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A Failure to Communicate

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The first time they fell into bed, it was out of nowhere. Well, not nowhere, exactly, because it was something Harry had wanted for longer than he cared to admit, but it came as a shock nonetheless.

When he’d imagined their first time—feeling every inch the pathetic, smitten old fool that he was—Harry had rather thought there would be some measure of passionate, heartfelt confessions between them. Or at the very least, quite a lot of gin. Anything, really. Any sort of catalyst to explain away such a massive, terrifying change in their relationship.

Instead, Eggsy simply showed up post-mission, as he always did, dishevelled and keyed-up. Harry had barely opened his mouth to offer a nice, soothing cup of tea when Eggsy crowded him against the banister. The railing pressed hard into the small of Harry’s back, but Eggsy’s lips were soft against his own.

Later that night, he fell asleep exhausted and spent, relishing the feeling of Eggsy’s soft, sweat-damp skin against his own and feeling happier than he had in years.

It made waking up to an empty bed all the worse. He tried to convince himself that it wasn’t what it seemed, that Eggsy hadn’t woken in the harsh light of day to find himself wrapped around an old man and fled in wake of his regret. Harry gave himself dozens of explanations—Eggsy could have had a mission, an appointment at the dentist’s. He could have gone for a run or to let JB out for a wee.

He didn’t believe any of them, of course—not as he buttoned his waistcoat or drank his coffee and certainly not at the shop that afternoon, when Eggsy acted as though nothing had happened.

Eggsy wasn’t cruel. He didn’t avoid Harry or ignore him. He didn’t even come out and say that their evening together had been a mistake. No, he simply carried on as usual.

Nothing changed, apart from the persistent twisted feeling that settled in Harry’s chest. The flirting remained, as did the inappropriate banter. Even the bloody winking.

Eggsy was still Eggsy.

Harry told himself that it was simply a one-off. The boy had been overwhelmed by his mission and simply needed to connect with another human being. Perhaps he had realized that the depth of Harry’s feelings for him went well beyond what was acceptable for a mentor and it had been a pity shag, much as Harry was loathe to accept that possibility.

Regardless of why, regardless of how very much he cared about—loved—Eggsy, it was obvious that the young man had no interest in anything more. A gentleman respects the boundaries of others. Harry stiffened his upper lip and set about simply treasuring their night together as a precious memory, one all the more beloved for its singularity.

He had very nearly moved past the disappointment, the knife-sharp pain of rejection, and into healthier territory.

That is, until he opened his door in the dead of night to find the object of his affection standing before him, the golden light from the street lamps catching Eggsy’s flaxen hair like a halo. Harry let Eggsy smash their lips together before he could shut the door.

And then he let Eggsy press him into his own mattress before he could think about how very much it would hurt in the morning.

The cycle repeated itself, over and over again. Harry was constantly confused and insecure, but couldn’t bring himself to put an end to it.

Life carried on as usual. There were missions and debriefings, the platonic suppers out that had begun as etiquette lessons and morphed into habit. They had sparring matches, to keep unused skills fresh, and took tea together to pass the quiet phases between missions. They were as they had always had been, cherished friends.

Aside from the three—sometimes four—nights a week when Eggsy would show up on his doorstep like Harry’s own personal incubus, only to disappear before the first rays of sunlight drift in through the curtains.

It was the most acute kind of torture. Harry lived in limbo, knowing that he had Eggsy, but not all of him—so close to the man he loved more than anything he ever had before, but having to stop himself from showing it.

He wondered, often, if he was going mad, if the madness was going to rise and rise in him until he simply broke. He didn’t have the self-preservation to put an end to it, Harry knew, and he doubted he’d ever muster it, but he forced himself to put voice to his never-ceasing yearning for more.

"Why don't you ever stay the night?" he asked, one night, trying to fight off the lullaby of rain on his roof.

"Have to take Daisy to nursery, don't I?" He yawned and snuggled closer.

"You don't...you don't leave to avoid--?"

Eggsy snorted into Harry’s chest. "Avoid what? Enjoying a bit of a lie-in and breakfast with my boyfriend? Don't be daft. Of course I'd rather stay ‘til morning."

"Your boyfriend?"

It felt as though Harry’s heart couldn’t decide whether it meant to beat out of his chest or stop entirely. Eggsy shifted onto his back with a groan and a roll of his eyes.

"Oh, Christ, don't gimme that bollocks about being too old to be anybody's boyfriend. I ain't about to call you my lover, and partner sounds so fuckin' stuffy."

"I didn't know...I didn't know you thought of me like that."

"Wot? We been dating for eight months."

Harry was certain that his brain had taken a holiday. He couldn’t do more than gape at Eggsy’s handsome, befuddled face. It made no sense. He’d have bloody well known if they were dating. They’d have to go on dates, for starters—at the very least, to the cinema or for supper or—oh.

Oh. Oh, goddamn it.

Eggsy propped himself up on an elbow, brow furrowed. "Ain't we?"

He answered with a kiss and if the love that welled up inside him spilled into it, well...

It could, now.