It wasn’t supposed to go like this.
The mission had seemed pretty straightforward. Easy, even. Get in, get the flashdrive with the weapons code, get out. It was supposed to be a small time mission, people who didn’t know what it was they were holding in their cocaine-covered hands.
It was supposed to be quick.
More importantly, Eggsy reflected as a steel-toed, booted foot landed squarely on his already-cracked ribs, ripping his breath away, it was supposed to be painless.
Eggsy was tapping his fingers on the table. It was a bit of a habit, nervous energy radiating off of him whenever he had to sit still in one of these long, suspiciously not-circular, Arthur tables. Merlin - he refused to be called Arthur - was sitting at the head of the table - once again, why was it not a circle? They went whole hog on everything else myth-related. It seemed a bit of a cop out. A subtle reminder of people’s places.
Or, maybe Eggsy was just too used to having to fight for a spot at the table. Being forced to see the inequality everywhere in his life meant now, he could never stop seeing it. Roxie being one of the only girls - no, women, he corrected himself - at the table being a prime example, of course. His being the only one who didn’t speak posh, too.
Merlin was watching Eggsy unblinkingly, silent.
They were waiting for Harry. Roxie was off on a mission in the Bahamas, lucky bastard, doing some intel on a potential new drug operation starting up there. Eggsy couldn’t complain too much, though.
It did mean he got to see more of Harry.
Harry, whose calm presence was the only thing able to stop Eggsy’s anxious tapping to stop, completely and totally grounding in everything he did. When he looked at Eggsy, it felt like he saw him more than anyone else. Harry, with those unreadable eyes that Eggsy swore would be watching him when he wasn’t looking. Harry was… well, he was Harry.
Eggsy wasn’t daft - he knew that Harry didn’t view them as equals. He might treat them that way, because that was the ‘gentlemanly’ thing to do, but facts down, Harry was still… well, a gentleman. Eggsy could shrug into a suit and put it on just fine, but the suit came off, for him. The act was just an act, a mission objective to fulfill.
It was fun, actually, getting to play pretend a rich boy, drinking champagne that cost more than a month’s rent, cosying up to a mark that was dripping in clothes that could put Daisy through college.
But sometimes, it just felt… wrong. Lavish for the sake of lavish, indulging past the point of gluttony. It was for the job, sure, but it left him feeling slimy, disgusted. It seemed ironic that after living… well, the life he’d lived thus far, that something as insignificant as an expensive drink was enough to make him feel that way. As if he didn’t have enough reasons to be disgusted with himself already.
But whenever he felt that way, it seemed like Harry was somehow always there. After the mission to debrief, looking at him with those impenetrable eyes, in the halls, at the mission table… it made Eggsy feel like he could ease back into his own skin. Like the wrongness of it could simply slide off of him.
Eggsy never said he wasn’t a walking oxymoron. But, that seemed to be a trend where Kingsman were concerned.
When Harry did enter the room, it was with his usual grace, walking to sit at his place across from Eggsy. He glanced at Eggsy, eyes warm - or was that Eggsy’s imagination, again? - before turning to face Merlin.
Merlin, who had flipped open his folder the moment Harry sat down, cleared his throat.
“Now that we are all here.”
The three of them sat on the edge of the comically long not-round table, and Eggsy flashed Harry a grin. Harry’s mouth twitched in response, before refocusing on Merlin.
“Our next mission is for Eggsy.”
Eggsy reached out to take the file automatically. Merlin glanced down at his hands, and, Eggsy realized, he had stopped tapping. Sure, it could pass for being because the meeting was finally starting, but Eggsy knew the real reason, and hoped that his features were schooled enough to not give it away.
Harry always could calm him down, by presence alone.
It would be sweet, if only it wasn’t so pathetic.
Eggsy lifted up the front page of the file, scanning it.
“Drug traffickers with a weapons flashdrive? Seems a bit out of their league.”
“That’s the problem.” Merlin frowned. “They seem to have gotten ahold of something way above their expertise. Their not knowing the danger of it is a two-edged sword. They won’t know to protect it, but they’ll also gladly unload it on whoever offers them an arbitrary price for it. It’s imperative we get on this, fast, before they sell it.”
“Or, someone takes it from them.” Harry added, now frowning as well.
Eggsy flipped through another few pages. “What’s the objective? Get in there and steal it, or buy it off of them?”
Merlin and Harry exchanged a glance. Eggsy placed the folder down, leaning back slightly. “Guys?”
Harry shot Merlin a glare.
“I,” Merlin amended, “Thought it would be best if you get in and steal it.”
“Okay.” Eggsy shrugged. It didn’t seem like that big of a concern, he’d done this sort of thing dozens - okay, like 8 - times already, but the way Harry was shooting daggers at Merlin was enough to give him pause.
“What’s the catch?”
Harry spoke this time, cutting off Merlin. “You’re going in without backup. And we don’t have any inside intel. At all. You’re flying completely blind.” They seemed to be talking to each other more than him.
“Not completely.” Merlin cut in, “We know that this needs to be dealt with immediately. That is information we need to consider, Galahad.” Yep, no, they were definitely not talking to him.
“Not when it comes to-” Harry paused, “We are supposed to make these cases reasonably safe for our agents. I don’t think someone as inexperienced as Eggsy should be the one to go in.”
“Oh.” Eggsy spoke up, “Thanks for the vote of confidence.” It came out a bit sharper than he meant to.
He knew he and Harry weren’t equals, he knew that. Of course he didn’t have the same level of experience as them. Of course he wasn’t as good of an agent. But hearing Harry say it so casually, so matter-of-fact, hurt.
More than Eggsy cared to admit.
“We don’t question your capabilities, Eggsy-” Harry began, but Eggsy interrupted him.
“Then there’s no problem with it, yeah? I’ll do my job, that’s that.” He turned to Merlin, ignoring the way he could feel Harry’s eyes on him. “When do I leave?”
Merlin checked his watch. “Three hours, 18 minutes.”
“Great. Where’s the rest of the info?” Eggsy asked, tapping the file.
“That’s all we have.” Merlin admitted, Harry throwing him another glare.
“Oh, right. No problem. I’ll go get ready.” Eggsy stood, pretending the file didn't have a scant 6 pages to it. Least it meant less he had to memorize. “Unless there’s anything else?”
“No, no, that’s it.” Merlin nodded his dismissal. Harry remained seated, and Eggsy made a hasty exit, hearing the sound of their voices slowly rising as he left.
Harry didn’t think he was ready for a mission. Since when? Eggsy’d done just fine when he’d thought… thought Harry had… Eggsy shook his head. He wasn’t going to think about that.
He was never going to think about that again.
The sound of that gunshot haunted his fucking dreams.
He wasn’t going to think about it. He wasn’t going to think about it. He wasn’t going- shit. Eggsy’s fingers were tapping the file rapidly, and he swore he could feel himself slipping into that panicked space that he’s not supposed to go into, don’t go there, it’s not fun for anyone and he can’t blank out that’s when Daisy or his mum could get hurt, he has to pull it together-
JB was bumping at his ankle.
Eggsy picked him up with one hand, sticking the file under his arm so he could pat his head.
“Such a good boy. Yes you are. Yes you are.”
JB’s tail wagged, and Eggsy smiled. He’d ended back up in his room - thank god, he had managed to get back here from muscle memory. It would’ve been hard to explain if he’d just frozen on the spot.
Nothing had happened. He was fine. He hadn’t blanked out. He hadn’t… he hadn’t panicked.
Everything was fine. He had a mission to get ready for.
He would succeed, he would secure the flashdrive. Show Harry that he was capable. And maybe, eventually, Harry would see that Eggsy was truly deserving of the spot at the table.
If Harry believed in him, maybe Eggsy would be able to, too.