A/N: Okay everyone, I hate to say this, but here's the final chapter. I hope you enjoy it.
Eggsy exhaled shapely as the Kingsman plane landed and let his fingers curl into the arms of the chair he'd spent the last four hours in. His back ached and his head was beginning to pound like he'd gone two rounds with Dean but none of it compared to the uncomfortable, almost agonising pain in his chest and stomach.
He didn't know what he was really all that worried about, it wasn't like Harry would want to see him. Hell Eggsy wasn't even going to ask after him, he'd made that decision two hours ago. He was just going to get off the plane, walk calmly through the Castle, collect his dog, get on the bullet and head home. – A home that wasn't really his. He was going to have to move out. He'd realised that too. He was sure he'd find somewhere small in London, it wasn't like he couldn't afford it, until then he'd just stay with his mum.
The door to the plane slowly lowered and Gwaine was heading for the exit double quick while Eggsy remained seated, unwilling to leave because the second he did, the second he stepped off the plane he was going to have to face the fact that everything he's spent the last month building with Harry was really gone. Over. Finished. Their friendship with it, because there was no way he'd be able to look Harry in the face now and not want it all back again.
He was sat there for what felt like hours before the pilot shook his shoulder gently. "Sir, we've landed."
Eggsy nodded, shaking himself out of his thoughts and slowly, incredibly slowly getting to his feet. Taking a deep breath he took careful steps towards the exit and then froze when he found Merlin stood at the bottom of the steps, an impatient look on his face.
"I thought for a minute they'd left you behind."
Eggsy sighed, shaking his head. "Nope, Galahad, present and accounted for." He took the steps reluctantly. "I assume you got my mission report."
"Good, then I can fuck off home. Bye Merlin." He strolled straight past the other man, his back straight and his head high, feigning all the confidence and nonchalance he wasn't feeling.
"Galahad, hold up. You're not finished here yet."
Eggsy's shoulder instantly slumped and he groaned, stopping. "Merlin, I've had a fuckin' awful two weeks and I want to just go home, taking a shower and sleep." And by sleep he meant drink himself into a stooper because that's the only way he can sleep now apparently.
"Well I'm afraid ya're just gunna 'ave to rethink those plans. Arthur wants to speak to you."
"Can't I meet with him tomorrow?" grumbled, rubbing at his eyes.
"No. He's out on the terrace having tea." Merlin informed him matter-of-factly before marching away.
Eggsy closed his eyes and held his breath, counting to ten in his head before he turned and followed the older man.
He took the lift up to the ground floor and made his way warily though the huge house towards the large reception room and the French doors that lead out to the terrace. He'd barely taken three steps towards the doors when he caught sight of a familiar mass of amber brown hair through one of the windows and his heart leapt into his throat. "Dammit Merlin." He whispered to himself. "Why must you…?"
"He's expecting you." Merlin said in his ear and Eggsy growled, reaching up to rip his glasses violently off his face.
Taking another deep breath while shoving his glasses into his pocket, Eggsy watched Harry through the glass. He seemed fine, perfectly at ease, his head bowed as if he were reading. He chewed on his lip for a few seconds before gathering his courage. He'd never been scared of anything, he allowed nothing and no one to intimidate him. He was a fuckin' Kingsman.
Squaring his shoulders he slowly made his way to the open French doors, the view beyond beautiful. The sun high-lighted all the greens and yellows and autumn brows perfectly, not that Eggsy cared about such things. Harry didn't look up, so Eggsy pressed his shoulder against the frame of the door and just watched the man read the paper in his lap, his heart hammering in his ears while the blood raced through his veins hot and thick.
Harry looked good, better than the last time he'd laid eyes on him and dressed in a suit. It was obvious he was back to his old self, a realisation that left Eggsy with mixed feelings. The stronger of which was grief.
"How was Istanbul?" Harry's voice broke the silence, startling Eggsy.
He straightened only slightly and took a breath. "Hot. As usual."
Harry nodded understandingly but didn't look up at him, his eyes still fixed on the paper in front of him for another few minutes before he made a show of folding it carefully. "I understand you ran into trouble."
"Nothing I couldn't handle."
"Never doubted it." Harry smiled, finally turning to meet Eggsy's eyes as he held out the paper to the younger man.
Swallowing thickly Eggsy took a step forward cautiously, reaching for the paper like it was a bomb ready to go off. He couldn't help the way he snatched it out of Harry's hand the second his fingers tightened around it. Looking between the item and Harry, who simply nodded and turned back to his tea, he flipped it over to see the front page. BUS DRIVER'S 26 KIDS WITH 9 WOMEN. "What's this?" he frowned.
"For your collection." The older man replied coolly. "Tea?"
Eggsy smiled sadly down at the newspaper, swallowing back the pain in his throat. "H-Harry…" he whispered before clearing his throat and straightening his back again. "Okay, I get it." He stated, proud that his voice didn't shake half as much as his body was.
"Get what?" Harry frowned up at him.
"You don't 'ave to worry Harry, I won't make this uncomfortable or embarrassing for either of us. I've already decided to move in with mum until I can find somewhere and you won't be the first bloke I've had to face in the morning and pretend nothing 'appen, I'm not gonna make a scene or nuffin'. We'll just forget any of it 'appen, easy." He wished it was that simple. He stared at Harry unflinchingly, his gaze holding strong despite the way his chest felt like it was caving in. Harry simply met his gaze with a confused frown, his brown eyes searching Eggsy's. "Of course…" he grumbled, something even more painful occurring to him. "…you won't 'ave to pretend because you don't remember." He snorted a derisive laugh. "Of course you don't remember, fuck it. Shit." He growled. "Okay, I'm gonna go and pack my bags and…bye." He turned to leave only to be stopped by Harry's hand on his arm, the fingers clutching at the navy pinstripe.
"Eggsy I…" Harry paused briefly. "Can we take a walk?"
Eggsy looked back over his shoulder at the older man, noticing for the first time the dark shadows beneath his eyes and the paleness to his skin. "Have you been sleeping?"
Eggsy stood torn for a few agonising moments before sighing. "Okay."
Dressed in their winter coats, the pair made their way through the extensive grounds of the Castle in silence. They walked past the main gardens and into the woodland that surrounded the large estate, which was usually used for evasion training, before Harry spoke.
"Douglas will be returning to his seat as Percival."
Eggsy looked up at him sharply. "What? Who's replacing him?"
Harry gave him that look he'd used so often before Kentucky, the look that said Eggsy should already know the answer.
"You?" he gaped. "You're going to be Arthur?" he grinned.
Harry turned his focus back to the path ahead of him, his umbrella swinging back and forth as he walked. "Douglas doesn't feel ready for such a large role."
"And you do?"
Harry shrugged. "I was always expected to replace my father at the head of the table, despite his reservations."
Eggsy lowered his head, watching his feet crush the few fallen leave that had already decided to bow out. "I'm sorry Harry. About…"
"It's alright Eggsy." He said softly, squeezing the man's shoulder. "You did what was needed. Besides it was self-defence."
"I know that, but…doesn't make it right that I killed your dad."
Harry sighed sadly. "Chester and I had a…tempestuous and volatile relationship at the best of times. Believe me, it's no great loss."
Eggsy frowned. "He was still your dad, Harry."
"You never would have believed it." Harry grumbled, staring off absently. "He spent the last thirty years making my life miserable." He sighed.
"How?" Eggsy pressed before shaking his head. "Sorry, none of my business."
"Its fine, it's not like it's a huge secret around here. – He never supported my...life choices. I was born into a generation and world were homosexuality was still illegal. I spent most of my early years…"
Eggsy blushed. "I know." That spark of jealousy sizzling to life once again, just like it had the first time Harry had told him about his early relationships. – If they could be called that. "But I figured you must have, ya know, made up or sumthin' seein' as ya a Kingsman."
"We came to a silent agreement once it because obvious that I was going to make it through, he stopped being my father and I stopped being his son, at least until I saw fix to straighten up and marry a nice girl." He snorted.
"That's fucked up, Harry. – Though, at least he didn't beat seven bells out of you."
"Physical wounds heal, Eggsy and when they do they make your skin stronger." He shot the younger man a meaningfully deep look. "What my father did…" he shook his head. "I was an orphan with a parent." Silence stretched between them for a few minutes, the sound of their feet and the birds and wind the only sound until Harry was ready to continue. "The worst part was, it took me years to come to terms with that. I kept thinking that if I worked hard, became the best agent Kingsman had, I'd earn his respect. - And I did." He murmured. "But I lost myself along the way."
Eggsy watched the man closely, in the warm sunlight breaking through the trees and with a melancholy on his face Eggsy had never seen in his life, Harry looked younger, not by much but younger, more valuable. Eggsy's hated it, it left a cold feeling in his soul. Harry was the strongest man he knew and it was somewhat terrifying to see a broken man beneath the suit. He wanted to reach out and touch him, wanted to kiss the pain from his features and tell him that everything was alright, that he was there to keep the nightmares at bay. – Hell he'd already killed the dragon, right?
But he couldn't say or do any of those things because Harry didn't remember what had happened the past few weeks or if he did, he didn't want it to lead to anything. It was to be forgotten, to be brushed under the carpet until someone else moved in and ripped it all up. And that was agonising to Eggsy, so he did the only thing he could do, he buried his feelings and his hands deep and ignored it all.
"Do you know how many people I've been with? Not including official Kingsman work of course."
Eggsy looked at him with what he hoped was an intrigued yet cool look. "Alot?" He shrugged.
Harry drew to a sudden halt, turning to stare down at him with a raised brow. "Alot? Is that what you think of me, Eggsy?" he snorted.
Eggsy's shoulders jerked again, his eyes on anything but Harry. "Have you seen you? I can't imagine you not beating them off with a stick." He tried to laugh, brush it off as a casual question between two friends. – If they were friends.
"Three, yourself not included." Harry answered, his weight resting on his umbrella and his eyes never once leaving Eggsy's as they shot up from the grass, wide with surprise and a little fear.
"Y-you're shitin' me?" Eggsy laughed softly. "Wait, you…r-remember?"
"Every second." Harry whispered.
Heat infused Eggsy's faces and he dropped his gaze for a moment, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before returning them to Harry when the old man continues to speak.
"And no, I'm not shitin' you." He said softly, turning to continue walking, confident Eggsy would follow. "There was Simon…" he began, cool and calm and as if he was informing Eggsy of a mission rather than his own past. "We met at school, snuck around a little." He shrugged, a small smile pulling at his lips. "It was never serious, couldn't be. He left six months later, transferred to another school."
Eggsy's heart tightened as the sad regretful look on the older man's face. "How old were you?"
"Fifteen. – I suspect someone informed his father."
"I'm sorry Harry." And he was, despite the jealous spark it ignited in him.
"Thank you. I didn't allow myself to get close to anyone again until Sandhurst. Mark…" he laughed softly, shaking his head. "Complete disaster. Rugby star, top cadet, total closest case. – Of course we all were back then, no poofs allowed in the army in those days. Heck, we were barely accepted in society in general." He murmured, shooting Eggsy a poignant look. "Not like it is now, couldn't just pick up handsome young me in a bar, or outside police stations, and take them home." Harry smirked. "Even when the laws were relaxed, there were still a ton of obstacles, it was like they hadn't changed the laws at all." He shook his head, disgusted.
Eggsy flushed at the reminder of their first meeting, or second as the case maybe and cleared his throat. "How long were you two together?" he asked out of pure curiosity. Despite the weeks they'd spent together and all he'd learnt about Harry's likes and dislikes, his taste in music and movies. About his parents and his family, of which there were few, the man rarely spoke about his personal life.
"Depends on your definition of together. Two months if you count the flirting and occasional drunken snog in dark alleys. One night if we're merely going from the physical aspect. – It all ended after a disastrous night in the back of a mini." He scoffed.
Eggsy's hands curled in his pockets and he bit his lip against the overwhelming sense of jealousy. "Oh. Sorry." He said dutifully, though he wasn't sorry at all. "And the third?"
Harry faltered in his step only slightly, no one would notice, no one except Eggsy who paid far too much attention to his mentor. The older man's head lulled forward with a wary sigh, his shoulders slouching. "The third…" he said so quietly Eggsy almost missed it. "Andrew McGillis, two years my senior, an investment banker I meant doing recon for a mission in New York."
"An American?" Eggsy almost sneered.
Harry shook his head. "No, he was there on business, as I was." He smiled.
That acidy feeling settled in Eggsy gut again and he dropped his gaze. He knew it was irrational to be jealous of Harry's past affairs, or…loves, but there was a possessive part of Eggsy, a little tiny corner of his soul that wanted Harry to belong to him and him alone. – Who stupidly wanted Harry to say he'd never loved or wanted anyone until Eggsy?
"We were together two months." Harry continues, oblivious to Eggsy's suddenly dislike of the subject matter. "Of course my father hated it, kept saying that I was putting Kingsman and my career in danger." He scoffed. "Like I was the only knight to be in a relationship. I ignored him, of course, I wanted some semblance of…normality. I probably should have…" He draw to a halt and turned to Eggsy. "That was almost two decades ago and I've been with no one since it ended."
Eggsy nodded, swallowing thickly but keeping the mask in place. It didn't take a genius to understand what Harry was saying. He'd met and lost the love of his life and he wasn't looking for a replacement. "Message received loud and clear." He grumbled out loud.
"What?" Harry frowned, startling Eggsy.
"I…I said, I get it. Wot your tryin' to say."
Harry leant heavily on his umbrella again. "And what exactly am I trying to say?" he frowned.
"That you're not looking for anything. Ya don't 'ave to worry Harry, we can forget it happened. I'll move out…"
Harry sighed, shaking his head. "Eggsy, a gentleman allows their partner to finish what he's saying before commenting."
Eggsy glared up at him. "I didn't realise this was fuckin' lesson Harry!"
"Life is a continuous lesson, you should remember that."
Eggsy rolled his eyes and took a few steps back, leaning his back against a thick oak tree, his arms folded over his chest. "I heartily apologise, Arthur, please do continue." He said, turning to the proper Queen's English like it were a shield.
"A gentleman also does not sulk." Harry grumbled, the sting of his newly gifted code-name lingering against his skin as if it were a slap. He sighed and turned his back on the younger man for a few moments, pacing. When he finally turned he picked up his speech where he'd left it. "It ended badly. It's practically impossible to carry on a relationship when you have to lie to your partner at every moment. When you vanish for days on end and can't tell them where you've been. When you can't share the most intermit details of your day with them for fear they'll learn the truth." He exhaled almost angrily.
Eggsy swallowed. "Others' seemed to make it work." And he really doesn't mean that to sound like an accusation and thankfully Harry seems to know that.
"Those that do, either were married before they became Kingsman, like your father,…" he smiled warmly. "…and already have an established routine or they meet through the job, attaching themselves to those who are already acquainted with Kingsman, like Lancelot and Guinevere."
Eggsy frowned. "Rox is…"
Harry rolled his eyes. "The previous Lancelot. James."
"Oh." Eggsy nodded. "Livin' up ta the legend, huh?"
Another eye roll from Harry. "But even then…" he continued solemnly. "It doesn't work out, it's the curse of our lives that ultimately we'll end up in a body bag and our loved ones will be left to mourn us with no real idea why. – As you know all too well."
Eggsy lowered his head, remorsefully. "Yeah, that was probably the worst part for mum, the not knowing why or where." He shook his head. "But…" he inhaled slowly, gathering his courage to face this head on. "I'm not my mum, Harry. I know what I'm getting into. – I've lost you once and I survived, I can do it again, if need be." He practically pleaded, pushing himself off the tree but not moving closer. "But that isn't an issue anymore because you're gonna be Arthur, a nice safe desk job, so…"
Harry met his gaze head on. "And what about you?" he demanded. "How am I meant to survive anything happening to you, Eggsy?"
Eggsy stared, eyes wide as saucers, his mouth gapping and his heart racing. "Me?"
Harry shook his head, turning his back on the younger man, unable to look at him a second longer. "There are so many reasons why we can't be anything more than friends and colleagues, Eggsy. I'm too old for you."
"So? People date older men and women all the time, it's not that big a deal."
"It is when it's three decades older!" he snapped, glancing briefly over his shoulder.
"Harry…" Eggsy sighed. "
"And there's the issue of your father. I owe him my life."
"And you repaid him when you got me out of the nick, Harry. Anything you did after that…" he shook his head furiously. "That's on you."
"I'll never be able to repay him." Harry argued.
"Jesus Harry!" he growled, opening his mouth to argue only for the older man to talk over him.
"And I'll be your boss which means I'll be in charge of where you go and what you do and I can't do that job if we're together, I won't be able to send you into life and death situations…" he shook his head. "My feelings will affect my judgement and that can't happen. Priority of life must be maintained."
Eggsy watched him intensely. Who exactly was he trying to convince here? "So you're just gonna stop caring about me?"
"So we're never going to speak again? You're never going to share a pint with me? You're never going to even look at me?" he pressed.
Harry frowned over his shoulder. "That's not…"
"Yeah, it is." He took a step closer, his eyes not leaving the older man's. "You won't make decisions any differently whether we're together or we're pretending to be just friends." He said with faux confidence. He could very well be completely wrong about everything, he could be reading between the wrong lines but if he were, then well…it wouldn't change anything, but if he was right, if Harry actually wanted him as much as he wanted Harry, pushing might just change everything. "You'll still worry about me, still fear that I might die. – You'll still take those things into consideration when revising possible missions. Together or apart Harry, you can't stop wanting to protect me any more than you can stop…" he swallowed thickly, praying he had this right. "…wanting me?"
Eggsy's watched him, his heart thundering like a race horse at Ascot, his whole body trembling nervously, praying he hadn't been wrong, praying that what was between them went deeper than one night. That it wasn't all one sided.
Harry inhaled sharply at the declaration, his eyes locked with Eggsy's, burning into one another's soul, the truth of the words ringing between them loud and haunting, like a horn in the foggy night. His head spun, round and round till he felt like any moment he was going to lose his balance, Eggsy's words screaming in his head. He tore his gaze away eventually, lifting it to the trees and sky above him, his heart beating so fast he almost feared for his life. It felt ridiculous, feeling terrified after decades of facing death, but then hadn't someone once said that death was easy, it was living that was hard. And that was what Eggsy was offering, whether he realised it or not, a life. Something away from the chaos and death. Didn't he deserve to have what most of his friends and colleagues had? What his parents had had.
He swallowed thickly at the thought of his parents, a faded memory of a family that had been happy once, before his mother's tragic death, before his father's heart turned to ice, before he'd realised he wasn't going to be the man they'd be proud of.
"Harry?" Eggsy whispered softly in front of him. "Say something."
Only he wasn't sure what to say, he'd spent so long avoiding relationships. Things with Andrew had never been easy, not solely due to the secrets and the lies, he'd never really allowed himself to want more than their sporadic dates and heated sex. He'd always somehow believed he wasn't allowed it, the peace and comfort of a home life. It would be easy to blame that on his father's dismissive attitude and prejudice but the truth was, it was something in him. He'd never felt like he belonged anywhere, or to anyone. Guinevere had typically said it all came down to his traumatic childhood, after all seeing your mother rundown in front of him at the tender age of six and then being shipped off to boarding school before her body was even cold, it had understandably left scars.
Obviously in hindsight and with the knowledge that came from being a Kingsman agent, he knew that what had happened to his mother had all been retribution for his father's work, his many years away had been for his own protection, and part of him respected his father for that maybe even forgave him. It was just a shame he could never truly accept Harry for who he was, maybe if he had Harry wouldn't be so scared now.
He heard Eggsy exhale a long breathe and the rustle of grass and leaves had Harry raising his head to see Eggsy moving away from him. Instinct and fear took over and he reached out, snagging the younger man's arm. Eggsy met his eyes with wide blue surprise and Harry swallowed thickly.
"I…" he inhaled. "Eggsy you need to understand." He meet the blue eyes pleadingly, his fingers lose around his bicep. "I can shoot, take twenty men out single handed without breaking a sweat. I can fly a plane, drive a tank and jump off cliffs without a parachute. I'm a spy, I've been a spy half my life." He smiled softly. "But underneath all of that, I'm just an ordinary man who wants an ordinary life."
Eggsy chuckled, taking a step into Harry's personal space. "Are you aware you're quoting My Fair Lady at me, right now?"
Harry frowned thoughtfully. "Am I?"
Eggsy nodded, still laughing as he moved even closer. "And you know how that ended right? After the posh professor pulled the gutter snip off the London streets."
Harry found himself smiling, despite the continued inner turmoil, but then Eggsy always had a way of doing that, switching a solemn moment to something high and filled with sunshine. "I think I recall vaguely that he fell completely in love with her." Eggsy visibly relaxed with a relieved exhale and Harry felt the tightly wound knot in his gut loosen, he let his umbrella fall from his hand as he raised it to cradle Eggsy's head, his mouth descending to be eagerly met.
Harry staggered beneath the force of Eggsy's desperately hungry kiss until his back hit the tree, he groan more out of surprise than pain and slid his arm around the younger man's waist, pulling him closer. He ground his hips and grinned when Eggsy's mirrored the movement back at him, recalling how well they fitted together. Eggsy's hands that had been curled possessively around the lapels of Harry's jacket, loosened and slid up to encircle the nap of his neck instead.
He gave himself over to being thoroughly kissed by his young protégé, his nails clawing lightly at the fabric of the young man's navy pinstriped jacket and whining when Eggsy broke away and looked up at him with swollen lips and a beautifully curved smirk.
"This betta mean you've come to ya fuckin' senses Harry, cause if ya still gunna dump me after that…" he panted. "I might jus' kill ya."
Harry frowned. "I'm still your boss, Eggsy."
Eggsy smirked. "I've never been all that opposed to fuckin' my way ta the top." He winked.
"Is that all I am to you, a means to an end?" Harry grumbled.
"It is a pretty fuckin' sick end." Eggsy laughed, reaching around to squeeze Harry's arse while he used his other hand to pulling him down for another in-depth exploration. When he pulled back again they were both panting heavily, and rock hard. "Now if ya've finished tryin' to convince yourself that we can't be togetha, can we get the fuck out of here 'cause I've had a hell of a week and I'd really like some S&R."
Harry leant back, brow arching questioningly. "S&R?"
"Sex and relaxation." Eggsy clarified as if Harry should have known already. "Emphasis on the sex."
Harry sighed and rolled his eyes at the younger man while reaching down for his umbrella. "We'll have to deal with the complications eventually."
"Guv, we live a life where every day could be our last, fuck the complication." Eggsy announced dramatically, turning and marching away.
Harry rushed to catch up with him in a perfectly respectable and gentlemanly manner and the pair walked shoulder to shoulder back to the house, Eggsy whistling happily while Harry's finger threaded easily through the soft blond strands of Eggsy's hair. Eggsy smiled up at him as they approached the house and harry ga e into the temptation that had been haunting him since the day they'd met and stole a warm lingering kiss.
Eggsy hummed then pulled back to look into Harry dark eyes. "I'm glad your back Harry."
Merlin was hovering by the bullet with JB at his side and a clipboard when Eggsy and Harry arrived. Eggsy dropped into a crouch to greet his dog while Harry spoke to Merlin.
"Schedule the table for first thing Monday morning."
"Already dun." Merlin nodded. "I'll assume you're off the grid until then."
Eggsy got back to his feet and gridded brightly at the older agent. "Thanks Jez." He chuckled, carrying JB into the train and impatiently waiting for harry to join him.
"Don't call me that." Merlin growled. "Never."
"You know where I'll be if it's an emergency." Harry said following after Eggsy with a laugh.
The younger agent winked suggestively at Merlin and moved to join Harry when man sat opposite rather than next to him.
Merlin rolled his eyes and groaned. "I think I preferred it when you two were still basking in mutual denial." He huffed. "And if you get anything on those seats I'll make you scrub the damn thing."
Eggsy's grin grew wider and he purposefully shifted closer to Harry as the door slid closed.
A/N: And that's it. It's done and it really couldn't have been if it weren't for the help of my wonderful fellow writer LilyAnson, who helped me when I was struggling to give this a reasonably satisfying ending. She's been awesome, as have everyone at the SWSG on Facebook. Thank you all for the support.
I'd also like to thank everyone who spent their hours reading this and reviewing. – And for all the kudos and faves. I really appreciate it beyond words.
I apologize for the crappy attempt to write Merlin's accent, I know it irritated at least one person.
That's it from me for now. I hope to be back with another Kingsman fic at some point but till then, I'll just say again. THANK YOU.
Gatergirl79 signing off.