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Trials

Chapter Text

Eggsy shifts the aim from JB to Arthur, and shoots him in the face.

The gun barely kicks.

The look the old man gives him once the flash passes and the smoke fades is extremely sour. And not exactly on the you've-gone-and-fucked-up-son way. He says nothing though – just stares.

"Fucking there," Eggsy says, leaning back and taking the clip out of the gun, checking the magazine. Custom Kingsman blanks – exactly as heavy as the real thing. He throws the gun on the table between them in disgust.

"You knew they were blanks," Arthur says after a pause. He sounds pissed off – barely even tries to hide it.

"Did I?" Eggsy asks, picking startled JB from the floor and settling the pug in his lap. Arthur gives him a look and utterly unrepentant, Eggsy scratches his dog's ear. "So now what? Failed that test, didn't I?"

"Hm," Arthur says and glances away – and at a hidden camera Eggsy spotted on his way in. The whole Kingsman manor is bugged throughout – it doesn't have a single unmonitored corner.

There's a distant gunshot and Eggsy glanced at the door. "Roxy," he says and looks at Arthur.

The old man touches his glasses. "How'd she do, Merlin?" He asks, staring at Eggsy. Arthur waits a moment and nods. "Feel free to give her the good news… No. He didn't."

Eggsy grinds his teeth and the old man lowers his hand. After a moment, Arthur takes out a tablet and taps at it.

"Should I pack up my shit and go?" Eggsy asks irritably after few minutes of tense silence.

"Sit," Arthur orders without looking at him. "During your first test, you were the one to break the glass. You did it with your fist – and under water too. How?"

"Spotted it earlier – the thing was weak," Eggsy shrugged. "Big pane of thin glass, no wire or any reinforcement. Bet you guys made it intentionally that way, to make it easier to break. Knew it wouldn't take much – just enough to focus the pressure and water was gonna do the rest."

"And why did you go for the door?"

"Bit dumb to not even check the bloody door, innit?"

Arthur nods with a frown and taps the screen. "Your sky diving exercise – you were the one to plan the landing, pairing everyone up."

Eggsy shrugs. "It worked didn't it?"

"It is how the sky diving exercise usually goes," Arthur agrees, and gives him an irritated look. "But why bother? Not only did you save your fellow competitors for the position as Lancelot, but you waited until the end. Almost got yourself killed."

"It was my damn plan – I had to make sure they got down all right," Eggsy says and frowns right back at the old fucker. "You getting somewhere with this shit?"

Arthur lifts a hand to forestall the question. "The NLP test."

"At that point you'd nearly drowned us for a test and Merlin faked us out with the parachutes – it got fucking obvious nothing about this shit is how it looks," Eggsy says. "Also who the fuck ties you to actual fucking train tracks? Fucking seriously."

Arthur presses his lips thinly together and stares at him.

"So what?" Eggsy asks, more and more irritated now. "Roxy's the new Lancelot, right? So the fuck it matters?"

Arthur scoffs and nods at the gun. "If you figured out they were blanks, why didn't you shoot the dog?"

"Why the fuck would I shoot my dog? I've spent months training JB, he's a good dog and I sure as fuck won't shoot him just because some old fuck tells me to," Eggsy scoffs. "I know fuck all about you – for all I know you're some fucking traitor fucking with me. Besides Merlin's been banging on about fucking teamwork since day one. The dogs were a teamwork exercise. Be one fucked up team where you go shooting your team mates at the drop of a fucking hat."

Arthur looks fucking disgusted at that. "You have failed the knight trials," he says, scoffing.

"Big fucking surprise," Eggsy snarls and moves to get up. "I'll be –"

"Sit down," Arthur snaps at him and Eggsy sits. The old man takes a steadying breath. "You've failed the knight trials," he repeats and hands over the tablet. "And entered the king trials."

Eggsy pauses at that, staring at him, at the tablet. "What?"

Arthur looks away. "Kingsman trials are in two part – every test engineered for two objectives. For finding knights – loyal and capable agents for the Kingsman Agency… and for finding kings – leaders capable of seeing beyond the surface, and leading the Knights. You've done well in the knight trials. Your scores in the king trials are similarly exemplary."

Eggsy blinks. "Wait. So me shooting you instead of the dog –"

"A knight is expected to do as he's asked – a king does what is right," Arthur says sourly and gives him a disdainful look. "Forty years of waiting and eighteen candidate trials and it's a little prick like you, who's suited to be the next Arthur. Go fucking figure."

Chapter Text

Eggsy stares in disbelief at Arthur and Harry, sitting calmly in the Kingsman dining room. He's not the only one.

"What," Eggsy says, "the actual fucking shit?"

Harry sips his drink and Arthur makes a face at Eggsy over his tablet. "Merlin, Lancelot," he greets the Merlin and Roxy, who has a gun in hand and is nervously looking at the two members of Kingsman – who should by all right's be dead. "You two are dismissed."

"Sir," Merlin says and Eggsy glances at him. The guy is still in pilot uniform and he looks calm as fucking anything.

"Merlin, what –" Roxy starts to say, but he takes her by the shoulder.

"Come on. Time to get you fitted for a suit," Merlin says with grim sort of smile and calmly steers her away, leaving still blood stained Eggsy alone with two dead men.

The world's gone to shit, there's probably millions of people dead and Harry Hart and Chester fucking King are sitting smug and calm as fucking anything in Kingsman. After one of them was shot in the head. And the other Eggsy killed himself.

Neither has a fucking mark on them.

"What?" Eggsy asks and then closes his eyes in realisation. "Shit. Fucking Kingsman."

Arthur sighs and glances at Harry who has sort of amused not-smile on his face. "He's a charming little snot, your candidate," Arthur says and leans back, looking at Eggsy. "Sit down."

Eggsy sits down, collapsing at the end of the table and smothering the urge to cover his face in his hands. "Fucking Kingsman," he mutters again and then looks over his hand at the two old fucks at the other end. "All of it was a fucking test? All of it?"

"King trials are by necessity tad more serious than knight trials," Arthur answers with a scoff – directed more at smug looking Harry than at Eggsy. "Let's go over your performance then, shall we?"

Eggsy really doesn't want to.

"First, when Galahad died, why did you come here?" Arthur asks, looking at him over the tablet.

"Where the fuck else was I supposed to go?" Eggsy asks, glaring.

"You could've gone to Merlin," Arthur points out.

"Yeah, well. Merlin's Merlin. You're Arthur," Eggsy mutters and leans back, slumping against the back rest of the fancy ass chair. "I figured you knew what the fuck was going on, and whatever happened after, that was your call."

"Hm," Arthur agrees and looks down at the tablet. "And my betrayal?"

Eggsy snorts and looks at the table between them. "You're a dick," he says. "Wasn't exactly unexpected." Though seriously, after the fucking dog test, he should've fucking expected it.

Arthur arches an eyebrow at that, and Harry looks quickly away, smothering a smile against the brandy glass. "Your ease in believing the worst in your superiors is duly noted," the leader of Kingsman mutters and looks at the tablet again. "As is your talent in sleight of hand, something not previously shown during your trials. Any other unmentioned abilities?"

"I got a mean right hook, I could show you," Eggsy mutters and folds his arms. Then, when Harry casts him a disapproving look at the mess he's making of his suit, he relents. "Parkour, lock picking, general thievery, burglary… you know. Common petty thug shit."

"Hm," Arthur answers and glances at Harry pointedly.

"After all he's done, you're still giving me that look," Harry says and lowers his glass. "It's no wonder you've had to push retirement so much. Your standards are too fucking high."

"Hmph," the old fuck answers and turns to look at Eggsy. "Glasses," he says, and with sigh Harry takes his set from his pocket while Eggsy does the same. Arthur points to one of the paintings – which under the VA glasses turns into a screen.

It shows a slowed down clip of Eggsy and Arthur sitting on that very table, just the two of them. Arthur pauses the clip at the point where he himself is pouring the brandy, and Eggsy is staring at his neck.

"You noticed the implant scar," Arthur says, and lets the clip play out. Eggsy's face is shown clearly in it, him glancing at the glasses. "And within 5 seconds decided to kill me."

On the clip Eggsy pointed at the paintings, Arthur looked away, and Eggsy switched the glasses around.

"Never letting a thing show," Harry says, sounding satisfied as he glances at Eggsy. "Well done."

Eggsy glares at him wordlessly and turns to Arthur. "You knew I knew about the pen?" he asks irritably.

"Kingsman facilities are all monitored – I know Harry showed the armoury to you," Arthur agrees and glares right back at him. "One mention and the slightest possibility of betrayal and you didn't even hesitate."

"I checked your pulse. I stabbed you in the neck," Eggsy says accusingly.

"The brandy was drugged – just not with that particular drug," Arthur shrugs. "And false bit of skin is hardly a new trick."

"How'd you get the countdown clock for Valentine's fucking thing, then?"

"How do you suppose?" Arthur asks, giving him a pointed look. "From Valentine."

Eggsy stares, opening his mouth and then closing it. Then he opens it again. "What the fuck?"

"The Valentine mission has been on going for close to three years now – it took priority," Arthur explains. "We had close to five hundred missing VIPs and with Southglade Mission Church a risk of even greater threat to the entire global population. Every Kingsman agent has been on this since Galahad was first hospitalised. My going under cover is hardly surprising."

"But… the chip?"

"Merlin removed it earlier," Arthur shrugs and leans back. "The tech Valentine used was advanced, I will grant you that – but Kingsman has been at this for far longer than he has been. Problem was we couldn't find his location before the actual count down clocks were sent out. Once that was done, we could act – and it only made sense to test you while we were at it."

Eggsy stares and abruptly realises that he hasn't actually seen any footage of the world outside yet. All he has the map in Valentine's base, going red as the SIM cards activated, and… Merlin's voice in his ear, telling him the world's going to shit.

Merlin, who was in on all of this.

"You're shitting me," Eggsy says flatly.

"We had seven other agents inserted in Valentine's base before Merlin got you and Lancelot there," Arthur says. "Among other things, they hacked Valentine's system, fed false information in. The V-day never worked. We just made it seem like it did."

"And the implants?" Eggsy asks, shaking his head. "I'm guessing we didn't blow off the heads of major world leaders for nothing?"

"Their activation was only base-wide," Arthur agrees. "The world leaders are still in possession of their heads, in as much as they ever were."

"I can't fucking believe this," Eggsy groans and runs hands over his face, knocking his glasses askew.

"Don't be so disappointed – the threat was very real on site," Harry comments idly. "You being pinned, that was very real. And your order to activate the implants was inspired."

"Fuck you," Eggsy grunts at him.

"Speaking of which – your order to Merlin to activate the implants," Arthur says and lowers the tablet, crossing his hands on the table. "You would have killed eight presidents, sixteen royals and forty one major government officials, including close to thirty prime ministers. You think it was justified?"

"Obviously corrupt politicos who threw their lot with Valentine and agreed to kill off most of the world population – versus most of the world's population?" Eggsy asks and glares at him. "That isn't even a fucking choice."

Harry looks proud. Arthur looks disgusted.

"Imagine the chaos we'd have, if that would actually happen," the old fuck says. "Dozens of governments without leaders -"

"And the chaos of billions dead world wide is better?" Eggsy asks cuttingly. "Fucking seriously. You can replace leaders – they fucking come and go. You can't replace entire global work force. Valentine was planning to kill, what, six billion people? That's truck drivers and store clerks and farmers and fucking plumbers – fucking sewer workers. That's the whole fucking global infrastructure, right there. You think we'd fucking survive, with all those people gone?"

Arthur glares – Eggsy glares right back.

"He has you there," Harry says smugly and casts a look at Eggsy. "You did well."

"Fuck you, bruv," Eggsy says and points a finger at him. "You should be dead. No way you got a blank into Valentine's gun. How the fuck aint you dead?"

"Valentine's aim was off by about a foot – and I was planning to die there anyway as part of your training exercise, so I had fake blood in hand," Harry answers with a shrug. "It was rather lucky that it was Valentine who did it."

"Fucking lucky my fucking ass –"

"That's enough, Eggsy, stand down," Arthur says sharply and stares at him until Eggsy settles to glare at him. Then he smiles. "I was pissed off too, when the previous Arthur did this to me," he admits begrudgingly. "Question is, are you pissed off because we made a fool of you, or because you didn't figure it out?"

Eggsy grunts and doesn't answer.

"Thought so," the old man said and stood up. For the first time that Eggsy's seen him, he moves awkwardly – there's a pop of joint and he lets out a irritated sigh. "It's about fucking time, too," he mutters and looks at Eggsy. "There's still more to come – you will need more specialised training than regular knight. But for now… Welcome to Kingsman… Arthur."