Merlin, or as he preferred in his limited personal life Hamish, had never regretted joining Kingsman.
Not when it cost him any semblance of a normal existence, not when good men he knew died, and not when everything went tits up like his latest operation today when the intel was bad and Galahad (Harry!) had gotten seriously injured taking out the target and stopping one of the world largest child trafficking rings.
But days like today were taxing, which lead to him being seated in his favorite bar in London nursing a neat malt scotch in the darker corner of the pub.
It was a great place and he had been lucky to discover it early on in his career, the owner was a fellow northern transplant who ran a tight ship with excellent liquor and had no time for nonsense at his establishment. Thus the dark wooden walls and green accents with the great classics crooning in the background created a perfect space for gentleman looking to hide away from the world for a few hours.
It was a bar that made itself on its regulars, and while he was no drunk, he’d spent enough time in the place to know who would be there on a Wednesday night.
Ashford the 55 year old moneyed gentleman would be in his booth in the corner reading yesterday’s paper and finally getting to do the crossword his harridan of a wife would never let him finish.
Jonathan the 40 year old stockbroker would be nursing a large tumbler of whiskey while pointedly looking anywhere but his phone.
And Alfred and Oswald the 80 year old duo would be grunting at each other in some sort of conversation while watching the telly and scowling.
There were an assorted other few who typically made an appearance on Wednesdays, however on this particular Wednesday Hamish couldn’t be bothered to check to see if Gerald still was in his tweed phase or if Kenneth was even more bald than last week.
This Wednesday the entire bars attention was on the black haired beauty slumped over the bar, hands fiddling with an untouched glass of one of the finer scotches that one could order and looking absolutely exhausted.
It was strange to find a woman who would brave the rather unwelcoming entrance and walk through the rather dour, obviously masculine bar and stay long enough at the bar to order a drink. Even rarer that the woman was attractive, and dear lord, she was.
A thick tumble of wild raven hair fell down to her mid back, framing a pale angular face with a straight nose and sharp cheekbones dusted with a rosy flush. Her figure was sleek, toned and suggested an active profession which her clothing, dark and professional, but utilitarian and rather form hugging.
It was clear that something was bothering her, a fact that became even clearer as her shoulders braced back and she went to toss the scotch down likeanabsoluteanimal!!!
“tha’s no’ how you drink it” he found himself saying, unable to control the word slipping out of his mouth like an untrained schoolboy and not the elite Kingsman he’d been for years from his regular seat a few stools down from her at the bar.
Her hand stilled, the liquid sloshing around dangerously as her eyes flew up to meet his. And by god he’d never seen such eyes. A fierce peridotite green rimmed with thick lashes started at him challengingly.
“Oh?” the one syllable cut through the air and left him almost breathless in anticipation. Her voice was husky, carrying the commanding undertone that natural born leaders always seemed to “and I suppose you have a recommendation?”
“that’s a nicely aged Laphroaig lass. You’ll kill yourself and disrespect the drink shooting it down li’ that” he only half joked to her as the corner of her mouth raised in amusement.
“Kill myself huh? That doesn’t sound so bad right now.” Her voice came out dry as could be as the tiniest spark of humor lit in her eyes.
Hamish couldn’t help the swell of male pride the welled up in him at her reaction. His job being what it was didn’t allow for much, really any, time to go out and meet the fairer sex, and he had it much easier than the dedicated field agents! So having a pretty girl (well, really woman) subtly respond to his mild flirting was quite gratifying.
“But you’d still be disrespecting the Drink, and tha’d be a damn shame.” He responded, letting the edges of his mouth curl up as well.
“Well, I supposed we can’t have that.” She acquiesced, amusement coloring her tone as she slowly lifted the tumbler to her mouth and took a sip, only to nearly spit it back out much to his horror and amusement.
“Never had Scotch before?” he asked gently, repressing the laugh that almost made its way out as he offered her a clean handkerchief.
“No,” she answered looking at the glass mournfully “I just needed a strong drink, clearly I’m out of my league though.”
“Well, I can’t fault you for taste.” He acknowledged as he lightly toasted he with his own glass before taking a sip.
“Thanks, I suppose.” She grinned at him now, reaching over the stools that separated them offering her hand
“I’m Hadrianna” she offered as he reached out as well
“Hamish.” He replied, taking in the feel of her soft had in his, the smooth feeling not quite backing his original assumption of a labour intensive job but utterly pleasant feeling when held within his own.
“So Hamish…” she started, looking at him with a mischievous glint in her eyes sending a pleasant shiver down his spine “how would you feel about giving this utter pleb a quick lesson in the finer arts of scotch appreciation?”
And just like that he was smitten.