It had been almost a full week since Roxy had recovered them from the desert, and Eggsy was pacing.

He had exchanged mobile phone contact details with Alex, (and once he'd done it he couldn't figure out why he hadn't before,) and arranged to meet him here, in front of a pub six blocks from the tailor shop in Saville Row.

Eggsy was dressed down in his favourite chav clothes, brightly coloured hoody and winged runners and all. He was also wearing his glasses, because he was waiting for a call from Merlin with details of an infiltration mission that he'd be doing soon. The ironic thing was that even though Eggsy had spent quite a bit of time learning manners and various affectations that the so-called "gentlemen" of Kingsman put such stock in, he was now often called on for his "native knowledge" of how to act like he hadn't been born with a silver spoon suppository.

(He might have been offended by it if he hadn't watched some unintentionally but frankly hilarious footage of Pellinore trying to talk to a group of nouveau riche businessmen at a party in Florida. To say that he had failed to get the intel would be to neglect to mention just how completely bamboozled he had been by the group of Silicon Valley CEOs, who had almost immediately sensed his faint classist condescension and then proceeded to (as Eggsy's mate Jamal would have said,) troll him and troll him hard.)

"Eggsy."

Eggsy looked up, and grinned when he saw Alex strolling towards him, wearing an ensemble of jeans and a faded button-down shirt that was a little less eye-catching than Eggsy's but nonetheless made him look exactly like what he was: a government-schooled kid who had grown up in a medium-sized house in a quiet suburb. A close observer might note the calluses and scars and martial artist balance, but with Alex affecting a slouch and a bright but shy smile, it was easy to miss these.

He looked nothing like as rough as Eggsy did when he wasn't donning his fresh polish, but still very much not one of the equestrian, Latin and Oxbridge types that Kingsman was already full of.

Perfect.

"They're going to underestimate you, and it's going to be fucking hilarious," Eggsy declared, walking up and throwing an arm over Alex's shoulders.

Alex's affected smile morphed into a quietly self-confident smirk.

"If they're anything like how you described, then I am almost certainly going to rub most of them up the wrong way," Alex admitted. "I don't have much patience for people who aren't flexible."

Eggsy grinned. "Some of them might be alright— after all, me and Rox are best mates, and we met through the Lancelot candidate selections – but as you well know, making assumptions is a terrible habit for a spy to get into."

Alex nodded solemnly. "Almost worse for getting into trouble than being given bad intel."

"Amen to that," Eggsy agreed, indicating with a jerk of his head for Alex to follow him into the pub.

"What's your poison?" he asked once they were inside the darkened interior.

Alex shrugged with one shoulder. "I don't often drink," he replied without elaborating.

Eggsy inclined his head in acknowledgement and didn't ask. The tone was enough to tell him that it was not something that Alex especially wanted to talk about.

"Cuppa tea suit you then?"

Alex nodded. "Lady Grey, if they have it. English Breakfast if they don't."

Fortunately, the pub did have Lady Grey, so Eggsy procured cups for the two of them. They found a quiet corner, where they could watch the exits and the street traffic without being easily observed.

"So," Eggsy said after they had been sitting in comfortable silence for a while. "There may or may not be a betting pool concerning the candidates, and who is going to last the longest."

Alex raised an eyebrow.

"From what you've told me about the Kingsmen, I'm guessing that the winner does not collect simply bragging rights," Alex surmised.

Eggsy grinned. "You'd be right about that." He took a sip of his tea, grimaced, and added three sugars to it whilst Alex watched, bemused.

"So why exactly are you telling me this?" Alex asked him. "You don't want me to throw the results, do you." His tone suggested that that had better not be the case.

Eggsy was quick to reassure him. "Oh no bruv, none of that. I just wanted you to know that when you win, you get a cut. Call it extra incentive."

"Extra incentive over being fitted out with a bullet-proof bespoke suit and getting more freedom to make judgement calls?" Alex sounded unimpressed, but Eggsy was pleased to hear his priorities put bluntly like that.

"Don't forget the part where you'll be set to earn at least triple of what they pay you at MI6, and," Eggsy puffed out his chest, in blatant self-mockery, "you'll be regularly working with yours truly."

Alex snorted. "I thought you were trying to give me incentive." The light twitch of his lips though betrayed that he wasn't being serious.

Eggsy laughed. "Ouch, bruv. Well either way, you're my candidate, and you are going to earn me a small fortune in the sweepstakes when you blow away all the opposition, so I'm going to be nice and give you one reason to keep in mind why you do want to join Kingsman."

Alex looked Eggsy calmly in the eyes, his attention complete.

"If it is even remotely avoidable, Kingsman never sacrifices the innocent," Eggsy said seriously. "That's our Rule 1. I want you to remember that."

Alex took a thoughtful sip of his tea. He was sure that Eggsy was being truthful – so far Eggsy had made a point of being nothing but honest and straightforward in their dealings, which was why Alex liked him and even to a point trusted him – but something about Eggsy's expression told him that he was being given a hint.

He filed the cryptic comment away for now. If it was a hint, it would become clear later.

"I'll keep that in mind," he responded mildly.

Eggsy beamed, subtle as his dress-sense. "You do that. Now," he said, downing the rest of his tea. "You ready to kick some posh arse?"

Alex's responding smile was distinctly predatory.