Eggsy didn’t want to do it.
He didn’t want to do anything with Clara- for fuck’s sake, the fact that she’d dated Charlie long-term at one point (and might still be) told him all he needed to know about her and their compatibility. And he definitely didn’t want to do anything to upset Tilde; he loved her, for fuck’s sake, he just… For Christ’s sake, was it so wrong of him to be nervous about marrying royalty? Especially given his job, as a goddamn spy, when he technically shouldn’t have even been dating her in the first place?
Why couldn’t she give him the benefit of the doubt? Had he done something to suggest that he wasn’t loyal to her, wasn’t faithful to her? That he wanted to be with someone else?
Well, now he’d have to be, because Tilde had dumped him.
“You weren’t wrong, kid,” Whiskey called before he stepped out of his room, tugging on a fresh jacket. “Glasto wasn’t half-bad; crowded to all hell, though.”
“Yeah, that’s Glasto,” Eggsy replied hollowly, slumped in his chair. They were on the private Statesmen plane, heading back to Kentucky to check in. The stuff with Tilde was piling on top of the stuff that he had with Harry, his nervousness on whether or not Harry would ever be back to normal, or if his mentor would be doomed to spend the rest of his days not fully aware of who he truly was or what he’d accomplished.
Add that onto the whole ‘Kingsman being blown to Kingdom Come’ bit and it was a wonder he hadn’t had a nervous breakdown yet.
“Sheesh, kid, you might be the first person I know to look gloomy after sex. Come on,” Whiskey chuckled, pulling out a bottle of- of course- whiskey and a pair of glasses. “Have a drink with me.”
“I didn’t have sex with her,” Eggsy muttered, accepting the glass when it was handed to him. “Just the… I mean- Just what I had to, alright?”
Whiskey raised his eyebrows at Eggsy, sunglasses that he still hadn’t taken off slipping down his nose a bit. “Alright,” He said easily. “Don’t need to get testy over it, Eggsy.” He let that sit for a minute, taking a drink from his glass. Eggsy looked away for a few seconds, but he could feel Whiskey looking at him, and eventually he turned back to face him.
“If you’ve got something to say, say it.”
Whiskey drummed his fingers on the arm of his chair. Then he straightened up, crossed his legs, and removed his sunglasses. “Did everything go alright? The Countess didn’t end up being of the Bathory variety, did she?”
Eggsy frowned. “What?”
Whiskey sighed. “I’m trying to ask you if maybe Clara did something she oughtn’t have. She didn’t hurt you or nothing, right?”
Eggsy blinked. “Uh- No? No, she really didn’t do anything to me at all. Like I said, I did what I had to and then I got out of there.” He didn’t feel it pertinent to bring up the ‘you can pee on me’ thing. He and Whiskey didn’t know each other that well just yet, and that wasn’t really a topic you embarked on with a guy you met twelve hours ago. At least, it wasn’t if you weren’t Clara von Gluckfberg.
“You’re sure?” Whiskey seemed doubtful.
“What, you thought she’d…?” Eggsy let the question hang in the air for a minute, and Whiskey shrugged.
“It wouldn’t be the first time an agent went into a honey-pot and got more than they bargained for. Besides- and don’t take this the wrong way, I’m kinda basing this on the fact that you didn’t know that a vaginal cavity has a mucous membrane- you don’t look like you’ve done a lot of honey-potting before. It can be a bit… Nasty, when you find yourself in a situation you weren’t expecting.”
Now that he was paying attention, Eggsy realized that Whiskey looked uneasy. The idea that Clara had crossed some sort of line during their time together seemed to seriously bother him. “Whiskey, I don’t-”
“There’s no shame in it if things got weird, kid.” Whiskey’s face had taken on an expression of complete and utter seriousness. “I mean that. You wouldn’t be the first agent who felt gross after a honey-pot because the target wanted something you weren’t interested in giving. Sometimes we bite the bullet and agree to shit we don’t like because we need information, but that doesn’t mean you have to pretend like you enjoyed it, or feel good about it.”
“She didn’t do anything to me,” Eggsy responded firmly. “I’m fine.”
“Well, see, here’s the thing,” Whiskey said, setting down his glass on the table next to the chair. “I’m inclined to believe the ‘she didn’t do anything to me’ bit. It’s the ‘I’m fine’ bit that I’m having trouble believing, because you definitely don’t look or sound fine. And before you go telling me that you’ve had a rough week, I’d argue that you weren’t acting this way before you and Clara hooked up at the festival- hence my line of questioning, if you were wondering how I got there.”
For a moment Eggsy pondered whether or not he should continue insisting that he was fine and hope that Whiskey would drop it, or if maybe he should be honest and tell him about Tilde. On one hand, Eggsy knew that maybe a senior agent wouldn’t be terribly sympathetic to his situation, given that Eggsy had, perhaps, not… Followed Kingsman protocol to the letter, regarding romantic relationships. On the other hand, being a senior agent meant that Whiskey might have some valuable input on how to handle the situation- maybe he knew a way Eggsy could convince Tilde that he was honestly just doing his job.
“Shit,” Eggsy mumbled, running a hand over his face. “Okay.”
He told Whiskey just about everything.
And Eggsy would later tell himself it was because he was looking for advice, but there was also some small part of him that just desperately needed to pour this out to someone, and normally that someone would be Roxy, and Roxy was dead. Merlin was busy and wouldn’t be especially sympathetic (he’d warned Eggsy about this from the beginning) and Harry… Well, Harry couldn’t help either, obviously.
To his credit, Whiskey sat silently, amiably listening to the whole thing (from V-Day to the present situation) without once interrupting or casting any judgmental looks at Eggsy for his behavior. Either Eggsy wasn’t saying anything all that terrible, or he had a remarkably good poker-face.
Eggsy was inclined towards the second option.
“…And that’s the whole of it, really. She’s completely pissed, and I’m about ninety-nine percent sure that we’re done. And I don’t even know if I should have said yes and said I would marry her, or if I should have drawn a line because, I mean- I don’t know if I’m ready for that, and the implications with Kingsman…” Eggsy shrugged, looking to Whiskey helplessly. “That’s the whole of it,” He repeated.
For a few minutes, Whiskey just didn’t say anything, just drank from his glass and thought deeply. Eggsy was on the verge of begging him to say anything when he finally did speak.
“Well shit, Eggsy, I went and gave you my heartfelt speech about the honey-potting thing, and now you tell me this was about a different girl entirely? Shit, the way you were acting I thought for sure Countess Clara went and did something really nasty to you in that tent of hers, and I was feeling all bad for not sticking closer to help you out.” He shook his head. “Guess my instincts aren’t as sharp as they used to be. In my defense, the last few honey-pot missions I’ve been on haven’t ended very well.”
That made Eggsy a little uneasy, and he made a note to ask Whiskey about those missions later on. For now, he still had Tilde on his mind, and that sounded like a much darker topic to venture on.
“As for this thing with your girl…” Whiskey shook his head again, slower this time. “Look, Eggsy, I’m gonna give you some tough-love right now, so do me a favor and just hear me out.”
Eggsy nodded glumly, settling back into the couch. “Yeah, a’right.”
Whiskey sighed. “First of all, you should not have gone running to your girlfriend, telling her what you had to do. I mean, this is Super Secret Spy Shit 101, kid: You were in the tent of a woman you know to be associating with a bad guy and a bad organization. You have no idea who might have overheard that conversation.”
Eggsy winced. That was a good point: He hadn’t bothered to clear the area of bugs before making the call.
“Second, you don’t go telling Super Secret Spy Shit to your girlfriend. Involving spouses and partners in something that they’re not apart of is a bad idea, because at best you’re confusing and scaring them, and at worst you’re endangering them. Like I said, you don’t know who was listening in on that phone-call, and since this- what’s his name- Charlie fella already knows who you are, I don’t imagine it would be too difficult to track down your girlfriend.”
Now Eggsy just felt sick, because that was an even better point; Charlie had blown up (or at the very least, assisted someone in blowing up) every Kingsman agent and base. Kidnapping or murdering a princess would not be the most extreme thing he’d done this week.
“Third…” Whiskey tipped his head back and considered his words for a moment. “Third, Eggsy, you don’t fucking ask your partner’s permission to perform a honey-trap. You are a goddamn secret agent, and you did what you had to in order to track Clara, who’s our only dang lead on who killed your colleagues. You knew what you had to do, and you asked your damn girlfriend if it was okay for you to do it? Are you kidding me? Are you seriously telling me you would have walked out of that tent and let go of our only chance to track down these assholes because your girlfriend didn’t want you to do something you had to do?”
Eggsy didn’t bother trying to explain himself. He knew it would be useless, and as much as he hated it, Whiskey was right.
“You signed up for this, Eggsy,” Whiskey continued, pointing at Eggsy. “You were trained in seduction, yeah?”
“Yeah,” Eggsy said, quietly.
“You knew this was part of the job. You knew that this would be required of you, even if you weren’t especially interested in doing it. She knows you’re a spy, obviously- but let me guess, you never got around to telling her about the honey-potting you might have to do one day?”
Eggsy shook his head.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought.” Whiskey rubbed his forehead. “Look, kid, here’s the God’s-honest-truth: You were right not to get down on one knee and propose, alright? Because let me tell you something, as a man who has a few more miles on him than you do: It wouldn’t be enough. You have two kinds of romantic partners, Eggsy: The kind that understand the nature of what we do, and the kind that don’t. In my years I’ve found very few who falls into a middle-ground between the two; they either get it, or they don’t. The ones who get it understand that we do the things we do because it’s necessary, not just because we feel like fucking around. The ones that don’t…” Whiskey shrugged. “Well, they don’t stick around very long.”
“She said being married would give her security,” Eggsy said tonelessly.
Whiskey sighed, and hesitated before saying, “…I don’t think she was lying to you, kid. I think she loves you and convinced herself that being married would mean that you two were committed, and that she could handle you sleeping with targets if she knew you were coming home to her.” He shook his head. “But Eggsy, trust me: Five years down the road, when she’s home with the kids and you’re off sleeping with some drug lord’s smoking-hot girlfriend so you can nose around his house, it’s not going to be enough. If her first question to you tonight was ‘how is sleeping with someone going to save the world’ then she doesn’t understand this kind of work, and no amount of rings or babies is gonna change that. It’s gonna get under her skin knowing that you were with someone else instead of her; and because she won’t be able to contextualize why you’re doing it, it’s going to come back around to the idea that you don’t love her and that she’s not enough for you.”
“Done this before, have you?” Eggsy asked hollowly, staring at his untouched glass.
Whiskey chuckled wearily. “That I have. I’ve been around the block a few times, Eggsy. I know what I’m talking about. If you’re going to have a relationship- which I do not officially endorse, by the way- your partner either needs to be completely ignorant to what you’re doing, or they need to be able to truly, actually understand why you’re doing it. And since you’re Mr. Honest, I don’t think you’ll like the first option.”
He didn’t. Eggsy thought that being honest with Tilde would make things better, thought that she’d react better to him telling her up front than somehow figuring it out later- or, alternatively, him breaking down and telling her the truth later after trying to hide it. He’d figured well enough that she wasn’t going to be happy about it, but he didn’t think she’d end their relationship over it. He thought that Tilde understood that this was what he did for a living.
“I thought she had more faith in me than that.” The words were out without Eggsy even thinking on it too hard. “I thought she knew how much I loved her. I know why it upset her, I'd be a bit pissy too if she had to go hop in someone's bed for diplomatic shit or whatever, but…”
“You kinda wish she’d given you the benefit of the doubt, instead of assuming you were some cheating scuzzball who’d use his job as an excuse to sleep around on her, right?” Whiskey finished knowingly.
It wasn’t even that, necessarily; the word ‘cheating’ hadn’t been used, but it had lingered in the background of the conversation, given it an unpleasant color. Eggsy shrugged half-heartedly. “Yeah, I guess.”
“Like I said, kid, not my first rodeo. And when you’re already not thrilled at the prospect of having to stick your hand near someone’s nether-regions to get a job done, having someone you love accusing you of cheating doesn’t exactly make it any better.”
“So what do I do?” Eggsy had dropped all pretense and just gone straight to the half-pleading, dear-god-tell-me-what-to-do-because-fuck-if-I’ve-got-any-good-ideas-right-now.
Whiskey shrugged lightly. “That’s up to you, kid. You can butt heads with Kingsman over your personal affairs all you like- and you probably will.” He sighed. “I’m cynical, kid, but if you’re looking for what I’d do? I’d end it- or let it end, or let it stay ended if it already is. She’s a princess who wants to marry a member of a covert intelligence agency, and she clearly doesn’t understand what your job requires of you. For your sake and hers, it might be better if you let things lie as they are.”
Eggsy figured that that’s where things were going.
And frankly, he didn’t know if he could do it. Losing Tilde now, now when he’d lost so many other things, felt unbearable; but Whiskey was right when he’d posited that Tilde didn’t fully understand what being a Kingsman meant, in general or to Eggsy- and much of that was on Eggsy, because he had made some attempt to keep what he did secret from her, at least in terms of sensitive information.
He couldn’t give her what she really wanted without leaving Kingsman. And even if Eggsy hadn’t busted his ass to get into Kingsman, how could he leave it now, when there may very well be only him and Merlin to reassemble it? Harry wasn’t guaranteed to recover, and that meant that it might just be Eggsy and Merlin rebuilding things themselves, with whatever support staff had survived the attack as well.
Eggsy felt sick.
He felt really, really sick.
“Look, Eggsy,” Whiskey said, gently this time. “Like I said, I’m a cynic. Maybe you two can work something out. And anyway, you don’t need to decide right now, yeah? You stick with your Kingsman business and let her cool off, and then see if you can’t sit down and work things out with her later.”
Eggsy started slightly when Whiskey’s hand clapped down on his shoulder, squeezing lightly. “And don’t worry,” The Statesman said, “I’ll keep my mouth shut about this. Our little secret.”
Eggsy sighed and tried desperately to shake off the funk he’d gotten himself into. “Thanks, Whiskey.”
“Eh, call me Jack. As in, ‘Jack Daniels’?” Whiskey flashed a winning smile, eyebrows high on his head.
Eggsy covered his eyes. “Please tell me that’s not your actual name.”
Whiskey snorted. “We get to know each other better and I may just tell you, kid.” He clapped Eggsy’s shoulder one more time and then stood up. “Alrighty, so you’re not drinking- feel like a game of pool? They’ve got that in England, right? Or do you play some weird abomination of it?”
Eggsy wasn’t especially in the mood for a game- he would rather have gone to bed, maybe shoved his head under a pillow and screamed for a few minutes- but he wanted, he needed to pull himself out of this. Whiskey- Jack was right. He could figure things out with Tilde once they’d figured out who had attacked Kingsman, and if anything, it would be better to keep her out of it until it was all over (he still felt nauseous at the idea that he’d endangered her by calling her from the tent).
In the meantime, he just needed to focus on what was in front of him. No sulking, no crying. Remember your training, was Merlin’s goddamn mantra.
“Yeah, we’ve got it,” Eggsy said, standing and joining Jack by the table. “Suppose I’ve enough energy to kick your arse.”
Jack cackled, apparently heartened by Eggsy’s revival. “Well, let’s see what you’ve got then, kid.”
It was a nice distraction, nearly enough to take his mind off of Tilde.