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A Changed Man

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Eggsy knew he'd fucked up big time. He knew this because he was riding on a bus that had grills on the windows and a steel gate up front and there was a fully kitted guard standing beside the driver, glaring at him and the other 'passengers' from the other side of a semi-automatic.

Yeah, he'd fucked up big this time, and his only consolation was that at least Dean and his thugs had been taken down with him, which also meant that his mum and Daisy were free from his domestic tyranny.

Eggsy knew that they'd get caught one day; he had always known because Dean was an arrogant son of a bitch who made a shit ton of enemies on both sides of the law and as his business grew from a small-time ring into a major supplier in Central London, instead of toning himself down and securing his safety, he threw cash around like he was some sort of millionaire and made a name for himself in police books.

So yeah. It was no wonder they were now looking outside from the wrong side of prison bars.

And what prison bars they were: Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, home of the country’s biggest names in domestic terrorism as Britain’s very own Guantanamo Bay.

Jesus.

He didn’t think they warranted that much security.

The bus rolled to a stop in front of a large brick building made imposing by the overcast weather, and suddenly it felt real. Not their initial arrest, not their trial, not their sentencing. This felt real, and Eggsy shook beneath his jacket.

“Welcome to your home for the next few years, lads,” the guard announced gleefully. “Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, home of some of England’s most notorious scum. It would do you well to learn now that your place is at the very bottom of the food chain, and you’ll survie.” The driver snorted a laugh and Eggsy exchanged a quick look with Rottie who, although wasn’t Eggsy’s favorite person in the world (ha!), was in the same boat and must have also been feeling the same apprehension Eggsy was feeling if his expression was anything to go by, so he felt the tiniest bit of camaraderie with him.

The bus doors opened and the guard barked, “All stand and form a single line. Best not be getting any ideas or else you might find yourself six feet under before you get anywhere near the gates.”

Eggsy stood and entered the aisle. Dober and Pittie had been sitting ahead of him and Rottie, but Dean shoved him forward from behind.

“Go on then, Muggsy,” he hissed, urging him to the front of the group, and Eggsy went only because he’d rather deal with a guard who may have a modicum amount of decency and respect in him than his bastard of a stepfather. The guard gave him an indifferent, but assessing look and gestured him off the bus where a line of three other guards were waiting.

He was stopped at the furthest one and made to wait while the rest of the prisoners alighted the bus and fell in line behind him. Then the guards surrounded them, and they were marched into the building.

Inside, the building was stark and clean with its white walls, brown floors and doors and fluorescent lighting. It wasn’t quite what Eggsy was expecting after all the movies he’d seen. He expected everything to be dark and grey and viciously depressing.

“In here,” the foremost guard ordered, gesturing them into a room.

“Name,” a guard sitting behind the desk asked blandly. Around them, three other guards were doing the same.

“Eggsy--uh… Gary Unwin,” Eggsy asked and winced at the questioning tone in his voice. The guard didn’t seem to notice.

“Sign here,” he instructed, so Eggsy did. “Fingerprints here. All of them,” was the next instruction and Eggsy obeyed, fighting the urge to rub the residual ink on his jeans afterwards. “Please proceed into the next room to deposit your personal effects.”

Eggsy went ahead of the others, who were still being signed in, into the next room and walked up to the lone guard inside a window who told him, “Please remove your jacket, jewelry, and the contents of your pocket. They will be kept here for the duration of your sentence or available for pickup by someone outside the prison.” Eggsy did so without a complaint because all his most valuable possessions had already been left with his mother and Ryan and Jamal. “Sign here,” was again the bland instruction and Eggsy had to wonder if the guards were trained to specifically speak that way. “Please proceed to the next room and disrobe.”

And okay. Eggsy had been expecting that, but for a single second, he freaked out. His pulse rate spiked and he had to work on keeping back his protests. It helped that his muscles seemed to freeze as well.

And then he remembered it was almost like getting on his knees for cash or for whatever purpose Dean deemed fit, except that the people here weren’t getting their jollies rocked by seeing him naked and touching him.

And then he also realized that Dean and his goons were going to be subjected to the same treatment and couldn’t help the wide grin that settled over his face, although he did make sure to wipe it off before he entered the next room.

A guard gestured at him to take off his clothes, and when he did, Eggsy waited while each article of clothing was inspected. Eggsy was going to be able to keep these, at least, so he didn’t mind waiting around in nothing.

Deemed acceptable, the guard approached Eggsy. His gloved hands carded through Eggsy’s hair before they cupped his ears. “Open,” he instructed and checked Eggsy’s mouth and teeth. Of course he’d find nothing because there was nothing to be found. Eggsy had accepted that the next ten years of his life were to be spent within these walls; he was just going to do his time and then close this chapter of his life out, and with Dean serving a twenty-six-year sentence, his life outside these walls were going to be so much better.

“Put your hands on the table,” the guard then instructed and picked a tube of lube off the side table. Eggsy bit his lip and did as told, tensing when a hand pressed into the small of his back and a single digit slowly slid into his hole. After a second of methodical inspection, it was removed, and he was told he could put his clothes back on.

In the next room, was a classroom setup, which Eggsy figured was for an orientation. So he sat and waited for the other men to join him. The room was stark white and clean, like the rest of the building, and Eggsy could almost pretend he was back at school instead of a prison.

Poodle was the first to come through after Eggsy. He looked kind of like he sucked on a lemon.

“'Ad a good time in there, didja?” Eggsy asked with a shit-eating grin. The pudgy man glared at him and sat as far away as possible. Eggsy nearly laughed. This part, at least, seeing Dean and his men looking as though they were thoroughly violated was enjoyable for him. At least now they’d understand a fraction of what they’d forced him to do.

There were about thirty seats and nine men occupying it--some of the inmates weren’t from Dean’s posse but were with the group anyway--seated with wide berths around each other. Eggsy found hilarity in it because he wasn’t as bothered by the last room as they were.

A tall, black man entered wearing a uniform similar to what all the guards were wearing, but notably more special.

An officer of some sort, then.

“Good afternoon, gentlemen,” he said in a very, very smug American accent. “And welcome to one of England’s premiere correctional facilities.” He gave them a bright smile and opened his arms wide as though to reinforce his statement, but the sarcasm was clear anyway. “Here at Belmarsh, we take pride in providing you with some of the best prison facilities in the UK. It is our mission to take criminals like you off the streets and reform you into contributing members of society and, in that, achieving our vision of a safe, progressive England.”

“You ain’t even English, bruv,” Bulldog pointed out from somewhere behind Eggsy. They all shot him quick looks and then turned back to the presenting officer to see his reaction. The man only smiled.

“You are correct, sir!” he exclaimed, almost happily. “That was such profound insight, and I believe you have made us all the better human beings for having heard it.” Snickers ran around the room, and Bulldog muttered ‘bloody Americans’ under his breath. “Yes, I am not English, but the desire for safety is not owned by the British, my good man, is it?” Bulldog glared at him and said nothing, so the man moved on.

“You will come to know me as Captain Valentine, and I am the chief of the guard here at Belmarsh.” Eggsy’s eyebrow lifted at that because he didn’t think the chief of the prison guards of one of Britain’s most high-profile prisons was the kind of person to orient new inmates. “I am a fair and reasonable man, you will find. I share the mission of this institution, and thus it is my personal goal to create changed men in you. Learn a trade, indulge in your hobbies, find your inner peace, and become the person Mr. Rogers expects you to be--” Wait. Who the fuck was Mr. Rogers? “--And you and I will get along just fine.”

Crickets. Fucking crickets, man.

Eggsy shared confused glances with Rottie and the boys, but Valentine didn’t seem to mind. He gestured to the back of the room, and everyone turned to see a female guard approach the front.

She had a stern face, cold eyes and very Latina features. More importantly, though, she had fucking blades for feet.

“I am Supervising Officer Gazelle, deputy chief at Belmarsh,” she said blandly. Eggsy realized that all the guards’ tones of voice must have been inspired by this one. “All of you will be assigned to House block one; room assignments and effects will be given after this orientation. You will be permitted to leave your cell from eight in the morning until eight in the evening, after which any inmate caught out of their cell will receive punishment. Lights out are at ten. Breakfast will be served in the mess hall at eight until nine, lunch from twelve to one and dinner from six to seven. Failure to eat at these times means you will go without.

“All prisoners are obligated to attend one vocational training course, a list of which will be provided with your effects. Take note of the schedule of the course and sign up with the instructor. If you would like to further your education, we also offer classes for interested inmates. A list and schedule of subjects offered will also be provided.

“You are also obligated to attend a mandatory group counselling session once each week. You will be informed of your schedule. If the counselor recommends it, however, you can be asked to attend individual sessions as well. Failure to attend will incur punishment.

“During your free time, you are free to make use of the prison’s recreational facilities which are the gymnasium, the TV room, and the library. Visiting hours are at five to six in the evening from Monday to Friday and eight to twelve in the morning on Saturday and Sunday.

“You may send letters to your loved ones through our postal system. One letter a week is free and the others thereafter will be paid for out of your own funds which you can acquire through additional jobs around the prison or through your own private fund, of which you are allowed fifteen pounds each week. All letters coming in and going out are subject to inspection.

“You will be assigned mandatory work inside the prison anywhere from cooking duties to laundry. You will perform these duties and perform them well lest you incur punishment.

“If you remember all of these, you will have a pleasant and productive stay at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh,” she finished.

Despite how informative her talk was, though, there was a burning question that wasn’t answered, and nobody seemed inclined to ask, so Eggsy didn’t either. He decided he’d simply keep his head down and avoid any and all punishments--whatever they may be.

“Now, if you’ll all proceed to the distribution room, you can soon be set up in your cells.”

Eggsy was in the middle of the line this time. Officer Gazelle and Captain Valentine had left them to the regular guards who ushered them into the distribution room. There, an old man in a siren suit--an inmate likely--handed each of them a stack of blankets, towels, toiletries, and a pillow. On top of the stack was a booklet containing all the rules and regulations of the prison, class schedules and other miscellaneous information. A separate leaflet contained Eggsy’s personal information including his assigned work for the month, group counselling schedule, and cell number.

32D. His home for the next ten years.

It wasn’t as depressing as Eggsy expected, though, because the room was clean and it was bright from the light filtering in through window. It was small and bare, yes, but Eggsy was used to living in small spaces anyway and from what he saw of the cells they passed, he’d be able to put up some personal items to make it homier anyway. More importantly, it was his own little space in hell.

They were free to explore the prison right now, but Eggsy wasn’t too inclined to do so. Personally, he wanted to lie down and just mull over the events of the day. Maybe write a letter to his mum.

“Oi, Muggsy,” Dean suddenly called into his cell. He heaved a huge sigh and turned to face his stepfather.

“Wot?” he asked insolently. Dean scowled but said nothing, which was a surprise, to be honest.

“Go see what you can find out about this place. Report to me after,” he ordered before leaving. Eggsy scowled at the space he vacated and then sighed once more.

Well, he’d have to do so eventually anyway.

He started his exploration at the gymnasium where he could watch others without drawing too much attention to himself.

It was the place to be, it seemed, because half the prison population seemed to be present there in varying capacities. A group were playing on the football field while a great many were watching them, cheering and jeering in equal amounts, even though it looked ten minutes away from pouring rain down on all of them. Many were in the basketball court--a popular sport as well--and a few in the tennis courts. The weights room was packed, and some sort of circuit training seemed to be ongoing in the fitness rooms.

Eggsy found himself at the outskirts of the football field, watching the ongoing game. Skins and shirts, it looked to be, where the shirts were winning, and in the middle of it all was a tall, slightly aged man, maybe in his forties, with a wide grin on his face.

“You either dislike the game or are new here for you to be hovering at the sidelines,” came an elegant voice from beside Eggsy. He startled, having been invested in watching the game rather than his surroundings. Mentally, he berated himself for being so lax. This wasn’t Uni--the men in here were criminals, some of them possibly violent at that. He needed to keep his guard up.

The man who spoke to him, though, seemed very mild mannered. Posh-looking, like his voice seemed to indicate. Unlike the rest of the population who favored shirts and jeans, he was wearing a full three-piece suit perfectly tailored to fit him. “Are you an officer or summink?” he asked carefully. It wouldn’t do to insult the people who controlled his fate, after all. The man only chuckled.

“Far from it, actually,” was his answer, which, considering visitors weren’t permitted further than the front building, shouldn’t have shocked Eggsy like it did.

“Yer an inmate?” he balked. Once more was a chuckle as the man held out a hand.

“Alastair Clayton. My friends call me Percival,” he said when Eggsy shook his hand.

“Gary Unwin, but everyone calls me Eggsy,” he answered.

Percival’s eyebrow lifted and amusement caught his lips. “Eggsy then,” he agreed. “So which one are you?” Eggsy drew his eyebrows together, confused. “Hates football or new?” Percival clarified, tipping his head in the direction of the field.

“Oh! New. ‘M new,” Eggsy answered and wondered if it was polite to ask why the fuck a man as posh as Alastair Clayton was in prison.

“Ah, pity that,” Percival said, though he didn’t seem too dejected. “I’ve been meaning to find someone who shares my disdain for the sport.”

Eggsy snorted. “This is England, bruv. Yer on your own there,” he answered, making Percival laugh once more. The game seemed to be winding down because the players moved to the edge of the field.

“So it would seem,” the older man said then glanced into the field. “I must be off though, Eggsy. It was a pleasure meeting you.” He shook Eggsy’s hand once more, firm and confident with sincerity, and added, “The best of luck to you in here.” Eggsy watched him walk off and meet the older player he had been watching earlier. They exchanged words briefly before the player grinned and grabbed his things, heading away from Eggsy's direction.

“You should be careful of talking with 'im,” came another voice, old and scratchy this time, just off to Eggsy’s left. He looked up at an old geezer sitting at the very edge of the bleachers.

“Yeah?” Eggsy asked. “Why’s that?”

“Because that man is one 'a them four men responsible fer murdering the Lord Chancellor, Baron Worthington of St. Marylebone, back in 1997,” he said, and Eggsy’s jaw dropped. “'E and 'is mates are 'ere fer 'igh treason, 'ave been fer the last fifteen years and will be till they kick the bucket.”

He’s heard about that, of course, even if he was too young to understand it when it happened. It was covered in social studies, and even if Eggsy didn’t remember their names or faces, he knew what they had done. Everyone did. And they had almost gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for one of Baron Worthington’s friends--then an officer in the Marines--finding and capturing them.

“They ain't the right people to be friendly with if yer lookin' ter get out ov 'ere,” he then added. “The guy that caught them?” Eggsy nodded. “'E’s the warden, and 'e 'olds a massive grudge against 'em. You don' wanna be caught up in that, boyo.” Eggsy chewed on his lip and glanced once more at Percival and his friend who were barely pinpricks in the distance.

The old man followed his gaze. “My advice ter you is ter stay away from 'em. They’ve made a life fer themselves in 'ere, and a young lad like you would be better off stayin' out ov it.”

“Yeah,” Eggsy said absently, then, “Thanks. ‘Scuse me,”--coz his mum did teach him some manners--and hurried away before the man could say anything more.

He made his way back to his cell keeping his head down and avoiding eye contact. He didn’t bother reporting to Dean--the man would find him on his own soon enough anyway. With information well in hand in case Dean asked, all he wanted right now was to wind down and decompress and think about his life in here because he was pretty sure it was going to be a long fucking sentence.