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It's A Long Down to The Bottom of The Sea

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The entrance of infirmary inside the Kingsman headquarter swung open and Merlin marched into the room, to see Galahad who just regained his conscience from comatose state a few hours ago. The man was unconscious for five days.

 

“Harry…” Merlin called the man on the bed. Harry did not response and his eyes stayed shut like he was asleep in peace but Merlin knew well that he was not.

 

“Welcome back you, bastard. Next time you do something as bloody reckless as what you did in the Middle East Gulf I promise I will feed you to sharks.”  

 

It took a moment before Harry slowly opened his eyes, though fixing his glare on the plain white wall opposite his bed instead of looking at his friend and that only annoyed Merlin more. He let out a deep sigh in exasperation then he continued on the matter that had brought him here.  

 

“Harry, I already read your report…” Merlin said out loud and paused to let the word sink into Harry’s conscience.

 

“And Arthur also read it.” Then he continued.

 

There was a mixture of concern and worries in Merlin’s tone. Things Harry did not often hear, not often that Merlin would let his emotion show. Harry had been his colleague for years before them actually becoming real friends. They always had each other back at work and out of work. As much as they might hate to admit, they were best mates.

 

It was crystal-clear to Harry that Merlin wanted clarification about what he wrote in his report from the latest mission which almost cost his life. Harry already predicted the outcome of their vain conversation even before it had started. He would like to neglect the subject and sink back into gentle arms on sleep if only he could.

 

Merlin began to say something that Harry could not bring himself to understand those words. He heard the noise but nothing made sense to him when his mind was starting to drifting off. His head started to throb like someone was trying to drill his head. Everything turned blurry under the white neon light in his room and that was when Harry lost his conscience again.

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Due to the rising of the tension in the Middle East Gulf. Each country was threading to make a lethal attack on one another. The war would have cost more than a million of civilian lives and survivors would turn into numerable refugees. Thus, Galahad was assigned on a solo-mission to collect information from the mainframe and destroy one telecommunication base in Iran.

 

The Kingsman suspected this base was belonged to one of the terrorist organization in Russia who had been supplying and smuggling weaponry from the Black Sea to the Middle East Gulf during the past six months. Before, the Kingsman could be certain enough to make another move towards this tension of threading war; they needed to access to more information.

 

From the briefing of the mission, this was not going to be a piece of cake, even to Galahad. The agent had learnt from decades of experiences that easy solo-mission never existed even when what ought to be the easy task could go wrong in a matter of second and there would be no one to catch his back.

 

 

And he was right.

 

 

The mission was a completed disaster.

 

 

The telecommunication base with light armed weaponry turned out to be a full operating military base with hundreds of well-trained soldiers. By the time, the Kingsman realised their vicious mistake,   Galahad had at least twenty dots of pointing red light laser from riffles aiming to finish him off and it was too late to retreat.

 

There was no way Galahad could evade every bullet, not even with a half of what used to be his favourite bulletproof umbrella. He shielded himself behind an electric generator from the rain of deadly bullets. Galahad knew that it was only the matter of time before they would come to get him. He prepared to reload his gun and get ready but when he fetched for ammunition in his trouser pocket it was empty. He must have lost it somewhere and now he could only cuss at himself for his own stupidity.

 

The situation summoned Galahad to surrender. But if he did, there was no assurance that they would spare his life like most villains tend to do in Hollywood action movies he never watched. He could not comprehend logics in modern action movies because many of them did not make any sense to him. For instance, no real spies would tell his or her real last name and name to every single person they have a chat with like that and still be alive for sequels after sequel. The real world was not that kind of movie. Though, sometimes Harry’d wished he were in that kind of movie where he would not have to die and get luck to shag all good looking ladies throughout the film.

 

The soldiers creased fire and offered Galahad an opportunity to surrender or literally a chance to get captured and tortured to dead for some pieces of whatever information they were able to bleed out of him. He would be beaten up to almost dead in every existed way. Despite, the fact that Galahad had been acquainted with both creative and uncreative torturing methods, the idea still sounded unpleasant to him, he’d rather die than to expose any Kingsman’s secret.

 

The count began slowly from ten then nine. Galahad took a deep breath then tighten his grip on his uninjured arm around his gun. Four bullets left, how far could he go with them?

 

“Merlin, if you have any plan, this is the perfect time to voice it out.” There was still a teasing tone and an incredulously cool charm in Galahad voice.Something Merlin had hated.

 

Merlin was alarmed but he needed to be focus and calm for the sake of the mission and Galahad. He tried his best to find the way to get his friend out of the situation by typing madly at his keyboard and going through screens and screens of the ship prototype for the best possible escape plan.

 

Unfortunately, they did not have all the time they were needed.

 

“I’m going to surrender!” Harry said it loud enough for both parties to hear.

 

Without any further inform to Merlin, he made an outrageous decision. Galahad put both of his hands in the air like he was going to surrender and about to get captured. He walked out from where he was shelter.

 

Galahad! What the fucking are you doing!?” Merlin hollered furiously through Galahad earpiece. However, the man only ignored his and kept his facial expression neutral. Merlin’s gut screamed at Galahad, he knew the field agent had something on his mind and he was not going to like it.

 

By the time, Galahad walked out from his hiding spot, he set three lighter handed grenades in a basement which storing surplus explosive armory.

 

The detonation roared through into Merlin’s ears and it froze him. Last pictures that Galahad’s glasses was able to capture and sent to Merlin was the ablaze flame and thick vicious smoke before he completely lost the signal.

 

Kingsman were the men of quality, manner and pride. They would do whatever it might take to complete a mission. But this, this was madness.

 

Merlin felt his blood ran cold as the red spot that represents Galahad disappeared from his monitor. He cussed out several times under his breath. It was hard to bring himself to convince his mind to believe what his eyes just saw. His eyes were wild with woe and both his ears were sore.

 

Galahad’s plan of survival was to set off three lighter handed grenades then jump off the cliff into the deep blue below. He already had two bullet wounds and a deep cut on his right shoulder. If he’d survived the explosion, it would be more likely that he would have to be too wounded to swim to the closest beach.

 

Sometimes, Merlin did really hate the logical side of his brain so much for being too sensible when not a thing made any sense. A part of him still wanted to hope that Galahad had made it and eventually he would make a contact back to him but the possibility of Galahad survival was almost down to impossible from every aspect. However, if there was any slimmest possibility Merlin would do whatever he could in with his authority to bring his best friend home.

 

The searching team had been sent instantaneously after the Galahad disappeared. Two days were passed before Merlin’s computer screen beeped the red light miraculously. Though, the signal was weak. No one was certain that they would find Galahad or only the indicator washed up on the rocky coastline.

  

To everyone, it was a more than a miracle when the rescue team found Galahad badly injured but still breathing shallowly on the beach of a deserted island. He was in the critical condition even the Kingsman’s doctors were not sure that he would make it or not.

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“What were you thinking? Are you out of your mind when you were writing the report!?” Merlin inquired the man in bed. They were not even half-way through the previous conversation when Harry passed out again under tranquiller.This time Merlin waited for a couple of days after Harry woke up again. He had ordered the doctor and nurses to decrease the painkiller dosage intentionally on purpose in advance.   

 

“I already wrote everything I can recall in the report. There is nothing else for me to say.” Harry replied flatly and emotionless.

 

“The base was blown up into scraps. You fell unconsciously into the sea and it was kilometers away from the closest beach or any bloody coastline. Then you would expect us to believe that you were saved by a blond bloke with a pair of blue eyes and emerald slippery scales who has a fucking appearance that fitting perfectly the definition of a mermaid. I never knew that you’re a wanking fan of The Little Mermaid in your spare time.

 

“I was not completely unconscious and I knew what I saw.” Harry went cross his own sanity just to convince that the young man was real. He saved Harry’s life. This was a fact, was not a dream, moreover he would like to meet the creature. Harry was more than desperate to believe.

 

Bollocks! For god’s sake! Harry” Merlin paused. Indeed, Merlin was stunned when he did not hear any further retortation from Harry. He studied Harry momentary and let out a lengthy sigh and decided to call it a night from himself and Galahad.

 

“We need to run another test on your brain the first thing in the morning. I hope we won’t find any traumatic damage on your brain. But for now, you should take some more rest. Goodnight.” At the end of those words, the door was already closed. Harry was alone by himself. A minutes was merely gone by when his thoughts started to occupy him. The thoughts of a creature he saw under the abysmal layers of the blue.

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The moment when Harry was drowning in the sea was miserably slow. It was getting darker and darker as the air in his lungs wearing thin. Bubbles of air escaped from his lips like they were from his child bubble maker toy that he used to own when he was a child. He felt his body was lighter than what it used to be. Levitating would be the best choice to describe his feeling.

 

His Blood bleeding from the deep cut on his shoulder but he did not feel the pain, not anymore. All he could feel was the coldness beating him into numbness. When he was a younger man he fancied honor death and it was one of the reason why he signed up to be a Kingsman agent. With the in heritage he received from his grandparents, Harry Hart could live in an opulent life without any need to glaring back at the foul world beneath his expensive pair of oxfords.

 

However, He chose the opposite. As a boy, he was under the care of his mother and grandparents since his father passed away when he was very young. Fragments of his images were what Harry had left of his father. To Harry, his grandfather was the father figure to him. He was the man who taught a wayward brat with no father how to be a proper and prim. A gentleman.

 

On the day, Harry accepted as a legitimate Kingsman agent. His grandfather called him into the round table where he was sitting as the head of the table among other knights. It was the first time he heard his grandfather slash Arthur said he was proud of him and he knew the world was in the good hand.

 

At the moment that seemed to be his last moment in Harry’s life he could not stop himself from wondering would his grandfather still be proud of him? Or did he let him down? If another world did exist he might be able to figure the answer once he had reunion with all the Harts.

 

Doubts and insecurity consumed his mind as the darkness of the sea suck the air from his lungs. The Light at the surface of the water gleaming like stars in the night. They were oddly far out of his reach, million and millions of miles away. He knew he would be dead in matter of a few minutes. Harry accepted his fate. If this was how his life would end. He thought he had lived a life and there was not a thing for him to be regretted.

 

 

Let the death embraces me, he thought.

 

 

Though, that was the end of his life. He did not die. Someone had saved him or maybe it was something butHarry knew what he saw was real. The man was not sure he was delusional or not when he saw a pair of iridescent eyes glowing peculiar shades of colours in the dark. The colours are strangers to Harry. He could not find any word from his dictionary to describe the beauty as they were moving toward Harry. It must be some deep sea creature was what Harry told himself. Then he thought it was the light that people always say they see when they were going to die in the movies. As the light got closer to him, he knew that this thing was not a guiding-light or an angel.

 

The creature approached Harry and it stunned him. A figure of a handsomely young man with blond hair and broad shoulder was upon his eyes but as his sight travelled down the young man body he did not see legs. Instead of having legs and feet like an ordinary human being, the young man had long tail, fins and emerald scales.

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The creature stared at Harry like it would devour him up by just staring. Harry froze under its gaze, either not sure of what to do and what it would do to him, so he just let his mind lost into those mesmerizing eyes upon him. A smile carved on lips of the creature as its hand curled on Harry’s cheek. The sensation of icy but smooth skin sent shivering waves down his spine. Something the man never felt before in his entire life.

 

The gaze they shared was broken when Harry’s lungs screamed for air. He knew he was not going to last long. The man could not hold the grip to his live any longer as his vision slurred.

 

A pair of lips covered around his own was the last thing he took notice.

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As Harry gradually opened his eyes, he found himself on the bed of wet sand and shattered seashells, looking up at the ablaze blue sky and he was still much alive. Obviously, it was not the best place on this God’s earth that one does expect to wake up when the last thing you could remember before you were drowned a gaze of a mythical merman and the lips.

 

The rhythm of waves flinging back and forth calmly in his ears like a lullaby. Judging from the wind and tide the man assumed he must be somewhere along the coastline of Middles East Gulf, wounded badly and out of the reach Kingsman. Harry reached into the pockets his trousers and the suit, searching for any device that might still be functional. A handkerchief and another half of what used to be his Kingsman glasses were what he could fetch out from his pockets. In addition, his signet ring was still on his right pinky finger which he did not think the ring was any useful to him in this situation at all.

 

“Brilliant. At least I could use the signet ring to shock some fish when I get starve or scare a bloody shark away, if any accidentally comes along.” Harry thought and chuckled bitterly to himself.

 

What could a man do in his despair? Harry Hart chose to laugh it off. He’d trade everything he had had right now to make a contact the Kingsman. Seriously, everything. 

 

The warmth sunshine felt right now his skin. Outlandish salty tang taste was still lingering in his mouth. The man was quite sure this was not the taste of sea water. It must be something else. But the thing he could be certain was he wanted it more.

 

Harry closed his eyes and tried to recall what really happened at the bottom of the sea but his attempt was failed, only the pitch black was the only thing he could see in the cloudy memory. Or after all, it may be just a trick the sea played with his mind. Though, it would not stop him from going after the creature to seek for the truth with his own eyes and hands. 

 

He let himself laying there for a while that seemed like more than only minutes, perhaps he did not move for an hour or more. There was much he could do so let his mind wandered freely, thinking of the young man face that he met in the dark, how breath-taking he was and other details he could recall from the oblivious encounter.

 

Nobody was going to believe him. He was confident. No matter how hard he was going to persuade them. He could not blame them, even Harry, himself found it hard to bring his logic to believe. Merlin would think Harry’s out of his mind. However, that was to matter Harry would have to consider latter, if he could make it out alive here first, to tell the story to his friend.

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The artificial sharp neon light dug into his eyes abruptly the next time Harry wanted to open them up. A moan escaped from his dried throat. It took him a moment to realize where he was.

 

“So they found me in time.” Half of him was relieve to be back in London but there was another part of him that felt vacant like he did leave something or some piece of himself in the Middle East Gulf. Harry wanted to get out of the bed and go back to where the rescuing team found him but the thought had to wait until he had got better. His body was connected with wires and monitors that filled the room with soft beeping sound every time his heart did make a beat. Every wound he had from the mission had been cleaned and wrapped under white band-aids. Nothing was hurt anymore but the sore had not left him yet. He moved his fingers to press a red emergency from the control pad next to his hand and that was the time he saw two of his index finger and middle finger with splints. Harry was actually injured badly than what he thought he was.

 

Within a few minutes the crew of men and women dressed in white gowns rushed into the room and surrounded Harry, checking his pulse and asking questions.

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Two tedious weeks of being a bedridden had passed and he did not enjoy any second of the experience at all. By the time, Harry was released from Kingsman infirmary, he was more than glad that it was over. The worst was he could not decide to what he would like to without doctor’s approvals. Harry was a very independent and private man. The idea of waiting to get a permission before he could do something was so foreign and distasteful to him. Especially, during the last five days, the doctor forced him to stay in him room. Even though, Harry could get on his feet and he would like to get some fresh air. He could leave the room only the time he was called out to take various neuroimaging scans.

 

Mostly were structural imaging scans, searching for damaged nerves, then several times through functional imaging scans looking for metabolic diseases in his brain. At the end of the day, they found nothing was wrong with Harry’s brain so he was released. However, the doctor suggested him to take things easy and gave him some more days off which Harry had no objection against it at all. He was not ready

 

Arthur gave him three months of recovery. Literally, it meant Harry had full three months away from every kind of Kingsman duty. This was the first time in his profession that he really got a decent vacation for more than three days in a role. A Kingsman’s agent did not necessary need a vacation like the ordinary. Usually, Kingsmans would prefer to stay at their houses, out of mayhem and crowd. The only place they would like to be the most in this whole world is any place they could call home. While normal people would ask for a holiday to get away from boring daily lives. In contrary, spending some time aboard was a part of their jobs and none of them rarely complaining about how bored they were with their profession either. Always getting dressed in the best. Having chances to save the world and damsels in distress. Playing with cool and posh gadgets. Having a license to kill. And so many things more than what people had seen in James Bond’s movies. 

  

Although, in his case things were a bit different from mundane vacation or sick leave. The Kingsman just had not trust him enough to send him back to the field yet but he did not care, not anymore since his mind had gone to somewhere else.

 

Clothes and belongings were packed neatly into two leather suitcases. The bigger one for loading and another smaller one for caring on board. These were all he would need for his journey.

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He booked the first flight he could find from London to Muscat. Unfortunately, only economy seats were available for Harry to fly. He picked the seat next to the window because it meant he had one less passenger to endure throughout the flight.

 

The flight was a bumpy eight hours on a lousy aircraft seat. What could you expect from a long haul flight in economy class anyway? Harry did not get even a blink of sleep throughout the flight. He spent some of his boring hours on looking outside the window, watching clouds dancing in the mild wind or gathering together into bigger clouds. When he was a boy, he used to lay down on his back in the afternoon just to watch the sky while other children went to play football. He would stay like that for hours, not moving then go back home before the sunset because it eased him from worries and woes. Like sort of meditation to his restless soul.

 

There was an obese man who sat next to him on board. The rotund man sat uncomfortably in a tiny economy seat next to Harry which somehow reminded Harry of Mr. Pickle’s favourite food, SMOKED SPAM. When he stole Harry’s right armrest during the flight, Harry did not say a word about it because he took a pity on the man. Honestly, he would need at least two economy seats put together to sit.

 

Two hours after departure, the man fell asleep, making an irking noise and choking. Sleep apnea symptoms. Some passengers gave the poor man disdain looks and there was one told who a flight attendant to tell him to be quiet. Harry thought such a request and compliant were merely useless. It was palpable to Harry that the obese man had absolutely no control with his body while he was inclining in his sleep. Why most people had eyes but they’d never seen. Harry was irritated by that fact and he knew how this fuss on board would end by reading each person body language. In this case, fist fight would be inevitable.

 

Observing people was one of required skills for every spy. It was like their second nature to watch, read and predict people next move. The particular skill which their lives depending on it. The smallest detail could have cost their own lives or the innocents.

 

“What you say is not what matter, it’s what your body do when you say it.” His grandfather, the previous Arthur before Chester King, taught him once he became a Kingsman agent. The body language was what that matter the most, more than their words.

 

Those years in the hazardous fields had granted him the skill and experience to reading human body language accurately. He had done it myriad times but he rarely had had any occasion where he could just observe people without putting his guard up so high all the time. Thus, he could observe these grumpy passengers for pure entertainment, at least they seemed to be more amusing than what the entertainment unit on the flight could have offered him on board.

 

When the flight attendant woke the obese man up, everything had turned into a mess. Harry took his eyes off the sea of clouds to watch the show when the fist fight had begun. The ex-police with an anger management issue was the first one to throw a punch. Harry did not think it would be him. He thought the hotheaded American would have been the one, he had more potential than anyone on board to start. Even through an eye of a professional observant, he might not always be right.

 

“Oh, human is a creature of irrational thoughts and unpredictable actions. We’re merely fools, aren’t we?” Once again Harry was lost in his own thought. His thoughts had taken up his awakening and sleeping hours away from him. Recently, he hadn’t had much sleep since he first woke up from the comatose in the infirmary. Sometimes, he could not tell that which only his memory and which one was only imagination that he wished it would happen. His mind was distant, to somewhere else, more like it had slipped into another dimension. It made he feel like he does not belong to this world anymore. Like he had already fallen into the endless deep blue.

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Though, Harry was elated that the hideous flight was over. His back started to ache after the rough landing and it was going to be worsen tomorrow. At this point, he was started to regret a chance he missed to punch the pilot in the face after the landing.

 

By the time, Harry was in front of the airport in Muscat with soaked white shirt in heated humid air. The three piece navy jacket was now folded neatly and hanged at the crook of his left arm. Eventually, Harry needed to unbutton the first two buttons of his white shirt before they would strangle to death in this ungodly weather. He should have checked the weather forecast in Muscat when he was packing but he completely forgot it. This was a price he needed to pay for his recklessness. Meantime, he could only cursing breathlessly to himself in all eleven he was capable of speaking.  

 

Harry rented a car from a local car rental service. He picked the modest model to be discreet. Being the centre of attention would not be a wise decision in Oman. Once he got into a sliver sedan and started the engine, his road journey was began.

 

 

An hour of driving was all it took from Muscat airport to a small fisherman village called “Qantab”. A place where Harry was found unconscious on the beach.

 

Harry kept all his car windows down, to welcome the fresh sea breeze into his lungs. Mild sea salt air could be tasted in each his taking breathe. He absentmindedly licked his dried lips several times as he was on the road.

 

The limited landscape view behind the obstruction of the car was still breathtaking. Mountains were garnished with abundant greenery. Rocky coastline poked out and stretched miles away into the glittering sea in the late afternoon. But the only thing that could earn Harry’s attention was vast piece of water, straining towards the horizon. It kept distracting him from the black tarmac road.

 

After drove off the main road into a dusty narrow lane full of rocks for another ten minutes. Harry finally parked the car in front of a small two storey house with cobalt blue roof. The house looked cozy house on the outside. Nevertheless, it could be called an antique house with the white paint was faded, revealing the true colour of bricks on the wall which made the house look fashionable vintage. There was a small lovely garden in front of the house growing various flowers in different colours and herbs at the entrance like they were there to welcome Harry. He would be staying here for the next few months.

 

The man got out of the car. The red dirt from substandard road blessed his oxfords with red dust. Harry looked down at his favourite pair of shoes before he knitted his eyebrows together and let out an exasperated sigh. It would take an effort to clean them out and he did not have the effort to do it in the near future. He reached for his luggage and walked towards the house.

 

Once he stepped into the house, his filthy shoes went to sit on the closest shoes rack. Suitcases had gone to the bedroom on the second floor then washed his face and took a look around the house. Harry thought about unpacking his stuff but he was too exhausted to do it today so it would have to wait until tomorrow.

 

Harry chose to explore the house after he finished putting the suit he was wearing on the plane but never really needed it in Qantab away. The house was furnished with minimum furniture, most of them were made of wood and seemed to be passed down from generation to generations.

 

He was going to make himself a cup of tea but all cupboards were emptied, despite cobwebs and greyish dust. Shopping for necessary goods became his priority. With a pen and a piece of paper, he listed down what he needed to buy then went out to the local grocery, following the direction of a tourist map he brought from the airport.

 

It was already late and most shops already closed for more than an hour ago. A walk in the late afternoon sun was relaxing and enjoyable. The tranquil road took him to a grocery, the only one that was still opened. Even though, the shop did not have much selection to offer Harry like a supermarket in London. Harry almost got everything he listed, expect the tea. It was sold out.

 

The shopkeeper told him that there was a café along the beach just five blogs away from the grocery where they might still open and serve tea to tourists. Harry’s heart lifted up with hope. He said thank you to the grocery man and wandered to the café. Unfortunately, the café was already closed when Harry was there. Every time Harry thought his day could not be more frustrated, the day would always proof itself that it could.

 

“No tea for an English man today ten...How dreadful.” Harry murmured to himself. He should have brought at least a box tea with him. Even a bag of some cheap scrap tea selling by a vending machine in the Heathrow Airport would do for him now.

 

Instead of walking back home, Harry took a walk along to the beach. He wished he could his cloudy mind there. The sun was disappearing down, mere a quarter still above the horizon when Harry reached the beach.  Shades of red, yellow and orange blended and mixed on the water surface, creating surreal beauty of colours.

 

Fragments of memory rushed back to Harry like madden waves hit on the strand. It happened too fast and Harry was too weak to resist it. His mind was drown in the past, making it hard for him to breathe.

 

At the end of the horizon, an image of the mythical creature Harry had been longing to see for weeks shore above the deep blue. Harry shut his eyes down and shook his head to clear his sight. With a hope to see nothing when he had opened his eyes again.

 

Come, come, come to me.

 

A vague voice whispered softly in his ears. Those words made on his mind like an enchanting spell. He was entirely lost in them. Steps had been taken and before Harry could even realize what he was doing, he started to wander towards the sea in front of him. All of his self-conscious dissolved into the brine around him. With every step he took, the deeper he went down.

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Harry did not feel anything until the water was all around him. He went absentmindedly deep into the sea, following an ambiguous silhouette of what he had thought it might be the young man who saved his life about a month ago.

 

I’m fucked up. Harry thought to himself. It is only once you start to see things you should not be seen, you would know you are totally fucked up and question your own mind for being mental.

 

The man already went too deep for him to stand and put his head above the sea level to breathe for an air. Once, he tried to open his eyes to get the clearer view of how deep he was sinking towards to but they were burnt with the salty water. He knew he was going down. Harry started to move his limbs. He knew he had to swim back to the shore before the sun was completely set. By then it would be too dark to see where the closest land was.

 

When he kicked his legs the gradual pain had built within his left calf as if someone had stabbed a knife into him and decided to be more sadistic by twisting it around. It was a cramp. The man realized he had got into a real trouble in the middle of the sea once again. Harry began to wonder how getting drown in the middle of the sea has made its way into his monthly routine.

 

His hands and another leg were still functional. He swam with what he had got left through the fierce waves. There was a slim chance that Harry could have got to the beach in time.

 

As a trained agent, he was fully aware of how slim that chance was. He was realistic. Harry knew he was not getting anywhere nearer to the beach from swimming with one leg. Moreover, he could not even see the beach. It was depending on the matter of time before the sea would swallow him down. He’d welcome any kind of help in this situation. Then he came up with an idea.

 

Despite, the alarm screaming from his basic instinct of survival, Harry stopped swimming and stood still. Unmoved. His decision was obviously outraged. Any sane person who has a decent mind should have been more panicking or at least doing something for the survival, but he was not one of those people. He was once a sane person but not anymore. Something had totally changed him. It turned the world he thought he had knew it so well like the back of his hand upside down.

 

The man chose to let the sea devour his body with a little glimmer of hope in his manic action that he might have a chance to meet the creature again. He wished. Waiting with his eyes closed in the middle of the sea. Clearly, this was not the cleverest idea throughout his whole life.

 

Harry was not sure whether the goddess of fortune was going to be on his side or another side. After all, he could have been risking his life for something that may only existing in his head.

 

What a fool. Harry mulled discreetly.

 

As the clock ticking each second away, Harry’s wish was crumbling down into shreds. He already prepared for every scenario he could think of. The worst was going to be his death.

 

Was this worthwhile? Or he was merely making a fool out of himself. After all, it is a curiosity that killed a cat.

 

Harry slowly drifted away in his own mind from the rest of the world he had known into the mysterious midnight blur beneath.  

 

By all of surprises, he felt a firm grips of a hand on his left forearm. Harry’s heart was lifted into the size that merely made it uncomfortable to longer be fitted in his chest. He heard his heart rattling dementedly as if it was banging next to both of his ears.

 

This must be him. He is here.

 

The force dragged him backward before he could react. A pair of arms embraced and held him up. His head was now above the sea level. He inhaled the great chunk of air and started to cough some unintentionally water he swallowed out from his lungs.

 

The air was tingling in his lungs like firecrackers but in a good way. It felt good to be breathing some humid salty air in. He always felt more alive every time he’d stare into the eye of the death and make it back alive. Literally, it was adrenaline pumping in his veins which made him feel so good and addictive to throw his life on the edge over and over again.

 

Harry turned his head as much as he could to obtain the clearer angle to see what was actually pulling him. The sun was gone, replaced with a crescent moon and a few stars. Making it hard to see anything and the salt water kept blurring his sight. Though, he could not see much but what Harry saw amused him. The familiar wet blond silky hair approached him in amidst of the madden sea.

 

Driven by his own curiosity, Harry bended his head back into the salt water. The man needed to see in with his own eyes whether the blond bloke had a pair of mundane human legs or a fish tail.

 

Before Harry could get the answer he could have die for. The young man shouted something at him. “TAWAQAF!” Harry heard a word hollered at him in Arabic but Harry did not get it at the first time. Though, He knew basic Arabic. “TAWAQAF! TAWAQAF!” The young man told Harry to stop putting his he back into the sea. They would drown if Harry chose to continue.

 

Harry pushed back against his own will to seek for an answer he could have died for, but dying before he got it was another thing. Thus, he stopped as he was told.

 

The sea was ruthless to both men but eventually, he made it to the beach. “Hal anta bekhair?” The bloke asked how was doing Harry while they were trying to catch their breath back on the strand. It was more than grateful to be back on the land. “ana tamaaam. Shokran.” Harry ensured the young man that he was currently okay.

 

Under the haze moonlit, it was clear to Harry that the young man had legs not a tail or fins. He could not say that he was not disappointed by the fact. Harry still had to find out why the bloke look akin to the creature in his hazy recollection. Even though, the young man eyes did not glow like the creature but they had shared the mixed shades of sapphire and emerald the Harry could not justify.

 

“Inta min weyn?”(Where are you from?) Asked the blonde with wonder.

 

“Ana min ingliterra.” (I’m from England.) Said Harry hoarsely from his dried throat.

 

“Titakellem ingleezi” (Do you speak English?) The question made Harry chuckled. He thought the question was rather an insult, if they were not on the beach in Oman and Harry did owe his life to the inquirer.

 

“Indeed, I do.” Harry replied in English but he did not look at the young man when he was answering. His eyes gazed on the chilled waves around his feet.

 

“Jolly good. Ain’t you a Scott? I thought you were.” The young man found it was hard to tell where the man was from because he had a hint of Scottish accent on the tip of his tongue. Something the bloke rarely heard in this town.

 

The young man observed Harry but he said nothing more. The sphere between them seemed to be soften than previous chat in Arabic when they started to talk in English.

 

Before Harry could say or ask anything more, the sense of pain from his right foot unmercifully hit him. “Oh, fucking shit!” The man looked down at his foot. A deep cut as long as a size of a ball pen, bleeding the velvet gore out and hurting him like hell. Something in the sea must have cut him when they were swimming back to the beach.

 

The young man traced his eyes down and he saw the man blood dyed the sea water and sand into ruby red. “Holy fuck! That’s a big cut, innit?Let me see it.” The bloke was alarmed with Harry’s injury. He bended down on his knees to look at the cut on Harry’s foot carefully. It was pretty nasty. He might need stitches.

 

“I think I may need some help. Do you happen to know where the nearest clinic or hospital in this town is?” Harry was pretending to be cool and calm. Well, if Harry has to be honest with himself right now, he would say this bloody wound is hurting him as fuck and please tell me where the fuck is the nearest damn clinic or hospital.

 

“There is only one clinic in this town and I’m sure it must be closed by now.” The bloke felt sorry for Harry with his answer.

 

Harry could not believe himself that first, this town did not have any hospital, second, there was only a bloody clinic which was closed even before the sunset, and third, the fact that he must wait until tomorrow for his wound to be treated.

 

Where the hell I’m going to the fucking first aid kit, bloody antiseptic or a box damn of bandage.

 

Harry was crazed, swearing mentally at his cruel destiny. And the fourth on the list of Harry Hart’s lamentation in this eerily evening was he just realized he had not had any sort of first aid treat at home.

 

“Shit.” That was all Harry managed to say after a minute of contemplating. He had come to a point where swearing out some bad words would help him to oppress the pain but it was not an act a gentleman should be conducted, especially in the presence of a young man who was twice younger than him, and he just saved Harry’s life. But he already made double cursing and the young man did not seem to mind at all.

 

“I think I might have some bandage at my place so if...” The bloke began to say but he ran out of the word choice to make his invitation less awkward, to invite a man to his place.

 

“I’d appreciate your help and you’ve done more than I could have asked for more. I do not wish to bother you any further.”

 

“Nonsense. Your wound need to be taking care of. It’s just five minutes’ walk from here. We gotta clean up your wound and see what we can do with it.” The young man looked Harry into his eyes. He sounded friendly and sincere with his offer and Harry had not got any better choice so he was going to take the offer.

 

The man nodded as affirmative and the bloke gave him a hand to help the wounded man on him foot. Every single motion he had been making only emphasized more pang to him. Harry bit his bottom lip to subside the pain and avoid cussing more than necessary. The wound could have cost less pain if there were not so much sand and salt water covering the cut.

 

Harry’s wound was still bleeding so the bloke took off his white T-shirt and wrapped it around the cut loosely with a simple knot, to prevent more scrap getting in.

 

The T-shirt was certainly going to be ragged and unwearable for it latest mission. The bloke would have to throw it away and he could not help but feeling sorry for the blonde.

 

“Thank you very much again…I’m truly appreciated with your generosity…” Harry realized he had not got the name of his savior or either introduced himself properly yet. Suddenly, his head felt lighter as his mind turned cloudy from exhaustion and blood lost.

 

Without the white shirt, the young man torso was exposed and it was difficult for Harry not to travel his eyes absentmindedly along curves and edges upon his eyes.

 

For God’s sake.

 

When the man caught himself in the act, Harry cussed again internally. He needed to contain himself.

 

“I’m Eggsy…by the way.” The young man introduced himself while he was assisting Harry to get up on his unwounded foot. Harry hooked one of his arm around the young man’s neck as the young man put his hand on the older man’s waist.

 

By this way, Eggsy could ease Harry’s weight on to his body. The older man would not have to put all of his weight on his only functional left foot. Harry was in the great debt with the godsend stranger and he had to find the way to repay him surely.

 

Because of the position where they were holding on one another, their faces were so close together. They could feel each other breath ghosting softly on their skin but no one said a word about it.

 

Harry’s breath hitched a little. He was not sure Eggsy would notice it or not. “I’m Harry. Harry Hart.” He cleared his throat as he said. They carefully walked away from the desolated beach to Eggsy’s house in the dark fall.  

 

 

 

Chapter Text

It took them longer than what they had expected to walk from the beach to Eggsy's flat.

Though, Harry could not blame anyone but himself. His bleeding still had not stop yet. Red fluid leaking through the wrapped white t-shirt around the wound. It was not the good sign. Harry was bleeding too much for his own good.

When Harry felt Eggsy's footsteps stopped, he looked up and found them standing in front of the cafe, the one and only in Qantab. Harry was only here an hour or short. The disappointment from not getting his tea was still lingering on his lips. Thinking about missing his afternoon tea made his eyes get heavier.

Frankly, today was a bloody long day for Harry. He spent around seven restless hours on the airplane in a very uncomfortable economy class seat from London to Qantab. This one of the reasons why Kingsman agents would always travel with the private jet or on first class merely. Classy and comfortable.

The heated air was an addition to his exhaustion. Sweating and sweating. At the end of the day everything had summed up altogether, all Harry would like to do was collapsed on the bed.

"We're 'ere. You still okay, mate?" Eggsy turned to gaze over his shoulder to Harry as he asked.

Harry did not answer instantaneously. The word mate was unfamiliar in Harry's ears. People did not often address him as their mate. He would have thought the word itself was peculiar. If the words did not come out of the young man rosy lips. Eggsy’s voice was convincing. Harry wondered what else these pair of lips were capable of. Could they convert any vice into virtue?

"I'm still alive." He managed to chuckle a little after he answered. Though, the chuckle could not reduce any stress which hanging in the atmosphere.

The young man saw the colour began to flee from Harry's cheeks. Eggsy was stunned and anxious. He had to do something and he had to do it fast. Almost a half of Harry's eyes already fallen down. They were too heavy for him to keep them open. Though, he had not say a thing about them.

Harry did not want to sound or look like a fussy old man. Despite, the sliver lines had been threatening poking from his dyed hairline, Harry always looked younger than his actual age. But he was still hating it when people underestimating his competence because of his age. By calling him old man or granddad. Even though, the matter itself had given Harry some advantages sometimes. He was never keen on being in such a category.

At the age of fifty, Harry could not feel much different. His physical fitness in the field was never questionable.

Most people would think Harry was at his golden mid-forty. No matter how fit you are the age will always catch up with you somewhere before it beats you up in the end.

Above all things, Harry was not ready to be old and he thought he would never be. Neither getting old nor retiring from the field to the desk work was never something he had consider seriously. Most agents would die in the field before they could have reached the age of retirement, and those who are fortunate enough to live are going to be in the office, HQ, or the shop where they would have to go through hideous loads of paper work, eight hours per day, five days a week, and more than forty weeks in a year.

This was Harry's worst nightmare. He knew he could not even last for more than a month before he would have to cut his own throat with a bundle of documents as the way to escape from tedium. Though, the idea of using a founder pen to stab his throat seemed to be more logical if he would like to meet the death early, but he was going to try the stack of paper first and see how it goes.

"I'm doing okay." He tried to reassure Eggsy which was a lie. The doubt in the young man expression forced Harry to add more honest comment. "But I'm afraid that I might be a little exhausted. Today was an incredulously long day for me." Harry attempted to make up some reasonable excuse. However, the young man only looked half-convincing, but he nodded.

Eggsy fetched the key out of his jeans pockets and unlocked the front door. They got into the cafe on the first floor. But Eggsy's room was on the second and it seemed impossible to drag wounded Harry through the narrow stairway so Eggsy told Harry to wait downstairs while he was searching for the first aid kit. Harry consented with Eggsy and waited.

Harry pulled one of the chairs out and helped himself to sit down.

"Finally, a chair to rest my blood foot." The man murmured while putting his arms were now resting on the marble top of a wooden coffee table. Then he sighed and let out a deep moan of pain he had oppressed on the way to the cafe.

Chapter Text

Harry's forehand was dampened with sweat that only reminded him how much he hated the heat and humid. The salty water dried against his skin uncomfortably. He used his sleeve to wipe off sweat. It was ungentlemanly behavior, but he did not care anymore. Sometimes, ignorance could indeed be a bliss to Harry. It was another secret Harry would like to keep to himself.

 

Besides, there is another more important matters occupied his mind swiftly. After all everything he had been through, not even half of the situations made any sense to him right now.

 

Today had been too much for Harry to take it up all at once. He pushed doubts and curiosity to the back of his mind when he realised he was not going to get any answer from bombarding his fried brain with questions.

 

With nothing else to do apart from waiting, Harry started to study the interior of the cafe.

 

The cafe was small, but warm. Only five coffee tables in total presented on orange unpolished sandstone floor. A round red Arabian carpet with geometric symbols sat in the centre of the room. Not much to be seen, apparently, at least to Harry, but then he saw the paintings on the wall.

 

The framed landscapes on the wall knocked his breath away. The first picture he laid his eyes on was the enchanting scene when the sun was sinking into the rich blue sea at the rim of the horizon. Emerald trees were alive and waltzing idly in the late afternoon gentle breeze.

 

The sea glam up like million shining ambers in the sun. Harry could almost taste the salt in wind with his nostril from looking at the picture. The painting brought him back to the time he was driving toward Qantab and he took the eye of the road from time to time to enjoy the scenery.

 

For somehow he could sympathise with the sun. Falling towards the alluring blue but unlike the sun, he knew more than well that there was no way for him to resurface above layers of the sea. Harry already brought a one way ticket on the road that who had known where it was going to take him.

 

If only his foot was still functional, he would be standing in front of the painting to relish its beauty even closer.

 

It had been a long time since he was last moved by a painting. Harry had had the passion for art at the very young age. He remembered he wanted to become an impressionist artist after his school took on a field trip to see Claude Monet exhibition.

 

After the class was dismissed on that day, he ran as fast as the short pair legs of the seven years old boy could carry him to an art supplies shop three blocks down from his house.

 

Canvas, various bright oil-paints, brushes in assorted sizes and so on were what he brought back home in a huge brownish paper bag which about the size of his body at that time.

 

After dinner, he tried and tried to copy Monet techniques but he failed miserably. Alas, he soon discovered that he was not born with the talent so he turned into an art admirer instead.

 

It was not hard for Harry to distinguish between the talented artists and the bad ones like himself. Art should be provocative, toying with of eyes and mine. Like what this painting was doing to him.
.
.
.
.
.

 

"Hey." A soft tap landed on Harry's left shoulder brought him back to the closed cafe where he was actually sitting in pain. His foot was hurting him badly.

 

"I've to clean your wound before you can sleep." Said Eggsy. If Eggsy let Harry’s wound retreated like this for the whole night, he had a feeling that the wound might be infected.

 

The young man put the first aid kit box and a bottle of vodka on the chair next to him. From the outside, the first aid kit box was old and dusty like it had been untouched for years and all the things inside might be expired ago.

 

“Sorry, this is all I’ve got for now.” Eggsy knew Harry did not real trust the quality of whatever was in the first aid kit box, but at least there were bandages in there and something was better than nothing. As Eggsy opened the box, Harry peeked at what were inside it. Though, the inside looked a little better with no dusty.

 

There were bandages, packs of pills, a half emptied bottle of iodine solution, a small scissor, and things Harry not sure what the hell they were, though, they seemed to be something deadly to be consume.

 

Vodka was poured on Harry’s wounded foot as antiseptic. Effective and edible solution. The clear liquid burnt his opened skin as if it was acidy. Harry let out a small whine of pang inevitably.

 

“I’m so sorry. I’ll try to be gentler.” But, Harry waved his hand in the air to tell Eggsy that he did not have to. The pain was not intolerant, it was the sharp tingling that made him whine.     

 

"You're good at treating the wound. Have you ever been through a medical training?" Harry tried not to focus on his wound so he started another conversation with the yound man.

 

"I joined the marine but I didn't complete the training.” Eggsy carefully poured some more vodka to wash the sand from his wound then he used his sophisticated hands wrapped a piece of white bandage around Harry’s wound. He was light-fingered and Harry could barely feel any pressure on his skin. The marine had trained him well.

 

"Once I was in the military before I quit and became a tailor." Harry said and turned his head to observe another man face.

 

"A tailor?" The pitch Eggsy used was high and nearly sounded like he was disbelieving in Harry. To Eggsy, the older man did not look a petty bit like a tailor. He never met a tailor before but he knew Harry was not really one. Broad shoulders. Fit and slim but strong. Slightly muscular, but not too much. Eggsy thought no one could look this dashing, if their jobs were only drawing lines, cutting papers, measuring other people’s waistlines and sewing.

 

"So what brought a tailor to Qantab?" He was curious so he asked.

 

"I'm on an annual vacation. Winter in London is always too wet and too windy to be pleasant. I wanted to be somewhere warm and dried. So my travel agent recommended me to come to Oman. I’d never been here before so why not. Nothing could be worse.”

 

"I see." Eggsy tried to shake his doubt away by turning their conversation into another direction, but he had nothing useful on his mind. He could not come up anything.

 

“Though, right now, I’d rather be stuck in my damped apartment back in London than injured and almost got drowned.” Harry continued. “Speaking of wish, I would like to say thank you to you again for saving my life and cleaning my wound. If there is any way I could repay you for your kindness, I would…” Eggsy cut Harry off in the middle of the sentence.

 

“You don’t have to offer anything. I was just drawing the landscape on the beach when I saw you struggling to swim back to the land so I jumped into the sea. I only did the thing anyone would do in that kind of situation.” Eggsy explained. He did not save Harry so the man could be in his debt. It seemed to be wrong to take advantage from people in the crisis.

 

“May I ask you something, are you happen to be the one who painted all painting in this café?” The subject of their conversation turned into another direction.

 

“I painted them all and sell them here. I’m a landscape artist.”

 

“You’re gifted. They are very beautiful.” The man compliment was sincere and Eggsy knew that he meant it.

 

“You know you don’t have to be flattering because I saved your life, but thank you. Painting is the only I’m good at” Eggsy teased him.

 

“Who is that little girl in those two paintings next to the doors?” Harry pointed out at a pair paintings hanging and framed neatly. The girl had blonde hair which was tied backward into a ponytail and beautiful blue eyes. She was smiling in the field of white daisy like a little angle.

 

“She’s pretty, wasn’t she? She was my sister.” A mournful smile painted across Eggsy’s lips. It was a smile that most people would say bitter-sweet when you are thinking of spending some precious moments with someone you loved, but you know they are gone to somewhere out of your reach. Then you have realised would never get a chance to see them again.  

 

“I’m so sorry, I should not have asked.” By the fact that Eggsy used the word was instead of is, Harry knew that he had asked something that he should not be asking and with the pain in Eggsy’s eyes, the young man was clearly offended.

 

His hand reached out to Eggsy’s shoulder. Harry patted the young man as it was his sympathizing gesture. He knew what it felt like to lose the people you loved. Nothing could fill the hole inside your heart after they had left.

 

“Nyn. It ain’t your false, Harry. You don’t need to say sorry.” His accent was thicker and rough with sorrow. Eggsy put his hand on the top of where Harry’s hand was and he tapped him a few times. Their hands lingering on each other longer than normally people would do to the person they just met an hour ago.

 

Harry did not feel like the bloke who sat next to him was a stranger. His hand on Harry’s felt so warm and familiar. He could say like he had known Eggsy before the young man dragged him out of the madden sea.

 

"You should take some rest and I’m also tried. I'll bring you a blanket and a pillow." He looked into the older man eyes and parted his hand. Harry already had an urge to pull Eggsy back, but he did not do it. He only nodded at Eggsy.

 

After a blanket and a pillow were brought down from up stair. Eggsy tucked Harry under a blanket to make sure he would be warm enough for the rest of the night. The last thing Eggsy wanted was Harry to catch a cold.

 

They said goodnight to one another. That night Harry fell asleep on the carpet in the cafe.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6:

 

On the next morning, Harry woke up with the throbbing pain straight from his wounded leg. His eyes slowly made an acquaintance with the dawn that gazing through the café windows.

 

It was a new day, but Harry felt like an old dead piece of meat on a chopping board. He groaned when he tried to push himself up from the carpet to sit up. It looked like his leg was not the only thing that was killing. His sore back was also killing him.

 

Perhaps, sleeping on the floor was not the best idea after all.

 

Waking up on the floor was nothing new to Harry. Throughout his agent life in the field, he had been waking in various unimaginable places all around the world with some odd surroundings, but never once he had a chance to wake on the carpet inside a café. It was more or less, a new experience to him. Almost acceptable.

 

Harry pushed the blanket aside to have a look at his wrapped wound. A spot of blood seeped through the white cloth was not a good sign, though it was not much and already dried. The wound must be a very nasty deep cut.

 

“Hey…” A voice called Harry from behind. It came from a young man who saved his life last night.

 

Eggsy walked down the stairs. He greeted the older man with an amiable smile. His hair was untamed and wild, but for somehow, his bed-hair made him look even younger. 

 

“Good morning.” Harry said when he saw the blond, but he did not smile at him. To be honest, he felt to drain to put on a fake smile. All Harry wanted to do was getting a damn doctor to look after his wound then going back to his house and sleep on a soft bed like a log.

 

“Water?” Eggsy presented Harry with a glass of water. Harry thanked the blond and drank the water. He did not realise how dried his throat was until he started to drink the water. The glass was put down once it was emptied.

 

There was Silence between them again. Eggsy merely watched Harry drinking water like he had something to say to him, but he would not like to say in when Harry was drinking.

 

“Do you want something to eat before we go to the hospital? I think I can cook you some eggs and toasts if you feel like having them.”Eggs were fine. Though, he had forgotten that the toasts from almost one week old bread were not a good thing to offer his guest.

 

He felt more than slightly embarrassed to mention how old the bread was so he left that part out. Partly because the idea of offering only eggs would sound strangely ungenerous to him.

 

Eggsy was not a person who loved to eat, especially while he was working. The artist could get easily carried away by his work and forgotten to eat or drink for a day. It had become one of his bad habits that he just could not get rid of it. He would only eat what seem to be essential for living which would still be considered as insufficient diet in any nutritionist’s eyes.

 

“No, I prefer to go to the hospital more than having breakfast. I am afraid I am more than likely to throw up after eating them.” Harry managed to make it sound like at the end of his sentence. The truth was it was a joke. A bitter dark joke. His blood was bleeding out of his body, but his dried pessimistic attitude still remained more or less at the same level as it used to be.

 

I am too exhausted as shite.

 

“K’ then let’s get you to the hospital.” Said Eggsy.

 

“Aren’t you going to have something to eat before we leave? I can wait. I cannot ask you to skip breakfast because you need to take me to the hospital.” Harry ensured the young man.

 

Just another half an hour will not kill me. Literally, I have at least ten hours before my untreated wound would get infected.

 

Harry preferred to keep most of his thought hidden. The last thing he wanted Eggsy to be thinking of him was how ungrateful he was. As the trained Kingsman agent, Harry knew how important to put the filter between his mind and mouth. He was always well I am too exhausted as shite. composed, at least that what people usually thought of him.

 

“It’s fine. I hardly eat anything in the morning.” Eggsy replied. His words were nothing, but the truth. Eggsy usually forgot to supply fresh ingredients for cooking. Plus, he thought it would cause him too much trouble to go out and buy something so he ended up skipping breakfast more often than eating them.

 

“Are you really sure about this?” Harry asked again. This time Eggsy only made an affirmative noise and nodded his head.

 

The older man shot Eggsy a doubtful look, but he did not press anything further. Eggsy helped Harry to get up on his feet and walked out of the café.

 

It turned out to be that Eggsy did not own a car or a motorbike. He only used a bicycle and his own feet to go around. The young lad told Harry that he had not learnt how to drive yet and if he did, he would not be able to effort to have either of them. Being an artist rarely could make anyone a fortune in Qantub. Eggsy considered himself a lucky one in town. He had enough money to pay rent and buy some food from selling his paintings only. 

 

The ride is going to take forever. Harry muttered in his thought and made an imaginary sighed.

 

Harry thought it was not the best idea to go to the hospital with a bicycle, but he was left with no choice to argue. He had a struggle when he tried to sit on the back seat of the bicycle until the young man needed to help him.

 

Harry could not move his legs like he wanted to. Like he normally did. That really made him so frustrated.

 

Eggsy told Harry to hold on his shoulders as he wrapped his hands on Harry’s waist to support his weight. They leaned towards one another.

 

Their faces were close, a little too close. Harry took the advantage of the moment to stare into Eggsy’s eyes. Those eyes were mesmerising with the dashing shades of green in the younger man eyes. It was a shame to tear his glare away when the staring started to get too awkwardly long. Harry looked down on his wounded leg pretending he was checking on it.

 

Eggsy got on his seat and stood still. He did not start to ride his bike like he was waiting for something.

 

One of Harry’s eyebrows rose up in bemused gesture.

 

Harry was about to open his mouth and ask what was going, but Eggsy brought Harry’s hands to his waist before he could say something else.

 

“Hold on me as tight as you can. I don’t want you to fall off the bike and have more wounds.” The young man did not turn to face Harry when he finished his sentence. Harry was glad he did not. Otherwise, Eggsy might have seen a lopsided smile on his lips which he had no idea how to explain it, if he was asked why he smiled.

 

The warmth blossomed in Harry’s chest. It was long ago when someone lastly said that they cared about him. Harry did not have many friends because he had been working for Kingsman half of his life. It was really hard to make close friends outside the Kingsman.

 

Almost all of his friends were the Kingsman agent. And Merlin was his closest friend from the time he began his career as Galahad. He knew Merlin always looked out for him. Though, Merlin pretended that he just did it according to his duty as the quartermaster of the Kingsman, but Harry was aware Merlin had been doing things beyond his duty for him more than he should have done.

 

The ride was rather slow and rough on a stony red dirt road. Another underdeveloped road. It was not the best road for riding a bike, but it was the shortest way to the hospital.

 

At least, the warm morning sunshine was pleasant on their skin. Indeed, it was a beautiful day with on few white cotton clouds hung in the middle of the blue sky.

 

Eggsy needed to take extra precaution when he had an additional passenger on the back seat. The last time he had someone on the back seat of him bike was back when he was still living in London.

 

His sister, Daisy really loved to sit behind her big brother like a princess. She commanded him to ride to wherever she wanted to go and Eggsy could never rejected her request. They loved to chitchat about things they saw on their ride or some nonsense stuff so they just laughed happily together.

 

Eggsy had been terribly missing his little sister every day after she was gone and having Harry on his back only make him missing her more.

 

“Are you comfortable at the back, burv?” Eggsy attempted to stop himself from thinking about Daisy by taking to Harry.

 

“I am as comfortable as I could be, Eggsy.” Harry answered dryly in a sarcastic tone.

 

“Sorry, bruv. Never thought of giving a lift to a posh bloke with a bike until this morning. I only use the back seat to carry my art supplies and canvases whenever I go out to paint something outdoor.” Eggsy called Harry a posh bloke because he merely looked like one.

 

Something in Eggsy’s mind still doubted that he was not really a tailor as he had claimed to be. Growing up in one of the poorest areas in London taught Eggsy so many things about people. He learnt how to read people. However, something in his mind, perhaps it was his gut feeling told him that Harry was not a bad man and he could be trusted.

 

Without a warning, the gentle breeze got madden, taking the red dirt up from the ground. Harry and Eggsy were in amidst of red fog. It had shortened Eggsy’s eyesight and made his tears ran. He narrowed his eyes until they were almost closed.

 

Not only their eyes were irritated, their lungs also suffered. They could hardly breathe in the earthy air. Harry buried his nose into his shirt collar. Eggsy started to cough and Harry followed him.

 

Fuck. It is like we are in a middle of a bloody sandstorm. 

 

“May I ask how far we are from the hospital?” Asked Harry. He wanted to know how long it would take.  

 

Harry had to cajole himself that this rough ride was not endless. His neck and back started to ache every time the bike fell into a cavity on the road. Harry hoped they would arrive at the hospital before he could get a sprain.  

 

“We’re on the shortcut road. Err…Half an hour…maybe.” Eggsy conceited a moment and he replied between coughs.

 

He took one hand off the bike handle to cover his mouth as he spoke. Eggsy used his sleeve as a dirt filter and tried to breathe through it.

 

Fuck, this red dirt. Eggsy felt like he was in the poorer reproduction of Mad Max: Furry Road where he could not go faster than ten miles per hour. Honestly, he had no idea how the cast of the real movie survived all the sand and heat while they were filming. 

 

“I see.” Harry looked at the watch on his wrist then sighed. He could taste some red dirt in his mouth while he was speaking. The older man kept his eyes fully shut. Not that he was scared. Basically, Harry did not want to get more trouble in his eyes.

 

With only one hand left on the handle, he lost the control over the bike when he rode over a cavity.

 

“FUCK!FUCK!FUCK!” Eggsy swore out very loud.

 

The size of the cavity must be at least as big as a pug. Fortunate, the hole was not deep. Eggsy used him quick-reflect to pull the imbalance bike back before it could go off the road. He heard a low gag in surprise from behind him.   

 

“Sorry, I did not see that coming.” Eggsy apologised shamefully.

 

“U’ alright?”

 

“‘Arry?” He hoped that he did not accidentally hurt the other man.

 

Harry did not say a word. He had tightened his grip a little bit more around Eggsy’s waist and buried his face in the younger man back.

 

 

 

This is fucking the longest bike ride.

 

 

Fuck, the red dirt.

Fuck, the ride.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Harry did not know how long the ride was because he forgot his watch at Eggsy’s place. It almost felt like forever, if forever was consisted of a bicycle ride and a storm of red dirt, it would be it. He hoped they would make it to the hospital before either of them suffocated to death.

It was the longest bike ride ever for Harry indeed.

By the time they arrived at the hospital, not any part of their bodies was not covered with the red dirt. Harry was sure he had got some into his mouth too. He wanted nothing more than a long nice shower, except a treatment on his cut wound. Of course, that was why he was here. He reminded himself to keep his mind straight.

If Harry ever had trouble with picturing Eggsy as a ginger, it would be solved right the moment the young man turned to check if Harry was alright. He was no different from Harry. All covered in red dirt. His golden blonde hair changed to rustic blonde. His new hair colour suited well with darker tan tint on his skin of what Harry remembered this morning when they left for the hospital.

“You ‘lright?” Eggsy tried his best to suppress the laughter.

Harry knew that he must look utterly ridiculous and dirty. He merely nodded.

Eggsy parked the bicycle and helped Harry got on the stairs to the hospital reception. It was not big or seemed to be anywhere near the hospitals in London. The reception desk was vacant. Eggsy rang the bell several times but no one came out.

“Maybe they’re not open yet.” Eggsy found the clock on the wall. It was dead and unmoving.

“That could be possible. It’s still a quarter to four for them.” Followed by Eggsy’s chuckled, Harry’s sarcasm would never die. By being a dead clock, it could still tell time correctly twice a day became material for mockery.

They sat down at a wooden bench at the reception area. Though it could have two children in nicely. The bench was somewhere between too spacious for one person to sit, but too small for two grown-up men and would squeak all the time.

As sensible and gentlemanly as Eggsy was, he offered the whole bench to injured Harry willingly. But as insensible and gentlemanly as Harry was, he declined the offer from the young man. He stood up spontaneously behind Eggsy after the young man got up from the bench. Harry did not wish to be treated like a senior citizen on the bus. On his wobblily good foot mainly and obviously, it was the old man pride and arrogance that keeping him standing on one good foot. Unless they both have a seat, they both must remain standing.

Harry would never forget the look he saw on Eggsy, it was sympathetic and shining. It made Harry realised three things. The first thing that came to realise was the true colours of Eggsy’s eyes. They were not brown as he thought. In fact, greenish blue in scale and they possessed all the colours of the sea water at Qantab Beach. Later, Harry realised how stubborn and selfish he could be and then the size of Eggsy’s heart. The young man had a heart of gold. Harry felt guilty and changed his mind. Once again, he sat down without another word. By surprise, Eggsy also came down next to him.

“Eggsy, I…” Harry began his apology for being selfish by trying not to be selfish.

“Dun’t mention it, bruv.”

They ended up squeezing together like canned fish rather than being two men sitting side by side. The heat from Eggsy’s skin radiated against Harry’s leg. The young man was hot and pleasant in the way that Harry made feel ashamed of enjoying it.

"A true gentleman should not be ashamed of gaining pleasure." Harry was taught that way.

He was indeed a filthy old man like what Merlin used to call him every time he would have to seduce the targets on missions. And he began to wonder what his best friend and the quartermaster of Kingsman was doing right at the exact same moment while he was crushing his legs with a young man half of his age. His days as a Kingsman agent felt much like years behind him.