They all looked around at each other. Each knight was present. Something that only happened in the direst of situations. Not even when an agent has fallen do they all gather in the same room. In front of each seat, there was a bag of sorts, a mission plan on top. Arthur was sitting at the head, looking just as impeccable and dapper as he always does. Percival seated to his left and Galahad to his right. Everyone in their respective chairs.
Eggsy was the first to speak. “So,” he looked to Harry. “What’s with the full Round Table meeting?”
“I did not summon it. I was told by Merlin to show at this time, and here I am. And I am on time,” Harry smiled a little smugly. “And, Merlin is not,” that had him frowning.
“He didn’t mention anything,” Eggsy said and Merlin walked in at the same time. He smiled up at his husband, who did not return the expression. Eggsy faltered some and remembered to keep his game face on.
“Good morning, Arthur, agents,” Merlin nodded to everyone. He typed a few things on his clipboard and intel appeared on the wall. “Welcome to the Kingsman’s first ever Secret Santa,” he smiled, but it wasn’t the kind smile Eggsy was used to seeing. No, this was cold and terrifying. It was the kind of smile Eggsy had seen his first day of training, he shrunk in his seat.
“As ye can see, ye all have supplies in front of ye,” Merlin grabbed Roxy’s bag and held it up. “Can anyone tell me what this is?”
The whole room was silent. Every person there knew what it was, had seen it at least a handful of times to know. Merlin eyed them all, and still, no one spoke up. He noticed a few faces pale as his gaze fell on them, and bless his husband, Eggsy decided to raise his hand.
“A body bag?” Eggsy was aware how pathetic he just sounded, but the way Merlin was looking at everyone had him fearing his life.
“Correct,” Merlin placed it back in front of its owner. “Ye will fill out yer name and next of kin on that bag. This is an acknowledgment of the risks ye are going to face if ye break confidentiality,” he moved around the room and snapped his head up when Eggsy snorted. “Problem, Galahad?”
Eggsy felt about as big as his pinky finger at that moment, and Harry kicked him from under the table. “You can’t be serious, yeah? Secret Santa? Body bags? Come on, babe,” he rolled his eyes. This had to be the best prank he had seen yet.
“Three laps around the course for ye, and that’s for insubordination,” Merlin snapped and continued. “Now,” he pulled up a larger view of the report each agent had in front of them. “I have created a system to generate whom ye will be Santa for,” the screen changed. “Under no circumstances are ye allowed to reveal who ye have. If for whatever reason, ye divulge who ye are Santa for it will result in ye and yer next of kin in that bag.”
It had been a good five years since Eggsy has heard that speech and right then he was aware Merlin was taking this very seriously. Merlin’s face blank and his hazel eyes touched every agent in the room. Eggsy shifted to see Harry’s reaction, who was sitting there with as much poise and professionalism he wore while listening to a mission briefing. They all nodded, Eggsy locked his stare with Merlin’s a small faint smile there. Eggsy wondered if this was, in fact, all a joke so, he kept his opinions to himself as Merlin wrapped up.
“So,” Eggsy began, sitting next to Roxy for lunch. “Who do you have?” He noticed her posture go stiff in the corner of his eye. “What?” Eggsy scoffed, taking a spoonful of his split pea soup.
“We are not supposed to discuss it, you heard Merlin. It is one of our most confidential missions.” Roxy was serious, as serious as she is about any assignment she is handed. “You’d do well not to talk about it.” She was well aware no one was going to die, at least she hoped.
“Come on.” Eggsy whispered. “Do you really think he’s going to allow himself to be killed.” Roxy looked at him perplexed, Eggsy continued. “I’m his husband, he ain’t going to kill himself.”
Roxy pursed her lips for a moment and figured perhaps Merlin would just make the agent’s life a living hell. Even still, she was not risking it. “Regardless, I am not going to discuss it.”
Eggsy rolled his eyes. “Fine,” he said sullenly and finished his lunch.
“Merlin,” Harry said carefully. They were finishing up the year-end budget meeting. He had a total of two weeks to figure out what to get Kay. It wasn’t that he didn’t know the agent, just that they hadn’t spoken much outside of the agency. Harry had worked with him for a decade and recently found that the man had a wife and kids.
“Aye?” Merlin asked, not looking up from his notes.
“How exactly are we supposed to figure out what to gift our person, say, if we don’t know much about them?”
Merlin snorted. “Harry,” he said disapprovingly. “Ye are a spy, have been for decades. Ye mean to tell me ye cannot obtain intel without speaking to the person? Or breaching confidentiality?” His voice full of humor and not the smallest amount of pity for his oldest friend.
“You are having entirely too much fun with this,” Harry accused and the smile breaking over Merlin’s face was answer enough. He took a deep breath and continued talking numbers.
It was late enough at night that no one would notice Eggsy slinking around the estate, at least he hoped. Merlin was busy with Percival’s mission and Eggsy knew his husband would be busy for a while yet. Because Christmas was only a week away, Eggsy was sure fewer agents would be around and he was right. Eggsy kept his body close to the walls, the lights dimmed in the halls. Which was perfect for his all black attire. He took the film of Tristian’s handprint and placed it over the biometric scan on his office door. Eggsy was certain he could have accessed the room without doing this, but then he’d give away who his Secret Santa was. Fuck if Eggsy was going to do that. Merlin had him terrified enough at this point, Bors had accidentally slipped and everyone knew he had Harry. Whatever Merlin had done, Harry did not know Bors was his secret Santa and Eggsy wasn’t sure he wanted to find out what had been done, because Bors had seemed petrified after he paid Merlin a visit.
Eggsy slipped in, the room was dark and he rummaged over the man’s desk. “Fucking neat freak,” Eggsy said aloud. He thought Percival was the tidiest one, but Tristan didn’t even appear to have a single fleck of dust on the smooth mahogany wood of his workspace. There was not a single item that seemed to belong to the agent. Everything was stamped with Kingsman’s logo, even the pen and paper he used.
“There has to be something,” Eggsy grumbled. He made it a point to speak more to his fellow knights. There was a button under the desk and Eggsy pushed it. A wall, that was lined with books, opened and revealed a secret pathway. Eggsy grinned and walked through, he stopped halfway in when he realized it was a walk-in closet. The racks lined with beautifully designed dresses and shelves of designer shoes. Eggsy wasn’t sure what he’d find, but this certainly was not it. Straight ahead was a vanity and several photos adorned the top. It was easy to recognize Tristan and Gawain in a few of them. Both men dressed up and seeming happy.
“No way,” Eggsy said, shock clear in his voice. He had no problems with how people dressed, but to be fair Tristan and Gawain were the last two he’d figure to cross-dress. Eggsy had pegged Harry as the one for that. There was a movement that caught Eggsy’s eye and before he could react there was a gun pressed behind his head.
“Down,” Merlin demanded and the intruder sank to his knees. “Hands behind yer head,” and when the man began to talk, Merlin hit him over the head with the pistol.
Eggsy slowly came to in medical, machines and the smell of antiseptic all around him. The first thing he saw was Merlin to his right, looking worse for wear. “Babe,” his throat was dry and hoarse.
“Jesus,” Merlin gasped. “I am so sorry, so fucking sorry.” It wasn’t after Eggsy was unconscious that Merlin realized it was his husband.
“You hit me,” Eggsy accused weakly. “Fucking badass,” he figured maybe he should be angry and not turned on by that.
“I’m sorry,” Merlin repeated and took Eggsy’s hand in his. Dr. Hanover had explained it was a mild concussion. “I should have allowed ye to speak before I reacted.”
Eggsy frowned. “No,” he argued. “What kind of Quartermaster would you be if you did that? You protect us all,” Eggsy's voice full of gratitude and awe. He wasn’t especially grateful for the headache he had and the slight swell of a goose egg on the back of his head. Eggsy’s eyes widened. “Oh shit. Does this mean you’ll kill me?”
For a moment, a look of horror crossed Eggsy’s face. Merlin couldn’t help but laugh, it appeared Eggsy didn’t find it funny. Which only caused Merlin to chuckle harder. “My sweet lad, nae.” He managed between laughing.
“You caught me though!” Eggsy was on the brink of hysteria and really didn’t want to die.
“Oh,” Merlin sighed, wiping away his tears and placing his glasses back on his face. “No,” he shook his head and kissed Eggsy. “I know who everyone has,” Merlin said and smiled.
“You asshole,” Eggsy took his pillow and hit Merlin with it. “I was fucking worried you might murder me in my sleep if you found out.” He scrunched his face against the throb behind his eyes. “Wanker,” Eggsy tossed his pillow at Merlin and rolled to face away from him.
Christmas Eve came and all of Kingsman agent’s and staff were present for their gift exchange. Well, all the presents were under the tree, wrapped and unlabeled per Merlin’s instructions.
Harry received a new polka dot, navy blue tie and pocket square. Kay was gifted a new frame with his name along with his wife and kids names. It held a copy of the family portrait Harry had found in Kay’s office. Roxy was pleased with her pair of flats, which had been modified to include a blade in them. Merlin surveyed each recipient and it appeared everyone was enjoying their gifts. He rounded back to Eggsy, who was holding a new pair of winged trainers. They were all black with charcoal trim.
“Nice,” Eggsy smiled and felt the weight of his husband’s lips on his head. “I’m still mad at you, you know.” He tipped his face up for a proper kiss despite his claims.
“Okay,” Merlin allowed and sat beside Eggsy, arm draped over his shoulders. Merlin watched Tristan open the new pair of heels Eggsy had picked out. He was pleasantly surprised when all of his agents and Arthur presented Merlin with a brand new electric kettle and mug. They had informed Merlin he would not be left out. It had turned out to be a very Happy Christmas for all.