Actions

Work Header

A Changed Man

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

Because they were new, they got all the shit jobs. The worst of which--toilet cleaning duty--went to Dean because he was the top dog of their group, but all the other jobs were no walk in the park either.

Eggsy thought he actually got off quite lightly with dishwashing duty, granted that after breakfast and lunch, there was a whole mountain of dinner trays, cooking and eating utensils, pots and pans and drinking cups to wash. He worked with five other men and it still took them two hours to get through it all. Still, at least it wasn’t fucking toilet cleaning duty.

On his first day, he met a posh boy his age named Hugo who Eggsy later found out was in remand for an estimated eight months while his father’s lawyers sorted out his case. It was him that taught Eggsy the standard operating procedures around the kitchen, the most important being: stay the fuck out of Harry Hart’s way.

“I heard he once cut off a guy's finger for taking a knife he was using,” Hugo said while they were elbow deep in metal trays and dish soap suds.

Eggsy laughed. “Bruv, when a story starts wiv ‘I heard,’ I tend to take it with a grain of salt. You hear shit like that all the time, and they turn out to be nothin’ more than rumors, don’ they?” he pointed out.

Hugo turned a glare to him, but another inmate piped up before he could retort. “That ‘appened ‘bout fifteen odd years ago. Mere legend now, that story is, but I saw ‘im once--we wos in the library then--’e got into a dispute wiv a bloke from ‘ouse block D over fuckin’ Shakespeare. Said bloke wos disrespecting ‘is works, ‘Art said. Stabbed ‘im in the eye wiv a fuckin’ pencil.” Eggsy’s jaw dropped.

“A pencil?!”

The inmate nodded. “Over a fuckin’ book,” he repeated. “Course ‘Art got ‘imself locked up in solitary fer an ‘ole month fer that. Warden wos proper pissed, wanted ter keep ‘im there fer three, but you can’t do that, of course. ‘Uman rights ‘n all. ‘Specially wiv an ‘igh profile inmate like ‘Art. Them paps would go fuckin’ nuts.”

“Maybe ‘e shouldn’t be in the A block then. ‘E sounds fuckin’ mental. Shouldn’t people like that be locked up in maximum?” Eggsy asked.

“Stop tellin’ the boy porkies, Paulie!” another inmate shouted loudly from the other side of the room. To Eggsy, he corrected, “‘Art never stabbed ‘im. They wos arguin’ and the guy fell onto a cup ‘oldin’ the pencil that took ‘is eye out. Officer Morton corroborated the story.”

“I wos there you fuckin’ cunt!” Paulie yelled back. “I saw it wiv my own two eyes, din’t I?” The two began to bicker, so Eggsy ignored them. He was starting to doubt the story anyway because if that was right, then Hart would definitely have been sent to maximum security. Especially since he and the warden were enemies.

“Oi! Are we having a problem here?” one of the guards watching them yelled. That was another thing Hugo told him about kitchen duty: even if all the knives and potential weapons were locked up after food prep, there was always at least one guard watching any inmates in there.

“Nah, sir! We’s jus’ ‘avin’ a friendly discussion, ain’t we, Rudy?” Paulie said, but was silent after that.

“My point is,” Hugo said quietly after a while, “Would you even dare to find out?” And yeah, maybe Hugo was right if you thought about it that way. “Just keep out of his way, and you’ll be fine.” Which wasn’t too hard, as Eggsy later found out, because while Hart was a whirlwind in the kitchen, barking orders like Gordon fuckin’ Ramsay and dancing around the kitchen like a Michelin chef, he was rarely ever inside when Eggsy was.

He reported what he’d learned to Dean and his crew at lunch out of some misguided sense of responsibility. They were the closest things he had to friends in here, and he wasn’t quite too keen just yet on going without.

They too, it turns out, had their own stories to tell from the inmates they worked with. Boxer, who had been down at materials recycling (because Valentine was nuts about the environment and converted the dump into a recycling facility) said in a hushed voice, his head bent close to the table, “‘E’s mad they say under that posh suit o’ ‘is. They told me ‘e beat up a bloke fer givin’ ‘im the stink eye.”

Eggsy nearly scoffed because, really. No one could be that dangerous and get away with it when the warden hated your guts. He hid his disbelief in his meal that was, although simple, actually pretty delicious. Buttered baby potatoes, herbed chicken, and sauteed veg. It wasn’t the traditional slop all the movies showed, and Eggsy didn’t doubt Harry had a hand in ensuring that.

“They call themselves the Kingsmen,” Pittie added. “They the top dogs in ‘ere. ‘Ave to be if they’s locked up fer ‘igh treason, yeah? Even the guards give ‘em berth.”

Dean didn’t bother hiding his displeasure at the thought. “Well, that won’t be fer long, ey, lads?” he asked. “We’s gonna be in ‘ere fer a very long time, ‘n I ain’t spendin it livin’ under some wanker’s thumb.” Eggsy rolled his eyes, but said nothing.

“But, Dean,” Poodle argued in a quiet hushed whisper, looking around like he expected Hart to jump out from behind him. “A fuckin’ pencil. I don’ wanna get one ov ‘em in me eyes.”

“Shut yer gob, you coward,” Dean snarled. “Course they just pullin’ our leg. Prob’ly ‘Art ‘imself ‘oo started that tripe.” And though Eggsy would die first before saying it aloud, he kind of agreed with Dean on that one.

He had dishwashing duty again after lunch where the lads continued to tell ‘im stories about the prison and warn him about certain people even though he hadn’t asked. Gossip, apparently, was a major pastime.

“You might encounter Hesketh; ‘e and ‘is boys are from C awaiting trial for illegal detention--non-bailable, which is why they’re stuck here considering they’re richer than God,” Paulie whispered out of the guard’s hearing. “Either you get on their good side or you stay away from ‘em, but they’ve got noses stuck so ‘igh up in the air, you’re better off wiv the latter.”

“An’ why’s that?” Eggsy asked.

“Because the warden’s his uncle,” Hugo answered for Paulie. “That’s why he’s here at all. King pulled some strings to keep him under his protection, so now they strut around like they own the place, not like they’re in here for the same reason that all the rest of us are, and go crying to Dear Uncle Chester at the first sign of trouble. Of course, they don’t command the same respect from the Kingsmen who aren’t scared of King anyway, so they'll never be the top gang in here.”

After dish duty on Wednesdays, he had the rest of the day to himself. Hugo had group counselling, though, so Eggsy had to find something to do on his own.

Walking about aimlessly, he found himself once more at the sidelines of the football field, watching the ongoing game.

Percival’s friend wasn’t one of the players playing and, after a quick glance around, neither was Percival around. Nevertheless, he tried watching the match going on, but not knowing who anyone was, he didn’t feel overly invested in the game. He left soon thereafter and trudged to the weights room, deciding to have a go there if it wasn’t too packed. In a prison of 900, though, he didn’t hold his breath.

True enough, nearly every machine was in use by sweaty, grunting inmates. All except for one there in the very back of the room, a pommel horse, though what it was doing among weights, Eggsy wasn’t sure. Maybe a donation that the prison didn’t quite know what to do with.

He braved the looks he received when he walked through the throng of people and clanging steel. None were particularly dangerous just yet, most of them simply curious and assessing.

The horse showed signs of wear on the surface, having obviously been used as a seat more than gymnastics equipment. The handles were rough with age and the leather tearing at the seams, but it was usable, so Eggsy gripped the steel bars, one in each hand, and hauled himself up into a steady plank, holding it for as long as he could stand it.

It had been literally a decade since he had last been on a horse, but the principle of riding it was the similar to breakdancing, of which he was quite familiar.

When he couldn’t hold the plank anymore, he curled his legs close to his body and lifted them straight up, slowly for dramatic tension like a roller coaster climbing to the very top of the hill, and after a second, split his legs and swung them in a wide circle. He made a few passes with that, rhythmically shifting from one hand to the other to let his legs through, then pulled himself back into a plank and executed some hand spins before flipping off in a slightly rocky dismount.

To his surprise, someone cheered loudly and a few clapped, and when he turned to the room--he had dismounted facing the back wall--half the room was sitting up, watching him.

He caught the eye of a tall bald man with arms of steel, well-defined pecs, an even more impressive jawline, and a sleeve tattoo covering one arm and part of his chest, who was staring at him with interest, and suddenly, Eggsy realized he shouldn't have called attention to himself--not in his second day here and probably not in that way. He shifted his gaze to the room in general, nodded a thanks from their appreciation, and ducked his head as he walked away.

…………...

"'Oo's the tall bald guy with the sleeve that comes up to 'is breastbone?" Eggsy asked Hugo the next day while they washed up. He tried to sound casual about it, but internally winced when the other boy side-eyed him. Clearly, he hadn't done a good job.

"There are over 900 inmates here, Eggsy. You'll have to be a little more specific than that," was the answer.

And yes, right. A hundred men could fit that description in here. "'E's got a long face, long nose, looks like 'e could freeze the Pacific wiv 'is stare?" Hugo shook his head, looking confused still, so Eggsy pursed his lips and tried to think about other identifying markers of the bloke. "I din't get a good look at his tat, but I remember it had a crown and... stars?"

Hugo turned to face him fully this time. "Mate, seriously," he said flatly. Eggsy shrugged, avoiding eye contact by scrubbing at the trays vigorously. He could still feel Hugo staring at him, and when he refused to give any further explanation, Hugo asked, "Why? What did he do?"

And yeah. Eggsy didn't want to answer that. "I liked his tat," he mumbled. "Thought I might want to get one myself."

"Mate, you are a shit liar. You better get that under wraps stat," Hugo pointed out. He was no longer washing the trays, Eggsy noted so he pointedly handed him a stack. Hugo took it and then set it aside. In a carefully neutral tone, he asked, "Did he proposition you?"

"No!" Eggsy protested vehemently. "Fuck, no. Jesus." This time, Hugo shrugged and finally turned back to his work.

"I'm just asking, man. Happens all the time, it's not a big deal. Unless you're violently homophobic, in which case, keep that shit to yourself because you will get your arse kicked," he explained. "In here, people make do with what they're forced to work with, and rubbing their faces in it will get yours smashed in."

"Have you?"

Hugo leveled a baleful glare at him. "Have you?" he shot back. "I'm in here for four more months while they sort my shit out. I can live with my hand for that long. I don't need to force myself to be gay to get some. You on the other hand will be here until you're well into your thirties." Eggsy scowled at him and politely didn't point out that he could lose his trial. Besides, Eggsy wasn't homophobic. Far from it really.

They both dropped the topic, remaining silent for a bit, until Eggsy decided to make nice considering he was the one who brought it up. "Wot you gonna do when you get out?" he asked.

"Study the family business," Hugo answered instantly. And fuck, Eggsy kept forgetting that while he wasn't obscenely rich, his family was pretty well off. "There aren't a lot of options open for someone with my type of conviction, but at least my father believes I didn’t do it." And that drenched Eggsy's predicament in a fuckton of light.

What the fuck was he gonna do when he got out? No one's gonna hire an ex-con and especially not a poor one. Of course, there was always the possibility of parole--which Eggsy vowed to take advantage of as soon as he possibly could--but still.

He bit his lip when he thought of a possible solution, but hesitated before voicing it. He didn’t want to put anyone in an awkward situation, but then again, the worst Hugo could do was say no, so there was really nothing for it. He jumped the gun. "D’you think you could, uh... find me a spot in yer dad's company after this?" he asked hesitantly, casually while looking down at the trays. The other boy didn't answer, which niggled at Eggsy so he braved the moment to look up at him. Hugo had a sincere smile on his face.

"Of course, you tit! I’ll give you my info so that you can ring me up when you’re on the other side," he answered with a laugh.

Eggsy nudged him with his shoulder. “Thanks, bruv. Yer a good man.”

“Oh, let’s not get mushy,” the other boy said with a roll of his eyes. “We’re prison-hardened men! There’s no feelings in prison!”

Eggsy laughed. “Bruv, I’ve been here two days. I think I still have the excuse.”

“Well, don’t drag me down with you. Soon as anyone sees me with you, my rep’ll plummet. I’ll never recover.”

Eggsy’s laughter heightened. “Wot rep?” he gasped through giggles. Hugo affected an offended glare. “Oi, Paulie! Wot kinda rep does Hugo have ‘round ‘ere?”

“The absolutely none kind!” Paulie shouted back, making Eggsy erupt into more laughter, so Hugo shoved him hard and sent him sprawling to the ground. Still laughing.

“Oi!” shouted one of the guards. “What’s going on over there?” Eggsy wheezed on the floor.

“Nothing! Nothing, we’re good!” Hugo called back, then to Eggsy hissed, “Shut up, you tit, and get back up here.” Eggsy was still far too amused to argue back, but his laughter slowly died down anyway as he climbed back onto his feet. “Arse,” Hugo muttered, and a few more chuckles escaped Eggsy.

“Come on then, gimme the rest of the dirt on this place. ‘S not like there’s anything else t’ do,” Eggsy prompted while they settled comfortably once more into their routine. Then he thought of something. “Hey, wot can you tell me ‘bout an Alastair Clayton?” he asked.

Hugo scrunched his face as he thought about it. “Clayton keeps to himself, mostly,” he finally decided to say. “When he’s not with the other Kingsmen, you wouldn’t see him at all. No idea where he goes and what he does during his free time, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard him speak outside the classes he teaches.”

“Classes?” Eggsy asked.

“Yeah. Literature and languages. He’s actually very engaging as a teacher, but few people here actually want to attend classes at all, so you won’t find many students of his. I tried attending, but he had to dumb down the material so much for the other guys that it wasn't worth the time I spent sitting there, so I stopped.”

“Yeah? And there was four of ‘em right? Those guys that killed the Lord Chancellor? ‘Im and ‘Art and who else?”

“Well, there’s James MacIntosh,” Hugo answered. “There’s no way for you not to meet him. He’s one of the few people here and certainly the only one of the four of them who makes the effort to reach out, you know?” Hugo sounded like he was speaking about a favorite uncle. “He knows everyone’s life stories and can make conversation with anyone about anything. Once when a former inmate’s mum died, he had flowers sent over, a giant bouquet of the most expensive flowers anyone can get their hands on, which isn’t very impressive until you hear that he hadn’t spoken to that particular inmate in five years!”

Really,” Eggsy said.

Hugo nodded. “Half the guards love him, the rest are in love with him, and no one, no one in this prison would say no to a night in his bed, giving or receiving.” The boy shrugged. “Too bad he’s been arse over tits for Clayton from the moment he was conceived, I’d wager, from the way he looked at him like he hung the stars. If someone looked at me the way James looked at Clayton, I’d be down on one knee for them in a breath and a half. Both knees if necessary.”

“‘E sounds too good to be true, if you ask me,” Eggsy argued. “Sounds more like the leadin’ man in a chick flick than a hardened criminal.”

“Well, I guess he does, but it doesn’t make it any less true. I wouldn’t be surprised if the warden himself paid him special consideration. Had he committed a lesser crime, say--I dunno--manslaughter and had it not been overly publicized, he’d probably have walked within the first three days.”

“If you two have time to gossip like old biddies, I think you have enough time to mop the mess, don’t you?” their officer for today asked, suddenly standing right behind them, and both boys groaned.

“What about Gilligan? Isn’t he assigned to mop the mess this week?” Hugo asked.

“Sprained his ankle, and if you continue to argue, you can mop the mess for the rest of the week as well!” Wisely, they said nothing more and did as told.

Chapter Text

His Thursday afternoons, the last two hours before dinner, were spent in counselling with a group of about twenty other inmates and a smartly dressed old man who was, apparently, the facilitator because he announced, "Good afternoon, everyone. I’m happy to inform you all that we've got a new person joining us today," to various receptions. Some ignored him, some grunted, some waved, some greeted him with a 'hi,' but none were nasty, so that at least gave Eggsy relief about being somewhat singled out.

The man smiled brightly, looking oddly proud. "In light of this, why don't we start our session by introducing ourselves to our newcomer, and afterwards, he can introduce himself to us.” He received no response for that, but didn’t seem disheartened. “I'll start, shall I?"

The old man turned to Eggsy. "Hello, my name is Dr. Simon Walker, but you can call me Johnnie or JW--everyone else does." He gave a pointed but amused glance to everyone around the room, and Eggsy couldn't help a grin. "I've been working with the people here for twenty years now, and so far it's been a very enriching experience for me." He nodded to the man beside him who said "Bert" and nothing more.

The next man said, "Hi. Uh, I'm Seth. I've been in here for three years, drug possession, and I've got two more ‘til I go."

The next one, "Mark, twenty years, assault."

"Don, ten years, domestic violence. Three to go."

And around the room, the introductions went. It was a fairly lax setting, and Eggsy figured the inmates were permitted to say what they want, or nothing at all if they so chose, but Johnnie did encourage them to give him at least their names. When it came to him, his pulse throbbed wildly, but he lost the feeling of being terrified of speaking in front of these people.

"I'm, uh, 'm Eggsy, here for ten years for drug distribution and sale. This is my, uh, third day here. And uh... Yeah."

After a beat of silence, Johnnie seemed to pick up that Eggsy was done. "Thank you for sharing that with us, Eggsy," he said pleasantly, not at all bothered by the shortness of his statement. "So, to give you an idea of what goes on here, the principle behind our group sessions is to share our stories. You're free to share anything you want about anything, and you're free to not speak at all. Everything here is at your own time and pace. Everything here is voluntary because in allowing you to do so, you also voluntarily accept what has happened or what you have done. You take ownership of it, and by telling others, you can commit to doing something about it."

Eggsy nodded, understanding that, but his heart thudded as he rifled through his memories of what was safe to share.

More gravely, Johnnie continued, "We have all taken a pledge of silence to keep all we've learned within these walls--after all our neighbor's stories are not ours to tell--and I will ask you to take that pledge as well. Not only will you receive severe punishment if you’re found to be the source of such betrayal, no one here takes too kindly to being gossiped about."

‘You’ll get your arse beat to kingdom come’ was the clear message, and yeah, a fair warning.

"Yeah, yeah, course," Eggsy agreed instantly. He highly doubted that none of it got out, though, so he mentally decided to stick to the safe stuff. On the other hand, he did feel a bit of hope about having someone to talk to and was damn glad everyone in Dean’s group was sent to different sessions.

Johnnie, after another moment of stern evaluation, smiled brightly. "Good. So. Who would like to start us off?"

A man in his thirties, thereabouts, to the far right of Eggsy raised his hand. "’Ello everyone,” he greeted. “I wrote anovver le’er today to Clara." Everyone seemed to perk up there, curious and supportive in equal measures, and Eggsy had to wonder who Clara was. He remembered, from introductions, that this man was incarcerated for murder, and if Clara was his victim, that would be really fucking creepy. "I, uh, I told ‘er ‘bout the match yestaday, that we won an’ all. It’s, uh, it’s gonna be ‘er birthday next week, she would’a been five now.”

All in all it was wholly uninformative except for the part where Eggsy learned that Clara was indeed his victim and that letter-writing to her was his recommended therapy path. The other inmates, however, congratulated him for a job well done. Eggsy supposed it was a positive thing because, looking at Dave, he didn’t look like a murderer with his wide smile and bright eyes. He looked like a man haunted by his past and vowing to turn from it forever.

For the next two hours, the session went the same way, someone finding their voice and telling a small, mostly insignificant story (to Eggsy anyway, but he was sure it was significant to them) and the others cheering them on (albeit in their own subdued way).

Then Johnnie turned to him.

“We’ve got a few minutes left. How about you, Eggsy? Would you like to say something?”

Eggsy paused and look around. Not everyone had shared a story, so he didn’t actually feel obligated to. “Can I, uh, get a pass on that?”

Johnnie’s smile was infinitely kind. “Of course you may.” To the rest of the group he said, “Thank you everyone. I’m glad to see many of you starting to come out of your shells and own up to your actions. I hope that the others would find it in themselves to do the same. I’ll see you all next week.”

Eggsy was one of the first to rise, but before he could go, one of the cons--Mark if he remembered correctly--stopped him with a hand on his forearm. His blood suddenly ran cold.

“Ey, ain’t you that kid doin’ all them flips in the gym yesterday?” he asked.

“Uh…”

“Yeah,” piped up another inmate, Sean. “Yeah, it wos ‘im. I remember.” Eggsy looked between the two of them, stunned and a little worried. They only grinned however.

“That wos some mighty impressive shit, boyo,” Mark said, releasing his grip. Eggsy couldn’t help take a step back, but he gave them a small smile anyway.

“Yeah, uh, thanks. I guess.” They nodded once and clapped him on the shoulder, and then they were gone, and Eggsy blew out a sigh of relief and escaped before anyone else could corner him.

……………

On Saturday morning, Eggsy was quite literally vibrating in his skin out of excitement. As soon as he awoken, he dusted off his best shirt--one Hugo had leant him while his clothes his mum mailed hadn’t yet been cleared by postal--and shook out his jeans. He took the quickest shower he could manage and rushed back into his cell to dress and comb his hair nicely.

Today Michelle and Daisy were visiting and though Eggsy had no doubt it was going to be an emotional reunion and though he hadn’t yet figured out how he could watch them leave, he was ecstatic.

His mum promised to be there by eight, so as soon as he was presentable, fifteen minutes past, he literally ran to the visitation hall of house block A, careful not to bump into other cons and earn himself their ire, and searched the room.

Even at the early hour, it was packed nearly to the brim with husbands greeting their wives, parents hugging their children, grandparents and grandkids exchanging stories, and friends meeting friends. It almost didn’t feel like Eggsy was among convicts, but was at the park where everyone was happy and misery didn’t seem to exist.

And there, right in the middle of all the hubbub and hugs, was his Daisy, a glowing cherub in all the darkness that was prison. He stepped forward, drawn to her almost involuntarily, slowly because he wasn’t quite sure she existed.

Michelle saw him near, and her hand flew to her mouth as tears sprung to her eyes, but Eggsy had to first whisk Daisy into his arms.

Daisy!” he cheered happily as he swung her around. She giggled bright and loud and squealed as they spun. The world around them melted into blurry blotches of color, but seemed suddenly all the brighter for having her in his arms. “My Daisy,” Eggsy repeated, pulling her in and hugging her close to hide his tears in her hair. “Oh, flowah, big bruv’s missed you so much.”

“Eggy!” she cheered, clapping his face with her hands. He took one of them in his and pressed a kiss right in the middle of it.

“Give big bruv a kiss, won’t you?” he asked, baring his cheek for her which she cheerfully slathered with a messy one. Eggsy gave her one right back, and then found his mum’s eyes.

She reached out and pulled him into a long, tight hug, heedless of the squirming toddler between them, refusing to loosen it even when Daisy whined. Michelle’s body shook with silent sobs, and Eggsy clutched at the back of her shirt, holding her in place, afraid to let her go.

“Oh, Eggsy,” she whispered. He pressed a kiss to her temple.

“‘S all right, mum,” he answered. “‘S all right, don’t cry.”

There was nothing around them but silence and stillness as Eggsy tuned out anything that wasn’t his two girls. An hour was all he had with them so that other prisoners could have the chance to reunite with their own loved ones, and then a week until he could see them again. He needed this hour to hold them close and bask in their presence to last him another week.

“I love you, mum,” Eggsy sighed into her hair after a good few minutes, then kissed her again and urged her down into the seat. He sat close, shoulder to shoulder with her and Daisy in his lap.

“How have you been, babes?” she asked. Her eyes were a splotchy red and her hands shaking as they touched his face. Eggsy leaned his cheek into one palm.

“I’m fine. I’m all right,” he answered. “Been washin’ a lot o’ dishes, you gonna be proud of me.” The sound she made was half laugh, half sob. “Might become a professional dishwasher when I get outta ‘ere,” he joked, so she laughed and kissed his cheek, then Daisy’s head because it was right there anyway.

“Oh, babes, I’m always proud o’ ya,” she murmured, hugging him close.

Eggsy kissed her hair again and then asked, “Wot’ve you been doin’ then? You got a job?” Michelle wiped her eyes and nodded.

“Yeah, jus’ waitressin’ fer now, jus’ to put food on the table. The police confiscated all our money an’ the house, so we’re crashin’ at Julie’s while I look fer a place Daisy an’ I can stay,” she said. “Daisy gets to come wiv me to work at least, so we’re not bein’ too much of a bother fer other people.”

“Yeah? That’s good, mum. That’s good,” Eggsy told her sincerely. While it wasn’t the life Eggsy wanted for them, at least Michelle and Daisy could get out of the life Dean built around their family. Waitressing wasn’t a high-paying job by any stretch of the imagination, but at least it was honest work.

They had a chance, he decided, for a better life as long as Dean was in here. What became of Eggsy wasn’t as important. He hugged them close once more and held them for a long, tearful moment.

And then two little words and a grating voice ruined it all.

“Oi, Michelle!”

They reluctantly broke apart to see Dean heading their way. Eggsy scowled and tightened his arms minutely around Daisy.

Michelle stood and wrapped Dean in a brief hug when he approached. “Hello, babe,” she greeted, and Eggsy wanted to shove Dean away. He almost pulled Daisy out of his reach when he leaned over the table to ruffle her hair.

“‘Ello, squirt,” he greeted almost indifferently.

“Daddy!” she answered brightly anyway, which was wrong. Which was entirely wrong because this man wasn’t her father. This man hadn’t changed her dirty diapers. This man hadn’t woken up in the night to feed her or stayed up because she was ill. This man hadn’t ever taken her to the park and played with her--hadn’t even given her the time of day. This man hadn’t given her a childhood worth remembering, hadn’t kept her safe, or dried her tears when she scraped her knee.

This man was a sperm donor and nothing more, and Eggsy had to put visible effort into not correcting her.

Dean didn’t pay any notice as he drew Michelle into a whisper that Eggsy could hear anyway. “I need ya t’ go visit Barry down in Alexandria. You remember ‘im don’tcha? 5F, Welsh guy, big belly. I need you to collect from ‘im wot ‘e owes me fer that last run. ‘E was supposed to pay me on the 18th, but we’s got caught. Get it from ‘im, tell ‘im Dean sent you, and deposit it into me account ‘ere.”

“No,” Eggsy cut in firmly. Immediately, a poisonous glare was on him.

“Wot did you say?” Dean demanded slowly, not because he hadn’t heard, but because he dared Eggsy to contradict him.

“No, she don’t ‘ave ter do that,” Eggsy repeated anyway despite the violence in his low tone. “She ‘as ter take care of ‘erself and of Daisy, not collect drug money from your clients jus’ so you don’t ‘have ter lift a finger in this joint.” Dean faced Eggsy and drew himself up to his full height, which, especially considering Eggsy was sitting down, was pretty a substantial one. The muscles beneath Eggsy’s skin shook in remembered fear, but he was in the middle of a roomful of guards. Dean couldn’t do anything to him in here.

Stop it,” Michelle hissed. She glanced around to check that no one was looking at them, but almost everyone was still involved in their own things, so no one paid them any mind. “Both of you. Not here.” She slipped between Dean and Eggsy and pressed Dean back gently. “I’ll go, Dean. I’ll get it, don’t you worry.” She kissed his mouth once, twice, until Dean broke eye contact with Eggsy and kissed her back, squeezing her hip tightly for good measure.

“Good girl,” Dean drawled and leaned closer to whispered into her ear, “How’s about you and I escape for a quick bit into them bathrooms?” His eyes held Eggsy’s gaze as he did, and his words were loud enough for him to hear. Eggsy gritted his teeth and fought the urge to punch him.

“Oh, babe, we can’t,” Michelle answered, sounding marginally distressed.

Dean looked at her and cupped her cheek. “It won’t be long. Come on, Michelle. I ‘aven’t gotten off in ages.”

“Oh, babe, I’m sorry. But they made it clear that we won’t be allowed back if we’re caught,” she pleaded.

“Don’t be such a fucking wanker, Dean. If she says she can’t, she can’t!” Eggsy put in. Dean’s attention once more turned to him, fury visible in every wrinkle of his face. He stabbed a finger at Eggsy’s face, the digit shaking wildly.

“You better learn to shut the fuck up, you little turd,” he spat and then glared at Michelle before stalking off without saying goodbye.

Eggsy immediately surged up and pulled his mother into a hug.

“It’s all right,” Michelle whispered, patting his back, and only then did Eggsy realize he was shaking. He’d meant to comfort her from her asshole of a husband, but she ended up comforting him. “It’s okay, babes.”

He held her, the both of them, tightly, refusing to let go for the duration of their visit until the bell rang shrill, informing them that their hour was up.

Eggsy, in a sudden panic, clung even more tightly to the both of them, holding them like he never wanted to go. He didn’t want to, of course, so he held them until the very last possible moment when a female guard gently informed him that it was time to return back inside.

He pressed big kisses to Michelle’s and Daisy’s cheeks and finally relinquished his hold on his sister.

“We’ll be back next week, babes,” Michelle promised with a kiss. “I love you.”

…………….

He had managed to work off his frustration and sadness at Michelle and Daisy’s visit and his stepfather’s presence there at dish duty just after breakfast--which he missed, but he didn’t mind so much if holding Daisy was the alternative. Hugo, having noticed his anger, was quiet enough that the two hours they spent working was mostly in silence.

Afterwards, he gave Hugo a quiet goodbye and stalked back off to his cell to wait out lunch hour. He knew it was going to be hell to have to sit with Dean after their argument, but there wasn’t much to be done about that. Like always, he was just going to have to swallow his pride and take whatever punishment Dean decided on.

As soon as he set foot into his cell, however, Dober and Rottie grabbed either of his arms and dragged him right back out.

“Wot--”

“Dean’s been wantin’ to ‘ave a word wiv you,” Rottie informed him gleefully before shoving him forward and onto the ground inside Dean’s cell. They shut the door behind them, no doubt standing guard outside, leaving him and Dean alone within.

The other man towered over him, his mouth twisted into an ugly scowl, and grabbed him by the hair, pulling him up to his knees.

He leaned close to Eggsy’s face--close enough for his reeking breath to wash over him--and snarled, “I don’t appreciate that tone of voice of yers and you questioning me when I asked yer mum ter do something fer me. I think you’ve forgotten yer place, boy, that I own you and yer mum and that snot-nosed little brat and you’ve no power to question me.” Eggsy refrained from speaking his mind on what he thought about that, especially with Dean still having the upper hand. “You might think that yer safe in ‘ere, boy, or that because yer in ‘ere wiv us, that you can speak yer mind against me, but there’s no one ‘ere to save you, you little shit, and I think it’s time you start rememberin’ that.”

His other hand suddenly fumbled with his belt, and Eggsy reeled back only as far as the hand in his hair would let him. His blood froze in his veins, and his heart thudded in alarm and fear.

“I’m gonna show you just ‘ow far down the food chain you are, you slag, and maybe when I’m done wiv you, you might make me a bit o’ extra cash since you were so keen on keepin’ yer mum from doin’ it fer me.”

Eggsy suddenly shoved Dean back and twisted himself out of his grasp, nevermind that pulling his hair away brought tears to his eyes, and shot for the door. He wasn’t going to succumb to Dean’s tyranny in here, not when the bastard couldn’t use his mum and Daisy to force him into submission like he did out there.

“Grab ‘im!” Dean yelled as he pulled the door open, and immediately, Rottie and Dober caught him and wrestled him back inside, slapping a hand over his mouth just as he tried to yell for help. With both men on either side of him, pinning him down, he couldn’t block the punch that swung towards his face and another that dug into his stomach.

He doubled over onto the ground, gasping for breath, when a kick caught him on his side. Eyes blurring, he was forced once more to his feet and slammed into a wall, pinned there by a hand at his throat.

“You think you have any chance fer escape in ‘ere, boy, any choice?” Dean snarled as Eggsy scrabbled at the hand blocking his airway. “You think I don’t have any power over you because yer mum’s out there and I’m in ‘ere?” Eggsy’s vision darkened at the edges. Dean’s words were muffled in his ear, but though he heard and feared them, his more pressing concern was his lack of breath.

“‘Oo says I don’t have connections to the real world?” Dean demanded. “‘Oo says I don’t have any friends out there ‘oo can take ‘er an’ that kid out in ‘alf a second? ‘Oo’s gonna protect ‘er? Yer nigger and rat-faced friends?”

Dean released him and let him fall to the floor, heaving desperate, greedy breaths, then he squatted down and leaned into Eggsy’s space once more.

“You are nothing, boy, an’ if you want ter see yer mum again, you best be doing wot yer told,” he threatened in a low voice. Eggsy screwed his eyes shut as Dean once more grabbed him by the hair and dragged him to his knees. “Now open yer fuckin’ mouth.”

Eggsy did.

Chapter Text

Had he the choice, he wouldn’t have left his cell at all for the rest of the day, but Dean was still all too vehemently trying to impress on him how little choice he had, so instead of being able to retch out the filth he’d been forced to swallow, he’d been made to sit on the floor of Dean’s cell and wait there for the next hour while he and Poodle played cards on the bed, and instead of skipping lunch because he felt his stomach roiling at the thought of food anyway, he’d been forced to follow Dean and his thugs to the mess hall and sit there poking at his food while he tried to ignore their leers and underhanded commentary at his person.

Work became a welcomed reprieve--almost a surprise because he was sure Dean would keep him from going, punishments notwithstanding--so he made sure to take as long as humanly possible in washing each of the trays.

Hugo stared at him in concern, obviously understanding that Eggsy’s silence now was different from his silence this morning. Seemingly influenced by Eggsy’s lack of productivity, he had been washing the same tray for five minutes now, his eyes narrowed at the bruise slowly developing on Eggsy’s jaw.

“Do you want to talk about it?” he finally asked when he tired of their silence. Eggsy considered ignoring him, but Hugo had been nothing but kind and helpful since he met him, so he answered.

“Do I look like I want to talk about it?” he asked. He did, to be honest, but voicing it seemed to make it all the more real. He didn’t understand why he had expected anything to change. Of course Dean would still have a hold over Michelle and Daisy. He had allies on the outside, fewer compared to his enemies, granted, but allies all the same whereas Eggsy had Ryan and Jamal who, despite being the greatest friends a guy could ask for, were two young boys dealing with their own personal issues. They wouldn’t be able to go up against a drug lord.

Hugo was silent, having moved on to his next tray--finally--but didn’t seemed offended by Eggsy’s brush off. So because he was being such a decent fucking human being and Eggsy seemed to need that right now, he offered, “I ‘ave a sister.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. ‘Er name’s Daisy; she’s two.”

“Pretty name. Did you see her today?” Hugo asked easily like there wasn’t a massive pink elephant hanging in the air between them.

“Yeah,” Eggsy answered. “She’s not my real sister--I mean, she’s my ‘alf sister by me mum and… and, well, me stepdad.” He couldn’t say his name; he felt bile crawling up alongside the letters that would have spelled it, so Eggsy didn’t say it. “But I love ‘er anyway more ‘n anythin.’”

“What does she look like?” Hugo asked softly.

“She’s got blonde ‘air full ‘a curls, the biggest blue eyes you’d eva seen--it’s the only good thing she got from ‘er dad--and the fattest little cheeks. She’s my angel.” The image of Daisy in his mind burned the backs of his eyelids, and he had to close his eyes, discreetly so Hugo didn’t realize he was on the verge of crying.

Hugo moved on to his next tray; he didn’t once glance Eggsy’s way. “Does she go to school yet?” Again, another innocent question carefully selected because it didn’t matter. And because it did.

Eggsy suddenly looked at him in disbelief. “Mate, she’s two,” he pointed out flatly, a little confused and a little amused at the question. “Course she doesn’t go to school yet. What two year old does?”

Hugo looked at him with a soft grin. If he noticed that Eggsy’s eyes were wet, he didn’t say. “Well, how should I know? The only children I know are those of my second cousin, and they all live in up in Hale.”

Eggsy scoffed, “Everyone knows that, you sheltered berk,” so Hugo flicked him with soapy dishwater, and Eggsy got him right back. With an entire cup full of it.

He burst into bright peals of laughter when Hugo spluttered in astonishment and disbelief.

“You did not just do that, you absolute tit!” he exclaimed affecting such an appalled tone that, Eggsy laughed some more.

“Wanna see me do it again?”

Right.” Hugo pushed his sleeves up properly, and Eggsy knew that he was in for it. He grabbed a tray and flung it up like a shield just as Hugo grabbed two cups of water and heaved them at him. His belly ached with laughter as he inched back bit by bit while Hugo threw cup after cup of water at him. There had to be more water on the floor than in the basin by now, and Eggsy was half drenched by the time someone yelled out, “Stop!”

Both boys froze to see a pretty young guard staring at them in horror. And also maybe the tiniest bit of amusement, so they might just get off with a small warning. The other inmates on kitchen duty were simply laughing, so the pretty guard snapped at them, “Back to work, men.” To Hugo and Eggsy, she lifted an eyebrow and glanced pointedly at the floor. “I expect the whole kitchen to be spotless before I let you go. Behind the stoves and everything.” Eggsy bit his lip because even though she didn’t seem angry, it wouldn’t do to grin when she was doling out punishments.

“Yes, ma’am,” they answered promptly and proceeded to finish up while pretending they weren’t shoving at each other about like schoolboys.

……………

He couldn't go back to his cell, he realized with slow-burning intensity. Jesus fuck, his one safe space in this shit hole and he couldn't go back to it because it was far too close to Dean's, and he wouldn't be able to lock it until the prison went into lockdown for the evening.

Fuck. Bloody buggering fuck.

He wanted to scream.

(He wanted to slit Dean's throat, really, but screaming was the more realistic option).

He'd thought he'd be fine. In the last four days, he'd led himself to believe that he'd be able to survive the ten years of incarceration Dean had forced his life into, but like time and time again, he was once more being controlled by the bastard against his will.

Fucking fuck.

Hugo had a visit from his lawyers just after they’d finished cleaning up (which took them an additional two hours longer than usual), so alone once more, he found himself again in the gymnasium, standing in front of the weights room where the pommel horse seemed to call out to him. he braved the room with almost no thought because if there was one thing that helped him deal with the complete shit that was his life, it was burying himself in athletics, be it parkour or break dancing or simply running (from the law most of the time, but running all the same).

He walked up to the horse on which three guys sat, watching him approach with an air of offense about them.

"Can I use this?" he asked. Granted his tone was a bit short with them (but he deserved to be a little bit short with everyone goddammit!), it didn't deserve the sneers he received.

"Move along, little boy," the leaner of the three sitting on the right said with a little flick of his fingers to shoo him like an offending fly. Eggsy bristled.

"I'm asking nicely. I want ter use it. Yer jus' sittin' there," he pointed out.

"This is wot it's fer, laddie. What else can you do on it?" laughed the huge Scot in the middle.

Eggsy leveled him a look. "It's a fuckin' pommel 'orse, you cunt, not a bench," he snapped.

"A pommel wot?" They glanced among each other, confused but playful if only to irritate him further. They continued to refuse to move, and Eggsy's ire grew steadily with each passing second that they snickered among themselves and made jokes about riding horses.

One thing. He wanted just one damn thing to help him get over this shitty day.

"Look. Jus' coz you don't got the brains ter know wot a goddamned pommel 'orse is don't mean it's a fuckin' bench. You don't see someone sittin' on the Roman chair coz it's called a fuckin' chair, do you?" he snarled. "You ain't usin' it, an' I want to. Now get yer collective arses off the damn thing and let me--" They hopped off quickly, faces screwed up in fury and maybe, just maybe Eggsy had gone a little too far. Maybe.

He took a step back. Just in case.

And then another because this was 'in case.'

"Wot did you say, you little prick?" growled the Scot as they slowly advanced on him, and Eggsy laughed inside his head because he couldn’t catch a fucking break could he? And now, he was living some prison cliche that he’d hoped never to encounter in the first place all because of fucking Dean.

"I--I meant--" he stuttered as he stepped back and they forward. "I just--"

And then, just as he expected they’d grab him and beat the living shit out of him, the anger on their faces suddenly disappeared as quickly as it came, and they drew their advance back.

Their attention was caught by something over his shoulder, so Eggsy's head snapped around to find that same tall, bald man from before standing right behind him.

He placed his hand gently on Eggsy's shoulder, making Eggsy tense up against any possible implications. However, he didn't seem to notice as he said, "The boy's right, lads." His voice was cool and calm as he spoke, which shouldn't have evoked the look of panic from all three of them as it did.

"Yeah! Yeah, course. I mean--yeah," agreed the Scot, and then they all stepped aside.

The bald man--a Scot as well by his accent--then gestured Eggsy to the horse, tipped his head once, and turned back to the only unoccupied weight bench, the same one he'd been using before.

For a while, Eggsy stared at the man in complete befuddlement, watching him settle back into his weight lifting routine because Eggsy was sure it shouldn't have been that simple.

"'Oo's 'e?" he absently asked the three men he'd nearly gotten into an altercation with.

The third guy answered in a tone that was still annoyed but didn't seem inclined to start an argument anymore, "Rupert McTavern."

Eggsy nodded an absent acknowledgement and then turned his back to all of them and hopped up onto the horse.

This time, when he used it, he didn't have the same apprehension as he did the previous day. He pulled out all his most energetic moves to build up a decent sweat and swung and flew through his remembered routine--with hiccups here and there, yes, because it had been ten years. He held certain positions for long minutes--planks and handstands--to work his core and arm strength in lieu of proper equipment to help him, and, a little under an hour later he finished from a handstand into a backflip.

It wasn't an ideal workout, all things considered, because using the horse was more a performance than actual targeted exercise, but afterwards, Eggsy felt renewed in a way he didn't think he'd get to feel again.

He stretched out his sore muscles and bent to reach for the shirt he’d tossed onto the floor half an hour into his routine just as a slow clap resounded behind him and a warm exclamation of "My!" followed quickly thereafter. He whirled round to find the man from the football pitch--James MacIntosh--walking up to him

Admittedly, he may have looked over the other man’s shoulder towards the weight bench where he’d last seen McTavern--to what purpose he wasn’t sure himself--but found the man gone. James followed his gaze and when he looked back, his mouth quirked into a grin and his eyebrow popped up for a split second. Eggsy, suddenly highly aware of his semi-nakedness in the face of James’s sharp suit, quickly pulled his shirt over his head, grimacing as the cold moisture stuck to his skin.

“You’re quite the performer,” the older man voiced, very much sincerely the boy could tell, and Eggsy couldn’t quite help the warmth that spread through him from his stomach outwards.

His ducked his head in embarrassment. “Thanks,” he answered, running a hand through his hair for lack of anything better to do. Besides, he didn’t doubt it looked a veritable mess, unlike James’s neat coif. He looked back up and found the other man watching him with that same mild amusement and casual interest.

“Walk with me, Eggsy,” he said, tilting his head towards the door and starting to walk to it, and though it was worded as an order that should have annoyed Eggsy considering the day he’s had, he didn’t feel at all coerced into joining him. In fact, he felt his interest piqued at the prospect of chatting with the man. If nothing else, his story was sure to be interesting.

He jogged up to James’s side, ignoring the interested gazes following them as they waded through the equipment and bodies littering the weights room and wondering where they were headed.

Wait.

“Wait,” Eggsy stopped just as they reached the doorway. James turned to him, both eyebrows lifted in question. “I didn’t tell you my name,” he pointed out, and there again was that amused grin on James.

“No, you didn’t,” he agreed.

“So ‘ow d’you know?” managed to escape his mouth before he realized that should have been obvious. He felt a little foolish.

James chuckled. “Well, how did you come to know of mine?” he asked. Eggsy frowned.

“‘Ow d’you know that I know yours?”

This time, his laugh was heartier. “You don’t live ‘til you’re forty seven and not know a few things, my boy,” was his answer with a wink before he held a hand out to indicate that Eggsy should pass through the door before him.

Still a little bemused, Eggsy let him lead him through the halls, with James cheerfully greeting various people they passed. Eggsy received a few fair share of looks, but none were particularly threatening.

“Ah!” James suddenly gasped as they passed into the education wing of the prison which housed most of the classrooms used for various subjects as well as the private and group counseling rooms and the chapel. Eggsy realized they had come upon the pretty officer who had made him and Hugo scrub down the entire kitchen earlier. “Officer Morton! What an absolute delight!” James exclaimed, swooping in to take her hand and press a kiss to the back of it.

Officer Morton laughed and tapped the back of his head with her baton. “Down, James,” she ordered, so James released her hand and bowed grandly in one smooth move. She then caught sight of Eggsy when he did. “Oh, hello,” she greeted, tipping her head to one side.

Eggsy gave her a nod and a, “Good afternoon, officer,” wary because she was still a prison guard.

“See, James? At least Eggsy knows how to properly greet his minders,” she told the older man pointedly. Eggsy blinked when she said his name, not aware that she knew it at all--and what was it with everyone knowing who he was? He’s been here four days, and not for something notorious enough that rumors would spread around like wildfire.

“Ah, but my dear, he’s a little green around the ears,” James pointed out in a conspiratorial whisper. “He’ll come to appreciate your charms soon enough.” Officer Morton rolled her eyes.

Behave, MacIntosh,” she said sternly, though there was laughter and fondness in her tone, then she waved them off, heading in the opposite direction herself.

Eggsy remembered how Hugo had said half the officers love James and the other half were in love with him. He wondered which group Officer Morton belonged to.

“‘Oo’s she?” Eggsy asked when he knew she was out of range.

She is the very charming Roxanne Morton. Only the finest officer Her Majesty’s Prison Service has to offer,” James answered easily. He steered them with natural ease in a direction with which Eggsy wasn’t familiar.

“‘Ow’d she know ‘oo I was?” Eggsy asked once more because it was a little unnerving. Officers here weren’t exactly what you would call… sympathetic, much less friendly.

James came to a stop in front of a door and held it open for Eggsy. When the latter stepped inside, he found several pairs of eyes looking at him, a pair of which belonged to Alastair who greeted him in a questioning voice, “Hello, Eggsy.”

“I--uh…” he stuttered, then looked to James. “James?” Alastair’s eyes slid to the other man when he shut the door behind him and, slowly, one of his eyebrows rose to his hairline. James only grinned.

“I believe this is Mr. MacIntosh’s way of letting us know that the dinner bell is about to ring,” Alastair told his… class, apparently, in a resigned voice. “We’ll meet again on Thursday. Do try to have your reading done by then.”

The class of five murmured various goodbyes. One stayed to ask a question that Eggsy didn’t catch from his spot near the door, but the boy left soon enough anyway, his eyes roving over Eggsy with curiosity like all the others had done as they passed by. And then the three of them were alone.

“Any particular reason you’ve decided to cut my class today short, Lancelot?” Alastair asked as he stacked his books on top of each other then leaned a hip against the teacher’s desk.

“No, not particularly,” was James’s delighted response. Alastair only shook his head with a sigh and turned to Eggsy.

“How are you, Eggsy?” he asked with a sincere and soft smile. It was quite odd for Eggsy to be the subject of such coming from a man like him.

“I’m fine,” he answered, and then quickly after, “You?”

“Only the usual, I’m afraid,” Alastair said. Though he didn’t sigh, Eggsy heard it quite clearly in his voice. “We’re covering Dante in our class, and I’m afraid the language remains firmly above the grasp of the class. I don’t suppose you’ve read it?” Eggsy frowned and shook his head. “Ah, well. Pity,” Alastair told him in the exact tone of voice as he had at the pitch, and even though he had no reason to feel that way, Eggsy couldn’t help feel oddly disappointed that their interests didn’t align.

“Maybe Eggsy should join your classes,” James suggested brightly. He was seated on the desk front and center of the room--a little close to Alastair than propriety warranted, so Eggsy knew Hugo was telling the truth about the two of them. To Eggsy, he said, “He teaches languages very well if you’re looking for a more practical skill, but Percy loves his books even more.”

“I… guess?” Eggsy answered hesitantly.

“Have you decided on your vocational class? I think you’d do well in automotives,” he continued, which was pretty much the exact class Eggsy had been planning on taking, only making Eggsy even more perplexed because how in the world did he come up with that deduction?

“Yeah,” he answered anyway.

“Well then, it all works out! Come here after your dishes on Monday and Wednesday for Percy’s Spanish class and Thursdays and Saturdays for Literature. Automotive will be on Tuesdays and Fridays, and you’ll have Sundays to spend with your little friend, won’t you?” James said brightly.

Eggsy was completely and utterly bewildered at him. There was this familiarity in James’s demeanor that Eggsy couldn’t quite figure out where it came from. Was this what Hugo meant about him reaching out and being able to talk about anything with anybody?

Lance,” Alastair reprimanded sternly. “You’re pushing the boy too hard. Let him work out his own schedule, won’t you? He might not even want to attend Literature and Spanish.”

“I do!” Eggsy suddenly protested before he could really think about it. Like what Dean was going to say about it.

Fuck him.

“I do,” he repeated, more convincingly, this time. James grinned triumphantly.

“See, Perce? He wants to,” he affirmed.

Alastair gave Eggsy another smile. “Well, then I’d be glad to have you here.”

All three men looked to the door when a bell rung, signalling food service for the evening, then Eggsy bit his lip. He considered not going at all if it meant he could avoid Dean for another hour, maybe three if he ducked back into his cell at the very last second before closing.

“Would you like to join us for dinner?” James asked kindly. Eggsy turned to see the both of them smiling gently at him, Alastair standing at James’s shoulder with his hand placed on it.

Dean would throw a fit if he thought Eggsy was looking for protection and a means to escape, so no. No, he couldn’t.

“Thanks, but I’ve already got someone to eat with.”

“All right,” Alastair said evenly. “You’ll let us know if you’d like to in the future, won’t you?”

Nothing in the world could have kept Eggsy from agreeing.

Chapter Text

Eggsy considered laying in bed for the entirety of Monday and pretend not to exist. Screw work--he'd take whatever punishment they wanted to dish out over having to move right now. Maybe the rest of the week too.

All he wanted to do was curl up in bed and ignore the aches and pains of his body because yesterday had not been kind to him and neither had Dean's men.

Now that Dean had given the say so, they’d all gleefully taken their turns because, apparently, one week with just their hands for company was more than they could take, and because the prison didn’t actually condone or, God forbid, encourage sex among the inmates, lube was none existent, so he’d had to make do with soap, shampoo, spit, or whatever pitiful excuse for slick he could find and a hell of a lot of personal time prepping himself.

When the breakfast bell rang, he slung an arm over his eyes and groaned. Inmates noisily shuffled outside of his door towards the mess hall, so Eggsy buried his head beneath his pillow.

Fuck.

Fuck Dean and his thugs. Fuck them all to hell and back.

Briefly, the image of Hart stabbing Dean in the eye with a pencil came to mind, maybe ending with Hart cutting off his whole hand as well for good measure. Hart with neatly coiffed hair, a pristine suit like Alastair's and James's, and eyes narrowed with dangerous intent. Eggsy could almost imagine him as an assassin like he saw in all the movies: swift, precise, and deadly. Or maybe a spy, cunning and intelligent with incredible gadgets hidden in his bulletproof suit, ready to save the world and Eggsy who, while he wasn’t a fucking damsel in distress, needed someone with connections to keep his mum and sis safe.

It was in his musings that he realized he didn't actually know what Hart looked like. While they both worked in the kitchens, Hart's shift was done before meal time started and Eggsy's didn’t start until after it ended, so there has never been the opportunity for their paths to cross.

He could very well imagine him, though. Considering he was friends with James and Alastair, Eggsy imagined that he might be an older gentleman like them, well into his prime but not at all succumbing to age. He might have blue eyes that, when they looked at you, seemed to bore into your very person, a jaw so sharp it could cut diamonds even on his rounded face, a high forehead and short blonde hair, and--because nobody was perfect--big ears. He’d have lines around his mouth and wrinkles on his forehead, but if anyone were to say that they were imperfections, it would be because they were stupid and didn’t understand what real beauty was.

Eggsy suddenly paused in his thoughts and chuckled to himself. He might as well admit that the Harry Hart in his mind looked suspiciously like Daniel Craig.

’E’s a criminal, Eggs. A treasonous murderer, he reminded himself. He was so far from James Bond that to even think it was laughable.

Once more, he drifted back into contemplating whether or not to get up and face the day, and then decided that he could skip breakfast, but avoiding work wouldn’t be in his best interests. He wasn’t going to feel better anytime today, anyway, so he might as well suck it up.

Besides, he had Alastair’s class to look forward to in the afternoon.

His eyes fell shut, and he floated at the edge of sleep for the next three quarters of an hour until the bell rang again to signal the end of breakfast. To it, he hauled himself out of bed with a pained grunt and headed straight for the kitchen, praying to avoid any of Dean’s thugs.

Hugo stared at him as he came in and remarked, “Well, don’t you look like shit this morning.”

“Good morning to you too, sunshine,” Eggsy grumbled and shoved past him. He didn’t intend to be mean, but he wasn’t quite in the mood for commentary right now. The back of his neck prickled as Hugo continued to stare, but Eggsy pulled the first stack of trays deposited by the busboys toward him. “Ain’t you gonna ‘elp?” he demanded after a moment of scrubbing furiously at the first tray.

Then Hugo was suddenly at his side, touching his elbow. “Hey, man,” he murmured, voice gratingly sympathetic, and Eggsy sighed, dropping the items he was holding.

“I just…” he started to say, leaning over the sink, before Hugo could ask and speculate.

And then he lied because it was easier than admitting the truth. “I miss me mum and sis, okay? That’s it. Couldn’t sleep because it’s fuckin’ ‘ard bein’ in ‘ere and they’re out there, and I can’t ‘elp ‘em, you get me?” It was a half-truth anyway, a misdirection.

Hugo nudged him with his shoulder. “Hey. I’m sure they’re going to be fine,” he consoled, oblivious to the lie, and Eggsy felt guilty because he was being completely sincere. “If your mum’s anything like you, I’m sure she’ll do very well for herself.”

Eggsy laughed, a little humorlessly. “Bruv, you’ve known me a week,” he pointed out. “‘Ow in the world do you know wot I’m like?”

Hugo shoved him with his shoulder, harder this time. “Shut up, you. I’m trying to be nice here,” he shot back. This time, when Eggsy laughed, it was sincere.

They worked in silence for about a quarter of an hour before Eggsy decided that, despite Rudy and Paulie arguing noisily at the other washing stations, it was too quiet between the two of them and that he could use something to talk about to keep his mind free of… other things.

“So. I decided to attend Alastair’s classes,” he said by way of making conversation. Of course, that wasn’t the entire truth either, but it was difficult to explain that James MacIntosh, for some reason, had made that decision for him and that he, for some reason, agreed to it.

“Which one did you go for?” Hugo asked.

“I’ve got Spanish after lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays and Literature on Thursdays and Saturdays,” he answered.

¿Oh enserio? Lástima que. Entonces no voy a ser capaz de decirle a la cara que eres un culo enorme,” Hugo said casually.

Eggsy leveled him a look. “I ‘ave no idea wot you just said, bruv, but I know you well enough to tell you that you are a Massive. Dripping. Cunt."

Hugo only laughed.

...............

“Oi!” came a familiar shout just as Eggsy was about to head to Spanish class after his post-lunchtime work. He had dropped by his cell to change his clothes even though he was already late because he didn’t want to smell rank in Alastair’s class. Dean caught him right when he was leaving.

He held back a groan and turned to the man. “Where you off to?” Dean demanded.

“Class,” Eggsy answered.

“Class? Wot for?” Dean sneered, looking him up and down. “‘S not like yer gonna get any smarter.” Eggsy bristled, but said nothing. An angry Dean was not someone he wanted to mess with right now. “Skip it. I’ve someone fer you ter meet.”

Eggsy scowled. “Can’t. It’s one of them Kingsmen’s classes. They strong armed me into attendin’ last Saturday; must ‘a been needin’ students ter keep ‘em from closin’ it out.” Dean matched his scowl and opened his mouth to speak. Eggsy quickly cut him off. “I don’t wanna get meself stuck in the eye wiv a pencil, guv, so unless yer answerin’ fer me I ain’t droppin’ it till they say so.”

The expression on Dean’s face was ugly, and Eggsy half wondered if he was getting himself in trouble. But eventually, the man said, "Fine. But I want you back 'ere right after. You’ve an important client to entertain fer me.” Disgust roiled through Eggsy at his words, but he refrained from protesting. Dean pointedly stabbed a finger in the middle of Eggsy’s chest. “Five ‘o clock.”

Eggsy waited ‘til he had turned away before sprinting in the opposite direction. He rubbed at the spot Dean had poked and ignored the twinges of pain in the rest of his body as he ran in an effort not to miss too much of the class.

He weaved through the throng of inmates that milled about between his origin and destination and paid the necessary attention to the prison guards until he found himself in the same room James had brought him to the day before yesterday. He took a moment to catch his breath and then politely knocked on the door before entering.

Alastair’s smile was warm and welcoming, and Eggsy felt relief course through him. “Hello, Eggsy,” the man greeted. There were only three other people in the room, so Eggsy didn’t feel overly self-conscious. “I wasn’t sure you were still interested in joining us.”

“Sorry, guv. Got done late at work,” he answered, gingerly taking a seat in the second row.

“Not to worry,” Alastair waved his apology away. “We’re covering prepositions right now, and though I know you have a lot to catch up to, I’m sure you can managed to follow along, si?”

Eggsy grinned. “Si,” he answered.

“Good lad,” Alastair said proudly, and Eggsy felt a flush of warmth overcome him that lasted all the way until the end of their class.

The older man tried asking him to stay to go over their missed lessons--there weren’t very many, he said, but they were important lessons to be had--but Eggsy couldn’t. So, feeling like a heel once more, he pleaded off on grounds of having someone to meet, which wasn’t entirely untrue. Maybe on Wednesday, he volunteered, and Alastair agreed.

So five minutes past five, the boy found himself running to the torture chamber that was Dean’s cell. The man was already waiting outside, talking with Poodle with a deep scowl on his face. “Yer late,” were the first words he said to Eggsy when he caught sight of him.

“Sorry, guv,” Eggsy replied on the automatic, though he didn’t really mean it. “We wos just let out now.”

Dean grunted, “No matter. Let’s go. Come on, Poodle.”

The three made their hasty way out of House Block A and towards House Block C, where Eggsy had never been before. They climbed four flights of stairs to the very top floor where, oddly enough, there was a comfortable silence. Them aside, there were no inmates milling about and no prison guards patrolling. The floors and walls were cleaned to perfection, and there were fucking potted plants along the hallway. Eggsy was slowly starting to understand who the 'important client' was.

They stopped in front of a private cell--unique because it had no window for guards to peer into--and Dean turned a stink eye to him. “You best be on yer best behavior fer ‘Esketh and ‘is boys, else I might ‘ave a word with me friend ‘bout yer mum, you ‘ear?” Not that Dean needed to remind him. He nodded anyway.

Maybe if he could convince Hesketh to favor Dean with the power he wanted, Dean would finally let Eggsy be.

Dean rapped his knuckles twice on the door, and fidgeted while waiting for it to open.

When it did, Eggsy found himself looking up at a young man. He was tall and slender with an air of posh disdain about him, but he was about Eggsy’s age and quite handsome so maybe this might not be the worst job he’d have to do here.

“Charlie,” the other boy called into the room, boredom and disinterest clear in his tone. “That man’s here again.”

The door was pulled open wider and another tall young man came into view. “Oh,” he said flatly, looking Dean up and down. Then Eggsy. “Is this him, then?” he asked, and Eggsy fumed, only just managing to hold back an insult.

“Yeah,” Dean agreed, shoving Eggsy a step forward. Charlie’s eyes carefully roved over him assessingly before he said, “Well, all right then,” and stepped back to allow him through.

Eggsy glanced once at Dean who gave him a pointed look, and then followed Charlie inside the cell while the other boy shut it in Dean’s face. He heard the click of a lock, but was a tad distracted by how big the room was and the fact that it looked more like a bachelor’s pad than a prison cell.

It was easily three units big with navy blue walls, white trim, a white sofa, dark wooden furniture--a bed, a desk, and a dining area--and a whole damn electronic system set up on one wall, complete with a flat screen TV, speakers, and various gaming consoles (How was this even legal, Eggsy wondered). It was in front of that that a third boy, a shorter blonder one, was sat on a bean bag, playing Halo. He paused the game looked up at them.

“Who’s this?” he asked.

Charlie answered smugly, “Our entertainment for tonight.” It was to that tone that a flush of shame ran through Eggsy.

He knew men like these intimately well: those who felt they were superior to everyone beneath their level of income and who reveled in it. Who ridiculed the poor, the obese, the ugly, the downtrodden like they were being paid to do so. At least with those of Eggsy’s class, they paid for him to fill a biological urge. These men used him to fill their need for superiority.

“Tell us your name then,” the first one prompted.

He gritted his teeth and answered because there was nothing to be done for it. He just going to have to suck down his pride and give them what they wanted, and hopefully, they’d give Dean what he did in the hopes that Dean would finally leave Eggsy alone, and they would all lead satisfied--and separate--lives. “Eggsy.”

“Eggy?” Charlie laughed while throwing himself down on the sofa and sprawling over it elegantly.

“No, ‘Eggsy,’” he repeated, as if it mattered to them at all.

“I’m Digby,” said the first boy from the dining table where he had a laptop open. “That’s Rufus--” The blonde boy. “--and Charlie.”

“Wait,” Rufus cut in, laughter in his tone. “I think we may have met. Did you serve me at the McDonalds in Winchester Service Station?”

Eggsy bared his teeth in a parody of a grin. “No. But I heard that they give you an extra helping of secret sauce.”

Charlie laughed loudly while Rufus scowled, which may or may not be a good thing, but Eggsy had yet to decide.

“So Eggsy,” he said after a moment. “That man--what’s his name? Dean? Told us a lot about you. Gave us the impression we’re in for a rather entertaining evening.” There was a dare in his voice that pushed Eggsy to rise to the challenge.

Eggsy cocked a hip and tried for arrogant confidence because they already knew what he did for Dean; there was no point trying to hide it. “I’d tell you not to get your hopes up, but then I’d be lying.” Charlie lifted an eyebrow, but his grin was interested and leering.

“Well then. Why don’t you show us what you got?” he dared, spreading his legs in a clear invitation.

It took half a second for Eggsy to think about what he wanted to do--only half a second because these boys were easy to handle--and then he grasped the back of his shirt and tugged it over his head, letting it fall to the floor while he allowed the three boys to take their fill of the sight of him.

He was very, very aware of the way he looked with his jeans slung low on his hips and his chest and abs bared to them. He knew, without being grossly overconfident, that he had a damn fine body only because he worked to keep it that way.

He tipped his head down in a parody of demureness and ran a hand through his hair and down his chest. Then he lifted his gaze through his eyelashes at Charlie, watching his breath hitch and his legs part involuntarily the tiniest bit wider. Then Eggsy slunk over to him and slowly slid himself into his lap, fitting their clothed cocks snug together and brushing his lips over Charlie’s in the lightest of caresses.

“How’s that for a start?” he whispered into the parted lips. His eyes were lidded low, but this close, he clearly could see Charlie’s eyes blacken a second before his mouth was crushed in a desperately wanton kiss.

He moaned because it was expected and because Charlie surprisingly wasn’t an awful kisser. He felt the back of his neck grasped tightly with one hand and the meat of his arse even tighter with the other while Charlie plunged his tongue into Eggsy’s mouth and claimed it for himself. Eggsy ground his hips down into the other’s cock and circled them around, writhing in Charlie’s lap, teasing him with what was to come and making him groan for more.

He didn’t doubt he could get Charlie off like this, but the other boy, with a pained groan, shoved him down onto the carpeted floor before he could try. He looked mad with lust as he tore open his trousers and took out his cock. To Digby, he barked, “Get me the lube.” And to Eggsy, “Suck me off while you open yourself up. Take off your trousers!”

Eggsy didn’t hesitate because the sooner he did, the sooner he could be done. He enjoyed the way Charlie’s eyes grew wide at the sight of his fat cock, so he put a hand on it and gave it a few tugs. “Like it, do ya? Maybe afterwards I get ta top your arse, too,” Eggsy drawled. Charlie scowled at him.

“On your knees,” he ordered, and Eggsy obeyed.

His hand was on Charlie’s cock in the next moment and his mouth in the next, and Charlie moaned when Eggsy sucked at the tip and stroked the length. “God, hurry up!” the taller boy hissed. Eggsy felt a tap on his shoulder, and he took the lube and condoms handed to him without looking.

Him first, he decided, squeezing lube onto his fingers and pressing two in at once. He groaned because he was still sore from yesterday and there really wasn’t anything he could do about it. At the very least, however, he had proper lube this time around. Charlie, however, cursed in appreciation for the vibrations on his cock.

He pressed another finger into himself and pulled his mouth away so that he could rip open a condom packet with his teeth and his other hand. Squeezing the tip between his lips, he pressed his mouth to Charlie’s cock and rolled it on him that way.

“Oh, fuck,” Charlie moaned. His hand slid into Eggsy’s hair and held him down as he pumped his hips up once, twice, three times. Eggsy choked slightly when it hit the back of his mouth, but Charlie paid no heed, instead ordering urgently, “Come on, come on.” He used his hold in Eggsy’s hair to drag him back up onto his lap. “Come on, ride me. Tell me how good it feels.”

Eggsy bit his lip coyly and slathered more lube onto Charlie’s cock, thankful for having it. Then he lifted himself up and, without preamble, sunk himself down into Charlie's lap. The other boy threw his head over the back of the couch and groaned, "Oh god," holding Eggsy down for a moment by his hips. Eggsy helpfully clenched his arse around him and pulled out a choked moan. "Fuck."

Unbidden and out of nowhere, the image of Hart-as-Daniel-Craig came to mind, hitting Eggsy with an odd bout of enthusiasm and he found himself grinding onto Charlie just a little harder. Would Hart be just as responsive if Eggsy were to ride him like this? Or maybe he’d simply watch Eggsy with his poker face and intense eyes, unmoving and seemingly uninterested except for the way his hands would tighten on Eggsy’s hips.

In was a ridiculous thought--he didn’t even know the man--so he shook it off and brought himself back to the matter at hand.

"Entertained yet, Charlie?" Eggsy drawled, drawing wide circles with his hips and making him pant and whine. He pressed his mouth to the bared column of throat and kissed it once, then moaned in a loud and simpering tone, “You’re so fuckin’ big, Charlie.” He intended it to be insulting, but the other boy only groaned. “Feels like you’re cleavin’ me in ‘alf. ‘Aven’t ever ‘ad anyone as big as you.”

“Fuck you, you whore,” Charlie snapped, but given that it was weak as shit, Eggsy didn’t mind. He lifted himself up off of him until only the tip still remained inside and then pressed back down. Again and again, he repeated that, increasing in pace and intensity, while murmuring in that same insultingly simpering tone, “Oh, fuck, yes. Fuck, Charlie. Feels so good. Can fuck you forever, babe. Your cock is perfect, want it in me all the time,” until a whimper started in Charlie’s throat and crawled its way out. And when Eggsy’s thighs burned and Charlie’s fingers dug bruises into his hips, the brunet slammed up into Eggsy and came groaning loudly.

Easy.

Eggsy waited until the grip on his hips slackened and released him, then he climbed off of Charlie’s lap.

Looking down at the taller boy, he asked smugly, “How’s that for fuckin’ entertainment?” before leaving Charlie cursing on the couch to ‘entertain’ Digby.

Chapter Text

"Oh, ew," Hugo said as he came into Eggsy's cell uninvited and unannounced on a regular rainy Tuesday afternoon, two weeks into Eggsy’s sentence, where the other boy was lounging in bed after his automotive class. His nose scrunched in disgust, so Eggsy made a face at him and blew a long stream of smoke in his direction in retaliation, making Hugo wave his arms about wildly to disperse it. Eggsy wasn’t ashamed to say he was a little more than entertained by it. "That is a fucking disgusting habit, Eggsy. Where the fuck did you pick that up?"

Eggsy glanced at the cigarette in his fingertips then took a long drag from it. He didn’t say that one of his ‘clients’ tossed him a pack as a ‘thank you’ last night. "Used to do it, then I stopped when Daisy was born. I figured now there wasn't any reason to 'old myself back anymore."

"How about your lungs, Eggsy? Your lifespan? Your breath? Your teeth?" Hugo pointed out, coming in no further than the doorjamb. "Do you know how disgusting it is to kiss someone who smokes?" He made a show of shuddering, but Eggsy only laughed loudly.

"I don't think that's gonna be a problem fer you, bruv," he shot back, then with a sly grin added, "Unless o’ course you were plannin’ on goin’ gay, then it would be my honor to be your first big gay kiss. I'll even brush my teeth an’ all."

He winked lasciviously and then burst into a torrent of laughter when Hugo snapped, "Oh, fuck off, Unwin. And put that goddamned cancer stick out. At least do it where you're not going to kill other people in your immediate vicinity."

"Oi! This is my room, you can't talk to me like that!" Eggsy continued to laugh at him, thoroughly enjoying his indignance. With a little seriousness (but not much because he still intended for it to be a joke), he added, "And besides, there might be people in my immediate vicinity who could only improve with a deadly supply of secondhand smoke."

Hugo leveled him a look. "Fine, but in such case I'm leaving and not telling you what I came looking for you for."

Immediately, Eggsy shut up and sat up. "Wossat?" he asked.

Hugo lifted an eyebrow at him and said, "Put your deathstick out, and I'll show you." Eggsy wouldn’t have traded in the alleviation of his curiosity for a cigarette stick, so he quickly did as told and was on his feet in a moment and a half.

“Where we going?” he asked when Hugo led him out.

“New delivery in the gymnasium. I thought you might be interested,” Hugo explained, and Eggsy frowned. If it was in the gymnasium, he didn’t doubt it would interest him, but he wondered what it could be.

“Oi, Eggsy!” someone suddenly called out and Eggsy turned to find Bulldog calling for him.

“Fuck,” he cursed under his breath and started shoving a bewildered Hugo into a run. “I, uh--Gotta go!” he called back quickly before breaking into a full run and dragging Hugo along by the wrist.

“Oi, get back here! Eggsy! Eggsy, you cunt!” Bulldog’s shouts faded into the distance and only when Eggsy knew he wouldn’t catch up did he slow down then come to a stop.

Hugo doubled over as soon as they did, heaving deep breaths from sudden exertion. He held up his hand to ask for a moment, which Eggsy gave even when he laughed at him. “Bruv, that wasn’t in no way a respectable distance and speed for you to be dyin’ on me.”

“Fuck off, you tit,” he snapped again, but the bite in it was tempered by his deep gasps of breath, so Eggsy only laughed at him and started walking again. The gymnasium, Hugo said, so that’s where he headed.

The other boy caught up with him two seconds later. “I told you you can come hang out with us,” he told Eggsy in a low voice. “You don’t have to hang out with those guys.” And God, if he could, he would.

“I’ve known ‘em my whole life, bruv. It’s not that simple,” he sighed. Hugo was silent because he might have been brought up a sheltered little rich kid, but he wasn’t stupid. “So wot was it I needed to see?” Eggsy asked as they came upon the gym.

Hugo brightened up at that and jerked his head to the basketball court. “Here.”

Eggsy saw it as soon as they stepped inside, and his jaw dropped wide open.

“Wot. The fuck. Is that?” he gaped. Hugo glanced at him with amusement.

“I would have thought you of all the people here would have been able to recognize it,” he answered. Eggsy shoved him to the ground without looking because he was still gaping at the parallel bars that a large group of inmates were goofing around on. Hugo gasped with laughter as he pushed himself back up to his feet, hanging off of Eggsy’s shoulder for support.

“Come on, let’s see if we could try it out. And of course, by ‘we,’ I mean ‘you.’”

They weaved through the crowd that was watching a few cons swinging pathetically off of the bars. The closer they got, the clearer Eggsy could see that these weren’t simply parallel bars. Unlike the pommel horse, they were nearly brand fucking new. They were at that perfect stage of wear where they felt best beneath a gymnast’s hands. Like a new pair of shoes that had just been broken in and no longer pinched the feet.

“Why?” he asked no one in particular.

“Anonymous donation,” was the answer to Eggsy’s question, and he turned to see James suddenly popping up at his side, grinning at the bars like they held a secret only he knew. Then his grin quickly changed into a wrinkling of his nose. He turned to Eggsy and gave him an incredulous look. “Have you been smoking?” Eggsy’s eyes widened.

Wot?” he asked defensively.

“Why are you smoking, Eggsy? It’s a filthy habit,” James answered with a scolding glower, judgement clear in his tone, the same as in Hugo’s words earlier. At it, the other boy looked smug, so Eggsy glared at him.

“Everybody does it. It’s not a big deal,” he told James.

The older man folded his arms over his chest and asked,“If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you do, too?”

Eggsy’s eyes bugged out because What?

“Wot the fuck even is that?” he asked in disbelief. “We’re in prison, guv, not ’igh school. Smoking is not a big fuckin’ deal!”

James looked away, back towards the bars. “I’m only pointing out that smoking does more harm than good.”

Eggsy, still bewildered at James’s reaction, quickly switched tracks because seriously. James MacIntosh was fucking confusing. “Seriously though? Does the prison get a lot of random anonymous donations for specific kinds of equipment?” he asked. “It ain’t like men’s gymnastics are popular among the masses; why would anyone donate something like this to an all-male prison?”

“Someone once donated a complete set of equestrian equipment?” James volunteered. Eggsy rolled his head in his direction and gave him a flat look, so he shrugged and revised, “Maybe the gym it belonged to was upgrading.”

“It’s nearly brand new!”

James shrugged once more, clearly with nothing else to say about it. “Would you like to try it out?”

Eggsy did, of course he did because he was aces at this shit; he’d always been until Dean forced him to stop so that he didn’t have to pay for it. But could he really, though? “Maybe after they’re done,” he said.

“Nonsense,” James simply said and started forward through the rest of the crowd between them and the bars. Eggsy and Hugo shared a look, then quickly followed him. He stopped at the base, drawing all attention to himself, and greeted those hanging off of it, “Good afternoon, gentlemen. While I’m sure you’re enjoying the prison’s newest form of entertainment, I was wondering if you’d allow a demonstration from someone with a bit more experience?” In the past week, many had seen Eggsy make use of the pommel horse, so automatically, everyone’s gazes shifted to him.

“James,” he hissed, but after the men dismounted and stepped aside, James only urged him forward, ignoring his protests.

“Go on,” he said brightly.

“I don’t have chalk,” Eggsy tried, suddenly nervous of all the attention.

Catching on to James’s enthusiasm, Hugo said with a laugh, “Stop fucking about, Eggsy,” then playfully shoved him forward, so Eggsy flipped him a two-fingered salute, but then did step between the two bars. He drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. Then, he reached up to grasp one in either hand and pulled himself up.

At this vantage point, he could see across the whole court, the multitude of eyes watching him, the dozens playing basketball regardless of the commotion in one corner, those simply hanging out by the bleachers, so as soon as he was up there, he almost immediately caught sight of McTavern watching him from the other end of the gym, this time not bare chested but in a soft green jumper and slacks, and with him, a man hidden in the shadows of the doorway.

Hart, he knew right then, and if his heart sped up just a little bit in his chest, then it was because of adrenaline and nothing more.

He swung forward and then back twice to build up his momentum and on the third, he thrust himself up high into a handstand. He held it there for a second, for two and then let himself fall forward, swinging his legs down and then right back up again into another handstand.

Twice more, he repeated it to get the hang of using these again and on the apex of his fourth rotation, he released his hold on the bars and somersaulted once in the air, catching himself with his triceps afterwards then swinging himself back up into a handstand again.

It was freeing. It was familiar. It was pure elation to feel the aches beneath his arms, to feel the adrenaline pushing him higher, faster, harder.

On a whim, he split his legs apart, one in front of him and one behind, and when they went as far as they would go, he swung them around like chopper blades. His hands followed the motion of his legs automatically, leaving and finding the bars with no second thought and then once more, he was hurtling through the air and landing on his feet on the ground.

The audience cheered, and among them, James looked proud as could be as he clapped Eggsy’s shoulder and told him, “Marvellous, my boy! That was excellent!” Hugo was cheering happily, asking Eggsy to teach him next time, and so did a few other inmates with whom Eggsy had spent several afternoons indulging in a shared pastime: breakdancing.

His attention, though, was mostly caught peering between heads and over them in the direction of the gym door, but when he did managed to find it, they had already swung decidedly shut.

……………

“Unwin,” a distinctly female voice called just as he was headed towards group counselling the Thursday after. It was an all-male facility, so Eggsy knew it had to be a guard, and only one female guard was likely to call him with such startling familiarity.

“Officer Morton,” he greeted as soon as he turned to her.

She gave him a small smile. “I heard about your performance on the bars,” she told him. “You’ve created quite the stir.” It was a clear compliment, and Eggsy ducked his head in thanks.

“It wasn’t nothin’ impressive; just wot I remembered from me youth,” he mumbled, embarrassed. Many have come up to him since then to express varying interest in his skill. Some wanted him to teach them, other simply expressed their enjoyment, and some--mostly those Dean sent his way as clients--liked how flexible he was.

That one almost made him regret having tried the bars out in the first place, but frankly, the pride in James’s eyes after he’d done so and the way he told Alastair all about it more than made up for it.

He was going to get clients regardless, he shouldn’t have to give up what he enjoyed for it.

“Regardless,” she countered. “It’s refreshing to be able to witness something new. I’ve been here five years and already I’m tired of watching footie, basketball, and tennis. Gymnastics is a nice change of pace all around.” Eggsy shrugged and thanked her once more. “But actually, I stopped you for something else,” she said. “I wonder if you’d be open to taking additional work around here? For additional pay, of course. I know your dish duty covers the costs for Alastair’s classes, but I was thinking you might want some extra income just in case?”

And the thing was, she was asking really nicely, and he didn’t really want to say no to a prison guard, no matter how nice she was being. Plus she was right in that he could use the extra cash for stuff around here--his toiletries were running out, for example--and if nothing else, even without the extra pay, it would mean a few hours less each week for Dean and his fucking clients. So yes.

“Yeah, cool,” he agreed without fuss.

She smiled brightly. “Great! Seven am, you’ll be let out of your cell early to help Harry out with breakfast service and then later on lunch and dinner.”

Wait, what?

“What?” he blinked.

But she only said, “Bye, Eggsy!” And then was heading away from him.

“What the fuck just happened?” he asked himself, staring at her swinging blonde ponytail. And then seconds later, “Oh, fuck!” when he remembered he was late for group.

He slid into his chair in record time, receiving only a grin from Johnnie for his troubles, but at least no reprimand.

“Good afternoon, everyone,” Johnnie greeted. “Like always, let us take a moment to reflect on the previous week and think about the stories we’d like to share, not with our fellow inmates, but with the part of ourselves that generates change in our lives. What is it that you need to change? How has that manifested in your thoughts and actions in the last week? How have you striven to make such change? What must you--”

The door suddenly opened, and an unusual silence fell upon the group from the unwelcome interruption. Heads snapped towards the intruder, Eggsy’s included, which was when he found Rupert McTavern making his way to the circle.

“Rupert,” Johnnie said with warm reprimand. Ease of familiarity was present in his voice as well as paternal rebuke. “This isn’t your group.”

McTavern pulled a chair from the sidelines and gestured to the two inmates opposite Eggsy to make space for him. He made himself comfortable, crossing one leg over the other and folding his hands in his lap. His back was straight, he had a pair of glasses on and a long-sleeved cashmere jumper, all in all looking as much a counselor as Johnnie did rather than the fierce inmate Eggsy remembered from the weights room.

“I found myself missing the wisdom of your counsel,” he said in the same calm baritone that he used to tell off the three men in the gym. “And Stephen has grown tiresome. He still has much to learn.” Then he cracked a tiny, daring smile, which Johnnie matched just as well.

“Well, then, Rupert, why don’t we start with you?” he said.

“Of course,” McTavern allowed gallantly with a nod of his head. He took a moment to think of what to say because he looked into the distance, behind Eggsy’s head, with such intent that Eggsy was half tempted to look behind him and see what he was seeing.

“My frustration grows,” he admitted, and though there was always silence when anyone was speaking--respect for others, Johnnie said--when McTavern spoke, they were all captivated by the smoothness of his voice, by curiosity for his words. They all knew who he was and none of the cons in this group, it seemed, had had the opportunity for such intimate conversation with him. “I have never been one for sentimentality and probably never will be, but when I am forced to endure its presence and its brother, stupidity, I find myself cursing these walls that hold us. Respect, you teach, respect for others, respect for their boundaries, but in the past few weeks, it has become a difficult endeavour for me. I feel the need to push, to overstep those boundaries to relieve my frustration.

“But then again, such sentimentality had also brought about revelations, and from revelations, interest. I think the next few years are going to be quite interesting.”

Johnnie stared at McTavern carefully while the other sat smugly, and Eggsy knew why: even though McTavern had delivered such a profound statement with such musical words spoken in a captivating tone, he had divulged absolutely nothing. Indeed, all the other men were staring at him in utter confusion even when they clapped hesitantly.

“Well,” Johnnie finally said, stilted and just a little bit wrongfooted. “Thank you, Rupert.”

Then he turned to Eggsy and said in a tone that tried to gather all its bearings, “This is your third session here, Eggsy. Maybe this time you’d like to say something?” And Eggsy, still staring at McTavern, found his gaze met by interested hazel eyes.

“Uh,” he started intelligently, and, before he could lose his nerve, blurted, “There was a donation that came in last Tuesday fer the gym.” And he could have imagined it, it was so brief, but he was sure McTavern’s lips twitched in a grin. “A set of parallel bars--you know, fer men’s gymnastics. And i just… I mean, I’m a nobody ‘ere, a chav caught up wiv the wrong people fer the same crime at least half the prison population are charged wiv. It was probably coincidence, you get me? But I kinda--uh… this is gonna sound real stupid…”

“No one here will judge you, Eggsy” Johnnie assured.

“Yeah, I…” Eggsy bit his lip. “I used to do gymnastics when I was a kid. My coach kept tellin’ me that one day I was gonna be in the Olympics. I was good at it; I liked it. So when I saw those bars, I jus’ felt like those bars were fer me, you know? Like they was brought ‘ere fer me, not by some anonymous donor, but by someone who knew me and was lookin’ out fer me, you know? And yeah. Maybe… maybe I feel a little relieved that maybe I ain’t alone.”

He received the usual soft applause for that, as most stories did, but Eggsy didn’t quite pay the rest of them any mind.

If he imagined the smile earlier, he was sure now that he wasn’t imagining the softening of McTavern’s gaze, and with it, maybe his rapidly thudding heart settled with each breath he took.

Chapter Text

Promptly at seven am on a dreary Friday morning, his cell door beeped and swung open as Officer Morton had said it would, but he’d already been awake for a good two hours by then. His mind had woken at a time out of the ordinary, abuzz with wonder and worry in equal measures because while he may have constructed this visual of Harry Hart in his mind--that he was compassionate and protective and drop-fucking-dead gorgeous--he still knew the stories they told around the prison and the tale of his treason.

Harry Hart wasn’t a good man. Of that at least, Eggsy was sure.

Mentally, as he rose from his bed, he cursed Officer Morton for having put him in this situation without relevant information and preparation. He grabbed a decent enough shirt and shrugged it on, straightening it as best as he could and maybe dawdling just a little bit when he caught his reflection in the window. He had bags under his eyes and a sort of gauntness in his cheeks--sleep often took a long time in coming especially when he’d entertained before lockdown--but at least his shirt hid whatever else marks that were left behind by overly enthusiastic clients.

He shook his head and made his way to the kitchen.

Unlike when he and Hugo worked with just three other dishwashers, this time it was filled to the brim with inmates cooking and chopping and chatting at every possible work surface and about ten different prison guards watching them. There were six giant pots sitting by the stoves, waiting to be filled with the meal for today and various pots and pans cluttered around them.

In the middle of all the chaos, he saw a man standing tall with his back turned to Eggsy, gesticulating wildly to a younger inmate. He knew it was Hart simply by the way he held himself, with the same poise and dignity James, Alastair and McTavern held themselves, but the chef’s jacket was a nice touch where everyone else was simply wearing aprons over their clothes.

Not blonde was the first thing he noticed about Hart, and then that he was leaner than he estimated, but his broad shoulders that tapered down into a slim waist professed a certain power behind them and sent a hint of tremble running through Eggsy’s veins.

The young boy aside, the other inmates didn’t seem overly afraid to be in the same vicinity as him. Whether it was because Hart wasn’t as scary as he sounded or because they were simply used to being around him, Eggsy wasn’t sure, but he decided that he shouldn’t either. He took a step towards Hart before his courage could run out.

“... not a large dice, not a medium dice, I wanted them small. Small. As tiny as you can possibly make them, is that such a difficult concept?” Hart snapped at the terrified looking boy, holding two different sizes of chopped carrots up to his face.

“N--no, sir. Sorry, sir,” he answered.

“You’ve been here two weeks, Pegler. I taught you myself! Why are we even discussing this?”

“I… I’m not--I’m sorry, sir,” he repeated meekly, so Harry blew out a large sigh.

“Small dice, Pegler,” he repeated firmly, shaking the ideal carrot size at him and then pressing it into his hand.

“Yes, sir!” the boy squeaked and quickly scarpered off. Hart put his hands on his hips as he watched him go and sighed once more.

To one of the nearby inmates, he said dryly, “How did he think we were going to make decent mirepoix with large diced carrots?” The inmate chuckled and shrugged like he was sharing an inside joke with Hart, which was an interesting reaction because if he was comfortable enough to do so, then maybe Hart wasn’t quite the monster all the stories made him out to be.

Eggsy decided to go for it.

“Mornin’, uh. Mr. Hart? Officer Morton sent me ‘ere, says you needed another ‘and t’ ‘elp?”

Three things happened all at once:

Hart abruptly whirled around to face him with astonishment evident on his face and a startled “Eggsy!” falling from his mouth.

He threw out a hand to balance himself as he turned, inadvertently swiping a pre-heating pan off a nearby stove, sending it clattering noisily to the floor and burning his hand in the process (“Bollocks!” he cursed and brought his fingers to his mouth.).

And lastly, Eggsy was struck with sudden and startling familiarity at the face of the man before him which was not harsh at all like he had imagined, but older than Craig’s and softer with more lines that only made him look more distinguished.

Eggsy’s nervousness and fear were quickly forgotten as he tilted his head and stared at Hart whose brown, brown eyes were still wide with alarm, whose fingers were still sucked into his mouth, and whose face was so fucking familiar that there was an almost desperate need in Eggsy to wrack his brains to find the memory that explained why that was, like searching his mind for a word that hung onto the tip of his tongue.

“Do I know you?” he asked with a confused frown.

“I, uh,” Hart looked around into the silence and stillness of the kitchen, nearly frantic as if he was looking for an escape route, and as if he found none, he turned back to Eggsy. “Why are you here?”

“Officer Morton sent me. I thought you asked fer another ‘and round ‘ere?” Hart scowled and narrowed his eyes, and although Eggsy should have feared him, he was still trying to place his face.

“Johnson went an’ broke ‘is wrist, boss,” the same man from earlier interjected. Hart spared him a glance, and then Eggsy.

“Right,” he finally agreed. “Right, yes. Hank, you can teach him what he needs to do; have him chop up the scallions or something.” And then almost to himself, he muttered, “I need to find Merlin.”

Hank answered with a, “You got it, boss,” but Hart had already sidled past Eggsy and was halfway to the exit by then.

Eggsy blinked and turned to Hank who was frowning as he watched Hart’s retreating figure. “Is that… normal?” he asked, but by the way everyone was staring at the swinging door, the guards included, he knew before Hank shook his head that it wasn’t.

“‘Adn’t ever seen the boss as shook up as that, an’ it takes a lot to surprise ‘im,” Hank told Eggsy, but mostly told himself. After a second’s more consideration, however, he shook his head clear and then called to the rest of the kitchen. “Right. Show’s over, men. Back to work or else we ain’t gettin’ breakfast done. You,” he told Eggsy then led him to a workstation and handed him a knife and a large pile of scallions. “Clean ‘em off and chop them down into tiny bits, a millimeter long, no more.” Eggsy nodded and set to work without another word.

Within the next hour, he slowly reduced the pile of stalks into a mountain of scallion bits. The trickiest part was cleaning them off, but fortunately, they were to be added last, so he had enough time to work through them steadily.

Hart had returned halfway through the hour to check that the savory rice porridge was simmering properly. He tasted and corrected the flavor before instructing some of the men to add certain ingredients at certain intervals.

At a quarter to eight, the kitchen was nearly empty save for the six men stirring the vats, Hank overseeing them, a few other men cleaning up the workstations, Hart tasting and correcting the food, and Eggsy still working through the vegetables.

Hart came over to him. “You aren’t done yet?” he asked even though it should have been immediately obvious. There was about a quarter pile left, but all were washed and cleaned, so it was only a matter of chopping them up.

“Jus’ a bit more,” Eggsy answered without looking at him. He heard Hart let out a quiet sigh and then took half of Eggsy’s pile and a knife. He lined the bases up with the blade, carefully sliced the roots off and pushed them away, then began chopping rapidly.

The repetitive tap tap tap tap of the knife on the chopping board was entrancing, and Eggsy found himself watching Hart demolish the rest of his task in half the time it would have taken Eggsy. With only the stalks in Eggsy’s hand remaining, Hart carefully extracted them from him and chopped them up as well.

When he was done, he looked into Eggsy’s face and said not unkindly, “You can go now. We’ll finish up here.”

Eggsy swallowed down the questions in his mind he didn’t quite understand and left without backward glance.

……………

Eggsy dragged his hands down Charlie’s back, digging his oil-slick fingers in between the sinews of muscle and earning himself a dozen and a half groans of pleasure from the other boy. At the small of his back, he dug his thumbs in hard, moving them in small circles, and made Charlie curse into the pillow his face was buried in. When he slid back up, pushing the heel of his hand into the expanse of skin, Charlie tilted his hips just the slightest bit upward so that Eggsy’s spent cock slipped between the cheeks of his arse. Picking up on the hint, Eggsy rocked his own hips to slide up and down in the warm valley while his hands continued to ease out the tension in Charlie’s back and shoulders.

“God,” the taller boy groaned, falling loose to Eggsy’s ministrations. “This is probably the one thing I’m going to miss in here when father finally sorts out my case.”

“And when’s that?” Eggsy asked, half torn between excitement and hesitance at the thought of Charlie leaving. On the one hand, it meant one less customer to pay attention to--and an exceptionally fussy customer at that. Christ, making Charlie happy was work--but on the other hand, Charlie was a great lay and easy on the eyes. Plus, Dean allowed him to take up a lot of Eggsy’s free time, meaning less customers over all.

“A month from now,” Charlie answered through a groan. “Ugh, there. No, lower. There.” Eggsy dug an elbow into the area specified, and once more received a sound of appreciation. Absently, he mused, “Maybe I should ask Uncle Chester to grant you parole so I can keep you on call at home.”

“I ain’t your sex slave, Charlie, and I ain’t ever gonna be,” Eggsy growled. He dug his elbow into his back viciously in warning, making Charlie buck beneath him.

“Ow, fuck. Bitch!” Charlie gasped, trying to roll over, but Eggsy held him down and quickly kissed his neck in apology, soothing the ache he created with his hands. He continued to slide his cock between Charlie’s arse and when Charlie calmed, though he still grumbled curses under his breath, Eggsy resumed his massage.

“You and I both know why I’m here,” he told Charlie.

Charlie’s unenthusiastic response was, “He’s not very subtle, is he? Though if he expects me to join his pathetic little group, he’s sadly mistaken.” Eggsy didn’t have a lot to say to that because elaborating on it would mean wising up Charlie to Dean’s ambitions and possibly supporting him in his quest against the Kingsmen. He'll let Dean handle his own damn negotiations.

“Hm,” he hummed instead. Charlie wriggled around until he was facing up and their cocks were lined up against each other’s. Eggsy dragged his slick hands down between Charlie’s pecs and over his abs, stopping just above the coarse thatch of hair between his legs. Then he rocked himself against the hardness within.

“Mmm, this fer me?” he asked coyly, once more playing the part expect of him.

“Show me you want it,” Charlie ordered, his eyes sliding half shut. Eggsy didn’t hesitate. He bent over to kiss Charlie and subtly reach for the condoms and lube on the side table. He rolled one of the former onto him and slathered the latter on afterwards. Then he lifted himself up and sunk down, down, down onto his length, moaning all the while, his hole still loose and wet from their earlier fuck.

“Christ, look at you,” Charlie murmured appreciatively. He stroked a hand down Eggsy’s chest, then gripped his hips with both hands. “Come on,” he urged. “Ride me. You know how I like it.” Eggsy bit his lip and lifted his arms up, linking his fingers behind his neck, then circled his hips, grinding himself down onto the other boy and earning moans for his efforts and the visual he created.

It was sensual, nearly lazy the way Eggsy got him off that second time, pleasurable even though he didn’t get more than halfway hard. And afterwards, if Charlie spent half an hour kissing him just as sensually, Eggsy said nothing about it, only gathered up his clothes and took his leave before lockdown.

Chapter Text

No, Eggsy,” Harry said with a heaved sigh. He gently but pointedly took the wooden spoon out of his hand and nudged him over with his side. Eggsy tried to suppress a grin but since Harry wasn’t looking at him anyway, he didn’t know why he bothered. “You don’t stir scrambled eggs like you’re mixing up a bad batch of martinis,” he scolded. “That makes your curds small and tough. If you want light and fluffy curds, you simply have to drag your spoon gently through them, like so.” He demonstrated with all due seriousness, and Eggsy was half tempted to ask a dumb question, just to throw him off kilter.

A dumb question like, “But what if someone likes tough eggs?”

Harry turned to him and told him with a small grin, “As a matter of fact, I happen to have recently grown terribly fond of tough eggs--quite against my will, may I add.” The pointed tone made Eggsy snicker. “Unfortunately not to consume, though. More to chuck at Merlin and watch his face purple in annoyance.” This time, Eggsy laughed out loud.

In the two weeks Eggsy had been working for Harry, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, he learned approximately three things for sure about the man:

One, he didn’t actually like cooking. Now don’t get him wrong: Harry was good at cooking, and the prison’s overall nutrition had only improved from the improvement of the quality and substance of food that came out of the kitchens (which wasn’t saying a lot, really, but it still counted) when Harry took over it. Inmates were far more content and less hungry. Moreover, it had become an efficient, cost-effective cost center for the prison, surpassed only by the library, of which Merlin was in charge. But if the way Harry let Hank take over the reigns most of the time and instead hovered at Eggsy’s shoulder, showing him the proper ways to cut a batonnet and a julienne and to prepare the five mother sauces--how he looked (lit up with satisfaction and indulgence) when he showed Eggsy--was any indication, Eggsy figured he was far more partial to teaching others to cook than to actually cooking.

Two, Harry was secretly a little shit to everyone and not-so-secretly to Merlin, James, and Alastair. When James had started telling Eggsy about all the pranks he’d pulled over the years from back when they were all still in the Special Forces up until three months ago when Chester had last visited the prison, Eggsy had laughed and called bullshit. One week later, he had to reconsider after the incident involving half a head of cabbage, Officer Spencer, and, oddly enough, a riding crop (apparently from the donated equestrian equipment hidden away in storage). The fact that Harry kept a straight face when he told the howling kitchen crew, “Gentlemen, it is unbecoming of staff under my employ to display such crass amusement towards our hardworking officers. Should I find who harassed the good officer, let it be known that you will come under swift retribution,” convinced Eggsy to think he had nothing to do with it, and then he winked at Eggsy and ruined it all. From then on, Eggsy was wise to his odd sense of humor.

And three and most importantly: for some unfathomable reason, Harry seemed to actually like hanging out with him.

It honestly baffled him that Harry Hart--an ex-captain in the Special Forces, murderer of the Lord Chancellor, the most notorious inmate of Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, the very definition of a gentleman, and an incredible person all around--wanted to spend time with him--that all four of the Kingsmen did because in the grand scheme of things, Eggsy was a nobody, wasn’t he?

When Harry’s attention turned away from Eggsy, the boy stole back the spoon and shoved him out of the way with a large push. He laughed when Harry stumbled aside and then declared, “Well, I’m sure Percy and Lance wouldn’t turn down me eggs, no matter ‘ow tough they get.”

“That’s because they spoil you, and you milk it for all its worth, you little brat,” Harry shot back snootily and flicked his ear. He danced out of reach with a laugh before Eggsy could retaliate with anything more than a spoken “prick” and ambled away to grab the plates the eggs would be transferred onto.

Eggsy took one look at his hands when he returned, noticed the extra plate, and turned back to his cooking, saying in a carefully even voice, “I’ve me own group to eat wiv, guv.”

Harry answered in an equally neutral tone, “Yes, and you still won’t tell us why you won’t disassociate yourself from them and accept our invitation when clearly they don’t value you as much as we do.”

And oh. Those were beautiful words to hear. Eggsy’s heart may have melted a little bit, but as much as he wanted to, as desperate as he was, he couldn’t.

So as always, he lied.

“Yeah, but they’re me family, I told you. Known ‘em most o’ me life,” he said. “I ain’t gonna ditch ‘em just coz I got new friends to ‘ang wiv.”

“And maybe one day, I’ll believe that,” was the only thing Harry said before he took the spoon and pan from him and transferred the eggs onto the five plates. He always prepared five even when Eggsy never joined them in Alastair’s classroom where they always took their meals. He added the sausages, tomatoes, and hash that he prepared earlier to the same plates, and when he was done, Eggsy took the last plate and handed it to Hank, as he always did.

“‘Ere you go, bruv,” he offered sweetly, ignoring Harry’s baleful look and Hank’s mirthful one.

“Thanks, kid,” Hank said with a wink.

Harry sighed behind him, and said, “Fine, but I refuse to take the blame for the misfortune that is your scrambled eggs.”

“Oi!” Eggsy laughed and shoved at him. “Screw you, my eggs are divine.”

Harry’s eyes suddenly twinkled with laughter when he teased, “I think I’ll reserve judgement until I’ve had the chance to sample them.”

And the thing was. The thing was this wasn’t the first time Eggsy had noticed that about Harry: the way he would say the most innocent of things in the most innocent of ways but somehow make them mean something different altogether. The slyest hints and the almost imperceptible innuendos in nothing but the simplest of words. Combined with all the casual little touches and all the attention he was giving Eggsy, it was maddening was what it was, and Eggsy must be imagining it because there was really no way a man like Harry Hart would want Eggsy.

…………….

“Oi, Muggsy,” Dean said as he climbed into the bench next to Poodle at lunch. Immediately, Eggsy knew what he wanted, and he fought between the urge to sigh in defeat and scowl in anger.

“Wot?” he asked churlishly. It was bad enough he was forced to look at Dean’s ugly mug while eating when he could be looking at Harry’s instead, then Dean had to go and make it even worse by talking business, too. His appetite already lost, he set his fork down and pushed his tray away.

Pittie quickly asked, “You gonna finish that?” So Eggsy pushed his tray towards him.

Dean, thankfully taking no offense to his tone, answered just before he tucked into his meal, “I got someone fer you ta meet after yer done with them dishes.”

This time, Eggsy did frown. “Can’t. I got class remember?”

His stepfather scowled at him. “Then skip it. I don’t fuckin’ care.”

“I can’t skip it. It’s a Kingsman class; I ain’t gettin’ in trouble wiv ‘em,” Eggsy tried again, looking to Poodle for support. Of all Dean’s men, he was the one most afraid of the Kingsmen (because he was a humongous tub of lard that wouldn’t be able to protect himself against them and they all knew it, but Eggsy didn’t dare say that out loud), and as Dean’s best mate, he’d best be able to sway Dean’s mind.

Poodle only grinned a horrible little thing at him while Dean sneered, “Let’s not play games, boy. I don’t know ‘ow stupid you think I am--” Eggsy did not answer that. “--But I ain’t ‘alf as stupid as that. Everyone knows them Kingsmen wouldn’t touch an ‘air on yer pretty little ‘ead, them acting like yer fuckin’ daddies and all. Least until they convince you ter put out, that is, then they’d drop you like a sack o’ potatoes.”

Shut up,” Eggsy growled, his fists clenched on the tabletop where they lay. Instead of finding offense in that, Dean only grinned wide.

“Touched a nerve, did I?” he asked with glee clear in every word. “Wot? Didja think posh tossers like that would look twice at you if it weren’t ter ‘ave a go at yer arse?” He guffawed loud and the rest of his men joined him. “They’re men, Muggsy, just like you an’ I are, like every one ‘a these scumbags in ‘ere are, and they got unfulfilled needs jus’ like you an’ I do. You jus’ ‘appen to be the best option in ‘ere.”

“They’ve never asked,” Eggsy shot back. “Not once. They don’t want that from me.”

“Course they wouldn’t ask!” Dean agreed. “They’s proper gents, yeah? Repressed an’ all that shit. Ain’t proper to ask fer a fuck out an’ out. Men like that, they do it the long way. They pretend ter woo you, dance around the question. Imply. Hint.” The image of Harry’s twinkling, teasing eyes came to mind. “They nudge you in the right direction till you make an offer, and then they take wot they want. And when they’s done wiv you? Well, let’s just say you ain’t the marryin’ type, ey, boys?” Once more, they all laugh, and Eggsy’s blood boiled beneath his skin.

Before he could retort, Dean continued, “Tha’s what ‘Esketh’s got me for, yeah? ‘E’s a proper gent, an’ ‘e wouldn’t ‘ave asked neiver. And if I ‘adn’t been careful in keepin’ yer... talents out o’ them Kingsmen’s sight, they’d prob’ly ask me fer you too.”

“Yer wrong,” Eggsy insisted. “They ‘aven’t ever implied, ‘aven’t hinted.” But he knew it was a lie because just this morning, Harry had.

“Aww, look at ‘im, boys,” Dean told his crew with glee-filled mockery. “‘E thinks ‘e’s somethin’ special to ‘em.” Eggsy fumed while they laughed on command, fucking suck ups that they were. Then Dean leaned forward to say in a low, serious voice, “The only thing yer good fer, boy, is your pretty pink mouth and that tight little arse o’ yers, an’ everyone in ‘ere knows it.” Then he leaned back in self satisfaction as the sludge of dread creeped into Eggsy’s stomach.

“Why don’t you go find out fer yerself,” he dared. “Go on, make ‘em an offer. I guarantee you they’ll bite, an’ afterwards you can come cryin’ back to me so’s I can tell you I told you so.” He tipped his chin up to gesture to the door. “Go on. I’ll even let you skip this meetin’ I ‘ad planned.”

Eggsy stood abruptly, his head tilted up in defiance. “Yer wrong,” he repeated. “I know yer wrong and I’m gonna prove it to you.” Dean only chuckled, so Eggsy whirled around and stomped away.

Dean was wrong. He was.

Even though Eggsy had felt them, those tiny little hints at flirting, they were so subtle that he might simply have been projecting his own desires towards Harry because he did want Harry. That was a no brainer. Harry was gorgeous and intelligent, charismatic and funny. He was a kind man who showed genuine interest in helping Eggsy survive this godforsaken place. Who wouldn’t want Harry Hart?

He was going to prove Dean wrong, he decided as he turned the corner, heading towards Harry’s cell. He’d been there a few times for various reasons, none that ever gave Eggsy the wrong impression and certainly wasn’t going to start now. Harry would still be in Alastair’s classroom, but he’d be back right after lunch, so Eggsy was going to wait for him there. He’ll wait, and he’ll use every goddamned trick in the book to try to seduce him, and Harry will resist because he doesn’t want Eggsy for his body. He’ll want Eggsy for himself--as a friend, as a protege, as a lover even, anything but a quick fuck.

He slipped into the cell and sat on the Egyptian cotton sheets, waiting and planning and thinking (and praying to every deity of every religion that Dean was wrong, but Eggsy didn’t want to admit that even to himself), until half an hour later, he heard the characteristic taps of polished Oxfords in the hall outside.

He stood as Harry came in, blinking in surprise and uttering an, “Eggsy. What are you doing here?”

Eggsy dropped his gaze and affected a blush as he stepped closer to Harry. The trick was letting Harry think he was making the first move out of his own volition and not because he had picked up on any certain cues.

When he was close enough, he bit his lip and looked up through his eyelashes into Harry’s stunned face. “Harry,” he said in a voice that was tailored to be shy but determined. When Harry took half a step back, Eggsy’s mind sang with joy. He caught him with one hand on the lapel of his jacket and held him in place while he took a matching step forward. Harry didn’t resist.

“Harry,” he repeated in a deliberately quiet voice and bit his lip once more. Harry’s eyes dipped for a fraction of a second, only long enough to catalogue the action. “I’ve somethin’ to tell you.” Eggsy released his lapel and smoothed it down with his hand, following the action with his eyes, so he felt and saw more than he heard the hitched breath of the taller man. His next step forward brought him nearly flush up against Harry.

“I know I ain’t the kind of guy yer prob’ly used to,” he admitted as he drew circles on Harry’s chest with his fingertips. “An’ I ‘ope you won’t take this the wrong way, but I really--” He glanced up once more and dropped his voice into a breathy whisper. “--really would like fer you--” He lifted himself up onto the balls of his feet to bring his mouth closer to Harry’s. “--to fuck me.”

He saw the instant Harry’s pupils blew wide. It was exactly the same moment Harry grabbed his hand tightly and exactly the same moment Eggsy’s heart plummeted to his feet.

Slowly, Harry drew Eggsy’s hand up to his mouth and pressed kisses to his fingertips. His other hand cupped Eggsy’s cheek and lifted him up a fraction of an inch higher on his toes, leaving him to rely on Harry for stability lest he stumble and fall.

“Are you sure?” he asked, his breath washing over Eggsy’s lips.

No, Eggsy thought.

“Yes,” he said. And when Harry dipped his head and kissed his mouth, Eggsy’s eyes fell shut to hold his despair at bay.

Fuck Dean, he thought once more, as he did everyday, for ruining this for him. He could have lived a happy life never having this if it meant he could believe that the Kingsmen wanted him for him, even if it meant he’d be ignorant to their true intentions, even if it meant they were only pretending. He would have taken it for the farce that it was. But Dean had ruined it.

As Harry pressed closer, holding Eggsy against him by the back of his neck and the base of his spine, Eggsy came to a decision: he’d give them what they wanted and take what he did for as long as he could. He’d be perfect for them in every way so that they’d keep him for as long as possible. And when they didn’t anymore? Well… Well then he’d go.

He lifted his arms and wrapped them around Harry’s neck, pulling him in like they weren’t already pressed as close as possible. Still lifted up on his toes, he fitted his hips up against Harry’s, finding an already hard cock hiding behind layers of clothes, and rocked minute little motions into him. When Harry moaned, Eggsy darted his tongue out and licked at Harry’s.

The other man groaned and bit down on it lightly, teasingly, as he walked Eggsy backwards. His calves hit the edge, and Eggsy took that as his cue to fall back on it, making sure to drag Harry down on top of him, both grunting when they hit the sheets. Then Harry pushed himself up onto his forearm and traced a line down Eggsy’s face with his fingertips. There was desire and passion written clearly on his own, Eggsy could see, and even though he shouldn’t because they were doing this for all the wrong reasons, Eggsy’s body thrummed for more of it.

“Hello,” he murmured, batting his eyelashes coyly and snapping his teeth at Harry’s fingers when they ghosted over his mouth. Harry’s smile was amused when he pulled his fingers back, but his eyes dripped with lust, so Eggsy wasn’t surprised when he felt the two fingers at his lips once more. He opened his mouth and darted a tongue out, licking invitingly at the digits, but when they didn’t move, he lifted his head and sucked them in instead.

Harry gasped a breath and then murmured in a low, velvety voice, “Oh, that is lovely.”

Encouraged, Eggsy shut his eyes and sucked on his fingers like it was a cock in his mouth. They held steady and let Eggsy work his magic on them, but Harry’s hips were far from such. He thrusted against Eggsy in aborted little movements like he wanted to do nothing more, but was holding himself back. Why though? There was no point--Eggsy would give him anything, so Eggsy worked his hands down and wrestled both their cocks out of their trousers all while Harry watched him fellate his digits.

“Lube?” he managed to ask around Harry’s fingers. Harry’s eyes crinkled in a smile.

“I’ll need my hand back,” he said gently, and when his fingers slid free, he stood and neared his desk with his cock jutting freely out of his trousers.

Briefly, Eggsy glanced at the door. It was shut, but that didn’t mean jack diddly when there was a huge window anyone could peer into. It wasn’t that he felt shy--God knew he was used to being fucked in windowed cells by now--but only that Harry seemed wholly unconcerned of his cock on display as he rummaged through his drawers and emerged triumphant with a half-used tube of KY Jelly.

Moments later, he was sliding back onto the bed and pushing Eggsy’s legs up to his chest. He leaned over and kissed the boy once more, filling the space around them with heat, but also tenderness.

“Eggsy,” he murmured.

“Yeah, Harry?”

“I would very, very much like to fuck you now,” the older man confessed. Heat spread through Eggsy’s belly and his heart thrummed even when the tips of his fingers grew cold and shook. It was an odd feeling to be conflicted like this, so Eggsy clenched his hands and ignored that little niggling part of him, instead indulging the the part he rarely felt: want.

“Yes, Harry,” he agreed in a breathy whisper. Harry slipped Eggsy’s jeans just below the swell of his arse, baring it, but nothing more. It was a little awkward and took some maneuvering, but between kissing him over his legs and blindly groping at his arse, Harry managed to slide one slick finger into him.

“Oh!” Eggsy gasped, muffled against Harry’s mouth. Harry pulled back and smiled a dark thing. He sat back and watched his finger slide in and out and around Eggsy’s hole, and though Eggsy could truthfully claim he was above and beyond experienced when it came to sex, he still blushed under the scrutiny.

When a second finger slid in beside the first, he let out a low whine.

“Lovely creature,” Harry praised as his fingers scissored open to stretch out the tight hole. His other hand gripped the meat of Eggsy’s arse tight and held him curled over himself to keep him bared to Harry’s eyes.

“Come on, Harry,” Eggsy urged when Harry’s pace didn’t falter and didn’t pick up speed. It was lazy, almost, the way he prepared Eggsy. Like he took enjoyment from this just as much as he would from fucking him.

“Patience, darling,” Harry admonished absently, and oh. The endearment caressed Eggsy’s skin and sent goosebumps up all over it.

Harry,” Eggsy pleaded.

“One more,” Harry promised and pushed a third slick finger in. Eggsy didn’t need it; he’d been fucked on less prep before, but he allowed it because Harry wanted it.

The three fingers twisted in him and spread apart, forcing whimpers of frustration out of him when they didn’t even tease at his prostate.

“Next time,” Harry said as though he could read Eggsy’s mind. “I’ll take you apart with just my fingers, Eggsy. You’ll come over and over again without having had the feel of my cock sliding into you. I’ll make you cry before I give it to you. But not now.”

“Harry, please,” Eggsy begged. “Please fuck me. Don’t tease.” The fingers slid out of his hole, leaving him frustratingly empty, but Harry once more leaned over him and Eggsy felt his cock nudging at the entrance.

“I won’t, darling, not now,” he agreed and pressed forward. And Jesus, he wasn’t even the biggest Eggsy’s ever had, but he felt infinitely better sliding into him than Eggsy’s best fuck for the mere reason that he was Harry. A long moan escaped him when Harry’s girth spread him open, and when he was fully seated inside, Harry smothered the rest of his moan with a kiss.

He moved slowly, merely grinding into Eggsy at first, circling his hips and pressing forward without pulling away. Eggsy could feel the fabric of his trousers and the zipper pressing against his arse, and somehow it only made it more pleasurable.

But then Harry was pulling out, only as far as his shaft ended and the head began, and then pushed back in at a maddeningly slow pace, but Eggsy didn’t ask for more. He only savored the feel of the rigid flesh pressing against the walls of his hole.

“You feel exquisite around my cock, darling,” Harry murmured as he thrust leisurely into Eggsy. “Absolutely unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.” Eggsy felt his cheeks heat at the praise and leaned into the hand that cupped his jaw to trace the redness with a thumb. “Pretty thing,” Harry continued to murmur as his hips picked up their pace.

He was sat at an angle conducive to a good prostate pounding, but he didn’t yet thrust deep enough to do so. The head of his cock teased at it, though, and Eggsy was growing frustrated, so on Harry’s next withdrawal, he clenched down hard, and Harry gasped a loud “Oh!” And when he thrust back in, it was vicious.

“Ah!” Eggsy yelped as stars exploded beneath his eyelids. His back arched up, but Harry pushed him back down into position.

“Impertinent,” he scolded, but the brimming at his eyes only told of pleasure.

“Tease,” Eggsy shot back and received another vicious thrust for his effort. And another. And another. And a whole plethora of them.

Harry’s face was flushed with passion and his eyes filled with delight while Eggsy unraveled beneath him with every thrust. Eggsy was being louder than he usually was--than he was at all because people who pay to fuck him don’t deserve his moans--but his worry for being overheard was halfhearted at best. His hands twisted in the bedsheets as Harry drove into him, and his thighs burned where Harry’s hands pressed bruises as they held him still.

“God, look at you,” Harry hissed, almost in awe. “Fucking gorgeous, darling.” The words seared into Eggsy’s skin; he felt like he was being branded, possessed by this man. “Come for me, darling,” Harry urged. “Let me have this. Let me have you.”

Yes!” Eggsy cried, and when Harry responded with another of those savage thrusts, Eggsy came crying out onto his chest.

It took a while after that, but slowly, the world started to filter back in, and Eggsy felt Harry pull himself out.

“Wait. You didn’t--” he tried to say. Didn’t you come? was what he couldn’t ask.

Harry gave him a warm smile and pressed a kiss to his head. “Of course I did, darling,” he assured. “Just from watching you come undone for me. You were magnificent.” Fingers traced Eggsy’s cheek, just below his eyes, and Eggsy pressed a kiss to whatever part of Harry’s hand he could reach. Harry murmured tenderly, “You were perfect for me, Eggsy. Like you were made exactly for this, for me.”

You were made to be fucked was what he meant, Eggsy knew, and once more, Eggsy became aware of the coldness of his fingertips. But he curled his hands into fists and hid them away, then turned his head to kiss the palm of Harry’s hand.

Chapter Text

Okay, so maybe in hindsight, hiding had been a little bit immature and generally more unhelpful than helpful in his situation, but at no point in time could Eggsy have honestly said that he regretted having done so.

After he'd pleaded off to clean himself up and promised Harry he'd see him at dinner prep, he then vanished into a random bathroom cubicle of House Block C for the next six hours until about ten seconds before lockdown wherein he had streaked across the compound like the devil himself was chasing him and into his cell just before the doors clicked shut.

The next day, as soon as he was let out for breakfast prep, he hid himself in another random cubicle, this time in the main building that housed the mess hall, and stayed there for the rest of the day, skipping all three meals and meal prep, both shifts for dish duty, and literature class.

He knew he was racking up infractions left and right by missing three consecutive shifts at his mandatory work, he knew he was drawing the attention of the Kingsmen to his absence by missing four of his voluntary kitchen duty, he knew he was digging himself into a hole by hiding from them and Dean and the guards, from Hugo even, but for twenty seven solid hours (apart from the occasional knocks on his cubicle door from random inmates and when he had to move to a different cubicle to avoid calling the guards’ attention to him), he had solitude and time to think. To sort through the mess that was his mind and the complete fuck up that was his life.

Dean was his biggest problem, of course, but Dean had always been his biggest problem. He’d learned to survive Dean’s tempers and whims and orders in nearly a decade under his tyranny; he knew what made Dean tick, what made him happy. As long as Eggsy fed the latter and avoided the former, he would be all right, and with his mum and Daisy at a good distance away, he could readily avoid their usual arguments.

It wasn’t Dean that was throwing him off, no.

It was James and Alastair who had treated him like the prodigal son, like he’d left them long ago and now that he’d returned, they showered him with care and attention to keep him from leaving once more. It hadn’t escaped him that despite what Hugo said about James enamouring himself to everyone, there was clearly a certain degree of extra effort spent on enamouring himself to Eggsy, from how he wormed himself and Alastair into Eggsy’s daily schedule, to the way he’d encourage Eggsy to indulge in gymnastics, and even how he pushed little bits of food and drink Eggsy’s way like he didn’t think Eggsy would notice. It was they who threw him off.

It was Merlin who had watched him make use of the pommel horse and parallel bars and thoroughly tore apart his routine when he finished. Who’d shooed away various inmates from gym equipment, regardless of the glares he’d inevitably receive, so that he could put Eggsy onto it and push him until each individual strand of muscle was quaking from effort. Who’d attended every one of Eggsy’s group counselling session with interesting little anecdotes about his life that told them absolutely nothing. Who’d listened to Eggsy’s carefully selected stories like he knew exactly what Eggsy was trying not to say and then said absolutely nothing about it afterwards. It was he who threw him off.

It was Harry who, after the initial shock at Eggsy’s presence, had treated him with great exception among all the kitchen staff much like one would an honored guest, who’d looked at him with fondness and just a little bit of amusement when he’d show him proper knife techniques and when they prepared together special meals for the Kingsmen, whose eyes were filled with tenderness whenever they were turned to Eggsy and he’d thought Eggsy wasn’t looking. Eggsy hadn’t forgotten that Harry was terribly familiar to him--his face a forgotten memory--but that had taken a back seat when Harry’s words had started to fill with affection, when his touches became a little more frequent, when his voice would drop a note or two at the times they stood a little too close to each other. It was he who threw him off.

It was that thought that he dwelled on in the evening after his and Harry’s encounter: that they knew him or they knew something about him because affection like that wasn’t formed in a month.

At least that was what he wanted to think because the alternative--the truth of it, really--was depressing to consider: that Harry’s face was familiar from his studies and nothing more, and that they liked him for the image he made on his knees.

He’d fucked up.

He’d fucked everything up so badly, and now he was going to lose the only good thing to ever have happened to him here in prison.

Why the fuck did he think it would be a good idea to sleep with Harry? Which, okay, was pretty fucking fantastic, but at the cost of losing them?

They were never yours, he had to remind himself, and fuck, that was it, wasn't it? Sex would end what they had, but then they had nothing to begin with. Hence, there was nothing to ruin anyway. Or, well, nothing real.

Jesus, how did his life turn out to be this much of a shitstorm?

So okay, he knew two things: one, he knew that they wanted him--not exactly for what he thought, but wanted him in one way or another all the same--and two, he wanted them too--not exactly in the way he they did him, but sex was just sex. He could give them that easily enough--he already did for everyone else, why not for the men that had actually done him some good, no matter that it was manufactured to inspire exactly this? In the grand scheme of things, giving himself to them in that way wasn't the hardest thing he'd ever have to do. And besides, he'd already resolved to do so anyway after the fucking magnificent disaster that was his and Harry's tryst.

And if he managed to endear himself to them and worm his way into their group? Maybe he stood a chance of keeping them for the rest of his sentence (and maybe even beyond).

He sighed and pressed his forehead to the cool tile of the cubicle wall. It had been quiet for a while now; it wasn't hard to deduce that it was because everyone was in the mess for dinner. His stomach growled loudly, but Eggsy was well experienced in ignoring the pangs of hunger. He simply shifted his seat on the toilet lid and sighed.

The door to the bathroom swung open quietly, but Eggsy didn't pay it any mind; he only readied an excuse in case they knocked. Inmates had been in and out of the bathroom all day; a quick word was all he needed to give to have them moving to other cubicles. However, there was no loud, brash talking, no belching, no dragging feet, only the clean, systematic taps of polished Oxfords against cheap tile, and Eggsy froze.

He slowly lifted himself off of the tiled wall and sat up straight, waiting for the inevitable confrontation that he'd been expecting since before lunchtime today. He still had nothing to say about it--a lot to do, but absolutely nothing to say--but the only thing that crossed the door was a plate filled to the edges sliding beneath the gap.

Eggsy stared at it for a long while, until a voice he didn't expect followed the plate's path beneath the door.

"It's not as good cold," Alastair told him gently.

Eggsy stared at it for a moment longer--mostly in confused disbelief--and then decided nothing would be had for letting food go to waste, so he picked it up and inhaled it in the ten point three seconds flat. For all that he could ignore the needs of his body, he was hungry.

Alastair never said one word while he did. He made no movement, no sound; it was like he wasn't there at all. But when Eggsy had finally finished, he spoke once more.

"Arthur's been in a right snit since yesterday evening. He's been terrorizing the entire facility looking for you. I believe the infirmary has been blessed with approximately three new residents since then, and the psych ward twelve."

"I--" Eggsy started to say, but Alastair, in a completely uncharacteristic move, spoke over him.

"James has been... redirecting his attention, though I'm not sure how long he can hold him off," he volunteered.

Eggsy glanced down at the plate in his hands.

"He won't tell us about it either," Alastair continued, almost conversationally, like he wasn't talking through a bathroom cubicle door, but that wasn't an unusual thing. Eggsy had no doubt Alastair could carry a conversation about nuclear weapons in a back alley with a prince and make him enjoy it.

There was silence between them for a long while. It was both pensive and comforting in equal measures, and Eggsy didn't quite know what to do about that until there was a sudden banging on the door and a loud "Oi! Open up in there!" that made Eggsy jolt in his seat.

Alastair ignored it and the succession of banging after that to continue speaking like they hadn't broken for a pause. "Can I take your plate?"

The gentle, non-judgmental tone suddenly shot through Eggsy like a bullet; Alastair was patronizing him and it grated against his nerves.

He jumped to his feet and violently threw the door open, the plate forgotten at the base of the toilet. On the other side of the portal, Alastair was watching him evaluatively, standing straight and tall, one hand in his pocket, and without a hint of surprise when the door suddenly flew open, and for a moment--for a very brief moment--Eggsy thought about slamming his mouth against Alastair’s and sucking his soul out that way. See if could ruffle his feathers then.

But then, in the same briefest moment, he realized he couldn’t.

“Why do you like me, Percival?” he demanded instead. Pleaded really, but Alastair was too polite to point that out. He only slowly reached into his inner coat pocket.

What he pulled out and held out to Eggsy made the boy blink.

With a small smile, he explained, “James hates it when I smoke.” When Eggsy didn’t take his offering, he heaved himself up over the edge of the sink and lit up a cigarette for himself. The whole visual he made--the utter disregard for his usual composure--left Eggsy wrong-footed and dumbstruck. Alastair continued as though he didn't notice, “He used to give me just as much shit about it as he does you, but I think at this point, he’s figured I’m a lost cause, whereas he thinks you’ve still got a chance. It’s why he’s hard on your case.”

They were going to get in so much trouble for smoking in here, but Alastair didn’t seem particularly concerned, and to be honest, Eggsy was more fascinated with his casual use of "shit" in that posh accent than worried about getting caught. The older man simply watched the smoke from his cigarette curl upwards from between his fingertips, seemingly collecting his thoughts, while Eggsy was still debating whether or not he wanted a stick, so once more there was silence between them.

“You’re a wonderful young man, Eggsy,” Alastair started with after a long drag, and because of that Eggsy figured this was going to be a painful conversation, so he took the pack from Alastair’s hands. The older man didn’t even think about holding out his lighter for Eggsy to help himself with.

But. There was going to be a ‘but.’

“And we’re nothing but fortunate for having met you.”

But. Here comes the ‘but.’

Alastair took another drag of his cigarette.

And said nothing.

“But...?” Eggsy prompted.

“But what?” Alastair asked, his face filled with such sincere innocence that it couldn’t possibly be real. Eggsy glared at him.

“Don’t fuckin’ bullshit me, Clayton,” he snapped. “You’ve been ‘ere fifteen years. In all that time, ’oo’ve you added t’ yer group?” It was rhetorical, but Eggsy answered it for him anyway. “No one. All four’v you‘ve stuck togevver in yer own little world fer the last fifteen years, and then I show up and wot? You’ve suddenly got yerself a new member in less than a month? And a fuckin’ little chav boy at that? Don’t you think I know I’ve got more ter prove to be a goddamned Kingsman or else you’d ‘ave added some o’ the other more qualified cons than me? So there must be anovver reason why you like me. Tell me.” Alastair only took another drag of his cigarette.

Eggsy took a deep breath and demanded very, very calmly, “Tell me why, Perce.”

Alastair sighed. He rested his forearms on his knees, hung his head between his shoulders, and stared at the floor. Again, he said nothing.

Eggsy snapped, “Alastair.”

“Eggsy…” Alastair answered, and there was such hesitation in his voice that Eggsy found that he couldn’t bear to hear it said.

He dropped his half-consumed cigarette on the floor and stomped on it, enjoying the way Alastair’s eyes widened.

Then Eggsy turned on his heel and walked out.

……………

Smoke spiralled up gently towards the drizzling grey sky from his fingertips where a cigarette dangled between his index and middle finger. He was reclined against the mostly empty football pitch bleachers, letting the few determined drops of rain from the bulging clouds splatter his face and his clothes. It wasn’t raining hard enough to convince him to find shelter just yet and with only a few people dawdling outside, he was reluctant to relinquish the solitude that perfectly complimented his moroseness.

It had been three days since his talk with Alastair. Since then, he’d quit meal prep, cleaned a whole building of toilets as punishment for missing dish duty, endured intense scrutiny from Hugo and shut down his questions, screwed two repeat customers, spent an entire afternoon in Charlie’s cell, and avoided every one of the Kingsmen.

They, at the very least, seemed to have taken a hint--Harry, in particular--and stayed away while Eggsy continued to sort through the mess that was his head. He still felt their eyes on him, for sure, but it would have been asking too much to expect less than that.

And to be honest, he didn’t want any less than that.

His mind was a mess, his emotions haywire, but to have their continued attention on him, their interest… it was a heady feeling.

The rain was starting to pick up now, and the few people who had been braving it started to head inside. Eggsy decided just to finish up his cigarette before he went in, but suddenly found himself subjected to the heavy weight of a gaze. He felt it on him more than he heard the sound of footsteps of its owner approaching, and so he knew it had to be one of them. He lifted his head and pried an eye open to find out which one, and when he did, he shut it again and said, "’Lo, Merlin."

"Lad," Merlin greeted back, but there was an unusual note of gravity to his voice that had Eggsy opening his eyes up once more. At a few steps below Eggsy, the other man held himself solid and firm as he looked over Eggsy's sprawled out figure, and while that wasn't unusual in and of itself, there was a line of tension in his shoulders and in the set of his mouth that was.

Eggsy sat up, confused and concerned in equal measures, so in a tone that attempted to hide both of that, he asked, "Wot's up?"

Merlin stared at him for a long moment after that, seemingly looking for something in his face, and Eggsy felt like he was being tested, being judged. Without knowing on which parameters, however, he affected casualness and mere curiosity instead of the thudding nervousness in his heart.

"Merlin?" he tried again because the silent stare was starting to freak him out, frankly.

"What are your intentions with Harry?" he finally asked.

Eggsy balked.

What?

"Wot?" he asked in incredulity. That was... That was probably the very last thing he'd expected Merlin to say because really. Harry was a fifty-three-year-old treasonous murderer, not a teenage virgin, and Merlin was decidedly not his father. "I don't--I… Wot?"

Merlin cut in harshly, "What do you intend to accomplish by sleeping with Arthur?"

Eggsy blinked, and the thudding nerves that had disappeared in his bewilderment returned. "’E told you?" Because that was the easier question even if it didn't really matter how Merlin found out, only that he did.

The man's already narrowed eyes flashed with a degree of annoyance, and Eggsy wanted to cower back and make his escape, except that he knew he wouldn't get far. "He didn't have to," he answered but didn't volunteer any more information. Eggsy felt a bit like a child being scolded by an adult, but more like a petty thief facing down a Mafia don. "Eggsy," he repeated in a voice that gave no indication of any true emotion, and made him feel the same as he did the second before the jury had declared him guilty and sentenced him to ten years in Belmarsh.

"I--I don't... don't ‘ave any--" he fucking stuttered because Merlin looked menacing in the best of days, but never in Eggsy’s general direction. "I jus’--"

"Seamus O'Brien."

Eggsy froze.

"Wot?" he asked once more, but where before, he felt incredulous, now his voice was naught but a breath of stunned air. His heart stopped as though a lance of ice had pierced it, almost literally because Melin’s stare became fucking lethal in response to his non-answer, and Eggsy knew that, like always, he was fucking this up. Badly. “Sea--Seamus?”

Merlin gave no response to his question and instead said, “Woodie McBride.”

“‘E’s--I don’t--” Eggsy stuttered. Merlin was still standing in the exact same spot, not a muscle moved, but Eggsy felt like he was advancing and looming over him. He inched back until the next step up pressed into the base of his spine and stopped him. Then there was nowhere else to go unless he actually up and ran away.

“Felix Castro,” Merlin continued, unperturbed by his retreat and uncaring of the horror that was surely showing on Eggsy’s face. “William Quinn,” he calmly added. “Jack Lloyd. Frank Thompson. Calvin Andrews.”

“Merlin, I--”

“Terry Brewer. Darrel Walsh. Andy Craig.” He tilted his chin up and looked at Eggsy down the length of his nose. The rain, pouring steadily now, followed the curves of his face and funnelled down his chin, but he paid it no mind, almost like it wasn’t there at all. “Charlie Hesketh.”

He knew. God, he fucking knew.

“These names weren’t randomly selected, were they, Eggsy?” Merlin asked, dangerously quiet. A chill shuddered down his spine, but Eggsy knew it wasn’t from the droplets soaking his skin. “I know for a fact that these men are very much looking to--how did Lloyd so eloquently put it?--’kick them tossers down a peg or two,’ which they can try all they want; we wouldn’t even care in the fucking least.”

Eggsy’s eyes slid shut and his head bowed as he murmured, “Merlin…”

The man’s gaze was heavy on him and another silence reigned supreme between them, and then carefully, firmly, he asked, “Are you being coerced?”

Eggsy’s head snapped up as his heart burst in a sudden onslaught of emotion: surprise at Merlin’s perception (though he really shouldn’t have been), relief at being understood, desperation to be saved, but mostly fear.

Fear that, somehow, Dean would know that Eggsy had grassed him up and ruined all his careful planning and that he would consequently harm Daisy and his mum. In here, the Kingsmen may be the inmates anyone would least want to cross, but they’ve been here for fifteen fucking years. Who did they have left to do their dirty work back outside?

“No!” he said quickly, “God, no! Ew. Fuckin’ rank, bruv. Thanks for the mental image.” He hid a flinch when Merlin’s face shuttered into blankness. Both arms crossed over the man’s chest, and though his sleeve of tattoos was covered by his soaking wet jumper, Eggsy decided that none of him looked any less intimidating.

He affected a look of immense guilt as he racked his brains to try to come up with a suitable explanation, but short of telling Merlin he had a power kink (which, he had no doubt, Merlin would not believe), there was no other reasonable explanation for him willingly fucking all those other men than his support for Dean’s rise to power, no shared characteristic that he could use as an excuse aside from the fact that they were all violently against the Kingsmen.

Fuck.

“It’s not like that. It’s just--Lemme--”

Let him what? Explain that he was being coerced by Dean who had made those careful selections, who had hidden them nearly well enough to escape Merlin’s notice, who had forced those men onto him and collected favors in return for Eggsy’s compliance, who did all that in his puerile need to be on top? Let him confess all that and hope the Kingsmen had enough pull in and out of prison to save him?

How could he do that when it was Daisy’s and his mum’s lives he was gambling with? And for what? In favor of staying in their good graces just so he could have a better life in here? Or at least, up until they binned him.

Rock and fucking hard place was what it was, but there clearly was no choice.

He’d choose his family over his own happiness any day.

He blew out a breath then stood and tipped his chin up defiantly. “Fine,” he spat feeling just slightly confident when he stood a head above Merlin at two steps up. Merlin’s eyebrow lifted. “Fine, lemme explain.” He dug into the anger he did not possess towards Merlin, but instead to Dean. He let it overcome him so that the words that next fell out his mouth were bathed in it.

"You think yer fucking ‘igh and mighty, struttin’ ‘round ‘ere like you own the place. Buncha princes amongst the peasants, you are, like you ain’t in ‘ere fer the same reason as the rest ov us. Fuck that. Even the names you call yerselves make you sound like fuckin’ pretentious arseholes. Kingsmen.”

The hazel eyes staring back at him steadily grew harder with each word he uttered, but Eggsy continued without pause because his mouth seemed to be running off all on it’s own.

“At least ‘Esketh stays outta the way in ‘is own cell most o’ the time; you pricks claim rights to wotever you find fancy in and receive special treatment jus’ coz you got all the guards in yer back pocket,” Eggsy sneered. “In or outta the wall, you rich snobs are all the same. Throwin’ about yer money an’ influence so’s you can stay on top ov the rest ov us. Well, it's time fer someone ‘oo really deserves to lead the poor sods like us to rule, in ‘ere, if not out there where you classist prigs ‘ave dominated us our entire lives, yeah?”

Oh God, what was he saying? Could he honestly let Merlin believe that he thought Dean was the better option?

Eggsy sneered at him, feigning bravery even in his own mind. “Dean sent me ‘ere t’ find out more ‘bout you, and you made it so fuckin’ easy.” He hoped the grin he shot Merlin was just the right kind of malicious he was aiming for. “Not as easy as Hart was, but you know.”

Merlin pulled himself up, as if drawing himself up for a fight. Eggsy’s grin faltered, but that was to be expected in the face of the venom dripping from his gaze.

And then Merlin spoke.

“We had no reason--no right to question what you did during your free time,” he told Eggsy. “You were a newcomer, in over his head, placed here by unfortunate circumstances. You didn’t belong in here, so we believed you were entitled to as much freedom as you could get. We wanted to give you that--we did give you that--so we didn’t ask, we didn’t look.

“And maybe that was our mistake,” he concluded. His voice was dangerously calm, and Eggsy felt like he needed to fall to his knees and ask for forgiveness. “It seems we’ve become dangerously sentimental at your presence. And while Arthur and Lancelot--and to a degree, Percival--may have become blinded by it, I shouldn’t have. I should have realized that your circumstances have come to dictate your actions just as much as your genes do, and that was my failure. I won't make that mistake again.”

Chapter Text

Eggsy watched Merlin turn and go with a numb sort of acceptance, a cold grasp clenched around his heart, sapping the energy from him.

It had to happen--he had to do it, but knowing that didn’t make it any less painful to witness.

When Merlin was out of sight with no hope of turning back, Eggsy sunk back down onto the bleachers, burying his face in his arms and heedless of the rain still pouring down around him. He was already soaked to the bone anyway; now, he was only hoping the rain would cool down the burning sensation in his throat and behind his eyes.

He was not going to fucking cry. He hadn't cried since the first time Dean had rented him out (and for it, he received a whack on the back of his head and, ironically, a snarled "act like a fuckin' man"), and he certainly wasn't going to do so now. Instead, he simply curled in on himself and locked that shit down.

Hugo, he thought. He still had Hugo, if no one else, and though he resolved to keep Hugo far, far away from this shitstorm even if his life depended on it, at the very least, he still had Hugo to talk to about shit that didn’t matter so that he didn’t have to think about shit that was this.

Well, until Hugo’s case was sorted out, Eggsy remembered. And fuck. Eggsy wasn't going to wish he loses it just so he could have a friend in here. That would be beyond selfish, and Eggsy could never look him in the face if he did lose.

He would just have to make do, wouldn't he? Maybe take up Hugo's offer of meeting his boys from House Block C that he hung out with when Eggsy wasn't around.

A ragged sigh escaped him as he considered his future from here on in.

Six weeks.

Six fucking weeks he'd been here, and already his life as falling arse over tit. How the fuck was he supposed to survive ten years?

He must have sat there well over an hour in his musings if his frozen arse and shivering muscles were any indication. The rain had yet to let up, but Eggsy would have gladly stayed there however many more hours long it took till lockdown if it meant he could avoid facing reality till then, but suddenly, from one moment to the next, he was being splattered by a torrential stream of rain drops and then he wasn't.

The quaking muscles in his body stilled at the implication, considering he could still hear the rain splattering everywhere else. The wind was still howling around him, and the lighting still flashing, but where he sat, the rain had stopped.

He felt another presence before him with the stopping of the rain, another weighted gaze, and he wanted to snap at whichever Kingsman it was. He was feeling shit enough as it was, why couldn’t they just fucking leave him alone?

“Eggsy,” came Harry’s honeyed voice. He could feel Harry crouch closer to him, but he dared not lift his head and find the man’s disappointed, hurt, or maybe even furious face looking back at him. None of those emotions could be found in his tone of voice, but Eggsy was sure it was just the rain masking it.

Until Harry murmured, “Eggsy, darling, come out of the rain, please,” then Eggsy determined there were no such emotions at all, rain notwithstanding.

The pleading note in his voice, the endearment so lovingly said, they struck Eggsy deep in the pits of his soul and squeezed his heart like a vice. A sob was riding on the back of his throat, but he willfully kept it down and said nothing. He curled in further on himself, wishing, praying that Harry would keep his hands to himself because Eggsy was sure the slightest touch would break him.

“Darling, please,” Harry continued. “You’ve been here a while. You’ll catch a cold.”

“Maybe I want to,” Eggsy ground out in feigned anger. His skin prickled where it was closest to Harry, rising into goosebumps as if it wanted to reach out and touch him. Eggsy shifted back.

“You don’t mean that, darling. Come inside where it’s warm,” Harry pleaded with such sincerity that Eggsy had to look up in incredulity.

"Din’t Merlin tell you wot I said?" he asked.

Harry grimaced, the barest downturn at the corners of his lips. "He did," was his answer, but before Eggsy could comment on it, he added, "And he also told me what he told you, and I think you deserve an explanation."

Eggsy frowned at him, mostly in confusion, but he did also try for indignant anger, half-hearted though it was. He did, after all, have appearances to keep up. "And wot makes you think I fuckin' want one?"

Harry's hand shifted on his knee, like he wanted to reach out to Eggsy but stopped himself just in time, and it took all of Eggsy’s will to keep from reaching back. The older man said, almost sadly, “Because you’ve been put in a situation you do not deserve to be in--that no one deserves to be in--and I want to--” He stopped, and then corrected himself, “No. I will help you correct that if you’ll let me explain.”

Eggsy bit his lip and hesitated in rebuffing him because while he doubted it, he wanted to believe Harry, wanted to believe that someone cared about him enough to help him, wanted to believe that someone actually could.

“Eggsy, please,” Harry repeated his plea once more, so the boy drew in a breath, nodded once, and answered, “Okay.”

Harry stood and held out a hand to Eggsy who ignored it and pushed himself to his feet on his own power, but if he was offended or hurt, it didn’t show. He led Eggsy out of the rain and around the side of the main building, towards the rear. They moved swiftly, but casually so as not to draw attention from the few people they encountered--guards, mainly, who didn’t pay them much mind (they were well within movable areas anyway) and a few inmates assigned to tasks in that area--until they discreetly entered one of the darkened classrooms.

Harry shut the door behind them, though he refrained from turning on the lights that may draw unwanted attention, and invited Eggsy to sit while he set the umbrella aside and shed his outer coat. Eggsy didn’t though because he had yet to decide if staying for long would be a good thing, so Harry didn’t either.

It was nearly awkward the way the stood facing each other in the darkness of the room and the rain-smothered sky, stiff and solid because otherwise, they’d sway into each other. Despite it all, Eggsy felt drawn to Harry like he was to no other; call it infatuation or mere lust or what have you because no true desire (or dare he say, love) could be borne in just three weeks, could it? But Eggsy craved his touch, the warmth of his words, the scent of cedar and tea that perpetually clung to him.

Eggsy crossed his arms over his chest. It was a defense, really, against whatever Harry had to say more than it was a sign of anger, but Harry didn't have to know that. "Yeah, okay, so you got me 'ere. Talk," he prompted.

The intensity in Harry’s eyes was superseded only by the determination in them and Eggsy felt like he should brace himself for the worst.

"You needn't be afraid," Harry told him with firm resolve filling up the space around them and stealing the breath right from Eggsy’s lungs so that his next exhale stuttered pathetically. Eggsy quickly hid it behind a derisive laugh that sounded as fake as it felt.

"Afraid ov ‘oo? Afraid ov you?" he demanded. With false bravado, he added, "I ain't afraid ov nothin', bruv. Don't you worry yer pretty little ‘ead."

But Harry only patiently allowed him to finish before clarifying in a measured tone, "Of Dean bringing harm to your mother and sister."

Eggsy stilled.

"Wot?" he asked in a voice that had been stolen of any bravado, any force, any emotion that wasn't astonishment and fear and maybe the tiniest bit of hope. "Why would I be… I ain’t fuckin’ afraid ov Dean," he denied, but he was. He very much was, and the expression on his face, he knew, confirmed exactly what Harry was thinking.

"You've been very brave, Eggsy," Harry continued. His hand twitched at his side, and he looked like he wanted to reach for Eggsy, but although his touch was something Eggsy needed, it was also something he didn't want right now, and Harry seemed to understand that. His words, however, which felt like a caress on his face, were a perfect compromise. He said, "Against Dean, against the misfortunes of your circumstances... against us, even if the threat of us harming you because of it only exists in your own mind. You've demonstrated such bravery, darling, and I couldn’t be prouder of you."

Eggsy's eyes slammed shut and his head turned away because if he had to look any more at Harry's face that displayed such fervent sincerity, he would lose it. He didn’t need Harry’s approval, didn’t need his acknowledgment because he didn’t do this for Harry; he did it for his family.

Goddammit, he was not going to cry.

The first touch of Harry's hand on his face made him flinch back, but he didn’t stop it, so Harry persevered. He cupped Eggsy's cheek and stroked the peak with his thumb, once and then twice. The tips of his fingers pressed lightly, so lightly, down the length of his neck, resting against the thudding pulse point there.

He was holding back, Eggsy could feel, and suddenly, he realized that he didn't want him to.

He wanted this: to be held, to be cared for, to not have worry about tomorrow and about his family, to just be. He needed this, desperately, fervently, like he needed his next breath.

And so he gave up, and he gave into it. He tilted his face into Harry's hand, giving him permission for more.

Harry drew in a sharp, reverent breath and, in the next moment, drew Eggsy toward him, pulling him into his chest and wrapping his arms around him even when Eggsy was still soaked from head to toe. He buried his face in Eggsy's equally wet hair as Eggsy did his chest and, for the longest moment, held him tight in silence. His arms were a solid cage around Eggsy, but the boy didn't feel caught; he felt safe, he felt cared for.

Loved.

The first sob that bubbled out straight from his chest caught him by surprise, and he quickly smothered it in Harry's chest.

"Shhh," Harry murmured, tightening his arms around him and decidedly not helping because that first sob was easily followed by a second.

Then a third.

Then an innumerable amount.

“Oh, my boy,” Harry whispered, gently rocking him to and fro, stroking his back, and pressing gentle kisses to his hair. “I have you, Eggsy, I have you.” Eggsy clenched his hands in Harry’s suit, clinging tight to him and desperately trying to subdue his gasping, pathetic sobs. Even now, Dean’s cruel reprimands echoed in his mind, warring with Harry’s tender reassurances, and so his hands curled even tighter into Harry’s lapels.

He vaguely felt Harry shuffling them to the edges of the room before guiding the both of them to the ground where Harry could pull him snug up into his side and curl around him, hiding Eggsy between a corner and his body. He felt sheltered from the world, from everything that could hurt him. Here on the cold, hard classroom floor of the infamous Prison Belmarsh, he felt warm and safe and free to release all the pent up pain he’d been hiding.

When he managed to get his sobs under control, he asked, “‘Ow--” A hiccup cut him off, and Jesus Christ.

Fucking pull yourself together, Unwin, he scolded himself mentally and then tried again in a mumble, “‘Ow’d’you know?” His face was still buried in Harry’s chest when he spoke, but the other man understood his half-unintelligible question anyway.

“It wasn’t difficult when we started to look,” Harry explained gently. His fingers absently stroked long lines through Eggsy's hair and down his back, and Eggsy couldn’t help but shiver in response. “Dean was careful about the people he chose to trust, careful to make sure we were busy when he needed you, careful to conduct his business in places we wouldn’t easily stumble upon. In any other circumstance, I would have been impressed. But we’re infinitely more skilled than he seems to think we are. We’d known since… well, after our--after us.”

Eggsy frowned and looked up at him, ignoring the ‘after us’ for now because they would come to that. “But ‘ow could you ‘ave known then? Merlin came to me just this afternoon asking me if I was bein’ forced. I told him I wasn’t, and ‘e believed me.”

"Merlin didn't ask because he didn't know. He asked because he did," Harry corrected. "He's very good at reading people, which is why he feels even worse that he didn't pick up on this right from the start. He's furious at himself--we all are. We should have seen it when you truly came under our care, but instead we willfully blinded ourselves to things that you didn't readily offer on the notion that it would preserve the freedom stripped almost completely from you." He drew a heavy breath and took one of Eggsy’s hands to press a kiss to it, an apology. "He shouldn’t have left you without clarifying what he meant, but Merlin is not the kind of person to offer reassurances when there are things to be done; after he received the confirmation he sought, he set about putting everything to rights. It was only when I found him talking to Roxanne that I discovered what had happened and came to find you. I'm sorry if he made you think he believed you."

Eggsy’s confused frown didn’t waver. "’E told me that my circumstances define my actions just as much as my genes do. Wot did ‘e mean by that?"

Harry paused for a moment, his lips pursed in thought, not in confusion, but with the definite look of someone trying to put to words something unpleasant.

Then he sighed. "What he meant was that we know you to be an honest, strong man who didn't let himself be pushed around by small minds--heredity would logically dictate you to be so--but also that your circumstances differ from... from those before you. Which is not to say we find fault in your actions, despite the negative in them, but that we shouldn't have relied on what we think you were like but also considered the situation in which you were placed in defining and treating you."

"Wot d'you mean 'eredity?" Because Harry could call him a dishonest pushover all he wanted and Eggsy knew it to be true, so he didn't dispute it. But Harry spoke like he knew Eggsy, and not just what he learned in the time they spent together, but from before all this.

To this, Harry looked troubled, and Eggsy quickly understood that this was what he was reluctant to discuss.

"Harry?" he prompted because Harry was chewing on his thoughts.

The older man sighed and bowed his head.

"When you first saw me, you asked me if you knew me," he said, and yes, Eggsy remembered that.

So he had seen Harry on the outside after all.

Harry lifted his head and cupped Eggsy's cheek once more. This time, when he stroked it with his thumb, it felt like he was trying to reassure himself more than Eggsy.

“It was because you had seen me when I came to tell your mother the news of your father’s death,” he admitted.

Eggsy sucked in a sharp breath when the memory suddenly flashed in his mind. He remembered that evening fairly well--it was hard not to being a few days before Christmas and all. His mother had let in a tall, well-dressed man whose face Eggsy didn’t recall until now. As if unlocked by a password, the faceless man turned into Harry offering his mum his condolences and quietly accepting her anger. When he had left, his mother broke down and hadn’t spoken for days.

Eggsy didn’t remember a lot of his father, but he did remember how their life before Dean had felt, and maybe that’s why it hurt to think about it now. “‘Ow?” he asked softly because his mum had never told him.

Guilt swam in Harry’s brown eyes. “He was a member of my squad, along with Merlin, Lancelot, and Percival--a few others, as well, but we were the ones on the mission where your father died. He and James went through basic together, actually. They were the best of friends.” And yeah, Eggsy could see how that explained why James acted so much like a father to him. “Galahad, we called him--a small joke considering he was the only one with actual proof of his ‘lack of purity,’ but I thought it fit him. Purity, after all, doesn’t only refer to one’s virginity.

“We were on an extremely high-stakes mission three months in the making. It was just about completed when…” There was actual pain evident on his face, and he shifted as if trying to move away. “When I missed something,” he admitted in a hushed voice, so filled with torment that Eggsy couldn’t help but press in closer.

Harry's hand squeezed his, but he continued to speak in that same tormented voice. “If it weren’t for his bravery, my mistake would have cost the lives of everyone present. Your father was a brave man. A good man.” He didn’t detail the specifics of the mission, and Eggsy didn’t ask because there was a self-depreciating smile on his face as he looked at Eggsy’s, caressed his cheek, and said, “And I’ve done him grave offense by dragging his son into my bed.”

It was a lot to think about, certainly, to learn that his father had died of his captain’s mistake, but that he had died protecting the people he loved, so it wasn’t for nothing. That it was technically Harry’s fault he and his mum fell into this mess with Dean in the first place, but…

But shit happened, didn’t it? If it wasn’t one mission, it was going to be the next; such was the perils of a military occupation. Nothing was to say that fate didn’t have this in store for them no matter what. And Harry was only human--surely he didn’t intend for Lee to die, surely he would have stopped it if he could. Eggsy could only imagine the guilt he’d been dragging behind him for the longest time.

There was a lot of thinking to be done on this, a lot more talking to be had, but right now, with each passing second, Harry looked more and more hunted and on the verge of pulling away from Eggsy completely. Eggsy needed to get on that, stat.

Decided, he tilted his face into Harry’s hand and answered, “As I recall, there weren't much draggin’ to be had.” And then cracked a cheeky little smile meant to reassure Harry. The older man’s lips twitched upwards for the briefest of seconds, so Eggsy counted that as a win.

That set aside for now, Harry continued to talk, and if his hands peppered the barest of touches all over Eggsy, neither of them pointed it out.

"It was pure chance the Percival happened on you your first day here, but as soon as you introduced yourself, he knew who you were. He told us immediately, of course, and none of us seemed to be able to keep away from you," he recounted. "At first, it was your connection to Lee that we craved, the memory of Lee that we could see in your eyes--" He stroked the skin just below Eggsy's right eye before trailing to his jaw. "--in the line of your jaw, in your shoulders and arms--" He touched each part as he said them, his voice falling to a reverent whisper. Eggsy's breath stuttered.

When Harry's hand lifted back up to his chin, tipping it up, he continued in that same hushed tone, "I took him away from you and failed to keep you out of this life. I owe you an immense debt, Eggsy, and in here, nothing I could do would ever repay it. I thought taking only what you offered us and seeking nothing more from you would help with that." Harry looked miserable. "I failed in that too."

"No," Eggsy said firmly, shutting that thought down, determined to wipe the expression off of Harry's face. "It wasn't your job to look after me. Yeah, dad died, and mum and I got caught up in Dean's shit. It sucks, and I wouldn't lie an' say I wouldn't change it if I could, but fact o’ the matter is, shit happens and life sucks and there's nothing we can do 'bout it but move on, yeah? You made a mistake, an' dad died fer it, but that don't mean yer obligated to fill 'is shoes. It was an accident; you din’t pull the trigger, so you owe me nothin.’" He squeezed Harry's hand and gave him the most reassuring smile he could muster. Then he tried for humor. "'Sides, I think Lancelot's doing enough fillin’ ‘is shoes fer all four ov you."

Harry gave a single reluctant chuckle. "He has been quite the mother hen, hasn't he?"

"'E's worse than me mum, swear down," Eggsy rolled his eyes. "Can't even get a decent fag without 'im bein' all up in me business. I've 'ad to 'ide just to 'ave a cig."

"I recall he used to be 'all up in Lee's business' back then, too," Harry recounted, and Eggsy could hear the quotes implied around the wording Eggsy used. He snickered. "Those two would get into the worst fights over the most banal of things, I swear. It had once gotten so bad that I'd had them mop the pavement in front of our barracks." Eggsy laughed at that, the visual providing excellent humor, but with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, Harry then added, "In the rain." And Eggsy exploded.

His uproarious laughter, even muffled against Harry’s collar, filled the space around them. He clung to Harry once more, this time not in sadness but in mirth, and felt the shakes of the sympathetic laughter of the other man beneath his hands.

It was freeing, this was, and the tension, the melancholia of earlier seemed to dissipate, not completely, but enough that when his laughs had died down and he tipped his head back up to find Harry grinning down at him, he became very well aware of how close they were, of how his legs were slung over Harry’s, of how Harry’s arm encircled his waist and the other held Eggsy’s wrist to his chest.

Harry, it seemed, took notice of this too because his smile faded and slowly turned into a look of want.

When their lips met, it was an inevitable, magical thing.

Harry tugged Eggsy even closer, nearly onto his lap, with the arm around his waist and released his wrist to tilt his chin up for a better angle, while Eggsy pulled on Harry’s coat to bring their chests together and hold him there. Their teeth clicked, catching lips and tongues that dared come between, but even the tiny sparks of pain weren’t enough to dampen the desperation of their kiss.

Eggsy tried to mumble a needy “Harry” between their mouths, but Harry smothered it easily before it could come to fruition. His tongue found the insides of Eggsy’s teeth, swiping broad strokes and tangling with Eggsy’s when it rose to meet him. He grabbed Eggsy’s hips with both hands and hauled the boy onto his lap to straddle him, pinning him in place by bending his knees and pressing his thighs to Eggsy’s back.

Both of Eggsy’s hands sunk into Harry’s hair to clench at the curled strands and tilt his head as he wanted it. Harry complied beautifully, merely grasping at Eggsy’s hips and allowing the younger man to take his fill of him.

Their moans tangled in the air, filling it with heat and need until Eggsy found himself grinding down against Harry, both of them hard in their trousers, desperate for less between them.

Until Harry gently pried them apart.

His face was flushed, his glasses askew and his eyes beneath them dark and glassy. His hair was a veritable mess from Eggsy’s hands, and the boy flexed his fingers to entangle them even more. “Eggsy,” Harry said, so completely breathless that Eggsy had to kiss him once more. He allowed it, but only briefly. Then he pushed Eggsy back a fair distance so that they didn’t go cross eyed as they looked at each other. He lifted a hand to drag the backs of his fingers down Eggsy’s cheek in a tender, affectionate gesture.

“Bedding you was one of the best and worst things I’ve ever done in my life,” he confessed. Eggsy didn’t take offense, didn’t jump to conclusions just yet because Harry’s eyes were filled with such blatant adoration that it was humbling. “You would not believe the bollocking all three of them gave me when they found out,” he laughed, a little self-deprecatingly, so Eggsy pressed a kiss to the corner of his mouth and pressed their foreheads together. Harry’s hand came up to cup the back of his neck and hold him there. “I regret jumping into it without first having established this… thing between us,” he continued. “I regret that I didn’t take the time to properly woo you. I regret confusing and troubling you. But Eggsy.” He tugged the younger man back just far enough to look into his eyes. “I don’t regret sleeping with you.”

His thumb slid down the length of his throat as he said, “At first, my affinity for you was nothing more than repaying Lee for his sacrifice and dwelling in his memory, but--” He paused when his thumb found the button of Eggsy’s wet polo shirt and his fingers fiddled with it until it slipped through the hole. The second button quickly went the same way as the first but that was as far down as his shirt went. Harry’s eyes were caught on Eggsy’s bared collarbones as he spoke. “I believe it was after you poured oil down Lancelot’s hallway that I knew it had become something else entirely.”

Eggsy chuckled even while he tilted his head back, back, back when Harry leaned forward to press a kiss to said collarbones. “Figures it would take a prank for you to fall in love with me,” he teased as his eyes fell shut.

Harry’s lips were a whisper against his skin, but his words... his words were a brand. “Many have fallen for less, darling boy,” he murmured. “But I do believe you are right.”

To that Eggsy’s head snapped back up, his eyes wide as he searched Harry’s face for any sign of misunderstanding because… well, because Harry couldn’t have confessed to being in love with him, but when he found none, he was soon accosted with a sudden crushing sense of guilt. Guilt because he’d manipulated Harry into sleeping with him to prove a fucking point when, at that time, Harry had apparently been in fucking love with him. Jesus fuck.

Harry must have seen something, because his playful smile turned into a worried frown. “What’s wrong, darling?” he asked. His grip on Eggsy’s hip and neck tightened when the boy tried to shift away, but his frown also turned into self-admonition. “I… I didn’t mean--” He stumbled over his words. “I don’t expect any reciprocation, Eggsy, not if you don't want--If you want to keep this purely a platonic thing, then I--"

"I don't!" Eggsy cried out. Harry blinked at him, so Eggsy quickly clarified, "I mean. I mean, I do--reciprocate. I want to… more than this, but I--” He cut himself off with a frustrated growl. “Fuck, I'm screwing this up." He shut his eyes and took in a deep breath, mentally counting to ten to calm himself, and when he opened his eyes once more, he cupped Harry's jaw with both hands and said in a steady, sincere voice, "I ain’t quite sure wot it is I feel yet, Harry, but wot I do know is that this? Wotever it is, it ain’t anythin’ platonic.”

He ignored the hope swimming in Harry’s eyes and drew in a breath. “It’s just… It’s just… When we fucked, it wasn’t because I wanted you--I mean I did then and I do now, I know that now, but at the time, I did it ‘coz... ‘coz I was makin’ a point.”

“How so?” Harry asked, confused once more.

Eggsy picked at Harry’s clothes as he spoke, avoiding Harry’s eyes entirely. “Dean said you were only payin’ attention to me ‘coz you wanted ta fuck me. ‘E said once you did, you’d toss me aside like a sack o’ potatoes, so I told ‘im... I told ‘im I’d prove that you din’t wanna.”

Harry was silent after that, rigid beneath his fingertips, and when Eggsy looked up, he found Harry’s expression flitting rapidly between murderous rage and shocked realization. He worriedly pressed a hand to Harry’s face, prompting out of him a pained “And I did.” The older man blew out a breath of air and shut his eyes. His head fell back against the wall behind him, and the flesh beneath Eggsy’s hand trembled.

His reaction worried Eggsy because if he decided now that this was all a huge mistake, that this was all too complicated… “But it’s all right now, Harry, innit?” he asked maybe a little desperately. “We sorted it out, din’t we?”

“I am going to fucking kill him,” Harry mumbled under his breath, so quietly that if Eggsy hadn’t been sitting in his lap, he wouldn’t have heard it at all.

“Harry?” he asked, asking for clarification, for validation, for reassurance that it was all going to be okay.

When Harry finally opened his eyes, they were filled with calm determination. He cupped Eggsy’s cheek once more and said, “Darling, I’m so sorry.”

And no. No, it was Eggsy who should be saying that.

“Hush, let me finish,” Harry reprimanded just as he opened his mouth to say so. “I’m sorry I let my libido take over my common sense. I’m sorry my actions led you to think that bastard was right. But Eggsy, I promise you that that couldn’t be further from the truth. Not then, not now. I have no illusions that what we have would be free from strife and misunderstandings; I would not even assume that this would be everlasting, but darling, I promise you that I will never--even at the very end of our relationship--cast you aside like a sack of fucking potatoes.”

Eggsy offered him a faint smile and a kiss on his cheek. "I know that now, Harry," he said. "An’ I'm sorry I came onto you fer the wrong reasons and disappeared afterwards wivout talkin' t' you. I promise it won’t ‘appen again."

Harry gave him the same reassuring smile and drew him down for a kiss.

Unlike before, it was steady and sweet, designed to share reassurance and comfort between the two of them rather than heat and passion. There would be time for that later, Eggsy knew--not much later if he could help it--and there would be more to talk about, and of course, they would soon have to deal with Dean.

But for now, being surrounded by Harry’s warmth, being told without words how much he was loved, being held and touched like something precious, it was so much more than enough.

Chapter Text

Prison beds weren't designed to accommodate two fully grown adult males--in fact, they were hardly designed to accommodate one much less another--but Eggsy wasn’t complaining; far from it really, because it also meant he got to spend the entire night with miles and miles of Harry’s legs wrapped around him like a sexy octopus.

He’d been hesitant when Harry asked him to stay the night in his cell because after all, prisoners weren’t allowed to be out of their own after lockdown, but Harry assured him that Officer Bradbury and Officer Pace owed him a favor or two and that they’d provide them cover, so with not much else protest he could make (or wanted to for that matter), Eggsy allowed Harry to lead him there where they spent nearly the entire night wrapped around each other, talking about Lee and their squad and their lives before Belmarsh in so much more detail than Harry had been willing to share before.

He’d asked Harry about the crime that landed them in prison and the mission that got his dad killed, but Harry hadn’t wanted to discuss it, so Eggsy didn’t push. Everyone was entitled to their own secrets. He could only hope that Harry found it in himself to trust Eggsy with it one day.

They finally fell asleep at a little past three, and Eggsy woke up much later to a dreary Wednesday morning and a significantly roomier bed.

He blinked the sleep out of his eyes and found Harry knotting a tie by the window.

“Wot time issit?” Eggsy slurred, drawing Harry’s attention to him. The smile Harry turned his way seemed to liquefy Eggsy’s insides with its tender fondness. The older man sat himself on the edge of the bed and stroked Eggsy’s face gently.

“Just a little after nine, darling,” he answered, but before Eggsy could jolt up in alarm--it was that late? He had work!--Harry pressed a hand to the middle of his chest to hold him down and said, “I had you excused from duty this morning, don’t worry. And I brought up some breakfast.” He gestured to the plate sitting on the desk.

Eggsy let out a relieved breath as Harry pressed a kiss to his forehead and settled back down. “You ain’t gonna get in trouble fer that, are ya?” he asked.

Harry smiled. “No, not for that,” he responded with a grin, and Eggsy thought maybe he should ask him to elaborate because that sounded pretty fucking ominous, but then Harry stood to finish the abandoned task of knotting his tie, and Eggsy got a good look at him wearing a suit so fucking sharp it might as well have been categorized as a deadly weapon in and of itself.

He whistled low, making Harry smirk. “Wot’s got you lookin’ all sexed up? You got a parole hearin’ or summink?” Eggsy asked because while Harry was always well-dressed, right now he looked like a walking wet dream. He had half a mind to convince Harry to stay in bed with the suit on and make him fuck him in it.

Harry spoke while fastening a handsome set of cufflinks that Eggsy knew was a gift from an old friend. “I’m afraid parole would be well out of the question for me, darling, but I might be a little motivated to… show off today.” His grin was wicked as he dragged his eyes over the length of Eggsy’s body. The boy blushed, but his cock twitched at the attention, and he was suddenly all too aware that he was wearing nothing but Harry’s boxers beneath the bedcovers. They had done nothing more than kiss and touch last night, but his clothes had been soaked all the way down to his briefs from the rain, hence the wardrobe change.

“Then where you headin’ ou’ to?” he asked with a moderately overdone pout. “An’ can’t I convince you t’ stay?” He shifted so that the blanket curled around the shape of his erection and grinned when Harry took note of it.

Harry, done making a fucking Greek god out of himself it seemed, bent over at the waist to nip at his protruding lower lip and then pressed him into the pillow with a brain-melting kiss.

“Stay here,” he murmured afterward, which wasn’t very polite when he’d just whet Eggsy’s appetite.

Eggsy wrapped his arms around Harry’s neck and replied petulantly, “Stay wiv me.” So Harry kissed him again, gently this time, but it was deep and absolutely perfect, and only when Eggsy was whining with want did he pull away.

“Be a good boy,” he said as he gently untangled Eggsy’s arms. “I brought in your clothes so you can dress up, and I’ll be back for you at lunch, all right?”

“Where you goin’ anyway?” Eggsy demanded as he relinquished his hold.

“I just need to speak with Merlin for a bit,” was Harry’s response before he pressed one last kiss to Eggsy’s forehead. “Stay here,” he repeated and, with a lingering glance and a reassuring smile, shut the door decisively behind him.

With a sigh, Eggsy did as he was told, staying put in Harry’s cell because at the very least, he figured he could avoid Dean in here. He hadn’t forgotten their talk last night, nor his encounter with Merlin, and although Harry said he would help with problem, he’d yet to tell Eggsy just how so. So for now, avoiding his stepfather may be in his best interests.

He got up just long enough to change into his own clothes and empty the breakfast plate Harry brought up for him before sliding back beneath the covers and closing his eyes.

He must have dozed off because he woke with a start from a tapping at his ankles to see Hugo suddenly sitting at the foot of the bed with a smugness plastered everywhere on his face. Eggsy groaned and threw an arm over his face.

“Shut up,” he said before Hugo could say anything.

“I see you did eventually put out,” the other boy observed with false casualness, so Eggsy kicked his hip lightly. Secretly, he was relieved that Hugo hadn’t pointed out his other indiscretions--he wasn’t entirely sure Hugo even knew about them, but at this point, he wasn’t willing to ask. “And with Harry motherfucking Hart, no less!”

“Shut up,” Eggsy repeated in a mumble beneath his arm. Truth be told, it was more to hide the blush on his face than anything. “‘E ain’t as scary as everyone says ‘e is.”

“Are you kidding me? He’s fucking terrifying! I nearly shat myself when he approached me this morning looking like a fucking crime lord. Jesus. Then he tells me to go ‘keep Eggsy company’ in his cell. What the actual fuck, mate?” Hugo asked with another laugh.

Eggsy peeked at him from beneath his elbow. “Wot did ‘e say?”

Hugo shrugged. “Just that. He came up to me while I was with Benny and the others and said, ‘Hello, Hugo. Would you mind me stealing you away for a bit? I was hoping you could keep Eggsy company while I take care of some things. You’ll find him in my room, and if you convince him to stay there till I could come for him, I’d very much appreciate it.’” Hugo bore the accent of all the rich kids of London, but he still had to put on an even posher one to mimic Harry’s. “I mean, I knew you hung out with them, but you never told me you told them we were friends. As far as I knew, I didn’t think they knew I existed, so imagine my surprise this morning.”

“Why wouldn’t I?” Eggsy asked as he pushed himself upright. No point in going back to sleep now.

Hugo shrugged again. “Well… I dunno.”

Eggsy scoffed, “Course I’d tell ‘em about you. They even asked me t’ bring you along if you wanted, but I never really found the right time t’ invite you.”

“Yeah, well. Okay.” There was a bit of a pause while Hugo looked around the cell with interest. Then he asked, “So any reason why Hart wants me to keep you here? He isn’t keeping you locked up like his own little boytoy, is he?”

Eggsy blushed and denied that vehemently with an “Of course not!” But really, he probably wouldn’t even mind if Harry did. He was safe in here, which is pretty much all that mattered, but if it also meant Harry would spend the day spoiling and fawning over him in here, well. “Did Harry say when he’d be back? Wot time is it anyway?”

As if to answer him, the bell signalling lunch service rang.

“Didn’t say,” Hugo said, leaning back against the wall now that Eggsy had pulled his legs out of the way. More seriously, he asked again, “But what is going on with you and Hart? He’s not forcing you into anything is he?”

Jesus no!” Eggsy exclaimed. The very thought of it made him want to punch anyone who dared imply it, especially when he could compare first hand with others who actually had. Harry was…

Well, Harry had been nothing but the perfect gentleman hadn’t he? Except for the part where he fell into bed with Eggsy before they’d even talked about it, but even with his fingers up Eggsy’s arse, he’d been nothing but gentlemanly and accommodating and careful. “No. I… Well, I asked ‘im first.”

Both of Hugo’s eyebrows shot to his hairline. “You,” he said flatly. Eggsy shrugged. “You asked him?”

“I told you ‘e ain’t as scary as everyone seems ta think ‘e is. You just kinda… ‘ave t’ get t’ know ‘im, I guess,” he said. Hugo stared at him in disbelief for a moment longer.

And then burst into hysterical laughter.

“Wot?” Eggsy demanded.

“You--” Hugo tried to say between laughs and wheezing breaths. “You--Oh, Jesus Christ--” He howled like a madman, clutching his belly with tears leaking out the corners of his eyes.

Wot?!” Eggsy whined, defensive.

“You sound like a--like a fucking Twilight novel!” Hugo managed to gasp out before succumbing to another bout of shrieking laughter.

Eggsy gaped at him for a long moment in indignant disbelief because he did not just say that, and when Hugo’s laughter didn’t seem to want to let up, a battle cry tore out of his throat and Eggsy launched himself at Hugo.

They slammed into the ground where Eggsy rolled on top and tickled his arse of a friend mercilessly. “You take that back!” he demanded loudly.

“It’s the truth!” Hugo insisted, bucking up and trying to throw Eggsy off. It was futile because he was gasping too hard with panicked laughter.

“No! Take it back!” Eggsy repeated. “Take it back, you complete twat!” He received a limp punch and a claw to his face and his knees repeatedly slammed onto the ground, but he didn’t relent. He didn’t care that Hugo was shrieking too much to answer him anyway because fuck Hugo; he wasn’t fucking Bella Swan, was he.

“Shall I come back later then?” someone suddenly called out over the ruckus, and Eggsy nearly flew off of Hugo. In his surprise, Hugo finally managed to buck him off and throw him onto the ground beside him, and when Eggsy looked up, he found Harry’s eyebrow lifted and his mouth twitching in amusement.

“Hugo said you were Edward Cullen,” Eggsy told him with all the dignity of Daisy tattling on a playmate. He didn’t deserve the punch he got, but he did enjoy how Hugo’s eyes flashed at him anyway.

“I did not!” he hissed at Eggsy. To Harry, he said, “Don’t listen to him, Mr. Hart. I said nothing of the sort!”

Harry was still trying to suppress his grin when he said, “Well, I don’t know who this Edward Cullen is, so I shall reserve judgment.” Then he added mock sternly, “For now.” Eggsy laughed when Hugo blanched.

“It’s--I didn’t--” Hugo stuttered, but Harry only chuckled and held up a hand to silence him.

“I was only joking, Hugo,” he said with a grin as both boys pushed themselves to their feet. When Harry enfolded Eggsy’s hand into his, Hugo’s eyebrow lifted pointedly and his lips twitched. Eggsy looked away as if that would hide the redness of his cheeks, while Harry, oblivious of the exchange, continued to say to Hugo, “We’re heading down for lunch at the mess hall; you’re very welcome to join us.” Hugo spluttered a response to that where he tried to turn it down as politely as possible as one did when one was only being invited out of obligation, but Harry waved the refusal away with a “No, please. I insist,” so Hugo hesitantly accepted.

Eggsy, however, only frowned in confusion at Harry’s words. Why would they dine at the mess hall? The Kingsmen never took their meals there, or maybe they had once upon a time but certainly not since Eggsy arrived nor in the few months preceding that, according to Hugo.

“Why’re we goin’ there?” he asked.

Harry considered his question for a moment, and then turned to Hugo. “Could you give us a moment?” he asked politely.

“Yes. Yes of course,” Hugo said, and the speed at which he left the room was laughable, but there were concerns that needed to be addressed before Eggsy could find humor in the situation. The cell door shut behind the other boy, and Harry drew Eggsy closer to him by the hand he held. He cupped his jaw and tilted his chin up so that an involuntary shiver ran down Eggsy’s spine.

On Harry’s face was a mild layer of apprehension. Maybe a hint of doubt, too, but that passed as quick as a glint of light in his eyes, so Eggsy wasn’t sure. He pressed a kiss to Eggsy’s forehead, soft and lingering. And then another one to his cheek as if he was trying his very best to put off having to speak.

But it couldn’t be put off for long.

“We’re very well aware of the reputation we’ve garnered in our time served here, and quite undeservedly so because we’ve never actively used the skills we’d gained in the service to bolster the infamy of our crime--it is always others who provoke a fight,” he said by way of leading into the meat of his answer. “And even being aware of such, rarely have we ever actively taken advantage of it. Admittedly, it has come to our benefit every so often so we don’t actively discourage it, but usually it's by no fault of our own.” A pause to convey the gravity of his next words.

“Except for now,” he admitted.

“Wot d’you mean?” Eggsy asked even as he leaned into the fingers that stroked his face.

“What I mean, Eggsy, is that I promised you that I will correct the hand that you had been dealt, and so I will use everything at my disposal to keep you safe from threat and harm. If that means that I must use my notoriety and my skills to change certain… perceptions about you, then I will do so without a second thought.”

Eggsy’s confusion remained. “You mean yer gonna crack yer knuckles at Dean and his dogs so that they leave me alone?”

“I mean I will make everyone understand that you are not to be touched by anyone ever again, and I will show them exactly what will happen if they do,” Harry corrected. That sounded very much like a threat, and Eggsy wondered if he should voice his apprehension, but Harry cut into his thoughts before he could decide.

In the gentlest, sweetest voice Eggsy had ever heard, he asked, “Can you find it in yourself to trust me?”

Oh, Eggsy thought. That was a difficult question to answer.

“Me mum and Dais--” he tried to say before Harry cut him off.

“Are in a safer position than you are in right now,” he said. How? Eggsy wanted to ask, but he wasn’t able to voice his question before Harry continued speaking. “I would have waited until the weekend passed so that you can see for yourself, but I’m afraid we can’t hold on any longer or else we just might undo all Merlin’s hard work. Time is of the essence, darling. Do you trust me?”

He stared into Harry’s eyes, trying to find a reason why he should, how he possibly could. He'd known Harry for all of three weeks--six if you were being generous and included when he’d known of him--and he didn’t have any concrete evidence to the truth behind Harry’s words. But Harry’s arm was tight around his waist and the other tender on his face, and Eggsy realized that he was tired of bearing this burden on his own when he knew he couldn’t help himself or his family. He realized that he wanted to take the chance, that he was willing to take a gamble on Harry who was the only person willing to help him and remotely capable of doing so.

For all that he had no reason to trust Harry, he found that he did.

He nodded dumbly, swaying into Harry when the man smiled, then tugged Harry down by the front of his shirt when his lips stayed stubbornly half an inch away. His breath was stolen by this fiend of a man with a kiss that would have put fairy tales to shame, and Eggsy was ready to skip lunch if it meant he could fucking rip the suit right off of Harry’s back and make love to him for forever.

But Harry had other plans, it seemed, because with one last peck to his lips, he tugged Eggsy out of the cell and along the hallway at a leisurely pace in the direction of the mess hall. Eggsy decidedly ignored Hugo’s questioning stare burning at the back of his head and found it easier to do so when Merlin, Lancelot, and Percival fell into step beside them, Merlin on Harry’s right, Percival after him, and Lancelot behind Eggsy on Harry’s left, bracketing Hugo between James and Alastair.

All three of them looked equally as sinful as Harry did in their own suits, but more than that, the demeanour they bore was severe like Eggsy had never seen, not even in Merlin during their first few encounters and especially not in James. Harry soon adopted the same expression in his entire being, and suddenly, Eggsy realized that maybe Hugo’s (and everyone else’s) fear of them was a little bit justified.

“Are we ‘eaded to a funeral or summink?” he asked in jest to figure out what the hell was going on. Harry’s grip only tightened around his hand. None of them answered his question; none of them even glanced in his direction. Their solemn expressions were focused only on the hallway ahead.

Eggsy shot Hugo a wide-eyed look, the other boy looking equally confused and alarmed as he did but mostly looking like he wanted to bolt and was only refraining from doing so because he thought they might punish him for refusing their hospitality.

The population of people milling about in the hallways thickened as they neared the mess, but the pace of their stride remained unchanged when inmates, who immediately caught sight of them, parted like the fucking Red Sea. Those whose backs were turned and couldn’t see them coming were literally dragged out of the Kingsmen’s way just in time, and all about them, Eggsy could see eyes as wide as his own watching them pass.

“Harry?” he whispered urgently, but Harry only lifted their clasped hands and pressed a kiss to Eggsy’s knuckles.

There was a tension in the air Eggsy couldn’t quite define. He didn’t yet know the full extent of Harry’s plan, but he knew they weren’t going to dine in the mess hall just for the fun of it.

There would be anti-riot guards stationed everywhere; he wasn’t going to allow Harry and Merlin and Lancelot and Percival to get in trouble because of him. So as the doors of the mess hall came into view, he tugged Harry back by the hand that held him.

Harry gave him a small smile as if to say ‘I understand your apprehension’ and then verbally added in the quietest, most reassuring murmur, “Trust me.” And though Eggsy was still immensely worried, he still did.

Harry pushed one of the swinging doors open with little hesitation, and Lancelot and Merlin caught them after him and held them open for the rest of their group. They stood in the doorway as Harry scanned the tables of the mess.

Heads gradually turned in their direction as conversations died down, but furious whispers--likely about their presence--travelled through the grand space. Eggsy caught sight of Dean almost immediately, although it took a moment longer for him to see them--Poodle had to lean over and whisper it to him, pointing in the Kingsmen’s direction. He shrunk back behind Harry when Dean’s furious eyes found his.

Harry seemed wholly unconcerned with the other man’s glower and resumed his casual stroll through the middle of the hushed room. Eggsy once more glanced at Hugo, but neither of them could do much but follow the Kingsmen into the fray.

Dean’s shoulders rolled back and his spine straightened as they approached, as though he was gearing up for a fight. When they neared him, Eggsy could see his shoulders tense, and his fist clench, and once more Eggsy tugged on Harry’s hand. The other man only tugged back without giving indication that he had done so, and to Eggsy’s utter horror, stopped right beside Dean.

The room fell into deafening silence, and Eggsy held completely still, fearing that the slightest movement would catalyze an all-out fistfight. He peeked up at Harry who was staring down Dean through the side of his eye.

And then Harry walked off as if nothing at all had happened.

Eggsy looked back to see Dean gape. The fight seemed to leave him all at once in his astonishment, like how you’d charge with all your strength at a door only to fall over when you find out it wasn’t locked in the first place. Jaw hanging low, he watched them round their table and take the one right next to it.

Harry slid himself into the bench directly facing Dean and held his stare coolly. When he lifted an eyebrow as if to say in a condescendingly arrogant tone ‘Yes, Mr. Baker?’ Dean’s anger once more seemed to return to him. The other man snarled, but Harry easily turned away as if he didn’t matter.

Eggsy wanted to demand, “Wot are you doin’?” but Harry suddenly grasped him around the waist and pulled him down onto his lap, so instead, he hissed, “Harry!”

A certain kind of smile curled Harry’s lips.

It wasn’t the approving one he used when Eggsy or one of his kitchen boys did a good job, nor was it the bright one he wore when he was genuinely happy. It wasn’t the one he tried to hide when he was on the verge of laughing but was trying to act proper either.

This one was a little dark, a little sinister--another of those things that made the fine hairs at the back of one’s neck stand on end. But mostly, it was extraordinarily possessive, and Eggsy couldn’t help but feel a pleasured shudder run down his spine.

One of Harry’s hands pressed against the small of his back, almost immodestly low, while the other caught the back of his neck and drew him in close.

“Darling,” he whispered in Eggsy’s ear, his lips grazing the rim. His voice was filled with passion and with unmistakeable love, but laced with a dark kind of thrill that made Eggsy shudder once more and his eyelids fall shut. His hands found their way to Harry’s shoulders to anchor himself because otherwise he’d probably slide to the floor in a puddle.

In that same sultry, slow voice, Harry promised him, “After this, no one in this prison will doubt that you are mine. And after today, no one in here will dare try to challenge that.”

His eyes flickered once more with that glint of doubt, but then Eggsy found that he understood what Harry was trying to do here. He nodded once, minutely, discreetly, to give his approval of it, and so Harry had permission to drag his mouth down Eggsy’s cheek to capture his lips in a kiss that was nothing but fire and need and possession.

Eggsy moaned into his mouth like a goddamned whore, aware of all the eyes watching him--Dean’s included--and not caring in the slightest. Harry’s mouth was his own personal heaven, his sanctuary, and this--being perched in his lover’s lap with his hands holding him steady--was all that mattered in Eggsy’s world right now.

When Harry finally broke their kiss, he nuzzled the skin beneath Eggsy’s ear once and then settled him on the bench at his side. Only then was Eggsy able to take stock of their surroundings.

Hugo was gaping at him fantastically from across the bench while the other Kingsmen were calmly and quietly eating their meals, looking all for the world like they were dining with the Queen and not in the dingy mess hall of Her Majesty’s prison. They ignored Harry and Eggsy like they saw shit like that everyday.

Dean was purple with apoplexy, clutching his fork like he wanted to stab Harry with it, while his dogs wore a mixture of confusion and envy on their ugly mugs. They kept looking to Dean like they were waiting for some cue to charge.

A cue that never came even when Harry casually urged Eggsy to tuck into his lunch like everyone in the room wasn’t watching them, even when Harry kept leaning over to press kisses of varying intensities to Eggsy’s throat and mouth and Eggsy reciprocated, even when Harry caught Dean’s stare head on and fucking smirked at him.

And when they were done with their meals, all four Kingsmen calmly stood--with Eggsy and Hugo a little less composed than them--and made their way out of the hall without a second glance back.

Chapter Text

“Okay,” Hugo said when they were safely tucked away in Alastair’s classroom. He was heaving breaths like he had just walked a hundred kilometers. “Okay, what the fuck was that?” he demanded. He was looking at Eggsy for confirmation, but Eggsy didn’t know either. He turned his own questioning look to Harry.

“That, my boy, was to send a message,” Harry explained, and then a little sinisterly, “and an invitation.” He sat himself down on one of the desks and pulled Eggsy to stand between his legs, pinning him in place with knees against his thighs, but Eggsy wasn’t planning on moving anyway.

“An invitation fer wot?” Eggsy asked, but seeing as Harry’s mouth had found his throat once more, he turned his question to Merlin instead.

The bald man smiled that same dark thing Harry did. “Wait and see, lad.”

“Because that’s certainly not ominous,” Hugo muttered. Louder, he added, “Is this some sort of gang initiation rite? Am I going to have to learn to make a shank to protect myself? How exactly did I get dragged into this again?” And Eggsy suddenly felt immensely guilty.

He promised himself, he promised that he wouldn’t drag Hugo into this and now here he was, waiting, like Eggsy was, for the hammer to fall.

“I’m sorry,” he offered quietly, drawing Hugo’s attention to him though he himself stared down at the floor. “This is my fault. Me stepdad’s put me in a… tough position, and this lot’s bailin’ me ou’ ov it. I guess… I guess it’s coz yer my friend that they think Dean might go after you, too, so they’d ‘ad t’ include you in this.” He looked to Merlin who confirmed it. He gave Hugo the most apologetic look he could summon. “I shouldn’ta dragged you into this. I shoulda just stayed away from you right from the start. I’m sorry.”

For a long moment, Hugo looked at him like he just sprung a second head.

And then he said, hilariously appalled, “That’s probably the stupidest thing I’d ever heard you say.”

Eggsy blinked.

Lancelot burst out into laughter. “Oh, I like him,” he declared. “Can we keep him, Arthur?”

Harry made a vague little noise at the back of his throat and then said almost nonchalantly, “Well, as long as everything’s entirely consensual, I don’t see why not.”

Hugo’s face burst into fantastic flames, and Eggsy erupted into laughter.

"Unfortunately fer ya, Lance, Hugo's straight as a nail," Eggsy answered for the other boy who looked like he was about to spontaneously combust where he stood.

Lancelot grinned, winked at the boy in question, then teased, "Nothing a good hammering can't change." Eggsy bust up into laughter once more when Hugo spluttered a protest, still marvellously red.

"Lancelot," Percival scolded.

"You know I'm just teasing, Perce," Lancelot countered with a mischievous grin that said he was doing anything but, so Percival lifted an eyebrow at him and pointing out almost scathingly, "You most certainly were not, you dirty old bugger. Flirting with children? One would think you didn't find my company enjoyable any longer." But there was laughter in his eyes, so Lancelot simply affected affront with a gasp, complete with a hand pressed to his heart to simulate an expression of hurt at the accusation.

"Darling, how can you accuse me of finding anything but pleasure in your..." He glanced down specifically at the crotch area of Percival's trousers. "...company."

Percival rolled his eyes, but his lips were desperately trying to suppress a grin. "Lout," he accused fondly.

“Besides, if anyone’s going to be accused of cradle snatching, that would be Arthur here,” Lancelot added with a leer at Harry who leveled him a flat glare.

Before he could respond, however, Lancelot's eyes suddenly narrowed and glanced to the door to which he was closest. Eggsy immediately felt Harry tense behind him, as did Percival and Merlin some paces away, and the light, teasing atmosphere around them quickly shifted into a darker air.

"They're coming," Lancelot announced in a low voice.

"Shouldn't we do summink?" Eggsy asked. "Hide? Leave?" Harry hummed and pressed a reassuring kiss to the corner of his mouth. Over Harry's shoulder, Eggsy could see Merlin shifting slightly to put Hugo behind him, near the barred window, but otherwise they didn’t feel the need to move.

It didn't take long for even Eggsy to hear the clamour of a mob in a tight hallway, and panic started to set in when he realized it wasn't just Dean and his crew who were coming.

"Harry... Harry, there's a lot of them," he said as if the man hadn’t already deduced that for himself, but Harry seemed wholly unconcerned.

His only response was, "Trust me," and for reasons unknown, Eggsy still did. He nodded and received a smile and a deep kiss in approval. Then Harry said, still with an easy smile, "Stay behind me, all right?" When his eyes flickered to the door, Eggsy swore he could see excitement in them, and when the door flew open and Dean stormed in, there was unmistakable glee.

The other man was heaving breaths from anger and indignation. In his hand, he held a piece of wood that seemed to be a wrenched off leg of a chair. Behind him, his men and a few others, bearing the same crude weapons, filled half the room and blocked the exit while the rest filled the hallway beyond.

Vaguely, Eggsy wondered where the fuck the guards were.

"Hello, Mr. Baker," Harry greeted pleasantly. That he was still casually wrapped around Eggsy was lost on no one. In fact, he held all the lazy countenance of a duke in his drawing room than a prisoner facing down an angry mob of thugs.

Dean's face soured. "Listen here, you piece of shit--" he started to say, but Harry cut him off with a condescending tut.

"Now, now, Mr. Baker, that's not polite," he reprimanded with a small smile. He was deliberately taunting Dean, that much was obvious, but the outcome of it not so much because they were cornered in the classroom, outnumbered five to one. Harry was either as good as he seemed to think he was, or he was bluffing.

“Fucking shut. Up,” Dean snarled at him and turned to Eggsy. “Come ‘ere, boy,” he ordered. His tone, in all its familiarity, sent trembles of fear through Eggsy, but Eggsy trusted Harry, it seemed, so he only shook his head and moved closer to Harry. “Come ‘ere, you little shit, or I fucking swear--”

“Swear what, Mr. Baker?” Harry once more cut in, his voice lofty and unconcerned, but as he slowly stood from the desk he sat on, not a few of the men took a step back. Harry tilted his head in feigned curiosity. “Go ahead. I’m interested in hearing what it is you think you can do to the people under my protection.”

The falter in Dean’s composure was evident, but when he looked at Eggsy, he must have found it again because his mouth thinned and his eyes narrowed. At this point, it was no longer about Eggsy at all, but the message that would be made when Eggsy switched sides. “Your mum and sis are jus’ a phone call away from me friend, Eggsy. I swear ta fuckin’ God. If you don’t come ‘ere in about five seconds, then you ain’t seein’ them again, you get me?”

“Correct me if I’m wrong, Mr. Baker, but by ‘friend,’ you cannot possibly mean one Ron Allen?” Harry asked innocently. Dean’s attention snapped to him. “Because if so, I have rather unfortunate news for you as it seems Mr. Allen has recently perished in an accident. Just last night, in fact--carbon monoxide poisoning I heard, terrible thing--it rather shocked the community, really, because he was such an upstanding man.” Sarcasm was palpable in his voice and the shock on Dean’s face almost comical. His dogs shared glances among themselves.

“Or were you perhaps referring to Peter Murphy who was arrested just this morning for homicide? But I mean, even you knew about his rivalry with a certain Sean Barnes, did you not?” Dean’s face clearly said that he did, but how the fuck did Harry know? “It was only a matter of time when one of them stabbed the other seven times in the chest and once in the back.” Eggsy almost expected Harry to start inspecting his fingernails with a sort of affected casualness. “He would have gotten away with it, too, but luckily, the police found the murder weapon at the crime scene and his fingerprints all over it or else we would have a murderer on the loose.” Harry paused to appreciate Dean’s gaping face, before saying in a mock-surprised tone, “Oh, I’m sorry. Did you not know of these?

“Well, rest assured, I wouldn’t have allowed Michelle and Daisy to remain in such a dangerous environment, so I took the liberty of relocating them to a safer neighborhood.” Harry’s smile was smug and challenging, but Eggsy could hardly appreciate the look it put on Dean’s face when he probably wore the same expression, too.

He and Merlin had spoken yesterday afternoon. How the fuck were they able to do all that in less than a day? And from inside Belmarsh no less?

“Now, Mr. Baker, let me ask you again, what is it that you think you can do to the people under my care?”

Dean stared at him for a long, long moment where the astonishment on his face slowly morphed into grotesque fury until his shoulders were heaving from angered breaths.

And then he yelled and lunged at Harry.

Eggsy shouted and ducked behind a desk, throwing his arms up to cover his head out of instinct as the sounds of a fight broke out around him, yells and thuds and manhandled furniture screeching against the cement floor. He willed the staccato beat of his heart to slow down so that he could move away from it, but it was only when he remembered Hugo that he unfolded his arms and peeked over the edge of a desk to look for him.

The other boy was still standing beside the window where Merlin had herded him, his eyes wide as plates and his mouth dropped open in shock, so Eggsy turned to determine was he was gaping at.

What he found wasn't a street brawl or a bar fight. It wasn't a prison riot either.

What Eggsy found when he turned to watch the fray was a fucking massacre in dance form.

Harry had Dean, relieved of his weapon and with a massive red mark that bore all the signs of the beginnings of a bruise at his temple, in a headlock with his arm twisted up between them, pain from being restrained evident on his face. Harry, however, was doing nothing else but watching Percival, Lancelot, and Merlin destroy everyone else.

They were still outnumbered--three-to-one for now while the rest were stuck outside--but none of them seemed to find any difficulty in that at all.

Lancelot already had Boxer at his feet and was engaging two men not of Dean's group with a fist to one face and an elbow to the side of the other. He ducked under the makeshift weapon, leaving the idiot to hit his friend and take him out for Lancelot before the Kingsman grabbed him by the shoulders and delivered a swift knee to the stomach that took him out.

Percival swivelled out of the way of the sharpened end of a toothbrush with nary a thought before catching the arm that held it and quickly snapping it to release. There was a sickening crunch and a pained scream and the guy was out. Then, instead of appropriating the toothbrush for himself as a weapon, he stepped forward and slammed the heel of his palm up Rottie's nose, breaking it instantly in a spurt of blood, and grabbing Pitbull by the neck and slamming him to the ground, taking him out with a hard punch.

Merlin though.

Eggsy already knew he had fucking guns under his suit, but they were easy enough to forget considering Merlin’s penchant for librarian chic and to see that they weren't just for show...

He sidestepped the shank Poodle thrust at his kidneys even though there was no fucking way he should have seen it coming because he was in the process of bloodying the face of a guy in front of him. Then he grabbed Poodle's arm, heaved him over his shoulder, and threw him at two attackers before, using his momentum, laying the third out with a gorgeous roundhouse to the face.

All three of them held in their eyes the same glimmer of sadistic glee Harry had in his and, when they stepped out into the hall, looked like the horsemen of the apocalypse about to lay waste to humanity.

All in all, it took them about ten minutes to take out twenty men.

They came back into the room, looking satisfied with their results. The flecks of blood that decorated their white shirts didn't escape Eggsy’s notice, and from the pattern of staining, he quickly realized the black suits they wore probably masked the bulk of it, but before he could enjoy the perverse approval of it, Officer Morton, Officer Spencer, and Officer Bradbury calmly followed them in.

Dean’s face lit up with hope, while dread filled Eggsy’s. Officer Morton, Eggsy knew, had a certain affinity for the four Kingsmen; he wasn’t worried about her. But Officers Spencer and Bradbury… Eggsy didn’t know.

“Officers! ‘Elp us!” Dean pleaded from where he was still pinned against Harry, struggling against the hold now that help was near. “‘Elp us! They’ve gone mad, they ‘ave! They’re gonna kill us!” And though Eggsy didn’t doubt that was the truth, not with all four of them looking the way they did, the three officers only stared at him, unimpressed until his face reflected the hopelessness of his situation.

Then Harry spoke.

In a low, quiet voice that sounded indescribably sinister, he murmured right into Dean’s ear, "I shall ask again, Mr. Baker: what exactly is it that you think you can do?"

Dean said nothing because there was nothing to say. Three men had lain waste to all the inmates he'd scrounged up who were willing to challenge the Kingsmen, and now he was at the mercy of their leader with no help to be found from the filth that watched them.

Harry turned Dean with little effort to face Eggsy. In that same dark tone, he said, "I understand your desire in challenging us for the influence in here we'd never cared to posses in the first place. After all, it is in the nature of man to dominate. I know that, for a period, that was what you were out there, and I can respect you for trying to seek that in here. In fact, in any other circumstances, I would have commended your courage in trying. However--" Dean cried out when Harry jerked on his twisted arm. "--you have made a grave mistake, Mr. Baker. Can you tell me what it is?"

"Wot do you care?!" Dean demanded, panicked. "'E's jus' a fuckin' chav!”

“Nobody is ‘just’ anything, and especially not Eggsy,” Harry snarled and wrenched Dean’s arm up. There was a distinct ‘pop’ when the bone of his arm separated from its joint, and Dean screamed.

Harry allowed Dean to fall to the floor, clutching his shoulder and howling in pain. He loomed over him, his chin tilted up, and stared at the hurt man down the length of his nose.

Very calmly, he ordered, “Beg for your life, Mr. Baker.”

No force was needed to make his words sound like the threat they were.

Dean snivelled at his feet, his pain smothering his pride, his head bowed, and Eggsy felt distinct satisfaction at the sight. “Please, Mr. ‘Art. I ain’t gonna cross you no more I swear, an’ I’ll make sure none a’ the others do neivver--”

Harry cut him off with a derisive laugh. “No, Mr. Baker.” Dean blinked in confusion, as did Eggsy. “Your mistake is thinking I hold any power over you. I don’t. You see, it wasn’t I that you wronged, and thus it isn’t I who has the right to determine your fate. I am merely the executor of your judgment, the sword that does the will of the judge.”

Eggsy’s eyes widened as Dean slowly turned to him in understanding. His expression bore fury and indignation because while he didn’t need to take a second to think about asking for Harry’s favor, he wasn’t about to grovel to Eggsy.

“Yes, Mr. Baker, very good,” Harry murmured approvingly. “You will come to understand that it is not I who holds the true power inside these prison walls because there is one who holds power over me. And Mr. Baker?” He spoke to Dean, but his hushed voice made it sound like the words were meant for Eggsy alone. Eggsy held his breath when Harry paused. His eyes found Eggsy’s, and in them was such a profound expression of love and devotion that Eggsy felt his knees weaken and he had to lean against one of the desks to remain upright.

“I would do anything he asks me to.”

There was a quiet stillness that swept the room despite the pummeled inmates picking themselves up and hobbling off. Or maybe it was just Eggsy’s heart that had frozen at the declaration. He had never heard anything as beautifully delivered as that, not in the movies, not in real life, and he couldn't quite believe he was awake because such confessions of undying devotion just weren’t done in a week or two or six. Such declarations were made months, years into a relationship. They were made at the altar and probably not even then.

Harry watched him with an open expression that said every single bit of it was the truth and that he expected nothing in return. He gave Eggsy a small smile, as if to ask, ‘Are you all right?’

Eggsy nodded. He was so far beyond all right that it was a laughably massive understatement.

He was elated. He was ecstatic. He was deliriously happy was what he was.

Satisfied, Harry spoke once more. “So once again--” He turned back to Dean. “--beg for your life, Mr. Baker.”

Defeated, but not willing to give up his pride, Dean started to say, “Eggsy,” with a most gruesome twist of the lips that was supposed to pass as a smile. Immediately, Eggsy’s elation diminished. “You know wot it's like t’ be the underdog. You ‘n me, we came from the same world that these gents din’t! They don’t understand, but you ‘n I know wot it means to live under the thumb of men ‘oo don’t care ‘bout us ‘n only care ‘bout wot we can do fer them.”

Eggsy gaped at him, wondering if he understood the irony in his words, but Dean only continued, unhindered. “You know I wos only doin’ wot needed ta be done ta make sure we ‘ave a good life in ‘ere, you included! I wos gonna let you off the ‘ook once we got t’ the top; I never intended fer it t’ be permanent.” Lies. Fucking lies. “An’ you know I would never really ‘urt Michelle an’ Daisy.” As if all the black eyes and bruises Eggsy and his mum suffered under his tyranny weren't real pain. “They're me family, ain’t they? So’re you.

“Son, I was only doin’ wot wos best fer all ov us.”

Eggsy’s jaw remain unhinged as he tried to find the words to truly express the outrage bubbling in his chest.

Where earlier the world had stilled in calmness until it was only Harry and Eggsy that existed, now it had darkened around Dean and Eggsy, throbbing with Eggsy’s rage.

He wavered where he stood, in near pain from fury and hatred of this man that knelt before him, convincing him that what he had done was for Eggsy’s own good instead of blubbering for his forgiveness and mercy like he should have done, like Eggsy would have forgiven him for.

Eggsy seethed.

“You raped me,” he said without inflection. He was scared--scared not of Dean, but instead of the moment when he let it all out, his pain and rage and sorrow, and how he wouldn’t be able to reel it all back in once he did, so he kept his voice bland and even, stating facts, not emotions. “You let yer dogs rape me, you let yer clients rape me, and then you allowed anyone ‘oo would pay you t’ rape me. And fer wot? Fer the illusion of power?”

“It wasn’t an illusion. It was necessary--”

“Fer wot?” Eggsy asked incredulously. “Wot would’ve ‘appened if we kept to ourselves and let them ‘ave their power? ‘Ow would ‘aving it changed our lives in ‘ere?” They were rhetorical, his questions, because nothing would have changed. They’d still have to clean toilets and wash dishes every day, they’d still have limited options for recreation, they’d still only see Michelle and Daisy for an hour every Saturday, they’d still be stuck in fucking prison.

“Son…”

“I AM NOT YOUR SON!!!” Eggsy suddenly screamed, and then slapped his hands over his mouth when he realized he had done so. Dean was stunned at the outburst, but Eggsy even more so. He looked around the room to gauge the reactions of everyone else. Dean’s dogs, who Merlin and Lancelot forced to stay behind, looked guilty and worried for their own hides in equal measures. The officers and the Kingsmen were solemn in respect for him and furious at Dean. And Hugo…

Hugo was stricken with horror and disgust, staring at Dean like he was shit on Hugo’s shoe that needed to be eliminated with a fucking flamethrower. When he lifted his eyes to meet Eggsy’s, there was actual pain in it for Eggsy’s sake, but he clearly didn’t know how to comfort Eggsy, and Eggsy didn’t know what to say to him either, so he turned back instead to Dean.

“I am not your son. I never was, and I never will be,” he repeated in a calmer voice. Dean’s mouth opened and shut several times trying to say something to convince this boy who held his fate to spare it and not knowing what that was supposed to be. Eggsy waited, gave him the chance to beg for forgiveness, but when he didn’t, he flicked his eyes up to Harry’s. Then he said clearly and coldly, “Don’t kill him.”

The hidden meaning in his words was clear because Dean’s eyes widened and he started blubbering like he should have done in the first place, but Eggsy had eyes only for Harry whose smile was downright evil and his eyes flashed with glee. Eggsy nodded once.

And then Harry moved.

He grabbed Dean’s dislocated arm and used that to pull him up to his feet, silencing the man’s yell with a hook to the cheek. Dean spun and fell over, banging an arm against a desk as he went. The position offered Harry the opportunity to deliver a swift, powerful kick to the ribs before he followed him down, digging a knee into a kidney and grabbing him by his hair as leverage to slam his forehead into the cement. There was a wet crunch that had the bottom of Eggsy’s stomach dropping out, and when Harry flipped Dean over, he could see it was Dean’s nose that had taken the brunt of the impact.

“Stop,” Dean tried to plead, gurgling through the blood that was filling his sinus, but Harry only pulled his fist back and punched him again across the cheek, once, twice, a third time. Blood spurted from the broken nose and now a split lip, but Harry didn’t seem to mind. “Please,” Dean tried again, weaker now, and still Harry ignored him.

He grabbed Dean by the throat, squeezing so that the other man scrabbled at his hand, trying pry his fingers apart. Harry allowed him to do so, to struggle beneath him in an attempt to buck him off because it was clear that none of it mattered to change his fate. He was clearly and completely at Harry’s mercy.

Once more, Harry drew his hand back, this time his fingers extended. He tilted his head at Dean and told him in measured words, “An eye for an eye, Mr. Baker. But seeing as no one would dare touch your hideous form, I think I shall take it literally instead.” Dean whimpered pitifully and cringed as he anticipated the strike, and Eggsy could see his jeans suddenly bloom a darker color at the crotch.

There was a perverse pleasure in seeing your tormentor so terrified that he would soil himself, but Eggsy was consciously aware that he was no monster to indulge in such, and neither did he want Harry to be for facilitating it.

“Harry!” he called out just as his arm was about to shoot forward. The Kingsman gave no indication of having heard him, but his fingers curled in on themselves, and instead of taking Dean’s eye like he threatened to do, he punched the man over and over and over again until Dean’s moans and grunts and whimpers were silenced and he was motionless beneath Harry.

And then, finally, Harry stood, his hair falling over his forehead, Dean’s blood spattered across his shirt, his cheek, and his fists, his chest heaving. For a moment, he surveyed his handiwork--savoured it--Dean’s mangled, bloody body twitching on the floor. He wasn’t dead, Eggsy had told him specifically not to kill him after all, but that didn’t seem to stop Harry from trying to get as close as possible. Then he slid a hand through his hair to fix it and turned to Eggsy with an expectant look.

At first, Eggsy didn’t understand why, but then quickly, the boy realized that Harry was waiting for Eggsy's approval.

Jesus fuck.

It had been a violent assault--brutal, animalistic, savage. Dean’s men paled, and Hugo was shaking, his hands over his ears, his whole body turned away from the scene. The Kingsmen, on the other hand, looked triumphant and approving (though Eggsy wouldn’t go so far as to say they looked delighted because that would mean they had a violently sadistic streak in them, and Eggsy hadn’t seen any evidence of that in them before this now did he?). The officers were a bit harder to read through the poker faces they wore, but since they hadn’t been sent to solitary yet, Eggsy figured Dean must have done something to earn their ire too.

Eggsy should not have enjoyed it like he did.

And he definitely should not have thrown himself at Harry and kissed him to within an inch of his life.

Harry caught him around the waist and hauled him closer, tilting his head back for a better angle as he slanted his mouth over Eggsy’s. Their kiss was urgent and passion-filled in a way that it had never been before. Eggsy felt desperate for it, desperate to be consumed by this man who had freed him and his family from the threat of his step father. He wanted to give everything to Harry to thank him. He wanted to give himself. He wanted Harry.

He wanted Harry.

“Shhh,” Harry soothed as soon as their kiss broke to allow them to draw breaths.

Fuck, Eggsy decided as he buried his face in Harry's suit. He’d hoped the burning behind his eyes would go unnoticed, but then again, Harry was close enough to feel the hitching breaths that wracked his frame. The older man stroked the back of his head and pressed kisses to the top of his head.

“Let’s get out of here, yes?” he suggested quietly, all cool reassurance like he hadn’t been beating the shit out of another human being just minutes before.

Eggsy pulled back to look up at Harry. “Wot… wot about…?”

What about Dean? What will happen to you after this? He tried to ask. His eyes flickered to the officers present, and Harry followed his gaze.

“The officers know that what transpired here was all in self-defense,” he explained. “The six of us were cornered by twenty men wielding weapons. Of course we had to protect ourselves.” Nevermind that what had happened did not in any conceivable way look like six men trying to protect themselves. “They’ll take Dean to Medical and thereafter will let Captain Valentine decide his punishment.”

And that was it? It was that simple? It couldn’t possibly be.

Harry, sensing his unease, pulled him in for another kiss, this one sweet and reassuring. When he pulled back, he stroked Eggsy’s cheek and said, “We’ll be fine, darling. There’s nothing to worry about. I promise.” Eggsy bit his lip but nodded, so Harry favored him with a bright smile. “How about we all head back up to my room? I think we deserve a bit of a lie-in after all this mess.”

“All right,” he agreed after a deep breath to settle himself. He glanced back at Hugo and tilted his head to extend the offer to him. The other boy's gaze flickered once, twice to Dean's prone form and once to each of the Kingsmen. He wore an expression difficult for Eggsy to read, which concerned him because he didn’t want to lose Hugo’s friendship in this, but to Eggsy’s ultimate relief, he nodded.

They picked their way through the disorganized tables, around the huddled mess of men that were Dean’s dogs, and then further out into the bloodied hallway with Hugo standing close to Eggsy and Eggsy clutching at Harry. From there, they made their way to House Block D through the massive throng of inmates that had gathered at the signs of a fight and the officers trying to disperse them. They parted easily, however, for the Kingsmen with eyes wide not with confusion and curiosity, but a healthy dose of unease.

It was an odd feeling to be had, to be looked at in fear rather than desire or indifference, Eggsy noted, but as they continued on to Harry’s cell, he felt like his world had just gotten a little bigger.

Chapter Text

The magnitude of the Kingsmen’s actions on his life didn’t fully hit him until about two days later when an inmate whose name he didn’t know but who Eggsy knew was from House Block C approached him to tell him that Charlie was calling for him, and Eggsy promptly told him, “No,” and then walked away without a single ounce of regret and fear for having done so.

(Though actually, his exact words were “You tell Charlie that ‘e can go fuck ‘imself, yeah?”)

No.

He could finally say it out loud at will and not get smacked in the mouth for doing so. He could finally choose what he wanted to do with his time without the fear of Dean overturning his choices. He could finally choose who he wanted to do and how he wanted to do them, and Dean couldn’t even send him the stink eye for it (although to be fair, Dean was still unconscious in the Medical ward, but if the way his dogs scurried away like rats the moment they caught sight of him was any indication, Eggsy figured he was safe enough from his bastard stepfather).

Eggsy found it to be ironic that it was in the bowels of one of England’s greatest prisons with the help of four of the most notorious inmates in its history that he’d discovered the freedom he’d lost in the years surrounding his father’s death when his mum took up with Dean. But he wasn’t about to look a gift horse in its mouth, though. Instead, he simply enjoyed the wide berth inmates gave him and the grudging respect he received as an extension of Harry’s reputation.

It was absurdly comforting, he decided, to have in his hand the heart of a man who wielded violence with the ease of waving a hand, to whom he could say “Kill” and he would only ask “Who?” It was the same comfort of possessing a loaded gun in the middle of a knife fight.

“I would warn you that that is a dangerous prospect,” Johnnie told him many days later during the second of their private sessions. Eggsy turned his way from the window he had glanced out of on the vague hope that he would catch a glimpse of his Harry. It was as ridiculous as it sounded because he was three floors up and the window hardly afforded him a view of inmate-frequented areas.

“Bearing a weapon of any sort is bound to attract you trouble,” the therapist expounded. “As long as you hold a weapon, someone will feel threatened, and when a person feels threatened, it doesn’t matter how big your gun is; they will seek to level the playing field.”

Which was true in one sense; someone would eventually try to take down the Kingsmen like Dean had done and, by extension, Eggsy as well. But Eggsy wasn’t as worried as Johnnie seemed to think he should be because Johnnie hadn’t seen them in action.

He knew they were capable men, he knew there was a reason other inmates feared them, but he hadn’t seen, like Eggsy had, the Kingsmen wipe the floor with twenty men in less time than it took a beggar to scarf down a fresh meal. He hadn’t witnessed the vicious revenge Harry had enacted on Eggsy’s behalf and the warning it sent to anyone who would seek to follow Dean’s footsteps.

The longer Dean was held in Medical, the greater the distance put between Eggsy and the inmates who sought to do him harm.

So no. He wasn’t afraid.

He wasn’t ever going to be afraid again.

“You ain’t seen wot they can do, guv,” he told Johnnie. “It ain’t gonna matter if twice the men that attacked us came. Thrice the men. It’s gonna end exactly the same way.” He knew it like he knew the sun would rise at dawn and set at dusk.

Johnnie asked, “But is it wise to invest such great faith in a single man?”

Eggsy laughed. “I think it’s a brilliant idea. Harry loves me an’ I love Harry. ‘E would do anythin’ fer me, ‘e told me so ‘imself, and I would do anythin’ fer ‘im. Sides, ‘e ain’t a single man. There’s four ov ‘em, an’ I trust ‘em all wiv my life.”

“But for how long?” Johnnie then asked. He folded his hands over his lap and favoured Eggsy with a piercing stare. “You’re young, Eggsy, but even you must know that there is nothing quite as tenuous as romantic love. Seventy-four percent of all relationships never make it past the honeymoon stage--that is, the first seven months of a relationship. And a broken relationship in here is far different from a broken relationship out there. How would you fare if your relationship with Mr. Hart were to end?”

Eggsy scowled at him. “Pretty fuckin’ well, I’d say. Despite wot you seem to think of ‘em, they ain’t the kind ov men to kick a bloke to the curb just coz they stop shaggin’ ‘im.” Eggsy once believed that they were, that they would discard him like a used toy once they were done with him. He didn’t anymore. “They’re gentlemen; more than that, they’re friends ov me dad besides. I know they ain’t gonna dump me on me arse just coz Harry’s done wiv me.” He suddenly turned his back stiffly to the shrink, irked at the accusation. He demanded shortly, “Are we done ‘ere?”

Johnnie was silent for a moment, and then Eggsy heard him sigh and rise from his seat. A hand settled on his shoulder as Johnnie said gently, “I’ve been in this business for many, many years, Eggsy, and I’ve seen it happen time and time again in many prisons beyond Belmarsh一what happens when an overlord tires of his companion.” Another small sigh. “It never fares well for the companion, and so I merely want to caution you against that.

“It’s a dangerous world in here, my boy, and it would behoove you to invest in a little doubt in everybody.”

Eggsy didn’t respond because he respected Johnnie’s experience, but his anger didn’t diminish because he refused to allow anyone to think that the Kingsmen were anything but decent, honorable men.

Johnnie sighed once more and said, “We’re done now. I’ll see you in group next week.”

Eggsy left without a word passed, verily stomping to the library where he knew he’d find Merlin serving mandatory duty. Harry was at his own group counselling session or else Eggsy would have gone to him first.

Merlin glanced up almost immediately when he’d stepped through the doors and frowned in concern when he caught Eggsy’s gaze.

“What’s wrong, lad?” he asked when Eggsy was close enough that he didn’t have to speak loudly.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into agreeing to them private sessions wiv Johnnie,” Eggsy hissed back, mindful of the library-goers, both in the context of courtesy and in that he didn’t want their conversation overheard.

Merlin cracked a grin. “Am I to assume it didn’t go as expected then?”

Eggsy scowled as he slouched against the librarian’s desk. “‘E told me not ter trust you.”

This time, it was Merlin who scowled, and Eggsy realized he may have been a little uncharitable towards Dr. Walker. “I’m sure he didn’t mean it as such,” the Kingsman pointed out in the tone of voice that said ‘he better not have meant it as such,’ and Eggsy knew that he should clarify.

“Well, no. Not exactly,” he said. “‘E told me ter trust no one in ‘ere. That I should ‘old a little doubt fer everybody.”

Merlin’s scowl lightened, though it didn’t disappear completely. Nevertheless, he seemed appeased because he returned to sorting the books on his desk. “It’s good advice,” he remarked. “You should take it.”

“I trust you,” Eggsy countered, sincere, without hesitation. “Completely.”

To that, Merlin stopped once more for a breath or two, then heaved a sigh. Then he lifted an arm to call a young inmate toward him. The boy came with haste to receive the order, “Take my place,” before Merlin rounded the table and walked into the thick of the bookshelves.

Eggsy, of course, followed without another spoken word and watched Merlin settle cross-legged into one corner at the back of the room where all the old encyclopedias were found. The early afternoon light filtered through the window above them and shone upon the space just to the left of where Merlin was patting to indicate that he wanted Eggsy to sit beside him.

“It’s a lovely sentiment, Eggsy, and I appreciate it,” he said when Eggsy had done so. “But Dr. Walker is a wise man, and you wouldn’t go amiss in heeding his advice. Even the best of men are still prone to human error. While we would do our utmost to help you, we could still bring harm to you unintentionally.” Here, he paused. “We have.”

No,” Eggsy cut him off sharply. “Wotever ‘appened ain’t yer fault. It ain’t none ov our faults. All ov it is all on Dean, and you and I are gonna make sure it ain’t ever gonna ‘appen again, yeah? And even after that, knowin’ there’s a possibility you can ‘urt me or I can ‘urt you don’t mean we can’t trust each other to keep our best intentions in mind.”

There was a vehemence thrumming in his veins that he tried to will into Merlin by the force of his voice alone. It was to his relief that Merlin gave him a small smile and conceded with an “all right.”

“Good,” Eggsy nodded.

Merlin nudged him with his shoulder. “But I still am sorry, you know, for making you think I believed in that tripe you were spewing.” Teasingly, he added, “To be fair, it was quite the convincing performance.”

Eggsy nudged him right back with a laugh. “No lastin’ ‘arm done. ‘Sides, how can I fault you fer it if it you’d been savin’ me mum an’ sis while I was wallowin’ in the bleachers?” He suddenly recalled that little tidbit of information and turned fully to Merlin. “‘Ow did you manage to do all that overnight anyway?”

Merlin chuckled and stood, but he didn’t walk away, only reached up into the topmost shelf of the case they were leaning against and drew out two books. He handed one, Nineteen Eighty-Four, to Eggsy and kept the other, Slaughterhouse Five to himself. “Money and connections, lad,” he answered as he settled back into his place. “They make the world go ‘round.”

……………

"Merlin?" Eggsy later asked when most of the afternoon had passed. Merlin was still sat on the floor, a third of the way into his book, but Eggsy had long since sunk completely to the ground, his head on Merlin's lap and making his way through the book that Merlin had given him with the purpose of 'instilling a bit of culture into him.'

Eggsy may or may not have simply been pretending to read while he imagined Harry reaming him from behind, an image that had, admittedly, brought up the question that now hung on the forefront of his mind.

"Hmm?" Merlin inquired absently. His fingers were carding through Eggsy's hair like they had been doing for the past hour or so, not that Eggsy was doing anything to discourage him because, frankly, the fingernails raking along his scalp were fucking divine.

"Have you and Harry ever..." Had sex, his mind finished for him; "You know?" his mouth said.

The fingers in his hair stopped, and when Eggsy looked up, amusement was playing on Merlin's mouth. "Why do you ask?" he asked gently.

Eggsy fidgeted a bit, so Merlin resumed the strokes through his hair until he settled. "It's just, well, Percy and Lance are off doing their own thing, and so I wondered ‘ow you two got... well... it when you din't 'ave a boyfriend."

"You're asking me if I've ever had sex with your... boyfriend. I think euphemisms are beyond us, don't you?" Merlin pointed out. Eggsy grinned.

"Fine," he agreed. "'Ave you an' Harry ever fucked?"

"Good boy," Merlin nodded approvingly and turned back to his book before adding, "Of course we have." Eggsy expected the answer, so he wasn't surprised. In fact, he was a little... intrigued. "As with James and Alastair, too."

Eggsy's jaw dropped because, okay, that he did not quite expect. Merlin, sensing his surprise, only shrugged nonchalantly. "We're all grown men, Eggsy, and Percy and Lance are quite secure in their relationship. A bit of fumbling about among friends won't ruin what they have. Besides, with so few options for recreation, it was bound to happen sometime in our sentence." And yes, while that made sense, still. He can't drop a bomb like that and expect Eggsy to drop the topic so easily.

"All at the same time?" he asked.

Merlin smirked down at him. "It's been a very long sentence," he answered vaguely, and the mental image of it brought heat to Eggsy's face.

"Yer fuckin' shittin' me," Eggsy accused without heat because it wasn't out of the realm of possibility.

"I assure you I am not," Merlin chuckled. His novel hung forgotten in the air. Eggsy had already chucked his aside. "It happened only twice, though, no special occasion, we all just happened to be bored at the same time in the same place." Eggsy waited for more details to be revealed, but the bald man turned back to his book.

"Meeeeerliiiin," Eggsy whined, tugging his sleeve repeatedly. "You can't tell me that and not tell me about it!"

"Of course I can, lad," was his infuriating answer, so Eggsy retaliated by whining, "Meeeeeerliiiinnnnn, come ooooooon. Pleeeeeease?" over and over in his most annoying voice such that Merlin started gritting his teeth.

A little more, Eggsy decided and upped the volume until Merlin exclaimed, "Christ, child! All right!”

Eggsy grinned smugly in triumph and Merlin rolled his eyes. “How in the world does Arthur put up with you?"

"Harry gives me what I want the first time I ask," he pointed out.

"Spoiled," Merlin decided. "All three of them have been spoiling you far too much, little brat." Eggsy's grin widened. "All right. What would you like to know?"

"Everything! From the very start. Where did you do it? Who started it? What did you do? Everything," Eggsy answered, excitement and not a little bit of heat thrumming through him. He was admittedly already a little half hard.

Merlin rolled his eyes again, but there was a grin on his lips. "Well, it was a couple of years ago. Harry had just gotten out of solitary for the pencil incident." Eggsy nodded.

After he'd gotten to know them well enough, the first order of business had been to confirm the truth of all the stories he'd heard about them. The 'pencil incident' had been true, but it hadn't been over Shakespeare. The guy had been a new entrant into the prison and had decided, like Dean had, that he needed to take out the Kingsmen. Unlike Dean, however, he had done so by outright antagonizing Harry in the library only to realize, when he failed spectacularly, exactly why the Kingsmen owned the prison.

"Lance and Percival were, as they were wont to do, sucking each other's faces off over by the teacher's desk in Alastair’s classroom, and Harry, I suppose, was feeling a little bit deprived after a month of almost no human contact, so he asked me if I fancied a shag. By then, of course, we’d been sleeping with each other on a fairly regular occurrence, so it wasn’t out of the ordinary. Then one thing simply led to another." Merlin shrugged to end his statement.

"Oh no," Eggsy laughed. "That's a fuckin' cop out. Come on, details."

"Nosy little thing, aren't you?" Merlin teased with a chuckle. "Why don't you get your boyfriend--" The world still rolled off his tongue like a joke, and Eggsy knew Harry was going to have to endure endless teasing for it. "--to tell you the details. I daresay it might even lead to an interesting evening."

Eggsy pursed his lips in thought, and then asked slowly, "D'you think it could 'appen again?"

This time, Merlin's laugh was boisterous and loud. "Lancelot has assured us, in no uncertain terms, that he refuses to touch you with a ten-foot pole. Says he doesn't have the same questionable morals Arthur does. And he and Percival are a set deal, boyo. So unfortunately, neither will Alastair."

Eggsy slanted a look at him and then asked in a tone he'd crafted to be offhandedly suggestive, "And you?"

That stopped Merlin. The mildly surprised expression on his face was a good look on him, so Eggsy aimed to prolong it when he swung a leg over Merlin's lap. "Would you do me?" he asked coyly. His hand found the older man's collarbone and rubbed it with his fingers on the pretense of playing with his jumper's collar. When he looked up at Merlin beneath his lashes, the other man's eyes had grown dark.

"I don't think Arthur would appreciate you tarting it up for other men after he'd gone through all that trouble for you," he said. His voice was a careful murmur that told Eggsy everything he needed to know.

He leaned in closer, their lips nearly touching. "But you aren't just any other man, are you, Rupert?" he drawled.

Merlin's eyes narrowed then as it all clicked into place in his head. "You've spoken about this," he concluded, and Eggsy grinned.

"Extensively," he confessed. "Up to and including whether or not both of your cocks'll fit in me arse at the same time." Which was technically true. Though Harry hadn't told him to actually go and seduce Merlin, he'd made it perfectly clear that he wouldn't mind if Eggsy did. Eggsy rocked his steadily filling cock into Merlin's for emphasis, but when Merlin's hands found his hips, they stilled him.

He looked stern like he had no right to be when he had Eggsy grinding in his lap. Eggsy tried to wriggle, but Merlin held firm. "What is this really about, Eggsy?" he asked. Eggsy's teasing mood dampened.

His heart pounded frantically beneath his chest and embarrassment started to fill the space arousal had previously occupied. In an attempt to salvage the situation, he asked, "Don't you want me?" pouting for full effect.

Merlin sighed and his lips twisted as he decided how to answer that. "You're a very beautiful boy, Eggsy--"

"Oh." Well, that answered that then. Eggsy tried to climb off Merlin's lap, but the older man held him still.

"--and, provided that we--'we' being you, Arthur, and I--have a mature, rational discussion rather than simply throwing ourselves into it--"

A pointed look screamed ‘like the two of you had done’ because though Harry should have known better, Eggsy was the one that set the trap and was thusly as responsible for the fuck up that was their first time together.

"--I would very much like to have you in my bed."

Okay, so that was better, but there was a massive 'but' somewhere in Merlin's tone.

"But I need to know that this isn't some misguided form of gratitude from you because that, Eggsy, very much puts you back in the situation we just took you out of: trading sex for favors. And I will not allow that."

Eggsy pursed his lips and thought about what to say to that because, well, Merlin was right on certain levels and wrong in some others. Promisingly, however, the other man had yet to relinquish his hold on him.

"I think at this point, anything I do fer ya one way or another, expresses my gratitude fer wot you've done fer me or it’s goin’ t’ be an extension of it," he pointed out. "But that don’t mean it ain’t my choice t’ offer it or not to.” Merlin held his gaze with an intensity that made Eggsy feel brave enough to press his hips closer into the older man’s. He punctuated that with, “It also don’t mean I can’t find you fit as fuck and maybe the thought of sleepin’ with the both of ya’s the stuff of me boyhood dreams, yeah?”

Merlin cracked a smile which counted as success in every way, which was maybe why Eggsy suddenly blurted out, "An’ I just don't want you t' feel left out, y' know? A fif’ wheel ov sorts. 'Specially since I took away yer usual partner," then promptly cringed when he realized how that sounded. “I mean--”

Merlin laughed anyway. "Thank you, lad, but I don't need your concern. I'm quite capable of finding my own partners, and yes, while Harry is my 'usual,' he's not the only one. Nor is it any great necessity on my part. Unlike those three, I can survive a great deal of time without sex." He patted Eggsy's hair. "Your concern is appreciated, however, boyo.”

So Eggsy grinned and asked hopefully, “So...?”

“No,” Merlin answered before gently shoving Eggsy off his lap. “Remember that talk I mentioned? The one you, Harry, and I are to have? Not before then.”

Eggsy made a face at him and started to convince him exactly why not waiting would be a good idea, but then a voice from around one of the bookshelves remarked loudly, "There you are," and both men looked up to see Percival looking absolutely unsurprised at finding them hidden in the bookcases. Mostly, he looked resigned and a little bit relieved.

He came over to lower himself to the ground beside Eggsy with all the grace that Eggsy envied and gathered Eggsy’s discarded book from the ground. The older man hummed approval at his (Merlin's) choice of literature, then said, "Lancelot's been moaning for the last hour and a half that 'none of his friends ever support his matches anymore,' so I've taken it upon myself to escort you to the stands lest James suddenly finds himself with a bruised lip before the match has even begun."

Eggsy snickered and told him, "I din't know 'bout it, swear down. I'da been there if I did."

Percival rolled his eyes at Eggsy. "Lancelot has only been going on about it for the last three days. If Arthur maybe doesn't wipe your slate clean every night, you might have actually remembered it."

Eggsy grinned in remembrance because yes, Harry did have this magical ability to induce amnesia with his cock. And then he remembered his and Merlin's talk and couldn't contain his curiosity. "Speakin' from experience are ya, Perce?" Percival's eyebrow lifted and shot a glance at Merlin whose attention was still focused on his book when he said, "He asked."

"Huh," Percival remarked. It was the tone of a man absolutely nonplussed. Like Merlin, he only shrugged then twisted at the waist, absently scanning the books on the shelf behind him. He plucked one which turned out to be 'Knitting for Dummies' and flipped through the pages almost like he had already read them then started somewhere in the middle.

Eggsy was amused. He could nearly imagine the knitted creations (monstrosities surely because Percival couldn’t be good at everything) James would be sporting should the prison allow Alastair possession of potential weapons.

"And I've unfortunately been told that that ain't never 'appenin' again," Eggsy said with a mild pout. Though he didn't actually need it because Harry was more than enough to satisfy any of Eggsy's cravings, he was in a teasing mood.

Percival continued to appear unaffected as he pointed out, "Never is a very short time in Belmarsh." Then after allowing a moment for that to sink in, he glanced up and winked. Eggsy narrowed his eyes at him, but Percival only thrust Nineteen Eighty-Four back into his hands and pulled Eggsy’s legs sideways over his.

“What time does Lance’s game start?” the boy asked absently as he lowered his head back into Merlin’s lap.

“In about half an hour,” was Percival’s unconcerned answer.

Eggsy nudged him with a leg. “An’ d’you ‘ave any intention of goin’ at all?” he asked with a grin.

“None whatsoever.”