Merlin hands them all an envelope, telling them to open it. Eggsy opens his without hesitation, peering inside first before taking out the folder. There's only a few pages inside, with what looks like a profile written on them. On top of them there is a picture, though, and it catches Eggsy's attention first.
The man in the picture looks a little like a Kingsman agent. Eggsy tilts his head to the side, taking in the severe black suit, the perfect dark red tie, the collar, so nearly ironed. The man is in his forties maybe, has dark hair with a receding hair line, face lined with what Eggsy can only describe as a not impressed expression. He's not handsome precisely, but his face is… expressive – not that it's easy to tell by an image alone.
"Who's this?" Charlie asks, showing the same picture to Merlin – apparently he, Roxy and Eggsy all got the same file.
"Your target," Merlin says, looking at each of them in turn. "Your mission is to use your NLP training to win over the individual on the photograph – and when I say win over, I do mean it in the biblical sense."
"What?" Charlie asks sharply, turning the photo around again and scowling. "It's a man."
"Very observant," Merlin agrees and folds his arms.
"We're supposed to seduce some man?" Charlie demands, holding the picture a little further away from himself, as if it might attack him. "That will give Roxy an unfair advantage," he then complains.
"Does it?" Merlin asks, sounding about as unimpressed as the man in the photograph looks. "Now, there is a brief summary on the individual in your folder, and what we know of his schedule in the upcoming week. Please review that file now."
Eggsy takes the profile and the schedule out, frowning. Mycroft Holmes, the profile says. A minor government official judging by the looks of it – something of a workaholic too, if one went by his schedule. On average the man spends ten hours every day at work.
"There are three distinct opportunities for someone to approach the individual in question. You will each choose one of these opportunities and that is your one and only chance to make yourself acquainted with him," Merlin says. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays he visits a gym for two hours each day – these are the first two opportunities. The last is on Saturday, when he visits a private club. Choose your timing."
Roxy glances over the files – her eyes narrow and then she quick snaps out, "I'll take Tuesday," she says.
Eggsy blinks at that and looks over the files, trying to see what she saw. He doesn't – but Charlie obviously does because his eyes widen and then he quickly snags the second gym day – leaving the Saturday to Eggsy. He's not sure what's wrong about it – but there's obviously something off because Charlie grins and Roxy sends him a sympathetic look.
There's no chance to ask though. Merlin nods. "Good. You have one day to plan your approach and your alias accordingly – tomorrow I will assist you in the creation of a false background, but you will have to come up with the details yourself."
He waits until they all nod and then continues. "Now, due to the timing issues involved with this training mission, the three of you will be separated for the duration – there are private rooms prepared for each of you in the estate, and naturally under no circumstances are you to co-operate," he says. "Your room assignments should also be in your envelopes. You will vacate the barracks immediately."
Merlin then stands there, waiting. Apparently immediately really means immediately. Frowning, Eggsy looks at the picture again before quickly checking his new room assignment. It's top side – in the actual mansion, rather than underneath it. Letting JB down from his lap, he heads to get his things, Roxy and Charlie doing the same. They're out of the barracks inside five minutes, Eggsy heading to the east wing and to his own room while Charlie and Roxy head elsewhere.
There isn't much info about Mycroft Holmes available. Eggsy's not sure if it's because there's just not much to know about the guy – on paper he sounds boring as all get out – or if it's something else. Did Kingsman intentionally cherry pick the info to give them as little as possible – or did they just not know? Whichever it is, there's really barely anything on the paper about him – and there's precisely nothing about the guy on the net. Kingsman servers might have something, but you need access codes and shit to get info out of those, so that's not particularly helpful.
Still, Eggsy researches the man as well as he can, trying to figure out why this guy – why a guy at all? Just to make the mission as difficult as possible? Probably not – Kingsman was always throwing curve balls at them, the fucking parachute test being a prime example, so Eggsy doubts very much that it's that simple. Besides, Kingsman wouldn't intentionally go about making a test that's more difficult for some candidates than it was for others – that just doesn't seem like shit they'd do.
Besides, Charlie was fucking Arthur's candidate – which Eggsy wasn't supposed to know, mind you, but Charlie hadn't been able to keep his fucking mouth shut about it. Merlin wouldn't make a test that was intentionally biased against Arthur's candidate. Right?
So either the guy is bisexual, pansexual or otherwise oriented towards multiple sexes or whatever… Or they were all going to fail, and the mission wasn't about getting into the guy's pants. Which actually made sense – because the fuck sort of mission is that? Getting into someone's pants in order to get something else from them, now that was some spy shit. Just getting into someone's pants and nothing else, that was different. That was pretty much just prostitution. Actually it wasn't even that. As far as Eggsy knew, no one was paying the Kingsman candidates salary for this shit.
So what was it? Just a test on how well they prepare, how far they get – how believable they make their attempt? Or were they supposed to get something from the guy? Info, maybe? The profile was fucking thin as it was. So maybe that was it.
Eggsy kinda wished he could ask Harry, but Merlin had been pretty adamant about no co-operation. That probably meant no co-operation with Harry either. Besides, Harry wasn't even in the HQ anymore. He was out somewhere wining and dining Richmond Valentine for his head-explosive relates secrets.
Sighing, Eggsy drops the file on Mycroft Holmes on his desk and then whistles at JB. "Come on, boy," he says. "Let's go for a walk."
"So, what sort of alias do you have in mind?" Merlin asks when Eggsy enters his office later for mission preparation.
"Charlie and Roxy been in yet?" Eggsy asks. "Can I ask what they came up with?"
"No, but I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions on the basis of their mission location," Merlin says, arching his eyebrows – and yeah, Eggsy can. Charlie and Roxy had it fucking easy, what with a gym and all. They were probably going to go in as new clients or at most as temporary trainers or some shit like that. Eggsy though, Eggsy's mission is in a private fucking club. A fancy private club.
A fucking gentleman's club.
"Well then?" Merlin asks, turning to his computers, ready to get cracking. "What sort of identity do you have in mind?"
Eggsy considers it and then shakes head. "None," he says.
Merlin pauses at that, arching his eyebrows at him. Eggsy meets his eyes head on, and refuses to fucking falter. It's not that he didn't come up with anything – he did, he considered something like eighteen potential ways to approach the fucking place. Problem was, he wasn't going to pull any of them off.
"I just need a way in – so that when I get there, they don't just throw me out or some shit," Eggsy says, and shuffles where he stands. "You can do that, right?"
Merlin considers him, saying nothing for a moment, just staring at him – teetering on the edge of disappointment maybe. Then he narrows his eyes. "Do you feel like sharing your approach plan?"
"Not particularly," Eggsy says and pushes his hands into the pockets of his overalls. "Would help me if I was there with someone. Like, I had an invitation or some shit. And it'd be better if they wasn't there."
"Hmmm," Merlin says, narrowing his eyes and then turning to his computer. "That I can do. If you're really think that is all the preparation you need."
"Well…" Eggsy considers. "Some fancier clothes would be nice. I don't have anything nice enough for that place."
"You'll have access to the Wardrobe," Merlin agrees and types away for a moment. "Alright, you will have the invitation of Mr. Overton to join him for a dinner at the Diogenes Club – but he will fail to show up, due to the fact that he's going to Japan that weekend. Will that do?"
"Yeah," Eggsy shrugs – it doesn't really matter who he's supposed to be there with, so as long as he had way in. "Cheers, Bruv."
"Remember that it is a quite serious mission, Eggsy," the Scott says, giving him a look. "Don't go in half assed."
"I'm not. Hence fancier clothing," Eggsy says and frowns. "So what's the Wardrobe?"
The Wardrobe was a fitting room about the size of an average storage house, hidden in the belly of Kingsman HQ. It was where agents could grab some quick disguises if they needed them – though most often than not, they didn't. Most Kingsman Agents had their own wardrobes for things like that, with each article of clothing perfectly fitted to their bodies. And more often than not they just went in wearing their usual clothes – the benefit of having a bespoke suit for an uniform.
There were some old-as-shit clothes there, like too old to be retro, from the times of Kingsman's conception and shit like that – but there were newer pieces too. There was a surprising amount of dresses too – apparently Roxy and Amelia weren't the first Kingsman candidates of the female persuasion.
Eggsy strolls around the Wardrope for a while, going over racks upon racks of clothes until he picks something out – a charcoal grey, single breasted jacket with matching slacks and a light grey button up shirt. They're not quite up to Kingsman standards – there's frayed seam on the suit jacket and the left knee on the trousers looks like something's scraped it bad – the fabric's a little worn. Harry Hart wouldn't be caught dead wearing it.
While he considers his choices, one of the support staff members approaches him carefully. "You're one of the Lancelot candidates, right? Do you need some help?" she asks.
"Yeah, there anyplace I can see if this fits?" Eggsy asks.
"There's a dressing room in the back," she says, eying him and the suit somewhat dubiously.
Eggsy goes to test the suit out – it doesn't fit right, the shoulders are a little too tight, and the arms are a little too thin – when he bends his elbow in, his bicep make the fabric almost groan. The trousers, well. He fills them up to the brim. The suit's obviously made for someone a bit thinner than him - thinner and maybe a bit taller. Eggsy eyes his own reflection, smoothing the collar of the button up shirt down and then tugging it askew to reveal his throat. He looks like he feels. Someone playing dress up with an ill-fitting suit.
"Do you need help refitting it?" the tech staff member asks. "Or maybe picking out something else?"
"Nah, this is good," Eggsy says, grinning, and tucks the suit under his arm – probably wrinkling it horribly. "Thanks all the same."
Tuesday comes and goes, and Eggsy wonders how Roxy did, if she got anywhere. If she did, he doesn't hear about it – he's all but in black out mode, with no contact coming in or going out. He spends the time doing other shit in the mean while – parks his ass on the firing range for hours on end. It's, hands down, his favourite place in Kingsman HQ, especially since the tech people are in and out constantly and always looking for someone to test fire this new gadget or see how this modification would do.
Eggsy fucking loves guns. He loves the smell and the feel of them, the sheer brutal lethality and the efficiency of them. They're, in his opinion, the most beautiful horrible things humanity has come up with and he'll never ever get enough of the feel of them. Be it one of the Kingsman's special hand guns to their rifles to the umbrellas, he fucking loves all of them.
And he hasn't gotten a chance to handle a gun since he left the marines, so he's totally going to enjoy it while he can. Playing Call of Duty just doesn't compare to the real thing.
He's in the firing range when Harry comes in, apparently to get some practice done himself.
"Three months in a coma does have its sad side effects, I'm afraid," the agent says while setting a briefcase and his umbrella down on the desk beside firing lane next to Eggsy's. In the briefcase he has a couple of pistols, one of them the Kingsman special mod with shotgun cartridges, and the other a full on customisable fucking kit with everything from several silencers to a couple of different sights.
"You done any shooting since?" Eggsy asks.
"The work hasn't called for it," Harry admits, taking the standard pistol and checking it over with the eye of an expert before taking out a clip and inserting it with easy, well-practiced movements. "But you never know when it will, and I had better be prepared."
Then he tugs on his noise cancelling headphones – Eggsy following quickly suit – and then it gets a little too noisy to chat. Which Eggsy muses is just as well – he isn't supposed to be talking to people with the whole training mission thing happening.
He concentrates on his own weapon instead – he's testing a new silencer for the tech people. Kingsman, he's very quickly found out, have fucking amazing silencers. Even military grade silencers have nothing on the shit Kingsman has. They can actually reduce sound down to the quiet thwip sounds movie people think silenced rounds sound like. It's fucking sweet.
After a while though he just stops to watch Harry. Three months in a coma or not, the man is really fucking talented. It takes him a couple rounds to get warmed up, but after that the shots he scores are all pretty much bullseyes. The way he shoots is pretty interesting too – not once does he assume the standard firing position. Instead he switches positions between each shot, making it into a weird sort of choreography, moving, pausing, shooting and moving again all in perfect rhythm. Standing, leaning, he even goes down on one knee, both knees, even lies down to shoot – practicing angles, as well as aim.
"Do you mind if I turn on the moving targets?" Harry asks, after emptying his clip.
"Be my guest," Eggsy says, not even pretending to be practicing himself anymore. Harry turns the mobile targets on – they pop in and out in the back wall of the firing range, and quickly Harry starts taking them out – all but dancing between shots. And he never misses.
If the man's fitness took a dent from his coma, it's definitely not showing here.
"I hear you three have an NLP mission," Harry says suddenly and Eggsy tugs his headphones off.
"The candidates were given an NLP mission," Harry says and glances at him. "Nervous?"
"Not particularly," Eggsy shrugs, though he probably should be. He's got shitty NLP scores – he can swing the acting no problem, can get the attention and keep it on himself but the careful manipulation, he stumbles over that shit all the time. Not like Roxy who's text book perfect at everything, or Charlie who fucking revels in the NLP shit.
"If you got any tips though…" Eggsy trails off hopefully.
Harry looks him over while switching to the other gun, fitting it with a scope and a silencer before he puts the magazine in. "Don't get caught," he says, and gets back to practicing.
Charlie's day comes and goes, and suddenly it's Friday. Eggsy doesn't bother to stop and wonder how Charlie did, he's too busy with the notion that tomorrow, tomorrow he was going to head to this Diogenes Club to try and win over this bloke who he's pretty sure is un-winnable. He might be panicking a little for a while there, before he manages to beat it back and calm down again.
He knows seducing the guy isn't the goal. It can't be. No, it's just getting close, getting something done, probably. Selling the whole act, probably. Well, he would try and seduce the guy if he could because that was the mission after all. But in the mean while his goal would be info gathering, getting close – getting just friendly. He can do that.
Eggsy spends Friday walking around the HQ grounds with JB and just chilling and relaxing, not letting himself get all nervous and shit. Over-thinking's what gets you in the end, after all. He ain't going to be over-thinking it – he's just gonna do it, and see how it turns out.
He's pretty sure he sees Charlie carrying his bags out of Kingsman HQ as he does, but he's on the other end of the yard, it might've been someone else.
And then it's Saturday. He takes that morning to prepare in ways he hasn't in a long-ass time – and he's really fucking glad that the private room came with a private bathroom. This would've been kind of awful in communal showers. Once he's done there, he heads off to very awkwardly question Merlin whether or not he ought to get peripherals himself or is Kingsman supplying him with the stuff he needs. Because as much as he doubts his chances of actually ever getting into Mycroft Holmes' pants, well… that is the letter of the mission. And no way is he heading in unprepared.
"I mean," he says, a little awkward with Merlin staring at him flatly. "I can just pop back home, get all the shit I need, but, uh…"
"And what, precisely, do you think you will need?" Merlin asks, arching an eyebrow.
And fuck if it ain't awkward. Because it is. It fucking is. Because Eggsy – Eggsy has a list.
Eggsy's list is a long one.
And Merlin's eyebrows start migrating up after the third item on the list – and they stay up through the whole of it, all the way down to the last item on the list. Eggsy rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, staring up at the ceiling while Merlin looks over the list again. He's this fucking close to starting whistling awkwardly, just to break the fucking silence.
Finally, Merlin lowers the list and just looks at him. Eggsy expects him to ask something, ask him fucking anything, but he doesn't – not about that, not about his intentions, nothing. "Right," he says and hands the list back – expressionless and bland and severe as if he hadn't just read through a whole litany of evidence of Eggsy's past misdeeds. "I'll have everything on the list delivered to your room inside two hours. Anything else?"
"Um, no, I guess not," Eggsy says and inches his way towards the door. "Thanks. I'll just – I'll be going then --"
"One more thing," Merlin says and turns away. "I was going to have these delivered just before your departure, but this is as good a time as any. Here."
He hands Eggsy a dark case that holds in it a pair of dark rimmed, heavy spectacles. The same sort of spectacles Harry wore. The same sort they'd trained with other candidates – but never gotten to actually keep after those training sessions because these things, they cost a fucking arm and leg to make.
Kingsman glasses are some serious fucking shit.
"Shit, really?" Eggsy asks, eyes widening a bit.
"We need to monitor your mission somehow," Merlin says.
Of course, the glasses fit perfectly. And two hours later, one of the support staff people delivers a nice, bland briefcase to Eggsy's door, smiling fleetingly at him before heading off. Inside the briefcase in a perfect, pristine arrangement, is everything Eggsy asked, sitting on shaped packing foam like fucking crown jewels or some shit.
Someone somewhere in the bowels of Kingsman actually sat down and made fucking shaped packing foam for Eggsy's brand new sex toys before fitting them all in nice and proper in a suitcase. He's not entirely sure if he should laugh or cry about it.
"This fucking place, what the actual fuck," Eggsy says, and cackles over the fucking briefcase hysterically for a little while, JB grinning widely at him and having no fucking clue how fucking weird Kingsman really was. Lucky bastard, JB.
Eggsy waits until it's about an hour before Mycroft Holmes usually goes to the club before changing clothes, leaving his Kingsman jumpsuit in his room and donning the ill-fitting suit instead. It feels even more awkward now, after all the preparation he's gone through – the shit they used to wash the thing is just irritating as fuck against recently shaved skin. Still, he looks… good. He looks like he's about to bust the seams of his trousers – but that, too, looks kinda good. The glasses don't really fit, though, but… he can't do fuck-all about that, can he?
And then it's time to get going.
He catches a ride in one of the Kingsman issued taxi's – it's weird and wonderful, sitting in one of those things. They're kitted out like fucking limousines on the inside – there's champagne and expensive cigars and shit there. It's really fucking tempting to grab a drink and just live it up for a moment. But no.
He's got a mission.
"Good luck, sir," the driver says as he stops in front of the fancy-ass building that houses the very exclusive and very elite Diogenes Club. Eggsy eyes the building with its nice window frames and fences and shit. It looks like the whole fucking thing is made of marble or something.
"Yeah," Eggsy murmurs, adjusting his glasses and all but strangling the handle of the briefcase. "Thanks."
Then he gets out of the cab, steels himself for the mission, and heads inside. And of course the building is just as fancy on the inside as it is on the out – everything is like mahogany or something, and there's polished brass or some shit like that everywhere. It fucking gleams, this place. And there's a staff of people in suits who wear white fucking gloves and everything. Jesus fucking Christ. Still, he's here.
Better get on with it.
Then he figures out why Roxy and Charlie were so quick to grab the gym days instead.
In the Diogenes Club it's fucking forbidden to speak.