It’d been a good ten years since a pet had inhabited the home of one Harry Hart, gentleman spy extraordinaire. But in Harry’s defense, he’d never really been a “pet person” to begin with. Mr. Pickle had been thrust upon him the same way all the other puppies were thrust onto his fellow recruits, and while he was the one to ultimately gain the title of Galahad, they all had to bring their pups back to their homes once their training was over.
But Harry had loved Mr. Pickle, really. The little Yorkie was loud and infuriating at times, but the way he cuddled next to Harry on the couch or in bed- despite being told numerous times not to- only made the man sigh fondly and scratch his ears, a light reprimand on his tongue, as Mr. Pickle wagged his tail like the good dog he was.
But then Mr. Pickle had died, far too early, from fucking pancreatitis.
And ever since then, Harry’s friends and coworkers had constantly urged him, once the mourning period for the Yorkie had sufficiently ended, to get a new pet. Harry believed that they’d grown concerned when he got Mr. Pickle stuffed and mounted in his bathroom, but really, that was just how the Hart family honored their beloved, domesticated beasts. Still, even when he explained as much, it didn’t stop the barrage of suggestions of replacements animals that he could get- everything from another dog all the way to a capybara had been mentioned oh-so-casually to the gentleman spy, and each idea was turned down with a withering stare and a firm “No.”
Because Harry was fine, thank you very much. Mr. Pickle had been a beloved companion, but now harry didn’t have to worry about finding a dogsitter for when he went away on missions, and he didn’t have to constantly buy dog food or take him out for walks. Having a pet would be a hassle, and at forty-three years, Harry was too old for any more hassle than he already had as a Kingsman agent.
At least, that’s what he kept telling himself.
But one day, as he set about cleaning the house, brushing down Mr. Pickle’s fur in the downstairs bathroom, he glanced up and stared into his dog’s glassy, taxidermied eyes, and found himself gripping the brush with a bit more force than usual- as in, it snapped in half. The crunch of the brush breaking brought Harry back to his senses, and he sighed wearily before going to clean up the splintered pieces.
Truth be told, Harry was lonely. There wasn’t much room for friendship or, god forbid, love, in the spy business. Pets were just about the closest thing he could get to companionship if he didn’t want to go and hang out with his coworkers (and as nice as some of them were, he preferred to distance himself from work during his off-hours).
So maybe, Harry admitted, a trip to the local shelter wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
The very next week found Harry with a rare few weeks of leave, and so he’d gone to the shelter to pick out an animal to bring home. He’d been annoyed by the near-chorus of cheers that had resounded from his coworkers- namely Merlin and Lancelot- when he mentioned finally getting another pet, but he went anyway, determine to do it now before he could back out.
Minding his injured arm (which was the reason for his few weeks of leave in the first place- a mission gone a bit haywire in Morocco), he pushed open the door to the shelter, and was greeted by a pretty young woman at a receptionist’s desk.
“Hello,” she chirped politely. “Welcome! How can I help you today?”
Harry walked up to the desk and offered her a smile. “I’m looking to adopt a new pet, actually.”
Immediately, she brightened even further. “That’s wonderful! Well, we’re certainly stocked up on animals, so hopefully it won’t be too hard for you to choose one. Let me just call one of our volunteers up…”
“Thank you, Miss…” Harry glanced at her nametag, which was covered with little poodle stickers. “Roxy.”
Roxy smiled and nodded at him before she turned to open the door behind her, and then walked through it to what Harry presumed was the shelter’s office space. Only a minute had passed when the door opened again, but it wasn’t Roxy who walked out; it was a young man around her age, and Harry, who’d been glancing around to observe his surroundings, stopped to do a double-take.
Because holy shit, the young man was beautiful.
Blond hair, green eyes, and a jaw sharp enough to cut through rock, the young man in the far-too-tight t-shirt depicting the shelter’s logo gave Harry a grin bright enough to light up the entire city. And Harry, the elite gentleman spy with a respectable amount of honeypot missions under his belt, actually blushed.
“Hey there,” the young man greeted, walking around the counter and sticking out his hand towards Harry. Harry had just enough wherewithal to acknowledge the gesture by shaking his hand, though he released the young man quickly when he felt how soft his hands actually were. Christ.
But the young man gave no indication of having noticed Harry’s odd behavior. “Rox says you’re lookin’ to adopt?”
“Uh… I-I mean, yes,” Harry coughed, cursing himself. “Yes, I’m looking for a new pet.”
“That’s awesome, bruv. Follow me?”
The young man- Harry finally glanced at the nametag and saw ‘Eggsy’ written there, strangely enough- turned and beckoned for Harry to follow, which the older man would have done regardless, on the basis of Eggsy’s attractiveness alone. And, well, by following behind him, Harry got a lovely view of the lad’s arse.
Eggsy led him through a hallway with a door at the end that opened up to a larger room, where several animals ran about, separated into glass enclosures according to their species.
“So, what kinda buddy are you lookin’ for today?” asked Eggsy, turning around to face Harry again.
Harry snapped his gaze up from Eggsy’s arse, Eggsy none the wiser, and took a moment to compose himself before answering.
“Well, several of my coworkers are under the impression that any animal would be a suitable companion for me.”
Eggsy smiled at that. “They could be right. You never know ‘til you try, bruv.”
Harry blushed again under Eggsy’s gentle smile and gaze. “R-Right. Well. I had a dog before, so I thought that a canine would be easier for me to adjust to.”
Eggsy shrugged, walking over to the dog enclosure and leading Harry along with him. At least eleven excited dogs were jumping around once they saw the humans approach them, and Harry winced. None of them were nearly as small as Mr. Pickle had been, and while size alone was no reason to turn down a perfectly good dog, he was still too attached to the memory of his cherished Yorkie.
He stepped up against the glass wall, which was about hip-high, and peered over to survey the dogs regardless. Just as a golden retriever started barking madly at Harry, he noticed that Eggsy had maintained a polite distance away, and was merely watching Harry, but something akin to anxiety was dancing in his eyes.
“Everything alright?” Harry asked, brows knitting together in concern.
Eggsy offered him a tense smile. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Just, not much of a dog person, me.”
“Oh? Why not?”
He pointed to his left eyebrow, where a scar cut across the tiny hairs and marred his otherwise perfect face. “Got attacked by one of me stepdad’s mate’s dogs when I was a kid.”
“Oh.” Harry turned away from the dogs to fully face Eggsy. “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
Eggsy shrugged. “Thanks, but it was years ago. I know these fellas don’t mean no harm,” he grinned at the still-clamoring dogs. “But, I mean, I’ve just always been more of a cat person anyway, you know?”
“I’ve never had a cat,” admitted Harry. “But I’ve heard they’re easier to take care of.”
Eggsy nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! Like, you don’t gotta walk ‘em, they clean themselves, and they’re super chill. Plus, nothin’ feels better than having a cat curled up and purring in your lap.” A dreamy expression glazed over his face, and Harry had to bite his lip to stop from smiling at it.
“I take it you have a cat of your own, then?”
He blinked. “Huh? Oh, nah. Actually, I’m not allowed to have pets in my flat,” he said sheepishly. “So I pretty much treat all the little ones here like me own.”
Harry smiled gently. “Any particular favorites that you think I’d like?”
Eggsy thought for a moment before he nodded, walking over to the cat enclosure. The cats were numbered in the twenties, and most of them had only looked up to acknowledge Eggsy’s presence, save for one, a brown and black shorthaired cat, who had strutted up to the wall and let Eggsy scoop it up into his arms. The young man turned back to face Harry, his mouth open as if to say something, when he stopped short.
“Oh, shit,” he laughed. “Sorry mate, but I didn’t get your name.”
“It’s Harry,” he answered, utterly charmed. “Harry Hart.”
“Good to meet ya, Mr. Hart. I’m Eggsy.” He held up the cat, who stared calmly at the spy. “And this little guy here is Galahad.”
Harry froze. “What?”
“Galahad. Like, you know, the knight. S’ what the person who dropped him off here called him. I just call him Haddy though,” said Eggsy, oblivious to the shocked expression on Harry’s face, as he was too busy booping the cat’s nose. “You’s too much of a doofus for such a fancy name, aren’t ya?”
Galahad, er, Haddy, meowed as if to agree, and butted his head into Eggsy’s chest. Harry could hear him purr even from five feet away.
A cat named Galahad. If that wasn’t some kind of signal from the heavens, Harry didn’t know what was. It didn’t help that the cat was currently snuggled into the arms of the most gorgeous man Harry had ever seen, either.
Eggsy took a few steps towards Harry and offered him the cat to hold. Harry hesitated for a moment before complying, letting Eggsy deposit the furry, multi-colored thing into his arms, cringing at the thought of the car hair sure to cover his suit. But Haddy settled moderately quickly, almost melting in Harry’s arms like a big, warm, fluffy loaf. The cat tilted his head upwards and slowly blinked at Harry, which was apparently a big deal, since Eggsy laughed and clapped Harry’s shoulder amiably.
“He likes you!”
Harry glanced at the young man. “How can you tell that? We’ve only just met.”
“When cats blink like that, it means they trust you. It’s basically like sayin’ ‘I love you’ in cat.”
Harry made an assenting noise, then looked back down at Haddy, whose motorboat-purr was back in full effect, and reached up to absently pet his head.
“Awfully quick to trust, aren’t you? I could be perfectly horrid, for all you know.”
Eggsy smiled softly. “Nah, I think Haddy’s makin’ a pretty good call.”
“Do you?” Harry looked at Eggsy again, his mouth tilting up in an amused smile of his own. Eggsy, to his delight, blushed and looked away.
“I mean, y’know… You seem like the good sort. Like you’d take care of him and all.”
“Well… I should tell you that I often have to travel for work. Would you mind that?” He directed the question at Haddy, who didn’t bother to open his eyes and merely opened his mouth to yawn. It was… adorable, quite frankly.
So Eggsy answered instead, stepping closer to scritch under the cat’s chin. “That should be alright. S’long as you’ve got somebody to feed him and clean his litter box, maybe play for him for a little bit each day.” He looked up from the cat and into Harry’s eyes, and it was with a small jolt of excitement that Harry realized they were merely inches apart. Eggsy seemed to realize this as well, for his mouth dropped open and he stepped back, flustered.
“So, uh, what d’you think? You wanna take Haddy home with ya or what?”
Harry readjusted his hold on the fluffy weight in his arms and nodded, his smile widening when Haddy opened his yellow eyes to look up at him, his gaze steady but weirdly endearing. He looked back at Eggsy and nodded.
“Yes, I would."
Within the hour, Harry had the paperwork filed and Haddy paid for, as well as a veritable trunkload of cat supplies, such as food and cat dishes, a litter box, a cage, toys, and some grooming supplies. Really, whatever Eggsy had recommended, Harry immediately added to his cart. The young man was even gracious enough to help load all of the supplies into Harry’s car, after he’d spent a few moments admiring it.
“Look at that, Haddy,” he cooed, even as Haddy looked thoroughly unhappy trapped within his newly-purchased cage, “you’re movin’ up in life. You might even live in a castle, like a proper knight.”
“I’m afraid my home is far less grand than that,” demurred Harry, continually enchanted by Eggsy’s interactions with the animal. “But I hope you’ll enjoy it all the same… Sir Galahad.”
Eggsy laughed at that, and together they finished loading everything up. But then they both lingered outside the shelter, beside Harry’s car, for a few long moments of silence.
“Well,” Eggsy started. “Guess you’re all set, then.” He cracked another smile, though this one seemed distinctly lacking his usual energy. “You take good care of Haddy, alright? Else I’m gonna find your ass, kick it, and take him back.”
“I will,” promised Harry with a grin. Eggsy seemed to accept this answer, but as he turned away to return to the shelter, Harry called out to him, unable to stop himself. “Eggsy?”
The young man turned around, a quizzical look on his face. “What?”
“It’s just,” Harry stammered, blushing, “well, like I said, I travel for work a lot.”
“Yeah…?” Eggsy turned to face him fully, one eyebrow raised.
“And I don’t have many people I can rely on, as it were. So, I was wondering if, perhaps… You might want look after Haddy for me? Only when I’m out of town, of course,” He added, steeling himself for the young man’s response.
Eggsy blinked. “You want me… to catsit for ya?”
“If you are amenable. I would pay you for it, obviously.”
“I…” The young man shook himself out of his trance and chuckled, his mouth curving upwards in another brilliant smile. “Yeah, I could do that.”
Relief spread throughout Harry’s body and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Wonderful. Then, here.”
He reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out his standard-issue Kingsman business card, handing it to Eggsy with a nervous smile. Eggsy took the card, his eyes scanning over it for a brief moment, before he pocketed it in his jeans and looked back at Harry.
“Guess I’ll be hearin’ from you then, Mr. Hart.”
“Please, call me Harry.”
“Alright,” Eggsy beamed. “Harry.”
Haddy ended up clawing a good portion of Harry’s furniture to ruin before he finally decided that he liked his new surroundings. Harry would’ve been more upset, but then he thought of sparkling green eyes and a gentle smile, and suddenly he didn’t mind.
Even when Haddy decided to forego the nice new bed Harry had bought for him and instead sleep on his face.