Actions

Work Header

Save Every Day Like a Treasure

Work Text:

Tristan hurries through the halls of Statesman, remembering far too well how to get to their Medical wing. He was there enough times for Harry that the nurses and doctors nod at him in greeting as he breezes by. He reaches the end of the hall and looks around frantically. No more rooms. No one familiar enough to ask…

“Tristan.”

He whirls around and sighs with relief. “Ginger. I got here as soon as I could after I received your message. Is he all right?”

“He’s fine. I probably shouldn’t have contacted you, but I’m a bit concerned.” She puts a hand on his shoulder and guides him into an empty room. “He’s fine,” she repeats. “A bump on the head…which we both know won’t do any damage…some cuts and bruises. He’ll walk out of here, no problem.” She sighs. “But it’s not his body I’m worried about. He’s running himself ragged and I’m not sure why. I know he misses you…” She gives him a shy smile. “…but that’s not enough to make him act this way. I was hoping perhaps you could talk to him. Champ is more than willing to grant him some leave. Perhaps you could take him away for a week or two?” Tristan blinks at her. “I know that’s a lot to ask, you have your own missions, and you must answer to Arthur, but…”

“I think I can make it work,” Tristan tells her. “You’re sure you don’t know what it is?”

“He’s acting like he has something to prove, which he definitely doesn’t. I know he’s carrying some guilt about Whiskey…he feels he should have caught something like that. Otherwise no, I don’t know what’s going on.”

“Thank you for calling me.” Tristan places a hand on her shoulder. “You’ve all accepted me here without question. That means a lot.”

“I know you’ve only been seeing each other officially for six months, but you make him happy. I can see that. We’re his family, and we want to like someone that makes him that happy.” She points down the hall. “Third door on the left.”

“Thank you.”

Tristan tries not to run down the hall, managing to keep his pace at a fast walk. He peeks in the door and sees Tequila – Ben – sitting up in bed. He’s shirtless, and Tristan frowns at the ropes of bruises that criss-cross his bare chest. He knocks and then opens the door. “I said I’m not…Matthew?” Tequila gapes at him. “What the hell are you doing here?”

“Oh, I was on this side of the pond, thought I’d say hello,” Tristan says casually. Tequila glares at him. “Ginger called me,” Tristan says, trying to keep calm as his eyes wander over Tequila’s body. “Said you were beat up a bit.”

“Beat up, kicked, tied…” Tequila motions to the bruises. “Got away, though. Always do.”

“I’m very glad to hear that.” Tristan stands between the vee of Tequila’s knees. “I’d hate it if something happened to you.”

“Aw, darlin’, you know I’m like a bad penny…I always turn up.”

Tristan loves the way Tequila always lets him wrap himself around him, alpha cuddling omega, even though Tequila outweighs him and is almost five inches taller. “She thought perhaps you might enjoy a bit of a holiday,” Tristan says carefully.

“I’m fine, Matthew. All in a day’s work.” But Tequila buries his head in Tristan’s shoulder.

“According to her every day is a working day for you. She says you’ve been running yourself ragged…her words.”

“I’m fine.”

Tristan growls and Tequila instinctively tilts his head. “Don’t lie to me, Ben, please. What’s going on?”

“Rather not talk here.” Tequila gives a meaningful glance at the camera in the corner.

“I understand. How about we get some of that greasy takeaway chicken you like so much and go back to yours?” Tristan suggests.

“That sounds perfect. I knew there was a reason I kept you around.”

“Not my good looks and alpha charm?” Tristan steps back so Tequila can stand up and grab his shirt.

“Oh, that too.”

Tristan pinches his delectable arse.

 

Tristan can’t help but hover around him when they leave Statesman headquarters and go into town. He presses against Tequila possessively as they enter the chicken restaurant, and he growls before he can stop himself when the girl behind the counter gives Tequila a flirtatious wink. “Might wanna dial that back a bit, darlin’. Don’t want every omega here gettin’ hot and bothered by the way you’re posturing,” Tequila whispers. “I know you’re getting ME wet.”

“Stop it.” Tristan blushes but Tequila’s words do the trick. He manages to back off and behave himself, at least until after they’re home and have finished their dinner.

As soon as Tequila picks the meat from his last chicken wing Tristan has him on his feet and headed for the bath. He strips them both down, hustles Tequila into the shower, and washes every beautiful inch of him. He then takes him to the bedroom and kisses each and every bruise. He lays between Tequila’s strong thighs, takes his perfect omega cock in his mouth, and sucks him to orgasm while slowly sliding two fingers in and out of his dripping arse.

“Fuck, Matthew,” Tequila groans once Tristan comes back from washing his hands. “What’s gotten into you?”

“Is that a problem?” Tristan pulls his pants on and climbs into bed with his lover. Tequila stays naked. Tristan’s not complaining.

“Hell, no!” Tequila exclaims. He snuggles close, tucking his head against Tristan’s chest.

“Are you ready to tell me what’s going on?”

“I don’t know. I just…” Tequila sighs. “It’s a bunch of things, really. Still feel really guilty about Whiskey. I mean, the asshole pulled the wool over MY eyes, but I trusted him, you know? He was like family. And I know we’ve only been together six months, but I’m starting to really miss you when you’re gone. I get all fidgety, like my skin’s crawling off my bones. When I’m in the field, the adrenaline’s pumping and I forget about it. But then once I have a few minutes…”

“You’re really my omega,” Tristan blurts out.

“Was there any question?”

“Well, no, but…your body is starting to react to my absence. We don’t see each other enough, and your hormones get going when I’m not there.”

“Awww…you make it sound so romantic,” Tequila coos.

“Oh, be quiet,” Tristan scoffs. “Are you quite sure this is all it is?”

“I would never lie to you, Matthew,” Tequila says quietly.

“I know.” Tristan kisses his forehead. “Our schedules are ridiculous, but we need to find a way to meet up a bit more. Even if it’s just for dinner or something if we’re at least within a country or two of each other.”

“I know bonding isn’t really in the cards for us right now.” Tequila moves to look him in the eye. “But I want you to know that I would take your bite in a fucking heartbeat.”

“That means so much to me, Ben.” Tristan leans his forehead against Tequila’s. “Ginger said you’d be cleared for a fortnight of leave. Why don’t you come back to England with me?”

“England?”

“Yes. I’ve met your Statesman family…I’d like you to spend time with my Kingsman family. You’ve met a few of them already…Merlin and Harry. Other than that there is Percival, Merlin’s partner…Roxy, well, Lancelot…oh! You haven’t met Eggsy.”

“Yeah, Eggsy, great,” Tequila says wryly.

Tristan sniffs the air. “Ben, are you…are you jealous?”

“Course I am. When you first came around to check in on Harry, all you talked about was Galahad this and Eggsy that. Eggsy’s baby.”

“Ben.” Tristan sits up so he can look him in the eye. “Eggsy is my good friend. That’s all. Yes, at the beginning I was, well, enamored of him…but he’s with Harry. They bonded. They have two children. You know all that.”

“I do, but like you said…enamored. That’s a powerful word.”

“You are an idiot,” Tristan says affectionately. He leans down to kiss him. “But you’re my idiot, and I’m quite thankful for that. Will you PLEASE come back with me? I’d love time away with you. I know Arthur will approve time off. I’ve not taken time off in years.”

“And what if your friend Eggsy hates me?”

“He won’t hate you,” Tristan promises. He’s a little surprised at the insecurity; Tequila is one of the most confident people he’s ever met.

“All right. But only because I want to see you in your native habitat.” Tequila pulls Tristan back down beside him. “Do you still suck dick like you’re being paid to do it when you’re back home?”

“Sweetheart, my flat has a king-sized bed and very thick walls.” Tristan kisses him long and hard. “You’d be wise to prepare yourself.”

 

“Come in.”

Tristan lets himself into Harry’s office. “Arthur, sir, could I have a moment?”

“Of course, Tristan.” Harry gives him a warm smile. “Please sit. Tea?”

“No, thank you.” Tristan takes a seat across from Harry.

“Everything go all right in Bolivia?”

“Yes, it did. It finished quicker than expected, as you know. I took a bit of a detour through the States…which I’m sure you also know.”

“I do…but if I had a problem with it, Merlin would have told you.”

“Right.” Tristan takes a deep breath. “I’d like to take a bit of a holiday starting next week. I’ve checked with Merlin…there’s nothing in the pipeline for as of today.”

“I see. And how long were you thinking of being away?” Harry makes a pyramid of his fingers under his chin.

“A fortnight, but I won’t be away. I’ll be here in London for most of it. Ben…Tequila…will be coming to visit.”

Harry’s face lights up. “That’s wonderful. I’d love to see him again. He was quite kind to me during my time at Statesman.”

“He only has good things to say about you, too, sir,” Tristan tells him. “He’s been…he’s been having a rough time of it recently. I’m not a doctor, of course, but I think it’s the fact that we haven’t spent much time together lately. We’re not officially bonded, but our bodies don’t seem to know that.”

“Tristan, you have selflessly given up your life for Kingsman in so many ways…including the multiple visits to the States when I didn’t have my memory.” Harry smiles at him. “If Merlin feels we can spare you, I absolutely approve of your holiday.”

“Of course if something comes up, I can…”

“No, Tristan. Take a holiday. Enjoy your omega.” Harry sighs as he glances at a framed picture on his desk. Tristan knows the picture well, as he’s the one who took it. Harry and Eggsy on a park bench, Julianna on Eggsy’s lap with Zachary standing between Harry’s legs. “You never know what can happen in life.”

“Thank you, sir.” Tristan stands.

“You must let us have you both over for dinner,” Harry says. “I’m sure Eggsy will agree.”

“I need to confirm it with Ben, but I’m sure he would love to come.”

 

“Dinner at Eggsy’s?” Tequila sits up, the sheet slipping down around his bare waist. Tristan cannot help but admire the view. He’d always thought Tequila would look lovely in his bed, sated and sleepy, and he was right. He’d picked Tequila up at Heathrow (unfortunately he was not permitted to bring him in a Kingsman jet), brought him to his flat, and allowed him to sleep for hours before finally giving in and ravaging his perfect body.

“Is that such a horrible thought?” He tugs Tequila back down again, tucking him close. “Mmm…I love the smell of you. I hope I can smell it on my sheets after you’ve gone.”

“I hope you’re planning on changing the sheets at least once in two weeks, Matthew.” Tequila makes a face.

“And it’s not just Eggsy’s. It’s Harry’s as well. You like Harry.”

“Yeah, I do like Harry. At least the Harry I knew back home. This Harry…don’t really know him, do I?”

“Ben,” Tequila says softly, caressing the handsome face. “You have nothing to worry about. They will adore you. Not just because you’re a wonderful person, but because they know how special you are to me. Harry and Eggsy are two of my dearest friends.”

“Am I? Special to you, I mean.”

“What a ridiculous question.” Tristan snogs him until he’s panting for breath.

“Nice try, but even your kisses aren’t gonna distract me,” Tequila says, removing Tristan’s hand from his plumping cock.

“They’re…they’re my family,” Tristan says quietly. Tequila leans up on an elbow to look down at him. “And YOU’RE my family. I just want us to have a nice evening together.”

“Of course I wanna meet your family, Matthew.” Tequila kisses his nose. “Can’t wait.”

“You’re a very good liar, Ben,” Tristan tells him.

Tequila grins and puts Tristan’s hand back on his cock.

 

“Are you sure I look all right?” Tequila glances down at himself as they stand in front of the Hart-Unwin door.

“You look gorgeous. This isn’t dinner with the queen,” Tristan points out.

“Yeah, but you look nice.”

“I’m sorry,” Tristan says in mock offense, looking down at his black jeans and beige button-up.

“I’m in a sweater. And jeans.”

“I’M wearing jeans.”

“But they’re black. Black jeans are MUCH dressier.”

“A cowboy is telling a tailor about fashion?” Tristan raises an adorable eyebrow.

Tequila sighs. How did he manage to snag such a handsome alpha? “I’m not just a cowboy.”

“Yes, yes, I know, you are an amazing superspy…who is currently fretting over nothing.” Tristan reaches around him to ring the doorbell.

“Matthew, I…”

The door opens and Harry Hart stands before them in grey trousers, a white button-up, and a black cardigan. “Tequila! How lovely to see you again! Welcome to our home, do come in.” Harry steps aside and waits for them to come in before holding out a hand. “So lovely.”

“Hello, Harry.” Tequila shakes Harry’s hand and takes him in. He looks tall, as always, but he’s put on weight and there’s color in his face. He still wears the black eye patch but otherwise looks happy and healthy. “You look so much better than when I saw you last, gotta say.”

“I believe it. I feel so much better. You look handsome as always.”

“Matthew told me this was okay…didn’t realize you’d be dressed up.”

“Dressed up? This?” Harry looks down at himself.

“Don’t worry, mate. That IS Harry dressed down.” Tequila turns to see a handsome young man in jeans and a hoodie coming down the hall with a baby in his arms. He has gorgeous green eyes, a steel-cut jaw, and light brown hair. He’s seen pictures, of course, but none of them do Eggsy justice. He makes a mental note to kick his alpha later for not warning him. Eggsy Unwin is gorgeous. “I’m Eggsy. Pleasure to finally meet you.”

“Yeah, nice to put a face with all the times Matthew’s dropped your name. Ben, but I go by Tequila, as you know. Either one is fine.”

“Was Galahad, now Guinevere, birth name Gary. Eggsy is definitely fine.” Eggsy smiles and tilts his head as the baby tries to smack his face. “And this pretty girl is Julianna.” The little girl gives him a toothless grin, her green eyes and pink lips a replica of her handsome omega father’s.

“Is that the dress I bought her?” Tristan asks with delight.

“Course it is,” Eggsy says with a grin. “She loves the pretty clothes Twiss buys her.”

“I’m afraid I tend to spoil her,” Tristan says to Tequila. “She’s so sweet I can’t help it.”

Tequila wonders if that has anything to do with the fact that baby is the spitting image of her omega father. “She’s very pretty,” he says finally, because it’s true.

“Thank you,” Harry says, giving his daughter a fond smile. “We think so. Our son is somewhere around…”

“Twiss!” A little boy comes barreling down the stairs.

“Walk, Zachary,” Harry orders, and the boy barely slows his steps.

He hugs Tristan’s legs and looks up at him. “I missed you, Twiss! You haven’t been here in FOREVER, and I have a new room!”

“I’m sorry, Zachary. I was away for work,” Tristan says.

“Who are you?” The little boy stares up at him in confusion.

“This is my friend, Ben. You remember, I’ve told you about him. He’s a cowboy.”

“Pleased to meet you.” Tequila awkwardly sticks out his hand, unsure how to act. He doesn’t have much experience with children.

Thankfully the little boy shakes it, his hazel eyes solemn. “My pleasure,” he says so formally that Tequila has to hide a smile. “My name is Zachary Hart Unwin.” He drops Tequila’s hand and tugs at Tristan’s arm. “Come see my new room, Twiss! It’s a big boy’s room. No more silly butterflies.”

“Oi, I love that room,” Eggsy says almost wistfully.

“I do as well…I helped paint it,” Tristan adds.

“It is a lovely room…and now Julianna can use it,” Harry reminds them, kissing his omega’s head.

“But my new room is better…it has Spiderman and Batman and…c’mon!” Zachary takes Tristan’s hand and starts pulling him up the steps. “But not you…just Twiss,” he says to Tequila, whose face turns red.

Harry’s face turns red as well. “Zachary Hart Unwin, that was quite rude. Apologize immediately.”

“You don’t talk to anyone like that, especially a guest in our home,” Eggsy adds.

“Sorry,” Zachary says, although he doesn’t sound sorry in the slightest.

“It’s fine…I know Tristan’s missed you a lot,” Tequila says honestly. “Go ahead, Matthew. Me and Harry can catch up.”

“I’ll go with you,” Eggsy says. “Give me a chance to feed this one so she’s quiet while we eat dinner.” He looks up at Harry. “PLEASE remember to take the roast out in ten minutes.”

“Yes, darling. I’m not completely hopeless in the kitchen.” Eggsy snorts and follows Tristan and Zachary upstairs. “I heard that!” Harry calls after them. He smiles at Tequila. “May I offer you a drink? It’s not Statesman bourbon, but I think it will suffice.”

“That sounds great, thanks,” Tequila says, following Harry down the hall.

Harry unlocks a cabinet in the living room and takes out a decanter. He pours them each a glass and hands one to Tequila. “I must apologize for my son’s behavior. He’s a bit…possessive of Tristan.” He sips at his drink, a sad smile on his face. “He knew Tristan before he knew me, of course…for a while I think he might have believed Tristan WAS his other father, although Eggsy’s never said anything about it.”

“I’m sorry,” Tequila says honestly. “Must’ve been real weird for you, coming back to a ready-made family.”

“It was a bit of a shock…has Tristan ever told you how I found out about Zachary?” Tequila nods. “We are definitely not your average family.”

“Seems pretty normal now…alpha and omega, a son and a daughter.”

“Yes,” Harry says, smiling proudly . “I am quite fortunate. I have a beautiful healthy baby girl, a son who is far too intelligent for his own good, and a gorgeous omega who loves me.”

Tristan offers him a bit of a toast. “To good fortune.”

“To good fortune indeed.” They both sip at their drinks. It burns going down but Tequila recognizes the good stuff when he tastes it. “I love Eggsy with all my heart, but I am going to apologize for him in advance. I’m afraid Zachary is not the only possessive one.”

Tequila looks up at him in alarm, his heart pounding in his ears. “What do you mean?”

“I’m sorry, dear boy, no need for concern.” Harry puts a hand on his shoulder. “I only mean that Eggsy and Tristan are very close. As I mentioned, Tristan was here when I was not, and he was a good alpha, a kind man…as you very well know. He did make a courting offer to Eggsy, which, thankfully, my dear omega refused. But they remained in close contact, and other than Merlin, Tristan is Eggsy’s dearest friend. He looked after Eggsy, and then took to Zachary like a duck to water. Even though he won’t admit it, I believe Eggsy still wants Tristan to always be at his beck and call. Not in a malicious way, of course,” Harry adds immediately.

“So he won’t like me because he doesn’t want Matthew to be with me?” Tequila asks in confusion.

“No. He’ll like you very much, because you are a good person. You’re good at your job, you’re brave, you’re kind. Plus you took care of me, and Eggsy feels he owes you for that. The two of you are a great deal alike, actually. I think, more than anything, Eggsy worries about Tristan’s heart. He wants him to be as happy as we are, and even though it seems quite obvious to anyone that sees you together that you and Tristan are made for each other, he will still worry.” Harry shakes his head and smiles. “Eggsy is the epitome of a mother hen. Don’t take it personally.”

“I’ll try,” Tequila says. He doesn’t feel complete at ease, but he feels better. “Glad to know he doesn’t hate me as a person…just on principle.”

“Exactly,” Harry says, giving his shoulder another squeeze. He checks his watch. “Bugger. It’s been thirteen minutes. I need to take the roast out. Let’s go to the kitchen.”

Harry leads the way to the back of the house. Tequila catches a glimpse of a lovely dining room with a high chair at one end of the table. He follows Harry into a sunny kitchen. Harry grabs oven mitts and gets a pan from the oven. “Christ, that smells good,” Tequila says, inhaling deeply.

“My omega is a wonder in the kitchen,” Harry says. “Thankfully. I barely know where the oven IS.”

“Can I do anything?”

“No. Eggsy has everything worked out…all we have to do is sit down, he said. He’ll manage everything,” Harry promises.

Tequila looks out the kitchen window. “You have a real nice home.”

“Thank you. It was mine before…and when he thought I was dead, Eggsy moved in.”

The words send a chill through Tequila although Harry says them quite calmly. “I can’t even imagine what you two have been through. I’m real sorry,” Tequila says sincerely.

“Thank you, young man. Although just think of it…if it wasn’t for what happened to me, you never would have met Tristan.”

“Not exactly the way I like to think of it,” Tequila says, and Harry laughs.

Steps thunder down the stairs and soon the others are filing into the kitchen. “Can I sit next to you, Twiss?” Zachary asks.

“We have to sit wherever your Daddy says,” Tristan tells him. “But if he says it’s okay, you can sit on one side, and Ben on the other.”

“M’kay.” Zachary gives Tequila an annoyed look.

“All right?” Tristan murmurs, coming over to nuzzle a bit at Tequila’s shoulder.

“Never better,” Tequila vows. “Eggsy, it smells amazing. My stomach’s doing somersaults.”

“Well, then, let me get dinner on the table.” Eggsy leans toward Harry so he can take the baby, but to everyone’s shock she reaches for Tequila over Eggsy’s shoulder.

“Oh, I…I’m sorry…” Tequila babbles, although he’s done nothing wrong.

“Take her,” Tristan says with a grin.

Eggsy shrugs so Tequila holds out his arms. Julianna eagerly climbs into his arms and starts to babble, tugging at his sweater and poking him in the chin. “She likes you,” Harry says, pleased. “She is an excellent judge of character.”

“She likes the mannequins at the shop, Harry,” Eggsy points out. Tristan gives him a hurt look and Tequila focuses on the baby in his arms. “Do you want kids, Ben?”

“I…I haven’t thought too much about it, to be honest,” Tequila says. He looks at Tristan and blushes. “I never thought I’d find someone…with the work I do it…”

“We are quite lucky to have found partners we can be honest with,” Harry says smoothly. “Otherwise it is quite impossible.”

“Quite lucky,” Tristan echoes, eyes never leaving Tequila’s face. He blushes again.

“Okay, everyone into the dining room,” Eggsy says. “You can give up the baby whenever you want, Ben. M’sure you ain’t used to kids.”

“I’m not, but I don’t mind, if it’s okay with you.” The baby has a sweet scent that sets Tequila’s mind at ease, and he likes the way she cuddles against his chest. She holds his fingers in his and plays with them a bit as she continues to chatter at him in her baby language.

“Don’t care what you do,” Eggsy says with a shrug.

“Why don’t you go sit down?” Harry suggests. “We can put her in her seat when we come back in. I’ll help you in the kitchen, Eggsy.”

“Harry, I got it under control. I don’t need your help.”

“I said I’ll help you,” Harry all but hisses, and something in his tone have both Eggsy and Tequila tilting their necks a bit.

“Yes, Harry,” Eggsy says meekly. He follows Harry into the kitchen, and Tequila soon hears low angry voices. He can’t make out the words, but it sounds like Harry is not pleased.

“Sit here.” Zachary pushes Tristan towards a chair. He then looks up at Tequila skeptically. “Are you REALLY a cowboy?”

“Not anymore, but I did work on a ranch for about four years.”

“You can ride a horse?”

“I can.”

“You can catch cows with a rope?”

“I can. We call it a lasso, or a lariat.”

“You aren’t wearing a cowboy hat.”

Tequila smiles. “I may not be all fancy like Tristan or your Papa, but I know it’s bad manners to wear a hat inside. I left it at Tristan’s house.”

“Can you show me how to use a lasso? I saw cowboys on telly do it.”

“I can…as long as you promise not to rope your sister.” Tristan rubs his nose along Julianna’s cheek and is pleased when she giggles.

“I won’t…she doesn’t go anywhere yet. She’s pretty boring.” Zachary looks at the chairs. “Twiss, you sit here instead. I’ll sit next to Him.”

“Him has a name,” Tristan reminds him gently.

“I know. It’s Tekweela.”

“Ben is fine,” Tequila says with a smile.

Zachary climbs into the middle seat and continues talking. “I’ve never ridden a horse, but Papa says I can try when I’m six. That’s my next birthday. Did you ride a horse when you were six?” He turns his back on Tristan, who raises his eyebrows in surprise.

“I did. My daddy and mama had a tiny place…we raised horses.”

“What was your first horse’s name?” Zachary demands.

“Starlight. She was black with a white star on her face,” Tequila remembers fondly.

Julianna has enough of babbling without a response. She leans down and grabs a handful of Zachary’s curls, yanking them with a delighted screech. “OW!” Zachary yells. He starts to cry and both Harry and Eggsy come running.

“What happened?” Eggsy asks, giving Tequila an accusing look.

“She pulled my hair!” Zachary whines, rubbing at his head.

“She does that all the time and you never yell like that,” Harry says. He rubs his son’s head. “I believe you are overacting for an audience. I wonder where that flair for the dramatic comes from?” He gives his mate a pointed look.

Tristan and Eggsy snort as one. Harry looks irritated. Tequila buries his face in the baby’s head, trying not to laugh. “Harry, why don’t you put her in her chair…I have some cantaloupe cut up in the kitchen,” Eggsy says.

“Come along, princess,” Harry says, taking Julianna from Tequila. He buckles her into the high chair and takes the bowl of fruit and bib that Eggsy hands him. “She has quite the throwing arm,” Harry says. “Be warned, Ben.”

“Understood,” Ben says with a laugh.

Harry helps Eggsy bring everything to the table and soon they’re finally filling their plates. “So…I think you should give me a cowboy hat for my birthday,” Zachary announces. “And Twiss can get me boots. Cowboys wear boots, right?”

“I think you shouldn’t be asking people for presents,” Eggsy reminds him lightly.

“But Ben’s a real cowboy, Daddy. He uses a lasso and everything.” Zachary looks proud that he’s remembered the word.

“I would be happy to send you a hat, little man, but only if your Daddy and Papa say it’s okay,” Ben says. “They’re the bosses.”

“I’m gonna be the boss when I grow up,” Zachary informs him. “Papa is the boss at work. He has a big office and he tells everyone what to do. Except for Unkin. Because Unkin is really the boss but no one’s supposed to know.”

“Unkin is Merlin,” Tristan murmurs in Tequila’s ear.

“And who told you that?” Harry asks.

“Unkin,” Zachary says, taking a bite of potatoes.

“Of COURSE he did. Unkin is really the boss. I highly doubt it,” Harry says, obviously annoyed.

“But Daddy is the boss of Papa for real,” Zachary continues, and they all look at him. “Because if Papa does something and Daddy doesn’t like it, he looks all sad until Papa makes it better.”

“Observant,” Tristan comments with a grin.

Harry gives Eggsy a sharp look. “Oi, it ain’t an act!” Eggsy promises.

“I think we should repaint my room with cowboys and horses and cows,” Zachary says.

“We are NOT repainting your room,” Eggsy tells him. “We just finished painting it! You love superheros!”

“But I think I like cowboys.”

“Superheros are great,” Tequila says quickly. “Can you show me after dinner?”

“Yes. Who is your favorite?”

“Finish your dinner, Zachary, and you can talk to Tequila later,” Harry says gently.

“Yes, Papa,” Zachary says.

Tequila is surprised at how easy it is to talk to Harry. He’s obviously from money and good breeding, yet he acts very similarly to the man Tequila met at Statesman. He is very intelligent and speaks well, but is absolutely adorable when he’s interacting with his baby daughter.

After finishing a second helping, Tequila pushes his plate away and says, “Eggsy, that is the best meal I’ve had in ages. Been a long time since I met someone who could cook like that. Thank you.”

“I’m glad you liked it,” Eggsy says politely.

“You’re not too bad in the kitchen yourself,” Tristan says. He takes Tequila’s hand and holds it on the table.

“I grill…not exactly the same. Anyone can make ribs or steak,” Tequila says modestly.

“I have pie for dessert, if anyone’s hungry,” Eggsy says, standing up to clear the table.

“Let me help,” Tequila says, immediately standing as well. “Least I can do.”

“I think I have a book on cowboys,” Zachary says. “Can I go get it?”

“As long as you walk up the stairs,” Harry says, retrieving the baby from her chair.

Tequila stacks plates and follows Eggsy into the kitchen. He places them by the sink and takes a deep breath. “Thanks again for inviting us. I know it meant a lot to Matthew, and I’m glad to finally meet you. He…he talks about you a lot.”

“I’ve heard a lot about you as well.” Eggsy starts rinsing off dishes.

“You’re real lucky,” Tequila says, leaning against the counter. “Know you’ve been through a lot, but you have a wonderful family.”

“I do.” Eggsy smiles fondly. “And Matthew’s like part of the family as well.”

“Look, Eggsy…I know you don’t know me from Adam, but I care about Matthew. A lot, as a matter of fact.” Tequila is tired of the barbed comments. “I’d take his bite in a minute if he offered it. But we’re still active agents, in different agencies, on opposites sides of the Atlantic, and neither of us is ready to give it up. We can’t bond and then never see each other. I wouldn’t want that. When I bond with him, I want to be by his side twenty-four seven. I love him, and I’d want to be able to tell him that in person, every single day. Not via text, or over the phone. I may not be a posh leggy bastard like Harry Hart, but I’m a good person. And Tristan’s my alpha, whether I got a bite mark or not.”

Eggsy turns off the water and dries his hands. He slowly looks up at Tequila and sighs. Tequila wonders if he’s about to be punched. “First of all…no one’s like Harry Hart,” Eggsy says. “Thank fuck for that, because one dramatic alpha with an eye patch is enough. Secondly…I’m sorry.” Tequila blinks at him, a bit surprised by the profanity. “Harry pointed out that I was acting like a real prick, and I apologize. I guess I was jealous.”

“Of me?”

“Yeah. I mean, you’re fucking gorgeous, and you’re fit as fuck.” Eggsy grabs his own chest and squeezes gently. “I love my little girl so much, and I’m happy to nurse her as long as I can, but I do miss having actual pecs and abs. I used to be able to call or text Matthew all the time and he’d immediately respond, but now he talks about you all the time. Guess I felt like I was losing my best friend, kinda. And that is stupid, because we’re all grown adults and he can have you AND have time for me. I was being selfish.”

“It’s okay, friend,” Tequila says sincerely. “You and Matthew went through a lot together. Of course you feel a special connection. I’m glad he has friends like you two.”

“And I’m glad he has you,” Eggsy says. “Swear down. He deserves the best, and you seem to be pretty close.”

“Even if I teach your son to toss a lasso?” Tequila says. “I did tell him he can’t rope his sister.”

“Good luck with that,” Eggsy says with a grin.

They soon retire to the living room with coffee. Zachary plants himself between Tequila and Tristan, pointing out things in his cowboy book. Eggsy sits on the floor to play with Julianna, and Harry sits close by in a chair. Tristan reaches across the back of the sofa to rest his hand against Tequila’s neck, occasionally stroking his fingers along Tequila’s scent gland.

Tequila meets Eggsy’s gaze and the other man winks. Apparently he’s been accepted into this little family…and he’s grateful for that.