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I Went and Set the Thames on Fire

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“Ugh!” Roxy exclaims, opening the towel drawer now for the sole purpose of pulling a towel from it and swinging it aggressively against Eggsy’s legs, her hair swinging all about as she does so. “Bloody awful!”

“Don’t have to be such a negative Nancy ‘bout it all, Rox. I’m fine,” Eggsy attests, but she obviously isn’t taking it.

“Oi, you spend three weeks ‘cross the pond, you think I’m the Nancy?”

“Oh, piss off!”

“If you didn’t insist on a near death experience every fucking time you leave the house, maybe I would!”

“You realize we’re spies, right, Rox? Death is properly an occupational hazard.”

He starts his sentence trying to continue teasing her, but they know it’s bullshit, and so does Merlin, who’d been amusedly watching Roxy work at cleaning Eggsy up after what the two of them quite possibly assumed was a bar fight their elders knew nothing of.

Well, most of them didn't. Merlin kept most of the pair's antics to himself - he had always had a soft spot for the two, and Eggsy in particular, in the same way he'd once fancied Harry, but from a different angle than that earlier dalliance had been.

Sooner or later, Eggsy and Roxy would realize that nothing gets by Merlin.

Not even Eggsy's Avengers boxers - although to be honest, he really should have expected the man he was sleeping with to end up seeing his underwear. That was practically a given.

“I worry about you, you know,” Roxy says, voice quieter and practically solemn, as she takes yet another towel from the drawer and wets it slightly, using it to rub what was left of the blood on Eggsy’s face, and Eggsy starts swinging his legs when she steps away for a moment.

She returns from her short trip down the length of the locker room with two containers of alcohol - one of the rubbing kind, and one of the more useful sort - and Eggsy tries to push himself off the platform, only to be stopped by what looks like a painfully tight grip on his right thigh.

“Din’t realize I was livin’ here at her Majesty’s pleasure,” Eggsy grumbles.

“Well, don’t throw a wobbler, you’re not goin’ anywhere,” she barks back, and he scoots all the way back, leaning his back against the mirror slowly, wincing with what pain he’s still feeling. Roxy pops herself up onto the platform, takes a swig of whatever alcohol there is in her flask, hands the flask to Eggsy, and starts to clean his wounds.

Merlin momentarily considers meandering downstairs - the last locker room fuck had been rather great - but decides that he'll err on the side of caution and figure that neither will be up to much, and thus sets the motion sensor back on the locker room cameras and brings up the recording from that recent occasion.

It's less exhilarating the second time around, though the context of this job has always added the very alluring element of its lack of privacy. Even though he can see everything and people can only rarely see him, everyone always knows where he is, which is almost always here, at least physically. But he isn't, not really. He's with his agents, on their sides; he couldn't otherwise survive a job that only involves true spy work for the same lengths of time as civilian vacations and then spending the rest of the year primarily at a desk, in theory just watching - but he's never just watching. He's too involved for that.

He can't look at any of the agents he's seen through the mansion, through training, through their formative years as Kingsmen, and not feel as though he is in their shoes - or rather, in his own shoes, standing rather near to them. Not if anything he shouldn't be in on was happening, not when Roxy or Eggsy had women back in their rooms or when Eggsy had men - well, that was a lie. Sometimes he watched, but they knew he watched. The pair had gone so far as to develop a system of hand signals that they used to indicate whether they a: wanted him to watch, b: did not want him to watch, c: were neutral about the matter, or d: wanted him to join.

As effective as that system was and as much as he enjoyed it, Harry's code had probably been the most creative; he'd simply shout "Merlin's beard!" if he wanted Merlin to join. Many men had found that very amusing, as well as thought it odd that the only name he'd give them was Merlin - and he'd called Harry Galahad whenever anyone else was around, so all of their shared partners just thought they had knightly code names for the shits and giggles.

Well, it wasn't an entirely erroneous assumption. There wasn't anything holding them to their code names in bed - that was simply a preference.

Somewhat unfortunately, no matter where Merlin was, there wasn't all that much allure of privacy any more, now that he was essentially in charge. Arctura allowed him as much free reign as he wanted with his agents. He'd been around long enough, and they as a team worked so well together, that she didn't feel the need to push them - especially considering they'd been the team to avert the recent potential disaster, and that one of them had killed her predecessor by a sleight of hand.

Lucky for them, Arctura didn't know how they continued to work so seamlessly together.

The entire organization was starting to feel very off, though; nearly half of the Table had not wanted her to take Arthur's place, and they weren't exactly getting over it quickly. Add in the fact that the new Lancelot - a title that had seemed to be reserved for young men of particular esteem and pluck - was a stunning young woman who could kill someone whilst fucking them and without breaking eye contact, and almost none of the Table was happy with the situation, not when Roxy could just as easily send such glares and curses in the directions of her superiors that it even looked like she was peering into their souls (Merlin didn't know if that's quite how it felt). If she ever thought a good thing about one of the central team, excepting Merlin, Eggsy, and Arctura, they didn't know it - they knew her only as a transgressor that they couldn't rid themselves of.

Arctura enjoyed Roxy's sassing of their colleagues enough that Merlin honestly thought it'd only be a matter of time before she moved from sly comments and unprofessional looks to inquiring as to the possibility of enjoying Roxy herself. As Merlin has long since known well, just because it was generally regarded as taboo for Kingsmen to engage in sexual or romantic relationships, particularly with each other, it has never been explicitly against the rules, and it has never been uncommon.

Merlin's head snaps back to the main locker room monitor when the alarm beeps, and Eggsy and Roxy are on the move, Eggsy limping slightly. Roxy demands to see him into bed to be sure he makes it, and he retorts that if she has a pyjama kink she'll be sorely disappointed. She reminds him that "everyone and their grandmum" knows about the Avengers boxers, and Merlin doesn't catch what she says next, because the phone rings.

The voice on the other end is practically stock-generated, and it blankly informs him that his domestic partner Connlaodh has been admitted to Sister Agnes.

Harry.

That name was from a decade ago, he thinks immediately, but then the reality of it hits him, and he jumps to respond to the receptionist's inquiry as to whether he'll be on his way.

"Galahad, Lancelot, cover up your skivvies. We're going on a field trip."