eggsy said, and they were silent.

Harry nudged his shoulder to Eggsy’s. They were close enough Eggsy could feel him shaking.

“I hated it,” Eggsy said; confessed.

“I know,” Harry said. “I could tell. When you spoke about your father…”

Eggsy looked at him. His face was shadowed; Eggsy had never seen him look quite so lost, not even when he’d seen Harry at his very lowest, during his recovery. Harry gave a low laugh, looking pained, and said, “You’ve learned well, though. I broke completely. You did a very effective job."

“Don’t,” Eggsy said. “I didn’t want that, Harry, I didn’t understand -”

“No?” Harry said. It rang out clear as a bell, and Eggsy fell quiet. The space between them became charged, slowly, like the feeling of tightness and anticipation before a storm broke. Eggsy looked up into Harry’s eyes by degrees; when he finally met Harry’s gaze it was electric.

“Eggsy, if...” Harry said, slowly, carefully; Eggsy held his breath, caught. “If there’s - something you need from me.”

Eggsy took an unsteady breath, then another. The side of Harry’s body against his was a line of fire, all he wanted. He said, “What I need only matters if it’s something I can have.”

He felt Harry’s hand, then. Not clapped supportively on his shoulder or his knee. Not on his groin - which might’ve been the kind of move he himself would've gone for. Not on his face. Or his mouth.

No, Harry put a hand on his neck, very softly, with his thumb resting over Eggsy’s thrumming pulse and his fingers under his jaw, his little finger nudging under Eggsy’s shirt collar. Eggsy’s skin prickled where Harry’s fingers were on him, warm. He opened his eyes and when his breath caught at the look in Harry’s he could feel his throat spasm under Harry’s heavy touch. His brain quieted, wonderfully; the only thing he knew was Harry's hand on him.

“You can,” Harry said. “You can have anything you want.” His thumb moved once on Eggsy’s neck, a gentle but definite caress. They held there, the moment spinning out like silk, and then Harry dropped his hand and got to his feet. He stood for a moment, looking down at Eggsy. “I wasn’t lying, when I said I couldn’t be prouder," he said. "Think about it. Let me know.”

He left without a backward glance.

***

The lights went off about half an hour later: dusk was drawing in through the window. It was later than Eggsy had realised.

"Do you mind," he said, fumbling the glasses to 'on'.

"Time you went home, son," Merlin said. Eggsy’s tired mind took a minute, then interpreted his tone as cautious. So he fucking should be. "Up you get, off you go."

“Did you know it would go like that?” Eggsy said, not accusing, just checking. He pulled himself up off the floor, his lower back protesting.

“No,” Merlin said, then amended, “not - exactly like that, Eggsy, no. I knew you and Harry had something between you, but -”

“Bastard,” Eggsy said. His cheeks were wet: he wiped them with an angry little movement. Bastards, fucking all of them.

“Eggsy… this had to happen,” Merlin said. His voice was subdued, tentative through the usually-perfect connection of the glasses. “Harry’s going to kill me for doing it like this, using you against him. But we had to understand how he might react to real pressure, especially after the signal.”

“I’m not here to be pressure for Harry,” Eggsy said. “I thought - fuck it, fuck you, Merlin, fuck you.”

“It’s very hard, to find something that makes Harry feel out of control,” Merlin said, and now it was the elaborately unconcerned tone, right in Eggsy’s ear, the way he’d said like what to do if one of your group has no parachute, and laughed. It reminded Eggsy of Harry, the way he’d been in the interrogation, switching his emotional state on and off depending on how far Eggsy pushed him. “Harry cares a lot about you. What you think of him is important to him.”

"Yeah, thanks for that," Eggsy said; it was sort of morbidly flattering, but it would be a long time before he’d look at Merlin the same way again. "Thanks a fucking lot."

"He passed, if that makes you feel better. All notes destroyed as per protocol."

"It doesn't," Eggsy said, although it did a bit. Not that Harry had passed exactly, on the back of Eggsy completely falling to bits, but that Harry would be back in the field, finally - that helped.

He thought about some of the hopes he'd nursed, secretly, rationing out the time he allowed himself to spend imagining what it would be like going out with Harry in his ear or, even better, by his side. They got each other, they worked together; they always had.

***

He let himself into Harry's house and went straight up and into the lounge. The balcony doors were open, letting the evening chill in from the wind-tunnel of the mews, curtains ruffling.

Harry was stretched out on the sofa with his eyes closed, jacket off and shirt untucked, tie pulled loose over the lost button and another two undone, showing a careless amount of collarbone. He was in socked feet and Eggsy felt horribly tender about the sight of his unguarded toes. Toes, for fuck's sake.

"Classy," he said; Harry had a half-full tumbler of Scotch balanced on the cushion next to him and was drinking it through a straw so he didn't have to move. The bloody awful afternoon was no competition for the months Eggsy had been panting after Harry: the sight of the straw disappearing into his mouth and between his clamped teeth did things to Eggsy's libido.

"Some occasions call for the triumph of convenience over elegance," Harry said, muffled, without opening his eyes. "The straws are in the drinks cabinet. Behind the gin."

Eggsy found the straws, although since Harry kept about six different gins handy it wasn't as useful an instruction as might have been intended. He poured himself a JD from the stash Harry kept for him, a large one, and went back to the settee, pushing Harry further towards the back so he could lie down the other way.

Harry waited for him to settle and then nudged his knee up against Eggsy's chest, questioning. Eggsy sighed and Harry put his hand on Eggsy's ankle, exploring up under his trouser leg and pulling his sock down until he was stroking skin.

They lay there for a while in silence, sucking up their drinks. Eggsy basked in it, and the hypnotically soothing tiny motion of Harry's fingers on his ankle: a few hours ago he'd have said he and Harry could never be so comfortable together again.

"What are you thinking about?" he said.

"Galaxies," Harry said.

Eggsy opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling. "The chocolate type or the space type?"

"The space type. Worlds colliding."

"Okay," Eggsy said.

Another pleasant silence. Eggsy finished his drink and considered getting up for another one. He was faintly hungry, he'd grabbed a sandwich on the way back from HQ and only picked at it, but he didn't want to disrupt the ease they were in for finding food and eating. He'd probably be down at Harry's fridge at three in the morning, looking for a midnight snack, but that was fine once in a while.

Harry removed his hand from the bottom of Eggsy's trousers and gave him a companionable slap on the shin. "Come on, then. We're not all of an age where we can sleep on a sofa and still walk in the morning."

"Okay," Eggsy said again. It felt right - not being good, not yet, but just being agreeable, letting himself be carried along on the gentle current of what Harry wanted from him.

He usually slept in the spare room when he stayed over at Harry's, but today he followed Harry into his bedroom. Harry stripped off neatly and quickly and put on draw-waisted navy-striped pyjama trousers before fussing around his suit, hanging it up just so and brushing it down.

"You iron your pyjamas," Eggsy observed. He'd noticed it before but today he felt like he could say something about it.

"It makes them more comfortable," Harry said. "Do you want some?"

"No, you're all right," Eggsy said. He took his clothes off, down to his boxer-briefs; Harry took them off him to hang up or go in Harry's own washing basket as necessary. He wasn't really hard, but his cock was fat and interested under the fabric.

He saw Harry notice and adjusted himself shamelessly, grinning when Harry's gaze flicked up sharply to his. "Tease," Harry said, and the way he sounded, adoring and promising, made Eggsy have a happy little shiver.

He took his turn in the bathroom after Harry and when he came back in Harry was already in bed. Eggsy climbed under the covers next to him and rolled up to Harry straightaway, pulling Harry's body up on his side and his arm over Eggsy's waist, snugging his bum up firmly into Harry's crotch. Harry's chest felt warm and a bit scratchy with hair against Eggsy's back, nice, and his legs curved up against Eggsy's into a spoon, really nice.

"I am sorry,” Harry said quietly. “Eggsy… you do believe that I... well. That I wouldn’t have wanted to speak to you like that. I was - I’m not very good with surprises.”

"Yeah. I'm sorry as well," Eggsy said. He put their hands together on his stomach, held Harry more closely to him. "I didn’t say. You know I don't blame you, about my dad."

"Eggsy,” Harry murmured, and held him tight, close. Eggsy waited in case there was more, but that seemed to be it.

"Okay," Eggsy said. He felt warm and safe, and Harry's bed was great, really comfortable, and he liked the feeling of Harry nosing sleepily into his hair. "Going to sleep now."

***

He was on his own when he woke up, but he could smell bacon and there was a lukewarm cup of tea next to his side of the bed - quite nice, that, having a side of the bed at Harry’s - so he decided he deserved a good lie-in while his breakfast was being made for him.

He propped himself up with every pillow on the bed, drank his tea in three gulps before it made the tragic transition to stone cold, and reached for the latest shit book on Harry’s bedside table (‘I’m in the SAS and I’m well ‘ard, me’, or something like that: Harry liked to read them in about two hours flat and then jeer at them).

It felt lovely. Like he was getting away with something. But he wasn’t: this was just how it was going to be now, him and Harry, and he hugged the knowledge to himself and let it warm him from the inside out.

“Eggsy, are you up?” Harry shouted up the stairs, about three chapters in. “Breakfast’s ready.”

Harry was looking almost unbearably charming with his stripy apron on over his still bare top half, curly bedhead falling into his eyes, and not even socks on his feet. He’d thought he’d seen Harry’s relaxed not-long-out-of-bed look plenty of times but it was now clear that the morning Harry he remembered - in neat pyjamas possibly put on fresh, slippers, and combed hair - was a halfway point from normal day Harry, with this louche deliciousness at the end of the rainbow. Harry was standing at the counter carefully plating up bacon and scrambled eggs. The broad strong expanse of his back narrowing perfectly down his to waist and jutting out into the roundness of his beautifully-maintained arse genuinely made Eggsy consider finding religion.

"Morning," he said. His voice sounded weird in his head: scratchy with sleep and yesterday's exertions, but it was more the tone that was different, content to the point of being smug.

"Morning," Harry said. He half-turned and gave Eggsy his best beaming smile, the one that made him look utterly heartbreakingly wank-inspiringly gorgeous, like a classic film star. "Did you sleep well? Here's breakfast."

He carried the two plates through from the kitchen and put them down gently on the two immaculate place settings. Eggsy always felt a little chirp of pride when he saw those placesettings, a quick reminder to himself that he was the one who kept Harry company now; that second place setting being there and waiting was for him.

"Slept great," Eggsy said. He had, which was unusual. He went into the kitchen to see if there was anything else to be taken to the table.

"Good," Harry said, and then he came back into the kitchen too and pinned Eggsy against the fridge and kissed the breath out of him, not like a first kiss at all, like his casual possession of Eggsy's mouth was the natural order of things. Eggsy muffled a long moan with Harry's tongue pushing into his mouth, put his hands on the warm flushed skin of Harry's back, and threw himself into enjoying every moment.

"Good morning to me," Eggsy said when Harry let him go.

"I'm making every endeavour," Harry said. He cupped Eggsy's face and nuzzled their noses together - which made Eggsy's knees go wibbly so he had to clutch at Harry and let the fridge hold him up - kissed Eggsy's mouth again, then his forehead. "God. I was going to wait ten minutes for that, the food will be getting cold."

"Worth it," Eggsy said. Bacon and eggs he could get whenever: in his experience, perfect first kisses were rare.

They didn't talk much over the food, apart from Eggsy complimenting the chef. Most Kingsman staff took the idea of breakfast being the most important meal of the day pretty seriously and Eggsy had caught the habit of enjoying near silence during it. He put his feet up in Harry’s lap, casually, and grinned over his toast when Harry rested a hand on his ankle.

“So…” Eggsy said meaningfully, when he was finished. He pushed his plate away. Then, on the principle that don’t ask don’t get, he grabbed his dick and gave Harry a look.

Harry smirked and said, "No touching yourself unless I say so." Eggsy's hand fell away like Harry had him on strings. Harry watched him and said, "Is that okay?"

"Yeah," Eggsy said faintly. Harry gave him a small smile that Eggsy identified with some surprise as nervous, and it made him say, “Yeah, I mean - yeah, it is, but -” He didn’t quite know what he was getting at. He paused, considered it. He didn’t want the interrogation testing to come to mind but it did, made him finish, “but what if it isn’t?"

Harry looked at him thoughtfully. "Eggsy - don't take this the wrong way, but - you don't like to be powerless, do you? I don't think you'd like to play at being forced." There was something apologetic in his eyes, like he was thinking of yesterday too, the way he’d played Eggsy’s reactions so effortlessly.

"No," Eggsy said, before he even thought about it. Giving up control was one thing, but refusing something and having it ignored, having people do what they liked anyway - "No, I don't - no."

Harry nodded. "Then I think we can keep it very simple. If you say no, or stop, or hang on give me a minute, or whatever - I will."

"And that’s fine with you," Eggsy said. "You won't get - bored or nothing." With him, he meant, more than anything else. He didn’t know what Harry’s usual type was but surely it was someone who knew what they were doing, with this and everything else. Someone really suave, who rolled sips of wine round his mouth and said, ah, oaky, and shit like that. Or, worse, Eggsy was exactly Harry’s type: latest in a long line, to be disposed of when he wasn't new and shiny any more.

"I'm worried I'm not nearly as interesting as you seem to think," Harry said wryly. "I really do just want to tell you what to do in bed." He put the faintest emphasis on you and gripped Eggsy’s ankle possessively, and Eggsy relaxed into it.

"Okay," Eggsy said. That sounded good. Just the two of them fucking, but knowing what he was doing was exactly what Harry wanted, that he was pleasing him - that was good. He smiled at Harry and Harry smiled back.

"Okay," Harry said. "Anything else you want to talk about?"

Eggsy thought about it. He'd always been a learn by doing sort of bloke, really. And Harry sitting there all curly and being nice to him was making him want. "No."

"Okay," Harry said. He pushed away from the dining table and spread his legs. The thin pyjamas flapped around the strong line of calves with the movement: Eggsy could see his cock and balls outlined thick in the material. "Get on your knees and come here."

“Just like that?” Eggsy said. He licked his bottom lip and Harry raised an eyebrow.

Harry gave a slow, dirty smile, open-mouthed, showing his teeth. “Are you expecting me to put on thigh-length boots and leather first?” He paused while Eggsy tried, with some difficulty, to process that image. His brain kept stubbornly substituting Harry in a plain black suit, tailored to within an inch of its life to show off his trim waist and long legs, wearing his signet ring and leaning on his Rainmaker - at his most powerful, ready to bend any situation to his will.

Harry said, “Or - are you going to do as you’re told?”

He was still smiling the same: his expression didn’t change; his voice went slower, deeper, silkier. Like he was speaking right to the core of Eggsy’s brain, the part of him that wanted nothing more than to hand himself over, and now Eggsy’s cock reacted, filling so quick he swore it left him light-headed.

He slid to his knees, eyes fixed to the way Harry’s face did change then, went taut and hungry, really understanding the power he had here, too; he luxuriated in Harry’s full attention. Harry crooked his finger and Eggsy went. He bottled it at the last second and didn’t crawl, but Harry didn’t seem to mind the awkward sort of knee-walk he did the few steps round the table. He buried his face against Harry’s knees and put his arm round Harry’s leg while Harry stroked his hair, and let his mind go quiet.

"Come on," Harry said eventually. He stuck his hands under Eggsy's arms and hauled him up like a sack of spuds. Eggsy swayed, pins and needles swarming his lower legs, and leaned on him; Harry took the opportunity to grab his chin and look at him, Eggsy looking peacefully back into his eyes, and then kissed him, closed-mouthed, sucking gently at Eggsy's lower lip and lingering.

Harry led him back upstairs and Eggsy felt like he was becoming slightly more awake with each step - not that he'd been asleep, or was tired, but his mind had been floating a bit, pleasantly thinking about nothing, and now he was having to do stuff. He put his head between Harry's shoulderblades and grumbled and Harry laughed and manhandled him round and in front of Harry on the stairs and pushed him upwards; his hands were broad and warm and gentle.

By the time he was upstairs Eggsy was ready to chuck himself on the bed joyfully, then bounced up again, took off the shorts that were still all he was wearing, spread his legs, and grabbed his cock. "Come on, then," he said.

"And they say romance is dead," Harry said. He stopped in the doorway and surveyed the scene before him, which for some reason didn't seem to be filling him with uncontrollable lust as Eggsy had hoped.

"Yeah, that's what you get when you hang around police stations and pick up rough trade," Eggsy said sympathetically. "Do you want to see me put my knees up on my ears? Might make you feel better."

Harry laughed, drifting closer. "Can you really?" For all his complaining, he hadn’t looked away from Eggsy once since they’d reached the bedroom.

Eggsy stretched out on the bed and stroked his cock a couple of times, bringing it up to full hardness. "I got my party tricks."

"Maybe later," Harry said. He took his pyjama bottoms off and his dick bumped gently against the flat tanned plane of his stomach. Eggsy wriggled at the sight, thinking about how it was going to feel inside him, beautifully thick and Harry would know exactly what to do with it, bound to.

Harry got onto the bed with him, prowled straight between his legs and leaned down, keeping their bodies just apart, so close his body warmed Eggsy’s anyway; he could feel sweat start to spring in the hollow of his throat. Harry murmured, "Lewd creature."

"You like it," Eggsy said confidently. He reached up and Harry teased for a minute, holding himself away, then kissed him, taking Eggsy’s mouth with the same gorgeous sense of ownership as in the kitchen.

Eggsy quickly discovered Harry liked deep slow kissing, with lots of tongue, which he wouldn’t necessarily have expected, but it made sense - Harry liked to wring the most sensation out of things he could, that was part of why he loved the bespoke suits tailored to perfection. The idea that Harry might think Eggsy was worthy of the same attitude was gratifying. He gave himself up to it, let Harry explore his mouth and concentrated on being responsive, falling back into the same happily foggy physical place he’d found downstairs just resting with Harry.

When Harry spoke again, it took Eggsy a moment to work it out, connect it to the thread of the conversation; his brain didn’t want to come out of it so easily this time. "I suppose I must do, mustn't I? Take hold of your legs for me, hold yourself open - there, that's good. Tell me how that feels, Eggsy."

“Good,” Eggsy said, although it was weird, it was going to start aching through his hamstrings in a minute, holding the backs of his knees wide apart with fingertips digging in, feet in the air, but it felt good to have Harry looking at him approvingly, the trail of his fingertips up the inside of Eggsy’s thigh and just playing at his balls. “Feels - nice. Cos you said to. Do you like it?”

“I do,” Harry said. He leaned over Eggsy again and urged Eggsy’s legs down and round his waist. Eggsy let go gratefully and put his arms round Harry’s shoulders instead, holding him close for more kissing. “You take instruction beautifully, Eggsy. You look very good all spread out and ready.”

“Yeah?” Eggsy said. And then something occurred to him - something about being spread out, positioned. He said, “Are you going to tie me up?”

Harry knelt up between his legs. He ran a finger up the underside of Eggsy’s cok, incredibly slowly, and Eggsy groaned and shifted up, following his hand when he took it away again. He tried to imprint it on his memory, the way it felt and the look on Harry’s face: the first time he’d touched Eggsy’s cock. “Why?”

Good bloody question. “Because - yesterday. You were.”

“Ah,” Harry said. “No, I’m not going to tie you. Not today. Is that a disappointment?”

“... No?” Eggsy said.

“As I’ve been saying… I want you to do as I tell you. Just because I tell you.” He lowered himself back over Eggsy gracefully, his core firm and his biceps flexed, and Eggsy breathed in sharply, tried to arch up against him and lifted his head to nip and kiss Harry’s lips.

Harry took Eggsy’s left hand and drew it up above his head to wrap his fingers around the cool smooth wooden curls of the headboard. He ran his fingers lightly down the sensitive underside of Eggsy’s arm, which prickled in his wake; Eggsy panted, bit his lip and tried to control it. Then Harry did the same to the other arm, clasping Eggsy’s hands together.

“I want you to stay just like this for me,” he said, directly into Eggsy’s ear. “Can you? For no other reason than that I want you to?”

Yes,” Eggsy choked out and it was hard, it was almost painful not to reach for Harry this time when Harry kissed him, but the stretch of his arms came with a sweeter ache, of doing what Harry said, of being pleasing, and that made it easier to remember not to sink his hands into Harry’s soft hair and keep him close.

The moment of acceptance was physical: he relaxed back into the bed and surrendered to what Harry wanted, and Harry caught it, gave him a final kiss and propped back above him again. “Good boy,” he said, his voice ragged and his eyes so dark, irises swallowed up by black, and Eggsy was back in that sweet foggy place so quick, his focus narrowing right down to just Harry, he couldn’t have been less able to move if he had been tied up.

Harry kissed down Eggsy’s throat. He seemed to be testing out how Eggsy reacted to different touches, whether he liked lips, teeth, tongue. He spent a lot of time in the hollow under Eggsy’s jaw where his pulse beat strong and fast, until Eggsy was oversensitive and panting and could barely tell the difference between Harry pressing his lips there, and letting out a warm stream of air. It sparked Eggsy’s nerves, imprinting like he wouldn’t even be able to feel a breeze on his neck again without shivering with remembered pleasure.

The sustained repetitive attention made Eggsy feel like he was floating and he couldn’t have said how long it was until Harry started moving down, minutes or hours. He left nuzzling nudging kisses along Eggsy’s chest and sucked and licked his nipples until Eggsy was pleading for Harry to touch his cock, the friction he could get from rubbing himself up on Harry's chest not enough, and then carried on. He used his teeth more on Eggsy’s chest, leaving marks, and Eggsy’s arms shook with the effort to stay still, stay where Harry had put him, every moment feeling like a victory that combined with the sensations Harry was sending thrumming throughout his body to drive him higher.

By the time Harry reached his stomach, scraping his teeth along the ridges of muscle, Eggsy was whimpering. By the time Harry was at his hips, leaving air-light kisses around his cock and at the crease between his torso and leg, he was openly sobbing.

His skin felt like it prickled and yearned for Harry. He’d never known arousal so all-over that it didn’t seem to belong to his cock or balls or any of his sensitive places but instead was just his whole body bathing in it, like lying out in the sun all day, bright flashes behind his squeezed-shut eyes.

He didn’t know what he was saying, what noises he was making. He was begging Harry to suck his cock, he thought, to finger his arse, for relief. He didn’t really feel Harry kissing his thighs, down his legs, the sensations swarming through his body, like being unable to pick an echo from the first sound, overwhelming. Harry was the only thing he could think of, Harry and the way he was remaking Eggsy, stamping recognition of Harry’s body deep inside Eggsy’s.

Then an ache started in his arms where he was clenching the headboard. Harry felt far away and his breathing was resounding loud in his head and he said, “Harry,” knew that was what to say, “Harry -”

“Okay, it’s okay,” Harry murmured. He was near again, pressing kisses on Eggsy’s face, his hands covering Eggsy’s and coaxing them to let go. He brought Eggsy’s hands to his mouth and kissed them and Eggsy curled into him gratefully, letting his warmth and herby-filthy smell cosset him back down into the nice quiet place.

“You’re good, you’re so good,” Harry said. He kissed Eggsy’s mouth and Eggsy kissed back, Harry’s lips moving gently over his.

He whispered, “Please,” and Harry took him in hand. His fingers closing tight around Eggsy’s cock felt like fucking heaven and Eggsy cried out and grabbed for Harry, wanting to be skin-to-skin with him, close as he could, while he felt like this. His body flared into life all over, like Harry’s kisses were stored electricity.

It was even better when Harry rolled onto him again, pressing Eggsy down so he could go as wild as he liked, under the weight of Harry’s kisses and body holding him safe. He writhed and begged and Harry grabbed his hips, held him still and lined their cocks up. His hand moved between them and then they were wet with lube, Harry’s cock thrusting against his on a long slick slide.

Eggsy offered up his throat again and Harry buried his head there, kissing back to Eggsy’s pulse, and that was what made Eggsy come, his body on fire with it, yelling, flying.

When he came down, his throat was sore from being noisy, he was jizz-sticky up to his chest, and he was all wrapped up in Harry. He rubbed his nose against Harry’s chest, still feeling nicely spacy. A bit like the good part of being drunk, when it was just a great night and before the fights started.

“All right?” Harry said. He tipped Eggsy’s face up to his and touched Eggsy’s cheek delicately, pressed their mouths together.

“Yeah,” Eggsy said. He stretched luxuriously, enjoying the way Harry watched the line of his chest and stomach, then relaxed back into Harry’s arms. “Good. Great.”

Harry’s eyes crinkled as he smiled and Eggsy put his fingertips on the crinkles. He’d wanted to do that for months: Harry’s crow’s feet were rare and gorgeous. “Good,” Harry said. “You look wonderful in my bed, you know. You’re so lovely when you come, you were so good for me, Eggsy.”

“I liked it,” Eggsy decided. “I felt out of my head, but like - usually I just think about my cock. I was all over the place.”

“That’s not uncommon,” Harry said. He wriggled them down the bed and reached down, keeping a firm grip on Eggsy’s waist, and dragged the duvet over them. “Are you tired?”

“Not tired,” Eggsy said but he put his head on the pillow and pulled the duvet nice and warm round his shoulders. “Just want to lie here for a bit. With you.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Harry said immediately. Eggsy made sure of it by starfishing his arms and legs round Harry: he felt like he wanted to cling and snuggle and Harry seemed like he wanted to be clung to and snuggled so that worked out.

“Say something else nice to me,” he ordered. “No, kiss me. Then say something nice to me.”

Harry laughed and kissed him, making it a comfortable cosy snog, enough to get lost in but normal lost, not like earlier on. Eggsy had sensible thoughts, knew time was passing, it was just that it made him feel happy.

“That’s lovely, you’re lovely,” Harry said. He found Eggsy’s hand under the covers and held it. “Gorgeous thing. I’m very lucky. Is that nice enough?”

“You can work on it,” Eggsy said magnanimously.

He wasn’t going to sleep, he was feeling more alert by the minute, but it was nice to just lie with Harry, their foreheads pressed together.

“Harry,” he said after a while. Harry made a mild listening sound. “Harry. Do you think - if it hadn’t have been for the interrogation test - were you gonna make a move?”

“I shouldn’t have thought so, no. Not without some idea of how you might respond." He squeezed Eggsy's fingers and kissed his cheek. Eggsy turned his face into it, grabbed Harry's chin and kissed him properly. It was turning into an addiction already: any moment without Harry's mouth on his felt like a moment wasted.

"Yeah? I thought I was pretty obvious."

"Perhaps by your lights, darling," Harry said wryly. He stretched out and Eggsy put a hand on his chest, stroking possessively across and down his stomach, still damp with sweat. "An awful lot at stake though, if I'd gone for it and been wrong."

“Think what you’ve been missing, though,” Eggsy pointed out, feeling smug in how much he was wanted. “You’d have been so worried about being wrong you’d have missed out on being right. Just to have it all your own way.”

There was a brief silence while Harry seemed to think about that. “Well,” he said eventually. He pulled Eggsy’s hair gently. “We’re here now.”

“Yeah,” Eggsy said. “Good.”

“Good?”

“Good.”