They tell him he is Henry DeVere. There are documents to prove the claim – a driver's license, a passport – and he can see no obvious flaws in them. And yet the name sits uneasily on his shoulders like an ill-fitting suit, close enough to pass but fundamentally wrong in a way that he cannot describe. This is not his name.
He says nothing.
They tell him he's been injured, that he is here for medical care and his own protection. They tell him he has spells of confusion, of violence, that he can be dangerous to himself – hence the padded cell (they call it a room, but he isn't allowed to leave and therefore it is a cell). The injury is self-evident given his missing eye and his missing memory, but the rest… If he's likely to harm himself then why allow him a metal tray, cutlery, the loose trousers complete with cord? Somehow he knows that in his hands any one of these could be deadly. Not to mention the razor that he's given each morning when he requests to shave. There is always a guard in the room when he uses it and they take it away when he's done, but it's a flimsy attempt at security. Perhaps they have a way of neutralizing him remotely. Perhaps they don't care how many guards he kills.
But he says nothing.
The doctor – if she truly is one – comes only rarely. More often she talks to him through a hidden speaker and he takes care not to give any indication that he finds this unusual. She asks him periodically if his memories are returning, and he always says no. It isn't untrue – even examining his own face in the mirror fails to spark even a flicker of recognition. It is simply a face. Slightly more than middle-aged, with crow's feet at the edges of his eyes (well... eye) and a dimple in the chin. Not unattractive. His hair is cut shorter than seems normal but even that is merely a vague impression rather than a memory of seeing himself differently.
But things creep out around the edges of the empty space where memory ought to be, habits of movement: morning stretches and exercises, a regimen that someone, somewhere must have prescribed. Eating his supplied meals with precise manners as if he's at a formal dinner even though here he has nothing but a hospital bed. His suspicion and tendency to deception seem like habits, too – muscle memory more than anything conscious (the brain is a muscle, after all). He does not trust his guards and he does not trust the doctor, and he has nothing to go on but a feeling that something isn't right.
He fakes trust to the best of his ability and it seems to be enough. They bring him nicer meals after a while, small luxuries such as books and a soft robe and a very occasional glass of whisky. The tone of sharp interest in the doctor's voice fades to mild curiosity.
Then they give him the pens, and the black hole of his mind begins to bleed. Not words, not names or places or dates. But when he lifts his hand to the clean white fabric of the cell walls, he can draw pictures. A small dog with curious eyes and one flopped-over ear. A black and yellow snapback hat, drawn as if abandoned forlornly in a cubbyhole. A square of tartan drawn soft and plush. Something flickering in pale green over polished length of wood that he thinks is a table. A lighter. An umbrella – furled up and leant against a corner of a padded square in the bottom row as if it were actually in the room. And everywhere, everywhere, butterflies.
Some of them are diagrams as if in a scientific text, half-dissected, labeled by part and given Latin names. Others are attempts at photorealism, perhaps some sort of field guide. Most, though, are clearly artwork, laid out with pointillist care or reduced to shapes of abstract essentials or drawn with graceful curves with the edge of the pen nib. A few seem incomplete until he smudges the wet ink with his thumbs, and afterwards he stares at the feathers left on his skin with as much curiosity as he does the butterfly itself.
The earliest drawings are skewed slightly, but he learns to compensate for his missing eye and the quality improves rapidly after that. He draws because he cannot keep himself from it, because his hand moves almost on its own. It's giving away information to his captors, of course it is, but he tells himself that these small things can mean little to them. What can they do with a drawing of a dog, after all? And the images simply won't come out any other way – when he tries to spur his memory with a word or an emotion he finds only blankness. But when he puts pen to cloth, the pictures come.
He begins to realize there is meaning in the drawings. Not just the images themselves but things hidden inside them. Dots spaced just so, lines drawn at particular angles. If he concentrates, he can read them, can make them shimmer slowly from obscurity to clarity.
You're being watched, says one in Morse code. They do something while you sleep, says another one, this time in semaphore. Drugs, bright light. Another, in binary: They think they can break you. Another, in some sort of calligraphic shorthand that looks like ocean waves: Last night, a name – Kingsman.
The name makes his head ache and he sleeps the entire day after deciphering that one. But the following day it's easier to hold the shape of the word in his mouth. Kingsman. He doesn't know if it's a who or a what. But... Kingsman will be looking for him. It is a rock-solid certainty, rooted in his skin and his blood and his bones. He belongs to Kingsman and they will not give him up easily.
For a time, after the word Kingsman, he steps away from the butterflies. He fills another padded square with tartan and this one he can read almost as soon as the ink spills onto the canvas. Arthur betrayed you, it says. Merlin can be trusted, Merlin can be trusted. This last is repeated almost the entire length of the image, drawn in the tiny lines of the fabric's thread (angled across the grain of the padded square that holds the picture), and so he knows it must be important. He repeats it to himself silently, though the name still means nothing in itself.
The yellow and black cap draws him in again. The yellow is patterned across the fabric in a circular shape set with three lines. It could be a V or, perhaps, a K lain on its side. The yellow circles aren't solid lines – his hand had drawn them with a few broad strokes and then scribbled in the rest, seemingly casually. This one takes a little more study but eventually he can make out a word in them. Eggsy. The name tugs at his heart, a sweet distant longing. He belongs to Kingsman and this Eggsy belongs to him in turn, someone to be held close and kissed and handled with care. Someone to be loved.
He falls asleep that night with tears in his eyes.
It's a wrench to make himself go back to the hat the next morning. But when he does so, he finds that there is something else, written in Morse code in the stitching above the brim. "Apologize. Tell him you're proud of him." It's strangely heartening to know that he's been an ass, somewhere in his past, even if it was to someone he cared about. It makes him feel like he's a real person and not just some archetype of a spy, slick and smooth and empty inside.
Once he has thought the word 'spy,' he cannot un-think it. That is what he is, and it explains everything else. Why he is a prisoner, why he knows that people are watching from behind the mirror, why he can write and read in code even when he doesn't consciously know it. Why he is dangerous.
Who he represents is still an open question. Hopefully an organization he won't be ashamed of.
He returns to the butterflies; they come even more easily now from his hand. One in purple with pale green accents: Not government. Rich madwoman. This doesn't seem as unlikely as perhaps it ought. He thinks he might have seen quite a lot of rich mad people, in his time. The next day's butterfly is all in sepia with a half-sketched frame around it, as if he'd tacked an old photograph to the wall. They got you by accident. They have no idea what you know. There's a distinctly ironic tinge to this, which he can appreciate given that he doesn't even know what he knows.
Three the next day, hasty, each with its own message.
The doctor is the madwoman. Her name is Poppy.
Something's rattled them. Something's coming. Be ready.
Door, end of hall, password swordfish.
That night he pockets one of the spoons at dinner and no one seems to notice. In the morning his guards are late coming and they look uneasy, but they still give him his usual breakfast and they still give him the razor. He shaves slowly and carefully, not wanting to waste the opportunity for the shave and simultaneously wanting to have the razor close at hand for as long as possible. He's just about finished when the door bursts open.
He takes his chance and whips himself sideways, slicing open the throat of the closer guard with his razor and then turning to stab the other in the trachea with the thin end of the spoon. It's entirely without conscious thought, as easy as breathing. He swings back around again, dropping into an instinctive crouch.
Two men have come through the door, guns up but obviously holding their fire long enough to assess the situation.
He looks up, and—
Pain, exploding outwards from the dry socket of his missing eye. He goes down onto his knees, bracing both hands on the floor to keep from falling any further. The razor goes flying.
"Harry!" Two voices speak at once, and he knows them now.
"Merlin. Eggsy." The words have to be torn from his throat but he knows them, he knows them. "I—" His mind cracks open and memory spatters outward from the broken edges like ink. Kingsman first – his recruitment and his trials and Mister Pickle, memorialized only a few feet away in a square of padded cell. Then his role as Galahad, fighting and fucking and stealing and sneaking, doing what he could and doing it well and taking a fierce joy in knowing he'd made a difference. Then Merlin – no wonder he'd been so sure he could trust the man given how long they'd worked together, how many times they'd saved each other's lives, how many times they'd got pissed and played deeply inadvisable pranks on the other knights, how many nights they'd lain awake in the darkness in two different hotels on opposite sides of the world and talked about their hopes and dreams and fears and secrets. Then Lee – Christ, he could wish that mistake had stayed forgotten except that it had led him to Eggsy. And Eggsy…
Eggsy, bright as the yellow on the hat drawn on the wall to his left. Eggsy, wide-eyed and stubborn and defiant and so fucking beautiful. Eggsy, who he'd almost lost through his own pride and stupidity, Eggsy who he loved.
His whole body shakes and the pain is so sharp now that he can barely breathe. The hollow of his missing eye is wet and he cannot tell if it is from tears or from blood.
He is Harry Hart, and if the return of memories kills him at least he will have known his own name before the end.
Someone's hands are on his shoulders, pulling him up into something that is half medical assessment and half embrace.
He can feel Eggsy's hands trembling even despite his own shivers. "Eggsy," he chokes out. He can't lift his head. "Eggsy, I wanted to tell you—"
"It's okay, you're gonna be okay," Eggsy babbles. He touches Harry's face, the back of his head, slides his hands down Harry's arms searching for injuries.
Harry should tell him that there's nothing there to find, that it's all in his head, but this is more important. "I wanted to tell you," he says. "I wanted to— Listen to me."
"I'm listening," Eggsy says. He cups Harry's face in his hands and lifts it so that Harry can look him in the eye. "I'm listening."
Harry takes a deep, shuddering breath. "I was an ass," he says, as clearly as he can manage. "I'm sorry. I'm so proud of you."
For one long moment Eggsy looks utterly stricken. Then he smiles a beautiful, tremulous smile and says, "You'd better stick around long enough to make it up to me."
"I—" Harry says, and suddenly the pain recedes, draining away like water from a bath. His arms steady themselves and his back straightens. He sucks in a breath and lets it out, then another, then another. He closes his eye, opens it again. When he looks up, he finds Merlin at the door to the cell, gaze darting rapidly between the hallway and the two of them there on the floor – it's a practical counterpoint to Eggsy's intensity of focus, but Merlin's jaw is set hard and Harry knows that he must feel no less emotion than Eggsy.
"I knew you'd come," Harry says, and it's for both of them. He pushes himself to his feet with only a minor wobble and feels immediately more secure once he's standing. Eggsy follows him up, keeping one hand braced under his elbow. When Harry looks over he can see color coming back into Eggsy's face. "I knew you'd come," he says again. He reaches up and gives Eggsy's hand a squeeze, then sweeps his gaze across the room, taking in the bodies of the guards and the bed and the tray and the drawings spread from wall to wall.
There's nothing he needs here, he realizes. Absolutely nothing at all.
"Well, gentlemen," he says. "Shall we go?"