“Are you sure about this?” His mother was genuinely concerned, and that was what he was going to miss the most. The way that even though she was the ruler of multiple nations she still took the time to actually care.
“I can’t do this anymore.” He met her eyes, smile apologetic. “This isn’t what I’m meant to do. George and Edward are more than qualified, and they actually like this.”
“You know what this means Leon. Visitations will be almost out of the question, not if you truly want to stay out of the public eye.”
He nodded. “Yeah, I think I’m going to enlist in the marines, get away from here for a few years before I try to settle down. Maybe make a career out of it. The tailors have already figured out some simple disguise tricks for me.”
“I’ve ordered them to keep an eye on you,” her voice was quiet but fierce, and he knew better than to argue with her. “You’ve always liked Harry, I’ll see if they can make you his focus.” She reached out, and he took her hands, finding comfort in the way that she squeezed them gently. So familiar, and something he may never experience again.
“If you ever need to come back to us you have only to say the word,” she promised. “You’re my son Lee, and we love you.”
“I love you too mother,” he said, pulling her into a hug that would have appalled almost anyone, and that was half the reason he was leaving. He simply couldn’t cope with all the judgement for every single move that he made. “Take care, yeah?”
He set her back to her feet, watching her tilt her head proudly, knowing her eyes were on him as he left the room. The few possessions he’d decided to keep had already been removed, and sneaking out of Buckingham palace was almost more ingrained in him than proper dining techniques had ever been. He didn’t look back as he walked away but instead took a deep breath. He was finally free.
“The international community is in chaos this morning in the wake of the deaths of many world leaders. The death of the president of the United States has been confirmed, along with the majority of his cabinet. Great Britain can count itself lucky that the Queen has been found and finally returned to her throne, but her heirs are another story. It appears that both princes and their own heirs are among the casualties of what is being referred to as the Valentine’s Day Massacre. Sources close to--”
The voice continued to drone on from the telly, and Eggsy ignored it for the most part, staring at the last dregs of his pint in the half ruined pub and debating going home. His sister was terrified of being left alone with his mum, but he’d had to get out. Had to let out some steam.
He’d been lucky. The first wave had come when he was walking on his own, and he hadn’t come across anyone until the wave had abruptly ended. With the second wave he hadn’t been quite as lucky, but he’d managed to walk away from the ordeal with merely some bruised ribs and blacked eyes. Shitty, but nothing like what happened to most. At least he wasn’t in the fucking hospital. He’d spent enough time in there to last him the rest of his life, thanks.
Things were quiet. It had been a few days since the attack, and the only places that were really functioning were the essentials. Basic stores, pubs, anything to do with the news, emergency responders, hospitals, or reality tv stations. The really important places. But even in those places it was oddly quiet. People glancing over their shoulders, veering away from each other, mistrust everywhere you looked. The only places people seemed to agree to gather were at the funeral homes and churches, services almost continuous.
That was why he tensed up as much as he did when a gentleman approached his booth holding a pint of Guinness. There were still empty tables, and while he almost looked familiar Eggsy didn’t actually know him.
“Good afternoon Eggsy, is it alright if I sit with you?” He didn’t actually wait for an answer, sitting in the seat across from him. “You may not remember me,” he offered, seemingly undisturbed by the way Eggsy was tensing up, jaw clenching, “but I met you when you were a little boy. I worked with your father and I gave you that medallion around your neck.”
Eggsy couldn’t help glancing down, the emblem was as much a part of him as anything else. He studied the man, eyes narrowed, and now that he had a reference point it did look like it could be the same man. “Prove it,” he said instead, crossing his arms and leaning back, leg jostling under the table as he tried to work off some energy.
He could feel himself being scrutinized but he held his own, staring back and demanding answers with his eyes. This was not the time for trust. “Very well,” the gentleman said slowly. “When I gave you that medal with the number on the back I gave you a password to use with it. Oxfords not brogues. Will that suffice?”
After a moment of mulling it over in his mind he gave a quick nod and drained the rest of his pint. “For now I guess. Depends on what the fuck you want.”
“What makes you think I want something?”
The older man seemed actually curious, or maybe he was just clueless. Eggsy put all his skepticism in the look he gave him. “Everybody fucking wants something. So I sure as hell ain’t going to trust you if you say you don’t. Gentlemen don’t just pop down here on a whim, don’t like to get their shoes dirty. But since you knew my dad I’ll give you a couple minutes, yeah?”
“And supposing I’d like more than a couple of minutes? Or a few minutes in private to speak with you? What sort of proof would you require then?”
Distrust and suspicion flooded through him, and he wished he had another swallow of beer to give him a moment to think. As it was he went with the first thing to run through his mind. “Well that’s shady as fuck. You ain’t even told me your name and you want me to go somewhere with you? I don’t fucking think so bruv.”
“I do beg your pardon, my name is Harry Hart. I promised your father I’d keep an eye out for you, and now there are a few things that I need to discuss with you.”
“Right,” he let out a small huff of air through his nostrils, rolling his eyes away. “You’ve done a fucking brilliant job so far, I don’t know why I ever doubted you.”
“Oh, and you’ve done so much to help yourself? How long have you had that medallion, yet you’ve never once reached out for help. No, it was easier for you to simply give up, I’m certain Lee would be disappointed in you. You did well in primary school, then it all went tits up.” He almost looked as if he was reading a spelling list, voice flat and unimpressed, laying bare all the mistakes he’d made over the past fifteen years. He tried to interject, tried to justify, but Harry was merciless, shooting down his protests one after another.
“It’s not what Lee would have wanted for you,” he finally settled on, looking calmly at Eggsy. Eggsy wanted to be furious, wanted to shove away from the table and take off without looking back, except he had the sinking feeling that Harry was right. And also had a feeling that the older man was actually bothered by how things had turned out, and that was a different feeling. Someone being brutally honest because they cared. Just having someone other than his mum seem to give a shit was novel.
“I apologize Eggsy, I probably should have intervened earlier. There is so much potential in you just waiting to be unlocked. Yet even now I’ve only come because of recent events, but there are matters that we need to discuss, privately. If you’d like I can offer you a ride home, or you can choose the location.”
He was probably going to find himself raped and left for dead in an alley somewhere but he found himself slowly nodding. “Yeah, you can give me a lift home.” And then, because he wasn’t someone to just go along for the ride without getting something out of it, he had to add “but only if you tell me about my dad.”
“I’d like to talk about your father very much,” Harry said, nostalgia worming its way into his expression, fond but sad. He reached for his glass to finish it off when the door of the pub opened and a few common thugs walked in.
It was impossible to ignore how Eggsy tried to sink back into the seat, hoping not to be noticed, but one of the thugs saw him and started over immediately. Years of training had him remaining still, though he mentally took stock of the weapons he had on his person. Eggsy had been made his primary charge now, no harm would come to him.
No one would be allowed to put that flicker of fear in his eyes any longer.
The man seemed worse for the wear, and Harry wasn’t worried about him, despite the gun he was packing. He was limping a bit, one arm in a sling, a bandage covering his nose but not his black eyes.
“What the fuck you doing showing your mug around here?” He spoke loudly, trying to strut despite the limp as he got closer. “I fucking warned you that the next time I saw you you’d pay for putting me in fucking hospital.”
That was interesting. Doubtlessly injuries from Valentine’s Day, but this man was taking it personally. He was ignoring Harry’s presence altogether, and that was rude enough. “Excuse me.” He made the interjection smoothly, found it curious when Eggsy’s eyes widened and he shook his head slightly.
“What the fuck are you doing granddad? Mind your own fucking business or you’ll get hurt.”
“You should go,” Eggsy was looking at him earnestly, and he could see genuine concern there. “He’s serious.”
He took a deep breath. If only Lee were here. If only Lee could see how his son had turned out. Not the minor criminal side, or the bit about not having a job, but the fact that here was a man he’d barely met and he was more concerned with Harry getting to safety than himself. He was definitely Lee’s child.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that,” he smiled at them blandly, ignoring the way that Eggsy closed his eyes. “Mr. Unwin and I have a few matters to discuss, so I would appreciate if you would leave us in peace.” He stood as he said it though, not at all willing to give them any sort of upperhand. Not when his charge could be harmed. This wasn’t time to teach these thugs a lesson, it was time to evaluate and utilize his skill set if necessary.
It also gave him a vantage point, allowing him to take stock of who else was in the pub. It was rather empty actually, the bartender working at the far end and trying to ignore them. This might actually be a nice way to unwind a bit.
“Are we going to have a problem gentlemen?”
It was one of the stockier blokes that moved first, and Harry almost relaxed, arm coming up in a sweeping block to not simply stop the attack but redirect it, turning it on another of his opponents. It was all muscle memory past that, muscle memory and keeping an eye out to make sure no one was going for the door as he hadn’t had the chance to lock it. It didn’t take long for them to all be laid out on the floor, the only sounds a few groans as he quickly knocked out the bartender with a dart from his watch.
He turned, straightening his cufflinks to see Eggsy staring at him, mouth hanging open, and he couldn’t help but allow himself a small smirk.
“May I still give you that lift home?”
He couldn’t get comfortable in the vehicle, despite the plush, leather seats. When Harry had spoken of a car he hadn’t expected there to be a driver already waiting, was completely unaccustomed to seeing a screen, cigars, and minibar in the back. He also couldn’t resist stealing glances at the other man as they pulled away from the curb, and he refused to comment on the fact that the driver apparently knew just where to go.
“You said you’d tell me about my dad,” he prompted, unable to bear the suspense.
Harry cleared his throat. “Yes, indeed. I’m sure you know that your father was in the marines.” He felt the familiar rush of pride at the words, straightening up a bit and nodding. He could only remember bits and pieces of his dad. Things like his fifth birthday when his dad had showed up unexpectedly, scooping him up and then taking him off to the zoo despite the chill in the air. He’d never seen his mum laugh like that since.
“I was with your father when it happened, and there is an important detail that was never passed on to your mother. Your father’s death was not caused by combat, he was assassinated.”
Eggsy's eyebrows rose. “You’re fucking with me. Why the fuck would someone be after my dad? Was he some sort of special agent?”
“Eggsy you need to understand what my job is. I’m a Kingsman. Kingsman is a service that provides bodyguards for the royal family. We’re unassociated with whatever secret service run organizations happen to be in a country, so we remain strictly focused on the royal family’s personal safety.”
“So what, my dad was a fucking bodyguard? Or you was training him to be one?”
“Shit,” Harry raised a hand to rub at his temples. “I didn’t plan through actually telling you I’m afraid. No Eggsy, I was your father’s bodyguard.
There was a part of him hard at work piecing together the evidence being presented to him, but he didn’t believe it. “I don’t fucking follow you. You said your people was bodyguards for royalty.”
“Yes Eggsy. And on the queen’s orders I was assigned to protect Prince Leon, even after he left the royal household. I made one fucking mistake and an assassination was successful, though your father was brave until the end. His actions saved everyone else that was with us that day.”
He could hear Harry talking but couldn’t believe him. “There’s no fucking way my mum would have kept this from me. And you can’t just walk away from the fucking royal family.”
“It wasn’t easy, but your father managed it. He slimmed down and put on a lot of muscle after he left, and by the time he dyed his hair and put in color contacts he received very few second glances. From what he confided in me he told Michelle that he was of lesser nobility, but did not actually reveal to her he was a prince. He wanted to be away from that spotlight, and the fewer that knew the better.
“I must admit, even talking to you almost feels like a betrayal to him. Lee fervently hoped that you would live a normal life, he would never wish a world of fancy dinner parties and paparazzi on anyone, even, dare I say it, the man that shot him. But the truth of the matter is that the nation needs you Eggsy. You are the only direct heir to the throne that is left. Prince George agreed to having a chip placed in him and his family, so they were killed. Prince Edward and his twins were in a horrible car accident during the Valentine’s Day Massacre, and there were those that attacked the few individuals that survived the collision. Only the Queen and her husband have been spared, and she needs someone to succeed her.
“That individual is you.”
“Where’s the fucking camera?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“I asked where the fuck the camera was.” He almost didn’t recognize the low and intense voice coming out of him, but he was done. Whatever trick this was, whoever thought this through, well, they’d done a good job. He found himself wanting to trust the older gentleman, but they’d taken it too far. There was no possible way he was a fucking prince. “Just stop the fucking car and let me out.”
“Shit. Eggsy, please. Hear me out. Let me prove it to you. Just give me two more minutes of your time.”
“Two minutes and I’m out, I don’t give a fuck if the car is still moving.”
He watched as the older man leaned forward, pressing his thumb against the screen and it unlocked, allowing Harry to tap on a button matching the emblem that he wore around his neck.. “Merlin this is Galahad. I’m going to need you to patch Guinevere through to the car please. Immediately.” He settled back in his seat, and Eggsy gave him one last look before shifting his attention to the screen.
It was a remarkably short amount of time before a picture snapped into focus and Eggsy startled, staring down at the Queen herself. “Galahad, Merlin said you requested to speak with me. Is this him?”
Her attention seemed focused on him, and while he had suspected there was a camera in the car to capture him at his worst he now found himself trying to straighten up even farther, aware that the Queen of fucking England could apparently see him. “Fuck,” he breathed, then paled. “I mean, Your Majesty uh,” he tore his eyes away from the screen to glance at Harry for help, the realization that maybe, just maybe, this wasn’t an elaborate trick or plot to kidnap him finally working it’s way in.
Harry, who seemed perfectly calm as he dipped his head to her. “Indeed Your Majesty, this is Leon’s son, Gary. I understand you haven’t seen him since he was a baby. Gary was smart enough to request some sort of proof to my claim that he was the rightful heir to the throne. Gary, this is Her Majesty the Queen. Your grandmother.”
He could feel himself getting lightheaded, and he didn’t even kick up a fuss at Harry calling him Gary rather than Eggsy. “You sure about this bruv?” he blurted out, brain not quite keeping up with this momentous turn of events.
“I am quite certain.” The voice didn’t come from Harry, but from the Queen, her voice easily filling the vehicle. “I understand this is a lot to take in, but trust Galahad. He has served our family admirably for years. Galahad, do bring my grandson in tonight so I can meet him properly.”
The connection closed and Eggsy slumped back into the seat, continuing to stare at the blank screen as the car drove on. He was a fucking prince. He was going to meet the fucking Queen.
He was still staring blankly ahead when Harry finally broke the silence. “We’ll need to get you changed into something a bit more appropriate for a meeting with the queen. If we go now the tailor might be able to make some basic alterations before tonight.”
That was enough to wake him out of his stupor. “Tailor? Alterations? Fuck that, if she wants to meet me she can meet me as is. We’re all family ain’t we?”