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all the riches you've surveyed

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Eggsy’s only just grabbed a booth, waiting for his mates to show for a proper knees up, when he walks in, dark coat and brolly hooked over one arm. Right from the start, it’s immediately obvious the bloke isn’t from around here. His suit’s too expensive and too well tailored, his haircut probably costs more than what Eggsy’s mum gets on the dole, but really, it’s just his bearing that makes him stand out the most: too upright, too confident with his place in the world—that is to say, too superior to everyone else in the room.

Eggsy wants him.

And the thing is, it’s not like he’s one of those types who gravitates towards money nor is he looking for a sugar daddy. Usually, he’d rather punch arrogant smug pricks than let them come down his throat, but.

But there’s something about this one. Maybe it’s how the bloke has got legs for days and a trim waist that’s accentuated by that beautifully cut suit. Maybe there’s something about those thick rimmed glasses that paradoxically scream prim and proper and come fuck me up at the same time. Maybe it’s how even though he obviously doesn’t fit in, he still moves with such fluid ease and self-possession, he makes it seem like his surroundings simply don’t live up to his presence.

And all the while Eggsy’s letting his fantasies go a bit wild, the bloke’s managed to grab the bartender’s attention and order a pint. The pub’s crowded tonight, and it’s standing room only. Well, save for the table Eggsy’s got.

Suddenly Eggsy finds himself the focus of that heated gaze, zeroing in on him like a spotlight. He’s paralysed as the bloke walks up to him, and this close, Eggsy can see he’s got eyes as brown as the Guinness in his hand. Warm, surprisingly engaging eyes—no, smouldering. Eggsy can’t look away, is thankful for the table that masks his semi, even when he shifts a little to ease some of the pressure.

“Good evening,” the man says, and oh, if his appearance didn’t already do it for Eggsy, his voice, rich and smooth, would have done. “I apologise if I’m disturbing you, but would you mind terribly if I joined you? Space seems to be at a premium tonight.”

There’s absolutely nothing untoward about the man’s words or even in the way he delivers them, but the way he looks at Eggsy is something else altogether, like he’s starving and Eggsy’s a feast spread out before him.

It takes a few moments for Eggsy to summon his wits to reply. What he should be saying is that the seats are taken, that he’s expecting people soon, or that maybe the bloke ought to go fuck off to his own posh VIP club if he can’t wait his turn. What comes out of his very dry mouth is, “Uh. Yeah. Sure, take a load off.”

Eggsy winces at his choice in words and the man smirks, and, yeah, that slip didn’t go unnoticed. There’s something very economical and elegant about the way the man leans his brolly against the edge of the table and then smoothly slides into the booth across from him. Eggsy finds himself sitting up straighter under his scrutiny, feeling like he’s being critically and thoroughly measured. Normally that sort of thing would piss him off, but instead, his heart’s racing, trying to make a running leap for his throat, and his skin is tight and flush with heat. He grabs his own pint with a clammy hand and takes a long pull in an attempt to slake his thirst and ease the way he suddenly feels awkward and uncouth.

“Thank you,” the man says after having spent an eternity watching Eggsy fidget. “My name is Henry DeVere.”

Which is such a posh prick name and seems at odds with the man himself, though Eggsy can’t say for sure why, so he just answers in turn: “Eggsy Unwin.”

“Eggsy,” Henry says, infusing it with more syllables than it’s got, says it like he’s really savouring it like a piece of quality chocolate, and really, Eggsy’s got to stop with food metaphors. “Well, Eggsy, I promise I won’t bother you for long. Car trouble, you see. I thought I’d grab a drink to pass the time while I wait for my recovery service.”

“It’s not a problem,” Eggsy says and tries to shrug casually. “Just surprised you’d even…” but he cuts himself off there, him and his big mouth.

Henry tilts his head a little and prompts, “What?”

“Uh.” Well, he’s already stepped in it. “Step foot in a place like this. Don’t seem like your usual watering hole, guv.”

Thank fuck, Henry doesn’t seem to be offended. There’s even an amused little smile curling at the corner of his mouth. “What do you think my usual is?”

“Dunno,” Eggsy says, then can’t help but cheekily add, “Some place a bit more classy. Tufted leather cushions and the like. Too many throw pillows. Someone playing some piano cover of Air Supply.”

Henry laughs, and Eggsy flushes with the pleasure of it, because his laugh is wonderful, almost reluctant, and Henry seems to shy under his own lack of restraint, opting instead to slowly rotate his glass between his long, graceful fingers. “You’re not altogether wrong, but I also find something rather intriguing about places like this too.”

“Yeah, what’s that then?”

“The people, for one,” Henry says, gazing right at him.

His cock’s gone full on hard now, but Eggsy just raises his brows sceptically, makes a show of looking around the room and its inhabitants, all locals, most of whom would, given half the chance, roll Henry over in a dark alley for his ring, watch, and wallet alone. “Really.”

“Maybe just the one, then.”

There’s no mistaking that for the come-on it is. Eggsy ain’t exactly subtle when he’s on the pull, but the boldness that comes from Henry, a supposedly sophisticated, proper gentleman, is unexpected. And incredibly hot.

But Henry goes on speaking, like he’s not just rendered Eggsy completely stupefied. “And this excellent pint of Guinness, for another,” Henry says, holding up his pint and taking a salutary sip. A look of genuine pleasure flickers across his expression, and Eggsy feels quite perverted for imagining that face in all kinds of other scenarios. “You’ll have to forgive me. It’s a rare indulgence.”

“What, a pint?” Or seducing young men, he almost adds, which is maybe too on the nose for some lighthearted flirtation.

“Calories. Harder to keep off the pounds when you get to be my age.”

“Dunno what you’re talking about. You look well fit to me,” Eggsy says, because his brain to mouth filter has been turned permanently offline, and so has any attempt at playing it cool, because he can’t help but give Henry another once over, from the breadth of his shoulders to the way his eyes now gleam behind his glasses.

“Thank you, Eggsy. I have to work hard to keep up with young, lithe bodies like yourself.” It would almost be a benign compliment were it not for the way Henry conducts his own appraisal, the way he lets the molten desire shine nakedly in his gaze when he meets and holds Eggsy’s eyes.

Forgive me, Ryan and Jamal, Eggsy thinks as he goes for it. When opportunity knocks and all. “Your car’s not too far from here, yeah? It’s a bit of a rough neighbourhood. Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to leave it alone for too long, busted or not.”

“I confess the possibility hadn’t occurred to me, but I do believe you’re probably right,” Henry says, making a good show of thinking it over seriously, and oh, how Eggsy can’t help but start to grin.

“I can walk with you, if you’d like. Posh bloke like yourself could attract the wrong kind of attention in places like this, you get me?”

“Here I thought I was attracting just the right kind of attention.” Henry arches a brow, but his eyes are playful now, and yeah, they’re on the same page alright, bless. “If it’s not too much trouble. You didn’t have other plans?”

“They’d understand.”

“Well, then in that case.” Henry takes another pull from his drink, and for a moment, seems genuinely regretful to leave the rest behind, but he stands up and reclaims his brolly before turning to Eggsy expectantly. “Come along, Eggsy.”

And yeah, Eggsy scrambles up from his seat to follow.

It’s only a drizzling sort of rain coming down outside, but Henry opens up his brolly and holds it up over the both of them anyway. It makes the short walk to his car both awkward with the height difference, and tense, the way they’ve both got to huddle in close, every brush of their bodies swaying into each other weighted with a breathless anticipation.

Finally, Henry stops behind a sleek little Jaguar, and Eggsy would have almost been distracted by its beauty were it not for the way Henry grabs his shoulder and presses his back against it. Eggsy goes easily, even if the metal beneath him is cold and wet, because Henry plasters himself hotly across Eggsy’s front and leans down and their mouths meet.

Eggsy immediately opens his mouth to the kiss and Henry licks right into him, and Eggsy just feels himself going near boneless in his hold, breathing in Henry’s light cologne and the scent that is just him underneath it. The way Henry just surrounds him, hovers over him, holds him, even still holds up the brolly over them, feels so safe.

The back of his clothes are quickly getting soaked, but Eggsy doesn’t notice, not with the way he can feel Henry’s hard cock against his hip or the way their lips and tongues sound sliding over each other or the perfect way his hand slides across Eggsy’s neck and thumbs his jaw.

The brolly wavers along with Henry’s focus and it lilts to the side and the rain falls in upon them, and Eggsy pulls back just slightly to breathe out, “The car, yeah?”

“Yes, car,” Henry agrees just as breathlessly, and fumbles first in finding his keys and then getting the keys into the lock. Eggsy would laugh, but he’s too engrossed with running his palms across the planes of Henry’s chest and feeling so much surprising muscle beneath them. God, Henry really is fit and all Eggsy wants to do is just strip him out of his expensive garments and admire the finery beneath with his hands and tongue.

Somehow, Henry successfully opens the back door for Eggsy with a silly chivalrous flourish and Eggsy does laugh for real as he climbs in and Henry follows, tossing the barely closed brolly into the front seat. It’s an absurdly tight space, and Henry is more limbs than Eggsy had first thought—they might have been better off in the gents, really—but then again, it’s really fucking good like this too, the way Henry presses over him, pushes him down towards the leather that smells new, covers him like a blanket as he finds Eggsy’s lips once more and drags him back under another wave of pure, mindless want.

It’s easier like this, to align their hard cocks through the fabric of their clothes and thrust up against each other in delicious jolts of friction that are too good and not enough. Their heavy breaths are harsh and loud in the silence of the car, punctuated by the creaking of leather, the moans Eggsy can’t help from slipping out.

Henry finally pulls back for air and shifts over him again, and it’s another uncomfortable, tight rearrangement of limbs and squeaking leather that suddenly makes them both laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

“I haven’t done something like this since I was about your age,” Henry confesses, trying to adjust his fogged up glasses and find a comfortable angle for his knees and elbows that aren’t on Eggsy’s ribs or stomach.

“What, picking up strangers in a pub or making out in the back of a car like horny teenagers?”

“The latter. Though it's been some time since the former as well, come to think. I fear I have neither the flexibility nor flair for it as I once had.”

“You can sit back and let me do all the heavy flexing,” Eggsy offers with a salacious grin, because he’s got all sorts of plans for Henry if he’d let him.

“I think I’ve still got it in me to do this,” Henry says, and before Eggsy can ask, he scoots back to the space between Eggsy’s legs and reaches up to unbutton his jeans.

“Henry,” Eggsy breathes, “You don’t have to—”

“Oh, but I want to taste you, dear boy. I want to feel your moans through your cock on my tongue. I want to see how far down my throat you can get.”

Eggsy’s head falls back onto the seats. “Fucking hell, Henry.”

Henry takes that as concession, because he makes short work of freeing Eggsy’s stiff cock from his boxers and giving it several long, hard strokes with his broad hand, swiping at the pre-come already leaking from the tip to slick down the shaft and then back up again. The air’s a bit cold, but Henry’s hand is so hot and then his mouth is even hotter as he licks a stripe up Eggsy’s cock first before engulfing him into the slick, tight heat of his mouth.

“Oh fuck. Oh fuck, Henry. God, that’s….yeah. Just like that.”

Henry’s right, Eggsy does moan and curse and tries to keep from thrusting his hips up or shove more of his cock into Henry’s all too eager mouth. Henry only uses one hand to grip Eggsy’s hip hard enough to bruise, with enough strength in that one hand alone to keep him pinned down as he bobs up and down on Eggsy’s cock, keeps his tongue broad and flat against the underside only to curl around the head and tease across his slit in a way that has Eggsy biting his lip to hell. The other hand cups his bollocks and rolls them nimbly between his fingers, slips back behind them to press and massage his perineum until Eggsy is panting harshly, conflicted between competing desires to shove up into Henry’s wet mouth or down onto those fingers and the way they press in relentlessly and light him up from inside.

He doesn’t know how long it’s been or how his hands have found themselves in Henry’s hair, completely dragging it out of its perfect style or even how Henry is still managing to wear his bloody glasses. His world narrows down to the pressure pooling in his groin, until he’s tugging on Henry’s hair in warning. “Henry, I’m going to, I’m going to come. You’ve got to….”

But instead of pulling off, Henry somehow relaxes his throat and swallows Eggsy down until his nose is buried in the coarse hair and his throat muscles are fluttering around Eggsy’s cock and it’s so fucking good, so fucking good that Eggsy can no longer hold on and comes with a choked off shout.

It’s a good long while before he comes back to himself, finds Henry hovering over him, hair in sweaty disarray, lips plump and swollen, cheeks flushed. He’s pressed against Eggsy, and he’s got his trousers undone and his own hard cock out, striping it with his hand in sharp, jerking strokes between them. It’s so fucking hot a sight in and of itself, Eggsy feels his spent cock already twitching again in interest, and he can’t help but reach out and cover Henry’s furiously moving hand with his own, until he’s taken over jerking Henry off, feeling that hot column of flesh in his hand, wishing he could wrap his own lips around it as well but, yeah, this is good too. Henry groans and buries his face in Eggsy’s neck, the hard frames of his glasses digging into his skin, his panting breaths are hot and wet against his skin, little mewls slipping past his lips that are gaining volume until the whole of him tenses over Eggsy and he’s coming hotly in Eggsy’s hands, all over his fingers and spilling out between them.

“Christ,” Henry mutters when he can talk again, but that’s all he manages to say before Eggsy’s mouth slips over his and he tastes himself, sharp and bitter, on Henry’s tongue while he caresses Henry’s face and doesn’t care that Eggsy’s smearing his own come across his cheek.

Judging by the eagerness with which Henry returns his kisses, he doesn’t give a fuck either, and yeah it’s so fucking messy and more than a little bit disgusting but there’s something primal and possessive in the marking of it. They’ve got each other smeared over and in themselves, and it was so good, Eggsy wants to believe he’s permanently branded with this perfect moment.

But it’s just a moment, because the flashing yellow lights in the distance penetrate the haze of lust still lingering in the air and tosses a dose of cold, sobering reality upon them.

“The tow,” Eggsy says, and their eyes widen as they simultaneously realise the state they’re in.

It’s another comedic bout of awkwardly trying to straighten themselves out in a confined space, buttoning up, wiping away, and smoothing down. But Eggsy’s got drying come all down the front of his clothes and the back of him is still damp, and Henry, for all the way he’s managed to tuck himself back in and smooth back his hair into some semblance of style, still smells like sex, has swollen blowjob lips, and didn’t quite manage to get off all the come on his face. Selfishly, Eggsy doesn’t tell him.

Because he knows they’re reaching the end of their night and he doesn’t want the evidence of their time together so neatly and easily erased. Let Henry glance in the mirror later and see that lingering trace and let him remember Eggsy one last time.

Eggsy isn’t stupid enough to think they’ll have anything else. Men like Henry don’t look for anything more from people like him.

“Well,” Eggsy says brightly, probably overdoes it on the whole falsely cheerful act, but he’ll beat back the imminently awkward goodbye with babbling any day. “I’d say I’ve done my duty in seeing you safely to your vehicle, and neither you nor the car were harmed. I’ll count it as a win and I hope you—”

“Come home with me,” Henry suddenly says.

“—do too. I’m sorry, what?” Eggsy blinks.

“I would like, very much, for you to come home with me,” Henry says, slowly and clearly, making sure Eggsy couldn’t possibly mishear him. “I’ve been told I make a delightful breakfast.”

And at Eggsy’s continued stunned silence, Henry betrays just a sliver of nervousness when he adds, “If you’re amenable, that is.”

Something warm is beginning to spark and come alive in his chest, but Eggsy can’t put name to it just yet, only knows that it makes him a little bit lightheaded, produces a dosy smile across his lips, fills him with so much fucking happiness.

He tries to play it cool though, when he says, “Yeah, alright,” but fears it comes out as far less nonchalant than he was aiming for, because Henry mirrors his stupidly open smile and yeah, alright, maybe, just maybe, there’s something more here after all.

Chapter Text

Once the car’s been seen to, Henry rings for a taxi, and it’s the fastest Eggsy’s ever seen a black cab pull up for anyone, especially given the time of night, weather and neighbourhood, but he only has it in him to be grateful as it means getting back to Henry’s place that much sooner where there will undoubtedly be a large, expensive bed, and of course, a promised delightful breakfast. The security of knowing he won’t be kicked out after a few rough shoves in is making him giddy, an entirely alien feeling that’s taken over his whole body and cast a surreal haze over the entire situation.

He keeps sneaking glances back at Henry during the ride, admiring the way the multi-hued city lights illuminate his profile, highlighting and shadowing his eyes in turn, and how one lock of hair still stubbornly sticks out, just beginning to curl. Sometimes Henry catches him in the act, and Eggsy quickly averts his eyes in embarrassment only to find himself looking back once more and being greeted with a heated stare that curls his toes in his trainers.

They pull up to a modern high rise that houses the kinds of flats that cost more than the collective income of Eggsy’s entire neighbourhood. He hesitates before following Henry out of the cab, slowed down by the first creeping tendrils of self-doubt. The lobby is all polished subtle grey marble and the floors are probably clean enough to eat off of. Even the front desk uniforms the staff wear make him feel hopelessly outclassed, and he tries not to feel like a dirty secret beneath their coolly professional yet unreservedly judgmental regard.

He doesn’t know what to expect from seeing Henry’s flat, perhaps he assumed it would be an extension of the man himself or that it would reveal more clues about its owner, but when Eggsy steps through the front door, he’s a bit wrongfooted by how sterile the flat feels. It’s open floor plan, more windows than walls that reveal a breathtaking panoramic view of London, all clean, modern lines and tasteful masculine decor.

It doesn’t feel like Henry at all.

But Henry doesn’t hesitate to move through the space the way Eggsy does. He’s quick to hang up his brolly and coat, offering to do the same for Eggsy’s threadbare jacket as well. Eggsy hovers in the entryway, realising he’s the one who doesn’t fit in now, and worse still, hasn’t got anywhere near the same amount of defiant confidence in himself that Henry does.

Somewhere between losing his suit jacket and tie and absentmindedly rolling up the sleeves of his crisp white collared shirt, Henry picks up on Eggsy’s reticence. “Would you care for a drink?” he offers and his voice is so gentle and kind, Eggsy wants to throw something at his face and run. “I’m having one.”

Eggsy swallows down the thick lump that’s formed in his throat and tries to get his voice back in working order. “Am I just going to wake up to an empty flat and a billfold of notes on the nightstand?”

Henry pauses on his way to the minibar. “Is that what you want to happen?” His voice is neutral, back turned so that Eggsy can’t see his expression.

“What? No! God no. I’m not for sale. I didn’t agree to come here expecting payment and I won’t be treated like some bought and paid for rentboy—”

“Good, because I didn’t invite you here under such notions,” Henry says, shutting Eggsy right up. He continues towards the bar and pulls out two tumblers, adding ice to each before pouring out a measure of something golden amber from an honest to god crystal decanter, the kind Eggsy didn’t think existed outside of exclusive fraternal orders where powerful men smoked cigars while brokering backroom deals or some shit. When Henry finally turns back to Eggsy and offers him a glass, he says, “I invited you here, because I want to lay you out naked across my bed and discover all the places on your body that leave you dripping for me. I want to eat out that pert little arse of yours until you’re begging for my cock. Then I want to fuck you until you come from just my cock alone. After that, I’d like for us to sleep the sleep of the gloriously fucked out, and then breakfast. I’m not lying about that breakfast. Would that work for you?”

Eggsy nearly drops the glass. “Jesus, you can’t...you can’t just say things like that, Henry.”

“Why not?” Henry asks, and the look, oh, the look he gives Eggsy pins him to the spot, rock hard and lust stupid. The way he broaches Eggsy’s personal space and looms over him, still partially dishevelled and begging to be further undone. “I’m a man of my word. I fully plan on delivering on each and every one of my promises. That is, if you’re agreeable.”

All Eggsy can do is nod dumbly and thickly swallow. “Y-yeah. Yeah, that’s...agreeable.” He doesn’t even taste the undoubtedly expensive scotch, swallowing it down in four quick searing mouthfuls.

Henry doesn’t take him to task for it either, just takes in the way Eggsy’s eyes water from the burning in his gut, the way the infusion of heat stings his cheeks, and says, “Would you care to wash up? The loo is down the hall, third door on the right. Everything you need is there. The master will be the only door on the left.”

There’s an implicit suggestion there, all underlined with the hint of so much promise in Henry’s voice, and Eggsy finds himself nodding and already starting for the loo before his brain catches up with his body and he’s staring at himself in the mirror of Henry’s fancy guest toilet with its standing glass shower enclosure that’s large enough to fit Eggsy’s entire bedroom, brushed steel finishes, and soft recessed lighting. Now would be the time for some quality self-reflection upon his life choices, maybe a worry for some of the bruises that mottle his torso, but Eggsy’s more fascinated and a little bit horrified by the sheer variety and quantity of styling and personal hygiene products Henry’s got on hand for his guests, from fancy-smelling shampoo and facial moisturiser to lube and...topical genital anesthetic? There’s accommodating and then there’s neurotic.

Suffice to say, there’s more than everything Eggsy will need. There are things there Eggsy wishes he never knew about.

He strips off his clothes, and after a moment of consideration, folds them into a more or less neat pile on the counter when he would have simply kicked them off to the side were he at home until he needed to go to the laundrette. Once again his gaze comes to rest on his father’s medal around his neck, warmed from lying against his skin where it’s been safely hidden beneath his polo. He takes far more care in taking it off and, for the thousandth or so time, finds himself smoothing his thumb over the bevelled ridges of that strange design that isn’t like any sort of military insignia he’s ever seen before slipping it into the back pocket of his jeans with his mobile.

If he takes up a fair bit of time beneath the rainfall shower, so sue him. He’s got to bloody maximise every opportunity he’s been handed to sample a bit of luxury for himself, hasn’t he? And given Henry’s aforementioned promises, Eggsy wants to be thorough in said washing. He’s already so keyed up.

By the time he’s done, steam fills up the room and fogs up all the glass and his skin is pink and flush from the heat. Belatedly, he realises he hasn’t got anything to change into, but then figures a towel loosely knotted across his hips would do. It would certainly ease things along, and if Henry is feeling even a fraction of what Eggsy is, he’s got to be more than a bit keen.

When he steps out into the hall, the rest of the flat is dark, and only a sliver of dim light escapes from beneath the closed door to the master bedroom like a beacon beckoning him home. His feet pad across the plush carpet soundlessly, his hand hovers over the door knob, unsure if he ought to knock first, but then it doesn’t matter: the door is abruptly pulled open to reveal Henry, who’s done a bit of washing up himself and who now only wears a rich burgundy dressing gown that makes Eggsy’s fingers itch to reach out and touch it to see if it’s as soft as it looks. Without his glasses, Henry’s face seems softer somehow, more open. His eyes were always warm, but now there’s a sort of accessibility that was absent before.

And they’re no less restrained in their open admiration of him either, not from the way Henry rakes his gaze over his body, or the way he urges Eggsy into the bedroom by pulling on the tenuous knot of the towel, causing it to loosen, and then letting gravity take care of the rest as it drops to the floor.

“You’re beautiful,” Henry says, voice and face filled with so much genuine awe that Eggsy has to look away.

Henry ain’t having it though. He reaches out and cups Eggsy’s jaw, forcing Eggsy to meet his gaze and bask in the full exposure of his reverence. “Don’t let anyone ever tell you differently.”

“Henry,” he says, because he’s blushing, for fuck’s sake, and all of it seems unbearable. He doesn’t know where this shyness is coming from now. He’s never had a problem getting his kit off before.

Henry moves his hand down Eggsy’s neck, over his shoulder and down his arm to take a light but firm grip on his hand and draw him further into the room towards the bed, which is as massive and inviting as Eggsy’s imagined. Henry’s even turned down the covers.

God, he’s been acting like a nervous virgin this whole time, and Eggsy decides there’s been enough of that. He rallies his earlier bravado, however fabricated it is now, and steps in out in front of Henry, meets his gaze boldly. If Henry’s surprised by the sudden change in his demeanour, he doesn’t show it, not when his eyes darken in response to Eggsy’s hands moving to the sash of his dressing gown, quickly working to untie it and help himself to a full visual of what’s been teasing him all night.

“Well, fuck me,” he says under his breath.

“That’s the general idea,” Henry says, because he’s a bit of a smart arse, Eggsy’s learning.

And, well, he knew Henry didn’t have an average older man’s soft physique, could see that with clothes on, but this? This is so unexpected. There’s so much muscle there, and it’s more the long, slender, flowy kind, not at all like Eggsy’s own stocky build, and there’s simply not an ounce of fat on Henry’s frame. There are scars though, enough to spark a small lick of curiosity in the back of his mind, but not enough to detract from the overall aesthetic of Henry’s frankly fucking gorgeous body, nor from Eggsy’s immediate priorities: namely, appreciating the sight of that marvelous cock, which he’d only briefly got to glimpse before. Seeing it now under under the full expanse of the bedroom lights makes him go a bit stupid with desire. It’s long and thick, jutting out from a nest of neatly kept curls, and just mouthwatering. Eggsy wants to get his lips around it, because it’s a cock that’s begging to be sucked, it is. He thinks about how it’s going to be deep inside him, pounding his arse until he probably won’t be able to sit right for a week, and that thought spirals him down further into a lust vertigo.

He hasn’t realised he’s actually reached out and closed his fingers around said cock, lazily stroking it like he were scratching an itch until Henry suddenly surges forward, hands framing each side of Eggsy’s face, only to tilt his head to the side and breathe hotly against the sensitive skin of his throat, run his nose against the tendons and breathe in Eggsy’s skin. It should be really fucking weird, but every light caress just sets his nerves on fire.

He might’ve made an embarrassing noise, he definitely does when Henry blazes trails across his skin with his lips and tongue, marking the hollow of his throat, the spot where his pulse jumps unsteadily, and behind the corner of his jaw with a scrape of teeth. He’s got the lapels of Henry’s dressing gown in a death grip, or maybe it’s just to pull and trap Henry in close, and it’s ridiculous, the way he gets, the way he feels, over just this, just Henry at this neck, barely giving him anything more than ghost touches.

“God, Henry,” he moans, and his voice is soaked in want, he barely recognises himself, “C’mon. I need—I need….”

More. Just more.

Henry snakes a hand down to his arse, grips one of his cheeks and pulls Eggsy’s body into his, until the tip of his cock edges along the underside of Henry’s. The contact makes Eggsy’s involuntarily gasp and thrust up, and Henry takes advantage of his open mouth to slip his thumb past Eggsy’s parted lips and slide it along the inside of his cheek. It’s second nature to turn and close his lips around it, suck on the digit and show Henry just how good his mouth can be too, reaches out to do the same to Henry’s other fingers, and Eggsy tries to temper his victorious smile when hears Henry’s composure break, just a little, in a low breathy whine.

But once loosened, it’s like Henry gives up and unleashes a torrent. He bears Eggsy back down onto the bed, shucks off the gown, and crawls on top of him as sinuously as a big cat. Eggsy thinks, finally, but then all Henry does is hover over his shoulders, smooth his lips over his collar bones, tonguing at their ridges to induce a sharp shiver, before moving on to the next bit of unexplored territory on Eggsy’s body, because Henry was serious and Eggsy is going to fucking die before this is all over.

“Don’t move unless I tell you to,” Henry warns.

And Eggsy learns about himself and his own body under Henry’s ministrations, things neither he nor any other partner he’s had ever bothered to take the time to discover. He learns that Henry can expertly play his body like an instrument, that it blossoms open beneath his touch and sings in a variety of harmonies Eggsy’s never heard before.

Under his arms, his ribs, are ticklish and produce flinches.

The underside of his forearm and inner wrist makes the hairs on his arm stand on end.

His nipples aren’t particularly sensitive, but he thinks he could just about be content with Henry’s warm tongue and gentle sucking of them all night anyway (some other night, definitely not tonight).

His hips earn gentle bites, a tongue to run down the canyon of them and Eggsy’s stomach flutters so pleasantly.

He full on shudders when Henry laves at the juncture between his leg and groin, so close to where he’d really like Henry’s mouth back most of all, but of course Henry spends far more attention on the swells of his thighs, first running his broad palms down the insides of them, squeezing the fleshiest parts, and then wetting them with his mouth and stopping tantalisingly close to his cock. It’s dripping, he’s dripping so much, smearing pre-cum over his lower stomach he wonders if he’ll get dehydrated, and thrusting up into nothing makes him clench his teeth in frustration. He wants to yell at Henry, tell him he’s accomplished his goal, bloody well done, but he’s hard enough to hammer nails and, gods—

“Please,” he moans when Henry licks the back of his knee, and, fuck, it’s too embarrassing to call it an erogenous zone, but he finds his legs sprawling wider, boneless but for Henry’s tight hold at his ankle, keeping his leg propped up. His hands fist into the sheets above his head where Henry last left them, because Henry told him he couldn’t move, and even though all he wants to do is press a hand against his cock just to relieve some of the pressure, obeying him is somehow more crucial.

“Do you remember,” Henry says, almost conversationally, still sounding far too put together when Eggsy feels like he’s been shaken out of his body, “what I said I’d do to you next?”

“Oh god. Henry. Please, I just wanna—” He yelps when Henry pins a hand behind each knee and practically bends him in half, face nearly level with the most intimate bits of himself. He can feel his face colouring at being so exposed, but when Henry parts his cheeks even further and licks a stripe up his crack, ending with a swath over his bollocks, Eggsy wails from the shock of it, having never felt something like that before.

And then Henry just goes at it, broad flat licks over his hole like he’s lapping at cream for forever, alternating with circling Eggsy’s rim with the tip of his tongue, barely darting in before repeating it all again.

He’s broken out into a sweat. Incoherent moans keep seeping from his lips until he’s gasping for air because he’s so full of sensation, he feels like he can’t breathe, that he will explode. He’s not in any position to do anything but take it though, and Henry keeps licking and slurping at him until he’s so, so wet down there, and it’s all so fucking filthy.

Henry’s hands slide up the backs of Eggsy’s thighs to pull his legs wider still and tilt his hips up so he can press his face deeper into Eggsy’s arse and drill his tongue into his hole, licking right into him until Eggsy can feel the muscles there flutter around Henry’s undulating tongue and he can’t help but sob.

“I can’t—I can’t—Henry—I can’t! Please. I need—I need—!”

Henry pulls back with a particularly dirty slurp that makes him wail again from the loss and looks up at him from between his thighs. “I’m sorry, what was that, Eggsy?” he says, finally sounding as wrecked as Eggsy feels. His lips are swollen red, the whole bottom half of his face gleams with saliva.

“Henry,” Eggsy croaks, because he can’t formulate the right words to say what he wants anymore, just knows that he needs. Needs more than ever. More than he ever has in his life. “Please.”

“Shhh. It’s alright. Let me take care of you.”

For all his earlier desperation, Eggsy never thought the actual fucking would be more of an afterthought, but a thick haze has settled over his awareness, slowing down time, making all his limbs feel heavy and the world soft and fuzzy all along the edges. He's burning with heat, suffused all over with it, no longer just centred in his cock, but like every cell in his body is tight and wrung out. Henry doesn’t try to tease him when he fingers Eggsy open, slicking him up with lube even when Eggsy’s already so open and wet, like he knows Eggsy’s skating that fine line already.

Then Henry’s over him again, bracketing him, and Eggsy’s legs come to wrap around his ribs, heels coming to rest over Henry’s spine as Henry fucks into him in small, shallow thrusts. Even though Eggsy’s never felt more languid, Henry’s big, and it feels like hours before he’s fucked himself all the way inside, until Eggsy feels stuffed full of Henry’s cock, utterly possessed.

Henry lays his long, lean body out over Eggsy, grips Eggsy’s hands with his own and just holds them down against the sheets as he starts to thrust into him in long, slow slides that punch the air from his lungs. His gaze finds and holds Eggsy’s until Eggsy can’t look away, can’t help but let his whole world be consumed by Henry and all the ways in which he falls apart so minutely: the shallow gasps that fall from his lips that he tries to bite back, the way his pupils blow up and overtake the brown of his eyes until they’re near black. The way the steady rhythm of his hips grinding against Eggsy’s, the slick slap of skin, stutters into syncopation.

The journey to climax is no longer a race or a tumbling free fall picking up speed as it reaches the end. It’s a long gradual build, a pool of heat growing larger and larger within him, like a high tide slowly rolling in until the wave just washes over him and quietly shatters him apart.

Time stretches by without his notice again. Eggsy is still overwhelmed with the sensation of being too big for his body, on edge and hair trigger sensitive. He slowly becomes aware of Henry moving around the room, of him drawing close to the bed once more and tilting Eggsy’s head up, coaxing him to drink from a glass of water. Eggsy feels a warm, wet flannel gently clean up the mess on his stomach before, to no small amount of his sudden onset shyness, wiping up the lube and dried saliva from between his legs. After, Henry bundles him up in the sheets that have some ungodly high thread count.

The realisation that this is what it's like to be taken care of, and that he's never known what that's truly meant before, catches him off guard, makes him feel all too fragile. One wrong move, and he’d break apart.

Before he does something embarrassing like actually tear up, because then he’d really have to fuck off and never show his face again, something is set down next to him on the mattress, sufficiently pulling him up from completely transforming into a prat. It's a jar of “...Nutella?”

When Eggsy looks up at Henry questioningly, he sees him holding a green apple and paring knife. Henry still hasn't got a stitch on and seems just fine with that fact. Eggsy supposes if he looked like that at any age, he would be too.

“Got to keep your energy up,” Henry says.

“For what?”

“I’m thinking of having another go.”

“Jesus fucking christ. You’re going to kill me,” Eggsy says, letting his head fall back against the bed with a thunk. “How are you even real?”

Henry comes to sit down beside him on the bed, starts peeling the skin of the apple off in one long, fancy corkscrew that's mesmerising to watch, and lets the whole shell of the thing drop carelessly to the mattress. Henry effortlessly wields the knife like he were born with it in his hand, cutting a section from the flesh of the apple, dipping it into the jar and emerging with a healthy dollop.

“You seem like too much of a neat freak to cross-contaminate your condiments like that,” Eggsy points out.

“I’ve got a jar designated for every activity and purpose,” Henry replies, and Eggsy can’t tell if he’s taking the piss, but then Henry’s nudging the slice against his lips, smearing chocolate against them almost playfully. Eggsy opens his mouth and bites into it, setting off an explosion of tart sweetness across his taste buds that produces a surprised moan when Henry leans forward and licks the chocolate from his lips. Eggsy can smell a hint of something alcoholic on his breath. Maybe he gargled.

The thought sparks an involuntary case of the giggling, and at Henry’s questioning look this time, he says, “You’ve had your tongue in places no one’s ever had business putting their tongue in before, and I haven’t really got a clue as to who you are, ‘cept that you may be some sort of sex god in disguise and that you clearly don’t have to mind your calories and got a loo that could probably be mistaken for a porn dungeon.” Which, come to think of it, was probably very stupid of Eggsy to have simply thrown all caution to the wind and gone home with him like that. It’s the fodder for weekly storylines on detective shows.

By the end of his sentence, Henry’s got that reluctantly amused face again, just as rewarding as the first time Eggsy earned it. “Those three things aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.” Which, alright, but then Henry actually looks like he’s considering Eggsy’s words seriously. “What would you like to know?”

Now that it’s open season, Eggsy finds himself drawing a blank. “Uh, dunno.” Then, just for a lark, “What do you even do?”

“Real estate development,” Henry says, and yeah, that sounds...pretty boring, actually. No wonder he’s a sex pervert. “And yourself?”

Eggsy sort of panics and flounders the way he always does when polite society asks him this question. “Unemployed at the mo,” is what he settles for, which isn’t much of a badge of pride, but it’s not like Henry’s got to have any illusions he’s gone to bed with Prince Harry.

But Henry takes the ball and keeps rolling with it, cutting off another slice of the apple and, for fuck’s sake, Eggsy’s even entranced by the way Henry’s jaw works as he’s eating, he’s so bloody gone for this man, that he almost misses Henry asking, “What’s your earliest memory?”

That one throws Eggsy a bit, so much so that he’s startled into speaking the truth. “My dad’s holding me. I think we’re at the beach. The ocean’s scary, but I feel...safe.” Loved. His father’s murmuring reassurances. Eggsy’s got his face buried in his chest. He must’ve been very small. He swallows and glances at Henry. “Yours?”

“A plane crash,” Henry says like it ain’t some big bombshell to drop into conversation or anything. “I was with my parents at the time. It was one of those very small planes that don’t fare well in storms. I was the only one to walk away.”

Eggsy stares at him. “Jesus. I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright. I was very young. I barely remember them. I was primarily raised by my uncle Chester. He was a decent guardian to me.”

“My father died when I was young too. Don’t really remember much about him, but it doesn’t mean I still don’t miss him,” Eggsy says, and off Henry’s silent inquiry, explains, “Killed in action. Marines. I was six.”

“That’s very young, and I’m very sorry,” Henry solemnly tells him, looking him dead in the eye.

It makes Eggsy feel uneasy, weighed down by something heavy and uncomfortable that he shies away from examining too closely, so he just swallows it back and says, “We’re really shit at this pillow talk.”

“You’re right,” Henry says ruefully, offering up another slice of apple for Eggsy before setting the rest of it aside on the nightstand and tracing slightly sticky fingers over Eggsy’s chest instead, brushing by and lightly pinching his nipple. “Perhaps we ought to return to that which we know best.”

“God,” Eggsy moans. “You’re insatiable.”

“You don’t know the half of it.”

They do have another go. Henry may not have been able to get it up a third time, but he spends the next hour fingering Eggsy to completion simply by lightly and relentlessly massaging his prostate with two wet fingers, his thumb pressing into the skin behind Eggsy’s bollocks in counterpoint, until Eggsy’s a writhing, gibbering mess.

Lying next to each other in the dark, fucked out and half asleep, Eggsy still feels Henry’s hands running over his skin, like he can’t help himself. He hears Henry distantly ask, “How did you get these bruises?” and belatedly realises that for all Henry’s proprietary behaviour towards his body all night long, he’s nearly avoided them entirely.

That one, he’s already got a practised answer for, able to recite it even in his sleep. “Free running,” Eggsy smoothly mutters, then sleepily and unthinkingly asks, “What ‘bout your scars?”

“I was in the military too, once upon a time,” comes the equally smooth answer, and Eggsy’s too exhausted to really think much of it as he finally falls into a sated slumber.

Chapter Text

Henry’s side of the bed is empty when Eggsy finally wakes up to a late morning sun diffused through the large, tinted windows, but there’s no money on the nightstand and he hears the muffled sounds of activity from other the common areas of the flat: the banging of pots and pans, something sizzling, some morning talk show on the telly with the chipper music and exaggerated laughter.

He’s tempted to have himself a bit of a lie in because the mattress is all kinds of comfortable and still smells like Henry, and his body feels heavy and relaxed with an underlying sense of weary satisfaction, like the morning after a really strenuous workout. Or a really fantastic shag. Fucking hell, he’s never had as good a fuck as Henry and he’d wager everything he has (which, granted, ain’t much) that he never will again. Henry’s just about ruined Eggsy for other men.

It’s supposed to be a lighthearted thought, but instead, it makes Eggsy realise how temporary all of this is: the posh surroundings, the handsome lover, feeling good. Yeah, Henry’s been worlds above and beyond considerate, accommodating and, if he were being honest, sheer fucking skillful than any of his other hookups to date, but it don’t change the fact that it’s still a hookup, fleeting by design. Normally, that would have been good enough for Eggsy, who’s had to learn the hard way all the good things in life are transient more often than not. Normally, he’d relish the experience for what it was and then let it go without too much fuss.

But now the thought of this is it makes his heart seize up and sink down into his stomach and his throat close up tight until he can’t swallow. There’s anger and frustration and desperation and then eventually it all just turns into a familiar refrain of despair. This one thing here and now is the thing Eggsy wishes he could keep a little longer, and he can’t, and it hurts.

So Eggsy does what he always does when faced with inevitable disappointment: tells himself to stop being such a fucking twat and get over it. Never show them how much it hurts. Never show them how much you want it.

With all the charm of luxuriating in bed now gone off, he rolls to his feet, winces at the twinges in his arse, and starts for the guest loo to reclaim his clothes when he pauses before Henry’s dresser and, in the way that usually precedes all the very best and worst ideas he’s had, thinks, why the fuck not?

When he emerges out into the common area, he’s nicked a pair of Henry’s black boxer briefs and got one of his dress shirts on. It’s too long in the torso and arms, forcing him to roll them up, and tight across the shoulders and chest, so he’s got a legitimate excuse to leave most of the buttons undone. It’s all very much worth it when Henry catches sight of him and almost drops the glass of grapefruit juice he’s holding (bloody fucking freshly squeezed, if the pile of mauled citrus shells on the counter are anything to go by).

“Morning.”

“Good morning, you tart,” Henry says, eyes going all dark with ardour. He uses the excuse of handing Eggsy the juice to lean in and capture his lips and coax his mouth open so he can lick all inside, Eggsy’s morning breath and all. Henry, of course, tastes minty fresh. He’s as groomed as ever: glasses, a similar dress shirt to what Eggsy’s barely got on, tie and trousers. And then there’s the striped apron, cinched tight around his slender waist, over all of it, which should make the whole ensemble look silly, but instead, Eggsy’s discovering new things about what does it for him, and this one’s earned a spot towards the top of the list.

The goal is not to get a stiffie before he’s had breakfast, though, so even if Henry’s hands have strategically wandered into his gaping shirt, Eggsy reluctantly breaks off the kiss to eye the offerings on the table, only to do a double take.

“You expecting some army over I don’t know about?” Eggsy asks, because the spread is ridiculous, like Henry’s actually some sex-fuelled alien who looked up what humans ate for their first meal of the day and then proceeded to make sure every single fucking dish was represented. There’s whole fruit, fruit salad, cuts of cheese, honey, yogurt with fruit and granola, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, rashers, sausage, eggs (scrambled and over easy, looks like), porridge, two full racks of toast, scones, clotted cream, and several jars of different flavoured jams. There’s only two place settings though, with different sized dishes and fancy folded cloth napkins and far more cutlery than Eggsy knows what to do with.

“I might have been a bit over-zealous,” Henry admits.

“A bit? A bit?”

“Shush and drink your juice,” Henry says, but Eggsy only gets in a sip before Henry’s crowding in close and got his lips on his neck and that's just not on the level.

“Are you…” Eggsy begins, but the thought sort of tapers off into a moan when Henry finds that sensitive little spot just behind his ear. “Are you gonna let me eat first or…?”

“That was the original intention,” Henry murmurs before his hands slip around Eggsy’s waist and dip past the elastic waistband of the briefs to take two handfuls of his arse. “But then you had to be an impertinent little shit. Do you have any idea how good you look wearing my clothes?”

Henry’s got himself now all plastered up against Eggsy’s front, and Eggsy can feel the hard outline of his cock pressing through the layers of fabric that separate them. Yeah, he’s got a pretty good idea, may have even nurtured it himself.

The point is, breakfast literally gets shoved aside when Henry magically retrieves a small packet of lube and a johnny from one of the kitchen drawers (“Really?” Eggsy exclaims, because really?) and proceeds to bend Eggsy over the dining room table, pushing aside platters of food to the teetering edges, dragging down his briefs just far enough to expose his arse to the cool air.

He half wants to apologise to Phillip and Holly on the telly when This Morning gets an additional soundtrack of shuddering plates, wet slapping flesh, and an unending litany of Eggsy’s groans and bitten off curses as Henry fucks into him hard and fast from behind while still wearing that fucking apron. It’s difficult to find purchase on the table with so many dishes about, nevermind brace himself to get a hand on his cock. Eggsy ends up grabbing fistfuls of the placemats and messing up all the fancily laid out settings, but Henry gets at such a good angle in on his next thrust, stroking Eggsy right in his sweet spot deep inside, that his hand spasms out and sends some of the dishes careening to the floor. Might’ve been the beans or mushrooms. Eggsy doesn’t care, and neither does Henry, judging by the way he grips Eggsy’s hips bruisingly tight and drives up the speed of his thrusts until Eggsy can feel the way Henry’s whole body tenses and a wounded noise falls from his lips as he comes. Henry practically collapses over him, panting, cock still twitching in his arse, and Eggsy closes his eyes, relishing the feeling of Henry’s solid weight over him, of Henry’s breath on his neck.

Then Henry’s pulling out fast enough to make Eggsy yelp, but before he can protest, Henry’s sunk to his knees, yanked his briefs down to his ankles, and is sucking Eggsy’s down with the force of a hoover, and it’s not long until Eggsy’s coming down Henry’s throat for the second time since they’ve been together. God.

After clean up, which involves nothing more strenuous than Henry half-heartedly tossing the used condom somewhere in the direction of the kitchen bin because he gets too distracted by pulling up Eggsy’s briefs with his teeth, they salvage what’s left of breakfast, fill up their plates and cups, and take up positions on the long side of the recliner, sitting at opposite ends, legs entwined with each other in the middle. It’s a bit unfair, because Henry’s got much longer legs than Eggsy and he uses it to his tactical advantage by rubbing the sole of his sock-covered foot teasingly over Eggsy’s crotch.

The eggs have gone rubbery, the toast soggy, and the bacon a bit limp, but it’s the best fucking breakfast Eggsy’s ever had.

“This is nice,” Eggsy tells him, because he can’t think of anything wittier to say and he can’t just keep sitting there, grinning at Henry like a loon. “I had a fucking amazing time.”

“Thank you, Eggsy. I happen to agree,” Henry says.

“So on a scale of one to ten of all the people you take home,” because despite his earlier protestations, Henry’s too smooth not to have done this many, many times before, even if not so recently, “where would you rank me?”

“One to ten?”

“Yeah. Ten being,‘That was fucking mind-blowing sex and I’ve got to cut my dick off now to preserve it ‘cos it ain’t ever gonna experience such greatness again’ and one being, ‘Next time I’ll just go off with a sheep’,” Eggsy explains, managing to keep his expression straight even though Henry covers his own face with a hand and his shoulders shake in quiet laughter.

“On a scale of one to ten,” Henry says when he’s finally got himself back under control, even though his eyes are still all bright and devious, “I’d say you go up to eleven.”

“Oh. Oh that’s one more.” Eggsy pretends to have a think about it while he noshes on a chunk of cheese and tries not to squim in delight. “That’s an extra push over the cliff. Up to eleven.”

“I’d like to keep my dick where it is though.”

“Yeah, I’ll allow it,” Eggsy says.

“Very magnanimous of you. And me? Where would you rank me?”

Twenty. One hundred. A thousand fucking billion. “Eh. An eight, I guess?”

Henry hums. “Sounds like there’s room for improvement.”

“Yeah, I hear practise makes perfect.”

“I’ve always been an eager and motivated student, but I must admit, you’ve set the bar quite high. You’re very flexible,” Henry notes, a belated observation considering he was bending and twisting Eggsy up like a pretzel last night in order to stick his tongue into every crevice he could find.

“Always have been. Gymnastics,” Eggsy replies, taking an obnoxious bite of his toast and then a loud slurp of his lukewarm tea.

“Really?”

“Yeah. Used to be pretty serious about it.”

“Used to?”

Eggsy shrugs and concentrates more on mopping up the drying yolk on his plate. “Dropped it awhile ago. No time. I was good, but it weren’t like I was going to the Olympics or anything.” Though what he doesn’t add is that it wasn’t because he hadn’t lacked the skill for it.

When Henry remains worryingly quiet, and Eggsy glances back up at him to find a contemplative look on his face. “Do you still remember what you used to do? Routines? Movements?”

“Yeah. Sometimes I even….” Eggsy pauses, overcome with a sense of embarrassment. He’s never told anyone about it before, has always practised when no one was looking. “I still run through ‘em. Helps in free running too.”

“Will you show me?” Henry asks.

“What?” Eggsy frowns at the expectant look on Henry’s face. “Here? Right now?”

“Why not? I think we can make the space if I just….” Henry looks around, studies the space around them, and suddenly stands up and begins pushing furniture back against the walls while Eggsy just gawks at him in disbelief.

It’s a testament to just how empty Henry’s flat really is when his sparse but sophisticated furnishings can all be pushed off to the sides to create a vast open space at the centre, maybe not the full 13x13 an official routine would require, but certainly plenty enough to make something work.

“Won’t we piss off your downstairs neighbours?”

“I haven’t got any, and even if I did, I wouldn’t care.”

Out of excuses, Eggsy sets down his plate, undoes the last two buttons of Henry’s shirt and shrugs out of it entirely, leaving him only in Henry’s briefs. He feels more than a bit silly, and nervous somehow, like he’s auditioning for a role in something he doesn’t know anything about, even if all Henry wants is to see him move around just to perv on him some more.

He idles towards the edge of the room, then further back into the darker hall, eyeing the space in front of him, Henry off to the sides, watching him intently in the way he does that makes Eggsy feel like a bug pinned to a board. He takes a deep breath and releases it slow and steady, just like his coach once taught him.

The floor isn’t springy, but Eggsy’s been launching himself off punishing cement and tarmac and brick surfaces for several years now. He starts off at a run to pick up momentum and launches into a front handspring, a flyspring, reversing into a series of back handsprings and finishing with a double backflip, sticking the fucking landing even if his ankles scream bloody murder at him for it. The series of tumbles leave him a bit breathless, and he turns to Henry, flushed with...something. Happiness at his successful execution, the rush of joy he always feels when he can push his body to defy gravity, like it gives him hope that flight is just within his reach, and if he can obtain that, then he can escape.

And then there’s Henry, who’s staring at Eggsy with something Eggsy’s never seen before. Lust, yeah, but that’s always there. This is something more, something startled and taken off guard, like Eggsy’s gone and humbled him.

“I must say, Eggsy,” Henry remarks after several beats of prolonged silence, voice quiet and breathy, “I’m rather impressed. I thought you’d simply display a series of handstands and such. Perhaps a few splits.”

“Can do those too.” Eggsy waggles his brows, because he can’t help himself. Henry’s praise makes him feel dizzy instead of all them flips. It’s a feeling he could grow addicted to, impressing Henry, because he gets the feeling Henry isn’t impressed by much, and everything about Henry staggers Eggsy on a regular basis.

“Come here,” Henry says, and Eggsy goes to him, straddling his legs and parking his arse comfortably in his lap, running his palms down Henry’s chest simply because he just likes touching Henry and will take advantage of every opportunity to do so. And Henry’s hands come up and rest on his hips like they always belonged there, and all of this is surprising because it just feels comfortable, easy, like they been doing this every day for years.

“If I were ten years younger,” Henry tells him heatedly, “I would have you again right here on this floor.”

“If you were ten years younger, I’d be dead from exhaustion,” Eggsy says. “Shagged to death. Not that I’m complaining. Nice way to go, that.”

Henry’s got to settle for plenty of earnest open mouthed snogs, and that suits Eggsy just fine too, Henry kissing him like he’s worshipping him, holding onto him like Eggsy’s precious and he never wants to let Eggsy go.

By the time Henry’s got to reluctantly break it off, his polished put together appearance has been thoroughly mussed, and it’s a look Eggsy’s starting to adore, second only to the face Henry’s got when he’s about to come. “I’ve got meetings starting in an hour,” Henry confesses almost apologetically and just like that, all the heady, warm feelings bubbling up within Eggsy are swiftly doused.

“Right. Course. I should get out of your hair.” He starts to climb off Henry only stopped by Henry’s tightening grip.

“Would you be open to seeing each other again?”

Eggsy’s breath catches in his throat. “You being serious?”

Confusion spreads across Henry’s face. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I…'cos I’m just some chav you picked up from some shithole pub. I’m not…”

“Not what?”

Eggsy wants to laugh, but is afraid it might just come off hysterical. “I’m not...like you. I’m not posh. Haven’t even got a job. People like you don’t want people like me for more than just a night. That’s just how it is.”

“I want you,” Henry says simply, like Eggsy’s the one being unreasonable here. “For more than just one night. I don’t see what class or employment status has to do with that.” He raises a hand and cups Eggsy’s cheek, makes sure Eggsy can’t look away. “Of course I'd want you. Not only do you inspire an admittedly voracious appetite in myself, you’re gorgeous, and funny, and intelligent and enchanting. I want to see you again. I don’t want this to be the last time I ever get to bask in your light.”

“Oh,” Eggsy says, because his mind’s gone blank and his heart’s doing something furiously distracting in his chest like skipping a beat. No one's ever said such painfully sincere things to him before, and he hasn't a clue what to do with them.

“So, would you?” Henry prompts.

“Would I...?”

“See me. Again. I’d like to wine and dine you properly.”

“Like...a date?”

“Like a date,” Henry confirms, smiling a little, like he’s amused at something, probably the way Eggsy still can’t get his shit together and process this, but then he’s sitting in Henry’s lap, wearing only Henry’s pants, arse starting to smart real good from multiple intimate encounters with Henry’s cock, and all the wishes he never dared to give name to seem to all be coming up at once, no rhyme or reason. He’s earned the right to be wobbly. Henry must read it in him, because he runs his hands up Eggsy’s back and adds, “That’s it. There’s no catch to it, Eggsy. I want you, but more importantly, I just like you.”

I just like you, Eggsy repeats in head and suddenly has to fight off the urge to just throw himself back down on Henry and stoke up the fires again. He’s got no doubts Henry would jump at the chance and then he’d be late for his boring work and Eggsy really wouldn’t be able to walk anymore and might say something stupid like how he never wants to leave. Instead, Eggsy looks at Henry and lets himself take the chance. “I like you too,” making Henry’s face go all soft again, so Eggsy leans down and kisses him just as softly now that the tenor’s changed. “I would. Be open to that. A date. So long as it’s not somewhere weird. Or boring. Or serves snails.”

“I’ll add those to my notes,” Henry says.

“You would start a file on me,” Eggsy smiles, adding fondly, “You fucking freak.”

They shower in the master, which is even bigger than the guest and also has a bloody huge tub. Henry insists they share to save time, but of course that’s not what happens at all. By the time Henry’s in fresh clothes (Eggsy doesn’t want to think about his dry cleaning bills) and Eggsy’s back in his own clothes that, in all honesty, make him feel grimier than ever (he spends a few precious minutes trying to scrub out the dried come stains to make it look at least a little less obvious until Henry introduces him to the wonders of a Tide stain remover pen, aces), three quarters of an hour’s passed, but Henry doesn’t get all rushed and impatient like most would.

“I might have cultivated a bit of a reputation for my somewhat loose time-keeping skills,” he admits when Eggsy points it out.

By the time they part ways after Eggsy turns down Henry’s offer to get him a cab, Eggsy’s got Henry’s number entered in his mobile and a promise of contact later to pin down a day and time for their next meeting. That is, an actual date.

He feels like he’s floating all the way home, even as the nice pristine streets and buildings gradually become dirtier and a little less well kept. Soon he’s crunching on piles of cigarette butts and bits of shattered glass from broken bottles but that’s alright, because it feels like nothing ugly in his world can touch him now.

He’s so stupid with it that as soon as he steps through the door of his flat, he’s completely blindsided by Dean’s meaty fist to his face, striking his cheek. The blow knocks him back, stuns him, and he hasn’t got any time to recover before Dean’s on him, grabbing him up by his jacket and shaking him, screaming and spitting in his face with booze-heavy breath. “Where the fucking hell have you been, eh? I got buyers been waiting around all fucking morning for their goods and no one to fucking deliver ‘em!”

There’s just Poodle sitting in his usual chair in the corner, smoking and watching the telly. No one else is screaming at Dean to lay off, so Eggsy figures his mum’s out and hopefully got Daisy with her. It makes him feel better, but not by much, because then Dean gives him a slap and shoves him into the refrigerator. “Get the fuck off me! I lost track of time, alright? I’ll go right now, just—”

“You better go right the fuck now, you useless cunt, and you gonna owe for this. You don’t get nothing off this week or next, you hear me?” Dean finally roughly lets him go and Eggsy stumbles as he hastily moves to pick up the innocuous seeming rucksack lying in wait on the floor. “Keep it up, Mugsy, or I’m gonna start selling your arse instead, you get me?”

Dean had tried it once. Eggsy was fourteen. Locked a crying Eggsy in his room with some old bloke who was trying to shove Eggsy’s face into his crotch by his hair when Eggsy’s mum came home unexpectedly early and threw a fit. The threat’s loomed ever since, and Eggsy hates how much it still terrifies him.

“Yeah, I fucking get you. You gonna move?”

“Don’t fucking test me,” Dean warns, jabbing one last yellowing finger hard into Eggsy’s chest and then fucking off back to the sofa.

Eggsy legs it out of there as fast as he can from the estate. His cheek feels numb and is already starting to swell up, but at least it ain’t broken. Probably just more ugly bruising, but it could’ve been worse. He’d know.

The rucksack feels extra heavy on his back. Eggsy is acutely aware of it. Its contents would put him away for life were he to ever get caught, and lately he’s been feeling extra paranoid, like he’s being watched. Dean’s business has been getting bigger and the number of runs he’s had Eggsy on over the last few months have increased all over the city. That kind of activity don’t often go unnoticed, if not by the coppers, then by other unsavoury types. Eggsy fears he’s getting in over his head, but it’s not like he can stop.

He bitterly wonders what Henry would say if he could see Eggsy now, in his true element. It’s hard to believe an hour ago he was curled up in Henry’s arms, snogging, being charmed off his feet. Already it feels like a different lifetime, or maybe just a really nice dream whose details are already beginning to fade.

The doubt floods in again. Eggsy can’t help it. Maybe Henry’s reconsidered. A good shag makes everyone a bit stupid, as he can attest. But then there’s reality, and the reality is that Eggsy’s trash off the street and Henry lives a life far above it, quite literally. He wouldn’t even blame Henry if he never contacted him again. This is Eggsy’s life and he doesn’t get to have anything good for long.

Then his mobile chirps as soon as he gets out of Clapham North on this third run, and Eggsy unthinkingly pulls it out and unlocks the phone before glancing down and nearly tripping over his own two feet.

This Thursday at 7.00. My flat. I’ve made reservations for 8.00 but I’ve factored in enough time for me to suck your cock beforehand.

Fucking hell. Henry. Eggsy’s grinning like an idiot, he knows.

wot happened to wining and dining me properly eh?

You bring up a good point. I’ll move them to 9.

Chapter Text

The thing about Dean’s growing business is that as the personal wealth of the customer goes up, the pleasantness (inasmuch as any can be had) of the interaction drops precipitously. Eggsy prefers the impersonal businesslike hand offs with people just as desperate as himself where the only attempts at communication that occur are a series of stiff nods in the backs of barely lit pubs or in the dead of night through barely cracked open doors. By mutual unspoken agreement, he won’t spend much time looking at who’s buying and they, in turn, don’t look at him, because the less they know about each other, the better. It’s a system that works and runs smoothly and Eggsy never runs into problems.

The ones with more money, and therefore more entitlement, are awful.

They make Eggsy come into their homes or their personal offices or back rooms. They waste his time making him wait for them because they think theirs is more valuable. They think they are automatically entitled to Eggsy’s obedience and reverence because they are politicians and have got peerages and offshore accounts bigger than the GDPs of some small countries or they’re celebrities being propped up by nameless teams or successful businessmen. They think they pay for Eggsy along with their drugs.

There’s the MP who requests Eggsy every time his wife and daughter are away, makes Eggsy come into his home through the back door, takes Eggsy up to his study and makes him sit on the leather sofa among all his hard-bound books he’s probably never actually opened while he pontificates on how useless poor people are while trying to snake his hand up the inside of Eggsy’s thigh. And Eggsy can’t mouth off too much but he also can’t help but make it clear while his pulse races too fast and his palms grow clammy with spiked fight or flight: don’t fucking touch me, bruv.

There’s the Oxbridge set who come down to London on weekends and make snide remarks about Eggsy’s clothes, his mum, and intelligence right to his face while they snort lines off university books on Tolstoy, Anthropology, and Advanced Quantum Physics and have earnest arguments about Hobbes or Ayn Rand before trying to accuse Eggsy of cutting the coke with something else to get out of paying. You don’t give me my money in full, then me and mine are gonna sit down and have a little chat and we’ll see if your precious Ezra Pound gonna save you then.

There’s the miserable aging socialite with the cheating hedge fund manager husband who regularly says he’s working late at the office. She likes to show off all her latest inane purchases for Eggsy’s admiration while her teacup dog shivers in his lap. And because she’s more lonely than mean about it, he tells her she’s lovely, even though she uses too much Botox and her lips are unevenly puffy from collagen injections and her hair is dull and limp from too much bleach. She don’t got an addiction, she is quick to remind Eggsy, she’s just self-medicating because she hasn’t got time to go see her doctor. Course, luv.

There’s the cheating hedge fund manager husband with the lonely aging socialite wife and all his fellow schoolmates who are all now his work colleagues. They buy and sell shares in companies or futures or commodities or whatever financial shit that will have terrible downstream effects on poor struggling bastards in some third world country but will yield wide margins for the ones at the top. They invite prozzies to the office to celebrate their weekly successes while Eggsy waits offside for one of them to stop motorboating a bird's tits long enough so he can get paid and get the fuck out of there.

He gets firsthand experience on how misery and greed transcend class, and during those disheartening moments, he tries to remember the way Daisy smiles at him and slaps her chubby little fists against the pages of the book he’s trying to read to her or how her little body curls into him with trust when he picks her up to shush her after Dean’s gone and made a racket and his mum is nursing a hangover. Pretty, lovely, innocent Daisy who is surrounded by so much ugliness and Eggsy don’t know if he can’t shield her for much longer, the way things are going.

Through it all, Eggsy thinks about Henry and their date like it’s his last lifeline. They’ve got a date. A proper one. Henry wants to see him again, and not for sex. Well, not just for sex, because that ship’s sailed already and yet Henry’s still stuck around, cow milked for free and all. It becomes a distant goal, the finish line of a race. He’s just got to make it to Thursday and then all the shit he’s got to get through before then will have been worth it.

Thursday finally comes round, and he shows up to Henry’s wearing the nicest clothes he owns, which ain’t all that nice: some dark trousers and an ill-fitting button down he might have worn for a court date paired with a secondhand navy blue jumper that he spends an afternoon picking off as many pills as he can. It’s got a small moth hole at the hem, barely noticeable. He doesn’t know where Henry’s going to take them, but trusts Henry isn’t going to humiliate him on purpose.

When Henry opens the door to his flat and Eggsy sees what he’s wearing, he feels: a) relief, because Henry ain’t wearing a full suit and b) immediate lust, because while he’s still wearing dark trousers and another white button down, he’s got his sleeves rolled up his forearms again and left too many buttons undone at his throat to be considered remotely decent. It’s probably the most casual Eggsy’s ever gonna see him outside of wearing nothing at all.

“Hello, darling,” Henry says with feeling and Eggsy just internally...melts. All over again. The only one who’s ever given Eggsy any sort of affectionate endearment was his mum.

“Look, I know there’s been mention of sucking my cock and all,” Eggsy greets in return, because he’s a man on a mission. “But I really, really want to blow you right now instead, if that’s alright with you.”

Henry looks like he’s considering it, then opens his door wider to let Eggsy in. “I don’t see why we can’t have both.”

Compromise is such a beautiful thing. “Yes, Henry.”

“At the same time.”

“Yeah—uh, what?”

“Come here, Eggsy.”

Which is how Eggsy finds himself in another frankly incredulous position, laid out over Henry on the sofa, bottom half of his clothes lying in a heap on the floor save for his socks that have holes in two of the toes. They’re lucky most of the height disparity comes from Henry’s long as fuck legs, leaving them at surprisingly ideal level positions at each other’s groins.

His dick’s already in Henry’s mouth before he can even ask Henry if he’s too heavy, and it takes a few moments of trying not to thrust into that hot, wet mouth for him to remember he’s got a job here to do as well. Of course Henry’s only got to suffer the indignity of just having his belt unbuckled and trousers unzipped to get his cock out, no having his naked arse out and exposed, but Eggsy’s gonna make sure Henry’s loses just a little bit of his control too.

Because while Henry may be older and more experienced, Eggsy’s no slouch in the cocksucking department either, having paid his dues in changing rooms, the backs of clubs, the loos, and, for the brief time he was in basic training, under his superior’s desk. He even gave Jamal a blowie once when they were both pissed and horny as fuck, an incident they both, by unspoken agreement, never mention.

So Eggsy pulls out Henry’s pretty cock and laps it up like a lolly, curling his tongue along the underside to feel the ridge of veins that run along its hard length. He gets to the oozing head and smears his lips all over it before swallowing Henry down, feeling that blunt head hit the back of his throat and threatening to gag him. It’s nice because it produces a groan from Henry which is passed on straight to his own cock, and it’s like a feedback loop, Eggsy moaning around Henry’s cock in turn.

He’s still got to be mindful, because with his weight on Henry, it’s so much easier to thrust down into Henry’s throat than for Henry to thrust up, but Henry’s got other advantages, with full access to all the other bits of anatomy in the vicinity of Eggsy’s cock. Eggsy soon feels a spit slicked finger pressing into his hole and fuck, Henry don’t play fair, ever.

In retaliation, Eggsy sucks on Henry’s cock even harder, bobbing his head in a nearly punishing pace that makes Henry’s thighs quiver beneath his fingers, hips shifting in abortive little movements until Eggsy suddenly slows down and takes in less and less until his lips are barely touching the head.

Henry pulls off of him to gasp, sounding breathless, truly done in. ”Oh, you fucking tease.”

Eggsy just shoots him a smirk over his shoulder and then turns back around to blow a cool puff of air across his spit-slick cock that makes Henry shudder.

The precision and concerted effort to be the one to get the other off first falls into a more relaxed, sloppy mutual build. It just feels good, sucking and licking Henry’s cock, Henry laving at his while Eggsy rocks against the two fingers Henry’s got stuffed in his arse, thrusting them in and out in matching rhythm to the way his tongue slides up and down Eggsy’s cock.

Eggsy still comes first, never had much of a chance with Henry’s mouth and fingers knowing just what he likes, having already done so much research on Eggsy’s body already. In a way he’s grateful, because once he’s recovered the use of his limbs, he scrambles off Henry’s body and sits across his legs instead so he can watch Henry’s face as he brings him off, using his hand to stroke what he can’t fit into his mouth.

And what a sight it is. Henry both soft and tense beneath him, throat bobbing as he throws his head back and swallows, then looks back down and meets Eggsy’s rapt gaze, face so unguarded as Eggsy slowly begins to dismantle him. Once their eyes meet, neither can look away. One of his hands ends up winding itself in Eggsy’s hair, stroking it and not at all using it as a handhold, though Eggsy wouldn’t mind it if he did. Henry’s breaths begin to shorten, tapering off into slightly higher pitched keens as his mouth falls open, he can’t seem to shut it anymore, and it’s like he goes through pain and rapture all at once, all of it emerging as a startled, choked off cry, trusting Eggsy to keep him anchored. Eggsy’s feels Henry’s climax shudder through his body and then spurt across Eggsy’s tongue.

He swallows it all, keeps swallowing, until Henry hisses between his teeth and Eggsy releases him with a smile that’s probably too cat-caught-the-canary, but he can’t help it. Henry looks like he’s gone and melded with the cushions, face flushed, languid with orgasm, shirt all wrinkled from Eggsy writhing on top of him. It’s such a gorgeous sight, Eggsy wishes he had his mobile handy to snap a picture. As it is, he just looks and looks and looks, tries to burn it into his mind to remember forever.

“We could always cancel dinner,” Eggsy suggests.

That seems to rouse Henry back to higher thought processes once more. “Nonsense. I promised you a date, and I'm a—”

“Man of your word, yeah, yeah, alright. Least we worked up a good appetite.”

Henry sighs contentedly and holds up his wrist to check the time. “And we won’t even be late,” he notes, quite pleased.

They’re incredibly late, though to be fair, it ain’t Henry’s fault this time. Some accident’s got traffic gridlocked more so than usual. Fortunately, the hostess to the vibrant little Spanish tapas place Henry drives them to is understanding of their plight or maybe Henry’s a favourite customer, because she immediately shows them to their still reserved table in a tiny restaurant thoroughly packed to the gills with a waiting list hours long.

“They must really like you,” Eggsy tells him.

“A little charm and politeness go a long way in any situation,” Henry says, then adds, with a smirk, “And a few extra notes do not go amiss either.”

Eggsy laughs, though he wonders just how many notes were required given the murderous look some of the hopefuls shot them as they were promptly led to their table. It’s not a stuffy place Henry’s taken them to, but Eggsy knows fuck all about tapas or Spanish cuisine, so he lets Henry choose the plates based on flavours Eggsy says he likes, and then a few ‘surprises’. Henry’s also in charge of the wine pairing, and to make matters worse, he rattles off their order to the waitress in perfectly accented Spanish, surprising her into what sounds like a prolonged friendly conversation before she gives Eggsy a sly look and then leaves.

“I can’t tell if she’s thinking about poisoning my food so she can run off with you,” Eggsy says.

“Ines has been happily married for over twenty years. She and her husband own this excellent restaurant. But you needn’t worry about impending death. Tapas are shared, so she’d inadvertently be poisoning me as well. And I told her you are incredibly special to me and I am very lucky to share with you some of the best food I’ve ever tasted in this world, Spain included, mi querido.”

Eggsy’s blushing, he knows. “Yeah, I get this is the part where we’re supposed to talk about ourselves in hopes of impressing one another into bed, but I’m a pretty sure thing already, bruv.”

“Is this your way of gently letting me know I don’t need to embellish?” Henry asks. “What if I always want to impress you?”

“Mate, I’m pretty fucking impressed. Haven’t really had the opportunity to stop, actually,” Eggsy says, unable to help giving Henry what is surely a besotted look. He coughs, takes a sip of water, and tries to move things back to business, though. “So this getting to know one another bit. I know about your parents. But...um, alright, how about this: have you got any siblings?”

“An older brother who’s now retired to the Dominican Republic,” Henry promptly informs him like some teacher’s pet. “Runs scuba diving excursions off the Samaná Peninsula and drinks Mama Juana all day. I visited him last year, in fact.”

“Sounds like he’s got it made nice.”

“He seems to think so, and that’s good enough for me. Do you have any siblings, Eggsy?”

“Just a half-sister. Still a baby, but cute as a button, which ain’t something I’d ever thought I’d say about babies of any sort.” Eggsy’s not above pulling out his mobile and showing Henry a series of pictures either, pleased when Henry smiles softly at each of them.

“She looks like you,” Henry says. “You must also take after your mother.”

“And here me mum says I look like my dad, so who knows what’s the truth.” He can see, out of the corner of his eye, Henry studying him, but just goes on, “You’re obviously very educated. So which is it? Oxford or Cambridge?”

“Neither. I broke tradition and attended the Sorbonne in Paris because it served the dual purposes of fulfilling my love for French culture and pissing off my uncle. I was somewhat of a rebellious little shit, you see.”

“Yeah? How’s your French?”

“Je veux te faire des choses sordides.”

“That’s...incredibly hot.” Henry’s silky voice saying all them things whilst still looking half rumpled from their earlier activities sends a bolt of lust right through him. “Might have to insist you only speak French to me later on.”

“A gentleman lives to serve.”

“Got a silver tongue, you do,” Eggsy half accuses. “In more ways than one.”

Henry remains unrepentant. “So, transferring the spotlight: what about you?”

“What? School? Uh. I think the answer’s pretty obvious.” And at Henry’s continuing politely attentive look, he spells it out. “Little to none.”

“Not for lack of intelligence or aptitude, which you’ve got in spades.”

“Nah. I just...there was no money and it were a few rough years in there. My mum remarried, and my step-dad’s a complete wanker.” Which sort of made it sound like Eggsy’s failures were all Dean’s fault, and as much as he hates that tosser, they really ain’t. “I tried to go off and join the marines once. Wanted to be just like my dad.”

And he had loved training. Was good at it. Loved the structure and rising to the challenge. Really thought he had a chance to make something of himself there. Being away from Dean helped too. But...

“Which also didn’t really work out. Sort of a running theme for my life actually,” Eggsy finishes, concentrating on widening a nick in the wooden table with his thumbnail, then shrugging in an attempt to lighten the moment, though he fears the damage has already been done. “Look at me. Not doing that impressive thing very well, am I?”

Henry leans forward and stills his hand, covers it and then weaves his fingers through Eggsy’s. “You’re being honest, which I value more than words can say. For all the things I have, Eggsy, I don’t actually get a lot of that in my life.”

If you only knew the half of it, Eggsy thought dully. Everyone says but no one really wants that level of honesty. It’s only a matter of time, really, until Henry’s got him figured out and will reject him in turn.

The wine comes, and then the first plates, dates wrapped in bacon and stuffed with goat cheese that just melt in Eggsy’s mouth and cause him to produce a sound he only makes during sex.

Henry, for his part, almost looks stricken. “This was a very good idea,” he tells Eggsy solemnly and proceeds to spend more time watching Eggsy eat than eating himself.

Eggsy learns more about Henry’s time in the military: “Special Forces, until I got tired of seeing all my mates die and finally calmed down enough to return home and join the family business. My uncle was very happy.”

His likes: “Dogs. Lepidopterology.” (“What?” “Butterflies.” “What? Really?”)

His guilty pleasures: “Eurovision...oh shut up.” (“I didn’t say anything!” “You were thinking it.”)

His own retirement plans: “Living on a remote island with a handsome and mouthy lad chained to my bed.” (“Very smooth.”)

Henry’s in the middle of confessing his most embarrassing boyhood crush (Eggsy’s got to confess his thing for Becks which may or may not still continue to this day) when they are interrupted by a loud, jolly, “Henry, old chap!”

“Bugger,” Henry mutters under his breath, and turns to their interlopers.

There are three of them, two gents who appear to be as posh as Henry himself and a young pretty woman around Eggsy’s own age. The one who spoke first, with lighter brown hair and a positively delighted expression on his face, continues, “Fancy running into you here of all places and times. Reservations are a bear to secure. It must be fate!”

“Eggsy, these are my work colleagues and bane of my existence. Alex,” Henry waves a hand at the darker haired, serious faced one who nods back, “Rachel,” The woman gives him a friendly smile, “and the one who loves the sound of his own voice is Jim. Everyone, this is Eggsy, my lovely date.”

“Hullo,” Eggsy says, trying not to fidget under the intense scrutiny suddenly pointed his way.

“A date?” Jim says, raising his brows and giving Eggsy a speculative look. “Why, Henry, I can’t think of the last time you ever invested in bringing them out in public. He’s always been rather a ‘one and done’, lone wolf sort.”

“Oh Jim, don’t be so rude,” Alex chides. “There was as least that one night in 1993.”

“Ah! You’re absolutely right, husband mine!” Jim says, circling an arm around Alex’s waist. “The one with the hair. And who could shoot table tennis balls from her—”

“What my uncles are trying to say,” Rachel smoothly cuts them off, “is that we’re sorry for crashing your date, Henry, and we’ll let you get back to it. Lovely to meet you, Eggsy.”

Except the trio are seated at the table next to theirs and there’s so little space between them that they might as well have all been in the same party anyway.

Jim just grins back at them. He’s seated more or less next to Eggsy and leans in closer. “Well, the more the merrier! Eggsy, while I have your ear, why don’t I tell you a few stories about our dear Casanova here? I assure you will find all of them terribly funny even if Henry does not.”

“You’re a menace,” Henry hisses at him.

“Oh please do. I think I deserve to know the truth about what lies beneath that suave exterior,” Eggsy implores and then proceeds to spend the next hour never having laughed more in his life. Jim’s a grand storyteller and Alex, though quieter, plays off him well by inserting his banger acerbic commentary, all while Rachel just shakes her head at the two of them as if she can’t decide on being fond or embarrassed or, more likely, both.

Henry, for his part, isn’t truly offended, even clarifies a few points at his own expense, though his cheeks seem to remain in a permanent state of redness.

“You think these three are bad enough now,” Rachel stage whispers to Eggsy, “I can’t fathom what they were like decades ago with more youthful vigour.”

“Hey now, I’ll have you know I am still quite vigourous!” Jim protests.

It’s all so nice and carefree and Eggsy drinks too much wine and stuffs himself silly on rich food that he’s got to excuse himself for the loo and slap cold water across his heated cheeks. He’s not used to things being this easy, or people looking at him in equal regard. He’s starting to get a little afraid of it, but has to remind himself that people, normal people, do this sort of thing every day.

“You’re okay,” he tells himself in the mirror. “Just keep it going, as long as you can.”

It’s all he can hope for.

He relieves himself, then steps out into the hall with a mind to go back to the tables when he sees the back door’s been propped slightly open and voices are floating through.

“So, is this check-in being done at Arthur’s behest?” comes Henry’s dry voice, taking Eggsy’s off guard and drawing him closer still.

“I know you won’t believe me when I say this,” Jim’s voice answers, “but he actually does cares about your well-being.”

“He cares about his legacy,” Henry scoffs.

“In this line of work, the two are practically one in the same. You know, I’ve always thought mixing family and business was a bad idea and should be avoided at all costs. Unfortunately for us, that’s easier said than done. He’s justifiably concerned.”

“His concerns are noted, but completely unnecessary. Everything’s going very well.”

“I volunteered to run this one, you know.”

“Did you.” Henry’s voice is flat.

“You’re adorable when you get all jealous like that. Oh, don’t give me that murderface. It does your wrinkles no favours. The point is, I was refused because I was deemed to be too close to the subject. Even Merlin wasn’t allowed to be involved. So what does that mean for you, Galahad?” There’s a long, long silence, and then Jim finally continues, “But, as is your wont, you just stubbornly ran roughshod over any and all reasonable and legitimate objections, didn’t you? Say what you want, but Arthur indulges you against prevailing wisdom.”

Henry clears his throat. “Be that as it may, you can tell Arthur I’m fine and I know my priorities. You’re all behaving as if I haven’t been at this for well over two decades.”

“Alright, old chap. Consider me, as your friend and colleague, simply doing my due diligence, no offence meant.” Jim’s tone shifts back to his familiar droll cadence. “And now that that unpleasant bit of business is out of the way, I can promise you I won’t bring it up again, but I can’t promise you won’t hear the last of it from others.”

“Understood. And thank you. How’s it going on your end of things?”

In response, Eggsy hears Jim sigh. “Tedious. It’s a close-knit group of individuals who are happy to stab each other in the back given half the chance. Understandably, no one actually trusts anyone else, and certainly not an outsider, moreover a charming well-dressed buyer with too much money to spend.”

“Charming.”

Charming,” Jim insists in a way that suggests he’s glaring at Henry and daring him to disagree. “In any case, I’d have a faster and easier time breaking into a North Korean gulag.”

“Knowing you, I’m sure you’d rather have done so.”

“Maybe you have the right idea about this one, going at it sideways,” Jim muses. “Who would have thought we’d be outwitted by some half-baked little gang of miscreants with delusions of grandeur?”

By this time, Eggsy’s had enough of standing around listening to the two of them talk shop. Yeah, it sheds a bit more light on what Henry does for a living, but it’s all just more of the same as any so-called profession, innit? People wanting something from someone else and thinking up all sorts of ways to go about it. Eggsy’s just lucky Henry keeps to the right side of the law, even if sometimes said laws are barely humane as it is. So he makes his presence known by scuffing his feet against the floor and pushing open the back door to pop his head out, announcing with a kind of cheeky boldness that doesn’t betray a trace of the guilt he has for eavesdropping so long, “Blimey, I hadn’t realised estate development was so exciting.”

Now that he can get a visual, he sees Henry and Jim perched against the brick wall, side by side, shoulders and spines relaxed in a way that speaks of old friends. Jim’s got a lit fag pinched between his fingers, and a thin trail of smoke curls up from it and dissipates into the night.

“Ah, Eggsy,” Henry greets him smoothly as if he were expecting him all this time and Eggsy takes it as permission to fully emerge and go to him. “It isn’t supposed to be, but as with all things involving money, this business can get a bit cutthroat. Land is a finite resource, after all.”

The question comes out before he can think better of it, damn his curiosity. “Why do they call you ‘Galahad’?”

“How long were you listening?” Henry asks him, eyes narrowing.

“A silly tradition that goes back some ways, I’m afraid,” Jim says before Eggsy can come up with the words to defend himself. “When we were intrepid young men ready to remake the world in our image, we fancied ourselves quite learned by taking on nicknames according to Arthurian legend. We gave Henry here the name ‘Galahad’ because in literature, Galahad is famed for being very pure of heart, and a virgin on top of it all. You can see how the joke writes itself.”

Eggsy laughs a little, partly because Henry looks both mildly exasperated at Jim and not a little embarrassed. It’s not like Eggsy’s in any sort of position to go around commenting on other people’s nicknames, and this scheme’s more interesting than others he’s heard, if in that public school toff sort of way. “And what do they call you?”

“Lancelot.”

Eggsy nearly snorts. Figures. “So Arthur’s not actually named Arthur, but…”

“Chester. Henry’s uncle, actually, as well as our fearless leader and CEO.”

“We should be getting back,” Henry says, laying a hand to the small of Eggsy’s back. Eggsy can feel the heat of his palm seeping through his jumper and finds himself leaning into Henry’s side.

“Yes we should. I was just out here indulging in a guilty pleasure and trying to be stealthy about it because Alex does not approve. Says it’s like snogging a fireplace. Your Henry likes to accompany me on these outings because he secretly loathes me and enjoys watching me slowly kill myself. Never take up smoking, Eggsy. Horrible, filthy habit that will make you a pariah to everyone you love.” Jim savours one last puff of his fag before snuffing it out against the side of the building, twisting it between his fingers and grinding down all the embers before flicking it into the nearby ashtray that had probably been set out for the waitstaff. “There are much more fun vices to have anyway. You should ask Henry about them sometime.”

“Can I just say how happy I am to have you all meet tonight?” Henry says with false cheer as he leads them back around the corner to the table.

“I know I am,” Eggsy teases. “I’m learning all sorts of new things I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.”

“I should give you my contact information,” Jim perks up, patting himself up and down as if looking for his business cards or mobile. “There’s plenty more where that comes from—”

“We’re done here,” Henry says, mostly to Jim, as he practically shoves Eggsy behind him to become a physical barrier between them. “You do that and it won’t be a slow death you’ll have to worry about.”

Jim holds his hands out wide in innocence. “Touché.”

Later that night, when Eggsy’s riding Henry, he can’t stop from grinning down at him, even as he’s bouncing furiously on his cock. “You introduced me to your friends. Just like that. No hesitation.”

“Yes? Of course. They were there. It was only polite. You...” Henry clenches his teeth, grips Eggsy’s hips harder, thrusting up into Eggsy’s welcoming heat. “You all seemed to get on rather well.”

“It’s just that no one’s ever been—oh fuck!—not ashamed of me like that before.”

Eggsy doesn’t really mean anything by it, but Henry gives him a look that is tender and torn. Without warning, he flips them over in some sort of stealth ninja move and curls up over Eggsy, cock driving in deeper and making Eggsy gasp, as he crowds in close. Henry doesn’t move though, doesn’t do anything but lay over Eggsy and caress his face.

“I could never be ashamed of you. And there’s nothing for you to be ashamed of.”

He’s serious, staring intently at Eggsy, and Eggsy’s got nowhere to hide from it. Has to accept it all, even if it hurts a little, strips him to the bone and remakes him into something that is becoming addicted to Henry’s touch and words and looks.

Eggsy swallows. “Okay. Just fucking get on with it, will you?” And Henry laughs and does as he’s told.

It’s the first lovely night of many lovely nights to come, turns out, interspersed with drug runs and caring for Daisy, who gets a cold, and holding back his mum’s hair as she vomits into the toilet or drawing Dean’s ire back onto him and accepting his fists. He gets good at describing all the neat tricks he’s learned to Henry to cover for the bruises, whose only remark is that Eggsy ought to be more careful.

It’s like leading a double life, there’s the one with a loving, handsome boyfriend with the good job, nice flat, and ridiculous amounts of sex, and then there’s the other: the one where Eggsy’s a liar and a criminal and a perpetuator of misery, where he’s scorned and spat upon by the people at both the top and bottom whose only common denominator is that they both want to use him.

The line between which one’s the real one starts to get fuzzy, until Eggsy can’t really tell anymore, just knows that he only ever really comes alive within Henry’s presence, a dormant flower only able to blossom in his light, until he begins to need it like air.

It goes on for so long, walking that fine line, that Eggsy starts deluding himself into thinking he can keep it going forever. That he may just pull it off.

That is, until one evening he rings the doorbell of yet another fancy central townhouse for some new posh customer who will probably offer Eggsy a line in return for a sexual favour and the door opens to reveal Henry’s very surprised work colleague, Jim.

“Ah, Eggsy,” Jim says in the stunned silence. “Well, this is a bit of a cock up, isn’t it?”

Chapter Text

There’s a very brief, panicked moment when Eggsy thinks about telling Jim he must have gotten the wrong house, but then his brain, complete with its own wide streak of cynicism, catches up with him. After all, what’s he gonna say, he actually meant to ring the posh house one over? Looking like he’s got no business being anywhere near this neighbourhood, at least not business that would be considered remotely legal?

No, he’s caught out. They both know what he’s here for.

“Why don’t you come in,” Jim suggests, though it’s not really a suggestion anymore, as he pulls the door open wider.

Eggsy darts a quick glance past him into the fancy little foyer, dimly lit at this time of night, and truly considers simply pulling a runner, but then catches the minute twitch of Jim’s hand, the one wearing a watch, one which is actually sort of familiar looking, come to think….

“Fleeing would be a very bad idea,” Jim says, like he’s teasingly scolding Eggsy for thinking something naughty, except when Eggsy meets his eyes, they’re flat and dark and deadly serious.

Yeah, running is out.

So Eggsy steps into the lion’s den and Jim closes the door behind him and Eggsy can hear him turn the lock with a final click that echoes awfully loud. He feels awkward and uncomfortable, much like he did at Henry’s that first night, only about a hundred times worse because he don’t got any allies here. His surroundings immediately paint him as the outsider, though there ain’t actually all that much in the way of decorations in Jim’s home either. It’s all off-white walls, high ceilings, fancy crown moulding and polished wooden floorboards, but little else. What the fuck is up with rich people being able to buy governments and yet not being bothered to so much as hang a picture on the wall or get a fucking plant?

He’s jammed his hands into the pockets of his jeans, feels the rucksack on his hip practically burning a hole through his clothes, and tries to keep his body relaxed and carefree, though he fears his tense shoulders give him away, that he looks defencive and on edge rather than the casual insolence he aims for.

Jim leads them into the sitting room, which could only be called that because it’s got the barest fucking minimum of surfaces to sit on: a sofa and two facing chairs at its centre. A slender coffee table in between. That’s it. That’s all that’s there. There’s not even an area rug or personal effects or drapes over the windows. The effect is one that appears hastily thrown together at the last minute, like those show houses Eggsy’s mum used to take him to when he was young and Michelle wanted to pretend for a few minutes what it’d be like to have money like that. She’d put on only her poshest accent for the realtor as he led them through, and sneak winks back at Eggsy just to make him laugh.

Eggsy drops his bag on the floor and takes one of the chairs, pushing it just a little bit further back from its twin, doesn’t sit at all proper and instead letting his legs sprawl wide, even though his heart’s pounding so hard, he’s worried it’s gonna sound like a banging drum in this vast and barren cavern.

“Would you like some tea?” Jim asks as if he were indulging his rich but barmy maiden aunt coming round for a courtesy visit. “Something stronger, perhaps?”

“Take whatever you’ve got, mate,” Eggsy says, and is proud at how unconcerned he sounds.

After what seems like bloody fucking forever, Jim comes back with two glasses of scotch on the rocks. And when Jim holds one out to him, Eggsy’s hit by deja vu all over again. The watch. Jim’s wearing Henry’s watch, Eggsy realises. Jim’s got on Henry’s ring too.

Eggsy takes the glass with a trembling hand but doesn’t dare drink it, curling it against his belly instead as he watches Jim claim a space on the sofa across from him. He doesn’t appear to be in much of a hurry as he takes the first sip from his own drink with all the solemnity of a monk performing a sacred ritual, doing that thing where’s he’s probably letting the scotch sit on his tongue to soak in the aromatics or whatever.

When he seems to be satisfied with what he’s got, Jim finally turns his gaze on him and asks, “Why do you think you’re here, Eggsy?”

Which is such bullshit. “Dunno. Why am I here, Jim?” Eggsy throws back with exaggerated befuddlement, and smirks when the corner of Jim’s mouth twitches in annoyance.

Yeah, he’s got a problem when his back’s against the wall and his big mouth gets him into trouble more often than not (except for, ironically, those times when he doesn’t open his mouth at all and still gets into right in the thick of it), but Eggsy comes from a world where if you don’t at least make the attempt to fight back, you just get a beating more often.

“I think you’re here to supply me with a significant amount of Class A drugs,” Jim says in just as pleasant a tone as he had used when regaling Eggsy with all those incredible stories a few weeks ago. “And, should you, hypothetically speaking, be picked up by the authorities right now, there would be enough drugs in that bag you’ve carried into my home to have you charged with playing a significant supplier. Do you know what the maximum punishment for such an offence is?”

Eggsy just stares at him, rooted to the chair. He probably couldn’t find the strength to remove himself from it at that moment should he have tried, nevermind work up a way to unstick his thick tongue from the roof of his mouth to speak.

“A lifetime sentence,” Jim says, idly giving the scotch in his glass a little swirl like he’s some sort of Bond villain. “You’re very young, Eggsy. A lifetime goes rather a lot farther for someone like you. You’d never see your family again as a free man. Never go out with your mates or get a drink at the pub. And the types of prison inmates you would have. Murderers. Gang members. Rapists. Not very nice company.”

Finally, finally, Eggsy finds his voice, even if it’s as wobbly as a newborn foal’s legs. “Lot of words coming from someone who’d also be caught buying. Hypothetically.”

“Ah, but Eggsy, you see. Men like me don’t go to prison,” Jim says, and Eggsy knows he’s right.

Men like Jim have power and money and connections and influence. Men like Jim pay for the best attorneys and have plenty of money for the bondsman and don’t even have to show up to court for the inevitable case dismissal. Men like Jim win because they throw men like Eggsy under the bus and don’t even bat an eye.

Jim!” A voice calls out from the doorway, and both Jim and Eggsy turn their heads to see Alex peering back at them from where he’s halfway hidden behind the wall that separates the sitting from the dining area. He don’t look especially pleased at what he sees, somehow seeming even more stern than usual, and the look he gives his husband could probably melt the whole Arctic, nevermind global warming.

Jim, however, appears only mildly chastened, like maybe he’s been on the wrong end of that particular scalding look one too many times already and since he’s lived to tell the tale, considers himself invulnerable to it. “If you’ll pardon me for a moment, Eggsy,” he tells Eggsy, and then stands up to follow Alex, leaving Eggsy alone.

Eggsy immediately looks towards the exit. He could do it real quick. Grab his rucksack, jump up, and go. Flee the scene, get the fuck out, send up the warning flags and tell Dean the customer’s a UC on the buy. Lay low for a bit.

But how does he explain this to Henry? Henry works with Jim, knows Jim as his colleague. They’ve all got the same fucking jewelry, for fuck’s sake, and if that doesn’t spell some kind of weird affluent fraternity, he don’t know what does. Does Henry know about this? Could Jim have fooled him too? But wait, no, that ain’t quite right.

None of this is.

He doesn’t know how long he ends up sitting there, stewing in indecision and fear and anxiety, but his hands have gone all shaky and numb, so he goes to set his glass down on the coffee table before he ends up spilling scotch all over himself, and notices the thick layer of dust on its surface.

Eggsy frowns. Runs his finger through it. Then looks around the entire room that gives him the fucking creeps. He stands and walks over to the wall, runs a finger over the bit of moulding that sticks out from it and finds it covered in dust too.

With his heart in his throat, he draws closer to the dark little back hall where Jim and Alex had disappeared off to. There’s a closed door at the end of it, light leaking through from beneath with the occasional shadow flickering past like someone’s pacing. The muffled exchange of heated words pulls him closer despite himself until Eggsy’s got his ear pressed flat against the door.

“—hadn’t expected but we’ve got to be flexible and use what we’ve been given.”

“While single-handedly taking a steaming shit on weeks of Galahad’s work!”

“Plans change all the time, Percy. Look, that Sasha girl, yes, I was working her, very diligently too, but in the end, whether she’d take the bait was still very much up in the air. At least here we’ve got a solid grip on this one. A bit of pressure applied to the right pain points and he’ll be singing like a lark….”

Eggsy can’t stand to hear anymore, and if he weren’t sure before, he’s sure as hell now: he’s got to get out. His mind’s smothered with the desperation of escape, and he barely notices the blank walls or empty rooms anymore as he takes off at a full out sprint back down the hall, through the dining room and back through the sitting room. He grabs his rucksack with one hand and tosses it over his shoulder as he passes through, darts to the foyer, flips back the deadbolt and throws open the door with a mind focused solely on running and running and never fucking looking back—

Only to stop short and reel back when he nearly bounces off Henry’s chest, who’s standing on the doorstep, tall and intimidating in his long black coat and carrying his brolly again, even though there’s not even a hint of rain.

Their eyes meet, and Henry looks grim. “We had better talk,” Henry says, and forces Eggsy to keep retreating back into the house as he steps in, every inch of ground lost feeling like he’s just digging and digging his own grave.

For too long, Eggsy’s mind operates on a dumbfounded blank until all the wildly confused thoughts start buzzing in his head. What was Henry doing here? Did he come here to buy drugs too? Is Henry a drug user? Supposedly upstanding businessmen are, after all, a significant percentage of his clients. He and Jim could be in on it together, but if so, well, that ain’t so bad, right? Sure, it tarnishes the devastatingly perfect image of Henry he’s had going strong there for awhile, but all idols have got to fall off their pedestals some time, don’t they? And this one ain’t even that bad in the grand scheme of things. Eggsy’s own friends have been known to partake from time to time, even if Eggsy no longer does.

But Henry just places a light but commanding hand on his shoulder and wordlessly guides him back to the sitting room. Eggsy can see the big expensive watch gleaming on his wrist from the corner of his eye. He guides Eggsy to the sofa, doesn’t let go until he’s firmly settled in, rucksack cradled in his lap as something to protect and to hide behind. None of this is right.

Instead of sitting in one of the chairs, Henry sits next to him, angling his whole body towards Eggsy, long legs and all. He hasn’t even taken off his coat.

They’ve sat close to each other before, of course, have gone a whole lot closer in just about every regard, but this is the first time it doesn’t really feel good. There’s no warmth, like there’s the thinnest barrier of separation between them and Eggsy can’t understand why or how, but all he wants to do is just lean against him in a desperate bid to reclaim that comfort and security Henry’s always been able to give him before.

He just really wishes he had never come to this fucking house tonight.

“Eggsy,” Henry says, and Eggsy can barely look at him. “We’ve been tracking the movements of your step-father for several months now, ever since he’s expanded his business and gained ties to larger cartels abroad.”

Eggsy starts shaking his head, at first because...well, he doesn’t know why, but then it’s because he doesn’t want to hear any more of it. “No. No.”

“We were having some trouble, you see, in finding a way in. The associates your stepfather surrounds himself with are ferociously loyal, be it out of fear or self-interest. They have an uncanny knack for nosing out undercover authorities.”

Certainly not charming, well-dressed ones.

His vision’s beginning to go a bit blurry, but Eggsy hardly notices because he feels like he’s having a heart attack, there’s so much pain and pressure in his chest. It grabs at his throat and spasms. He wonders if this is what it feels like to die.

“A team of us were called in to attempt a potentially long-term, multi-pronged approach. Jim and Alex would pursue more external methods, posing as wealthy buyers looking for a new source of income. I would take the softer route in getting close to and gaining the trust of a close associate or family member in order to learn more about Dean’s regular habits and activities.”

“Who the fuck are you?” Eggsy manages to gasp out. His knuckles have gone dead white, clutching the material of his bag so tight. He concentrates on studying every minute detail of his fingers, counts every indentation of skin, every scar. Notes the torn up skin, the dirty fingernails, the calluses.

There’s a long pause, and then Henry says, “Scotland Yard. All of us are.”

“Taxes support all your gay hookups now? Or was that just you taking one for Queen and country?” he can’t help but bitterly ask. “Fuck. I knew you was too good to be true. I knew it. And I just let myself believe it anyway.”

He’s such a fucking idiot, thinking he’d get to have something good for once. That someone like Henry could actually want someone like him. Knew it was fucking unlikely going in and yet still let himself believe it, because Henry is...was...everything Eggsy ever wanted.

And it had all been a lie.

Henry starts to lay his hand over Eggsy’s, and Eggsy recoils like he’s been burned, trying to shift as far from Henry as possible in the little room he’s got left on the sofa. “Don’t you dare fucking touch me.”

“I’m so sorry, Eggsy.” Henry even sounds like he actually is, voice heavy with regret and helplessness, and when Eggsy dares to meet his eyes, sees so much sadness within them. Eggsy supposes he ought to feel better that Henry’s such a fucking consummate actor even now, but instead it just makes him feel worse.

All those looks that spanned from warm to heated, all those fond smiles. Those soft touches against his skin in barely noticeable but rapturous ways: the hand to his hip as Henry brushed past him, the palm to the back of his neck when they kissed, the thumb drawn down his cheek when Henry rocked slowly inside him.

Those unshakeable words telling Eggsy he was good, he was worthy, he was beautiful. None of those moments were real.

“Oh god, I’m such a mug,” Eggsy whispers and has to hide his face in his hands because he’s actually gone and fucking started crying on top of it all and it’s ugly, the way those hitched breathy sounds push themselves out from his chest, up his throat until his mouth can’t possibly hope to contain all of them, how he struggles in vain to swallow them back down, a constant battle that leaves so much collateral damage in its wake.

And Henry just sits there, because Eggsy won’t accept his touch or his comfort anymore, so he has to take it and do nothing and let Eggsy disintegrate before his eyes until all of it has fled out of him, leaving him to wipe up his snotty and puffy face on his sleeves, drained and exhausted.

He’s curled up around his bag like it’s become his soft, vulnerable underbelly, feels safer being small like this in the wake of his utter humiliation.

“Eggsy,” Henry finally says in the hushed silence, punctuated only by Eggsy’s occasional sniffs and the last tapering whimpers. “I know I’ve hurt you terribly.”

Eggsy just laughs quietly but has got to ruthlessly cut himself off lest he just keep laughing hysterically or launch into another pathetic crying jag.

“But there’s a reason why I’ve chosen to reveal all this to you now.” There’s another long pause, this one weighty with hesitance, as if Henry were trying to keep back a relentless force. Eggsy doesn’t look, but he can imagine Henry, gaze turned inward, lips parting and pressing together briefly before he finally works up the determination to speak again. “There’s no easy way to put this, so I’ll just speak plainly. Eggsy, you finding out the truth does not change our objectives.”

“You expect me to care about your fucking objectives?”

“The process of finding information on your stepfather was supposed to have happened organically. You would have confided in me eventually, and I would have listened without judgment. You would have inadvertently let slip information you didn’t find all that important but which would have been of great value to us.”

Eggsy thinks about the ways he had already opened himself up to Henry despite having always thought himself incapable of genuinely trusting anybody. Nobody in his neighbourhood did. But the truly galling part is that it hadn’t even felt like he had relented or relinquished any parts of himself at all, it had been so easy, just the natural path of two people coming together and entwining their lives. Henry had skillfully manipulated his heart as he had his body.

“Don’t really matter now. Would have had to find out eventually,” Eggsy says, finally turning his head to defiantly look Henry in the eye. “Least this way now we both don’t get what we want.”

“Eggsy,” Henry says, still looking so bloody anguished like he even has to bother anymore. But, oh right, he still hasn’t got what he wanted, has he? “I would beg of you to reconsider. When your stepfather’s organisation goes down—and it will—you’ll be caught up and dragged down with him. There’s enough drugs in that bag you hold in your lap to have you sent down several times over.”

Eggsy tenses, feeling like he’s suddenly holding a ticking bomb. In some ways, he is, and routinely does so each time he goes out with an evening’s deliveries. Henry may sound like he’s trying to get him to do what’s in his own best interest, but Eggsy can hear the implicit threat belying the concern all the same.

Henry is the law, and he’s made it clear that not even Eggsy will be safe from it.

“So, what? You want me to wear a wire? Tell you names of customers and what they get?” he hears himself say, but it’s like he’s far away from himself. His awareness has gone off and floated away, leaving him with the strange light-headed sensation of being both in and out of his body.

“It would be a good start,” Henry says, and his shoulders relax just a bit, like he thinks he’s succeeded.

Eggsy slowly blinks. “I need to use the loo.”

“What?”

“I need to use the loo,” he repeats more insistently, standing up and facing Henry, body tense as if bracing for a fight. “I need a minute. I need to think about this.”

Henry slowly follows his lead and stands up too. He takes a long time just studying Eggsy’s face, and Eggsy concentrates so damn hard on staring right back.

Finally, Henry relents. “Second door on the left, down the hall.”

Eggsy doesn’t wait for him to say anything more, just bolts for it, barely keeping from slamming the door behind him before leaning against it heavily and sliding down to the cool tiles. He’s still got his bag, has been gripping it tightly the whole time as the most precious thing in his life—certainly its contents are worth more than his life, many times over. After a moment, he reaches up and flips the lock.

The loo’s just as pompous as the rest of the house in sheer size and ornate fixtures, and just as bereft of any attempt at decoration. No little bars of soap on the sink. No hand towels draped over the rung, no rug on the floor, not even loo roll. All gleaming expensive at surface glance and yet so revealingly empty.

Eggsy’s fucked, is what he is. Outside this room are three men who are determined to tear his life apart, one who’s already torn up his heart.

Well fuck them and their fucking posh accents, their stupid fake posh house and their cute fairytale stories and their fucking long-term cons. They think they’ve got Eggsy trapped in a corner, but they don’t realise Eggsy’s been living his life there the whole fucking time, and he hasn’t survived this long without knowing a thing or two about exit strategies.

He stands up and moves to the small window at the other end of the room, unlocking it and pushing it up as far as it will go. He tosses the bag out first into the darkness, and it lands in the bushes below with a light rustle. It’s a tight squeeze for him, but he’s limber and strong and able to bend and contort his body in just the right ways to slip out without any major scrapes. He might have landed in a less than graceful sprawl on the ground outside, but he doesn’t care. He’s free.

Eggsy runs and runs through the posh line of townhouses with their pretty curb appeal and forbidding gated entrances, puts as much distance between himself and that fucking house as he can.

And finally, a bit of luck comes his way because the night bus rolls to the bus stop just as he arrives. Eggsy boards it, flings himself and his bag into an empty seat in the back, hunkers down into it and plasters his head against the window as it takes him back the world he should have never deluded himself into thinking he could have ever left.

Chapter Text

The thing is, Eggsy very well may have escaped the frying pan only to jump into the fucking fire. He’s got two kilos of product to offload and no more buyer. Worse still, he’s all but gone and led the Yard to their front door. Dean’s gonna be fucking raging, and he’s got to do something to placate him just a little or Eggsy might as well be under this bus than on it given his current chances of surviving.

As the bus trundles through London, Eggsy worries his lower lip and considers his options, but there ain’t all that many, and in the end, the only one he can think of that could come through in a pinch is the one he detests the most.

A few more transfers, and he finds himself in Camden town, walking past the queue of clubgoers outside who regard him with varying degrees of scorn to address the bouncer at the front directly.

“Tell Kostas Eggsy’s outside, yeah?” Eggsy says, tipping up his chin and glancing around them out of habit.

The bouncer doesn’t look all that impressed either, not with Eggsy’s clothes, his accent, or his less than ingratiating attitude, but Eggsy doesn’t blink or look away, and the man must finally decide he’d be less of a nuisance in the long run if his request were passed up the chain of command. After all, there’s not many who would willingly want to talk to Kostas directly if they can help it.

It’s a few more minutes of standing around, feeling the booming bass seep through the walls and looking like a twat, until another stone-faced club worker pokes his head out from the club, glances at Eggsy, then the bouncer, and gives the latter a curt nod. Eggsy’s in, and he tries not to give one of the hopefuls at the front of the queue too big a smirk, but he’s only human.

Honestly, he wishes Kostas had turned him away.

Nothing for it now. As soon as Eggsy steps inside, he’s flanked by two massive men who probably bench press twice his weight every morning and wear intentionally loosely-cut suits that mask their weapons. Eggsy tries not to feel small or intimidated as they move through the club to the back, but the crowd parts for them as if they can subconsciously sense the threat in their midst, some regarding them with only an idle sort of curiosity before letting the music wash over them once more, bodies rushing in to fill the space left in their wake like they were never there at all.

“And so Persephone has returned to the Underworld once again,” Kostas greets Eggsy with when he’s admitted into his office, his two minders still on either side of him. They wait just inside the door while Eggsy warily moves forward. “Little Eggsy.”

Kostas’s whole bearing is as slick as petrol. He’s got all the politeness and manners Henry does, but it’s twisted somehow. It puts Eggsy off and leaves him cold rather than charmed. It’s the eyes, Eggsy decides as Kostas rounds his big desk and meets him halfway with a vigourous handshake and a big paw clasped to his shoulder. They’re empty and voracious.

Kostas guides them to a set of chairs placed around a low table, makes Eggsy choose his seat first and then takes one right next to him. Eggsy tries not to let his nerves show as he drops his rucksack at his feet and clutches at the armrests at first before consciously loosening his white-knuckled grip.

“What brings you to my club, Eggsy? Have you changed your mind about coming to work for me after all?” Kostas opens with, gaze raking down Eggsy’s body as if trying to assess whether his offer ought to still stand.

“I’ve got a lot of product I need to shift fast,” Eggsy says, trying to keep it to business and ignore the way just being in the man’s presence makes him want to go and shower or start throwing punches. “Previous buyer fell through. If you let me sell to your club, you can keep the usual cut plus mine.”

Kostas already drove a steep price to play on his turf, which was why Eggsy rarely bothered going to him in the first place, but desperate times and all. Kostas knew as much too, given how thoughtful he is now, lips pursed, a hand tipped to his chin as his eyes narrowed in consideration. “How much?”

“Two bricks. Pure grade. Buyer was real posh. Dean don’t fuck around there.”

“May I ask what went wrong with the previous deal given such...valuable goods?”

The memory of Henry’s face, the seeming desperation in his eyes as he begged Eggsy to help them and himself, comes unbidden, and Eggsy ruthlessly shoves it back down before it has a chance to show on his face. Now’s not the time for weakness. “They was cops.”

“Baker must be very desperate, selling that much to a single buyer. It should have raised red flags all over the place.”

Eggsy shrugs indifferently. “Been a big crackdown lately. Other gangs moving in. Channels getting closed off everywhere.” And as soon as Eggsy’s said it, he knows it to be true. Dean’s moods have gotten worse lately. Surlier, quicker to fly off the handle. Eggsy’s run have been going down and some of the runners have been cut loose all together. Of which Henry and his team were surely no small part. They’d all been feeling the pinch lately, but Eggsy never would have thought the reason for it was the very man he loved sleeping next to.

“If your product is as good as you say, Little Eggsy, then you won’t object to us having a sample just to make sure everything’s up to snuff?” Kostas says, only having to nod to his men for one of them to bring out a razor blade and actual fucking mirror to lay on the table before them.

And here’s the problem with trying to start up new lines of business: no trust without proof. “I don’t do that shit no more,” Eggsy says, even though he’s already opening up his rucksack and pulling out a brick. “Have your men have a go if you don’t believe me, but I ain’t touching it.”

“Ah, the old ‘don’t try from your own supply’ line is it? Very well.” Kostas only has to wave another hand before his men flock to him. They patiently wait while he shaves off a sliver of the brick, cutting it up and then dividing it into three neat lines of white powder. “Try this,” he commands them, and they don’t hesitate, just pull out fifty pound notes, roll them tightly up in their beefy fingers, leaning down to snort a line each.

Eggsy doesn’t do that shit no more, but that don’t mean he can’t imagine it down the last sensory detail. The acrid burn and bitter taste dripping down at the back of his throat, constantly sniffing the remnants of blow that tickles in his nostrils, the strike of lightning to his brain, making all his senses sharpen, his mind going miles per minute. The way the world became electrified and lush in a way it never did when he was down. He misses the feeling, acutely.

It barely seems to do much for the bodyguards, who only give Kostas a colourless nod of confirmation, so Kostas helps himself to the last line.

“Good to know Baker isn’t completely dodgy in his business practises as his reputation would lead one to believe,” Kostas says once he’s satisfied with the grade. “Alright, Little Eggsy, I’ll give you the night, and even the next if you would like, as per your proposed terms.”

And Eggsy feels some of the tension that’s had its grip on his body loosen up just a little. He’s got this. He can fix it. There’s hope yet.

But Kostas looks beyond him for a moment, having another wordless conversation with his men before looking back at Eggsy intently once more. “Let us celebrate our new arrangement.”

The look he gives Eggsy starts setting off all sorts of alarms. “I think I’d just like to get to work, thanks.”

“Nonsense,” Kostas waves off, and his bodyguards appear at his side once more, this time setting down two glasses of clear, medicinal-smelling liquid on the table. “You have plenty of time to work. Now, we toast our new relationship. Do you know what this is? The finest ouzo from Greece.”

Eggsy stares at the glass, then lifts his gaze back up to Kostas. “I don’t drink while I’m working.”

“How very responsible of you,” Kostas says, leaning forward to pick up both glasses before Eggsy can make a move for them himself. He holds one out to Eggsy. “But I must insist. One will not hurt. It may help you to stop being so tense. No one likes a jittery seller.” At Eggsy’s continued stubborn silence, he adds, “it would be a grave insult to refuse to drink with someone, you know.”

The sudden close presence of Kostas’s bodyguards behind him makes the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end. Between Kostas’s hard eyes and their silent, brooding existence, no threat need be spoken as to what happens if Eggsy continues to refuse.

Slowly, Eggsy leans forward and takes his glass, squeezing it between his fingertips. He holds it out at arm’s length from him like it were hemlock.

“To new partnerships,” Kostas says, then taps his glass against Eggsy’s still outstretched one before drawing it near the hard line of his mouth. “Go on. Drink.”

It’ll be okay, he tries to tell himself while swallowing down the dread curdling in his stomach. You won’t even remember most of it.

Eggsy lifts his glass to his lips and tosses the drink back, swallowing down the taste of astringent anise and the tinge of something more bitter before he can choke and start gagging it back up again. The alcohol burns down his throat, settling in his stomach and setting off a light explosion of heat in his core. It should otherwise be pleasant, but all Eggsy can think is that a countdown’s begun.

“You’re good at obeying orders with sufficient motivation,” Kostas says approvingly. “And still so pretty. You’re wasted as a delivery boy. If you come work for me, I’d have dozens of buyers lined up for you every night. You’d make much more money. Be able to provide more for that little sister of yours, hmm?”

“I’m fine where I am,” Eggsy says. “I should get to work. Getting to be peak hour.”

But Kostas just tsks. “If you are worried so much about work, then let me help you. How about I simply buy it from you wholesale, replace the buyer you lost? There! Now it will no longer be any concern of yours. You can just sit back and relax.”

“Kind of you, but I like doing the legwork,” Eggsy insists, making a move to stand up only to have two firm hands on each of his shoulders shove him back down into his seat.

“You know what they say about all work and no play. Have another drink.” All the pleasantries have gone out of Kostas’s face now, cordial offers barely veiling the steel in his tone as he gestures to his men to refill their glasses.

Eggsy numbly picks up his glass, raises it to his lips but barely tastes it. Don’t really matter now anyway, and Kostas isn’t particularly concerned anymore either when his mobile rings and he’s embroiled in some sort of discussion in Greek. They sit there, and Eggsy doesn’t know how long it goes on for. The faintest ring of music can still be heard in the office, but it’s more felt in the walls and floor, humming up his bones. It’s making him vaguely nauseous.

“I just wanna go,” he slurs before he realises he’s spoken aloud.

Kostas puts a hand over his phone and eyes him critically before nodding to his men. They each circle a hand around Eggsy’s forearms and haul him up. His glass falls from his hand and shatters on the floor, splattering glass fragments and ouzo across it, but no one seems to care.

Eggsy’s being dragged towards the leather sofa in the back of the office and shoved down onto it. “Please,” he mumbles to anyone willing to listen. “I just wanna go home.”

“Shh,” Kostas says, suddenly close to him, on him, over him, cupping his palm between Eggsy’s legs, though Eggsy doesn’t remember seeing him move in or his men move away. “This has got to be better. Just relax, darling.”

The endearment makes draws up a hazy image of Henry, the way he said those same words so affectionately, not like this, where every touch makes him want to writhe away and scour himself clean.

“Get off me!” He tries shoving Kostas back, but his limbs are uncoordinated and he’s never quite appreciated how large and burly Kostas really is, so close like this. It’s like trying to move a mountain.

Kostas just laughs, grabbing at his hair and yanking his head back, delving his tongue into Eggsy’s mouth, then hissing and rearing his head back when Eggsy bites down on it, weak as he is.

Kostas looks down at him, skin flushed red with anger. Eggsy blearily sees him raise a fist and it’s just a streak in the air before his head snaps to the side from the force of the blow, like a bomb’s just detonated, his eye at the epicentre, the explosion ringing and spreading around the socket. It makes his head spin, doesn’t help at all with the fogginess already clouding it up.

“You little fucking bitch. You think I don’t get plenty of street trash like you knocking down my door, wanting to sell in my club?” Kostas snarls, kneeling over Eggsy, still yanking at Eggsy’s hair while he moves to undo his belt buckle one handed. “You better be offering something more than that. Now shut the fuck up and open your goddamn mouth.”

Eggsy blearily blinks up at him, is already starting to feel his left eye swelling up. Kostas has got his cock out of his trousers now, a musky, flesh-coloured snake surrounded by thick, coarse black curls. So he closes his hand into a fist and punches it with all the strength he’s got left.

Kostas howls and shrivels up in on himself, and Eggsy manages to shove him off onto the floor, scrambling to his feet only to stagger several steps and crash into one of the chairs, falling and dragging it down him.

A hand snaps around his ankle and starts dragging him back. “You fucking cunt! You’re going to pay for that! I’m going fuck you until you’re screaming and then I’ll let my men have a go until you’re shitting blood for weeks!”

Eggsy kicks out at him frantically, manages to get a lucky blow to his face that causes Kostas to release him with a pained shout. He wastes no time in getting back to his feet, falling against the office door when the world takes another spin, but Eggsy manages to grip the handle on his first try, turning it and pulling it open before stumbling out.

Dimly, he sees the guards trying to swoop in on him, but even with the drugs in his system blurring the edges of the world, Eggsy agily twists away from their big, swinging arms and takes off at a crooked run until he suddenly find himself in a hot sea of bodies, senses assaulted by strobe lights and pounding music. It paralyses him, seeing slithering bodies flicker in and out of the darkness like still images. He thinks he’s about to be sick.

He tries to turn and crashes into other dancers, tries to mumble an apology but can barely get his lips to move. He needs to get the fuck out of there, only he can’t recall which way’s the exit, any exit, the floor feels like it’s moving beneath him, people swaying into him and knocking his precarious balance further off course.

He doesn’t know where he ends up, thinks he’s about to take a header for the floor, when two strong hands grab onto his shoulders and hold him firm. At first, he thinks Kostas’s men have found him again, but the hands are too small. A woman’s blurry face swims into his vision, but Eggsy can only make out the faint angles of concern within it.

“Eggsy?” the woman shouts over the music. “Eggsy, what happened? Are you alright?”

The voice is familiar. Rachel, he recognises. “Gotta get out. Don’t feel too good. Gotta get out,” he tries to say, wonders how much of it is actually intelligible so he just keeps repeating it in hopes she’ll eventually understand.

And by some miracle, she does, taking a firmer grip on Eggsy and leading him in some direction. Eggsy doesn’t know where, but for some reason, he trusts her, leans into her heavily as his feet become harder and harder to move, and even more surprisingly, she bears him up with ease.

Through darkening vision, Eggsy sees Kostas’s men approach them, wants to shout a warning to Rachel, but she just props him against the wall and...and there’s too much darkness and he thinks he hears pained shouts, flesh impacting harshly with flesh, bones snapping, but he can’t be sure of anything until Rachel’s back at his side, picking him back up again.

“What…?” he starts to ask.

“It’ll be alright,” Rachel tells him.

The next thing he’s aware of, they’re in the back seat of a cab and the window’s been cracked a bit to let in a steady stream of cool air that feels good against his flushed skin. Eggsy’s got his head in Rachel’s lap, and she’s gently stroking his hair.

“I’m sick,” he mumbles against her thigh and has to close his eyes and swallow back the threat of vomit when the car takes a particularly hard turn.

“Just try and sleep,” she says, starting up a light scratch of her fingers to his skull and it feels so blessedly good when he feels so horrible that he ends up doing what she tells him, relinquishing his desperate hold on consciousness and sinking gratefully into a deep sleep.

He wakes up to the sensation of hot, rank puffs of breath and a long wet tongue lapping at his face. Eggsy cringes and tries to pull away, cracks open his eyes with a wince to find himself face to face with a panting black poodle.

“Jesus,” he says, trying to sit up, which is a mistake.

His head swims and throbs, spikes of pain seem to stab him in the eyes, though one of them ain’t quite wanting to open up all the way. He feels woozy, like any sharp movement’s going have him sick up all over himself and this...nice, expensive sofa’s he’s lying on.

Eggsy tries to take in his surroundings. It’s a nice flat, with tasteful, feminine touches. Someone’s gone and draped a slate grey comforter over him that smells like lavender. The dog makes a high-pitched whinge and nudges at his hand. Eggsy starts scratching him behind the ears automatically.

“Geordie, leave Eggsy alone. Come!” It’s accompanied by two short whistles, and Geordie immediately leaves Eggsy to go to his master.

Eggsy looks up to find Rachel appearing at ease in nothing but a pair of light blue knickers and a white camisole, giving Geordie a few good scritches. He swallows, tries not to stare at her long legs. Which are very nice and fit. Not that he’d know because he’s not looking at them. “Did we…?”

Rachel looks up, sees the shock on Eggsy’s face, and then twists her own into one of horror. “Oh god, no! Besides, you could barely say your own name last night. I had to haul your heavy arse up three flights of stairs. I think I’ve earned myself waffles for breakfast. Would you care for some? It’ll help settle your stomach.”

The thought of food makes his stomach churn even further, but Eggsy knows she’s right, so he just nods and tries to stand up. The world sways a bit and his stomach sloshes about threateningly, but he manages to keep it together after a few moments in order to trail after Rachel into her small kitchenette.

He gingerly takes a seat at the little breakfast bar, cradling his head as he watches her move about. Geordie remains perfectly still next to his food bowl, even when Rachel fills it up and moves away to put the kettle on. A full two minutes pass as she plugs in her waffle iron and starts pulling out the ingredients for the batter before she idly turns back to her dog and says, “Eat!” and Geordie immediately dives into his kibble.

“Some dog,” Eggsy remarks over the ensuing crunching noises.

“I raised him since he was a puppy,” Rachel says, cracking eggs into a bowl one handed in the way Eggsy’s only ever seen successfully accomplished by celebrity chefs on the telly. “Trained him myself too.”

He can feel the way Rachel’s eyes study him as she begins to mix up the batter, but his gaze remains steadfastly on his own hands.

“Swelling’s gone down some in your eye. You might not remember, but I had you lie down with an ice pack for it. It’ll be a nasty shiner, I’m afraid.”

There’s plenty of questions carefully woven into her evenly spoken words, but in truth, Eggsy can barely remember much of it himself. Doesn’t even know how Rachel found him and brought him here. It’s all a blank.

“I think someone spiked my drink. Can’t remember much,” he finally admits, though even as he says it, a few more pieces slot back into place.

The drug run. Jim. That house.

And Henry.

They’re the police.

The memory of it anew is like someone’s gone and gutted him, steals his breath away with the raw edge of it. Eggsy looks up and Rachel’s got her back turned to him, carefully pouring batter into the iron. Her hair’s been pulled up into a loose, artfully messy bun at her neck. Her knickers have got darker blue outlines of ducks on them. This is weird.

She’s got to be too young to be as high up as Henry or Jim and Alex, Eggsy thinks. Can’t imagine she’d be allowed in on undercover operations yet. Maybe she doesn’t know what’s happening. Maybe she’s not with the Met at all.

“Are you a copper too?” he suddenly asks, and the way Rachel freezes for a millisecond before continuing her movements undisturbed is all he needs to know. His heart sinks. “Did you follow me?”

“Eggsy—”

“You know what’s worse than being a drug dealer or murderer where I’m from? Being a snitch. I gotta go,” Eggsy says, pushing himself to his feet and heading for the door. “Thanks for the place to kip, but I….”

His steps slow. He’s about to tell Rachel he’s got places to be, because he knows he’s got to get back to Dean, but then he realises he has no idea what happened with his fucking drugs.

When he ran out of the house, he had the drugs on him. He was at the club, so he must have been trying to sell there, only he hasn’t got his rucksack on him now. “My bag. My bag, Rachel. Did you see it? Did you bring it here with me?”

“No,” Rachel says slowly, “You didn’t have a bag when I found you, Eggsy. You were already pretty out of it.”

“Which club did you find me at?” Eggsy croaks.

“Club Gnosis—why?”

And Eggsy don’t need to hear anymore to realise what’s happened. He’s fucked. He’s so fucked. He’s gone and lost Dean’s drugs in that club and he sure as fuck ain’t gonna go back there to get them, even if he could. Not to that fucking skeevy git Kostas, who probably was the one who drugged him and did god only fucking knew what. Never fucking again.

“I gotta go,” Eggsy repeats and runs off before Rachel tries to get him to stay again.

He goes to the Black Prince first, because he knows where Dean is at this time of the day, even if it’s not yet half eleven. The whole way down, Eggsy tries to think of how he can spin it, but nothing sounds good no matter how he tries to couch it. He was stupid. He couldn’t spot the cop. He somehow accepted a drink on the job, which he never fucking does for reasons apparent, and he’s lost over forty thousand pounds worth of product. He’s a walking dead man.

“You’re late again, thought you’d run away with my money,” Dean grunts over his pint when he sees Eggsy approach his table. As Eggsy draws near, his gaze focuses on his shiner. “Well, Mugsy, lookit that face! Someone finally give you what you’ve been asking for? Well I can give you one to match if you don’t gimme my fucking money right now.”

“Don’t have it,” Eggsy says, looking him right in the eye. “He was UC. You sent me down to a sting and almost didn’t get out.”

“What the fuck are you on about?” Dean starts to stand, rounding on him. “Those weren’t no police! I’d have known it! Sasha had no trouble with them before.”

“Yeah, well, Sasha barely understands English!” Eggsy spits. “They got all of it too. Had to fight my way out.”

“You fucking useless piece of shit!” Dean yells, grabbing fistfuls of Eggsy’s shirt and swinging him down onto the table, knocking over drinks and baskets of chips to the others’ surprised shouts. “Do you know how much money you’ve just cost me? More than your life is fucking worth!”

“I’m sorry! I couldn’t help it! It was a fucking trap!” He tries to keep Dean from rattling him around on the table, feeling the way his stomach lurches at the rough handling. “I’ll make it up to you. Dean, I’ll get it back! Swear it!”

“Yeah, you gonna make it up to me. You gonna make it up to me and then some, you tosser,” Dean promises, hauling Eggsy back up to his feet and then giving him a hard shove towards the door.

“Rottie!” Dean barks, “Come on!”

“What—” But Dean just grabs the back of his neck and frog marches him out of the pub, Rottie not far behind. The car’s illegally parked right out front as it always is.

“Open the boot,” Dean orders and Rottie immediately hops to it. “I own your arse, Mugsy,” he growls low in Eggsy’s ear. “Now I’m gonna sell it until you earn back every penny you lost me.”

“Dean—no, wait—!” Eggsy gasps before he’s shoved into the empty boot of the car and the lid’s slammed down, locking him in.

“Take him down to Smith Street. Do whatever the fuck you want with him, but make sure he don’t leave until he’s worked off some of his debt,” he hears Dean say.

Panic seizes him. Eggsy tries to frantically kick out, beats his fists against the roof of the boot. He starts screaming. “Let me out! I’m sorry! I’ll get you your money! Just let me out! Let me out!”

“Shut the fuck up, Eggsy!” Rottie shouts back as the engine starts up and booming music starts blaring through the speakers, masking any other noises he could possibly make. Eggsy is jerked back when Rottie floors the gas.

He fumbles about for the release handle, only to find the thing’s been fucked with so that it jams, like Rottie’s been stuffing people in here all the time. He can feel the hysterical fear clawing at the edges of his mind again.

Get your shit together.

He takes deep breaths in through his nose, slowly releases them out through his mouth, even though his chest keeps hitching at first, breaths stuttering with wavering fear. Think.

Eggsy knows cars. He studied them obsessively when he thought he’d be a mechanic in his early teenage years and then started stealing them for a good part of the latter ones. He starts running his fingers along the rear of the boot for the lock cylinder, finds the open areas of the sheet metal and then the connecting rod itself.

He yanks it to the right. Nothing. He tries not to cry out in frustration as he yanks the thing to the left this time, and is rewarded with a click and the first crack of daylight as the lid of the boot pops open, and Eggsy has to scramble to grab hold of it before the whole thing flies up. From what little he can see, they’re speeding along the King’s Road.

Eggsy waits until Rottie’s got to come to a stop at a traffic light before throwing the lid up and making a run for it. As soon as his feet hit the tarmac, he takes off across the road, narrowly avoiding getting run over by an oncoming car.

Tyres screech. Horns blare. “Eggsy!” Rottie shouts from far behind him. “Eggsy, you fucking wanker! Get back here!”

He doesn’t stop running, doesn’t know where he’s going, but he doesn’t stop, fuelled by blind terror as he is. By the time the exhaustion’s caught up with him and his muscles are burning with ache, he finds himself near Chelsea Bridge.

The river’s brown and silent beneath him, indifferent to the fuckup that is his existence. Eggsy’s got to get out now, he knows. To where, he hasn’t a clue, but he can’t stay here no more. It could be worse. He’s got some money hidden away in a literal hole he’s carved into the plaster of his bedroom wall and then covered up with his bed. Not much, but it’s been enough over the years and he’s only dipped into it to buy Daisy’s nappies or food when they’ve run low.

He has to peer through the yellowing curtains of his own home to make sure no one’s there, but when he quietly slides into his flat, he’s stopped short by Daisy peering up at him wide-eyed over the rim of her pen.

“Who’s watching out for you, Dais?” he asks her, though of course she can’t answer.

Eggsy looks around, tries to see if maybe his mum’s sleeping on the sofa or in her bedroom but both are empty, what the fuck. Eggsy picks her up, grimaces at her rank nappy and goes to change her. She’s doesn’t cry so much anymore, though he ain’t sure if that’s a good thing or not.

“There, is that better?” he asks once he’s snapped up her onesie and lifted her back up into his arms again, popping a dummy into her mouth. “Has anyone fed you? You want me to make you a bottle?”

He’s about to pull the formula from the cupboard when he hears the toilet flush and the door opens and Poodle walks out with a rolled up magazine under one arm. They both freeze.

“Oi, what the fuck you doing here?” Poodle asks him. “Ain’t you got work?”

Eggsy marginally relaxes, forces himself to continue making Daisy’s bottle at a leisurely pace. “Nah. Business has been slow, yeah? Dean said I had to come back here and watch Dais. Said you should go down to the pub. He’s got something to talk to you about.”

“Fucking hell,” Poodle grumbles but starts moving towards the door when his mobile rings. “Yeah, what?”

And Eggsy knows the moment the game’s up, that it’s Dean on the other end. He can feel Poodle’s heavy gaze on his back.

“Yeah...yeah, I get you. I’ll deal with it, guv,” Poodle says and hangs up just as Eggsy turns to him. “What’s this about you stealing money?”

“That ain’t what it’s like,” Eggsy tells him, slowly backing away, Daisy still cradled against him. “I didn’t steal nothing. I just...”

“Put the brat down now.”

But Eggsy just shakes his head, grips Daisy tighter and tries to dart past him in vain. Poodle’s got a hand in his hair and uses it as a handhold to throw Eggsy into the refrigerator. He only just manages to turn his body to let his shoulder take the brunt of it so he doesn’t crush Daisy.

The blow still causes the dummy to fall out of Daisy’s mouth and she starts to cry and Eggsy’s automatically trying to calm her before Poodle rounds on him again. “Please,” he begs. “You’re scaring her.”

“Then put her the fuck down!” Poodle shouts, causing Daisy to only scream louder.

Slowly, Eggsy sits Daisy on the dirty floor of their kitchen, has to pry her frantic grip off him, which only drives her into further hysterics. “It’s okay. It’s okay, baby girl—”

The breath’s knocked from his lungs when Poodle gives him a sharp kick to his ribs, sending him sprawling against the cupboards. Eggsy tries to stand up, using the counter for support, but Poodle’s on him again, slamming his face down onto it. Eggsy feels the bright spark of pain when the cartilage snaps in his nose and a hot spurt of blood starts gushing down his face.

He’s gonna kill me, Eggsy wildly thinks. Gonna kill me in front of Daisy.

He doesn’t think about it when he grabs the handle of the unwashed frying pan still sitting out on the counter. Eggsy’s fingers circle around its thick plastic handle and he whips it around, ignoring the way his ribs scream at him, to smack it across Poodle’s face.

And yet, it doesn’t knock Poodle out, just causes him to stagger back a few steps, dazed, before recovering, more furious than ever. He runs at Eggsy, grabbing his still outstretched hand and smashing it against the edge of the fridge. Eggsy screams as he hears the bone snap in his arm, and his hand abruptly goes numb. The pan falls from his nerveless fingers and clatters to the floor, and Eggsy soon follows it when Poodle throws a fist into his face, right in the same place as his shiner.

Eggsy curls up on the floor, cradles his arm to his chest and can’t help the sobs start shaking his frame, causing more agony to shoot out from his ribs with each involuntary movement. Somewhere, Daisy’s still screaming and Eggsy’s going to die, and then there will be no one left to watch over her anymore or protect her. Soon Dean will come for her too.

No.

Eggsy will never let that happen. Ever.

He kicks out at Poodle’s shin, causing him to stumble and fall to one knee, and that’s all Eggsy needs as he reclaims the frying pan and hurls himself up, throwing all of his will and his weight into bringing it over Poodle’s head again and again and again.

It’s only the way he’s suddenly gasping for air that makes him stop. Poodle’s a still lump on the floor, but he’s not bleeding. Eggsy’s ribs are definitely broken, and Daisy’s still crying.

“Shh, Dais. Dais, it’s okay. Everything’s gonna be okay….”

He crawls over to her even though everything in his body hurts and picks her up with his good arm, presses her close against his broken ribs and tries to croon soothing words to her even though he’s still gasping in pain at the end of every sentence.

“I’m so sorry you had to see that. I’m so sorry. But I’m not ever gonna let anyone hurt you, okay? No one’s gonna hurt you.”

They’ve got to leave. Anyone could come back now, and then Eggsy won’t be able to keep his promise, so he stumbles out of the flat, Daisy still held close to him, still crying. She hasn’t got a jacket on or any supplies. She’s probably hungry, but it don’t matter, because they can’t stay, they can’t stay.

He walks as far as he can, through the estate, then out onto the main road. His gait grows uneven, his breaths more laboured as each step forward becomes harder and harder to make. Then he missteps, his ankle rolls out from under him and sends him careening into the wall. He automatically rolls onto his back, cushions Daisy’s weight right into his ribs and can’t stifle the cry of pain.

He looks down, and Daisy’s sobbing, covered in the blood that still pours from his nose. It’s such a fucking horrible sight, and that’s when he knows he’s all out of options.

Eggsy fumbles for his mobile. There’s barely any life in it, but he searches through his contacts, shaky fingers slippery with blood, and he finds Henry’s number.

Henry picks up on the third ring. “Eggsy,” he breathes, and his voice cuts through Daisy’s screams, familiar and deep, that Eggsy has to choke back another sob that threatens to escape.

“Eggsy, what’s happened? Are you alright?”

“Eggsy?”

“Eggsy, talk to me. Who’s crying?”

Finally, Eggsy swallows down blood and finds the strength to speak. “Please. Please help us.”

There’s a long pause, long enough that Eggsy fears his phone’s gone and died, but then he hears Henry speak once more, a voice filled with steady determination.

“Stay where you are. I’m coming to get you.”

Chapter Text

He doesn’t know how long he waits, sitting there, shivering, trying not to pass out, holding a screaming Daisy whom he doesn’t have the energy to comfort anymore. Time seems to lose its gravity, breaking free of its confines and expanding until Eggsy can’t tell if it exists anymore at all. No one even walks past them on the pavement. In the part of his hind brain that always remains aware of his surroundings, he knows that cars occasionally drive by without stopping.

Until one does.

Eggsy only belatedly becomes conscious of that fact when long legs come into his direct line of sight, and then Henry is crouching down, face meted in concern, speaking to him. It’s like he’s underwater though, or Eggsy is. His voice is warped beyond comprehensibility.

Then Henry’s trying to pull Daisy from his arms, and Eggsy snaps.

“Don’t fucking touch her!” he screams at Henry, and his grip on Daisy tightens until she yelps out in pain. The abrupt change in the tenor of her cries startles him and he stares at her in horror, almost dropping her entirely were it not for the way Henry swiftly scoops her up. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry!”

“We need to get you to hospital,” Henry says calmly, like he’s not at all upset at Eggsy for doing to Daisy what he swore he’d never do. But Eggsy is. He might have killed a man for her only to turn around and hurt her in kind. It’s this world, he thinks. Everything good gets destroyed.

“Eggsy,” Henry says, pulling him from his spiralling thoughts. Eggsy looks up at him. Henry doesn’t appear at all uncomfortable with holding Daisy, even though she’s still a bogey, slobbering mess of tears. He cradles her to his chest with one strong arm while she keeps smearing her wet face against his nice suit, the other still outstretched towards him. “Can you walk without assistance?”

“Dunno,” he gasps out, tries to shift himself onto his knees and finds himself biting back a sharp cry at how much it hurts to move even that much.

“I’m going to wrap my arm around you for support,” Henry says, and slowly moves to do just that, kneeling beside him, slipping his free arm around Eggsy just beneath his shoulders. He seems to know not to jar Eggsy’s ribs, lets Eggsy direct the pace of their movements as he painstakingly climbs to his feet, never wavering once.

The shift in his weight makes Eggsy lightheaded, he cradles his ribs with his good arm, but Henry keeps steadily guiding Eggsy towards his car, just as carefully gets him settled into the passenger side while Eggsy clenches his jaw and grinds his teeth. The matter of Daisy gives Henry momentary pause, however. He hasn’t a car seat for her, but obviously cannot leave her behind. It’d almost be funny, such a minor complication befuddling a grown man, a suave as fuck policeman even.

“Give her to me, it’s fine,” Eggsy finally says, and Henry only hesitates for a moment before carefully seating Daisy in Eggsy’s lap, then hands him his handkerchief.

“Your nose,” he explains, when Eggsy looks up at him questioningly. He’s so far gone, he’s nearly forgotten, even though blood’s still sluggishly oozing down his face.

There’s no conversation for the whole trip with Daisy’s wailing and shrieking filling up the car, her voice is growing hoarse but she shows no sign of winding down. Despite the way her shrill notes hit his ears all wrong, stresses his weary body out even more, Eggsy’s secretly proud of her, stubborn, fierce little spirit that she is. She needs every bit of strength she can get.

The trip seems to take forever, but then Eggsy realises Henry’s driving slowly, exaggeratedly careful even, keeps giving mindful side glances at Daisy’s precarious position in his lap, and that...that makes him feel oddly better.

When they finally get to A&E, Eggsy’s prepared for the long wait. He’s been in hospital enough to know the routine, after all. But he’s no sooner started for an uncomfortable chair when Henry touches his shoulder to get his attention. A nurse is there, waiting expectantly. Henry and his magic again.

He doesn’t want to leave Daisy, reflexively tightens his arm around her again at first, but then realises he can’t take her with him for x-rays.

“She’ll be fine,” Henry assures him quietly, pressing Daisy’s little head closely to his chest. Miraculously, her shrieks calm down into a continuous, exhausted mewling, which still ain’t great, but it’s better. “We'll clean her up. A nurse is getting her something to eat. I’ll wait here.”

“I don’t trust you,” Eggsy says, viciously relishing the flicker of hurt that strings across Henry’s eyes before he tempers it back into his usual placid demeanour. “But it ain’t like I got a choice. You hurt her and I’ll kill you. Swear I will.” Even if it’s the last thing he does.

“If I hurt her, I’ll give you all the means with which to do it,” Henry says.

The nurse who accompanies him into the exam room keeps giving him looks until Eggsy has to say, “It weren’t him. He’s the one who helped. Sorta.”

There’s the x-rays taken, and after a bit of local anaesthetic, his arm’s reset, then his nose. Skull’s fine, eye’s good, no concussion, just deeply bruised. Two broken ribs, but no punctured organs or internal bleeding. Simple fractures all around. The doctor’s in and out in less than fifteen minutes after declaring Eggsy doesn’t even need to stay overnight.

Eggsy watches the nurse as she applies the cast to his numbed arm and says it for her, “Guess I was lucky, yeah?”

“I’ve looked at your medical records, luv. I wouldn’t say that,” she tells him before taking a deep breath. “If you—”

“It’s not him,” Eggsy repeats dully. “Would’ve been easier if it had been.”

It’s another long wait for the cast to set, and even though earlier he felt wired awake, Eggsy finds his eyelids now growing heavy, his body starting to come down from its seemingly perpetual adrenaline-fuelled state. He’s nearly fallen asleep when there’s a knock on the door, and before he can speak, Jamal pokes his head in.

“Oi, Ryan, someone’s done a right number on Eggsy,” he calls out, and then Ryan’s head appears as well.

“Looks like an improvement, if you ask me,” Ryan says.

“You both are fucking wankers,” Eggsy tells them, but can’t help smiling in relief all the same.

They open the door fully to reveal themselves to be laden with bulging sacks of what appears to be baby supplies: nappies and toys and clothes and formula.

“What’s all this?” Eggsy asks.

“That posh bloke of yours,” Jamal explains, “rung us and told us what happened. Couldn’t get a hold of your mum, so asked if we could pop round to the shops.” Though Eggsy’s sure Henry’s only told them something half fictional at best. “And before you ask, no, it didn’t come from our wallets.”

“And we might’ve treated ourselves to some nice togs as payment for services rendered,” Ryan adds with a cheeky grin. “By the way, thanks for not telling us about your new sugar daddy. Not a bad-looking one either. I’d consider a go.”

“He’s not. And you still didn’t have to do that.”

“For fuck’s sake, Eggs,” Jamal says simply. “We’re your mates.”

Between all the supplies and the shiny new car seat, they’ve got to split up. Ryan rides in Henry’s car with the sacks, even though neither looks particularly happy about it. Jamal, Eggsy, and Daisy get the cab, paid for by Henry, of course.

Daisy’s completely done in, all cried out and with a full belly. Doesn’t even stir awake when it takes Eggsy, Ryan, and their poor driver to figure out how to secure her seat into the back. Eggsy’s glad for it, but it also means he can’t avoid the tension in the cab as Jamal just keeps looking at him.

“So was you ever gonna tell us how much deep shit you was in with Dean?” Jamal finally breaks the silence to ask.

“Nah,” Eggsy answers honestly after realising how very little he’s told them about anything of late. Not Henry. Not even the drugs. They met for drinks and they caroused at night. They smoked fags and they tried to pull (well, Jamal and Ryan did, lately Eggsy just begged off when it came to that part of the evening).

“Why the fuck not?”

“‘Cause we all got our own shit to deal with, innit? It’s not like mine’s any worse than yours or Ryan’s.”

“What do you know about my shit?” Jamal challenges.

Eggsy just gives him a look, “That’s just it, mate.”

He knows Jamal’s father is as much an alcoholic as Dean, only Jamal don’t even have a mum to pretend to give a shit about him. Just a revolving door of his dad’s girlfriends and his four younger siblings. Ryan don’t even have his parents, just a grandmum with MS.

Neither revealed any of those things in heart to hearts. Everyone just knew things like that in a world as small as theirs, and everyone minded their own business for it.

That seems to shut Jamal up for a good long while until he quietly asks, “Was it really Dean?”

“Yeah. One of his lot. I really fucked up this time. Can’t go back now.”

“You and Dais can always stay with one of us, you know,” Jamal offers, but Eggsy’s already shaking his head.

“Don’t want to drag you into this. Last thing I need is Dean coming after you too.” He doesn’t mention that neither Jamal nor Ryan’s situations have really got the means to support two more mouths either.

“So you just gonna get put up by your posh ol’ geezer for the time being?”

“He’s not my…” Eggsy starts to refute, then closes his eyes. “He’s not mine.” Not anymore. But no, that ain’t right either. Henry never was. “He’s a cop.”

“...oh, fuck.”

“Yeah. He wants me to grass up Dean.”

“Fuck,” Jamal repeats more emphatically, which is the long and short of it, really. “You gonna do it then?”

“Dunno,” Eggsy says, doesn’t want to think about any of it right now.

When the cab pulls up to the front of Henry’s building, Jamal lets out a long, low whistle. Eggsy’s forgotten how posh the place was, how intimidated he’d been the first time he’d come here. Funny, he’s feeling the same kind of dread now, but it’s not for the building so much as who it contains.

“Them’s nice digs for a cop,” Jamal remarks.

“Probably ain’t really his either,” Eggsy mutters and just shakes his head when Jamal throws him a questioning glance.

Henry and Ryan are waiting for them, and between the four of them (but really, only two, as Eggsy’s not of much use and Henry insists on both supporting Eggsy and transporting a sleeping Daisy in her car seat), they manage to carry all the supplies in one go, walking past the studiously indifferent staff, dodgy as most of them probably come across.

By the time Eggsy steps into Henry’s flat, he can barely stay on his feet. He’s so bloody shattered, doesn’t even really think about it when Henry just wordlessly guides him to the master bedroom, draws down the covers and piles up the pillows so Eggsy doesn’t have to lie down flat. Henry’s pulling off his trainers and tucking him in, and the bed smells like him and it’s comforting. Eggsy’s so exhausted and weak that he could almost pretend it’s just another night, that his body aches because of a long, hard fucking, and Henry’s only gone to clean up.

That Henry will be back to lie down next to him, and he’ll spoon himself around Eggsy and hold him securely, even though it always gets too hot later. But Eggsy never moved out of Henry’s hold, would rather be roasted alive than dare lose his touch.

He misses it now, misses it already. He misses it so, so much.

He doesn’t realise he’s fallen asleep until he’s slowly rising back to consciousness with a parched mouth and seemingly no part of his body that ain’t sore. It’s dark out, but the lamp on the nightstand’s been turned on, casting a small, dim halo of illumination around him.

Eggsy turns his head and sees Henry sleeping in the chair at his side. Henry’s ditched his jacket and tie, top buttons undone, shirt sleeves rolled up as always. His long limbs spill out of the chair like the leaves of a rooted plant. A book’s splayed out across his chest, glasses slung low on the bridge of his nose, head precariously resting against his hand. It doesn’t look at all comfortable, and he’s bound to have a sharp crick in his neck when he wakes up.

Which is now, actually, because Henry’s already stirring, as if he’s sensed Eggsy’s gaze on him. Eggsy watches Henry’s eyes slowly blink open, soft and muzzy, then sharper once full awareness returns. Henry shifts and, predictably, winces once he starts to sit up, forgotten book flopping to the floor. He idly glances over to Eggsy, then freezes when he meets Eggsy’s eyes.

“It’s nearly two in the morning. Ryan and Jamal have are in the guest room with Daisy. She’s been fed and bathed and went down easily. It was rather a taxing day,” Henry says quietly. “Would you like something for the pain?”

“Just water,” Eggsy whispers, and watches Henry get up and disappear out of his line of sight, hasn’t the energy to track him.

Henry returns with a glass of water and two white tablets, holding the latter out to Eggsy. “Here.”

But Eggsy just stares at them, doesn’t move. “What is it?”

“Nurofen.”

“They sure as fuck ain’t.”

“Plus.”

“No.”

“Eggsy.” Henry frowns. “You have to be in—”

“I used to be….” Eggsy cuts him off, then stops sharply, hesitant to reveal this last awful part of himself. But Henry knows just about all of his ugliness, has always known, so what does this one matter now? “Had a problem.”

But if Eggsy’s expecting disgust, he doesn’t get it, just a long bout of silence and then the slightest furrow of Henry’s brow. “To what?”

“Anything I could get my hands on. Stuff like this was easiest. So I don’t...I don’t want to do that again. Even a little. Even now.”

Henry’s hands close around the tablets. He lets his arm drop back to his side. “I think I have the regular brand somewhere.”

Henry’s gone again, and Eggsy closes his eyes. His arm aches. His ribs, every time he breathes. His face feels hot and swollen, his brain still feels like it’s running at half-speed. He knows he ought to get up, move about. He’s dealt with broken ribs before.

By the time Henry’s returned, Eggsy’s sitting up at the edge of the bed, trying to brace himself to put weight on his feet. He hastily sets the glass and medicine box down in order to lend Eggsy his support, and Eggsy’s not so far gone in his pride not to accept it.

“Easy,” Henry says, like he’s trying to calm down a fucking a horse.

“Fuck off,” Eggsy says, though there ain’t much heat behind the words, his teeth are gritting too much as he stands and feels his ribs grinding beneath his skin. “Oh fuck.”

“Would you like for me to draw you a bath?” Henry offers when Eggsy stops swaying on his own two feet, albeit hunched up like some pensioner with severe arthritis. He brings the water and regular Nurofen to him, first the tablets dropped in his unbandaged hand, then the glass once Eggsy’s popped them into his mouth. Eggsy tries not to gulp it down, but ends up draining the glass anyway. He hasn’t answered Henry’s earlier question, but Henry just takes that as assent and retreats to the bath and Eggsy hears the water running from the taps soon after.

In truth, Eggsy feels grimy as fuck and the thought of washing away the last 48 hours sounds like fucking paradise, like he could scour away the memories just as easily as he could the sweat and dried blood.

The tub’s nearly full by the time Eggsy gingerly steps into the room. The air is all lushly humid and Eggsy thinks, not without bitter irony, that he’s finally gotten his wish to make use of that gloriously huge tub after all. He starts tugging off his shirt before he really thinks about what he’s doing, wincing when he tries to pull the material up over his head and dropping his arms.

“Let me help,” Henry quietly pleads, and Eggsy just pauses. But it’s not like Henry hasn’t seen it all already, so he finally just ends up nodding and letting Henry in close, gently pulling off his clothes in a way that probably permanently stretches out the fabric but at least keeps him from moving as little as possible.

It’s only when his shirt comes off and Henry just stares at him—at his torso, not his face—that Eggsy belatedly realised how truly banged up he is. He looks up and catches sight of his reflection in the mirror and understands why Henry’s face has practically shut down.

There were all the bruises from before, of course, but now the fresh ones have been layered in on top with almost deft artistry, blooming out from his ribs in brilliant blood red smudges. His face is grossly swollen, his left eye only able to partially open, surrounded by a deep purple ring that fans out across the swollen bridge of his taped nose to colour in the other side. He looks singularly awful, it’s no wonder his mates were so tense beneath their nervous jokes. He’s just glad he didn’t wear his dad’s medal on drug runs, in the event things should go tits up like they spectacularly have.

“I’ve had worse,” Eggsy says, tries to shrug, but stops when his ribs threaten to protest.

“Those bruises aren’t from free running, are they,” Henry states, finally lifting his gaze to meet Eggsy’s eyes.

Eggsy knows he should feel ashamed, probably would have in an earlier, more naive time, but all he feels now is defeated. “Guess that makes me a fucking liar too.”

It’s easier to drop his jeans and boxers, expose himself entirely to Henry when there’s not much of himself left to hide. Henry’s got to bend down to peel off his dingy socks, though. He helps Eggsy into the blissfully hot water and it’s just nice to not have gravity pressing down on his ribs anymore, even if he has to awkwardly drape his bad arm over the side of the tub to keep the cast dry. Eggsy feels the last of the tension seep from his body and considers just staying in this tub forever, ordering Henry to drain and refill it in perpetuity.

Henry certainly seems like he’d be willing. He keeps worrying at the taps, adjusting and readjusting them. It’s fuelled by an energy so anxious and palpable, Eggsy finally has enough and says, “Just chill out, bruv, okay?”

“I just want to…” Henry starts, and then clenches his jaw and looks away, has to peel of his glasses for the way they begin to fog up. “I don’t know how to fix this.”

Eggsy would laugh, but he’s finally achieved a state of being pain free and he doesn’t want to go fucking that up now. “Done enough, haven’t you?”

“Eggsy….”

Henry says it like he’s the one who’s in pain, but Eggsy just reaches out and tries to grab the nearest fancy looking bottle in hopes it’s shampoo, hissing and retracting when he moves wrong. And Henry, fucking guilt-ridden Henry, just wordlessly moves behind him and picks up the bottle, and then Eggsy’s feeling big, gentle hands in his hair, massaging his scalp, lathering it up with something that smells almost like cinnamon and pleasantly tingles at his scalp.

It feels lovely and delicious, Henry’s hands on him, cradling his head, that Eggsy closes his eyes and just lets him go on ahead with it, probably longer than it needs to be done, and then just as gently eases the suds away with handfuls of hot water.

God, how he wishes it were real. What he sighs, through the relief of pain and its ensuing fatigue is, “That’s nice.”

“I know you don’t believe me when I say this,” Henry says like he’s continuing a train of thought. “But I never wanted any of this to happen.”

Eggsy nearly snorts, then cringes at the pain that shoots up through his face. He’d forgotten about that one too. “What the fuck did you think was gonna happen?”

When Henry remains silent for too long, Eggsy can feel the anger build up in his chest, making his blood feel as hot as the water lapping at his skin. “You was never gonna buy. Did you think Dean was gonna take kindly to losing that much money? Was I supposed to thank you? You fucked me over. More ways than one, I guess,” he grits out. “I don’t got anything left. No one’s gonna help me or Dean’s gonna go hurt them too. Got no money or places to go. I’m here ‘cause of you.”

“I’m sorry. I will never be able to tell you how sorry I am,” Henry says, looking down at Eggsy, stricken, like one strong draught could bowl him over. “I thought...in the end...you’d ultimately be better off. I poorly misjudged the situation.”

For some reason, it just makes Eggsy’s angrier, seeing Henry’s regret. He’s gone and ruined Eggsy’s life and has the luxury of simply feeling fucking contrite about the whole ordeal, like he’s spilt a bit of tea on his fucking shirt. “Did you think you was doing me a favour? Big white knight saving the poor little damsel in distress, helping me see the error of my bad ways?” he seethes.

“I care for you,” Henry whispers. “I care for you more than I should, I—”

“You made me fall in love with you and then you ruined my life. Yeah, you poorly misjudged the fucking situation, you fucking bastard.”

Eggsy’s so angry, he hasn’t really realised what he’s said, but the way Henry just pales in front of him, how his brown eyes grow red and start to shine before he blinks quickly and stands up. “I’ll get you a flannel and some soap,” Henry shakily says, “Just let me know when you’re finished and I’ll help you out.”

There’s no more talking after that, just the silence hanging between them filled with sorrowful remorse. It pulls at Eggsy’s heart and then makes him furious all over again. He makes do as much as he can, having only got one hand and limited mobility, but Henry’s as good as his word, at least for this, in helping Eggsy to stand, wrapping him up in a big fluffy towel and then into what looks to be a pair of flannel bottoms that are too long and a worn out cotton grey t-shirt with a nearly faded RAMC logo on the front. It’s clearly old, but Eggsy isn’t sure if it’s something that’s actually Henry’s or he picked it up from a thrift shop somewhere, but in either case, they’ve both been with Henry long enough to smell like him.

Whatever relaxation he’s managed to glean from the bath is all but gone now. He tenses, being helped back into Henry’s bed. Rage still boils in his veins and he just wants to move, to hit something, but he can’t, and it starts the whole frustrated cycle all over again.

Eventually, just stewing in his own anger is enough to tire him out, because the next thing he knows he’s dreaming.

Kostas is on top of him, crushing him, putting his hands all over him. He smells like anise and rancid flesh. Eggsy tries to push him off, but then Dean’s there, choking him, pressing him down harder and screaming at Eggsy, spittle raining down upon him.

When Eggsy looks up, it’s Poodle glaring back. There’s a gleam of madness in his eyes as he raises his hand and he’s holding the frying pan, but when he starts to bring it down to strike, it’s actually been Henry all along.

Eggsy wakes up with a sharp gasp that sends shooting spikes of pain up his side. He raises his good hand to his mouth and bites down into the meat of it to hold back the screams clogging up his throat. His pulse races in his ears and the dream just clings to him, digs in under his skin and makes him feel dirty all over again, like he could have a hundred baths and he’ll never be clean again.

A palm touches the side of his face and Eggsy flinches before looking up at Henry, can’t tell what Henry sees when he looks at him because Henry’s face gives nothing away, save for his eyes.

His eyes are soft in all the ways the rest of him is hard and closed off.

His eyes are mournful and sad as Henry gently pulls Eggsy’s fist from his mouth and rubs at the teeth indentations in the skin.

His eyes just stay on Eggsy while Eggsy gasps and pants, each one sparking a jolt of harmonising pain, until Eggsy calms down and manages to get his breathing evened out.

It’s only then that Eggsy realises Henry’s been saying, over and over, like a mantra, You’re okay.

“I’m okay,” Eggsy says even though he doesn’t know if it’ll ultimately turn out to be true, it’s at least true for right now. He can’t help but press his cheek into Henry’s hand, closing his eyes, but then Henry is retracting it, and all the places where he’s laid his hands now feel bereft.

Eggsy watches Henry move about again, bringing him another glass of water and more medication, adjusting his pillows and the blankets before moving back to his chair, apparently ready to settle down for another long shift.

“That thing’s got to be uncomfortable as fuck,” Eggsy croaks out.

“Consider it part of my penance,” Henry weakly jokes, but even still, by the dim light, Eggsy can see how worn down Henry looks. The lines of his face are drawn deeper in exhaustion. He has his own dark circles smudging his eyes.

“You don’t got to stay here with me.”

But Henry just runs a hand tiredly over his face and says, “I seem to keep getting you hurt every time I don’t.”

Henry looks haunted by what he’s said, gaze sitting at middle distance. His guilt, the way he looks so small to Eggsy now, should feel good, and there’s a part of Eggsy that wants to see him suffer and hurt as much as he’s hurting. But the larger part of him is just uncomfortable.

Seeing Henry in pain mostly just makes him feel worse, which is so fucking stupid since Henry only has himself to blame.

It’s a long time before Eggsy speaks again, caught up in the indecision of it until he realises that, fuck it, the meds only barely take the edge off and he just wants some fucking comfort. “Martyr’s not a good look on you, bruv,” Eggsy says. “It’s your bed. It’s big enough.”

“I don’t think—that’s...not a good idea,” Henry demurs.

“I can tell you right now nothing’s gonna happen. Looking at you sitting like that is painful to watch, so stop looming like a fucking gargoyle and just...” Eggsy sighs, gives in, “...hold me.”

“Eggsy…”

“I just want to get some sleep.” Eggsy turns his head, looks Henry dead in the eye. “You owe me that much.”

It’s like having a master key, them words. Henry doesn’t protest anymore, just stands up, subtly trying to work out some of the kinks in his back, walks around the bed to the other side of the bed, toes off his shoes, and cautiously slides in next Eggsy like he’s getting into bed with a wild animal or something.

After a beat or two of meeting Eggsy’s expectant gaze, he scoots closer and there’s a shifting around that happens, until Henry’s the one laying against the pillows, mostly sitting up, and Eggsy’s half laying over his torso instead, Henry’s arms wrapped around him, holding him securely in place.

Henry’s frame ain’t as soft as the pillows, but his chest rises and falls ever so slightly when he breathes and his heart beats and blood pumps through his veins. The very living-ness of him soothes Eggsy, lulls him into a calm that pulls him down into a dreamless sleep.

The next time he wakes up, there’s daylight streaming in through the windows and he’s alone. It’s such a familiar scene that when Eggsy blinks groggily, mind all confused, he wonders if maybe everything that’s happened had simply been a bad dream after all.

When he tries to sit up, his hopes are sharply dashed.

His bladder’s making too many demands for him to wallow in bed, so Eggsy slowly maneouvres himself to his feet after a few false starts, has a piss, and then sees the glass of water and another two tablets waiting on the counter for him, because Henry’s sort of creepy like that. Except, knowing that doesn’t freak Eggsy out so much as make him fond, and knowing that makes him angry because he hates how he can’t just entirely hate Henry, even now. It’s the worst combination of pain there is.

When he makes his way towards the common area, it’s both familiar and strange. It seems he’s always fated to be the last one up, because everyone’s in the sitting area with what appears to be an entire toy store’s worth of loot scattered about, and considering how much empty space there was to work with, Eggsy’s a bit dumbfounded.

Frozen’s going on the telly. Daisy is still shrieking, but this time, it’s with happiness interspersed with laughter as she tears around the room and ignores Ryan and Jamal who are each trying to lure her to them with some blindingly coloured toy that makes ridiculous noises.

Somewhere among the chaos is Henry, who’s apparently been put on feeding duty because he’s got a small bowl of beige coloured baby porridge in his hands and is holding out a spoonful of the stuff, patiently waiting for Daisy’s next pass to see whether or not Her Highness deigns to have another bite. By the looks of it, the method’s only been half successful because a good bit of it is smeared across his shirt and trousers. Coincidentally, he’s also dotted with several rice puffs that Daisy’s spit-soaked fingers probably had a hand in applying as well.

“You seen this one yet, Henry?” Ryan asks, nodding to Elsa on the screen who’s about to launch into that fucking earworm that’s gonna stay in Eggsy’s head all bloody day if he listens to it again.

“I can’t say I’ve seen any Disney film since the days when they were still drawn by hand.”

Guv.”

It’s all such a dramatic turnabout from yesterday that Eggsy doesn’t even know what to do with himself, where he fits into this picture. He’s too used to getting his guard up first thing in the morning, bracing himself against the assault of cigarette smoke and clearing empties off the counter to make room for Daisy’s breakfast. Ignoring Dean’s taunts and mum’s commentary on what was happening on the telly while trying to cheer up his sister who never smiled in the flat, not once. She certainly never had this much room to run about.

“Look, look, Dais! It’s big brother Eggsy woke up from his beauty sleep!”

Jamal’s voice breaks through his reverie and Eggsy’s glad it has because five seconds later, a small body has launched itself into his legs with no hope of stopping itself.

“Hi baby girl!” Eggsy greets her and starts to bend down to pick her up before realising that’s just not on, fuck.

“Ah, Miss Daisy, I’m afraid your older brother is somewhat indisposed and you’ll have to settle for me,” Henry says, swinging Daisy up into his arms and shedding a few rice puffs onto the floor in the process. Daisy focuses on the one stuck to his tie, pinching it between her slimy fingers and then shoving the whole thing, her hand included, into her mouth.

When Henry looks at her, it is with terrible fondness, and Eggsy can’t watch anymore.

There’s an ample breakfast spread waiting, maybe not to the proportions of what was made after his first night here, but Henry has a penchant for playing the perfect host to his guests. Copper or no, Ryan and Jamal, who are simple to please, are probably half in love with Henry already, at least without knowing the full story, and it’s not like Eggsy’s ever gonna tell them about the epic tale of his stupidity, at least not with about five more pints in him.

“Look,” Eggsy quietly says to them while Henry’s started with the dishes. “Do you think you can watch Dais for a couple hours today? Take her with you? I’ll come by and get her later.”

He watches Ryan and Jamal share one of their looks that he can’t always divine. They were friends with each other long before they got to be friends with Eggsy and there’s still some things Eggsy will never get to be a part of.

“Sure, cuz,” Ryan says, then waggles his brows suggestively. “Wanna have some quality time with your bloke is it?”

“Something like that,” Eggsy mutters, ignoring Jamal’s concerned look.

A day bag is put together for Daisy, which still ends up being practically the size of a suitcase anyway, and Daisy is put into a brand new dress and little baby trainers. Eggsy wishes he could snap a few photos on his mobile, but it’s still dead and he hasn’t managed to get a compatible charger for it, so Henry takes them instead and promises to send them along.

“Call us if there’s a problem,” Jamal tells him just before they leave, giving Eggsy a significant look that brooks no arguments. “And charge your fucking phone, Eggs.”

And then it’s just them.

“Are you alright?” Henry breaks the silence at long last, already trying to assess him for pain or tiredness or his insulin levels or whatever freakily observant thing he can do.

“Nah,” Eggsy says deadpan. “I’ve lost use of my wanking hand.”

He holds up his cast. There’s a beat, and then they both can’t help but break into reluctant smiles.

“I’m not thanking you for this,” Eggsy says more seriously this time.

“I’m not expecting you to,” Henry says, already making himself busy with drying all the dishes he’s just washed. “You shouldn’t.”

“I was unfair, earlier.” Henry pauses in his movements, looking up at Eggsy with a frown. “I shouldn’t have accused you of ruining my life. It was already pretty shit. Probably would have ended up at that point sooner or later anyway, and then I wouldn’t have even had this much.”

“Eggsy—” Henry sighs, like he’s about to launch into a lesson on why Eggsy’s all wrong about this, but Eggsy just continues on as if Henry never spoke at all.

“I was also wrong too. I was...I did see you as a white knight. My own Galahad,” Eggsy smiles sadly, even though Henry looks like he’s gone and punched him in the gut. “Tried not to, but I couldn’t help it, you know? You’re just so posh and you didn’t look down on me and you made me want to be the person you seemed to see in me.”

“You are that person, Eggsy,” Henry insists.

But Eggsy just shakes his head. “It’s why losing this, all of this, just crushed me. I thought it could actually be real, you know? But I think that even if you hadn’t lied, it still wouldn’t have been like this. This is fantasy, innit? What we had. It always was gonna be.”

He takes a deep breath no matter how much his ribs hate him for it, because he’s got to get this next bit out right, has got to get it out before he loses his courage to do so. “I’m tired of being fucked over by everyone. Being helpless. If I agree to help you, you gotta make sure all of them are gone. Dean, his gang, all his associates and anyone he’s ever done business with. They all gotta go, because I ain’t risking anyone coming after my family, you get me? I don’t ever wanna see any of ‘em again.”

“I can do that,” Henry assures him. “You and your family will be safe, Eggsy.”

“And then...when this is all over...I think I want you to go too,” Eggsy says, forcing himself to meet Henry’s eyes. “Seeing you hurts too much. Reminds me of all the things I can’t have. That I never had. I don’t want to have that hanging over my life anymore. We do this, and then we’re done. You’re gone.”

“Alright,” Henry says without inflection. His face has gone all neutral again, even his glasses have masked whatever Eggsy usually can get from his eyes. It’s the first time Henry’s ever closed himself off to him and the loss surprisingly hurts. “This one last favour, and then you’ll never have to see me again. I promise.”

Chapter Text

So goes one of the most tedious and tiring mornings of Eggsy’s life, wracking his brain in order to give Henry every address and name he’s delivered to, waiting while Henry types a bit on some sleek little tablet before showing Eggsy a database of people to identify on sight. Some of the photos are mugshots or images grabbed off social media, but many have the grainy, low-resolution look of having come from a screen grab off a CC camera or at least taken from very far away.

“TMZ’s got nothing on you, bruv,” Eggsy tells him, and takes particular vengeful delight in throwing Kostas’s name into the fire. It’s about the only joy he’s gonna get from this whole investigation. Detective work is far more exciting on the telly.

Somehow, sitting around and doing very little other than trying to strain his memory tires him the fuck out, and when the meds wear thin, his answers grow irritated and snappish until Henry calls a break to their little interrogation session in order to fix lunch.

Eggsy takes the opportunity to stand and move about, even if it’s more like an elderly hobble at this point. The flat is certainly big and airy enough in the early afternoon light. He can’t help remembering how many tumbling passes he could fit from one corner of the room to the other, or how Henry had looked so surprised and besotted with him when he did. And it bugs the hell out of him now that he can’t tell if it had been genuine or fake. Suspicion makes him lean towards the latter, but he can’t snuff out that stupid small part of him that always hopes, the part that got him so fucked up in the first place.

Each slow, circuitous pass gives him a chance to watch Henry at work in the kitchen, skillfully chopping vegetables with the speed and assurance of a professional chef, because there hasn’t been a single thing Henry has done that hasn’t been perfect. Perfect dresser, perfect lover, perfect chef, perfect liar.

It’s like slowly dripping venom in his face, those poisonous little thoughts that sneak in and sour his mood. The worst part is that dwelling on them just makes him feel worse, and he’s had enough pain to last a lifetime, thanks. It’ll be better when he’s gone, Eggsy thinks, because it feels like someone’s ripping off a scab every time he so much as glances in Henry’s direction and recalls all the things he loved (still loves, fuck) about him.

As Henry tosses the vegetables into a sizzling pan, he finally catches Eggsy looking, but doesn’t do much more than calmly return a long look of his own, expecting and demanding nothing. “Why did you even sleep with me?” Eggsy asks before he can think better of it, then grinds his teeth and shakes his head. “Fuck. No, forget it.”

“My only goal for that evening was to simply establish a connection,” Henry answers anyway. “However you reacted determined how I would accordingly behave.”

“So you’re saying all of this is my fault,” Eggsy scoffs, looking away. Figures.

“No,” Henry says patiently, giving the skillet an artful shake that tosses all the ingredients into the air without having them scatter all over the floor like Eggsy would inevitably have done. “I observed you initially had a strong physical attraction to me. In consideration for the setting and your natural distrust of, as you would say, posh pricks, I determined a hookup, to use the common parlance, would be the most expedient way to assure the initial point of contact would be a positive one.”

“Very romantic,” Eggsy sneers. “I’m surprised you didn’t just strap me down and dissect me to find out what makes me tick, seeing as how you’re being so clinical about this.”

“Because I couldn’t afford not to be!” Henry finally snaps.

He sets down the pan with more force than he probably intended. The momentary slip in his ironclad control seems to surprise him as much as it does Eggsy, and he takes a moment to recollect his poise. “The most successful mission of this sort is one in which the target never knows they are a target. Had all gone to plan, I would have walked out of your life as easily as I had entered it, perhaps leaving it for the better with the removal of your stepfather and his associates.”

“Yeah, what was your exit strategy? Ghosting me? Turning into a raging narcissist asshole until I was forced to kick you to the kerb?” Because thinking of throwing Henry over, until recently, had been the furthest thing from Eggsy’s mind. Fuck, he was prepared to dig in his heels on this one and beg to keep him if he had to.

“The longest relationship I’ve ever had in my life was, oh, eight months? You would have swiftly tired of me, because in the end they all....” Henry seems to catch himself again, seamlessly switching tracks. “I work too many hours. I travel too often. I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about what really I do, where I’ve been, all I’ve experienced and how it changed me, usually for the worse. You would only be having a relationship with a shell of a person, and not a particularly good one at that. You’re smart enough to eventually realise it wouldn’t be enough, and that you deserved far, far better. No, there would be very little I’d need to do other than simply behave as I have always done.”

Eggsy finds himself unable to assemble any sort of reply as Henry merely continues lunch preparations. He’d almost have thought Henry was unbothered by the unflinching recitation of his faults, and his tone certainly conveyed a sense of straightforward fact, but there was a too much concentrated focus given to the task at hand as he spoke when Eggsy knows Henry could probably have flipped those vegetables in his sleep.

Feeling the worst of his anger deflated and replaced by something that’s a hell of a lot more confused and shaken, he continuous his restless trek around the room in silence, something Henry is content to maintain.

Over a lunch of homemade curry that takes forever to eat because Eggsy’s got to use his less coordinated left hand, he finally finds the courage to start asking more questions. “What were you hoping to learn from me if I never found you out? You’ve got to know at least some of the customers already if you found us. And most of the names I’ve given won’t talk, especially not anybody close to Dean.”

Henry smiles at him. It’s a small thing, gone before it ever really appears across his lips, but lingering more in his eyes. “You’re ever full of surprises, Eggsy. While you’re correct in thinking very few if any on the list of names you gave me would willingly come forward, we have to do our due diligence and try. At the very least, it helps us build out our case and points us in the next direction. It’s what Jim was attempting to do with the woman whose delivery you rather unexpectedly took over that night.”

“Her baby got sick,” Eggsy mumbles. What fucking luck. “She’s got mouths to feed, you know? Not many do this ‘cause they wanna.”

“At any rate, what we were most interested in was learning where Dean’s base of operations is located. We’ve been tracking his movements and those of his associates for several weeks, all to no avail. If he’s not in your flat, he’s consuming rather alarming amounts of alcohol at the Black Prince, and so do most of his workers, for that matter. It’s actually quite a marvel to wonder how they get so much done, much less remain standing.”

“That’s ‘cause he gets poor bastards like me to do most of the legwork.”

“Footsoldiers.”

“Cannon fodder, more like,” Eggsy says. “Dunno about no base of operations. Not like Dean’s some evil mastermind with his volcano lair or whatever. I just got my assignments on the daily. Sack all packed up for me better than me mum ever done.”

“We observed an astounding number of individuals entering and exiting your flat, so much so it was difficult to discern what amount of drugs was entering and which were leaving.”

“You think it’s happening in my flat?” Eggsy asked incredulously. “My mum and baby sister live there, you know. Barely enough space for us there as it is.”

“Be that as it may, it’s at the very least a point of exchange and worth investigating.”

“Why didn’t you just set up a raid? I thought you cops like doing that sort of power trip stuff.”

“Would you have preferred for us to have done that while your mother and sister were in?” Henry asks pointedly. “Besides which, there are larger issues at stake to show our hand this early.”

“Like what?”

“That’s classified, I'm afraid.”

“But you want me to take you to the flat for a look though,” Eggsy states flatly.

“That was going to be my next request, yes,” Henry admits. “It would be more...discreet if you were to accompany me.”

“It would look like I was a Tom working from home, you mean.” It would be nice if one day everyone stopped thinking he was gonna sell himself, fuck the lot of them. “I ain’t going back there. Dean’ll kill me. I think I might’ve….” No, don’t admit to possible murder to the copper.

But of course Henry already knows. “While you were resting, we’ve since learned the man who goes by the moniker ‘Poodle’,” the way he says it leaves little to the imagination of what he thinks, “has a nasty concussion, but he’ll fully recover.”

Eggsy can’t decide if he’s relieved or disappointed.

“But you don’t have to worry about discovery. Your stepfather and his men are at the pub as we speak, along with your mother,” Henry continues. “You taking Daisy has produced a rare opportunity we’ve not yet had: a completely empty flat that will look to be so for some time.”

That don’t make him feel much better by any stretch, but Eggsy’s all in now, and to be honest, it’s not a bad place to start. Eggsy himself tries to spend as little time in the flat as possible, only using his bedroom to sleep when he’s in at all. He’s not entirely sure what Dean gets up nowadays aside from his marching orders, or how complacent his mum’s become. She used to put her foot down about any drug stuff in the flat, but lately, in correlation with Dean’s growing business, she’s broken her own rules more often than not.

Eggsy ignores Henry’s offer to help him get dressed, even if it takes him twice as long and hurts like nothing else. There’s not much to salvage of yesterday’s blood stained clothes. He keeps Henry’s RAMC shirt and uses its ample length to hide some of the suspicious rusty crimson spots on his jeans. Not the most fashionable look he’s rocked, but who’s he trying to impress? On the plus side, returning to the flat means he’ll at least be able to grab some more of his own things.

Both Henry and Eggsy agree a cab would do them better than Henry’s car. Eggsy really hadn’t been kidding about leaving something like that around his neighbourhood if people didn’t know who it belonged to, not to mention how many people would talk. And as they share a taxi back down to the neighbourhood from where it all began, Eggsy can’t help but simmer in the miserable full circle they’ve now drawn, even down to the same suit and accessories Henry now wears.

Eggsy is immersed once more into his foul mood by the time his estate comes into view, and the sight of it doesn’t exactly lift his spirits. Henry helps him out of the cab, but there are still all those fucking stairs to climb. By the time they reach the front door of his flat, he’s winded and aching.

There’s a brief moment as soon as he’s unlocked the door and stepped into the squalor of his flat where he feels intense shame. How shabby it must seem to Henry with its smoke-stained walls and ceiling, its dirty, greasy counter tops, and dingy carpet. There are empties, takeaway cartons, and overrunning fag trays covering every horizontal surface. The whole of the flat could fit in Henry’s living space five times over.

His gaze finds the spot where he last left Poodle, but thankfully, there’s nothing beyond the usual stains and grime. Someone even put the frying pan back on the hob.

His blood, though, still dots the counter and nearby patch of floor.

“You can have a look about, but I don’t think...” he says before turning around to find Henry elbows deep in the dust bin, of all things. “What the actual fuck.”

Henry doesn’t pause in smoothing out whatever sauce-strained crumpled up bit of paper he unearths. “Haven’t you ever heard the saying, ‘One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?’ Rubbish can tell a lot about a person.”

“Yeah, it’s gonna tell you a lot about Daisy’s meal preferences when you reach her nappies. Ain’t gonna find nothing in there you won’t regret touching with your bare hands.” But Henry doesn’t appear troubled by the prospect in the slightest, the fucking creeper, so Eggsy just shrugs. “Do what you want. Just you wash your hands after. I’m gonna go change.”

Change of jeans first, a task which takes an awkwardly long and painful time to complete. The larger size of Henry’s shirt is a benefit for once in that it comes off far easier and with minimal demand on his ribs, but pulling on one of his slimmer fitting polos is more tricky. By the time he’s more or less into his own change of clothes, he’s got to take a moment on the bed to rest, doesn’t even hear Henry in the flat anymore because the man moves like a cat when he wants.

Nothing’s changed about his room, a fact both comforting and depressing in one, sparsely furnished with a cheap secondhand bed and a shoddily repaired plywood shelf Eggsy and his mum had picked up from someone’s rubbish. The contents of his entire life exist in this tiny space, and yet Eggsy wouldn’t care if most of it burned up in a fire. The only things he would even think to save would be his framed marines photograph to remind of the time he had dared to reach for his potential, and his father’s medal.

Newly motivated, he stands and retrieves the medal from where it’s haphazardly draped over the corner of the picture frame and automatically reaches up to hang it around his neck before his ribs put up a sharp protest, causing him to yelp involuntarily, fuck.

“Nothing to be found here. Are you alright?”

When Eggsy catches sight of Henry nearly directly behind him in the mirror, the unexpected reflection startles him badly enough to drop the medal. It’s only with some surprisingly fast reflexes on Henry’s part that keep the necklace from clattering to the floor.

“Gonna put a bell on you,” Eggsy mutters, cradling his torso, but Henry isn’t paying attention to him. He’s studying the medal nestled in his palm with such intensity that Eggsy starts nervously babbling even if he doesn’t know why. “It was my dad’s. Medal of service or whatever. Only thing of his I got left. Dean made mum throw everything else out but I kept this one hid. I don’t even know what it’s for, I just….”

Henry doesn’t say anything as he steps in so close that Eggsy can feel the heat of his body, is suddenly aware of the seeming gravitational pull Henry’s physical presence has on him. But before he can say anything, Henry carefully unlatches the clasp and goes to hang the necklace around his neck until he feels the comforting weight of the medal sitting against his sternum. But Henry doesn’t retract his hands, only sliding his fingers along Eggsy’s neck and shoulders, sending shivers of unbidden arousal through him, until he’s pinching the medal between his fingers once more. “This medal,” Henry says, “is one I know very well.”

Eggsy’s about to ask why—how—confused as he is, when the door to the flat crashes open and he can hear Dean’s voice moments before he sees him.

“Them raids lost us thousands of quid! How the fuck did this—you!” Dean snarls when catches sight of Eggsy, and before anyone can even react, Dean drops the mobile he’d been shouting into and is on him, hands fisting Eggsy’s shirt and tearing him away from Henry to throw him on the bed in a barrage of punches. “You bloody bastard! You did this, I know it was you! You’re done for now, Mugsy! I’ve had it up to here with—”

“I don’t know what the fuck you’re on about!” Eggsy can only raise his arms to fend off some of the blows and gasp for breath beneath the burden of Dean’s weight on him, but nearly as soon as it starts, it abruptly ends when the handle of a brolly hooks around Dean’s red neck and yanks him away. Eggsy only just manages to roll to his side in time to watch Dean go sailing into the bookshelf, shattering the whole poor setup and sending the shelves’ contents raining down upon him.

And there’s Henry standing there, eyes blazing and stance wide, brolly held in his hand like a sword, a soldier ready to march into battle.

“Who the fuck are you?” Dean stares up at Henry furiously as if finally noticing him for the first time.

“Someone who would very much appreciate you not laying another hand upon Eggsy here,” Henry says in an icily calm voice that sends shivers down Eggsy’s spine, “unless you would like to see it permanently severed from the rest of your body.”

Dean slowly picks himself up and shoves a finger into Henry’s chest. “This ain’t got nothing to do with you, grandpa, so I’m gonna be real nice and look past your disrespectful behaviour this once: leave right now and go find yourself another boy to bend. ‘Sides, this one here can’t be trusted not to fucking narc first chance he gets!”

At first, Eggsy is too terrified to wonder how the fuck Dean even found out, but Henry just calmly stares his stepfather down before doing something to Dean’s hand that Eggsy can’t see but he can sure as fuck hear it, the sound of bones snapping and Dean screaming before Henry deigns to release him, and his stepfather’s left curled against the wall, cradling his wrist. “I’d also appreciate it if you didn’t touch me either. Now, that was me being ‘real nice’ and looking past your disrespectful behaviour just this once, Mr Dean Anthony Baker.”

“You fucking prick! You broke my wrist!” Dean curses at him, but his voice has lost its menace, drenched in pain as it is, and he doesn’t dare move from his defencive position against the wall. This is Dean frightened, Eggsy realises. Of Henry.

“I’ll be leaving with Eggsy now. And you will no longer have anything to do with him. You won’t talk to him. You won’t see him. You certainly won’t touch him. He is no longer any concern of yours. Do you understand? Because if you don’t, I can teach you another lesson.”

“I’m gonna kill you. Both of you,” Dean spits out.

“Come along, Eggsy. We’re done here,” Henry simply says, giving Dean a final look, before turning and walking out of the room.

Eggsy struggles to his feet, rushing to catch up with Henry, but he’s not fast enough. As he tries to move past Dean, his stepfather lashes out once more, except instead of throwing a fist at him, he swipes at the medal around Eggsy’s neck with his good hand and shoves him back into the doorframe. Eggsy can feel the way the chain easily snaps as his stepfather’s hand closes around his father’s medal, his face a red, snarling wet mess of fury and vengeance.

“What is this, Daddy’s lil’ necklace?”

“You fucking bastard, give it back!” This time it’s Eggsy who lunges at Dean, fuck his injuries, only to be hauled back by Henry at the last second. “Let go of me! Let go!”

“You want your fucking little piece of tin?” Dean taunts, holding it up. “Come get it yourself, Mugsy! Come on then!”

But Henry’s already pulling him out of the flat, heedless of neither Dean nor Eggsy’s shouts, and even struggling as hard as he is, Eggsy can’t seem to break out of Henry’s steel grip. “Let me go! He’s got my dad’s medal!”

“You’re going to get yourself injured further or worse,” Henry says, only letting him go when he’s shoved Eggsy back into the waiting cab.

He’s trembling with rage and helplessness. He can feel it in his bones. “I don’t care! That piece of shit’s taken everything from me! He don’t get this too! Why the fuck didn’t you do anything? You’re a fucking cop! Arrest that bastard for assault if you have to!”

Henry rounds on him, ignoring the way their driver gives them concerned glances in the rear view mirror every so often. “There are things that are far more important to focus on,” he says, “Arresting Baker now will only damage our case rather than help it. We’ve conducted a number of raids this morning on some key points of his operation in order to close in the net—”

“That’s the only thing you care about, isn’t it? Fuck the rest of us. Guess we’re all just collateral damage to you lot, innit? You’re no better than he is.” Eggsy spits back in his face, taking savage pleasure in watching Henry reel back as if having been dealt a physical blow.

Eggsy waits until they’ve come to a stop at a traffic light before throwing his door open and stumbling out.

“Eggsy! Where are you going?” he hears Henry call out to him, hears the other door opening and footsteps rush to catch up, but he doesn’t stop walking away.

“Gonna get back what’s mine..”

“Oh for fuck’s sake, Eggsy, stop for a minute and think—”

“Fuck you, I’ll do it alone if I have to.”

“Forget about the damn medal!” Henry grips his shoulder and forces him to turn around, which Eggsy does only to gain enough force to send a fist into Henry’s very surprised face.

Turns out, the hardened plaster edge of his cast makes for a nice bludgeon as Henry stumbles back with a curse, glasses flying off his face, cradling his cheek as he regards Eggsy with a mixture of disbelief and, what the ever living fuck, shades of that same awe.

“You know what?” Eggsy tells him. “I’ve changed my mind. We’re done here, you and I. Right now. Stay the fuck away from me, Henry whoever the fuck you are!”

He turns around and continues on, wants to get as far as he can before his body stops pumping his veins full of adrenaline, needing every advantage he can get. This time, Henry doesn’t follow him, and Eggsy can’t tell if he’s disappointed by that or not.

He refuses to look back.

By the time he’s returned to the flat, though, Dean’s already gone. He searches it high and low anyway, but he knows Dean’s keeping it on him, just waiting for Eggsy to make his attempt at getting it back, all but invited him to do it. It’s stupid to do it now, Eggsy knows, but he meant what he said to Henry earlier: he’s so tired of everyone fucking him over. Worse still, he’s tired of not being able to stand up for himself.

If Dean ain’t in the flat, then there’s only one other place he can be, where he always is, and so Eggsy returns to the Black Prince, refusing to feel the pain of using his body in ways it’s not suppose to move right now.

In the afternoon, the place is nearly sleepy, the telly showing some rugby match rebroadcasting from Australia with the volume muted and closed captioning on. There’s a few scattered patrons here and there, and his mum, nursing a gin and tonic in a booth.

It’s clear she’s been on a bit of a bender, eye makeup smeared down her tired face, but she perks up when she spots him. “Oh babe, what you doing here? Dean’s been on a tear looking for you. You shouldn’t be—”

But Eggsy ignores her, turning to Joe, the Black Prince’s longstanding bartender and its general manager. “Where’s Dean?” Eggsy asks.

Joe studies him, but doesn’t remark on his appearance. Has probably seen enough of such things in his life. “Ain’t here.”

“He’s always here. Where else would he go?”

“Fuck if I know,” Joe says, no longer even looking at him as he continues to dry the glasses with a dish rag.

“You’re lying,” Eggsy realises, watching it get confirmed when Joe’s shoulders tense. “Why?”

“Eggsy, this ain’t something you want to be involved in….”

But instead of hearing anymore, Eggsy moves past the bar to the back hall where the kitchen and offices are. There’s only someone washing dishes, though, the gushing tap loud enough to drown out anything else. The office is empty, so are the loos.

It is only when he passes by the closed door to the cellar that Eggsy hears the familiar barks of Dean’s voice.

He quietly eases the door open and slowly descends the narrow, musty smelling staircase, cringing every time the floorboards creak or his ribs grind under the weight of moving so painstakingly slow. He goes down just far enough to take in the view of the cellar, still keeping to the thick shadows created by the single overhead bulb hanging from the ceiling.

They stand in a circle, and there’s Dean at the centre of his gang, like a coach giving his team inspirational advice and strategy if coaches made a habit of swigging from bottles of Jameson. Someone’s even gone and bandaged his wrist into a makeshift sling.

“Them fucking cops got three of the five locations, guv, all at once. That’s over sixty percent of our product gone,” Rottie says.

“It wasn’t fucking cops, it was a just some weird blokes in posh suits,” Bulldog says.

Rottie glares at him. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“You heard me. I was fucking there, weren’t I? I know what I fucking saw!”

“You better not be skimming off the supplies again, you fucking—”

“Everyone, shut the fuck up,” Dean growls. “Mugsy had to tip ‘em off. Almost killed Poodle and now gone and run to the cops. He’s gonna get us all fucked if we don’t find him.”

“I’m telling you, guv, it weren’t no fucking cops,” Bulldog insisted

“Oh shut the fuck up, Bulldog. I don’t give a shit if it were dancing elephants in pink tutus. This has got to stop right now, you get me? Go out and find that little shit and bring him back here, but quiet like. He’s with some posh old geezer who fancies himself a white knight in shining armour,” Dean says, and like obedient little soldiers, they all grimly nod and start, not for the stairs, but further into the cellar where the light can’t quite penetrate. Eggsy hears the creak of another door opening, gets a glimpse of dim illumination from beyond before the others file through and close the door behind them.

So there was another exit, which was how Dean’s gang moved about undetected.

Eggsy gives it a good minute before before slowly climbing down the rest of the stairs. By all appearances, nothing stands out as being out of the ordinary. Crates of alcohol are stacked along the walls and neatly labeled. There’s an old desk with stacks of papers and a thick ledger on it, but one glance through it reveals only orders for more pub supplies and its general accounting. Except….

Eggsy peers at the figures closer, noting how the amounts don’t make much sense for beer or liquor orders so much as…grams and kilos.

It’s only by chance that Eggsy sees the fireproof safe sitting in the darkest corner of the cellar, almost hidden behind the crates. It hasn’t even been closed all the way, and a simple tug on the handle reveals stacks of till money and more accounting books that actually look legit, and beneath it all, his father’s medal.

He’s about to reach for it when he feels the press of hard metal against the back of his skull, then the click of the safety being switched off.

“Did you think it was really gonna be that easy, Eggsy?” Rottie asks. “Up you get.”

Eggsy slowly stands up, arms raised as high as they can comfortably go without setting off his ribs, turning around to see Rottie just dialing the last number on his phone. “Yeah, I got him,” he says into it. “Joe said he seen him come through here. Caught him trying to steal more money from the safe. Get back here now.”

He hangs up and waves Eggsy back towards the centre of the room with his revolver. “Now we’re gonna wait right here til our guv shows up, Eggsy, and he gonna decide what to do with you.”

“What do you think he’s gonna say?” Eggsy sneers, because defiance is the only thing he’s got left. He’s not leaving this cellar alive, he knows.

“You picked the wrong side,” Rottie says. “Look what you done. You just cost us a fuck load of money today.”

“That’s just the beginning, bruv.” Eggsy smirks. “There’s more coming. I told ‘em everything. They’re gunning for you next.”

Eggsy only sees the snarl curl at Rottie’s lip before he whips the butt of the revolver across Eggsy’s temple. The blow sends him sprawling to the floor, and the whole world goes white for a moment. He’s only dimly aware of the way his ribs are screaming at him. He starts laughing, even if it hurts. “I know how much you love to suck up to Dean. Them skills will get you far in the nick—”

Rottie crouches over him, digging the barrel of his gun into the tender area of his skull he’d just pistolwhipped. “I could blow your fucking brains out, right here, right now!”

“Yeah? Go on then! Do it! Won’t make much difference in how much time you’ll be serving, I’ll tell you that much.”

“Alright, that’s enough,” says Dean as he enters the cellar from the shadowy door in the back. He’s not alone either, having rounded up the rest of his crew to accompany him.

Rottie immediately backs off, returning to Dean’s side like the good little dog he is.

“I can’t tell whether you’ve got bollocks to come here, Mugsy,” Dean continues, “or you’re just thick in the head.”

“You’ve got something of mine. I want it back.”

Dean starts laughing. “Is that what all this is about? That fucking bauble? You know what? Nevermind. I think you’re just bloody stupid. You’ve fucked it up now, boy. You better tell me exactly how much you said and to who! Was it that posh geezer you was with? He a cop?”

Eggsy just stares at him, stubbornly silent. It’s enough to set Dean off again. He grabs the gun from Rottie’s hand and aims it point blank at Eggsy’s head. “Answer me and I’ll be quick about it. Don’t and I’m gonna make you beg to die, and ain’t nobody gonna hear you scream, you get me?”

“I think we all do, rather unimaginatively at this stage.”

They all turn as one towards the stairs, where Henry is casually leaning against the wall.

“It’s one of them!” Bulldog hisses.

Dean turns, aiming his gun at Henry. “I did promise to kill you.”

“No!” Eggsy shouts, and he’s not even thinking about the vodka bottle he’s got gripped in his hand from one of the open crates, rising up to smash it across the back of Dean’s skull.

The bottle doesn’t even break, but Dean goes down like a pile of bricks, gun clattering to the cement floor. Everyone just stands there in shock for a moment.

And then it’s chaos.

At first, Dean’s lot are torn between avenging their leader and the greater threat in the room, but Henry soon helps them decide their priorities, moving in and just...decimating them all in a blur of too rapid reflexes and efficient movements, like a well oiled machine.

It reminds Eggsy of a ballroom dance, the kind he’s only ever seen on the telly. The way the dancers knew their steps and footwork, executing them neatly and precisely in a predetermined rhythm around the floor. Henry’s back remains almost perfectly upright as he dodges incoming fists and uses his attackers’ own momentum against them, setting them inadvertently upon each other.

He’s never seen someone move with so much speed and grace and lethality. He’s also never seen a brolly that can shoot projectiles from its core and is actually fucking bulletproof when Rottie reclaims his gun and starts pummelling Henry with all eight rounds he’s got before he, too, is taken down in swiftly efficient fashion.

Dean’s gang are in shambles on the floor in less than two minutes, and Eggsy can only stare at Henry. He thinks he gets why Dean had been so afraid before in the flat.

He watches as Henry steps over the bodies and picks up the ledger on the desk, briefly examining its contents before nodding satisfactorily to himself. He watches as Henry then moves over to the safe to pilfer its contents too, gathering up the lookalike books and then Eggsy’s medal.

He watches Henry peel something from the back of it, some sort of small, black dot no bigger than the pad of Eggsy’s thumb.

“You’re not a cop are you,” Eggsy says faintly.

At last, Henry finally looks at him, stricken. “No. I’m not.”

But before Eggsy can even think of what to say next, the cellar door opens, and his mum comes staggering down the stairs.

“What the fuck did you do now?” she screams, and Eggsy realises she’s directing it all at Henry, looking at him with genuine recognition and, moreover, hatred. “You already took Lee, now you want the rest of my family too?”

In response, Henry raises his wrist, does something with his fancy watch, and Eggsy watches an actual fucking dart fly out of it, embedding itself in his mum’s neck. His mum makes a move to grab at it briefly before her eyes roll up in her head and she crumples over the fallen form of her unconscious husband.

“What the fuck?” Eggsy rushes over to her, rolling his mum onto her back and checking her pulse. She’s still breathing, thank fuck. He rips the dark out of her neck and stares up at Henry disbelievingly. “What the fuck is going on? What the fuck are you? How does my mum know you?”

“I’m sorry you had to witness that, Eggsy. When I said you could do far, far better,” Henry says, “I truly did mean it. You’ve done more than enough now, and I know I’ll never be able to make it up to you, but the least I can do in the meantime is obey your wishes.”

“Henry,” Eggsy whispers, utterly confused. “Henry.”

Henry raises his arm again, looks over his watch at Eggsy with eyes that are full of regret. “Everything will be alright.”

His fingers move on his watch, and Eggsy only sees a flash of movement, feels something sting his neck, before the darkness rolls in and he knows nothing more.

Chapter Text

Regaining consciousness is a slow crawl through a heavy curtain of darkness. His head feels like it’s been stuffed with wool and pinned to the floor. His mouth is dry. It’s too easy to keep his eyes closed when the equivalent of lead weights have been attached to his eyelids, and he wants nothing more than to sink back down into pleasant nothingness. But there’s the instinctive part of him that knows this particular siren song is all kinds of wrong. It means something bad has happened. He’s got to wake up.

Eggsy mentally wrestles with his all-pervasive drowsiness and cracks open his eyes. It’s blessedly dim and earthy smelling. He’s in some sort of musty, cool...cellar? The unfamiliarity of his surroundings sends a spike of panic through him, heart leaping into his throat at as struggles to sit up and then winces at the pull of his ribs.

He has no bloody clue where he is, and worse still, he’s surrounded by the bodies of Dean’s gang and his—”Mum!” he cries out, realising he’s half cradling her in his lap already. She’s warm and she’s breathing, smelling vaguely of gin, and she doesn’t even so much as stir to Eggsy’s frantic shaking.

The confusion of his current whereabouts is confounded by the fact he doesn’t seem to know how he’s gotten here or why

He’d been...angry, he knew, at Henry.

Even got to chaunce him a good one, which he’s not more than a little pleased with.

The image of his father’s medal, gripped in Dean’s hand, flashes through his mind, and he remembers. He’d been arguing with Henry about the medal. He was going to get it back.

But that was it. Anything else beyond that feeling of angry resignation and he drew an alarming blank.

Well he must have done something, he thinks, as he looks around the room with bewilderment, but he can’t even begin to fathom how. He’s never won a single fight against them all together like this, even at his fighting best. They’re all beginning to stir now, just a bit. Little shifts of movement and groans of pain that would indicate they were all in various states of disrepair, but alive.

There is only a small window in which he can savour the relief (he didn’t kill them or anyone, he’s not a killer), when the world all goes to shit again.

There’s a single shout of Police! before the door at the top of the stairs is kicked open and men in full-on tactical gear, really big guns, and a fuckton of adrenaline storm into the cellar, crowding the already small space and training their sights on anything that moves.

Eggsy curls in on himself to keep from getting trampled just as much as he’s scared shitless, immediately obeying their barked orders to keep his hands over his head no matter how much the ground digging into his ribs hurts or that his arm twinges or that he’s finding it really difficult to breathe. A sickening sense of dread rises with every frantic beat of his heart, telling him he’s really fucked now. They all are.

“Come on, up you get, Unwin.”

He almost jumps out of his skin when hands are laid upon him, urging him up. He goes willingly, because he doesn’t know what else he can do, barely registers that he ain’t going up the stairs but through them shadowy tunnels, and it is only once he emerges out into the bright afternoon sun and squints that he realises he isn’t even handcuffed and Rachel’s got a firm but gentle hand on his shoulder, leading him not to to the van as expected but to an unmarked car.

“Ra—”

“Into the back,” Rachel urges, opening the door for him.

Eggsy gingerly climbs into the rear seats and waits until Rachel’s gone around and taken up behind the wheel before trying to catch her eyes in the rearview mirror. “I dunno what happened. Swear it. I just woke up and then you lot barged in. But I can’t remember, I can’t...you gonna arrest me?”

“No, Eggsy,” Rachel sighs. “But we do think it’s best if you and your mother were removed from the rest of the party who will be.”

“My mum, she—”

“Alex is taking care of her, please don’t worry.”

There’s silence after that. They’ve got a good view of the Met frogmarching out Dean’s groggy and just as confused men from the Black Prince and into the police van, and last but not least, Dean himself, shouting things Eggsy can’t really hear, but he knows enough from past experience what the contents more or less are.

He’s shaking.

“Is it over now?” he dares to ask.

“Yes, it’s over,” Rachel says, still keeping her gaze fixed on the ongoing arrest parade outside. “We got what we needed.”

“What happened? Why can’t I remember?” It’s too much like being drugged. It’s freaking him the fuck out.

“Someone is terrible at saying goodbye.”

“What?”

Finally, Rachel tears her gaze away to focus on him. She has warm eyes, Eggsy thinks. Compassionate and inviting of trust. He doesn’t recall her having worn glasses before though. “I think it would be better if you stopped asking questions that can’t be answered, Eggsy. Just know you’re free to return to a life without your stepfather’s influence now. Your mother as well. You won’t have to see us again.”

Eggsy drops back against the seat and wraps his arms around himself as much as he is able. It’s over, this bloody nightmare. It’s what he wanted when he agreed to help, but he doesn’t even know what he’s done and he doesn’t feel all that much better. There are things, too many things, that still bother him. “Is Rachel even your real name?”

In response, Rachel smiles, a tight, closed-mouth sort of thing that is half dredged up from a grimace. She shakes her head before saying, “I’ll drive you home.”

It’s been less than a day, but he feels like he hasn’t been to his flat in years. At first glance, nothing has changed. It’s still old and rundown and not very well kept. Henry had been careful to disturb nothing in his search. Eggsy’s bedroom is a different story. There’s a small pile of rubble where his bookshelf used to be, but he can’t be bothered to clean it up. Besides, the ruinious sight of it feels fitting somehow.

His mum is, to his bloody amazement, found peacefully asleep in her bedroom, like she’d been there all along, like the whole thing had been some mad dream, fucking Alice coming back out of the rabbit hole.

This time when Eggsy gently touches her arm, she rouses, blinking sleepily. “Eggsy,” she slurs, smiling up at him with automatic sort of maternal love that never fails to make his heart twinge in his chest, “Alright, babe?”

“Yeah,” he croaks, taking hold of her hand when she clumsily lifts it to cup his cheek. “Everything will be.”

Perhaps he’s too optimistic.

When his mum later finds out what’s happened, Dean and his lot all being saddled with serious drug trafficking charges that promise several decades of imprisonment at the very least, she falls apart, her days spent anxiously chain smoking and screaming into the phone at the court-appointed attorneys while wetting her throat with Absolut between bouts of crying.

Eggsy slowly heals up and takes up primary care for Daisy morning and night, getting her up, getting her washed and changed and fed. He takes her out for walks, takes her to the park, curls up with her at night and comforts her every time she wakes up bawling. He gives her frozen things to mouth on while she’s teething and admittedly uses the telly to entertain more than he would like. Things are temporarily better for her with Dean gone, but there’s a weird underlying tension in the flat she sure as fuck picks up on even if she can’t understand it.

They’re going to run out of money soon. With Dean, no one asked where it came from, no one had to, but now they’ve got nothing coming in anymore and his mum is in no state to work. He’s been swiftly running through his hidden savings to keep them afloat but even that source is winding down.

So Eggsy gets his first legal job as a janitor of his old secondary school, the application process going rather suspiciously smoother than he thought, but he’s in no position to look too closely. Sure, the changing rooms are disgusting, to say nothing of the toilets. Teenagers are little brats who happily leave rubbish everywhere when they know they don’t have to clean it up. And bloody hell, the things he confiscates. Nips and fags and pills and pot and, every so often, the harder stuff. It’s this last that, in his darker moments, tempts him into slipping, just a little, making him hate himself for every weak moment and thought he has.

It’s no less awful to run into old teachers who look at him with smug validation, who like to loudly point out in the crowded halls whenever they see him that he used to go there, like they always knew this was how he was going to end up, given what a little shit he’d been in their class. Fair dues, that, seeing as how they got the last laugh after all. There’s not a kid in the school who doesn’t know him to be an example of how horribly it can go wrong.

He starts taking up third shifts at the local Tesco, stocking the shelves, taking inventory, and cleaning overnight, even starting training on running the register, though it’s his least favourite thing to do, trying to explain to entitled customers why their expired coupons won’t work or that a particular promo only applies to one brand. They get mad at him, demanding to speak to his manager after bombarding him with all sorts of humiliating names, but it ain’t like he wrote the rules.

The work is gruelling, the pay is shit, but he keeps reminding himself that it’s safe, and more importantly, it’s legal. He’s vowed to go clean for himself and his family now. He can’t stop now just because it’s hard.

But it’s so fucking hard.

Jamal and Ryan are as good as their word, stepping up to help care for Daisy, or, if all three of them are in a pinch, begging a poor neighbour to watch her for a few hours in return for Eggsy bringing them expired grocery items or stale rolls from the bakery the store was just gonna throw out.

Sometimes, they’ve already been thrown out, resulting in Eggsy sucking up his dignity and jumping into the wheelie bin to have a dig through.

“What are we supposed to do?” his mum wails, clutching at the toilet she’s been vomiting into the morning after emptying nearly a whole bottle. Fourth time this week, third week in a row. He gives her what’s left of his pittance paycheques after seeing to Daisy’s needs, but it all seems to go to the bottle. “I don’t know how to do this alone, Eggsy.” There are still sour-smelling bits of sick clinging to her cheek and the ends of her hair, but Eggsy gets a warm flannel to wipe them away before holding onto his mum and letting her cry herself into another exhausted sleep just like he does with Daisy.

He’s just so tired.

And he knows it’s a bad idea, such a fucking poor choice, but he can’t help it, he’s got to know. He goes by Henry’s fancy glass building. He asks the front desk to call up and let Henry know he’s there, only to be told that not only do they not know of any such Henry DeVere, but that Henry’s flat hasn’t been occupied in over a year, and is, in fact, owned by some wealthy estate mogul from Singapore for investment purposes who had little interest in subletting to tenants.

“That’s impossible,” Eggsy flatly tells them after a moment or two of trying to swallow back his shock. “I’ve come and gone through here several times. I’ve seen your faces. You’ve seen mine. I’ve talked to you.”

They don’t even so much as bat an eye.

He’s not crazy though. He wracks his brain trying to remember where Rachel lived, because surely that had been real, had been personalised in a way that had been far too detailed to have been ginned up at the last moment. His memory’s a bit dodgy from that time, but when he sees her familiar building, he knows he’s got the right place and repeatedly rings the buzzer until a woman with dark brown hair and a strong jaw who is decidedly not Rachel opens the door and stares at him in a mixture of confusion and annoyance.

“Who’re you?” he demands before he can think better of it.

“Amelia. Why? Who are you?” the woman returns.

“Er, is Rachel here? Are you her flatmate?” he asks.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” the woman says. “It’s just me here. I think you’ve got the wrong place.”

“How long have you lived here?”

“I just moved in about a month ago, why?”

Eggsy takes a swift glance past her shoulder into the flat. The decor’s all different, more overtly athletic with a dozen or so swimming medals. No poodle. Nothing to indicate Rachel’s existence at all either. “Sorry to have bothered you,” he mumbles at her numbly.

It seems when Rachel had said Eggsy wouldn’t be seeing them again, she meant it quite literally. He’s not even going to try to return to that empty townhouse. Knowing his luck, he’d probably run into some fucking cabinet member.

But it’s when he finally works up the courage to confront the DIs who drop in to ask more questions about Dean’s business (who somehow never think Eggsy had been a part of any of it, but it’s not like Eggsy’s going to correct them on that one) that he starts getting a clearer picture: yes, the Met knew some of the people in Dean’s gang, even knew there was obviously some illegal activities being conducted, but not the extent of it until an anonymous tip had been phoned in pointing them to several locations, one of them being the cellar of the Black Prince where a number of drug traffickers were conducting a serious operation.

There hadn’t been any sort of undercover sting in place at all. There were no such persons fitting Henry’s, Jim’s, Alex’s, or even Rachel’s descriptions working for the Met and there never had been.

Ghosts, all of them.

He’s used to the hurt of betrayal by now, but learning of even Rachel’s non-existence adds some surprising salt in the wound.

One afternoon as he’s just finished cleaning up the explosive results of a teenager’s food poisoning in the loo, Eggsy is halted by the sounds of a crying girl in one of the school’s little used stairwells.

“You alright?” he asks, gripping his mop tightly, prepared to bugger off as directed.

“The boy I like told me I’d be fit if I lost two stone,” the girl immediately says, sniffling. “He’s right. I’m a heifer.”

Eggsy blinks. She’s quite pretty, a bit heavier than other girls her age, but she’s tall and strong. Eggsy’s recognises her from her afternoon sessions on the pitch, absolutely cleaning up her male counterparts in footie. “No, he’s a dickhead,” he tells her. “You’re fine just the way you are, and you shouldn’t let anyone tell you differently. Men are all bastards.”

“Ain’t you one too?”

“Yeah,” Eggsy agrees. “Reforming though. This,” he holds out his mop, “bit of penance. You should tell your bloke if he can’t see what an amazing girl you are, then that’s his loss and he weren’t ever worth any of your affection anyways. Then you just...try and move on. It may not seem like it now, but someday, surely, something better comes along, and you’ll see that all this shit now will have been worth it ‘cause you’ll appreciate it more.”

The girl’s brow furrows as she looks at him strangely. “You alright?”

Eggsy runs a hand over his face, grimacing when he breathes in the strong scent of bleach. “Yeah, I’m fine. That one got away from me a bit. Sorry.”

The girl eyes him for a moment before giving him a longer, slower visual assessment. “You’re pretty fit for a janitor. Wanna shag?”

“Er….” Eggsy almost takes an instinctive step back in horror. “I think you’re a very nice girl, quite lovely, but you’re extremely young. And...I’m sort of getting out of a bad relationship meself. So. Shagging’s really not a good idea on all accounts, luv.”

“That’s when shagging’s the best idea, luv.” The girl snorts and stands up in all her resilient splendour as she gives Eggsy a shrug. “Suit yourself. As you say, it’s your loss. I give great head.” She blows him a kiss.

Eggsy nearly chokes on his own spit as he beats a hasty retreat. Teenaged girls. He never much understood them when he was their age, and that hasn’t much changed.

Except maybe she’s got a bit of a point. He hasn’t had a good shag in weeks, and his body, which had fallen into the pattern of frankly almost too much sex to having absolutely nothing, is not taking to his dry spell very well. Perhaps it’s the sheer fucking he’s missed all this time.

That’s when the string of mindless hookups begins.

The bird who drags him into a toilet stall where he presses her hips against the wall while she yanks roughly at his hair as he eats her out, which is nice, then lets him bend her over the toilet seat as he drives into her from behind, which is nicer.

The bloke who Eggsy lets push him against the back alley wall, only giving Eggsy the barest amount of prep before shoving in and jackhammering at him for a rough forty-five seconds before coming while Eggsy had only managed to keep himself at half mast. Worse still was how the bloke had been too embarrassed to even give him a reach around after.

He goes home with another bloke, somewhat older but still handsome in a way he refuses to acknowledge, and gives him head on his sofa with his eyes closed while he wanks himself off at the same time.

The other man is vocal, and cruder in his language, ruining the illusion by talking until Eggsy pulls off and says, “Look, just try and keep quiet, yeah?”

Still, the scent isn’t the same nor the way the man won’t even touch him, choosing instead to splay his arms out along the back of the sofa like he’s fucking entitled to this, a lord receiving supplication from his subject.

After, the man asks him to stay the night, which Eggsy promptly declines. Never again, that.

Quick mutual handies in the dark shadows of the club, or giving and getting head behind parked cars, finger bangs in the backs of cabs while trying not to clue the driver in, fucking against the sides of buildings in abandoned alleys at three in the morning, trying to keep quiet while the rest of one’s family sleeps just a thin wall away.

Eggsy gets off and gets off and gets off, chasing that brief exhilarating moment of completion, where his whole body lights up, like he’s on the most incredible high, a moment of pure, unthinking bliss that shoots him up into the stratosphere. But then it ends too soon, and he’s plummeting back down to his own plane of existence to find himself kneeling on filthy piss-soaked pavement, feeling sordid and empty, and he hasn’t even thought to bring some fucking napkins, so he has to go to work stocking the shelves with stained clothes, smelling like sex and ashes.

“Maybe you should try dating and not, like, fucking them within the first five minutes of meeting, yeah?” Jamal suggests.

So Eggsy tries that too.

It’s Jamal, in fact, who reluctantly gets him to rearrange his tight schedule in order to go on blind date with his mate Mike, who’s only five years older than Eggsy, definitely a good six inches taller, taller than Henry even, and fit as fuck.

“Christ, you’re huge,” is the first thing Eggsy blurts out when he meets him, having to crane his head up to look Mike in the eye proper like.

When Mike lets out a full, warm belly laugh and his dark eyes sparkle with such infectious joy that Eggsy can’t help but smile in return even though he’s blushing.

They walk around London for a bit before deciding to get dinner at a chippy shop, sitting down on a bench in an empty park to eat. It’s cooler out with the sun gone down, and there’s a breeze that keeps rattling the greasy parchment of their baskets and stealing away their napkins. It’s about the furthest from fancy as one can get, but Eggsy finds, to his surprise, that it’s also nice to not have to worry about his manners or how he comes across. Normal. Comfortable. It goes a long way to easing those first date jitters.

“Jamal says you a social worker?” Eggsy asks, biting into a perfectly crisp and salty chip that nearly makes him moan. It’s not tapas, and all the better for it.

“About three years now, officially,” Mike says, mouth full of fried fish, even unashamed of sucking the grease from his thumb, which makes Eggsy relax even further. “Gruelling work. Lots of people burn out quick. Don’t pay that much either, but it has its moments.”

“Best keep you away from meeting my family then,” Eggsy jokes without thinking, then tenses. “Er, not that there’s anything wrong there. My sister is well taken care of and doing well.”

“Relax, Eggsy. I’d rather keep families together than tear them apart if I can help it,” Mike assures him. “What about you?”

It’s funny how even though his jobs are all perfectly above board now, he still finds shame in answering, “Janitor for a school. And then a shelf stocker at night. Thinking about adding a third job in there for weekends.” If he can just get his mum sober enough to care for Daisy on a more reliable basis. “Not exactly noble work.”

“Sounds as if you work pretty fucking hard already. Seems noble enough to me,” Mike says without judgment.

Eggsy keeps waiting for the catch, the thing that will reveal Mike to be someone other than the perfectly nice, decent bloke who actually walks Eggsy back to his flat like some sort of gentlemanly suitor, but it never comes. Mike is kind, and has got that quiet sort of good-natured humour that makes everyone feel good. His disposition is all around happy. He actually seems to care. He feels safe.

And if Eggsy weren’t still thinking about Henry at every turn, comparing Mike to him with every word, gesture, and deed, he thinks, given enough time, he might’ve been able to have let himself feel something more. Fuck.

“You’re really nice,” Eggsy starts to tell him.

“I sense a ‘but’ in there,” Mike says, smiling all the same, even though it’s a bit wistful about the edges.

But,” Eggsy says, “I’m still a bit hung up on someone. Things didn’t really end well and it did a number on me. And...you’re far too decent to be a rebound.”

“Say no more,” Mike says with a gentle understanding that Eggsy wants to grind his teeth at the universe for making him so fucked up. “But if ever you feel ready or you simply want someone to talk to, call me, alright? You’re not so bad yourself.”

He gives Eggsy a warm kiss on his cheek and leaves him be, just like that, no fuss.

It’s official: Eggsy hates himself. The dull familiar ache sits heavily inside his chest, but it’s been with him for so long that having even a scant few lighter hours of forgetting it’s there makes its return all the worse.

His mum’s on the sofa when he gets in, more sober than usual, but that may be because Eggsy’s stopped giving her money and started doing the shopping directly himself despite how little time he has. She’s still managed to get something though, probably from one of Dean’s hidden stores, because there’s a half-empty bottle of cheap whiskey and a full glass in her hand with just a little ice.

With a sigh, Eggsy takes a seat next to her, picks up the bottle, and brings it to his lips for a hearty swig. The stuff practically strips a layer off the inside of his mouth and burns a hole in his gut, but he only swallows down another mouthful. “Why do I gotta only like people who are bad for me?’

His mum turns to him sadly, eyes a little glassy. “Maybe I ain’t the best person to ask, luv.”

“Shit. I’m sorry.” He’d been so busy working or fucking himself into bone-weary exhaustion, the spectre of Dean feels like a hundred years ago already. And thus far, there’s been no blowback or repercussions, just like Henry said there wouldn’t be. Nothing but for the way his mum’s heart is broken again, for which Eggsy is partly to blame.

And yet he realises if he had the choice to do it all again knowing what he did now, he’d still choose the same.

It’s hard in all sorts of new and awful ways, yeah, but it’s ultimately better than what it used to be.

His mum just cups his cheek. “It’s me who should be sorry, Eggsy. You’ve been so patient with me. I know I ain’t been easy to live with.”

“It’s been hard for you. And you’re trying.”

“Maybe not as hard as I should have done,” his mum says, sighing. “Well, to answer your question, babe, I don’t think love is always sensible. Look at me. Some people just get under your skin and don’t let go.”

“Then how do you get rid of it? How do you make it so it don’t hurt no more? You done it once already, yeah? After Dad?”

“No. No, I don’t think I ever really did.” His mum leans against him, pressing her forehead to his shoulder. It reminds him of the older days when it had just been the two of them, and he reflexively presses his cheek back into the crown of her hair. “So if you figure out how, lemme know too, okay?”

The upside to working so much, to packing his days with as much as possible from the time he gets out of bed until the time he collapses back into it early the next morning, be it household chores or Daisy or his mum or the very few times he can see his mates (he’s put a stop to the hookups, and the dates for that matter), is that it usually keeps him from thinking.

Because when he lets his mind wander from the immediate task at hand, it inevitably starts dredging up thoughts of Henry like a bad penny. Maybe it’s the way things ended with so much left unknown and open. He hates the lack of answers. It haunts him.

Had any moment of it been real? He finds himself going through every one he can remember, every word spoken, every gesture, every remembered look, trying to find some meaning after the fact, but how can he ever really know? He had thought so. He had held all those things close and treasured them. But he had been meant to. Played right into all of their elaborate manipulations like a fucking asshole.

He wonders if he’s becoming like his mum, when longstanding despair just slowly saps at one’s spirit, until one day he’ll just stop trying to beat back the waves and start letting them knock him under.

He thinks he’s just about gotten used to his newfound emptier reality when a parcel is found on his doorstep one day. He’s just returning from the janitor gig, and it’s addressed to him by name only, no return information. He glances around as if he could catch any witnesses, doesn’t want to admit that he hopes to glimpse a pinstripe suit perhaps, but there’s no one. It could have been sitting out here for hours but for the fact it would have been nicked by now.

The parcel is small and barely weighs anything. He shrugs and rips it open, shaking out its contents into his palm.

His father’s medal falls into his hand, sitting on a new, stronger chain. So strong, in fact, Eggsy can’t really tell what sort of metal it even is.

It’s the real deal too, not a copy. No, because Eggsy’s studied every worn down edge and groove of the thing, had put many of them flaws and imperfections there himself over the years. Somehow, it was taken from the police’s evidence locker and delivered back to him. Probably by the same people who could come and go through the Yard’s halls without anyone realising they weren’t even cops at all.

There’s no note to accompany it or explain or anything else.

He doesn’t put it on yet, just holds it, keeps rubbing his thumb over it like a talisman. It stays in his pocket all throughout his night job. When he’s back home and in bed, he finds himself wide awake, so he retrieves it from where he’s stuffed it under his pillow and holds it up to the pale moonlight that slips in through his window.

Thinking about it now, it can’t possibly be a military insignia. And the marines had not only denied his father’s death benefits but also any acknowledgement that Lee had been with them at all when he died. Back then, Eggsy had been too young to think anything of it and his mum had been too ignorant not to question the whole matter, simply assuming it was another example of the upper classes trying to fuck over the lower yet again.

Now that he’s older and has gone through (at least partly) the machine himself, he knows better. Knows, without a doubt, that his father hadn’t been a marine when he died.

Except Eggsy also knows, from the way his mum talks, and more importantly, from what little he can remember himself, that his father would never have gone AWOL from his unit without good reason. His father’s first priority had always been to support his family, and for him to have abandoned the one thing he knew would provide them a steady paycheque and some bit of security could only mean one thing: Lee had thought he could give them something better.

But life ain’t always like a movie with a happy ending, and you didn’t always get what you want. Something had gone wrong and Lee had died and it had all fallen apart with frightening ease.

The next day, Eggsy has a miraculous afternoon off thanks to school holidays, and it’s the day when he decides he’s had enough: he’s going to clean up the wreckage that still sits in the corner of his room like a shrine.

First, he tries to salvage what he can: a few slightly dinged trophies from his gymnast days, his marines photo, some odd bits and bobs he didn’t know why he even bothered to keep, and some old books he read once and liked enough to keep around, though he never bothered to read them again. It’s only as he’s stacking those last on his bed that one of them slides away from the haphazard pile and spills out its loose contents all over the floor, revealing a cache of old family photos.

Right. He’d hidden those too and then forgotten about them. There are a good number of them, mostly of his mum and dad back when they were Eggsy’s age now, looking carefree, sun kissed, and beautiful. He really has got his dad’s profile. Maybe he never used to think he looked much like Lee because his father had always been so deliriously happy.

There’s a few of him when he was younger too, as a bald-headed baby and then a pudgy toddler, and then some of him even older. There’s one photograph in particular that causes him pause because it must have been taken around the time Lee had died, near Christmas. He’s wearing a blue patterned jumper he vaguely remembers. The only one he had at that age. He can’t recall when the photo was taken, but it must have been before they found out, because it’s just his mum and him posing in front of their handmade little stockings by the window, and he’s wearing that jumper and holding the snowglobe his father had sent to him. Early Christmas gift, it had been. Dean would smash it against the wall seven years later.

He can’t remember much about that Christmas, save for the fact there really hadn’t been one. His mum had been so, so sad. Someone had come in person to tell her about Lee’s death. His mum had said the man had talked to him too, and Eggsy sort of remembers a tall man in glasses hovering over him, but he better remembers feeling excited about Christmas coming up and his dad coming home, then being more frightened and confused at seeing his mum in tears rather than hearing about his father’s death.

A tall man in glasses. He had touched his shoulder. Of all the bloody things to remember.

He doesn’t know what possesses him to pull out the medal from beneath his shirt, unclasping the necklace from around his neck (because it can no longer be snapped off with a single tug). The supposed date of his father’s death on the back had been formatted American style, which had always seemed strange to him, but it hadn’t seemed any more notably strange than the rest of the medal itself.

It’s like he’s in a dream, some instinct directing him on what to do next, and he doesn’t let himself stop to fully think about his actions. He pulls out his mobile and dials in the numbers. Hits SEND. Listens to the rings drone on and fully expects to be told off by an automated voice for not even dialing a proper number, but his breath catches in his throat when someone picks up.

“Customer Complaints, how many I help you?”

“I….” Eggsy’s mind goes blank. What the fuck is he even doing? What the fuck even is this? “I dunno, I….”

“I’m sorry, I believe you have the wrong number. Have a good—”

“No wait!” Eggsy says, panicking, even though he doesn’t even know why, just that he’s missing something here, he knows he is.

A tall man in glasses who touched his shoulder. His mother crying on the sofa.

I don’t want your favour. I just want my husband back!

For the life of him, he couldn’t explain what prompts him to say, “Oxfords not brogues?”

There’s a long pause. He wonders if the woman hung up, but then she says, “What is the nature of your complaint?”

It had been a favour, not a recognition. The medal. The tall man in glasses.

Henry touching his shoulder, directing him back into the house.

This medal is one I know very well, Henry says, only he’s holding it out to him, telling him to keep it safe.

Pressing in close from behind. Hovering over him.

Younger. Older.

Telling him to take care of his mother.

Asking him his name.

Oh.

The realisation, when it comes, hits soft as a whisper.

“I know who you are,” Eggsy says into the phone. “My dad saved your life, didn’t he? It’s what my mum said once. You knew him. He wasn’t in the marines, and you were never a cop. I don’t know what you are, but twice you’ve entered my life and left it in shambles. Do you even care? Do you ever think about those left behind once you’re done with ‘em?”

The other end remains silent, as if waiting. Eggsy gets the sense the other line would remain open forever if he let it. “You once told my mum to call this number if she ever needed a favour. Completely forgot about it until now. Forgot about you. Didn’t really even believe it though, you know? Who does something like that? Didn’t even know it was you, all this time. You had me completely fooled.

“Well, this time, you don’t get to walk away and disappear again. I ain’t even calling this a favour, ‘cause you owe us—me—so much more, you get me? I want an explanation for all of it. No more lies. No holding anything back. The fucking truth.”

He exhales shakily. This whole thing is mad. “Or I guess you can ignore us again like you always done, you fucking coward. There. That’s all I gotta say.”

“Your complaint has been duly noted and we hope that we—”

But Eggsy hangs up before the woman even has a chance to finish speaking.

Chapter Text

“Can I bum a fag off you, mate?” Eggsy asks, hand out already in expectation.

The man opposite him gives him a scowl but opens his pack and offers it up. Eggsy’s nimble fingers pluck one from the stack and pin it behind his ear for later. “Ta!” he says cheerfully and gives him a shit-eating grin in return.

The man doesn’t say anything back, but of course he ain’t gonna. No one in their right mind pisses off the bartender.

One unexpected benefit to old Joe’s arrest and subsequent indictment is that a few new positions have opened up at the Black Prince, and Eggsy manages to nab weekend nights, probably because the owner still thinks he has to pay his respects to Dean for fear of retaliation. Yeah, he’s got to put up with the usual drunken louts of his neighbourhood who like to taunt him endlessly about Dean’s arrest (as if he even gave a fuck) and don’t particularly enjoy settling up their tabs, but it’s the best gig Eggsy’s had by far, bringing in more money in one night than three days’ worth of tedious, labour-intensive work at his other jobs.

Also unlike his other jobs: the hours don’t drag on and on. He’s busy as soon as he gets in until the time he finally kicks the last drunkard out, pouring out pints and shots only, because not only ain’t it the sort of pub to serve anything more complicated but the patrons were likely to have a go at anyone who tried.

All in all, a very nice setup indeed.

It’s well into the thick of things, the pub growing more crowded and subsequently louder, people edging each other out to find a place at the bar in order to grab his attention. There’s a bit of power in it that he gets a kick out of, choosing to ignore or acknowledge each hopeful attempt to catch his eye. The ones who get mouthy find themselves getting served dead last, and there’s nothing no one is gonna do about it.

And that’s when he walks in, dark coat and brolly hooked over one arm, because right from the start, it’s immediately obvious he ain’t from around here: too upright, too confident with his place in the world—that is to say, too superior to everyone else in the room.

His breath catches in his throat. Fuck it all if Eggsy still don’t want him, just as much as ever.

When Henry approaches the bar, it’s like the Red Sea parting. People who’ve been elbowing each other all night for a simple handhold on the sticky wooden surface just…ease away, leaving Henry with plenty of room on either side of his well-clothed shoulders.

As soon as he parts his lips to speak, though, Eggsy cuts him off with, “You’re gonna have to wait your turn, bruv,” before turning to the bloke next to him. Vindication feels fucking amazing.

Eggsy takes on customer after customer after that, but his plan may have backfired on him a little because he’s aware of Henry’s presence no matter where he moves. It’s a heavy, heated weight of that gaze on him, following him as he moves up and down the bar. It tickles at the spot between his shoulder blades when his back is turned. It trails tickling ghost touches along the nape of his neck and causes goosebumps to prickle his skin.

He feels watched constantly, and every time he chances a glance in Henry’s direction, he finds it difficult to tear his gaze away from that dark, magnetic stare that lays into him, like Eggsy’s the most fascinating thing he’s ever seen, like nothing else matters. It makes him dizzy and anxious in turns.

Finally, finally, he’s had enough. “Tom, take over, will ya?” he barks at the cook in the back, “I need a break, mate.”

Without waiting for a reply, Eggsy tosses down the drying rag onto the bar and pivots on his heel, making his way down the short back hallway. He doesn’t look back.

He doesn’t need to, because he feels Henry at his back, a silent mass trailing behind him, matching him step for step so that Eggsy can’t even hear him, but he practically feels how the thrum of Henry's existence is but a hair’s span away, exhalations hot against his skin, like a tidal wave sensation coursing down his spine.

Eggsy takes a sharp turn left to head down the stairs. It’s the cellar he had woken up in, confused and disoriented, all those months ago. Not much has changed: there are still the crates of booze stacked against the wall, the safe, the table and chair for legitimate administrative purposes these days.

He rounds on Henry, fully intending to give him a piece of his mind, but when he turns, Henry’s a hell of a lot closer than even Eggsy thought he would be, and he’s tall, looming warmth and there, and he still smells so mouthwatering good that Eggsy finds himself surging forward and up, grabbing fistfuls of Henry’s suit to drag his mouth onto his.

That’s not how this is supposed to go.

It’s not how it’s supposed to go, but Eggsy finds himself pulled sharply against Henry’s chest, dimly registers the clatter of the brolly somewhere on the floor as Henry’s big, long-fingered hands drag trails through his hair and dislodge his well-earned cigarette, as his tongue insists on parting Eggy’s lips and slipping inside, licking over his tongue, swiping over his teeth.

He finds his involuntary groan smashed against Henry’s mouth, shattered against his skin, smothered by Henry’s long, lean body plastering itself against his. He loses his footing, stumbling back against a miraculous bare patch of wall, then practically melded into it as Henry continues to press into him, encircling him.

God, it’s good. It’s so good. He’s fucking missed this so much. Not just the act itself, but Henry. Henry.

Yet inasmuch as the name stokes the licks of arousal low in his stomach, it still makes him so angry simultaneously that he finds himself biting down on Henry’s lower lip in sudden, sharp retaliation.

Henry hisses and pulls away. His lip is bleeding bright crimson, Eggsy is shocked to see because he hadn't thought he'd bit down that hard, but it’s a thick gash down his lip, scabbed over at the edges, indicating Henry had incurred the injury earlier and Eggsy had only inadvertently reopened the wound. Eggsy hadn’t noticed it earlier, having spent so much of his concentration not looking at Henry.

Now that Henry has his full attention, Eggsy can see he’s not exactly in prime condition after all. He has a noticeable pallour, and there’s an exhaustion set about his eyes. The discolouration under them could be assigned to that tiredness, but for the unevenness, a bruise hastily covered with concealer (Eggsy would know, after all). There’s even another scabbed over cut that disappears into Henry’s hairline. Now that he sees, Henry’s favouring his left side, holding himself far more stiffly than usual.

“What the fuck happened to you?” he asks without mincing his words.

“Encountered a bit of resistance in Bolivia,” Henry answers. “Mostly over a disagreement on whether I’d like to be tossed over a cliff. I was the single dissenting vote on that one.”

“What are you, some kind of spy or summat?” Eggsy jokes with a hint of incredulity.

But Henry’s serious expression never changes.

“What, really? Wait, really?” Eggsy pulls away, cold flooding in to replace the delicious warmth of Henry’s body.

“You wanted the truth,” Henry says. “No more lies.”

“The truth was what you were supposed to always give me.” Eggsy slowly edges away, and Henry’s gaze tracks him, but not before casting a wary glance around the cellar. “Yeah, you like it here? It’s where you left me, you know, after whatever you did to me. Did you drug me?” he accuses, demanding answers. “Because I don’t remember shit. It ain’t like roofies. Just this empty gap from what you stole from me.”

Something anguished flickers across Henry’s expression, a mixture of regret and guilt. “I had little choice. You saw me for what I was. Your mother recognised me. You….”

“What did I do? Tell me. Tell me what happened, you wanker!”

“You were kneeling there,” Henry points to the ground not more than a few metres away, and Eggsy guesses it’s about where he woke up on the ground. “Your stepfather was holding a gun to your head. Seeing that, Eggsy, it infuriated me beyond all reason. I lost all sense of discretion. After everything else they did to you.”

“You took them all out.”

“Mostly, yes,” Henry reluctantly confirmed.

“Then you phoned the police. The real ones.”

“I had promises to keep.”

“And then you fucking left and disappeared,” Eggsy says angrily. “There were no trace of you ever existing!”

“If you recall, you wanted me out of your life for good. I was trying to obey your wishes.” Oh, but there’s some bite to Henry’s words now. Good. Eggsy’s spoiling for a fight.

“What was I even doing here?”

“Being as astoundingly brave as you have always done,” Henry says, and there. There’s that look again that takes Eggsy off guard just when he’s about to attack. Awed, maybe, is the best word for it, even if Eggsy never understands why. “You knocked out your stepfather with a bottle of well vodka. It seemed fitting.”

God, how he’d have liked to remember that. Some small ounce of revenge. “You took my memories,” Eggsy nearly wails.

“I’m sorry,” Henry whispers, all at once deflating. “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for all of it. Every part of the deception.”

“Why couldn’t you have just told me the truth the first time I found out? Why lie again?”

“Because a secret spy agency would hardly be very much of a secret if its members made a habit of telling their boyfriends of its existence, nevermind their marks.”

The mention of boyfriend is surprisingly hurtful. It’s a reminder of what had been and yet what never really was. That he had it within his grasp and lost it. It makes his blood boil all over again.

“Then you’re not really that sorry, are you?” Eggsy throws back at him before running a hand down his face, pausing to press against his eyes. “God, I swear I hate you so fucking much. And yet I still...I still….”

“Then ask me,” Henry implores. “Keep asking me. Anything. Until you’re satisfied. I’ll answer you. Everything.”

“I just want…” Eggsy shakes his head, clenching his jaw in frustration that’s almost too much to bear. “I wanna go back in time and make it stop hurting. Every time I see you, it’s...it hurts. And I wanna hurt you back. And I wanna kiss you and I wanna fuck you. God, you really did ruin me for everyone else, fuck. I hate you for that most of all.”

Henry looks at him, stricken, until he seems to steel himself and widen his arms, palms out, leaving himself open in a way that highlights for Eggsy how very guarded Henry is at every other time. His whole body, Eggsy reffects, perfectly epitomises a closed book. Probably very good qualities in a spy. “I will do whatever you ask me to,” he says, levelling a look at Eggsy that could almost be deemed challenging.

Once Henry's eyes meet his, he finds himself unable to look away. He’d forgotten how dark Henry’s eyes can get when they practically smoulder with pure determination. His skin feels like it’s been scrubbed with steel wool, his cock stiffens and fills with blood. He shivers in want, his gut aches with longing. His body clamours back up again and reminds him of how much he still wants to fuck this man and taste his skin.

“Then turn around and bend over them boxes,” Eggsy finds himself saying before he can consider his words. The request, no, demand, almost takes him by surprise as much as it does Henry. Like Henry thought he was just gonna ask him to leave again.

But Henry ain’t quick to hop to it. He seems to hover on the edge of indecision, about to open his mouth to say or ask something, but in the end, he just closes it again. And, of course, instead of immediately following directions like a good boy, he unbuttons his suit jacket with two efficient flicks of his index finger and thumb, sliding the jacket off and carefully draping it over the back of the nearby chair.

This would normally be the point where Eggsy could admire the unearthed hard lines of Henry’s broad shoulders and chest beneath his slim-cut dress shirt, but instead he’s startled by the unexpected presence of a leather holster ringing Henry’s shoulders, and nestled beneath his left arm, the sleek black shape of a very real gun. Their intrusion into his conscious brings with them the stark reminder of reality in a way no amount of spoken honesty and assurances from Henry can do.

“Wait,” Eggsy says, stopping Henry before he’s about to turn to the wall, leaving him holding his breath in anticipation, or maybe dread, of his next issued order. “Unbuckle your belt.”

There’s just the slightest hesitance before Henry’s hands move to the belt in question, but Eggsy’s already saying, “No, wait. You spies are always prepared. You got supplies on you, Mr I-Keep-Lube-in-the-Cutlery-Drawer?”

Eggsy doesn’t have to clarify as to which supplies he means, and of course Henry does, pulling out a small foil package of lubricant and a condom, holding them out to Eggsy with the cornered reluctance as the earlier bloke did with his fags. When Eggsy’s fingers close around them, they crinkle in his hand. His gaze catches Henry’s, simply staring back at the silent question lurking in those brown eyes.

“Now, the belt,” Eggsy firmly reminds him.

It’s utterly silent save for the way Henry’s belt clinks as he loosens it from around a trim waist that never fails to invite Eggsy to circle his legs around. Henry even takes some initiative and undoes the button and zip of his trousers as well. He’s hard, Eggsy can see, fabric of his pants straining against their newly loosened bonds. It’s a sight that nearly sends him to his knees there and then, and it’s a good thing Henry finally turns around, cutting off Eggsy’s view, and moves to plant his forearms against the top of the boxes.

The height puts Henry lower then he’d comfortably bend over otherwise, arse put on prominent display. It’s vaguely obscene, even, and Eggsy’s already drawing near before he’s made the conscious decision to. He touches Henry’s back first, feeling how tense the muscles are underneath his palm. “How does it feel, not being the one in control? Not knowing what to expect?”

“I must admit, it’s not a position in which I usually find myself,” Henry says neutrally from below him. It’s so blandly delivered that had Eggsy not had a hand on his body and found it to be drawn tighter than a coil, he’d have thought Henry were even bored.

He wants to feel and see skin, though, so he rucks up Henry’s shirt to his shoulder blades to admire the undulating sea of those muscles, and a fuckton of bruises in the shape of boot prints. There’s even a large square stretch of gauze taped over his left side, the slightest dark hint of blood staining through. “Holy fuck. You really weren’t joking.”

Henry says nothing, doesn’t even flinch when Eggsy gently smooths his fingers over the vivid colours, feeling the angry heat emanating from them and unable to help but sympathise. He imagines there aren’t many comfortable positions in which Henry would be able to sit or sleep. And Eggsy’s about to give him one less.

He takes his time with light touches anywhere his fancy strikes him, mindful as he is of those injuries, stroking over Henry’s ribs there, skimming the notches of his spine, enjoying the feel of Henry twitching and then forcefully dampening down his reactions in the breadth of a heart beat.

“Don’t move your hands,” he tells Henry, liking the way said hands tighten over the edge of the boxes.

His hand finally settle over Henry’s hip, pushing the fabric of his trousers and pants further down to expose the rounded, muscled perfection of his arse that, maybe alone, ought to have convinced him of Henry's spy-levels of fitness. How he’s fantasised about that arse, dreamed of grabbing handfuls of it as Henry fucked in and out of him. It's also blessedly free of any injury that the rest of Henry's body has incurred, so Eggsy gives in to indulgence, palming him, feeling mostly hard muscle undergirding just a thin layer of softness.

And as he rips open the packet of lube with his teeth, squeezes some of the slick substance over his fingers and then dips them between Henry’s cheeks, savouring that reflexive shifting reaction and backlash before inciting another by snaking a finger right into Henry without so much as a warning, he reflects that this is much better than any of his imaginings.

Henry’s exhalation is sharp and throaty, like it's being choked out of him. He instinctively widens his stance as Eggsy pushes his finger in and out, gently pressing open the rim to stretch wider while marveling at the hot, soft tightness around him. He soon adds a second, gives each thrust of his fingers a little twist that has Henry’s breath stuttering, his hips rocking against his hand in sharp jerks back. Eggsy presses his denim-covered cock against Henry’s arse, rubbing up against it and curling his toes at the licks of pleasure the friction shoots up his nerves.

He curls his fingers inside Henry just a little, presses up and knows he’s stroked over Henry’s prostate when Henry jerks like he’s been grabbed a live wire and bites back a yelp, so he does it again and again until Henry’s writhing just a little beneath him, head hung low, face hidden against one arm.

There’s a rush to free his own cock, ripping open the condom wrapper with his teeth and rolling it on before slicking it up with the rest of the lube, and then he’s finally pressing the blunt head against Henry’s entrance, and for a second worries if it’s even possible that he’ll fit, before pressing relentlessly forward while a strangled note seeps past Henry’s lips.

But Henry still opens up around him, squeezing every inch of him in a tight, hot vice. Eggsy pauses halfway in, because it’s almost too tight, Henry’s so tense, rim spasming around his cock in a way that has him biting his lip and thinking about the most unsexy things he can imagine until he’s regained control over himself and Henry’s body has relaxed just a little.

He grabs hold of Henry’s hips and presses forward the rest of the way, until the fronts of his thighs press up against the backs of Henry’s and his cock is encased in that intense heat, and fuck, he’s got his cock up Henry’s arse and it feels fucking incredible. Henry’s back is bowed towards him, his hips are slowly grinding back as if he’s trying to get Eggsy’s cock to rub him inside in all the right places.

Eggsy responds by pulling almost all the way out and slamming back in with enough force to jar Henry’s body forward and then setting a brutal rhythm hence, fucking in and out, flesh slapping against flesh, choked off groans, heavy panting, and the rattling of the bottles in the box they’re fucking over.

“You’re not lying to me again, are you? About anything else?” Eggsy grunts, leaning forward to palm the back of Henry’s sweat slick neck, keeping it pressed down.

“I’ve lied—I’m very good at it,” Henry manages to say between breaths, and Eggsy catches the trace of a grimace edging at corner of his mouth. “But I’m not lying to you anymore. Not this.”

“You weren’t supposed to come back,” Eggsy says, shifting, trying to drag himself back from the cresting edge of orgasm by adjusting his stance and thrusting back in at a more leisurely pace. “Not until I called in a favour. You weren’t supposed to. So why? Why Dean? He’s just some shitty neighbourhood drug dealer. There’s loads of people who are more dangerous and better worth the time of a fucking spy, yeah?”

Except Kostas. Hearing about his arrest and the tanking of all his businesses was worth everything.

Henry very nearly whimpers in complaint before grounding out, “You’re not wrong. It was never about Dean’s dealings so much as his suppliers. Your stepfather is one link in a very long chain that starts in—”

“Bolivia,” Eggsy breathes, coming to a halt.

“The Alvarez cartel, one of the most dangerous in the world,” Henry confirms, “with some ties to major political figures in just about every Western country. For years, they managed to elude every government agency who tried to go after them. We knew that if we wanted to take them out, we’d have to play a very long and careful game, start from the bottom and work our way up.”

“Us bottom-feeders, yeah?”

“We thought it would be a simple matter,” Henry sighs, shifting impatiently, arse clenching at Eggsy’s cock. “We were so arrogant. Your stepfather was very clever. He didn’t store his financial records on a system that could be hacked, else we would have done so long ago.”

“Dean’s a paranoid fucker. He don’t trust no computers.”

“Perhaps rightly so,” Henry says wryly. “We knew we had to find his actual physical books in order to discover his sources, but he had no seeming base of operations, outsourced nearly all of his overt criminal dealings to others, and his associates proved to be particularly good at spotting a lack of authenticity. We’re used to dealing with massive crime syndicates and radicalised terrorists, but here? We were out of our depth. We had no idea how to gain the trust of...of….”

“The working classes?” Eggsy finishes for him, arching a brow when Henry frowns but doesn’t refute it. “You’re all toffs then?”

“Yes, rather.”

“So you was in Bolivia to finish it. What you set out to do.”

“Yes. I was away for a very long time. I’m sorry I didn’t get your phone call right away, else I would have come sooner. I’ve only been in London for six hours."

“Well, consider this your welcome home greeting,” Eggsy replies before underscoring his remark with a sharp thrust that invokes an equally sharp cry from Henry.

He doesn’t touch Henry’s cock, though he knows it’s got to be painfully hard and dripping by now, just focuses on hitting Henry’s prostate at each upward thrust and listening the way it produces a gasp every time.

“Eggsy,” Henry finally moans, voice mostly smeared into his arm where it looks as if he’s been biting it. “Please.”

His hands, pressed flat against the top of the box, fingers biting deep indents into the cardboard until the knuckles are white, twitch in an abortive effort to reach down for his own cock, so Eggsy just leans over him, and closes his own hands around Henry’s wrists, locking them in place as he continues thrusting at a new angle that makes Henry mewl.

It’s always a wonder to see Henry come undone, but Eggsy’s not much better himself. He feels his climax approaching, a growing insistence pooling in his groin until turns his cheek over Henry’s spine, breathes him in, licks at the light sheen of sweat there, and the salty sting of it on his tongue is enough to make him come, sinking his teeth into an unmarred patch of skin at the base of Henry’s neck.

It takes him a few shuddering moments to come back to himself, feeling the way Henry is positively shaking beneath him, biting back hitches of his breath, but he doesn’t resist the position Eggsy’s put him in, doesn’t move as Eggsy’s commanded.

Eggsy could leave him like this, order him to zip up and leave, perpetually on edge, jaw-clenchingly frustrated and painfully hard. Make him stay like that all night long so that he could feel just a sliver of the things Eggsy has felt.

The thought, however, doesn’t bring him as much satisfaction as he would have liked.

He’s tired of hurting, yeah, but as impulsive as he can be, as quick as he is to lash out in anger, dealing out revenge in turn has never made him feel any better in the long run. Worse, in fact. There’s too much misery in the world already, he don’t need to contribute more to it.

It makes him feel good, besides, to see others feel good. It makes him feel good to gently ease out, drag Henry back up by his shirt like a mother cat scruffing her kitten, to push him dazed, boneless, and dishevelled against a cold cement wall that makes him hiss. It makes him feel good to circle his hand around Henry’s hard cock and stroke him while licking into his mouth and absorbing all the sounds it produces from Henry’s lax lips, lined with the taste of copper. It makes him feel good when Henry’s hands rise up to desperately clutch at whatever bunches of his shirt he can reach as he comes all over Eggsy’s hand in hot, wet spurts so that it runs down his fingers and drips from his wrist.

They both sag down to the floor, uncaring of its dust and dirt, and Eggsy sort of rolls into a sitting position beside Henry, perilously shoving another stack of boxes out of the way to do so. He pulls off and ties up the used condom with a grimace, chucking it in the lone bin by the table. It misses, landing in front of it in a wet sort of plop, but Eggsy can’t be bothered to correct it. Instead, he sneaks a sidelong glance at Henry, noting how his hair has fallen apart to curtain against his forehead, how his glasses are askew, slipped down the bridge of his nose. His shirt is wrinkled, bunched up all around the holster, his now stained trousers still undone. He’s a thorough wreck of a man, and the most vulnerable Eggsy has ever seen him

“I don’t even know your real name,” Eggsy says, and the thought that he just came in the arse of a man whose name he doesn’t know isn’t...well, it’s not a new experience, admittedly, but it suddenly strikes him as tragically funny now, given how much he’s turned himself inside out for this man.

There’s a very long pause before: “My name is Harry Hart. I gave you that medal. But you already pieced that one together.”

Eggsy turns to study him through the lens of this new information. Harry Hart, he mouths silently. It sits well on Hen—Harry. Almost stupidly common, yet it seems to fit him better, like one of his tailored suits. Harry Hart, not Henry DeVere. A spy, not an estate developer or a cop. Huh.

“And you’re like...MI6? Some James Bond shit?”

Harry winces as if the reference physically pains him. “Something like that. I’m part of an independent intelligence agency, one not held accountable to any government.”

“And my dad was a spy too?”

Finally, Harry turns his head to face him, pressing his cheek against the wall. “Training to be one. I recruited him. He was killed before he could join.” His gaze turns inward, out of focus. He swallows. “It was my fault.”

“How?”

“We were interrogating a terrorist, but he had a grenade I had missed. And if it weren’t for your father’s courage, my mistake would have cost the lives of every man present.”

“My dad—”

“Threw himself on it. Killed him instantly. He always talked about you. How much he loved his family, that he wanted to give you all the things you deserved. How I wanted him to have that too.”

Eggsy blinks, trying to wipe away the unexpected prick of tears in his eyes.

“So I owe him,” Harry continues. “He was such a brave man, and he’d be so bitterly disappointed in the way I’ve chosen to honour him.”

“Shagging his son probably wouldn’t have gone over well, no,” Eggsy jokes weakly.

“Neither would abandoning him for years on end, lying to him, or using him to further my own objectives,” Harry says. “I’m not a good man, Eggsy. I’m a very good agent for my organisation, but not a good man.”

“Why are you telling me this now?” Eggsy asks, and rushes to add, “I know you’re just doing what I asked, but why? Said it yourself. Secret agents don’t go around telling the truth about themselves. I didn’t actually expect you to show up, you know.”

“How you know these things, I'll never understand. I wanted to do right by you,” Harry says. “But yes, there were other motivations.”

Eggsy nearly snorts. “Yeah, well, probably could’ve guessed I was pretty much a sure thing. Still.”

“That, I didn’t actually expect,” Harry says, shifting a little then wincing at the accumulation of his injuries, not the least was probably his sore backside. “Hadn’t dared hope for.” The awareness of all his collective aches and pains prompts him to start putting himself into some semblance of order and decency, and Eggsy follows suit to do the same. “Our leader died yesterday morning. A stroke. Quite fortunate, actually, as it's very rare for one of us to die under such ordinary circumstances.”

“Arthur?” Eggsy vaguely recalls.

“The very one. I’ve been, in my absence, and in spite of my very vocal protests, promoted to his position.”

“You’re—you’re King Arthur now?”

The title seems to bring with it nothing but distaste for Harry, who can’t help but curl his mouth at the name every time it’s mentioned. “Unfortunately. Which means another spot’s opened up at the table. My previous position. Galahad.”

“You...what are you saying?”

“You’re every bit as courageous as your father. You’re astoundingly intelligent, perceptive, and clever. You can think quickly on your feet, to say nothing of your extraordinary physical prowess. You have so much raw talent and skill that I want to offer you the opportunity to become a Kingsman agent.”

“A spy...like my dad?”

“Yes. Interested?”

God help him, Eggsy was. Thoughts of travelling the world, flirting with danger, and experiencing a near endless supply of adventure are exciting prospects, the stuff of little kids’ dreams. It sure as hell sounded far more appealing than being a janitor or store clerk.

And Harry certainly presented a nice advertisement for the spy life, all debonair charm and elegance. It’s tempting to think Eggsy could achieve that too, him, a chav off the streets, the kid who went nowhere, who maybe got a bit of a guilty thrill in carrying out illegal activities, who only narrowly avoided a prison sentence by the very bloke sitting next to him. He could be taught and trained and moulded into his own version of Eliza fucking Doolittle by his own Henry. He could transform.

“Nah, I’m good, thanks,” he finally says. “But I appreciate the consideration.”

Harry doesn’t look particularly surprised so much as resigned. “I had a feeling you’d decline, but may I ask why?”

“I don’t think I could do what you do, knowing how it feels being on the other end,” Eggsy shrugs. “And my mum’s already lost two husbands. She’s never really recovered from the first, you know? Went mental when I tried to join the Marines because she thought she’d lose me too. I can’t do that to her and Daisy, not if there’s a chance I could go the way my dad did. It would kill her.”

“You would have been a most impressive agent, Eggsy,” Harry says at long last. “But you’re an even better person than that, I suppose.”

“I know,” Eggsy tries to smirk, but finds himself too sad for it, because this is what it feels like turning down the offer of a lifetime.

“Of course, we have other positions.”

Eggsy frowns. “What?”

“Our support staff is understandably extensive. We always have need for talented individuals to be handlers, researchers, pilots, mechanics, drivers—”

“Drivers?” Eggsy perks up, because, shit, if Harry’s car is any indication, what a sweet fucking gig that would be.

Harry senses his interest, if the slight little smile he’s got going is any indication, bastard. “We pay very well. It’s, needless to say, generally less hazardous than what our agents are required to do. Generous benefits including private healthcare, childcare services, a sti—”

“I can drive fancy cars as fast as I want?”

“When the situation calls for it.” Harry frowns as if he’s starting to regret his offer. “My god, you’re going to give Merlin a run for his money.”

“Merlin? Merlin the wizard?” Jesus, these names.

“Merlin, head of research and development as well as our logistics division. Also, an angry, sarcastic Scotsman who frequently shouts in my ear.”

“Like Doctor Who?”

“Please don’t ever tell him you said that.”

“I’ll think about it then,” Eggsy says nonchalantly, though he already knows he’s probably going to accept.

“Let me know. You have the means by which to reach me.” It sounds like a good bye. In fact, Harry is already starting to stand and move towards his suit jacket.

“That it then?” Eggsy asks as he stands up to go toe to toe with Harry, voice almost accusatory.

“What else do you want me to say?”

“You could’ve just set me up with something good anywhere. Or given me loads of money. So why invite me to work with you? I’m just your mark at worst or someone you’re trying to repay a debt you owe at best. Why even do this much for me still?”

“Because I…” Harry begins, the way he’s tensed up as if he’s ready to launch a defencive front, but then he seems to remember himself and visibly shrinks back, pressing himself back against the wall. “Because I fucked it all up from the start. I lost my objectivity, I deluded myself into thinking I could be objective in the first place.”

“That’s ain’t an answer,” Eggsy says, finally catching a clue of something, just a tickle of a notion, but he needs Harry to say it, even if he has to drag it out of him, kicking and screaming. “You’re already starting to speak in circles, so cut the bullshit.”

It’s then that Harry does something that completely takes Eggsy by surprise, sinking suddenly to his knees before him, reaching out to grip his hands in all their sticky soiled glory. “I nurtured your feelings for a lie, but I fell in love with all that you freely offered of yourself instead. And while I’m willing to leave you alone, completely and wholly, at your request, I’d very much like to stay in your life, in whatever capacity you wish it to be. Just say the word. Anything.”

The admission knocks him sideways, for all he’d been wanting it for so, so long. Eggsy’s got nothing to say in response for several long, stunned moments.

Harry looks at him expectantly, but the light slowly fades from his eyes the longer Eggsy remains silent. He releases Eggsy’s hands and accepts the judgement.

Finally, the only thing Eggsy can utter is, “It couldn’t have all been a lie then, if it had been a little bit real, not after all the things I felt for you. I had to have seen some of it in return. It's the only way. The things I saw, some of them had to be real.”

“I am, I’m sorry to say, not very much like Henry DeVere,” Harry says humourlessly.

“How so?”

“Eggsy….”

“No, no, no.” Eggsy drops to his knees too in order to look Harry in the eye rather than loom over him. Yeah, holding all the power had been nice for a bit there, but in the end, it’s not really what he wants either, is it? “It’s better to do this right, innit? I wasn’t the most truthful about what I did either. And I was never gonna tell you until you forced my hand. Look, we’ve already shagged at first sight, and we’ve established we’re still pretty fucking brilliant at it, now this is all the things we should’ve said after.”

“This isn’t a game of who gets to be more wrong first.”

“Hullo, I’m Gary Unwin,” Eggsy says insistently. “But everyone calls me Eggsy.”

Harry regards him as if he’s lost his damn mind. “Eggsy, what are you….”

“I don’t know how I got that nickname, but whenever I ask me mum, it’s the only thing that makes her really smile anymore even though she refuses to say,” Eggsy continues. “I used to be a drug addict, a thief, and a drug dealer for my step-father but he’s outta the picture now. Now I’m a janitor and a backroom store worker and a bartender, though I apparently got some promising future prospects.”

He smiles a little at that, because there’s been so little in his life to look forward to.

“I don’t got much schooling or money. I have a half-sister named Daisy and she’s the only thing that’s been consistently good in my life. My dad died when I was six. We thought he was in the marines, but he wasn’t. He sacrificed his life to save others, especially this posh idiot who I’m finding it pretty fucking hard to stay away from. He’s my hero. My dad, not the posh idiot. The posh idiot is just that, but he’s alright too. Could probably fall in love with him. Again. After a lot of grovelling and making up, mind.”

Harry looks quickly away, but Eggsy refuses to let him off the hook now. He stares at Harry like he can mentally will him to go along with it, and something about it must work, because when Harry finally opens his mouth, he hesitatingly says, “My name is Harold Hart. Harry. Former codename: Galahad, now bloody Arthur. My tax returns say I’m a tailor on Savile Row.”

“A tailor?” Eggsy can’t help but interrupt. “Oh fuck, you mean that fancy Kingsman tailor shop? You’re all fucking like some...tweed spies?”

“I went to Oxford,” Harry gamely soldiers on, ignoring Eggsy’s outburst with as much dignity as he can. “I studied medicine. I was with the RAMC for a time. I have an older brother. My parents really did die in a plane crash. I like dogs and collect dead butterflies and shamelessly watch and vote in Eurovision every fucking year. I’m fluent in eight languages and conversational in five more. I’m...strange. I had my old dog stuffed and mounted when he died. He sits over the toilet. I named him Mr Pickle, because it was his favourite food to steal off people’s plates. I’ve got a temper. I’m a show-off. I’m possessive. I’m impatient, but I always show up late to everything. Eggsy, I've done worse things than lie in the line of duty, but my biggest regrets have always stemmed from my stubborn pride. I probably drink too much. I’m in love with a boy less than half my age who I’ve lied to repeatedly and wronged terribly. And I still, and probably always will, feel guilty for his father’s death.”

“Christ, you’re a piece of work,” Eggsy whistles because it's either that or start fucking tearing up again. Stuffed dog, what the fuck. “I mean, Jesus, fucking Eurovision, really?”

“Don’t make me go into a treatise on the political and nationalistic elements that subvert the camp aesthetics and genuine appeal to—”

“Alright, yeah, I get it. You’re just as much a freak as Henry DeVere after all. It’s nice to finally meet you, Harry Hart.”

Finally, when Harry meets his eyes, there’s a bright glint of humour in them and it just softens his whole face. “Likewise, Eggsy Unwin.”

“Is Harry Hart still a beast in bed?” he asks innocently.

Harry blinks. He’s much too dignified to sputter, but it’s a near thing. The surprise don’t last for long though. His face all smooths out and even grows sly as he tips his head and says, low and quiet and promising, “Harry Hart is a beast everywhere.”

“Guess we’ll have to see about that,” Eggsy challenges, sucking his lower lip between his teeth and letting his gaze trail over that holster, because, yeah, it’s really doing things for him.

Turns out, the sex pervert thing Henry DeVere had going? Yeah, that one was all Harry.