Roxy’s face twisted into the polite smile that usually greeted skydiving missions and marathons of Geordie Shore. “Of course I like Harry. He’s just...” She shrugged and raised her eyebrows meaningfully. Then she raised her rifle, checked her sights and picked off the outermost guard.
“He’s what?” Eggsy asked, lining up his own guard in the crosshairs and letting out a slow breath before he pulled the trigger. Headshot, and the body crumpled.
“Well, he’s... you know,” Roxy finished with a wave of her fingers against the barrel of her rifle.
“Is the end of that sentence hot as hell and fit as fuck?” Eggsy asked, and Roxy’s surprised grimace was a clear no. “‘Cause if not, I really don’t know.”
Roxy stalled, taking one shot and then another before she answered. “Dull.”
“Dull?” Eggsy repeated, keeping his sites trained on the warehouse entrance. He couldn’t think of a word less suited to describe Harry, debonair gentleman and deadly agent. For a moment, he wondered if Roxy was thinking of the wrong agent. “You are talking about Harry Hart, right? Galahad of the one person mass slaughter? Have you seen the man with a gun?”
“He’s a good agent,” Roxy said quickly. “And he’s nice. Polite.”
“But you think he’s dull?”
“He’s stuffy, and in Kingsman that’s saying something,” Roxy said, shrugging again. Another guard ran out, and Roxy took the shot. “I don’t dislike him but, well, he’s dull.”
Eggsy gave her a long, disbelieving look. “Sometimes, I don’t understand you at all.”
“Dull?” Eggsy asked her again, a few days later. They were crawling through air-conditioning ducts that were just small enough to make moving tiresome and slow. It was all elbows and shimmying shoulders and Eggsy was probably going to spend the next fifteen minutes staring at the soles of Roxy’s boots.
“Are you still on about that?” Roxy asked, sound relayed through their glasses.
“How can you think Harry’s dull?”
“He gave us an hour lecture on the importance of handkerchiefs and the history of umbrellas.”
Eggsy remembered that day. He’d thought it interesting, but he might have been distracted by watching Harry’s strong, fine fingers brush over the lines of the umbrella. Or by Harry’s voice and the calm, confident way he explained things; Eggsy would listen to the man read a phone book.
“You can’t blame him for Kingsman curriculum,” Eggsy replied, elbowing another few inches forward.
“I checked with Merlin,” Roxy said, starting to sound a little short of breath. “That’s not Kingsman, that’s Galahad.”
As brilliant as Roxy was at everything, she wasn’t right about Harry. Harry wasn’t boring; he was considerate and careful, and he cared about the details. Even when it came to missions. Where Merlin would throw the information at you and bark orders, Harry would sit around the dining table and discuss it first.
Eggsy kind of liked it, going into a situation knowing someone had considered the details. Plus, if you asked just right, Harry could be distracted and end up talking about prior missions. He’d be discreet about the details but listening to Harry talk about the easiest way to defuse a dirty bomb or snap a man’s neck did things for Eggsy. It was the gentle confidence, the clear pride in his work; the way that Harry would pause and ask what Eggsy would have done, and then talk through the idea.
Roxy clearly didn’t agree because she was making the polite, listening face that meant she was trying really hard not to nod off. He could see her itching to open the dossier on the table, occasionally shooting him pointed glances when Harry wasn’t looking at her.
“And what about you, Lancelot?” Harry asked mildly, but it came a second after Roxy’s latest ‘this is dull beyond belief’ look. She was totally busted. “What would you have done?”
“I would have walked towards the target and pretended to trip on the footpath.” Eggsy’s seen her pull that stunt. She’s all awkward and embarrassed, laughing at her own clumsiness and sliding into a casual flirtation like it was natural. Fucking impressive to watch. “Drawn the target’s attention, flirted and then faked an unsteady ankle. I’d grasp his shoulder for support and plant the bug on his clothes then.”
“Get a taxi out of there before it looked suspicious,” Roxy said, and Harry nodded in approval.
“Know what I don’t get?” Eggsy asked. Given the raised eyebrow he got from Roxy, she thought there were a lot of answers to that. None of them were flattering. “Where are all the spy seduction missions? The what do you call ‘em, the sweeteners?”
“Honeypots,” Roxy supplied. She always knew that stuff.
“Yeah. Getting it up for Queen and country, I could definitely do that. But no, it’s all mild flirtation and flee the scene.”
Harry sighed. It was that low, heartfelt one that said he was too much of a gentleman to cuff Eggsy round the ear for sheer stupidity, but he was sorely tempted. “Precisely what would Kingsman gain from such a mission? Other than you getting your rocks off and forcing Merlin to watch something that can never be unseen,” Harry added, soft and smarmy, and kind of perfect if you asked Eggsy.
“Access to a target’s room. The ability to plant multiple bugs. If they fell asleep after sex, you could steal stuff from their safe or files from their computer.”
“Lancelot, what are three alternative ways of gaining that same access?”
“Infiltrating the cleaning staff. Pretending to be a representative of a utility company, checking for maintenance purposes. Breaking through the security system when no-one’s home,” Roxy answered quickly.
“Teacher’s pet,” Eggsy muttered at her and Roxy pretended she hadn’t heard. “Still, though, what about gaining their trust or infiltrating a crime syndicate?”
“You watch too much television,” Harry scolded. “Kingsman rarely wastes time on idiots. Anyone important enough to warrant our attention is not stupid enough to trust a one night stand with their deepest secrets and darkest crimes. We leave those pointless shenanigans to MI5.”
The worst missions, the absolute worst of the worst, were surveillance. As far as Eggsy was concerned, London had the right idea with a CCTV camera for every citizen. Being stuck in stupid Brighton, sitting in a cafe because Merlin couldn’t remotely monitor the back exit of the travel agency across the street was complete waste of Kingsman resources.
At least Roxy was keeping him company, via the glasses.
“I spy with my little eye,” she was saying and Eggsy nearly laughed and ruined his serious persona. “Something beginning with... Oh, hey, Eggsy! It’s your type. Two o’clock.”
Eggsy kept a calm grip on the newspaper he was pretending to read and flicked his gaze across. White, male, average height with wispy white hair that revealed a bald spot when the wind picked up, and an off the rack suit that pulled tightly across his paunch. “How is that my type?”
“Old, fastidious, boring? Probably used to being called grandpa?” Roxy said, starting to giggle at her own joke. “Absolutely your type.”
“First off, Harry ain’t no one’s grandpa. Daddy, maybe, if you go for that sort of thing,” Eggsy said and felt justified by Roxy’s half-choked snort. “And how can you say he’s boring after he gave us tips on the best ways to kill with a biro? And why you always want to check a safe house?”
That had been Eggsy’s favourite part of their last mission debrief: listening to Harry smugly recall the time he brought down five paratroopers using stationary lying around the safe house. The stapler thing was sick.
“Merlin would have finished that debrief in fifteen minutes. Not spent an hour going over the basics of Kingsman’s Acceptable Mission Parameters.”
There was something about her tone that caught Eggsy’s attention. It sounded... official. “Is that written down somewhere?”
“Merlin suggested reading it our first week of training.”
“That great big book of standards?” Eggsy asked. “That thing was two inches thick and had type the size of the phone book. I thought he was kidding.”
“How did you even survive your first week here?”
“Must have been my natural charm,” Eggsy replied and pretended to ignore Roxy’s disbelieving huff. “Second, Harry has great hair. You can’t deny that.”
“I’ll give you that,” Roxy allowed generously.
“Thirdly, Harry is packing under that suit, okay? No beer belly or love handles, trust me.”
“How would you know that?”
“He swims in the mornings.” It wasn’t until the words were out of his mouth that Eggsy realised how incriminating it sounded. Roxy was going to tease him for weeks over this, he knew it.
“Have you been stalking him to his local pool?”
“It’s HQ. And I’m not stalking.”
“If you’ve been leaving your glasses around to perv on Galahad wet and half naked, Merlin will track you down and kill you.”
“I ain’t stupid enough to piss off Merlin,” Eggsy reassured her quickly. He might be the agent who walked into three dozen Yakuza without a secondary escape route, but there’s a difference between living life with a few risks and being found floating face down in the Thames. Misuse of tech would definitely result in the second. “I go to the gym there when it’s early and quiet. The treadmills happen to overlook the pool.”
He’d never seen the appeal in running on those machines: too mind-numbingly boring. But the Kingsman machines faced a huge wall of glass overlooking the blue water of the indoor pool. The first time had been mere coincidence. Eggsy had nearly stumbled off the treadmill when Harry strode out of the change rooms, wearing nothing but a pair of swim trunks and a towel hanging over those well-muscled shoulders. Not to mention those lean, strong thighs.
The view was even better when Harry pushed himself out of the pool, water streaming down his chest, trunks clinging indecently...
Eggsy cleared his throat and reminded himself he was actually working right now. Nothing had happened -- because surveillance missions were shit -- but he wasn’t supposed to be sitting here imagining Harry Hart naked. “I just found a way to make running in place more interesting.”
Roxy’s reply held the expected level of disdain. “You’re voluntarily getting up before dawn to go running? Be easier just to ask him for a drink.”
Roxy wasn’t wrong. He could have asked Harry out to dinner and sorted this whole thing. Eggsy just wasn’t ready for it to be over yet.
“What do you mean, over?” Roxy asked, pulling her rucksack a little higher on her back and taking a breather. The incline wasn’t steep yet – wouldn’t be until they got to the mountain face proper -- but the rocks were treacherously loose and likely to slip underfoot. It slowed the hike down.
“I mean done. Over. That once and for all feeling when you know that if you were the last guy on Earth, they’d rather be celibate.”
Roxy turned and gave him a narrow eyed look. “What happened to posh girls love a bit of rough? Where’s your confidence?”
“My confidence is fine. Posh girls to tough bruvs, and anything in between. I can pull someone at a bar and get them to take me back to theirs. But when I like someone...” Eggsy shrugged. He looked down, using the unsteady rocks as an excuse to avoid seeing Roxy’s expression. “It goes tits up, Rox. Every time.”
Roxy’s tone was incredulous. “Are you telling me you’ve never pulled someone you already liked?”
“Jess Palmer, when I was seventeen. Although she threw up mid-fuck and was too embarrassed to ever speak to me again.” Eggsy sighed. It was long enough ago that it was a mortifying memory, not a painful one. “I was head over heels for her.”
“One bad experience doesn’t make you cursed,” Roxy pointed out reasonably.
“There was Tommy, who despite the interest in hairdressing was actually straight. Kourtnee, who filled out a tank top like you wouldn’t believe, but wasn’t dating boys anymore. Max, who tripped on the way out of the club with me, broke his nose and ended up dating the EMT. The fucking EMT,” Eggsy repeated because he was still bitter about that. What the hell were the odds of that? Sitcom odds, that’s what. “They’re living together now. Probably get married and adopt dogs and orphans.”
Roxy looked over her shoulder at him, curiosity and concern on her face. And underneath that, a small amount of amusement. “Surely there were others.”
“Nathan who only flirted with me to steal my stash. Mark, who just laughed when I said we should get drinks some time. That’s all of them.”
“That’s still only a few people.”
Eggsy thought about it. “How many people have you had crushes on? What happened?”
Roxy was quiet long enough that he knew he’d made his point. “Five,” she said eventually. “I dated four of them.”
“If I ask Harry out, he’ll misunderstand and I’ll feel like a right tosser. Or he’ll try to let me down easy and everything will be weird and awkward. Or he’ll say yes and probably fall for the guy at the next fucking table and end up adopting dozens of stupid puppies. It’ll fuck up, Rox.”
Roxy gave him a grin and because she was a good mate, there wasn’t a trace of pity in it. “Will the shame of it force you to leave the country and change your name?”
“I might have to grow a beard and learn a foreign language.”
“I’ve heard the way you murder French. The rest of the world doesn’t deserve that.”
“Scope.” Roxy held out a hand for the scope, fingers wiggling in mid-air until Eggsy passed it over. “Thanks.”
Eggsy hummed in reply. As much as he liked the look of a Kingsman suit, being stuck on a rooftop in Madrid made those weird siren suits look appealing. It was too hot, and too bright, and the bloody target wasn’t even home yet so who knew how long they’d be trapped up here.
“Are you still sulking?” Roxy asked, not looking away from the target’s white-on-white penthouse. Because she was a pro like that. She wouldn’t let herself be distracted or use extreme measures unless they were necessary.
And Eggsy knew that. So he wasn’t sulking. He was hot and sweating and wishing he had a better mission, that’s all. “I’m not sulking. I ain’t a kid.”
“It was the best solution available,” Roxy said, sounding really sorry, which wasn’t fair. Eggsy didn’t want her feeling bad about it.
“I know, and I’m not blaming you, I’m just... Annoyed, right?”
“It wasn’t my idea.”
It was true. Roxy had showed him the feed from her glasses, so he heard Harry suggest it. They were in a bad situation with unexpected security, and it was important to avoid suspicion when there wasn’t an easy exit. “I just wish someone had told me that PDAs had become SOP.”
“If that becomes standard, I’m going to start refusing missions.”
Eggsy’s snort of disbelief was surprisingly loud. “Like snogging Harry was a hardship.” He winced when he heard the jealousy in his tone.
Just... Well, if he’d known there was the slightest possibility that Harry’s response to being trapped in a hallway with security guards coming quick would be to lean in close, murmuring, “Struggle against me,” and then snog the hell out of Roxy while groping her indecently... Eggsy would have volunteered for that mission, that’s all.
It was a smart plan, though. Roxy played up the damsel in distress until the guards saved her and walked her back to the security office to call her father. (Eggsy would tease her about calling Merlin Daddy, but if Merlin heard the jokes, it’d be his last breath. He likes breathing.) Meanwhile, Harry got frogmarched out the back door. Clean exits without bloodshed.
If Merlin decided to make it SOP, Eggsy would understand. And start volunteering, obviously.
“Despite your age inappropriate crush on Galahad, some of us were quite happy not to know his breath is minty fresh.”
Eggsy may have got his hopes up when his next mission was with Harry. As Harry’s executive assistant, no less. Not that he wanted things to go pear-shaped, but if they did, he’d brushed, he’d flossed and he had mints in his pocket. If the best exit from the situation turned out to be the mouth on mouth kind, he was prepared.
He might have been a little disappointed when the third tumbler clicked into place and the safe opened without a single alarm sounding.
No alarms. No guards. No strategic excuse to drag Harry close and lock lips.
Eggsy would’ve sighed in disappointment if he wasn’t a professional.
At least the guards got a clue on the way out. When ten of them ran up the stairs, automatic weapons gripped tight, Eggsy grinned and braced himself for a fight. Harry was quicker, grabbing out the Rainmaker and flicking through options, taking out the leader of the group with enough force to knock him backwards into the others.
They fell over like a set of pins, a domino collapse back down the stairs.
“Strike!” Eggsy called, and Harry grinned back at him.
“Technically,” he said, taking aim at the last standing guard and knocking him across the room with the next shot, “that’s a spare.”
If Eggsy hadn’t already been head-over-heels for Harry, the quietly smug grin would have done him in. How could anyone resist that look, sharing his happiness like it was a secret to be cherished? It was that look that made Eggsy blurt out, “Want to get a drink after this?”
Harry probably didn’t hear him over the sudden burst of automatic gunfire. They both rolled, ducking for cover and pulling out umbrellas.
“I thought you weren’t going to ask him out,” Roxy said, when he told her over beer and crisps.
“Ain’t you the one who wanted me to ask him out?” Eggsy replied, stealing three of her disgusting BBQ flavoured crisps in retaliation.
“That was before I knew about the curse upon your love life,” Roxy intoned, fingers waving like she was telling a spooky ghost story. It failed to look at all frightening.
“Well, I asked him out, he completely ignored it so best case scenario he didn’t hear the question.”
“Worst case, he needs hearing aids.”
“He ain’t that old, Rox,” Eggsy replied, but he had to work not to laugh. “It’s just...”
Eggsy sighed. “I don’t want to ask him out, right?”
“Because of the supposed curse.”
“But I really want to ask him out,” Eggsy finished hopelessly. “I can’t win.”
“I’m flying to Frankfurt in the morning and scaling the outside of a ridiculously tall building,” Roxy said, leaning across to steal a few crisps from Eggsy’s packet. “If I can do that, you can ask Harry out again.”
Eggsy didn’t want to whine, especially not the night before her big solo mission, but he couldn’t help it. “What if he says no?”
“You’ll have overcome your fear and be a better agent for it,” Roxy said firmly, all bright focused eyes and determined set to her chin. “That’s what Merlin says when I ask what happens if I fall tomorrow.”
“All heart, isn’t he?”
“But he’s right. You can’t hide away in terror. You need to face up to it and learn how to do it better.” Eggsy wasn’t sure if she was talking about asking someone out or the 50-storey climb that was waiting for her. Then she added, “Berlin had better be right about those magnetic suction gloves,” and finished her glass.
“Come on, Rox, you know Kingsman won’t send you out with untested tech,” Eggsy said, standing and picking up their empty glasses. “I’ll get the next round, yeah?”
Eggsy has done scarier shit than this. He’s faced down terrorists and mobsters and gone head-to-head with a woman who had honest to fucking god swords for feet. He’s kept the smile on his face while registering Daisy for their local, freakishly posh, preschool. He has done scarier things than open a door and talk to Harry Hart.
Still. Every time he raised his hand to knock, his heart pounded and he wondered if this was some really elaborate revenge scheme from Roxy. He wouldn’t put it past her. She had the wicked mission planning skills to pull it off. But she also lacked the cruelty to use those skills for evil.
Harry’s voice came drifting past the closed door. “You’ve been standing in the doorway for ten minutes, Eggsy. It is customary to either enter or continue walking.”
Nothing to do now but open the door. “How did you know it was me out there?”
“Pattern tread,” Harry replied seriously.
Footstep recognition sounded cool and believable, until Eggsy remembered the carpet runners in the hall. “No way you heard my footsteps.”
“Then I must have guessed.” The thing with Harry was how hard it was to tell his ‘I am being utterly honest and sincere’ tone from his ‘I am completely fucking with you’ tone. A slight twinkle in the eyes, and maybe the ghost of a smirk afterwards, but usually not enough for Eggsy to be certain.
“Then you’re lucky it wasn’t Merlin. That would’ve been embarrassing.”
That ghost of a smirk, so Harry probably was messing with him. “Merlin wouldn’t have hovered.” Then Harry raised two perfectly neat eyebrows at him, and Eggsy realised standing there silently probably wasn’t much better than hovering in the corridor.
“So,” Eggsy started, which was a better opening than um or er, “you been good?”
“I’ve been quite well, thank you.” Harry put down his pen and closed the leather ledger sitting on the dining table. He gave Eggsy his full attention; Eggsy swallowed and tried not to fidget. “And you?”
“Yeah, aces.” Eggsy started to crack his knuckles -- nervous habit, alright? -- and reminded himself that he had done scarier things than this. “I was wondering if you’d like to go to dinner sometime.”
“That would be lovely,” Harry said graciously. “When did you have in mind?”
It seemed way too easy. Harry probably thought Eggsy was asking for lessons on fancy restaurants or good table manners or something. “I meant with me. Like a date. Dinner and drinks and everything,” Eggsy forced out, palms starting to sweat.
“I assumed as much,” Harry said mildly. He wore a small smile that made him look unbearably handsome. “Which night’s best for you?”
“So you did it?” Roxy asked, pulling off the oxygen tank on her back and lifting up the mask.
“It was a first date. What sort of boy do you think I am?” Eggsy asked, pretending to be scandalised as he started peeling the wetsuit off his chest and down his arms. “Course we went back to his and did the dirty.”
“Don’t make me imagine Galahad naked.” Roxy screwed her face up as she shimmied her own wetsuit down her hips. “I was talking about asking him out. And breaking the curse.”
Eggsy opened the waterproof bag and carefully unrolled his tuxedo jacket. Bulletproof suits were one thing, but wrinkle-free evening wear was a fucking miracle. “Yes, you were right. Happy?”
“Ecstatic,” Roxy replied, freeing her hair from the scarily tight bun and running fingers through it until it fell in loose waves down her shoulders. Add in the slinky halterneck gown and the thick diamond necklace that was all bling (really, it was half explosives and half tracking devices, but that thing fucking glittered), and she looked like the billionaire’s daughter she was pretending to be.
Eggsy held out his arm for her. “Ready?”
“For the first mission where you won’t be whining about Galahad like a lovesick puppy? Bring it on.”
“That sucks balls,” Eggsy said when Harry and Merlin finished debriefing them on the terrorist cell in Syria that had managed to block Kingsman communications and nearly captured Harry and Percival in the process.
“Far less enjoyable, I’m afraid,” Harry replied without a single pause, causing Merlin to roll his eyes and pointedly continue outlining their next mission.
Later, when it was just the two of them in the armoury, pilfering favourite weapons for the next mission, Roxy said, “You know a filthy sense of humour still doesn’t make him interesting.”
Eggsy slipped a few spare lighters into his pocket. He loved those things. “I’ve decided to appreciate the fact that you think Harry’s boring.”
“Really?” Roxy, somewhat predictably, took a second poison pen from the shelf. Where Eggsy loved bright, flashy explosions, Roxy was all about the sleek competency. It was why they worked so well as a team. “Why?”
“Because if you were too interested, I’d feel really bad about sabotaging your next mission.” Eggsy gave her a cheeky grin. “I mean, I’d still do it but I’d feel rotten about it.”
“If he was the last man on Earth, Eggsy,” Roxy said, so terribly sweet, “the human race would become extinct.”
“Besides, I’ve seen your email account,” Eggsy sing-songed. “I’m not the one with lousy taste.”
“How did you-- Amelia is perfectly nice,” Roxy bit back sharply.
Eggsy shrugged. “If you like them a little horsey.”
“Take that back!”
“I would,” Eggsy said graciously, slipping a new watch onto his wrist, “but you know I’m right. It’s the cheeks and the chin. Horsey.”
“Like I’d take dating advice from you,” Roxy replied, checking her suit in the mirror and tugging down the collar. “At least I’m not dating someone who saw the Beatles live.”
Eggsy opened the door, and held it for Roxy to walk through. “Beatles, no. Sex Pistols, yes.” Roxy shot him a disbelieving glance, but it was true. Harry still had bootlegged records, because he was that kind of hoarder. Of course, it was Harry, so those records were all carefully stacked by artist name and recording date, and neatly arranged in his cosy little sitting room. “At least I’m not dating someone who thinks friendship is magic.”
Roxy frowned at him, clearly not getting the reference. “What?”
“She looks like a My Little Pony,” Eggsy explained. He probably deserved the sharp elbow to his side, but it wasn’t like he expected Roxy to admit he was right. Someone who thought Harry was boring had no freaking clue.