It’d been a good ten years since a pet had inhabited the home of one Harry Hart, gentleman spy extraordinaire. But in Harry’s defense, he’d never really been a “pet person” to begin with. Mr. Pickle had been thrust upon him the same way all the other puppies were thrust onto his fellow recruits, and while he was the one to ultimately gain the title of Galahad, they all had to bring their pups back to their homes once their training was over.
But Harry had loved Mr. Pickle, really. The little Yorkie was loud and infuriating at times, but the way he cuddled next to Harry on the couch or in bed- despite being told numerous times not to- only made the man sigh fondly and scratch his ears, a light reprimand on his tongue, as Mr. Pickle wagged his tail like the good dog he was.
But then Mr. Pickle had died, far too early, from fucking pancreatitis.
And ever since then, Harry’s friends and coworkers had constantly urged him, once the mourning period for the Yorkie had sufficiently ended, to get a new pet. Harry believed that they’d grown concerned when he got Mr. Pickle stuffed and mounted in his bathroom, but really, that was just how the Hart family honored their beloved, domesticated beasts. Still, even when he explained as much, it didn’t stop the barrage of suggestions of replacements animals that he could get- everything from another dog all the way to a capybara had been mentioned oh-so-casually to the gentleman spy, and each idea was turned down with a withering stare and a firm “No.”
Because Harry was fine, thank you very much. Mr. Pickle had been a beloved companion, but now harry didn’t have to worry about finding a dogsitter for when he went away on missions, and he didn’t have to constantly buy dog food or take him out for walks. Having a pet would be a hassle, and at forty-three years, Harry was too old for any more hassle than he already had as a Kingsman agent.
At least, that’s what he kept telling himself.
But one day, as he set about cleaning the house, brushing down Mr. Pickle’s fur in the downstairs bathroom, he glanced up and stared into his dog’s glassy, taxidermied eyes, and found himself gripping the brush with a bit more force than usual- as in, it snapped in half. The crunch of the brush breaking brought Harry back to his senses, and he sighed wearily before going to clean up the splintered pieces.
Truth be told, Harry was lonely. There wasn’t much room for friendship or, god forbid, love, in the spy business. Pets were just about the closest thing he could get to companionship if he didn’t want to go and hang out with his coworkers (and as nice as some of them were, he preferred to distance himself from work during his off-hours).
So maybe, Harry admitted, a trip to the local shelter wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
The very next week found Harry with a rare few weeks of leave, and so he’d gone to the shelter to pick out an animal to bring home. He’d been annoyed by the near-chorus of cheers that had resounded from his coworkers- namely Merlin and Lancelot- when he mentioned finally getting another pet, but he went anyway, determine to do it now before he could back out.
Minding his injured arm (which was the reason for his few weeks of leave in the first place- a mission gone a bit haywire in Morocco), he pushed open the door to the shelter, and was greeted by a pretty young woman at a receptionist’s desk.
“Hello,” she chirped politely. “Welcome! How can I help you today?”
Harry walked up to the desk and offered her a smile. “I’m looking to adopt a new pet, actually.”
Immediately, she brightened even further. “That’s wonderful! Well, we’re certainly stocked up on animals, so hopefully it won’t be too hard for you to choose one. Let me just call one of our volunteers up…”
“Thank you, Miss…” Harry glanced at her nametag, which was covered with little poodle stickers. “Roxy.”
Roxy smiled and nodded at him before she turned to open the door behind her, and then walked through it to what Harry presumed was the shelter’s office space. Only a minute had passed when the door opened again, but it wasn’t Roxy who walked out; it was a young man around her age, and Harry, who’d been glancing around to observe his surroundings, stopped to do a double-take.
Because holy shit, the young man was beautiful.
Blond hair, green eyes, and a jaw sharp enough to cut through rock, the young man in the far-too-tight t-shirt depicting the shelter’s logo gave Harry a grin bright enough to light up the entire city. And Harry, the elite gentleman spy with a respectable amount of honeypot missions under his belt, actually blushed.
“Hey there,” the young man greeted, walking around the counter and sticking out his hand towards Harry. Harry had just enough wherewithal to acknowledge the gesture by shaking his hand, though he released the young man quickly when he felt how soft his hands actually were. Christ.
But the young man gave no indication of having noticed Harry’s odd behavior. “Rox says you’re lookin’ to adopt?”
“Uh… I-I mean, yes,” Harry coughed, cursing himself. “Yes, I’m looking for a new pet.”
“That’s awesome, bruv. Follow me?”
The young man- Harry finally glanced at the nametag and saw ‘Eggsy’ written there, strangely enough- turned and beckoned for Harry to follow, which the older man would have done regardless, on the basis of Eggsy’s attractiveness alone. And, well, by following behind him, Harry got a lovely view of the lad’s arse.
Eggsy led him through a hallway with a door at the end that opened up to a larger room, where several animals ran about, separated into glass enclosures according to their species.
“So, what kinda buddy are you lookin’ for today?” asked Eggsy, turning around to face Harry again.
Harry snapped his gaze up from Eggsy’s arse, Eggsy none the wiser, and took a moment to compose himself before answering.
“Well, several of my coworkers are under the impression that any animal would be a suitable companion for me.”
Eggsy smiled at that. “They could be right. You never know ‘til you try, bruv.”
Harry blushed again under Eggsy’s gentle smile and gaze. “R-Right. Well. I had a dog before, so I thought that a canine would be easier for me to adjust to.”
Eggsy shrugged, walking over to the dog enclosure and leading Harry along with him. At least eleven excited dogs were jumping around once they saw the humans approach them, and Harry winced. None of them were nearly as small as Mr. Pickle had been, and while size alone was no reason to turn down a perfectly good dog, he was still too attached to the memory of his cherished Yorkie.
He stepped up against the glass wall, which was about hip-high, and peered over to survey the dogs regardless. Just as a golden retriever started barking madly at Harry, he noticed that Eggsy had maintained a polite distance away, and was merely watching Harry, but something akin to anxiety was dancing in his eyes.
“Everything alright?” Harry asked, brows knitting together in concern.
Eggsy offered him a tense smile. “Yeah, yeah. Sorry. Just, not much of a dog person, me.”
“Oh? Why not?”
He pointed to his left eyebrow, where a scar cut across the tiny hairs and marred his otherwise perfect face. “Got attacked by one of me stepdad’s mate’s dogs when I was a kid.”
“Oh.” Harry turned away from the dogs to fully face Eggsy. “I’m sorry that happened to you.”
Eggsy shrugged. “Thanks, but it was years ago. I know these fellas don’t mean no harm,” he grinned at the still-clamoring dogs. “But, I mean, I’ve just always been more of a cat person anyway, you know?”
“I’ve never had a cat,” admitted Harry. “But I’ve heard they’re easier to take care of.”
Eggsy nodded enthusiastically. “Yeah! Like, you don’t gotta walk ‘em, they clean themselves, and they’re super chill. Plus, nothin’ feels better than having a cat curled up and purring in your lap.” A dreamy expression glazed over his face, and Harry had to bite his lip to stop from smiling at it.
“I take it you have a cat of your own, then?”
He blinked. “Huh? Oh, nah. Actually, I’m not allowed to have pets in my flat,” he said sheepishly. “So I pretty much treat all the little ones here like me own.”
Harry smiled gently. “Any particular favorites that you think I’d like?”
Eggsy thought for a moment before he nodded, walking over to the cat enclosure. The cats were numbered in the twenties, and most of them had only looked up to acknowledge Eggsy’s presence, save for one, a brown and black shorthaired cat, who had strutted up to the wall and let Eggsy scoop it up into his arms. The young man turned back to face Harry, his mouth open as if to say something, when he stopped short.
“Oh, shit,” he laughed. “Sorry mate, but I didn’t get your name.”
“It’s Harry,” he answered, utterly charmed. “Harry Hart.”
“Good to meet ya, Mr. Hart. I’m Eggsy.” He held up the cat, who stared calmly at the spy. “And this little guy here is Galahad.”
Harry froze. “What?”
“Galahad. Like, you know, the knight. S’ what the person who dropped him off here called him. I just call him Haddy though,” said Eggsy, oblivious to the shocked expression on Harry’s face, as he was too busy booping the cat’s nose. “You’s too much of a doofus for such a fancy name, aren’t ya?”
Galahad, er, Haddy, meowed as if to agree, and butted his head into Eggsy’s chest. Harry could hear him purr even from five feet away.
A cat named Galahad. If that wasn’t some kind of signal from the heavens, Harry didn’t know what was. It didn’t help that the cat was currently snuggled into the arms of the most gorgeous man Harry had ever seen, either.
Eggsy took a few steps towards Harry and offered him the cat to hold. Harry hesitated for a moment before complying, letting Eggsy deposit the furry, multi-colored thing into his arms, cringing at the thought of the car hair sure to cover his suit. But Haddy settled moderately quickly, almost melting in Harry’s arms like a big, warm, fluffy loaf. The cat tilted his head upwards and slowly blinked at Harry, which was apparently a big deal, since Eggsy laughed and clapped Harry’s shoulder amiably.
“He likes you!”
Harry glanced at the young man. “How can you tell that? We’ve only just met.”
“When cats blink like that, it means they trust you. It’s basically like sayin’ ‘I love you’ in cat.”
Harry made an assenting noise, then looked back down at Haddy, whose motorboat-purr was back in full effect, and reached up to absently pet his head.
“Awfully quick to trust, aren’t you? I could be perfectly horrid, for all you know.”
Eggsy smiled softly. “Nah, I think Haddy’s makin’ a pretty good call.”
“Do you?” Harry looked at Eggsy again, his mouth tilting up in an amused smile of his own. Eggsy, to his delight, blushed and looked away.
“I mean, y’know… You seem like the good sort. Like you’d take care of him and all.”
“Well… I should tell you that I often have to travel for work. Would you mind that?” He directed the question at Haddy, who didn’t bother to open his eyes and merely opened his mouth to yawn. It was… adorable, quite frankly.
So Eggsy answered instead, stepping closer to scritch under the cat’s chin. “That should be alright. S’long as you’ve got somebody to feed him and clean his litter box, maybe play for him for a little bit each day.” He looked up from the cat and into Harry’s eyes, and it was with a small jolt of excitement that Harry realized they were merely inches apart. Eggsy seemed to realize this as well, for his mouth dropped open and he stepped back, flustered.
“So, uh, what d’you think? You wanna take Haddy home with ya or what?”
Harry readjusted his hold on the fluffy weight in his arms and nodded, his smile widening when Haddy opened his yellow eyes to look up at him, his gaze steady but weirdly endearing. He looked back at Eggsy and nodded.
“Yes, I would."
Within the hour, Harry had the paperwork filed and Haddy paid for, as well as a veritable trunkload of cat supplies, such as food and cat dishes, a litter box, a cage, toys, and some grooming supplies. Really, whatever Eggsy had recommended, Harry immediately added to his cart. The young man was even gracious enough to help load all of the supplies into Harry’s car, after he’d spent a few moments admiring it.
“Look at that, Haddy,” he cooed, even as Haddy looked thoroughly unhappy trapped within his newly-purchased cage, “you’re movin’ up in life. You might even live in a castle, like a proper knight.”
“I’m afraid my home is far less grand than that,” demurred Harry, continually enchanted by Eggsy’s interactions with the animal. “But I hope you’ll enjoy it all the same… Sir Galahad.”
Eggsy laughed at that, and together they finished loading everything up. But then they both lingered outside the shelter, beside Harry’s car, for a few long moments of silence.
“Well,” Eggsy started. “Guess you’re all set, then.” He cracked another smile, though this one seemed distinctly lacking his usual energy. “You take good care of Haddy, alright? Else I’m gonna find your ass, kick it, and take him back.”
“I will,” promised Harry with a grin. Eggsy seemed to accept this answer, but as he turned away to return to the shelter, Harry called out to him, unable to stop himself. “Eggsy?”
The young man turned around, a quizzical look on his face. “What?”
“It’s just,” Harry stammered, blushing, “well, like I said, I travel for work a lot.”
“Yeah…?” Eggsy turned to face him fully, one eyebrow raised.
“And I don’t have many people I can rely on, as it were. So, I was wondering if, perhaps… You might want look after Haddy for me? Only when I’m out of town, of course,” He added, steeling himself for the young man’s response.
Eggsy blinked. “You want me… to catsit for ya?”
“If you are amenable. I would pay you for it, obviously.”
“I…” The young man shook himself out of his trance and chuckled, his mouth curving upwards in another brilliant smile. “Yeah, I could do that.”
Relief spread throughout Harry’s body and he let out a breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding. “Wonderful. Then, here.”
He reached into his inner jacket pocket and pulled out his standard-issue Kingsman business card, handing it to Eggsy with a nervous smile. Eggsy took the card, his eyes scanning over it for a brief moment, before he pocketed it in his jeans and looked back at Harry.
“Guess I’ll be hearin’ from you then, Mr. Hart.”
“Please, call me Harry.”
“Alright,” Eggsy beamed. “Harry.”
Haddy ended up clawing a good portion of Harry’s furniture to ruin before he finally decided that he liked his new surroundings. Harry would’ve been more upset, but then he thought of sparkling green eyes and a gentle smile, and suddenly he didn’t mind.
Even when Haddy decided to forego the nice new bed Harry had bought for him and instead sleep on his face.
In which Harry’s friends meet Haddy, and teasing ensues. Also, Eggsy’s friends notice that he’s been a bit dazed lately, and thus call him out on it.
tbh I just really wanted to write Merlin + James/Roxy + Charlie being the shit friends that they are
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“You got… a cat.”
“Yes.” Harry tried not to roll his eyes, moving instead to give Haddy an affectionate scratch under his chin. The cat responded just as Harry expected, with his eyes slipping closed and a loud purr reverberating through his kitchen. Behind him, Merlin and James were still staring, slack-jawed, as though they’d never seen a cat in their entire lives.
“A cat, Harry,” James repeated.
“I know perfectly well what species of animal I’ve been living with for the past week,” replied Harry, picking up Haddy’s bowl and pouring a generous amount of dry food inside. Haddy sat patiently on the countertop, waiting for him to set the bowl back down, but the feline’s eyes were wide with intent. Harry did set down the bowl, and watched fondly as Haddy leapt face-first into it, before turning around to address his friends again. “Besides, you were the ones badgering me the most about getting a new pet. I thought you’d be pleased.”
Merlin shook his head, a small, disbelieving smile on his face. “Of course, Harry, but… well, we just weren’t expecting you to get a cat.”
Harry sniffed. “They’re the second-most popular domestic animal in the United Kingdom.”
“And since when have you followed trends, Harry?” laughed James. “You picked the smallest puppy in the batch just because you didn’t want a normal-sized dog like ‘everyone else’.”
“Yes, well. None of you expected me to get a cat. So perhaps that was my plan all along.”
Merlin scoffed. “You’re so full of shit, Harry.” Nonetheless, he walked over to the counter and didn’t hesitate to stroke Haddy’s back; the cat paused for a moment, glancing at him, but as he didn’t sense any immediate danger, resumed his noisy eating. “But I’ll admit, he’s a cute little bugger. What did you say his name was?”
Harry allowed himself a smile. “I didn’t. You two just barged in here like you own the bloody place and started interrogating me on my choice of animal companions.”
James shrugged, “What else are friends for? Now, name, Harry, come on.”
And then the gentleman spy hesitated – just for a brief second, but long enough for his two friends (who were also gentlemen spies) to notice. “Haddy.”
Merlin raised an eyebrow. “’Haddy’? The hell kind of name is that?”
“It’s his name, and he’ll thank you not to make fun of it.” Not that Haddy was actually paying attention to any of them, as engrossed as he was in his food.
“Harry.” James fixed him with a pointed look. “We know you’re terrible with names, but ‘Haddy’ is hardly something you’d come up with. We were expecting ‘Gherkin’ or ‘Sir Cucumber’- !”
“Or something equally ridiculous,” piped in Merlin.
Harry opened his mouth, about to protest that Mr. Pickle had loved his name, but the unimpressed stares from his friends only made him sigh. They were going to find out eventually, he supposed, since he’d just ordered a special collar with Haddy’s proper name on it a few days ago. Best they get it out of their system now.
“Galahad,” he mumbled morosely, fixing his gaze on the animal in question, who had finished eating and was now grooming his paws.
There was a moment of silence, during which James and Merlin had exchanged glances. Then, James looked back at Harry and spoke up, his tone steady but his lips twitching.
“You named your cat… Galahad?”
“Of course not,” Harry snapped. “He was already named Galahad when I adopted him.”
Merlin let a bubble of laughter escape him at that, and Harry glared at him for it. “So you – oh, Lord, Harry, don’t tell me you got the cat just because he shares a name with you.”
“I did not. It’s merely a coincidence, I assure you.”
“Hell of a coincidence,” James said, still obviously trying to contain his glee. “God, wait until Percy hears about this.”
Harry fought back a groan. He noticed a pair of yellow eyes on him, and tilted his head to see Haddy walk across the counter to approach him. He tiredly lifted a hand and let the cat bump his head into it, and he felt marginally better.
“If you two are quite done,” he said dryly.
“Not by a long shot,” James grinned. “So, why does he go by Haddy?”
Harry sighed. “It’s merely what the young man at the shelter had taken to calling him. Apparently, Haddy is too much of a ‘doofus’ for such a fancy name.”
Unconsciously, his lips tilted upwards as he thought of Eggsy, the gorgeous shelter volunteer who’d brought him and Haddy together. They’d been texting each other all week since Harry left the shelter, though it was mostly pictures of Haddy on Harry’s part, and grammatically-incorrect-but-amiable responses followed by a string of emojis on Eggsy’s.
He’d sent a blowing-a-kiss emoji once and Harry had goddamn blushed at his phone.
And unfortunately, as previously mentioned, both James and Merlin were trained spies, so they immediately noticed the way Harry’s mouth was curved upwards, and his eyes were softened. They exchanged knowing looks this time, and James grinned widely.
“Methinks that this young man had a lot to do with your adoption of Haddy,” he intoned, as Merlin nodded wisely.
Harry blushed, frowned, and then scooped a pliant Haddy into his arms, brushing indignantly past his friends and out of the kitchen. Haddy purred, and he heard footsteps and snickers follow him, so he knew this was far from over.
“So. What’s up with Eggy?”
Roxy glanced up from her magazine to see Charlie leaning over her counter, the brunet tossing a curious glance in Eggsy’s direction. Their fellow volunteer was currently ignoring his job of refilling the food bowls in favor of smiling at his phone like a loon. Roxy grinned.
“Right, you weren’t here last week. Galahad got adopted.”
Charlie blinked. “Really? Eggy’s favorite? Haddy?”
“The very same,” she nodded.
“Then…” Charlie looked back at Eggsy, who was now very obviously smothering giggles into the palm of one hand while the other still held up his phone. “Why is he so…happy?”
“Because the man who adopted Haddy was hot.”
“Flirted quite a bit with Eggsy, too.”
“They exchanged numbers and everything.”
“Ah.” Understanding settled over Charlie’s features. He turned back to Eggsy with a renewed sense of interest. “What was he like, then?”
Roxy paused for a moment, going through her memory of the man who’d walked into the shelter a week ago.
“Older,” she finally said. “Maybe in his forties? Well-dressed, too. Looked a bit like Colin Firth, to be honest.”
Charlie snorted. “Oh, of course. I leave this place for one week and Eggy bags himself a Daddy.”
“Fuck off,” came Eggsy’s half-hearted reply, and neither Roxy nor Charlie were surprised that he’d been listening the entire time.
“I’m just saying,” Charlie continued, not discouraged, “is that I always miss the good stuff. I missed the time Roxy punched that guy in the face for making a pass at her, too.”
“It’s ‘cause you’re a shitty person and the universe knows it,” Eggsy said as he walked over to them, but there was no real bite to his words. “’Sides, it ain’t like that. Harry’s nice and all, but he’s not interested.”
Roxy blinked. “What? Eggsy, I’m pretty sure he gave you his number first.”
Eggsy flushed, to Charlie’s immense delight. “H-He wanted to hire me as a cat-sitter.”
“A man in a suit that nice can hire a professional, not some shelter volunteer he’d just met – !”
“He just knew how attached I was to Haddy – !” tried Eggsy, but Roxy interrupted him.
“He wanted you to call him. He’s been texting you nonstop, sending you all those cute photos of Galahad and flirting with you– and yes, I have seen the texts, you left your phone open on the counter a few days ago. For god’s sake, Eggsy, he’s fucking interested.”
Eggsy stared, dumbfounded, at her, while Charlie, who had been bemusedly observing the entire exchange, snorted a laugh once Roxy was finished.
Eventually, Eggsy found his voice again. “Are… Are you sure?” he asked meekly.
Roxy rolled her eyes. “Yes, I’m sure. Eggsy, when was the last time someone showed that much interest in you?”
Eggsy opened his mouth –
“And no, that one kiss with Charlie doesn’t count. You were both drunk.”
“Ugh, and here I’d almost forgotten it,” Charlie grimaced, just as Eggsy snapped his mouth shut with a frown.
“But Harry is so…”
“So posh. He works on Savile Row, guys.”
Charlie raised an eyebrow. “A tailor?”
“Accordin’ to his card.”
“All the more reason to pursue this ‘Harry’, then,” the taller man grinned. “He might be able to do something about your dreadful wardrobe.”
Eggsy gave him a baleful look, but to Charlie’s credit, he merely shrugged it off, turning to Roxy instead.
“I’m going to go check on the dogs,” he announced, stepping away from the counter to do just that. “Make sure you knock some sense into this one before I get back.”
“She’s technically our boss, you can’t tell her what to do!” Eggsy shouted back, but Roxy had only nodded, and Charlie disappeared, laughing, to the pets’ area. Once they could no longer see him, Roxy returned her gaze to Eggsy.
“Ask Harry out,” she said, and while it wasn’t said like an order, Eggsy couldn’t shake the feeling that she’d meant it as one.
Still, he sniffed disdainfully. “And what if I don’t?”
“Then I’m taking your phone and doing it for you,” she replied, not missing a beat. “Also, you’ll be on bathroom duty for all the animals until further notice.”
“What?” she shrugged. “Like you said, I’m technically your boss. Now, get to it.”
She turned away, off to attend to other matters, leaving Eggsy to man the counter by himself.
He gave a deep sigh, cursing his choice in friends. Roxy and Charlie could be insufferable little shits (Charlie more often than not), but even then, he knew they had a point. In the short span of a week, during which Eggsy had only physically met the man once, it was becoming more and more apparent that his little infatuation with Harry Hart had grown into a full-on crush.
But he couldn’t help it, alright? Harry was already attractive and well-mannered when they first met. But after days of texting, Eggsy had also learned that the man had a dry sense of humor, was often exasperated by his coworkers, and spoke frequently in innuendo (which was really doing nothing for Eggsy, other than encouraging his already-vivid fantasies).
And perhaps worst of all, after their first few days of messaging, it was obvious that Harry was already irrevocably fond of Haddy. He sent Eggsy a picture whenever the feline did the smallest thing, and he’d ask questions about his behavior that showed a clear concern for the cat’s well-being and comfort.
So, gorgeous, polite, funny, and a bit of a pervert. And, also, a burgeoning cat person. Really, Harry was quickly becoming the perfect man, at least as far as Eggsy was concerned.
Eggsy startled, quickly raising his phone to his face to read the newest text message – unsurprisingly, it was from Harry. It was really just another picture of Haddy; this time, the cat was curled up on Harry’s bed (he assumed). Underneath his furry butt was some kind of red jacket – a robe, probably – and that was confirmed when the caption beneath the picture read: ‘He’s ruining my favorite robe,’ and it was accompanied by, to Eggsy’s utter disbelief, a frowny-face emoji.
He stared at his phone for a few moments, transfixed by the simple cartoon face, before a wide grin overtook his lips. He quickly moved his fingers to begin typing his reply – and all the while, the tight feeling that had swelled within his chest began to loosen.
Maybe, just this once, he could actually listen to his friends.
anyway, the next chapter will probably have one of our love-struck cat people finally asking the other out. probably. there's an equally likely chance that I'm going to drag out the pining for as long as possible.
ALSO eventually there will be an explanation for how Roxy, Charlie, and Eggsy all came to know each other/work at the shelter.