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          'You're a bloody peacock and that's somethin' I've learned from experience, Galahad. The fuck did you say that for? He's def gonna remember your sorry arse now.'

 

          'I found his company degrading- I can get the drive without playing nice with an adulterer.'

 

          'If you say so, guv- but if this comes back to bite your arse I expect the whole song an' dance. An' a stiff drink.'

 

          'And how will I deliver these things to you, oh faceless one?'

 

          'You're a fuckin' secret agent, I'm pretty sure you can figure out a private youtube link and how to pay a drink forward. Or just do the performance for Merlin- he'll make sure I get to see it.'

 

          'Alternatively, you and I could simply go out after a job well done like normal people do after work.'

 

          'We ain't normal people, guv- on your left, yeah good- and I'm plenty satisfied with this arrangement.'

 

          'You could be further satisfied.'

 

          'Did you really jus' try an' pull that one on me? Next you'll be saying somethin' about the many benefits of physical interaction. Upstairs, third door on the right.'

 

          'Well it's not as if I haven't suggested such things before. Got it.'

 

          'Good, can't go back the way you came but there's another stairwell down the way- go up a floor and go down elsewhere. *Minimal interaction* means you can' just punch your way outta this one.'

 

          'Fists are so uncivilised-'

 

          'Or any of your gadgets, neither. Jus' get home safe and drop that drive at HQ.'

 

          'Fine. In repayment for you taking away all of my fun, I'll be sure to send you the most awful thing I can find in-'

 

          'Oh there you are.'

 

          'Shit.'

 

          'Lemme guess, it's the prick you insulted earlier. An' he ain't too happy.' There's no response, but the view from the feed is answer enough. 'Knock 'im out and get the fuck outta there. This cover's a bust now, anyway so it don't matter how just get it done.' Galahad doesn't acknowledge him, though he does knock the target's lights out as quietly as possible before making his way quickly but calmly from the event. Small favours.

 

          'So I'm expectin' that song an' dance before you're sent off on your next mission.'

 

          'Is now really the time to rub it in my face?'

 

          'Are you dyin'?'

 

          'No.'

 

          'Bein' pursued?'

 

          'No.'

 

          'Injured in literally any way?'

 

          'Well, my knuckles ache a bit.'

 

          'That don't count. An' my point is that now is theperfect time to rub your mistakes in your face like a pup who's pissed on a rug. I dunno how you survived twenty-somethin' years without me.'

 

          'Merlin had hair to pull out. And I resent that statement.'

 

          'Y'mean you represent that statement. An' I'm buying that man a cake. "Congratulations on Surviving Galahad" has a nice ring to it.'

 

          'In what way do I represent a pup? I'm perfectly grown, thank you.'

 

          'Oh I know you are; you're a big boy, ain't ya? But you listen to very few people, an' even then do things your own way, and then you strut your way home expecting a bone and a belly rub for a job well done.'

 

          'I'm hanging up now- obviously made it to the extraction point; I'll debrief upon arrival.'

 

          'Oh don't take it personal, Galahad- you know you're my favourite.' The silence on the other line was answer enough. Eggsy closed the feed and smiled to himself, happy with the successful mission. He'd only been Galahad's main handler for a couple years, but it was easily the most fulfilling job he'd ever had. Percival took him too seriously, Bors was a bit obsessed with explosions, and Lancelot was far more pun than professionalism.

 

          It also wasn't a bad thing that Galahad was incredibly witty. And fit. And so out of his league it wasn't even funny. One glance in the mirror when he forgot (He assumed he forgot; no need to make assumptions and make things worse than they were) that the feed was running and Eggsy was completely gone for him. Lust at first sight, when he'd already been enamoured with his dry wit, made Harry's inexplicable interest in him the worst temptation.

 

          But he didn't know much of anything about Eggsy besides his sarcasm. Well, that wasn't quite true either, Eggsy mused as he wrote up his end of the mission report. Eggsy'd spoken about his sister, and his mum, and about the Prick with a capital P he'd managed to get rid of when Merlin had hired him. He'd ta lked about loads of shit. Just nothing he thought was worth the kind of fuss Galahad made of him- Galahad, who had never even met him, and probably just had a thing for a bit of rough.

 

          Not that that was a bad thing- but Eggsy knew he'd want more than a tumble with him and he just didn't think that was possible.

 

          'Eggsy, I have something for you.' Merlin spoke from the doorjamb, ever-present clipboard in his hand and a smirk on his face. There's a ping from his monitor, and Eggsy opens a file under the watchful eye of Merlin labelled 'He Told Me So.' 

 

          It's a simple video, a sheepish smile on Harry's face as he sits in the Kingsman plane, doing these silly little waves with his hands while he sings 'you told me so' in varying pitches at a whisper. It's obvious that he doesn't want the pilot (a mate of Eggsy's named Ryan, not that Harry knows that) to hear him and turn around, he's flushed from his neck to the tips of his ears. It's actually adorable.

 

          'I don't know how you get him to do these things, lad.' Merlin's chuckling behind him, eyes bright behind his specs. ‘I can barely get him to show up on time.’

 

          ‘What c’n I say, I’ve got the magic touch.’

 

          ‘If I didn’t know better I’d accuse you of having siren’s blood- he’d do just about anything you asked of him.’ Merlin nods his head at the screen, where Harry is paused mid-song. ‘This being the least of it. He’s also instructed me, in this e-mail, to tell you that your drink will be waiting for you at the pub down the street once he’s back on home soil. And not to sound terribly cliched, but I am not an owl so stop using me to send messages back and forth. Give him an e-mail or something if you refuse to give him your number.’ He grumbled a bit (sounds suspiciously like you oblivious bastards) before wandering off.

 

          Eggsy finishes his report with a smile, and places an order at the bakery he knows Merlin prefers.

 

          Harry got off the plane at HQ early the next morning, sun barely over the horizon, and immediately went to debrief with Arthur. Merlin would be sure to meet him there, the way he always did, and then Harry would get to go home and sleep in his own bed. Sounded like heaven.

 

          ‘Now, Galahad, it seems like the mission went off without issue?’

 

          ‘For the most part, yes.’

 

          ‘The most part?’

 

          ‘I’m afraid that alias is unusable now- I accidentally compromised the mission but managed to work around it to fulfill the objective.’

 

          ‘Excuse me, gentleman- dropping off some reports for Arthur.’ A young man came through, dropping a thick stack of files on Arthur’s desk with a nod. Nothing in particular stood out about him, accent as upper-class as most everyone at Kingsman (with the one notable exception that Harry could never track down) and his clothes, though casual, were obviously of high quality. He was probably one of Merlin’s minions.

 

          ‘Ah, Lunete, thank you.’

 

          ‘Sir.’ In lieu of goodbye, he nodded at them (and exchanged a wry smile with Merlin, confirming his suspicion) before leaving the Dining Room.

 

          ‘Now, to get back to things- there was no “accidentally” involved in your alias being compromised.’ Merlin turned a severe glare in his direction before turning back to Arthur. ‘I reviewed the footage personally, and he brought attention to himself by insulting the target. Claims he found his company degrading, and could accomplish the task without following the instructions of his handler. In the end he forcefully knocked the target unconscious because too much time had elapsed to use the amnesia darts.

 

          ‘Well, as he did achieve the objective, we can at least attest to his being correct on part of that- though you did lose us a useful alias and years of work.’ Arthur turned to Harry, who looked sheepish for a moment, intent on opening his mouth to defend himself, but Merlin redirected his attention once again.

 

          ‘Yes sir, he did- but I’d like to bring something to your attention; glasses, please.’ They looked up at the hidden screen, which was now displaying the details of his alias’ file. ‘This is the file for Atticus Grey as it was originally constructed.’ He typed something onto his clipboard, ‘this is what is associated with that person.’

 

          ‘Well, this is convenient.’ Arthur muttered to himself, saying what Harry had been thinking. By some kind of divine intervention, it seemed that all of the people he’d made connections with through Atticus were either in custody or dead. The former of which was adding to the latter every year.

 

          ‘So, even though he did in fact ruin this alias, it’s not an altogether unsalvageable situation. Honestly, we probably would have scrapped this alias within the next couple of missions anyway.

 

          ‘However, with this alias being scrapped a bit prematurely, my team will need a few days to make the new alias as airtight as possible. With most agents off on missions we’re prioritising handling over our background work- when Percival and Lancelot return we should be ready for wherever you wish to send Galahad next.’

 

          ‘Forcing our Galahad into some down time, are we?’

 

          ‘No idea what you’re talking about, sir, it’s just procedure.’ There’s a glint in Merlin’s eye that says otherwise, but nothing he says will change their minds. This wasn't the first time they'd pulled such tricks, merely the most recent. Arthur dismissed Merlin with a smile, and he and Harry finished their tea with non-work related chatter.

 

          ‘I have some errands- a few days home shouldn’t be *too* tedious.’

 

          He was wrong. Harry Hart was many things and now he would be adding wrong to the list. A few days on home soil with no clear objective or clear end in sight was tortuous. He’d taken to pestering Merlin for updates every few hours, which had resulted in him being locked out of his office and the direct link from his glasses being shut off. 

 

          ‘Any reason in particular there’s a picture of Merlin’s face taped to that punching bag?’ The voice comes from behind him, bemused and unfamiliar, and Harry turns to find the minion from before. Shit.

 

          ‘Needed to let off some steam- Merlin’s decided to force some down time upon me, but I have nothing to do.’

 

          ‘That so? Still doesn’t explain why you’re punching his face like that.’

 

          ‘Sure it does- he’s insufferable and I can’t take it out on him in person.’

 

          ‘Isn’t there anything else you can do to pass your time?’

 

          ‘I’ve already finished all of my reports- and I’m doing the only other thing I can here at the gym.’

 

          ‘You could go for a swim- or the obstacle course! That one’s always fun. Or family to visit, or something?’

 

          ‘Been there, done that; and the obstacle course is only fun the first few times. Doing it on repeat for days takes it away. And no, they all died years ago. Just me and Kingsman.’

 

          ‘You need to get out more. Come with me.’ Lunete had one shoulder propped against the doorjamb, hands in his pockets, and a smirk on his face like he’s got a fabulous joke but won’t share it.

 

          ‘Excuse me?’

 

          ‘Well I was going to head home and hang out with my mother and sister, but you need a night out. Come on, then.’

 

          ‘I barely know you.’

 

          ‘First off, we both work at Kingsman, so how dangerous can I be to you; and second your file’s public to those of us in the Lake, so I know all about you- you could come out and even the score?’

 

          ‘I think you’re just trying to keep me from beating Merlin the next time he emerges from his cave.’

 

          ‘Eh, that’s just a pleasant bonus.’

 

          Eggsy ended up bringing Harry to the first pub he saw between the mews and Kingsman- in the opposite direction from the one Harry’d left his “you told me so” drink at. It wouldn’t do to be recognised since he was doing some serious posh-acting; he didn’t want the jig to be up too soon. 

 

          On the one hand, it was annoying as fuck to act like someone he wasn’t for longer than he absolutely had to. Arthur and his cronies were bad enough *on site* let alone out in public. On the other, though, it was probably the closest he’d get to actual spy work even if it was all for his own benefit.

 

          But, even as they sat across from one another at a booth and talked aimlessly about nothing, Eggsy could see Harry relaxing despite himself. He’d talk about some mishap in R&D and Harry would laugh until he was wiping at his eyes; and Harry would tell some story about his dog (the fuck kind of name was Mr. Pickle, anyway?) which would prompt him to talk about JB, and inevitably end up in giggles.

 

          Eggsy relished the opportunity to see what Harry was like outside of a mission, and what he acted like with someone he wasn’t strangely obsessed with. Now that he thought about it, Harry probably saw him as a mystery he wanted to solve. He wouldn't be interested once the mystique was gone, no matter what he said to the contrary.

 

          Even more motivation to make this mask believable. No way for Harry to connect the two.

 

          Harry, on the other hand, was enchanted with the surprisingly eloquent man. He lamented not having met him before, but resolved to get to know him better now. Merlin certainly wouldn't begrudge him a friendship with one of his minions, would he?

 

***

 

          ‘Lunete! Package for you.’

 

          ‘Another one?’

 

          It had been a few months since Eggsy’d taken Harry out to that pub in the guise of Lunete- and for some odd reason Harry had decided that the best way to cultivate a friendship with him was through obnoxious souvenirs. The kind of things Eggsy thought of when Harry threatened to gift him with “the most awful thing” he could find in wherever the fuck he was for a mission. Eggsy wondered if these were Harry’s idea of *good* souvenirs and, if so, allowed himself a shudder at the possibilities “the most awful thing” suggested.

 

          Today’s mystery package wasn’t very large- which eliminated another taxidermied animal- and it wasn’t very heavy- which eliminated a new creepy looking statue.

 

          If Eggsy hadn’t already known Harry outside of Lunete he’d have run for the hills after the first package. There’s eccentric and then there’s *eccentric* and while the former was interesting the latter was incredibly creepy. As it was Eggsy worried about his sanity, though he probably shouldn’t, as most of the Knights had something incredibly strange they loved. Gawaine had a collection of cat statues, Bors kept bits of rubble, and Percival collected local animal teeth. He’d resolved to never ask where he got them, no matter how elegant they looked once he'd polished them.

 

          The sight of them with bits of gum still attached made an impression, to say the least.

 

          Steeling himself, Eggsy cut the tape and pulled open the flaps before he could talk himself out of it, one eye closed while the other squinted into the box.

 

          There was a note.

 

          Lunete, I saw this while in Switzerland  and was captivated before remembering that I had no one to gift such a thing. But I remembered that you mentioned a sister all that time ago, and picked it up anyway. I’ve no idea how old she is (for all your chatter you’re surprisingly difficult to get information from) but if nothing else you can give it to your mother or something.

 

          Reaching blindly into the packing chips he grasped the first solid object he came into contact with. It was box-like, cool to the touch, and thus far made no noise which eliminated several possibilities- and pulling it out Eggsy gasped.

 

          It was elegant, carved in cherry wood and smooth as silk; the designs were all floral, likely roses or carnations or something. It wasn't the kind of thing Eggsy would have picked up on a whim, but the kind of timeless beauty he could see being passed down or inherited. Opening the lid, Eggsy was a bit startled to be greeted with music- who made music boxes this gorgeous? The tune was familiar, if a bit sped up, but he couldn't resist humming along.

 

          And then, giggling to himself, he penned a response.

 

          Well, Galahad, I certainly have no use for something as pretty as this myself, and Daisy's a bit young for it, but my mother will love it. Thank you for the rarity that is a gift that doesn't haunt my (or the rest of us Minions') nightmares. Seriously. They're haunting. But I'll certainly be that someone who'll watch over you.

          Gershwin? Really? Could have at least been a typical Mozart or something but you had to go and get something classy  and unexpected.*

---

          Eggsy certainly hadn't expected his bit of fun to bite him in the arse quite so immediately. Harry's flirting hadn't lessened any over the coms, but now it was accompanied by humming. Incessant humming that matched the music box that now lay atop his mother's dresser.

 

          'Fuuuuuuck.'

 

          'I'm not your agony aunt, Eggsy, take your self-created issues elsewhere.'

 

          'But he's gonna figure it out, Merls!'

 

          'Again, not my problem. Get back to R&D or research Galahad's next assignment, I don't care, but get out of my hair.'

 

          'But you don't have any-'

 

          'Finish that sentence and I'll delight in telling him myself. I'll make a power point with all the evidence, and finish with your address so he can-'

 

          'Alright, alright. Fine. I'll just go curl up and die at my desk. An' you'll have to break the news to Daisy.'

 

          'Far be it for me to interrupt your plans for spontaneous expiration.'

 

---

          'So, Eggsy,'

 

          'Don' even start, Galahad. Up the stairs and to your right- the painting of some posh knobhead with blue boots is hollow.'

 

          'You don't even know what I was going to say!'

 

          'Half the shit from your mouth during these missions is either you tryin' to talk me out of the plans I make to keep your sorry arse alive, or flirtin' with me despite the fact that we've never actually met in person. As you ain't fightin' the plan, I assume your next words were gonna be some persuasive argument about the pleasures of the flesh. Again.' He let a little of his irritation slip through, though mostly he was just nervous about Harry connecting him and Lunete. He knew it would happen eventually, but fuck it didn't need to be now. 

 

          '... Got the file.' Harry said reluctantly, almost a sigh, and for a moment Eggsy wondered if he'd somehow gone too far despite not changing his reactions to his flirting in the first place. 'On my way to extraction.' The playful edge that had come to be the highlight of these missions was missing. A Galahad subdued and not in the I-made-a-mistake-and-got-briefly-captured-again way.

 

          It left Eggsy feeling off-kilter. And incredibly worried.

 

          'Job well done, Galahad. Debrief at 1000.' Maybe he shouldn't have said anything after all.

---

          'Dare I ask what happened to put this kicked puppy look on your face, Harry?'

 

          'I've been ridiculous and making unwanted advances on a man I have never seen.'

 

          'You're always ridiculous.'

 

          'I've never even met the man and his voice is the brightest part of my missions.'

 

          'As I've already said once of late *I am not an agony aunt* and I have no desire or true advice to give you. Outside of, oh, I don't know, perhaps asking to meet in person?'

 

          'He shoots down my advances-'

 

          'Likely because that's what they are? Advances, obviously geared toward a goal that doesn't happen to stop at friendship or likely involve it at all.' Merlin sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, 'Why do you care so much, anyway?'

 

          'Eggsy's never treated me like a superior officer. He's never acted like he was beneath me for being behind the coms instead of in the field. He's honest and rude and makes me laugh and somehow I've fallen for him despite not knowing the shape of his face or the colour of his eyes- the timbre of his laugh is enough.'

 

          'I was expecting something more like "he's a shit like me and I don't want to ruin our working relationship" but leave it to you, Hart, to make it about feelings. What kind of spy are you?'

 

          'A good one, I hope, to have made it this far into my lifespan.'

 

          'Only by the grace of excellent handling.'

 

          'Ah, the great Merlin, so humble.'

 

          'I was referring to Eggsy- you caused me to lose the last of my hair, I have no patience for your showmanship, and your unparalleled ability to destroy my tech means that I tolerate you at best when I'm handling you.' And there it was, the shame, at reducing a brilliant handler to a seductive voice through no actions but his own.

 

          'I don't want to lose him.' It's whispered, eyes staring at a spot on the wall and completely missing the pitying look Merlin throws his way.

 

          'Then be honest, you great pillock, and talk to him. Not your weird proposition shit, either- I have to go through your mission footage and some of that... You're not going to get anywhere with some bad pickup lines and innuendo.' Merlin pushes his glasses up his face and turned away, tapping at his clipboard, 'And that's all I have for you today. Please vacate the premises or I shall be forced to do something terrible to another one of your fetishistic loo butterflies.'

 

          'Fine, fine, I'm goi- wait, what do you mean *another*?!'

 

---

          ‘Eggsy.’ He’s holed up in a supply closet, as cliche as one can be, but he will be there for an undetermined amount of time and he is just absolutely done with the stilted, awkward, handling of this mission. 

 

          ‘Dare I ask, Galahad?’

 

          ‘I just wanted to thank you for putting up with me.’ He tries to press as much sincerity into the phrase as he can, hoping beyond hope that he can somehow repair what he hadn’t realised he was breaking. ‘I know that I can be a bit much, but I don’t want you to think that I’m this way with the rest of the Lake. I simply have no idea of how to keep your attention.’

 

          ‘It is literally my job, Galahad, to keep my attention focused on you ad get your arse home safely.’ Eggsy was confused, and maybe a little hopeful. He’d felt bereft without Harry’s incessant nattering, but hadn’t known how to fix it- maybe this was it.

 

          ‘I was rather hoping to keep your attention while off-mission, as well.’ Eggsy nearly groaned, but took a moment to think on the situation. Harry wasn’t being actively flirty, the tone was all wrong; if Eggsy didn’t know any better he’d say that the great Harry Hart sounded nervous

 

          ‘With more soul-damaging relics from your missions like the ones you send Lunete?’ 

 

          ‘No- well, correction, not only with carefully-chosen pieces. I-’ Harry paused, and Eggsy realised that this was, indeed, an honest conversation that Harry was trying to have with him. ‘I would like for us to meet. Formally, face-to-face, give myself a visual to go with the auditory man who has consumed my attentions for quite some time. I understand that there is no reason for you to believe me, given my previous actions, but I’ll readily admit to having had no other idea of how to express my interest. Merlin can tell you that outside of a mission I’ve never been particularly graceful or smooth when it came to potential romantic partners.

 

          ‘I find that I’ve become enchanted with the idea of you, and would greatly appreciate the opportunity to discover if my fantasies even touch upon the reality of you as a person.’

 

          Eggsy literally had no idea of how to progress from here. Despite his own infatuations with the man, he’d dismissed Harry’s words as empty and with this revelation had no idea of how to progress. Forget the conundrum of Eggsy and Lunete being the same person- this was a problem now, and Merlin had probably known all along and that fucker hadn’t even tried to warn him.

 

          'We'll see Galahad,' Eggsy fought to keep his voice playful, to not give away his scrambling for a proper answer, 'you've got to get your way out of this shit first. An’ maybe, maybe , we’ll see about gettin’ a drink or something.’ And now Eggsy was back to cursing his mouth for running ahead of his brain and making promises he probably couldn’t keep.

 

          Harry continued to pretend that the pounding of his heart was due to his circumstances in the mission and not due to the tantalising possibility of meeting Eggsy proper at long last.

 

---

 

          Of course, Harry had managed the near impossible and completed the mission both on time and without any grievous injury to himself. Or to his target, which was a positive as he’d been tasked with surveillance and strictly told not to engage which are rules the man usually took as a challenge.

 

          Merlin goggled at the record when it was brought to him, and Eggsy took a seat across from the man as he reviewed the contents.

 

          ‘He didn’t make an uncouth comment and get chased from the grounds?’ The again went unsaid.

 

          ‘No.’

 

          ‘And he didn’t continue to press you about going out after you gave him a solid maybe ?’ Merlin sounded as incredulous as Eggsy felt.

 

          ‘Nope.’ Eggsy was in more than a fair bit of shock. On the one hand, Harry had achieved the objective while Eggsy had been in his ear. So that was a point for both of them, for Eggsy’s success as Handler and Harry’s as Knight; but the hows of it. Harry had done all of it because Eggsy had said they might get to meet if Harry did what needed to be done. The mere idea of getting to meet had given Harry enough cause to have achieved a nearly impossible feat for him.

 

          ‘I’m no’ one to butt into personal business-’

 

          ‘I fuckin’ know that, Merlin- you practically set this shit up by keepin’ to yourself.’ Eggsy grumbled, crossing his arms and slumping in the chair.

 

          ‘But perhaps, lad, Harry’s more than a bit serious about this.’ Merlin continued as if uninterrupted, and Eggsy looked away.

 

          ‘D’you really think so?’

 

          ‘The only way you’re going to know is if you actually talk to him and stop with this weird double life you’ve made for yourself and no,’ Merlin wagged a finger angrily, ‘I am not going to help you fix this shit. You dug this hole, make your own way out of it.

 

          ‘I certainly hope that you continue to inspire this out of him and he doesn’t corrupt you instead.’

 

          Eggsy stayed in that chair long after Merlin had returned to his own tasks, wondering just what he was going to do. He had two obvious options: he could meet Harry in person and come clean- or he could really chav it up and hope Harry wouldn’t be able to see Lunete in Eggsy.

 

          But, to be honest, Eggsy was getting real tired of having to keep track of who he had to be at any given moment. What Lunete knew versus what Eggsy knew and where they could overlap believably with them both being in the Lake. It was getting exhausting, and even with the possibility of losing Harry entirely through this fiasco, Eggsy was just. So. Tired. And maybe that wasn't the best reason to stop leading a double life but it was the one he had.

 

          So, there, that was one decision made- a pretty big one, too. Now he just had to hold himself to it. 

 

          But that didn’t mean he had to make it easy for the man; maybe he could get one last bit of fun from this fiasco.

 

--

 

          Harry’s office at headquarters was very secure. Merlin never let anyone in or out without his say so, even when the door was unlocked he’d lock it just as someone was reaching for the handle just to be a shit.

 

          So the box on his desk was a terrifying surprise. First because he’d had no idea that anyone had been in his office- but mostly because of the contents. The outside was so unassuming that Harry had reached in without a second thought and immediately regretted the action. 

 

          ‘What the fuck is this shit?’

 

          ‘It happens to be a gift, you idiot, if you’d bothered to read the card prior to sticking your hand inside?’ Melin chimed in from the glasses, and Harry flipped him off smoothly with one hand as the other shut the glasses down. So what if he was right, it was the principle of the thing.

 

          Harry pulled out the thing that had stabbed his finger, and was greeted with the most obnoxiously American thing he had ever seen. Intricately carved, it would be a work or artistry if it weren’t for the obnoxious colouring. A bald eagle sitting on a branch, a snake in its grasp, with everything but the bird in natural colours- the eagle was painted as the Americal Flag. It was the end of a wing that had stabbed him, curled upward in a parody of landing from flight. It was atrocious. 

 

          ‘What. the fuck. Is this shit?’ Harry warily stuck his arm back into the box of packing chips, feeling about for any additional hidden monstrosity, but came up empty. ‘No note?’ Harry began to turn the box about, half tempted to “accidentally” knock the statue from his desk- but he knew that if it had ended up here then the sender would discover the untimely demise. And, heaven forbid, send a replacement . On the end that had been facing his chair there was a small note, taped and half falling off the side of the cardboard. 

 

          Let’s play hide and seek, Galahad. You’re it. -Eggsy

 

          Harry pulled the note and examined the writing closely. The ink was partially bled through in some spots, as if he’d hesitated while writing it, and it looked to have been written by one of the Kingsman issued pens- not the ones with the poison, but the ones used for official paperwork, with the combustible ink. Just in case, you see, someone ever managed to get their hands on confidential paperwork. Which eliminated a great many people, as the only people to use them casually were the Minions, who used them for everything by default.

 

          As if sparked by this train of thought, the ink began to eat through the paper. Well, that route of examination was out. Eggsy had mentioned more than once the trinkets Harry would send to Lunete, so it was entirely possible that this gift was poking fun at his habit of choosing memorable items for the man, but to that end it also firmly pointed Harry to a particular collective of Minions: Merlin’s favourites. Unfortunately, codenames meant very little overall within the walls of the place- but real names were rare. It was far more difficult to ask after Richard than Bors , for example, because much like in faerie courts real names held power and were rarely shared.

 

          So asking for Eggsy would get him nowhere, unless he was asking Merlin directly, but the man had been of no help thus far and would likely continue on that trend for a while yet. So he was on his own to solve this mystery. Which meant he had to rely upon his already collected knowledge far more than present clues.

 

          Eggsy was a man with a simple- no, humble- past, who had come to Kingsman from the Army where Merlin had spotted him causing some trouble. Eggsy’d been confronted by his SO and had been quite contrite to admit that he’d been messing with the tech because he was bored and had lost his sense of purpose when those around him didn’t seem to care about the why as much as the when. He’d had a note put into his file, and Merlin had snatched him up immediately. Harry was still unsure of why Merlin had been watching the man in the first place, as there were so many people potential to sort through at any time and only a finite number of places to put them. Harry figured it was like applying to an Ivy League school you didn’t know was considering you. Incredibly selective- so what had pulled Merlin’s attention to him?

 

          But that wasn’t the concern at the moment. With what he knew about Eggsy, could he find him on the grounds? What did he care about, what did he mention liking about Kingsman, where would he have the highest likelihood of spotting the man in time to win this game. Harry wasn’t even entirely sure what he was competing for- but he was a vain man and desired victory for the sake of it just as much as any prize.

 

          Harry had never bothered to learn the things a Handler would- but he could strategise if he could only decide what direction to go in. Top to bottom? One end to the other? From the centre outwards, or vice versa? Simplest would be top to bottom, as the roof provided a finite amount of space he could go- so to the roof it was. He wasn’t so desperate as to climb the sides of the building, and opted instead to take the service stairs to the top level and find a window that overlooked a bit of the roof and meander is way from there.

 

          Which actually ended up being surprisingly difficult, but once he had found an acceptable exit he also stumbled upon another note taped to it.

 

          Let’s play a game, mate- well, another one, waiting in one spot is just so boring y’know? I’m hanging out with the rest of the Minions til ‘bout 3 where you left me my drink way back when. Find me. That little shit had been here, how long ago was anyone’s guess, and instead of following through on whatever his original plot had been had changed the rules. As if Harry had known what they were in the first place, but the point remained that he’d changed the rules without warning or explanation.

 

          But wasn’t that just like Eggsy, to at one moment follow plans to the letter and the next follow Harry’s lead on a whim? The fact that they were always successful could more likely be attributed to luck than any actual skill, but Harry was willing to take what the universe deigned to gift him. So he huffed a laugh and made his way back to his office, checking himself idly in the window as he removed his tie and popped a button or two. Going around to a pub while dressed to the nines, while safe in a Kingsman suit, was making himself a spectacle and if he intended to actually find Eggsy he needed to be able to blend in- at least a little. He removed his glasses, and mussed his hair just enough that it looked purposefully dishevelled as opposed to perfectly organised.

 

          Harry made his way down to the pub, one he frequented and thus was able to pull favours with, and nodded at the barman who smoothly slid his pint down the bartop to his waiting hand as he sat at his regular spot at the bar. No words having to be exchanged, which freed him up to idly glance about the room. There were some outside seats but it was easier to hide in a crowd, and easier still to disappear with staff constantly moving about, if you knew when and how to do so. Which was usually a skill Knights honed and Minions of the Lake dismissed as unnecessary. The likelihood of their being spotted, let alone pursued, was miniscule- so why waste the energy that could be dedicated to other things instead?

 

          There was a group of younger people in the corner booth, only a half dozen or so, about half wearing very familiar glasses. Now to spot his target proper. There was a young woman leaning intimately into the side of one of the men without glasses, with dark brown hair and pale eyes. That was Agravaine and Blanchefleur, then, as they were the topic of many Knights who were critical of relationships from within. And, honestly, how did they expect to achieve any sense of intimacy with someone outside of Kingsman, anyway? But that eliminated two suspects. There was his regular pilot, Houdain, with whom he’d shared many idle conversations of the last couple years. His accent was similar to Eggsy’s, but not so much so that he could ever have confused one for the other.

 

          Three down, three to go.

 

          There was another young woman with short cropped red hair, sans glasses but obviously sporting a pair of Kingsman brogues, bent nearly in double as she laughed- inelegantly snorting. She slapped the glasses off the man sat across from her in her antics, simply by waving her arms about, and Harry was grateful to know that she was not a Knight. If she were in this collective she obviously had immense amounts of talent behind the scenes, but something like that could make or break a mission. Which was entirely off topic, but Harry’s head was running in a million directions as he caught sight of the last two members of the table.

 

          One was a driver that he knew quite well, Ither, who had always been up for a joyride while escaping their pursuants. The other was Lunete.

 

          So Eggsy had lied, then. He wasn’t here after all. He turned back to his drink as a way to distract himself, observing the condensation run down the glass, and pretended that disappointment was not a bitter pill to swallow.

 

           Except, suddenly, he heard a very distinct ‘ you’re fucking jokin’, bruv!’ he knew without a doubt that Eggsy was in that group. His head snapped up just in time to see Lunete slap Houdain playfully on the shoulder, the latter covering his mouth with one hand while shaking with laughter.

 

          ‘Swear down, Eggs, I couldn’ make that shit up if I tried.’

 

          ‘The fuck was Lancelot thinkin’, tryin’ to make a jump like that in that outfit? She gave someone a lucky view, then?’ Ither looked as if Christmas had come early, a very Grinch-like smirk on his face at the thought, but Houdain shook his head.

 

          ‘The street was clear, luck with her, so she didn’t flash no one- but lots o’ people complained about the thumpin’ from the roof, next day.’ Lunete shook his head as Houdain finished, but Harry’s mind had stopped a bit before.

 

          Eggs. Eggsy. Harry ran the facts over in his mind as he took another idle gulp of his Guinness; Eggsy spoke often of Lunete’s gifts, he obviously knew Harry quite well after all the time of being in his ear, was well-liked and trusted by Merlin (who else would he trust his oldest friends’ safety to, if not someone he trusted?), and suddenly he couldn’t unlink the two. Lunete was Eggsy.

 

          Lunete was Eggsy.

 

          Lunete was Eggsy and he’d already had a drink with the man and he’d never let it on. He’d not even hinted that he’d been hiding anything; to hide such a thing from a Knight was impressive in and of itself. He’d been sure to keep their interactions regular, had never hinted at- well, hinted at what, exactly? Had Eggsy thought anything of their pint, that day, and what of the gifts? Why had he hidden himself so thoroughly within the walls of Kingsman that it took a ducking scavenger hunt for Harry to figure it out? It was not as if Kingsan was particularly judgemental- well, no, that was a lie. Arthur was a prick.

 

          Ah . Prejudice based around the way one walks. And talks. The things that are the quickest to reveal oneself as “other” in a collective of men from money. Arthur was quick to anger and quicker to insult, if only ever backhandedly, so the ability to blend in was imperative- he guessed- to Eggsy being able to do as he needed. Drivers and Pilots were often silent until prompted and prodded into speaking- a Handler was easily identified and exposed by voice. To affect an accent in the presence of those who would look down on you for being different was entirely understandable.

 

          But had Eggsy truly thought that Harry would judge him in that way? Had he not been clear with his affections through the coms? Short of screaming it from the rooftops he’d done all he could to show Eggsy that he thought the world of him. But… but perhaps that was what had kept him away. If someone is showy, you never take their actions or words at face value. Never. It’s survival one-oh-one, and Harry kicks himself for not connecting the dots sooner.

 

          Every bit of tension in his body began to loosen as Eggsy turned around, just enough for Harry to admire the cut of his jaw and the upturn of his lip as he winked.  At him. That cheeky arsehole. Harry didn’t hear the particulars, but Eggsy was excusing himself from the group with a smile and making his way toward Harry- and what was Harry going to say when he finally got there?

 

          ‘Hey, Harry.’ Eggsy slid into the seat beside him and nudged one shoulder with his own, sloshing what little was left in Harry’s glass. ‘Fancy seeing you here.’

 

          ‘You led me here, and yet you’re the one claiming to be surprised?’

 

          ‘Weren’t sure you was gonna find that window, guv, but you managed that shit in record time you did.’

 

          ‘So you set me up to fail?’ Harry finished his drink before he turned and lifted a brow, and Eggsy had the gall to laugh.

 

          ‘Nah, I set you a challenge and you met it. Exceeded expectations and all that shit. So, now, I’m an open book- what d’you want to know?’ He lifted a hand to the barkeep and accepted to proffered drinks with a grin.

 

          ‘Why?’

 

          ‘Why’d I leave you messages?’

 

          ‘Why this double life in the first place? What’s the truth here, Eggsy?’ Harry looked away, tips of his ears pink, and Eggsy paused for a moment before speaking.

 

          ‘I was scared- terrified, even- of you connectin’ Lunete an’ Eggsy. You’re a posh man, you got class out your arse and you’re fit and funny and I knew you were leagues away from me in life. You’d flirt with Eggsy, but Lunete was a mystery an’ you treated him like any other bloke while at the pub an’ then started sendin’ gifts and shit.’ Eggsy ran a hand through his hair and looked ruefully at Harry, ‘You was thoughtful and flirty and it made me fall more for you that I had already.’

 

          ‘That doesn’t explain-’

 

          ‘Gettin’ there, Harry. Promise. When I started at Kingsman, I’d barely walked in and Arthur looked down his nose at me and sneered that he didn’ want to see my face again. I thought I’d been dismissed b’fore I could start, but Merlin drew me aside. Tol’ me to ignore Arthur an’ that he was my boss an’ til he said leave I weren’t to so much as think about the door. But,’ Eggsy shook his head, ‘he gave me the name Lunete, an’ said to make it someone Arthur wouldn’ look twice at.’

 

          ‘So you made yourself unremarkable.’ Harry concurred, and tipped his glass in his direction, but Eggsy shrugged.

 

          ‘I made myself what he was lookin’ for. Growin’ up at the Estates, after dad died, you learn how to read people an’ make yourself what you gotta be to get by, Jamal and Ryan know all the same shit I do- they just don’t gotta use it as often. But,’ Eggsy grinned, ‘to explain the rest of this shit you get a bit of a story.

 

          ‘See, you an’ I’ve met before all this shit. Merlin and I had a bit of a laugh about it once I’d settled in. Y’see, once upon a time,’ Eggsy reached into his collar and began to pull on a chain, ‘you came by my place an’ left this with me for safe keeping.’ He opened his palm, and Harry forgot to breathe.

 

          ‘Oh my god. Eggsy.’ Harry breathed, in disbelief at having forgotten the child. It was a memorable name, and yet Harry hadn’t recognised it when they’d crossed paths again. ‘Eggsy Unwin - you’re Lee’s boy.’ 

 

          ‘Yeah, an’ that’s the other thing- I didn’ know if you’d still fancy me, flirty and shit, once you knew that. Still don’t know, actually, but I got tired of pretendin’ at you. The way I figure, this shit goes one of two ways, yeah? Either we get on as mates an’ we move on, or this shit’s blown us to bits and we never speak again.’ Eggsy spoke as if either option was acceptable, but Harry could see the tension in his jaw and fondly thought of him as an idiot. As if there were only ever two choices when it came to life.

 

          ‘You’ve left something out, Eggsy.’ Harry spoke blandly, allowing himself a small smirk around the lip of his glass, before setting it down and facing Eggsy fully. He waited for Eggsy to look at him and not the tabletop, but he seemed to be doing everything in his power not to do so.

 

          ‘Oh?’ Eggsy didn’t dare look at Harry- he didn’t want a fatherly pat on the shoulder, or apologies for how his life’d turnt out- but when Harry’s hand landed heavily on the wrist clutching his glass his head snapped up.

 

          Harry’s eyes flicked to his lips so quickly Eggsy swore he’d imagined it before there were lips against his own. Insistent yet chaste, Harry pulled Eggsy to him by framing his face with both hands. His fingertips cradling his jaw with what Eggsy could only describe as reverement. His eyes slipped closed, and just as Harry began to pull his hands away Eggsy made a soft noise of protest before leaning inward and pressing his insistently back. One hand held him steady on the countertop as the other wound itself into Harry’s hair as they began to lose time.

 

          They broke apart to jeering from the other Minions, ‘ get it, Eggs!’ and the two flipped the group off with a united two finger salute before dissolving into giggles.

 

          ‘Do they even recognise me?’ Harry breathed into Eggsy’s ear, and he shook his head in reply. ‘Well, they’re quite enthusiastic about your “getting it” from a man they don’t know.’

 

          ‘Like to hope they trust my judgement.’ Eggsy laughed, feeling high from the realisation that his antics hadn’t cost him a chance with the man before him. He pulled back, allowing himself to do a full once-over of Harry’s look- he looked gorgeous like this, ever so slightly undone, and Eggsy hadn’t let himself really realise it before that moment.

 

          ‘There’s never only two options, Eggsy. You know that as well as anyone.’ Harry smiled softly, running his thumb along his cheekbone.

 

          ‘Yeah, well, forgive me for puttin’ this option from my head after havin’ lied to you for so long. An’ forget the fact that  I’m nowhere near your league.’

 

          ‘We’re spies , Eggsy- lying is easy as breathing and takes half the thought of the truth. Not saying that I’m not a bit frustrated- but that’s more at my inability to be observant than your Parent Trap-ing me. And,’ Harry firmed the grip upon his face, ‘if I hear you dismiss yourself so easily again you’ll soon regret it. I love you, and if you find your own judgements are faulty then trust my own.’

 

          ‘You love me?’ Eggsy breathed, eyes wide like a child seeing art for the first time, and Harry allowed himself to drink his fill of the image before replying.

 

          ‘Well, I love what I know of you- both what you told me as Lunete and what I’ve come to know through our missions- and I look forward to loving the rest of you.’

 

          ‘Might take a while.’

 

          ‘Well, we have a while.’ The two pulled enough apart to finish their drinks, a pair of hands clasped between them as if to separate would break the spell.