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A Life Twice-lived

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Harry

“There’s a boy who comes in every day,” says Antonio, expression a little fond. They are sitting in the leather chairs near the shop’s entrance, sharing a pot of tea. It is Jasmine of course, since that is Harry’s favorite and he so likes to indulge himself whenever he can. “He looks kind of rough to be honest, so the first time, I thought he came in to cause trouble.”

“Did he cause any trouble?” asks Harry, not sure if he is interested in the conversation just yet. He takes a sip of his drink, eyes closing momentarily as he enjoys the tea’s rich flavour.

Antonio continues.

“No, he didn’t. He just came in, greeted me and spent the next hour looking around. Then he left only to return the next day, same time.”

“Mmm,” says Harry non-committedly, “Do you have any ideas why he does what he does?”

“No,” admits Antonio, with reluctance, Harry notices, “But sir, do you think I should do something about it?”

“Do you want to?” asks Harry, gaze intense.

The older man shakes his head.

“I like him,” says the shop keeper, “I don’t know why but I like him. And he doesn’t behave like other teenagers either. He’s polite and knowledgeable; a bag of contradictions he is.”

“Now,” Harry smiles, taking another sip, “Isn’t that interesting?”

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Harry meets the young man in question the very next day, walking in at ten o’ clock sharp like Antonio had said. Intriguing, Harry thinks, to see such punctuality in someone so young.

The young man greets Antonio with a familiarity that suggests fondness and affection between them.

“Hello again Gary,” says Antonio.

“Good morning,” says Gary, smiling. As they engage in small talk, Harry realizes that Antonio was right; this young man, this Gary No-Last-Name was indeed full of contradictions. While his clothing suggests he was of rather modest means, his speech and his walk tell another story. He doesn’t slouch like most people like him do, he doesn’t shorten his words and use those horrible slang kids these days seemed to be so fond of; he speaks with confidence and diplomacy, like a true gentleman.

Maybe there was more to this than meets the eye.

Time to make my entrance…

“Hello,” says Harry, attracting Gary’s attention. The boy actually jumps in shock when he catches sight of him, a flash of recognition and sadness soon follows before everything is masked by a pleasant smile. Harry resists the urge to raise his eyebrows inquiringly.

“Hello sir,” the young man replies, walking closer to him. He extends a hand. “My name is Gary, but please call me Eggsy.”

“Eggsy,” Harry says. He doesn’t know why but Eggsy fits this boy better than Gary ever could. “No last name?”

“Unwin, sir,” says Eggsy and Harry’s eyes widen minutely. Eggsy Unwin, Lee Unwin’s boy. How had he not made the connection earlier? God, this boy was already nineteen; had thirteen years really passed so fast?

“I knew your father,” says Harry before he can stop himself, “He was a great man. He saved my life.”

“You gave me the medal,” says Eggsy, pulling out the familiar chain from underneath his shirt, “You told me to call you if I ever needed a favour.”

“I did,” Harry admits, “But you never called.”

“Never had any reason to,” replies Eggsy, “Thought it would be better to learn how to take care of myself instead of relying on some stranger.”

Harry nods approvingly.

“I admire your spirit of independence,” says he, “Not many youngsters these days would do the same.”

Eggsy actually laughs at that; a sweet sound that makes Harry’s smile grow.

“Don’t say it like that,” says the young man, “You’re not that old.”

“You’re twenty years my junior Eggsy,” says Harry, “I am old compared to you.”

“But time has done wonders for you,” replies his companion and… was that a blatant once-over? “A fine wine indeed.”

Harry blushes – actually blushes – which is so uncharacteristic of him that he immediately looks away.

“Well,” he clears his throat. “The offer still stands; if you need a favour, give me a call.”

“Actually,” says Eggsy, expression serious once more, “I do need a favour, if you would oblige.”

“Of course,” says Harry, eyes narrowing slightly, “How may I be of service?”

“A job,” Eggsy smiles, sweet and hopeful, “Here. I like it here.”

“At the tailor shop?” That is rather unexpected. “You want to work at a tailor shop?”

“I would very much like to work here,” says Eggsy, his tone certain, “If you would take me on, I promise I would be a wonderful addition to your team.”

Harry blinks.

“Well,” says the Kingsman Agent, “I’m not the owner you see, so I can’t decide who to hire.”

“I understand,” Eggsy looks so disappointed that Harry quickly amends.

“But I’ll ask the owner and give you a response by tomorrow, if of course, I see you tomorrow.”

“I will be here at ten,” says Eggsy and grins. “Thank you.”

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Merlin calls him a sentimental moron when he asks but ends up agreeing to help him convince Arthur (who also agreed eventually) as long as Antonio accepts to keep a good eye on the boy. Harry isn’t too worried through; the chance of Eggsy discovering the shop was only a front for an international spy organisation was slim to none.

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He gives Eggsy the good news the very next day.

“Thank you so much,” Eggsy beams at him and happily signs the payroll contracts. “If I may ask, why did the owner say yes without even meeting me?”

“He trusts my word,” explains Harry, “And I told him that I see in you a man of great potential.”

A flash of pain crosses Eggsy’s expression – again, Harry thinks, what is going on? – before he smiles again.

“I really do appreciate your help. This means a lot to me,” he says, too earnest, too sincere. Harry forces a smile of his own, suddenly feeling an unexplainable tightness in his chest.

“Of course,” Harry nods and turns back to Antonio, “Can you get Eggsy here fitted for a suit? You can show him how to measure customers at the same time.”

“Of course sir,” says Antonio and beckons Eggsy to follow him. Eggsy does with promptness and Harry, absurdly, couldn’t get the image of an eager puppy following its master out of his head.

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Working with Eggsy, as Harry soon discovers, is a true joy. He fits right in despite not being a Kingsman. He’s polite to customers, charming to a fault, and everyone simply adores him. Even Sir James - who hates everyone, Harry included – loves Eggsy. Harry is proud with reason and never loses an opportunity to tell the boy so. The flush that would overcome Eggsy’s cheeks at his every praise may also have something to do with it, but Harry is keeping that tidbit of information to himself.

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Two days later, Harry gets called back to field work. Nothing serious to be honest, just a recon mission that shouldn’t take more than a week.

“This is still important, Galahad,” says Merlin, expression disapproving, “I shouldn’t have to tell you to take your time if needed.”

“Of course I will,” says Harry, actually offended by his words, “Why on Earth would you think-”

“Because of your infatuation with your newest employee,” interrupts his oldest friend, gaze intense, “I’ve been watching, Galahad, and frankly, the speed with which you have gotten attached to that boy worries me.”

“Infatuation is not the right word,” says Harry, unable to meet Merlin’s gaze, “Besides, I’ve known him for only a week and he is the son of one of my dead colleagues. Any… infatuation as you say would be terribly inappropriate.”

“Inappropriate,” repeats Merlin, “But not impossible.”

“You are getting quite invested in my love life,” says Harry, pretending to read the case file, “Anything you want to tell me?”

Merlin sighs, resigned.

“Just… please be careful?”

“Always,” says Harry, knowing perfectly that the warning is as much about Eggsy as about his upcoming mission.

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He wraps everything up in record time, but since no one got hurt, Merlin only gives him a look before telling him that he did a good job.

Harry counts it as win.

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