Eggsy winced when he woke up.

His head felt like a small death metal band had taken up residence inside it, but he did his best to ignore it. At this moment, he couldn't remember what he might have done to earn himself the hangover, but that was not important.

What mattered right this second was exactly how fucked he was, and whether he was going to have to call for backup.

Which might be a little difficult, because he wasn't wearing his glasses.


So no Merlin in his ear.

No matter.

He had got himself out of shit before Merlin, he didn't need to be babied.

He listened for a moment, and he thought he could hear the breathing of at least one other person in the room. That gave him pause.

As did the sensation of being tied to the bed by his wrists and ankles.

Oh. Right.

Now that he thought of it, his last clear memory was of drinking champagne at a function being run by a corrupt sheikh.

Fanfuckingtastic, Eggsy thought. Ah well. At least he was fully clothed.

And not tied to traintracks.

It was the little things that made the silver linings.

He carefully opened one eye, peering out through his lashes to see who he was sharing the room with.

He startled upon realising that the other person in his room was one Alex Rider, passed out cold next to him on the bed.

He stared at the other spy for a moment, being reminded once again just how young Alex was. Poor kid was apparently just about to turn twenty, and the shit he had been through…

Still, Eggsy thought, brightening, there were few more useful people he could have picked to be tied to a bed with.

"Alex!" he hissed. "Alex! Wake up!"

Alex moaned, shifted, tried to move, and then upon discovering that he was tied up suddenly shot 100% awake.

"Alex," Eggsy repeated, getting his attention.

Alex turned his head and stared at him, eyes wide and feral, with an expression Eggsy recognised viscerally.

Not for the first time, he reminded himself to never back Alex into a corner. The kid usually avoided killing, but give him no way out and the only predictable thing about his reaction would be that he would pull out a plan that was flat out mad and then pull it off.

Eggsy grinned, hoping to defuse it before it started. "Fancy meetin' you here," he joked. "How've you been since South America?"

"Eggsy?" he said, "what..?" Alex looked like he was about to launch into some sort of tirade, when he spotted that Eggsy too, was tied down.

(It might have hurt Eggsy's feelings just a bit, that initial instinctual suspicion, but Eggsy had picked up enough clues by reading Alex's dossier to get why maybe he'd be a bit squirrely when it came to trust.)

Eggsy scowled. "Fucked if I know, but if you could do me a favour, I'll have us out of here in a jiff."

Alex took a deep breath, and Eggsy noted that he was doing some sort of breathing exercise to calm down.

Eggsy didn't comment. If it worked, then it worked, and right now they had no time for panic attacks.

"What's the favour?" Alex asked him.

"Right," Eggsy said, shuffling a little closer to Alex on the bed. "They've tied my feet so I can't click my heels-"

"What, so you can't say, 'there's no place like home' and get us out of here?" Alex quipped.

"Shut it you," Eggsy smirked. "Nah, these ain't no ruby slippers, but there's a bit on the inside sole of me shoe that'll activate a retractable knife when struck. If you lay your foot flat under mine, I should be able to engage it, and then use it to cut us free." Eggsy paused. "It is coated in a fast acting neurotoxin however, so be bloody careful not to move once I've got it out. I'd hate to accidentally scratch you with it." Eggsy shuddered lightly. His memory of using that neurotoxin on that henchlady of Valentine's with the killer prosthetics was not pretty.

Alex's brows raised.

"Right then," he said, and then, with a little wriggling, managed to move his foot under Eggsy's.

Sure enough, Eggsy was able to get the knife out, and he immediately twisted his foot so that he could saw at the bindings. (Fortunately, there was just enough slack, otherwise this might have been annoying.)

To his delight, it turned out that whatever idiot had tied them up had decided that it would be a good idea to use silken ropes, so it took only a matter of seconds before his feet were free.

"Now what?" asked Alex. "I mean, it's great and all that you'll be able to kick someone in the face, but…"

"Oh ye of little faith," Eggsy teased. "Now watch how it's done."

And with that, Eggsy drew on his years of gymnastics-trained flexibility, and carefully lifted his feet until one was settled next to his ear for balance, and the other was being used to saw at the bindings on his hands.

"…I retract my previous scepticism," stated Alex as Eggsy rolled to a seated position, and then made fast work of Alex's bonds with a few careful swipes of his foot before carefully lifting away the pieces of rope.

Alex sat up slowly, rubbing his wrists as Eggsy carefully pushed the knife back into his dress-shoe.

"Probably doesn't need to be said, but be careful and don't touch the ends of those ropes," Eggsy instructed. "You seriously do not want any of that shit on you, not even a trace."

Alex nodded seriously.

"So, what was your mission?" Eggsy asked almost conversationally as he did a quick inventory of his suit.

Alex, casing the room, unscrewed one of the bedknobs and then tore a wide strip off the sheet.

"One of the guests wanted to put Krokodil into a shipment of dates meant for a snack company that makes mueslibars and whatnot," Alex explained, as he made a primitive cosh from the bedknob and ripped material. "You?"

"Corrupt sheikh involved in…fuck. People trafficking. Same operation that got blown up back in France that time that you so kindly walked me out of." Eggsy shook his head in annoyance. "Sorry, looks like this is my mission spilling over into yours."

Alex shrugged in a 'what can you do?' sort of way, and started making a second cosh.

Eggsy meanwhile, was unsurprised to find that his guns and knives had been confiscated.

On the other hand, they had left him his signet ring, the garrotte that was stitched into the hem of his jacket, and...

Eggsy smirked at his final find.

"So," Alex said, watching his expression with an unreadable one of his own. "I take it you have a plan to get us out of here."

"'Plan' is probably a rather strong descriptor for what I've got," Eggsy admitted, "but have I ever shown you one of these before?" he asked, holding up the golden lighter.

Alex raised an eyebrow. "I take it the plan isn't to set things on fire?"

Eggsy bared his teeth in a grin.

"Whilst that may happen in the course of things, this ain't no lighter," he bragged.

It was then that they heard a noise at the door.

The distinct sound of a bolt sliding.

As one, they stepped behind the door, and waited, ready to spring into action.

A woman wearing what looked to be some sort of bland grey uniform stepped in, and was visibly shocked at the empty bed.

Eggsy grabbed her by the arm, and put a hand over her mouth, whilst Alex checked the corridor.

He indicated that the coast was clear.

"Now don't scream, you understand?" Eggsy said to the woman.

She nodded, eyes wide with fear.

"Right, so-" Eggsy removed his hand from her mouth, and she promptly screamed her head off.

Alex knocked her out with one blow to the base of her skull.

"Shit," Eggsy said. "Okay then, Plan B."

They checked the woman and figured out that she must be some sort of nurse, based on the syringes of some sort of medication that she carried on her. Alex palmed one, as Eggsy ascertained that she wasn't carrying anything else useful.

They started jogging silently down the corridor, faces grim as they saw the number of doors with bolts on them.

"Right," murmured Eggsy, "here's the plan. We get the fuck out of here, subtly if possible, brutally if not. We find a vehicle of some kind, then we make for the nearest Kingsman safehouse, then we call in enough reinforcements to get the prisoners out and then blow these wankers to kingdom come."

Alex nodded grimly. "Works for me."

And then they turned a corner, and nearly ran into three grunts who were apparently investigating the nurse's scream.

Alex caught the one nearest him on the temple with one of his coshes, whilst Eggsy used the wall as a springboard to drop an elbow on a second one's head.

The third guard turned to run and no doubt sound the alarm, but Alex beaned him on the back of the head with his cosh, which slowed him just long enough for Alex to stab him in the neck with the syringe, dropping him with whatever concoction had been in there.

He looked back, to see Eggsy tying the other two together with the sleeves of their shirts, and going through their pockets.

Eggsy threw him a keycard.

"This should get you out of the building if we end up splitting up," he said, crowing in delight as he then found what he really wanted- one of them (an officer of some kind, he assumed,) had a loaded gun, whilst the other had a taser.

He called dibs on the gun, and chucked Alex the taser, wanting to chuckle at the face Alex pulled at having a non-lethal weapon.

"It's nothing personal," Eggsy said, "I know you can shoot, but first in best dressed, yeah? You can have the next one," he said consolingly.

Eight minutes later he was regretting that statement when Alex lifted a very nice glock from a guard Eggsy tased from behind with his signet ring.

They carefully sidled out of the building, and Eggsy spotted a likely option for their ride.

Alex followed his eyes, and nodded.

"Same as Scotland? I'll keep them off you whilst you hotwire it?"

Eggsy nodded, and pulled his lighter out. "Use this for a distraction," he said.

"What's it do?"

Eggsy grinned. "Grenade."

To his surprise, Alex grinned right back. "Your Merlin really does give you the best toys."

"Oh bruv, you got no idea. Speaking of," he shrugged out of his jacket. "If you're playing distraction, you want to be a bit more bullet proof. Nope, don't even start," he said, as Alex opened his mouth to argue. "You'll be drawing off bullets from me, so this is the least I can give you."


It took Eggsy only a few seconds to show Alex how to work the lighter, and then he was sprinting, ducked low, towards the car.

Moments later, and he heard the "Boom" that meant Alex had set the lighter off. By the way alarms were sounding, Eggsy thought Alex must have chucked the thing back into the building.

He ducked low, using the car to hide himself from the sightlines of the goons running back towards the building.

The car door was unlocked, and even better, some idiot had left the keys in the ignition. He turned and saw Alex running flat-out towards him.

Unfortunately, he wasn't the only person who saw.

Eggsy shot the woman who had Alex in her gunsights, and her partner who had been distracted by the commotion of the grenade. Then he jumped into the car, and started it.

Alex practically dove into the passenger seat, and Eggsy threw the car into gear and slammed the accelerator on.

Everything would have been fine if it hadn't been for the sniper who managed to get a shot off through the back windscreen and lodge a bullet in Eggsy's left forearm.

"FUCK!" Eggsy swore, driving one handed. "Alex, be a mate and stop my arm from pissing blood, yeah?" he gritted out.

Alex wadded up the sheet material he'd used as a cosh and shoved it against the bleeding wound hard. Eggsy swore a blue streak, but kept driving as Alex tied the makeshift bandage tightly.

"Oh yes, I'm the one that needs to be bullet proof," Alex snarked.

"Shut it." Eggsy rolled his eyes. "I'd say let's switch, but we don't have time to pull over," he added, glancing at the rear-vision mirror but only seeing dust from the dirt road they were on kicking up behind them.

"Any idea where we are?" Alex asked.

Eggsy shook his head grimly. "Not a clue. You?"

Alex pulled his shoe off, and pressed something.

"What was that?" Eggsy asked.

"Panic button," Alex said. "Fingerprint activated." He leaned around and shot out the front tire of a motorbike attempting to follow them. "Depending on how far we are from Tehran, we might get back-up within fifteen minutes, best case scenario."

Eggsy swerved to avoid a giant pothole, and pushed on the accelerator harder.

"Worst case scenario?" he asked.

Alex shot three more times, and then pulled Eggsy's stolen gun out of his belt. "Just keep working on getting us the hell out of here," he grimaced.

As it turned out, they got lucky.

On the one hand, they weren't in Iran anymore.

On the other hand, they managed to stumble across a UN Peacekeeping Force on a reconnoitring mission, and the soldiers did not take kindly to being shot at by the goons chasing Eggsy and Alex.

They gave Alex access to a radio, and Eggsy access to medical attention.

Alex spoke to someone, using words that were obviously in code, before he snapped and demanded an extraction, ASAP, for him and his comrade, and goddamnit if they didn't move their arses then he was going to have their fucking jobs because this was about national security.

It turned out that he wasn't even lying, as at some point Alex had neglected to mention the nuclear weapons he had found before he had been captured.

(Eggsy was unimpressed, and told him that if he neglected to tell him things like that ever again, then next time he would leave him tied to the bed. Both of them ignored the rather odd looks they got from the UN soldiers at that little exchange.)

Soon it was just a waiting game, stretched out in a small patch of shade under a tarp, waiting for the helicopter Alex had managed somehow to commandeer.

"You know, you still haven't visited the shop to pick up your suit I promised you," Eggsy mused, taking a sip of water from a borrowed canteen.

Alex yawned. "Fine. If you insist."

Neither of them commented on the fact that if Alex had had a suit of his own, Eggsy would not have been injured.

It took another two and a half hours, but the helicopter finally showed up.

The two of them piled in, and they had barely sat down before it was up in the air again.

Eggsy was startled to see that the pilot was Roxy.

"Ro-Lancelot!" he quickly corrected. "What are you doin' 'ere?" he asked the second his headphones were on.

Roxy shot him a look.

"Making sure you get your arse home in one piece for Daisy's birthday tomorrow. Or did you forget?"

Eggsy swore.

"Daisy?" Alex wondered.

"My baby sister," Eggsy explained. "Thanks Rox. I know I said remind me, but this is going a bit above and beyond."

"Hardly," Roxy said. "Who do you think it was your Mum called last time you missed a family thing? It sure as hell wasn't Merlin." She shook her head. "Your Mum delivers an extremely impressive guilt-trip. She could train candidates in the psych courses."

Eggsy snorted. "Why do you think I quit the Marines?" he asked rhetorically. He shook his head, and changed the subject. "Rox, you met Alex yet? Alex, this is Roxy Morton, codename Lancelot. Rox, this is Alex Rider."

"That kid from MI6 you were telling me about?" Roxy queried. She glanced over her shoulder to look at the exhausted-looking blonde who under the grime and stress looked as though he should still be at university or something. "A pleasure to make your acquaintance," she said.

Alex mumbled something polite in reply, before asking, "So, if you're Lancelot, and Eggsy is Galahad, and Merlin is well, Merlin…" he grinned. "Could you have picked more ostentatious code names? Knights of the Round Table. Really?"

Eggsy's answering grin was a little rueful. "Not my pick. If I'da got a pick then I wouldna picked the Pure guy now would I? But the position…opened," Eggsy lost his grin at that. Harry's death still was still a raw hurt, rather than a scabbed over wound like his dad's, and forced himself to continue.

"Speaking of…" Roxy said, interrupting his thoughts. She pressed a button, and Eggsy heard the click in his headphones that said she'd flipped them to a private channel. "There's another position open."

Eggsy's head whipped around as he caught her tone. "You're taking the piss. Who?"

"Agravaine." She shook her head. "Didn't get away from his own explosion fast enough."

"Shit," said Eggsy. From what little interaction he had had with the pyromaniac agent that sounded about right. He said as much, and Roxy agreed.

"Merlin wants us to propose candidates," she said. She rolled her eyes at him. "Though I imagine you at least won't have a hard time coming up with a name."

"Huh," said Eggsy, and then turned around to look at Alex.

He flipped the switch to put himself back on the common channel.

"What?" demanded Alex warily, looking at him with suspicion.

"Just working out a schedule to get you measured up for that suit," Eggsy said breezily.

Alex did not look reassured, a crease appearing between his eyebrows.

Eggsy grinned. "You're due some leave after this mission, yeah?"

Alex nodded slowly and unenthusiastically. "What of it?"

"Want to embark on the most dangerous job interview you'll ever have?" Eggsy asked him.

Alex blinked. Then tilted his head in consideration.

"I'll think about it," he stated, "but I suppose it's not like I've got much to lose."

Roxy laughed at that response. "Oh god, he really is your candidate," she said, shaking her head. She had got the story out of Eggsy a while back when they had been getting drunk after a particularly rough mission.

Eggsy grinned. "Don't put in anyone whose feelings you're worried about. Alex here will wipe the fucking floor with them, if he decides he's interested."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence," drawled Alex, but Roxy didn't miss the subtle tone of agreement.

Interesting, she thought.

And decided that this time, her candidate would be her cousin Monty.

The idiot could do with being taken down a few pegs.