“May I help you down the stairs, sir?”
Eggsy smiles at the pilot, who seems to have extricated himself from the cockpit at record speed just to offer assistance. “No, thanks, Tim, I got this,” Eggsy replies.
“I wish…I wish someone was here to accompany you.”
Eggsy’s smile widens. Everyone always complained that Tim acted like part of the plane, but Eggsy’s always gotten along with him. This small amount of conversation equaled a long hug from anyone else. “I’m fine, bruv, thanks. Besides…my man’s gonna be looking after me.”
Tim looks troubled. “As you say, sir.”
Eggsy slowly makes his way down the stairs of the plane. His side is a bit tight, and his left knee is aching in a way that means no missions anytime soon. The outer toes on his right foot feel too large for his shoe, and he’s afraid to even look at the gash in his right arm. He clears his throat and winces at the raw soreness. Bloke had one helluva grip.
“Good afternoon, Agent Galahad,” the nurse says as soon as both feet hit the ground. “If you’d be so kind.” She points to the wheelchair.
“Oh, come on. I don’t need that.” Eggsy takes a few steps, spins in a circle, and almost falls over. “I don’t!”
“I’m sure you wish to get the trip to Medical over and done so you can relax,” she almost coos, guiding him to the chair.
“You ain’t kidding. Gonna cuddle myself up with my boyfriend and not leave the house for at least two days,” Eggsy vows.
“That sounds lovely,” she says dryly.
“No offense to you lot, but he is definitely medicinal, and aces at the TLC.”
“If you believe that, it is all that matters.”
The doctor is actually pleased with the way Eggsy stitched his own arm. He’s less than pleased at the amateur bandaging of his toes. “I’m going to recommend to Arthur that all agents have a re-education in basic First Aid,” the doctor says with a frown. “And don’t think you’ll get away with not caring for these injuries. I will be messaging Merlin…”
“You know you don’t gotta do that. My man reads a list of instructions once and it’s memorized. You also know THAT. He’ll make sure I don’t lift a finger if you haven’t expressly approved it. He likes fussing over me.”
“I will send along written instructions just in case,” the doctor says with a frown. “I trust you to look after yourself, Galahad. You’re a grown man.”
“More fun to be fussed over, though, ain’t it?” Eggsy asks with a grin. He punches the bed and lets out a string of curses as the doctor holds his foot straight and tapes the toes in place.
He allows the nurse to wheel him as far as the corridor of Harry’s office before getting up and hobbling the last few meters. “Enter,” he hears before he can even knock on the door.
“Arthur,” Eggsy says respectfully.
“Galahad.” Harry comes around the desk, closes the door, and pulls him in for a hug. “I’m so glad you’re all right. It was a bit touch and go there for a bit. Merlin…”
“You got me home,” Eggsy says into Harry’s shoulder. The embrace is warm and comforting, but not exactly what he’s looking for. “Know you coughed up that bit of info about the back entrance.”
“Memory like a steel trap.” Harry taps the side of his head and Eggsy snorts. Harry gives him a dirty look. “I got the report you sent from the jet…is there anything you wish to add?” Harry motions to a chair and Eggsy sits. “Take your time. I have tea ready.”
“Harry, I was looking to get on home.”
“That ridiculous robot you call a boyfriend can wait a short while longer.” Harry hands him the sugar and a cup of tea. “I don’t want to see you in here for three days. And if he doesn’t give you the appropriate amount of care, I wish to know about it.”
“Oh, Harry.” Eggsy shakes his head fondly. “There is ONE thing I just thought about…the tea reminded me. That little restaurant the bloke goes to…got a feeling it ain’t no innocent little café.”
“Intriguing.” Harry opens a notebook and takes a pen from the desk. “Tell me.”
It seems like hours later that Eggsy hobbles up to the front door of his flat. He unlocks it, walks inside, closes it, and leans against it with relief. He inhales deeply. Home. Nothing specific, no food or cleaning supplies or scented candles. Just the aroma of home and a loving heart waiting for him. He gives a short whistle and toenails scrabble on the hardwood floor.
“There he is.” Eggsy starts to squat down and remember his side. “Hi, JB. How’s a boy, huh? How’s my boy?” JB jumps up and down, standing on his hind legs and pawing at Eggsy’s knees. “Give me a minute, bruv, okay? I know, it’s been five days. Wanna love on you, too.”
“Ah, you’re home.” Merlin appears from down the hall, clad in his ‘home clothes,’ which means jeans and an older jumper. The jeans only accentuate the length of his legs, and the worn jumper clings to the broad shoulders.
“For God’s sake.” Merlin leans down and scoops JB into his arms. “Here. Ridiculous animal.” He thrusts JB in Eggsy’s direction.
“There’s my baby.” Eggsy happily accepts the offered pup and holds him close. “Hello, JB.” JB happily licks every part of Eggsy he can reach, including his eyelids, his nostrils, and inside his ears.
“That is revolting.”
“You never thought of licking inside my nose?” Eggsy asks with a wink.
“Would ye like a lecture on the amount of germs in the human nose? What exactly ye pick out of the hairs when ye think no one is looking?”
“Oi, I don’t pick my nose!” Eggsy exclaims, affronted. He puts JB down and the dog happily scrabbles away.
“Bruised sides, eight stitches in your right arm, twisted left knee, broken toes on the right foot,” Merlin recites. “I have replenished our supplies of heating packs, ice packs, and bandaging.”
“And here everyone at work thought you wasn’t gonna take care of me.” Eggsy tiredly leans against the door again.
“And what did you think?” Merlin crosses his arms over his chest.
“I thought that they needed to shut up and get their fucking work done so I could get home,” Eggsy says, allowing his head to thud back and his eyes to close.
He squeals as his legs are suddenly swept out from under him. He manages to lock his hands behind Merlin’s neck just in time. “And now ye are home, my precious lad.” He gives Eggsy a tender kiss. “Find solace in our sanctuary here, leave the pain and stress of Kingsman behind.” Merlin kisses the tip of Eggsy’s nose.
“YES, Merlin,” Eggsy sighs happily. He snuggles against Merlin’s strong chest as his boyfriend easily carries him down the hall.
“I have everything all ready. I was just waiting for ye to arrive before starting the bath.” Merlin gently lays him down and starts to undress him.
“I can do it, babe,” Eggsy protests, but only half-heartedly. Merlin gives him his Merlin Glare and Eggsy meekly lowers his hands.
He allows the jacket to be peeled away and tossed aside. Next is the tie, and then the waistcoat. Merlin undoes the cufflinks and belt before sinking to his knees to undo his shoes. Merlin carefully wiggles Eggsy’s foot out. “My sweet boy.” He actually leans all the way down to kiss Eggsy’s stocking-clad foot.
“Hamish!” Eggsy says, unable to keep from giggling.
“None of that,” Merlin orders, but he looks up with a wink. He slips the other foot out and slowly removes the socks. “Oh, leannan,” Merlin whispers, frowning as he looks at the bruised foot below the tape.
“M’fine, babe, swear down. Able to walk and everything.”
“Not if I can help it.” Merlin undoes the button and zip and soon Eggsy’s trousers are puddling around his feet.
“You gonna carry me all over the flat for the next three days?”
“If I let ye out of the bed other than to wee…yes.” Merlin spreads the shirt and kisses the soft skin above the waist of Eggsy’s pants. “I am so glad to have ye home safe, lad,” he murmurs against Eggsy’s belly.
“Glad to be home, Hamish.” Eggsy strokes his fingers over the bald head. Merlin stands and kisses his way up to Eggsy’s throat. “Mmmm.” Eggsy happily tilts his head to the side.
“Nae, lad, not tonight. Ye are weary and hurt.”
“I’m fine,” Eggsy protests.
Merlin raises an eyebrow. “I dinnae understand those words tonight.” He leans over and starts the water, getting the temperature just right before putting the stopper in. He then pours in an ample amount of lavender scented bubbles. “Now, let’s get ye in before the water is too high, that way we can prop your taped foot out of the water.”
“Ain’t you gonna come in with me?” Eggsy pouts.
“Plenty of time for me to cuddle ye later, lad.” Merlin kneels again and works Eggsy out of his pants. He plants one sweet kiss to the head of Eggsy’s soft cock.
“Gonna welcome him home too?” Eggsy asks hopefully.
“Ye are a stubborn boy. I told ye, not tonight.” Merlin helps Eggsy into the tub and holds his hand as he sits down.
“Fucking hell this feels good,” Eggsy groans.
Merlin folds a towel and places it behind his head before resting Eggsy’s injured foot over the side of the tub. He places another towel under Eggsy’s stitched arm. “There…are ye comfortable?”
“Aye,” Eggsy says with a wink. Merlin rolls his eyes. He waits until the water is up to Eggsy’s shoulders before turning it off. “Hamish?”
“Yes, Eggsy?” Merlin reaches for a flannel and soaps it up. Eggsy drops his head forward and Merlin lightly scrubs the back of his neck.
“For what, leannan?”
“For getting hurt.”
Merlin stops washing. “Eggsy, I dinnae run your mission, but I received a report from Genevieve. Ye did everything right.”
“I didn’t run fast enough. Or jump high enough,” Eggsy mutters, blowing across the surface of the water.
“Well, ye ARE getting old,” Merlin starts to tease. “Wait. You’re serious.”
“Yeah, I’m fucking serious. Judged it all before I went out the window, at least I thought I did. But I didn’t, and now I have stitches in my arm and tape on my toes.”
“What do ye always tell me, Eggsy? No man is perfect, even if ye are the perfect man for me?” Merlin leans in to kiss his forehead. “Ye cannot predict every outcome. Ye did your best, and now ye are home with me. That is what matters.”
“How do you deal with it?” Eggsy whispers. “The fact that I might NOT come home to you.”
“I deal with it by not dealing with it,” Merlin says seriously. He dries his hands, removes his jumper, and picks up the flannel again. He washes down Eggsy’s chest, arm submerged past the elbow. “If I thought about that, Eggsy, I would most certainly go mad. I simply work hard as ye are working hard and pray that my staff have learned enough from me to get ye home.”
“I want to be you when I grow up,” Eggsy says, and Merlin finally grins.
“Oh, ye have a lot of growing up to do for that, boyo.” He kisses Eggsy’s forehead.
Merlin doesn’t let him out of the tub until every inch of his body is cleaned with extreme Tender Loving Care. Only then does Merlin drain the tub, help Eggsy to his feet, and all but lift him out of the tub. He wraps him in a fluffy towel, holding him close the way Eggsy holds Daisy after a bath. Merlin scrubs him from head to toe, stopping here and there to plant a tender kiss. On his belly button. On each hip bone. On the slightly swollen knee. He holds out Eggsy’s blue and beige puppy dressing gown and ties the belt. “Now then….time to eat.”
“Don’t wanna eat,” Eggsy says, actually yawning. “Just wanna snuggle with you.”
“I know. But ye need to eat something.” Merlin picks up his jumper and throws it over one shoulder.
“But I’m not…” Eggsy’s stomach makes a dragon-like sound. “…hungry.”
“I can tell. Humor an old man.”
“Find me an old man and I’ll humor him,” Eggsy says. He squeals a second time when Merlin picks him up again. “Fuck, Hamish, your back!”
“It is only a short distance.” Eggsy is surprised when Merlin takes him not to the kitchen, but to the bedroom.
“Hamish,” Eggsy says with a grin. There’s a plate of sandwiches on the nightstand along with two bottles of water and the tea tray.
“Do ye wish your pajamas, or your pants, or…”
“Naked with you,” Eggsy says. “Need your skin.”
“All right.” Merlin puts Eggsy down and Eggsy removes the dressing gown. He crawls into bed before Merlin can touch him, but Merlin actually slaps his hands away as he tucks Eggsy into bed, propping him up on three pillows. He waits until Eggsy’s munching on his sandwich before putting the dressing gown away and undressing himself.
Eggsy’s through a bottle of water and finishing the second sandwich when Merlin climbs into bed. Eggsy immediately finishes the water, sets the plate aside, and wriggles his way down. Merlin leans up on one elbow and smiles down at him. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
“No need to thank me, leannan. It is an honor to welcome ye home.” Merlin traces the outline of Eggsy’s face with one finger, then the shape of his lips. “I am amazed how I ever managed to sleep a night without ye in my bed.”
“Feels weird on missions without you next to me when I’m sleeping,” Eggsy agrees. “Miss you hogging the covers.”
“I hog nothing,” Merlin retorts. He bites Eggsy’s chin. “Ye fill in all my empty spaces, Eggsy.”
“Hamish.” Eggsy swallows hard, trying to get the knot from his throat.
“I know ye like to tease me about the fuss I make over ye when ye are injured, or even just gone on a long mission. But I know better than anyone how a difficult assignment can pull ye apart. When I kiss ye, or bathe ye, or simply feed ye…I am doing my best to put the pieces back together.”
“Need that.” Eggsy pulls Merlin into a tight hug. “Need it so much, Hamish. Sometimes I come home and I can’t find Eggsy…can only find Galahad and I need to put him away. It’s so fucking hard to put him away,” he says into Merlin’s shoulder.
“I will always guide ye back to where ye belong,” Merlin promises. “Always.”