When Merlin announces that the Kingsmen, save for a few agents who were still on missions and a skeleton support staff, were having a company outing Eggsy almost loses his lunch in laughter. He can’t help but imagine 30 something middle aged men and women in suits milling about at the beach sipping cocktails and playing volleyball- harmless fun belying their deadly nature. Of course, at the time he didn’t actually think that that was exactly what Merlin had in mind when he had planned the whole thing. So here he stands at a private resort at an island somewhere in Greece, looking over in horror at people who he’s worked with in the last couple of months in various states of undress. It seemed that once the gentlemen were allowed to somewhat shed their facade of decadence and elegance they were rather more enthusiastic wearing little more than itty bitty skimpy bikinis and speedos.
“I could have gone my entire career never seeing any of this if I’d just pretended to be sick like the others did”. Eggsy states, as an agent clearly pushing the retirement limit walks by him and Roxy in tiny skin tight red shorts that show off more than anyone ever wanted to see.
“As if you’d ever pass up the chance to see Harry in anything other than a suit, don’t lie. Not that I can blame you though. That man is a fine specimen and I wouldn’t mind seeing him in something more revealing either.” Roxy says with a smirk and Eggsy can’t help the flare of jealousy at the mention of his mentor but doesn’t bother responding.
“Though I‘d gladly keep on imagining it and never experiencing it in person if it meant I would have been spared from this horror show“. Roxy continues on with a grimace that Eggsy returns even when he doesn’t fully agree with Roxys’ statement. Eggsy would never admit it but he’d probably give up his left arm to see Harry in swim shorts- half naked with miles of skin and muscle showing off glittering wet under Grecian sunlight.
“I wonder if they’ve invented brain bleach yet,” Eggsy says looking away from agent Gawain, already sloshed for this time of day, dancing on a table top. “We should probably drop off at engineering and ask them when this is all over.” Roxy answers, face perfectly mirroring what Eggsy is feeling at the moment— a combination of disgust and fascination— like watching a doctor poke around the stuff your insides are made of.
It’s not as if Eggsy had never imagined any of the other agents in a setting outside of their usual Kingsmen environment but something about seeing his co-workers so uninhibited and unguarded seemed unnatural to him somehow. It felt surreal watching them without the expensive suits and concealed weaponry. It makes him feel more uneasy and he wonders how he can be expected to relax when he’s also as bare as the rest of them. Without any of his weapons on him and wearing only a simple dark blue board short he feels more naked than he’d ever been. He can’t help the crawling feeling under his skin- the fear that this seemingly perfect day could turn out like a nightmare in mere minutes. What if some nasty evil villain found out where they were and decided to get rid of Kingsmen in one go and nuke the island or something? Surely the organization wouldn’t survive losing more than half of their agents. He feels mildly panicked by his own thoughts and turns to Roxy for some chill, only to realise that she’s in conversation with Merlin, who Eggsy hadn’t noticed coming up to them and had seemingly materialized out of nowhere like the magician of his namesake. Great, the heat and all these naked bodies is already frying my brain.
Sensing that he’s finally caught Eggsy’s attention, Merlin turns to him and addresses his most pertinent concern, questioning him:
“Have you seen Harry?”
Merlin, thank god, was more conservative than the rest of his colleagues and was showing only little skin with his dark polo shirt and white pants. Still, Eggsy can’t help staring at his bare forearms and feet. Merlin clears his throat to get his attention again and repeats his question.
“Have you seen Harry? I haven’t seen him at all since we’ve landed.” He utters slowly as if speaking to a particularly dim witted child, and Eggsy almost takes offence if not for the fact that he was blatantly ogling. He fully blames the heat and the nakedness for how slow on the uptake he’s being today.
“Maybe he’s found a way off of this godforsaken island,” Eggsy scowls. “If he has, the two of us are going to have some words. …That selfish prick.”
“He can’t have possibly left the island without alerting me,” Merlin says, holding out a pad that mysteriously appears out of nowhere like magic. (Eggsy must get the man to teach him how he does that) “According to this he’s still here.” and Merlin shows them the little blinking dot on the pad that must represent Harry.
“Wait, does this mean you’re tracking all of us?” From day one, Eggsy’s been a little uncomfortable with Kingsmen’s all over big brother vibe so he shouldn’t be surprised by all of this and yet he still feels a little violated by the constant surveillance even on what is suppose to be a vacation for all of them. As it is Merlin only levels him with a look that confirms his suspicions.
“The island used to belong to a very wealthy and ambitious criminal mastermind we took down several years ago. It is equipped with state of the art surveillance and security systems to ensure the safety of every here.” He shows him and Roxy the schematics of the island briefly as if to demonstrate this.
“Now back to business,” Merlin continues on. “I need the two of you to go find Harry. If he doesn’t want to join any of the activities with the rest of us then at least keep him company. This is supposed to be a bonding exercise meant to get us all reacquainted with each other and closer and stronger than ever. No one will be moping alone on my watch.” With that note their resident quartermaster leaves them to complete their task while he goes and chats up a pretty blonde agent at the bar.
Eggsy and Roxy decide to split up in order to cover more ground, and Eggsy takes to higher ground in search of his mentor. He finds him sitting and smoking on some big rocks at what he assumes to be a diving spot for the locals in the area. It’s not so high up and rocky that the fall would be dangerous, just enough for a cheap thrill. He sneaks up on the older man and observes him in his crisp white shirt and sunglasses— a picture of a leading man in an old Italian romantic film— waiting for his damsel to stumble upon him. Incongruent and detached from the many men and women on the island making the most out of the first break they have all had in a while. God, Harry looks gorgeous he thinks to himself heart beating fast and already feeling a little warm.
“’Arry,” he shouts, bringing Harry out of his reverie.
The man startles and immediately looks to where Eggsy is standing at his side a little farther away but not far enough that he shouldn’t have heard him coming. Eggsy is a little surprised that he seemed to have caught the other agent off guard and that’s when he notices the funny looking rolled up cigarette between Harry’s fingers.
“Is that what I think it is?” He asks incredulous.
“Hm... only if you think this is a highly illegal substance in several countries meant to get stuffy old men like me high.” Harry answers, smirking, as he turns back to look at the ocean— glittering and blue. Eggsy watches him put the cigarette to his lips and inhale, taking his time before slowly blowing it out again. And Eggsy thinks he’s never seen anything hotter in his life.
“Would you like some Eggsy?” the man offers and holds out the joint for Eggsy to take. Eggsy hesitates for a second before moving closer and sitting beside Harry. Harry moves his sunglasses to the top of his head and this close he looks softer and younger. He’s looking at him now, smiling crinkly eyed and almost flirtatious. Eggsy so badly wants to kiss him.
Harry’s the first to break the silence, “I’m guessing you have experience with this?” he states as Eggsy’s fingers close around the joint and brings it up to his lips. Somehow, Eggsy thinks Harry doesn’t mean experience with the hash.
“I have,” he whispers.
He takes his first drag of smoke and immediately feels a little light headed. The hash is quality, but Eggsy can’t blame it completely for how much he has to control himself right now from jumping the man beside him. Harry on the other hand seems to be having no trouble at all. He looks loose and relaxed in a way Eggsy’s never seen him before- not even after a mission over a glass of whiskey at his home. Eggsy decides this is the perfect time to get to know more about his elusive mentor.
“’Ave you ever been married before, ‘Arry?” The question comes out of nowhere.
And Harry, a man known to just go with it when faced with the unexpected, answers simply with: “Once, to a vivacious red headed woman named Charlotte”
“Wot? Are you serious?” Eggsy shouts louder than he intended and looking entirely like a child who’d just been told that everything he’d ever known to be true was a lie.
“Why do you sound so bloody surprised?” Harry should be offended but instead he’s more amused than anything. He’s noticed the last couple of months how Eggsy’s gaze lingered— how the boy sometimes stutters when Harry stands too close. It makes him feel younger and more alive than when he’s on the field and on the business end of a gun.
“Well I always thought you were...” Eggsy trails off a look of confusion on his face. “And then there was that wanker in the restaurant the other week who was flirting with you and you were flirting back, and that honey pot mission where you slept with that cocky young millionaire and also you and Merlin, man... can definitely feel a little tension there some days...”
“You thought I was gay?” Harry states the obvious conclusion to Eggsy’s statement.
“Well yeah...” The boy looks almost sheepish, and Harry can’t help the laugh that escapes him.
“I am. Always been…”
“Then, why did you?” Eggsy asks, and Harry knows he means to ask about the story between him and Charlotte and he feels like he needs more fortification before taking that stroll down memory lane. So, instead of immediately answering he motions for Eggsy to hand him over the joint and takes a long drag of smoke before saying:
“Because that was what we did back then when the world wasn’t what it is now.” It sounds stupid he knows, but he needs Eggsy to understand. He lays his back on the ground, tries to get comfortable for the long story and Eggsy moves to lie down next to him.
“What was she like?”
“She was funny.” He smiles, remembering fondly the time they shared together. “God bless her sense of humour. She was also more than a little scandalous. I remember we used to go to these posh parties near University and we’d sit together in our little corners and observe the people around us. She’d make up the most outrageous stories about them to pass the time and make it almost like a competition which I always lost.” Harry sounds wistful and Eggsy feels the familiar feeling of jealousy in his gut.
“One time..” he continues on oblivious, “we were very drunk and she’d just been telling me about how this absolutely boring looking lady in glasses was probably secretly a dominatrix in the bedroom because it’s always the quiet ones and about how her really macho looking boyfriend must love her spankings... when suddenly this burly looking man comes up to us and says: ’That’s my girl right there you two are talking about’” at this Harry starts gesturing with his hands- pointing at the air as if poking at someone’s chest. Something Eggsy has only seen him do once or twice and only when he’s spectacularly drunk. He’s also gotten a tad louder and Eggsy spares a thought to be glad that there isn’t anyone else around to see Harry like this.
“He looked absolutely furious with us. I had no idea we were even talking that loud. I felt vaguely terrified because the man was almost twice my size and could probably throw me out the window.. and more than a little guilty for humiliating that girl but Charlie was totally unfazed and unapologetic. She just stared him down and promptly announced to the whole room that being a little kinky in the bedroom was nothing to be ashamed of. Then proceeded to announce to the whole room that she herself owned a nine-inch strap on which she’d lovingly use on anyone who wanted it and anyone who had a problem with her could go suck her dick.” Eggsy can’t help the burst of laughter at this. He feels awed by this girl Harry is describing and awed at hearing Harry speak so filthily.
Harry himself is chuckling and Eggsy is endeared by the little crinkles beside his eyes. “Of course, then everybody soon forgot about the girl in the glasses and she became the talk of the whole room. Now, to anybody else the whole situation would have been uncomfortable but she just revelled in it. She couldn’t care less. She was brave and feisty, had a fucking dirty mouth and didn’t care who she offended. She reminds me a little of you actually.”
“Oh thank fuck for that!” Eggsy answers with a grin. It may have sounded less like a compliment to anyone else but Eggsy could see how much Harry loved this girl and was more than happy to be considered anywhere near the kind of person Harry could love.
“Is that how you met? At University? And then wot? You fell in love with her and got married?” Eggsy barrels on, rushed words almost on top of each other.
Harry chuckles at the puppy like enthusiasm Eggsy is showing at the moment. He knew the younger man was eager for any piece of him he’d be willing to share and he found himself feeling more open to giving him everything he asked- to pulling him into his world. “You ask too many questions but I suppose we do have time” Harry replies, the joint between them long burnt out. He thinks briefly about rolling another but ultimately decides against it. He’s still feeling the haze from the smoke and would rather not lose it for this part.
“Actually her father and my father were colleagues. We grew up together.” Harry pauses at this. Eggsy can feel Harry holding back- considering the whole story. He thinks there’s something more there, something about how he grew up with these people that he isn’t willing to share just yet and as Harry’s eyes grow a little bit distant and closed he decides not to push the matter.
“She’d always known about me and my preferences. She was the first person I’d ever told and the first person to accept me just as I was. Me and her we were the same. We were both trapped in a time and place we absolutely abhorred and we were eager for adventure. We were planning on moving to the states together after University... but then, my father found out about me being gay...” Eggsy can already tell from Harry’s expression that his parent’s reaction to finding out wasn’t at all good even before he continues. “He was furious, wanted to disown me completely and I was terrified. I didn’t think I’d survive without their support. You see.. I was unbearably young and insecure and I thought I had no other choice. I had convinced myself that the only option was to appease my father by marrying a woman and living a lie and Charlie- Charlie loved me dearly, wanted to ease my suffering in whatever way she could.” Eggsy could see the sadness in Harry’s eyes and he thinks about that boy. The Harry who was scared and young and lived in a time that didn’t understand him and his heart constricts.
“She knew that I couldn’t love her the way she deserved but she married me anyway. We’d moved to New York after. It wasn’t love the way people think it’s supposed to be. I didn’t fancy her that way but I did love her and for a while it worked for us.”
“Wait, if you guys’d move to New York, how’d you end up in kingsman then?”
Harry thinks about telling him about the younger brother he’d left behind. He thinks about how to go on describing the sweetest person he’d ever known and one of the only people Harry’s ever really loved. He thinks about the gaps in the story and how he won’t be able to tell Eggsy everything just yet but how much he wants to in the future.
“Well to be brief... My brother died. He was so very young at the time and reckless and when I’d left for New York he’d gone on searching for his own adventure. I didn’t think anything of it at the time, so caught up in myself and in Charlie and the life we had in New York...” For a moment Harry is lost in thought- back to thinking about all the what ifs he’d considered countless times before but he doesn’t let it pull him under and continues:
“He’d entered the army all on his own. He was just shy of 18 when he’d stepped on a mine that killed him instantly. I left Charlie to see them bury my brother. I’d wanted to follow him- thought about enlisting in the army as well but my uncle who was a Kingsman at the time, gave me another option, another purpose, if you will. He nominated me for Galahad.”
Eggsy looks at the other man in a new light- feels himself adjusting to this new world view, where deadly almost invincible killers could just be men who’ve gone through the worse that life has had to offer and come out better, stronger.
“I’m sorry about your brother,” Eggsy says to the silence, sparing a brief moment to acknowledge their shared grief over people they’ve loved and lost. But like a curious cat that can’t leave well enough alone he asks, “but what about Charlie?”
“Well, while I was back in England with the Kingsman, she’d met a lovely man who adored her. Last I heard from her she was enjoying life in LA. She’s got a beautiful house near the water and a son that’s probably the same age as you.” (Eggsy doesn’t acknowledge the irony that the boy could have very well been Harry son) “I visit her whenever I’m in the states and we still write to each other regularly. I think she’d adore you if she met you.”
From what Eggsy’s heard of her she sounded amazing so he says in all honestly: “I’d like to meet her sometime.”
The joint’s long gone now and the air around them is beginning to cool, Eggsy notes. He can’t think of anything else to ask Harry at that moment and as the haze of the joint they’d both been smoking clears slightly he doubts that he’d get more out of Harry today. Somehow though he feels content- feels closer to his mentor now- more than he ever thought he could get and he’s thankful for whatever gods had given Harry that joint.
He closes his eyes briefly and feels the familiar pull of sleep, he sometimes feels after a good high. But before he succumbs to it and naps for however long though he hears clothes rustling and feels a shirt falling on his face. He lifts it up and off of him only to see the unmistakably shapely ass of one Harry Hart- stripping off his pants. The older man watches him from over his shoulder- a teasing smirk on his face and a challenging look in his eyes as he jumps off of the cliff they had been on and into the cool blue water bellow. And as Eggsy takes off his board shorts and joins his mentor bellow with a spectacular dive of his own he sends a telepathic thank you to Merlin and fucking Greece.
Elsewhere, Merlin can almost sense Eggsy’s gratitude as he watches them “bond” on his live feed.