Eggsy had never been one to worry much about his own safety- the bruises still forming on his face and the blood spilling from his split lip could attest to that- but even so, trekking through the streets of downtown London in the middle of the fucking night should have raised some sort of concern out of the boy. As it was, though, Eggsy was far too angry to even think about the possibility of getting mugged. He had his hands shoved into his pockets, his glower directed at nothing in particular, as he stalked through the mostly abandoned streets.
Honestly, he didn’t even know where he was right now. At some point he’d gone down an unfamiliar road, and now he was surrounded by strange houses and shops, all of which had their lights off, so he couldn’t even read a damn sign to get his bearings. But that didn’t really matter; so long as there was more distance between himself and his stepdad, it was all good to Eggsy.
He licked absently at his lip, wincing at the taste of copper. His drunken fuck of a stepdad had hit him harder than ever- and Eggsy hadn’t even provoked him this time. He’d merely returned home from his mate’s house, and there Dean was, standing over his mother, who cowered on the floor, a half-drained bottle of beer in his hand. He turned and saw Eggsy gaping by the door and immediately strode over, decking the young boy in the face so hard it sent him spiraling to the floor.
And oh, Eggsy did fight back. Once he’d gotten the dizziness out of his system, he’d launched himself at Dean and began throwing punches- he wasn’t an expert brawler or anything, but he could scrape by pretty decently in fight. He was rather proud to say that Dean had a few purple bruises of his own, and he would have gotten more, had Eggsy’s mum not begged him to get out before Dean really got angry. He almost didn’t listen, but the desperate look on her face, combined with Dean’s redoubled efforts to fucking claw his eyes out, made Eggsy back down. He’d gone out the door, waiting nearby for anymore shouting, and when there was none (signaling that Dean had probably passed out), Eggsy felt a sudden surge of anger hit him, and he began his impromptu trek through the streets.
Because fuck, how could his mum still want to stay with the bastard after all that? True, Dean never hit her hard enough to call for a hospital visit, but that didn’t make things better.
Son of a bitch wasn’t even her soulmate.
Eggsy had seen- all but begged to see, a few times in his youth- his mother’s soulmate mark. Lee Unwin was written over her heart in pale red script. And he could barely remember a man with a kind smile, showing him the name Michelle Rogers on his chest. Eggsy’s parents were soulmates, and they’d been together since the moment Lee had accidentally bumped into Michelle on the subway. Two years of dating and seven of marital bliss, and Eggsy had been born shortly after the honeymoon. And then it all went fucking tits-up when Lee died in a car accident.
As Eggsy grew older, his mum mentioned his dad less and less. She even started to refuse letting Eggsy see her mark, and Eggsy couldn’t press when he saw the tears gathering in the corner of her eyes. So he stopped asking. He comforted himself with the knowledge that her grief showed just how much she loved him. Then she brought fucking Dean home.
Eggsy had never seen Dean’s mark, didn’t even knew if the asshole had one. He doubted it. Otherwise he’d be off ruining their life instead of Eggsy and his mum’s. But Michelle had been desperate for someone, anyone, it seemed, and to Eggsy’s utter disbelief, they got married- three and a half years after his dad died.
As Eggsy turned a corner and got even further lost in the maze that was the city of London, he brushed a hand over his own chest. He knew nothing was written there- it would remain blank until he first touched his soulmate, and then their name would be branded over his heart, and his over theirs. He’d never say it to anyone but his closest mates, but he often wondered about what his soulmate would be like. Boy or girl, tall or short, hell, Eggsy even entertained the notion that they might be some posh fucker. Hey, he was sixteen; he was allowed to dream.
As a street light shone down over him, Eggsy slowed his pace, finally taking a look at his surroundings.
“Shit,” he muttered to no one. He had no fucking clue where he was. The homes on this street were all lined up neatly against each other, with clean, unbroken windows and cute little flower pots sitting by the doors. Eggsy wondered how in the fuck he got so far away from his flat, but those musings were cut short by the sound of footsteps coming his way. He froze, thinking for a moment that it might be Dean, or even one of his thugs that hung around their house like a bloody disease. A shadowy figure was approaching him. He didn’t move from his spot under the street light.
As the figure came into view, illuminated by the dim light, Eggsy’s first thought was, rather inappropriately, hot damn. Because the figure was an older man, who looked to be the textbook definition of posh and moneyed. He wore shiny black shoes, a perfectly tailored suit- bespoke, Eggsy’s mind supplied, though he didn’t know where it came from- and the handle of an umbrella rested on his forearm. A pair of glasses rested on his nose, adding further to his “debonair gentleman” effect.
The man slowed his gait, staring at Eggsy with equal surprise. Though, Eggsy mused, he was probably more surprised about the fact that a teen who clearly didn't belong there was standing awkwardly in the street than he was about said teen's level of attractiveness.
Eggsy snapped out of his trance and looked down, hurrying past the man with a muttered, “excuse me.” To his surprise, the man called out after him, causing Eggsy to turn around.
“Are you alright?” he asked, with genuine concern starting to lace itself through his features. this left Eggsy a little dumbstruck. Sure, he must have looked a sight, but that shouldn’t have warranted such concern from a total stranger.
He forced his slack jaw to move. “Uh, yeah. ‘M fine.”
“Are you certain?” The man stepped closer, and Eggsy unconsciously stepped back. His eyes were narrowed, as though he were inspecting Eggsy. It was making the young man rather bothered. “You’re bleeding,” he said at last.
“Oh. Yeah.” Eggsy would have hit himself for sounding so ineloquent. “Don’t worry about it. ‘M used to it, yeah?” He tried grinning at the man, but the grimace he got in return told him that he had blood all over his teeth, so it wasn’t a very charming gesture.
“That’s not a comforting thought,” the man said. “Is your home close by?”
He considered lying. He still wondered why he hadn’t. “No.”
“Then please,” the man stepped aside, next to the iron gate of a house, which Eggsy realized meant that it was his own. “I realize this is rather unusual, but may I at least treat your wounds? I can’t very well let you wander the streets in such a state,” he offered the last statement as an explanation, presumably because Eggsy’s jaw was on the sidewalk, and his eyes were well on their way to popping out of his head.
“I…” Eggsy opened his mouth to protest. The man, however, merely opened the little iron gate, gestured with a wave of his hand and a raised eyebrow, and Eggsy found himself trudging through some stranger’s fucking front yard like an obedient puppy. The man opened the door for him, letting Eggsy into the most ridiculously posh home he’d ever been in. The rug in the hallway alone was probably worth more than all the carpeting in Eggsy’s flat, but he didn't have much time to admire the scenery. The man walked past him, motioning for him to follow, and soon they were in the kitchen.
“Excuse me for a moment,” the man said, smiling gently at Eggsy. He disappeared into the hallway, allowing Eggsy time to reflect on what the fuck had just happened. He was in a stranger’s house. All because he was distracted by how ungodly gorgeous said stranger was. If the man walked back out with a butcher’s knife or some shit, Eggsy would have no one to blame but himself.
He might have jumped a little when the man did come back, but instead of a knife, he had a bottle of rubbing alcohol, a little tub of what looked like ointment, and a washcloth in his hands. He offered them to Eggsy with an expectant look on his face. Blinking, Eggsy quickly swiped the ointment and twisted the lid off.
“Thanks,” he muttered, not wanting to meet the man’s eyes as he applied the cream. Jesus, did it feel good though. He heard the man chuckle.
Eggsy risked peeking at him through his eyelashes, and yes, the man was smiling. He felt his face heat up as he quickly looked away. He willed himself to say anything to fill the silence.
“You do this sort of thin’ often, then?” was what he settled on. “Pluck strangers from the streets and give ‘em medical treatment or summat?”
“Only the ones I deem it necessary for,” replied the man, his tone slightly teasing.
“Oi, I’ve had worse,” Eggsy mumbled.
“As I said before, that does very little to reassure me.” When Eggsy finished addressing his bruises, he took the tub from him and placed it on the counter. He then handed Eggsy the washcloth and rubbing alcohol. As Eggsy dabbed the cloth in the liquid, the man frowned.
“Oh, do excuse me. I’ve forgotten my manners.” He extended a hand. “Harry Hart.”
Eggsy had one hand pressed against his split lip (and he was wincing from the sting of it), so he held out his other hand to reciprocate the gesture.
Their fingers had barely brushed against each other, and Eggsy was in the middle of saying his own name, when an electric bolt ran through them both, causing them to still. Eggsy felt a small burning sensation, not on his injured lip, but over his heart.
He stared at Harry, who stared back.
Then, after the burning had worn off and there was nothing but agonizing silence, Harry muttered quietly, “Shit.”
That made Eggsy frown, because seriously, who reacts to meeting their soulmate like that? Harry looks utterly confused and shell-shocked. Eggsy probably looked surprised too, but at least he hadn’t uttered any profanity. Yet.
“I…” Eggsy started. The moment he spoke, Harry’s face settled into a stone-like visage that caused Eggsy’s mouth to snap shut.
“Are you finished?” he murmured, and to his credit, he hadn’t said it unkindly. Eggsy looked at the bloodied cloth and nodded wordlessly.
Harry took the cloth, mindful that his fingers didn’t brush against Eggsy’s, and stepped back. Eggsy didn’t make a move, nor did Harry.
“How old are you?” Harry practically whispered.
Eggsy grimaced- he knew where this was going. “Sixteen.”
And Harry honest-to-god flinched. “I see.”
Eggsy took a deep breath and resettled his hands in his pockets. “So, uh…” he trailed off, staring at the polished floor of Harry’s kitchen. “We’re soulmates, then?”
“So it would seem.”
“You don’t look that thrilled, mate.”
“I…” Harry rubbed at his forehead. “I apologize. But…”
“I… am not currently interested in having a soulmate. Not now.”
The words slowly sank into Eggsy, like someone burying a knife painfully and deliberately into his skin. “Oh.”
“I’m sorry,” he offered.
“It’s… It’s fine. Probably better. I ain’t all for that soulmate shit, either,” he lied. Why was he lying now? He shifted his weight awkwardly as Harry merely watched him, his face betraying nothing other than sincere contriteness. “I should, um… Go.”
Harry nodded. “Yes. It’s late. You should return home.”
Fuck that, Eggsy said privately. He’d probably go to a mate’s house instead, to avoid seeing Dean again. But Harry didn’t need to know that; he didn’t want Eggsy as a soulmate, why would he care?
“Yeah,” he said, turning towards the door. He gave Harry one last glance. “Thanks again. Y’know, for helpin’ me out.”
Harry only nodded again. Eggsy turned his back on his soulmate and walked out the door, through the iron gate, and back onto the street.
It wasn’t unusual, Eggsy told himself. There were plenty of people- just a little under half of the world’s population, really- that weren’t with their soulmates. Some of them just hadn’t met yet; others had died beforehand; and then there were the people in Eggsy’s situation. Sometimes people genuinely didn’t want their soulmates. Either they were in love with someone else, or they just didn’t like what they got stuck with, and Eggsy imagined the latter was very much the case with him and Harry. He couldn’t even begin to imagine what it must have felt like for him, the world’s prime example of a posh bloke, to have his soulmate be some beaten-up kid. He would have rejected him too.
So yeah, he understood why Harry rejected him. He seemed like a loner type, anyway. But that didn’t stop Eggsy from constantly thinking about that night and almost hitting himself for botching it all up. He thought of alternative scenarios, of running into Harry in broad daylight and accidentally brushing against him, like his mum and dad had done. Maybe things would have been different, had he made a good first impression.
Eggsy looked in the mirror every night for a week after meeting Harry, staring at the words tattooed over his chest. Harry Hart in beautiful, looping script, the color a surprisingly bloody red. He realized on the second night after their meeting that he never actually told Harry his name- his preferred name, that is. Harry no doubt had Gary Unwin scrawled across his heart in Eggsy’s messy handwriting. That thought actually saddened Eggsy; he hated the name Gary, always had, and now it was all his soulmate knew him by.
But then he would remind himself that it didn’t matter. Harry would likely barely gaze at his mark, and the name Gary would mean nothing to him… And so would the name Eggsy.
He didn’t tell his mates about his mark. He didn’t want to answer the questions they’d have, because honestly, even though they knew each other for all of five minutes, thinking about Harry was starting to hurt. He did tell him mum, though, and she pulled him into a hug and whispered soft reassurances in his ear, just like he thought she would. She wasn’t even perturbed by the fact that Harry was apparently way older than Eggsy, or that he was moneyed. She only consoled her son on his loss. There, in his mum’s arms, was the only time Eggsy ever allowed himself to cry about his soulmate.
Then, a month after meeting Harry and being rejected, his mum announced that she was pregnant with Dean’s baby, and Eggsy decided that the universe fucking hated him.
Luckily, the baby did end up distracting him from thinking about Harry. He spent nine months preparing himself to hate the little hell spawn, but the moment he stepped into the delivery room (Dean was fuck-knows-where when Michelle went into labor, so Eggsy had to take her to the hospital), and saw his mum there, cradling a tiny little thing wrapped in a pink blanket, Eggsy’s resolve crumbled. He peered over and saw his little sister’s adorable face and he fell in love.
After that, Eggsy had a new resolution; he wasn’t going to let Dean fuck up Daisy’s childhood like he had Eggsy’s. Eggsy was going to provide for their family, and he was going to do it by any means necessary. Part of it was admittedly an attempt to get his thoughts as far away from Harry as possible, but he really did want to help out.Unfortunately, there weren’t many jobs available for an inexperienced now-seventeen-year-old, and after a year of working dead-end jobs and trying to make ends meet, Eggsy finally went down the path that Dean and his cronies always mocked him about.
At eighteen years old, a full two years after meeting his soulmate, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin became a rentboy.