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Seeing

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When Harry drops Eggsy off at the recruit dorm for the Lancelot trials, Eggsy has to do his best to ignore the posh bloke wandering around the other recruits. This is the best thing that's happened to him in his life so far, and he's not going to fuck it up by showing how messed up he really is.

The problem is that ghosts are fucking everywhere.

They also look almost exactly like everyone else, too. It's only through trial and error that he realized the differences and stopped talking to spirits on the streets or in the pub. When he was a kid, it was excusable. Imaginary friends weren't odd until you got older, and thankfully most of them understand that and let him be if there are others around. Some won't leave him alone.

It isn't all bad, though. As he tried to tell his mum when he was eight, his dad was one of those. (That, of course, didn't go over well. She sobbed and sent him to his room, which made him and Lee cry, even though he'd never seen his dad so much as frown before. Eggsy never talked about it again.) Lee was there when he decided to quit gymnastics, when he left the Marines, when he took the bad beatings for his mum. He keeps him company. He encourages him.

He's the reason Eggsy even trusted Harry, honestly. Lee smiled when he saw the man leaning against the wall, and although it disappeared when Harry talked about how much of a disappointment Eggsy was ('M very proud, Eggsy. Don' forget that, he said firmly, his hand hovering over his son's shoulder), it was back when the man took out Dean's goons (Watch this, he whispered gleefully). Even at the shop earlier, Lee looked at Harry fondly during his recruitment speech.

Lee also looked at Merlin fondly, Eggsy notes.

A good man, Lee says when he catches him looking. Tough bastard, but 'e means well.

Eggsy then glances meaningfully over at the other ghost, who is already looking at him.

James, codename Lancelot, Lee says as the ghost walks over, and isn't this fucking weird? At least the man doesn't look at him the way the other recruits do.

Lee, Lancelot says warmly. His lips don't quite match up, and Eggsy realizes that there's a thin line bisecting the man entirely. Is this little Eggsy?

Eggsy twitches.

All grown up, Lee says wistfully before getting more serious. 'M sorry to see you so soon, old friend.

Then Merlin's calling them to fall in, and Eggsy leaves the ghosts to catch up or whatever ghosts do when he's not around.

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It's the middle of the night and most of the recruits are asleep, but the room is filling with water, and fuck, what do they do?

Breathe, Eggsy, his dad says. Focus.

So he does, going for the door while the others are doing something with the showers, and when that doesn't work he turns around to survey the room. He's in the process of kicking himself off the door to get some momentum going when Lee steps in front of him. Unlike everyone else, the man's hair is perfectly still in the water and his feet as planted on the ground.

Remember your training, Marine, he says firmly. Remember.

Eggsy frowns. It's not like they taught him what to do in this exact situation, so he just runs through the basics as he takes stock of the room, his lungs aching.

Amelia. Fuck. His eyes widen as he sees her panicking. Brotherhood. It was stressed in the training, because you always worked as a team. No matter what, you had each other's backs, so even though he barely knows the girl, he swims over without another thought, grabs her arm, and yanks her over to the others, pushing her down next to Rufus and glaring until the arse shares his air.

Then, with the precious little air of his own he has left, Eggsy anchors himself with the sink and breaks the two-way mirror.

"Good job Roxy, Charlie," Merlin says and explains the toilet trick to all of them as they lay huddled on the ground, soaked. "And you, Eggsy. Good work with the mirror."

Lee is standing behind Merlin, proud. Not even Charlie's following comment is enough to dim the happiness Eggsy feels at all that praise.

Especially not with Merlin glaring at the posh bastard. "As far as I'm concerned, Eggsy is the only one who passed this task. Teamwork is highly important at Kingsman. It often is not only the difference between completing a mission and failing it but also life and death. You need to be able to rely on your teammates, but none of the rest of you even realized Amelia was left behind."

James quirks an eyebrow and says, Well, Lee's boy wouldn't have either if not for some cheating.

It ain't cheatin' if you use your gifts, Lee says cheerfully.

The other ghost laughs. True. I suppose I might have been guilty of the same during our trials.

Might 'ave? Lee snickers.

Eggsy hides a smile, because he misses seeing his dad like this. Sure, they could talk, but his dad couldn't talk to anyone else really, and it was obvious he was lonely sometimes. Now he's laughing and smiling and more animated that he'd been in years (though he certainly wasn't sad the whole time he was around his son).

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Amelia gives him a hug the next morning just before she leaves. She didn't do well under pressure, Merlin said, and that was something a Kingsman needed to be able to do.

"It still sucks," Eggsy grumbles into her hair, because she and Roxy are the only ones who don't look down on him, and even though he really doesn't give a fuck what the others think, it's nice to have some friends around. (He's confident, though, that the other girl will make it far in the trials.)

"Don't worry about me, Eggsy," she says and pulls away to say goodbye to Roxy. "Maybe we'll see each other again one day."

Listen to the lady, James says from his place on Eggsy's bed. The posh bastard is sitting all elegant-like on the head of it, while Lee is cross-legged at the opposite end.

Don' give it away now, Lee says to his friend, laughing.

Eggsy shakes his head, because he knows if he asks, his dad's just going to dance around the answer until he gives up. Not that he has any damn privacy in this room to ask.

"Follow me," Merlin interrupts from the door.

Even Lee and James follow, but instead of wariness like on the faces of the recruits, they both have looks of glee. It makes Eggsy all the more worried. Though he evidently has no reason to feel that way.

The surprise is puppies.

He glances over at the ghosts.

I never got the chance to bring Sting home, Lee says sadly. You always wanted a dog.

Pick a good breed, little Eggsy, James butts in. I had an English Foxhound. Courageous little thing, Quentin was.

Lee snickers. Jus' give it a better name, yeah?

Like Sting? James looks thoroughly unimpressed.

Rolling his eyes, Eggsy steps forward with the rest of the group to pick one of the puppies, and he gets the 'bulldog' before anyone else can. It's small, but he's sure JB will grow. They'll be a good team. Like Lee said, he'd always wanted a dog.

"It's a bulldog, innit?" he asks. The rest of the recruits are fucking laughing at him as he stares down at the small pug.

Well, at least it's cute, James says, and Eggsy wants to give him the finger, but he's not going to get kicked out for looking insane over a dog.

Very, Lee says. He's crouched down in front of little JB, his hand hovering just over the pup's fur. The dog stares back curiously. Lee grins. JB yips.

The rest of the dogs look over.

And Eggsy remembers exactly why he stopped asking his mum for a pet -- animals are very sensitive. They can sense ghosts. Ghosts loved flocking to Eggsy.

Fuck.

The first to do anything is Roxy's poodle, who trots closer to him and sniffs around James just standing behind him. James smiles gently at the dog.

It's not surprising to see Percy's candidate choose a good breed. She's quite right about poodles, he says.

Then Charlie's German Shepard is pawing at where Lee is still crouched down and barking louder and louder as his paws go right through the man.

"Charlie," Merlin says firmly. "Control your dog. If it eats Eggsy's, you'll be disqualified."

Fuck, Eggsy's face is burning, and he's sure he's a splotchy red.

Lee and James, of course, are laughing.

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The problem with the dogs is that they won't stop staring at the ghosts. Sure, they've stopped barking (thankfully), but they're still wary for the most part. Only JB and Roxy's poodle seem to like the two men.

Though that might be because those two dogs are the only ones James and Lee seem to like.

Percy always was a practical man, James says. It makes sense that he'd pick a good candidate.

'N Harry ain't practical? Lee says.

Harry Hart put two recruits and the head of the tech department in danger, James says dryly.

Yeah? Never said 'e wasn't forgetful. 'Sides, 'e was my sponsor, 'n I saved all of ya.

James smiles sadly. True, and I'll always be in your debt for that, friend. I'm not saying little Eggsy isn't a good candidate, just that his sponsor... well, Harry's a good agent, but he didn't seem to learn anything from that day. Not from what I've heard.

Although he's been listening, Eggsy wasn't really hearing anything they said until that point. He glances at the ghost as subtly as he can. There's too many people around to talk, unfortunately, so he just wills the damn man to understand. What's he heard?

Lee grimaces when he sees Eggsy's interest. I was hopin' Merlin'd tell ya.

Eggsy sits up straighter. It's so fucking hard to keep his face neutral when they won't get to the point.

Especially since James looks somewhat ashamed.

"Are you okay, Eggsy?"

"Huh?" he says, turning around to see Roxy. His face burns a little, and he makes a note to be more careful about paying attention to his surroundings when he's listening to the ghosts.

She sits down on the bed next to him. "You know, pugs aren't a bad breed. If that's what you're worried about."

"Wot?"

Out of the corner of his eye, he can see James' shoulders shaking with laughter and his dad grinning.

"They can be very good watchdogs with the right training. Quite an affectionate breed, too."

"Thanks?" he says, looking bewildered at the puppy at the foot of his bed.

JB keeps licking himself.

Roxy smiles at Eggsy. "I'm going to go to the library to do some studying then. If you want to join me."

"Yeah, sure," he says and waves as she leaves.

The looks on the ghosts' faces when he turns back to them makes it clear they figured he'd be too distracted to remember what they were talking about, which only serves to make him more stressed about it.

Lee sits down where Roxy just was, puts an arm around Eggsy's shoulders.

Although there's no actual physical sensation, the knowledge of what his dad's trying to do comforts him. He steels himself for whatever they're going to tell him.

Earlier, James starts, I heard that Galahad's last mission went a little... wrong. Something blew up in his face. He made it out, but he's in the medical ward in a coma.

Eggsy's up and out the door immediately, absentmindedly shrugging off the arm that isn't really there as he tries to find Harry.

Perhaps you should have told him, James says to Lee after Eggsy's gone.

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Sometimes Eggsy studies with Roxy. It's been years since he had to study anything, but he's smart and willing to put in the effort and do this for his dad (and for Harry, Lee cheekily reminds him, which only makes him more frustrated that he doesn't even have the privacy to make a face in response. He spends a lot of time by Harry's side, so what?). So he grabs a few books from the shelves and sits on one of the couches in the middle of the room. He makes notes, he practices equations, and he listens when she gives him a tip.

Most of all, he learns to really enjoy her company.

When he's at home he has Ryan and Jamal and the ghosts, but even then he can't ever really relax. Not with the threat of Dean and his goons over his head. But here -- here he finds himself relaxing in the library with her. The other recruits are gone, working out in the gym or training their dogs, so it's just them. Even Dean can't touch him here, and Lee leaves occasionally to make sure the bastard isn't hurting his mum or sis, so that worry doesn't weigh down on him much. He doesn't frett about Harry here, either. There's just something about whatever is developing between him and Roxy that makes him feel so damn comfortable, makes him forget that Harry might not wake up.

The only thing is that James is still hanging around, too.

There's a shorter way to do that, you know, the ghost says, leaning over his shoulder.

He wants to make a crack about shortcuts and getting it done right and perhaps even about how maybe the man who got sliced in half shouldn't be telling him how to do his maths, but Roxy's a few feet away. (Besides, he didn't even learn this stuff in school unlike the intangible posh bastard next to him. How the fuck is he supposed to know any shortcut?)

Roxy, as if sensing his irritation, looks up. "Is something the matter, Eggsy?"

He frowns and bites down on his pride. "Ain't there a shorter way to do this?"

"What is it?" she says, moving closer. "Ah, yes, the shortcut's much easier. Let me show you."

James looks smug.

When Roxy turns back to her own studying, he stubbornly ignores the ghost as he scribbles out the equations again.

You copied the wrong number, little Eggsy.

He stops for a moment, then fixes it. Without acknowledging James.

Remember the steps she told you.

He glances back at the small list Roxy penned in the corner of his paper before going back to the problem.

Are you really going to ignore me for the rest of the day? James says, and the fucker sounds amused.

He keeps working.

Little Eggsy?

He twitches.

I'm just trying to help, James says innocently.

Are ya now? Lee cuts in, appearing suddenly, and before long the two are bickering playfully, annoying Eggsy who's just trying to study, dammit.

"'M goin' back to the room, Rox'."

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He's got a test in the morning, and it's the first written test he's had to do since school (not that he actually studied in school), so he should be sleeping. Or at least going over his notes.

Instead, he's in Harry's room, slumped in the seat next to the bed with JB at his feet.

Eggsy, Lee says softly. Go sleep.

He shakes his head.

Lee's right, little Eggsy, James interrupts from the doorway. Even Percy's girl is down for the night.

He shakes his head again. Of course, he knows Harry isn't going to magically wake up, but even so, it doesn't mean he won't spend his free time keeping the man company.

I'll wake you up if 'e wakes, Lee promises.

Looking up at his dad, Eggsy shakes his head a third time. He's not moving. Maybe Harry gave Lee the same chance he gave Eggsy, but it just isn't the same. Lee was happy. Lee had a wife and a child and a group of 'brothers' he'd give his life for, and maybe he couldn't afford to get a wardrobe full of tailored clothes, but he didn't want nor need anything like that. For Lee, Harry's offer was a way to move up.

For Eggsy, Harry's offer was a way to survive.

He was twenty-three years old, unemployed, living at home, and a few confrontations with Dean away from getting beaten too badly, and all of it was for his mum and sis. If he was around, he could bear the brunt of it all. He'd given up his life for them.

Harry offered it back to him. With an upgrade that meant he could get both of his favorite girls away from his monster of a stepfather.

Eggsy couldn't even have dreamed of being so lucky.

James tilts his head. Tell me, little Eggsy, do you remember how to use the stars to navigate in case of a tech failure?

James -- Lee starts, but Eggsy interrupts him, repeating the question and rattling off the answer.

What plants can be used to help prevent or slow infections?

He answers again. Even if anyone walked it, they'd think he was just trying to study by himself, and his opinion of the old Lancelot goes up a notch.

Lee sits down on the edge of the bed, defeated. There's a bomb, he says. Three wires. Which one do ya cut?

"Three wires?" He scratches JB's back. "Wot colors?"

That gets him a smile, and they continue to go back and forth, the three of them, until his answers are interspersed with yawns, and before long, he's asleep.

(This is how Merlin finds him in the morning. He doesn't see the two dead men keeping the recruit and his dog company. He doesn't hear the quiet 'fanks, Merlin when he nudges Eggsy out of his surprisingly deep sleep.)

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Eggsy wants to scream.

The test itself isn't hard. Honestly, with the way he's studied, he's zooming right through most of the questions. Especially the theory questions. He knows all the steps to diffusing bombs, knows all about to treating burns and cuts in the field, and the chart of characteristics of certain poisons is something he has memorized at this point. Even the maths problems are not too terribly hard.

But James is walking around the room, weaving in between the desks and watching the recruits work over their shoulders.

It's fucking distracting. The bastard isn't even trying to be quiet or subtle in any way, because he doesn't have to actually worry about bothering the other recruits, and when Eggsy gave him a look at the beginning, he just winked and said, You need to be able to work with distractions, little Eggsy.

He does his best to ignore the man. (Who is standing right in front of Roxy's desk at the moment, his head tilted at a harsh angle so that he can better read her writing upside down.) He really, really tries. (Good girl, the man says, delighted, when she finally pens an answer down and flips to the next page.) If Lee were here, surely he wouldn't be doing the same thing.

On second thought, maybe it's better that his dad was checking in on his mum. (Lee liked to make faces at the other recruits as a way to try and keep Eggsy from punching their lights out when they were being jerks. Mostly it just meant Eggsy had to try and not look mental, laughing at nothing.)

He stalls at one of the equations. Fuck.

Remember the steps, Little Eggsy. There are four, James says from right behind him.

His pencil clacks to the ground when he startles, and Merlin gives him an amused look. (James, the bastard, is laughing.) Fuck. He rolls it within reach with his foot, picks it up, and finishes the problem.

But James doesn't leave.

I'm bored, unfortunately, he says when Eggsy risks a glance.

He lets his eyes casually travel to the door next.

But who would cheer you on if I left?

Eggsy's very tempted to toss his pencil at the ghost, because he knows it's disorienting to feel things passing through them, or at least that's how his dad felt (and if tossing the pencil back like that meant it would smack Charlie in the face, well that would be a wonderful side-effect, wouldn't it?)

James smiles cheekily as if he knows exactly what's going through Eggsy's mind. Finish your test.

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The day Charlie dumps water on him in his sleep is the day Lee stops making faces. (He starts up again a week later, but it's startling all the same.)

Suddenly it's Roxy holding him back, James telling him it's not worth it, Little Eggsy, he's not worth this. It's Roxy staring at him, concerned. It's James standing next to him as if he could stop Eggsy from doing something rash.

It's Lee glaring at the little fuckers across the room.

Eggsy holds JB close to him, anchoring himself even as the shuddering cold threatens to send him off on them.

Let's go talk to Merlin, James says.

Eggsy glances at him. The displeasure on the man's face only serves to highlight the line down his face, and if he wasn't so used to seeing it by now, it would be fucking terrifying.

Listen to him, Eggsy, Lee says tightly.

He nods, still shaky from the cold. It's late and night, and by this point, he knows better than to assume the man is in his office.

Eggsy? James says when they turn down the wrong hall. His voice is soft.

"'M goin' to Harry," he mutters. "'E'll find me there."

But Merlin's already ahead of him, sitting quietly by the bed, tablet in hand. He looks up as the door opens. "Eggsy? What happened?"

Eggsy hesitates.

Tell him, James says.

Eggsy shakes his head.

He's the fairest person I know.

But since when has that made any difference? He's got a disadvantage, just being poor, and even if Harry was willing to help him, even if Merlin didn't look at him any different, even if Roxy was happy to spend time with him -- he doubts it would do anything. He'd still get fucked over in the end.

"Nothin'," he says, soothing JB when he whines.

Merlin gives him a look. "Stay there."

You can trust him, James says but doesn't push anymore.

They stand there for a few minutes, listening to the beep of the machines until Merlin comes back with two towels and a set of sleep clothes.

"Hand over the pup," Merlin says as he drops the bigger towel and the clothes on the bed. "You can dry off in the loo."

Although he could barely stand the damn dog days before, he's reluctant to let go of him. Especially when JB whines as he does so. Merlin shushes him, wrapping him up in the towel and cradling him to his chest, and this is the image Eggsy sees when he shuffles back into the room.

"Eggsy," Merlin says, scratching the dog's head. "I need to stop by the recruit dorm. I'm sure Harry could use your company."

"Merlin --" Fuck, he doesn't need this to blow up in his face.

"The dogs are barking," Merlin says dryly.

"What?" Walking closer, Eggsy sees the feed of the dorm on the man's tablet.

The dogs are running around and barking at nothing as the other recruits try to grab them, and though ghosts don't show up on film for him, he just knows exactly what's going on.

Eggsy smiles.

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Eggsy wakes up on a cot in Harry’s room, momentarily disoriented as to where he is. His dad is there on the edge of the bed, and sitting in a chair on the other side with JB on his lap is Merlin.

“Good morning, Eggsy,” the man says without looking up from his tablet. He absently scratches JB’s head.

“Mornin’.”

“You might want to stretch your legs. Eat a good breakfast.”

Eggsy rubs his eyes and quirks an eyebrow. “You givin’ me hints or somethin’?” he says incredulously.

Merlin gives him a look. “Roxy might like to join you.”

Lee looks at him fondly before turning back to Eggsy and giving him a grin. Listen to ‘im.

Without even realizing it, Eggsy nods at his dad. It’s been a long night for him (and a longer night for Harry, he thinks briefly, painfully), and he is hungry, now that he thinks of it, though he’s distracted by the thought of Roxy. He winces. Roxy hadn’t done a thing wrong, but she was in the room, too, wasn’t she? Did she even get any sleep? Merlin had gone down to the dorm at least four times the night before, and every single time, the dogs would quiet down for at least twenty minutes before they’d go at it again.

Library, Lee says pointedly.

“What?” he mutters.

“Roxy,” Merlin says, amused.

It startles Eggsy, but he gives him a quick grin and gets off the cot. “Thanks, Merlin.”

The older man nods, gently setting a sleepy JB on the floor.

He’s out of there pretty quickly with his dad right behind him. Once they’re a few hallways away, he stops and just gives Lee a small smile, because it’s the first time he dad has ever really been able to do anything for him, and he can’t help but feel so fucking grateful for this ability.

Lee winks at him and hovers a hand over Eggsy’s shoulder. Don’ forget Roxy, yeah?

He doesn’t. She’s curled up in one of the nooks in the library, her poodle sleeping on the floor.

“Rox’,” he whispers as he shakes her shoulder.

“Eggsy?”

And it’s a good thing he does, too, because not long after they finish eating, Merlin comes in to tell them they’re to report outside with all the other recruits.

Recruits who look as if they haven’t slept. Their training suits are not nearly as neat as usual, their faces are pale, and Rufus can barely stand up straight.

Eggsy’s suspicions are confirmed when James strolls over behind Charlie, who looks especially tired. He grins at the man.

Good morning, little Eggsy, James says cheerfully. Did you sleep well?

Eggsy winks as Charlie glares.

“You’ll be running the course with your dogs today,” Merlin says. “You can’t pick them up, so I hope they’re trained.” He glances at the recruits besides Eggsy and Roxy, remembering the night before.

And of course it goes just about as well as it did then. The dogs are happy to chase after Lee, who is happy to run circles around the other recruits, not at all bothered by the exercise due to being dead, while JB and Roxy’s poodle trot after James. The man obviously knows how to train a dog, because it barely took anything for them to trust him. (Even when JB whines, tired on his tiny legs, he tries to follow James. Eggsy eventually scoops him up and runs to catch up, and he and Roxy beat the others by at least a half an hour.)

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When it looks like Lee's going to rile up the dogs again, Eggsy puts his foot down. Maybe they were letting Roxy sleep fine in the library, but the cushions in the nook are not as comfortable as the beds (even though those aren't the best, either), and he likes her too damn much to see her so tired again. Not if he can do anything about it.

So they're at the shooting range, and he and Roxy are completed rested. Even he's sleeping well back in the recruit dorm after his bed was 'mysteriously' replaced that night. (He brings Merlin tea for it the next time they both visit Harry. Merlin, thankfully, just accepts the damn mug and goes back to his tablet without a word.)

The other recruits, well, they're not doing so well. Their dogs may have stopped barking, but they've also stopped calmly sleeping on the floor by the bed, instead jumping up and sleeping on the recruits themselves in the middle of the night. Charlie's German Shepard is particularly fond of changing position every few minutes. The dogs wander, gnaw at their leashes, and beg for scraps. It makes Merlin tsk every single time he sees it, which only makes the recruits nervous, because would they get kicked out for this? For dogs that are so out of control? (Rufus' family breeds show dogs, and he looks to be on the verge of crying the morning his dog pees on his shoes despite training. "I've never -- where did they get these dogs?" he mutters, just staring at the dog.)

None of it's an excuse, however, in Merlin's eyes. He spends the whole morning looking bemused at the exhaustion on their faces. "If you don't feel up to going to the range, you can take the test another time."

But most of the recruits already have strikes against them because of the dogs, so no one actually risks it.

Eggsy smirks at Roxy.

"Confident, are you?" she says, smirking back.

"I always 'ad good gun scores." He winks at her.

She slips her ear protection on and winks back.

Lee steps in front of Eggsy before he can do the same, grinning. You can do this, Eggsy. I know it's been a while, but remember your training.

Eggsy smiles and nods.

You make it sound as if it'll be hard, Lee, James cuts in. Just wait until you get moving targets, little Eggsy. Merlin can be a sadistic man when he wants to be.

"Won't be bad," Eggsy mutters, finally putting the ear protection on. His reflexes and aim are good. He's not worried.

James shakes his head. We'll see.

 

(Like expected, Eggsy's scores are the best, and Roxy's follow closely behind.

"I guess this makes us even," she says innocently.

He laughs.)

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An obstacle course. Eggsy laughs, while some of the other recruits grimace. This will be easy.

Roxy smirks. "If you're so confident, why don't we make a bet?"

He grins back. "What kind of bet? 'M all ears."

"Say, if you beat me, I'll show you how I took Rufus down during our spar yesterday."

It was impressive, and he does want to know just how she did it. "'N if you beat me?"

"You teach me what you know about dogs."

He quirks an eyebrow. "Thought we established I don' even know nothin' 'bout breeds or anythin'. Doesn't seem like a fair deal."

"Not facts," she says with a small frown. "You just seem to know them better. You react before they bark, and they don't even go berserk as much when you're around. They even seem to like you more."

His face drops a little. Yeah, he knows when they're going to bark, because half the time it's in response to Lee or James. Them going berserk is also because of his dad and his friend. The dogs only like him for them, too. Being near Eggsy meant they get more attention (even if not of the physical variety), and Eggsy himself is too much of a softie to ignore them when they actually beg him for scratches.

"It's jus' instinct," he tells her lamely.

"No, it's not." She stares at him and shakes her head. "Deal, or no deal?"

He glances at the two ghosts standing off to the side by Merlin and weighs the risk. This is his specialty. Sure, he's great with a gun, but running, jumping, climbing, and all that? He'd been doing that long before he even touched a gun for the first time.

"Deal," he says.

So when Merlin gives them the signal, he makes sure to pace himself and save his energy for when it gets rough. He shimmies up the ropes and over the wall with ease. The barbed wire gives him no trouble when he crawls underneath it. He flips himself over the smaller barriers. Roxy is just behind him or even right next to him for most of the course, but he does his best not to let it distract him. He has to win this.

The best part is that Lee runs along with him. C'mon Eggsy, a little more now.

Eggsy shoots him a quick grin before leaping over a mud pit.

There's a deeper one ahead, he warns. Wit' a log across.

And because Eggsy is on a roll already, he cartwheels across the damn thing without pause.

Lee whoops.

James laughs from his place at the finish line. Percy's girl is on your tail, Little Eggsy. Don't forget.

"Sorry, Rox'," Eggsy shouts and runs as fast as he can over the last stretch. He slides across the line, grinning and covered in mud.

Roxy crosses seconds behind him.

"Good work you two," Merlin says, amused. "I'll allow you to clean up early for the effort."

Eggsy looks over at her and laughs at the mud smeared on her face. They're both so dirty that the pattern on their uniforms is barely recognizable.

"Like you look any better," she teases, helping him up.

Chapter Text

When Eggsy wakes up, he's very, very warm and very, very trapped.

Something licks his forehead.

He groans and opens his eyes as three familiar voices laugh.

"Good morning, Eggsy," Roxy says. "May I have my poodle back?"

"Take 'er, please." Then he shoots James a sleepy glare, because of course this was his doing. Or at least partly his doing -- her poodle is much more fond of James than of Lee, solely for the fact that James is quite fond of Roxy herself.

Roxy whistles, and the dog licks his arm before pulling herself out of the pile on his bed. Thankfully, the other dogs follow suit soon after, having been bothered by the shifting of the pile.

He carefully sits up and plucks JB out of the pile. Some of the others are quite big now, so it's a bit of a struggle, but JB squirms towards him, too. "Shoo," he tells the dogs still there.

Rufus' dog gives him a sad look. Charlie's licks his foot.

Eggsy pulls his leg up and groans again.

James snickers. Lee smirks (not at Eggsy, however, but at Charlie, who's getting dressed angrily across the room).

Giving in, Eggsy scratches their backs and pats their heads before getting up to get dressed himself. This isn't a weird morning, honestly. His dad and James have slowly decreased the time they spend riling the dogs up over the months in favor of encouraging them to spend more time with Eggsy, which achieves the same goal of annoying the other recruits without directly bothering Roxy.

It helps that she's amused by it rather than jealous.

"I'm going for a run before breakfast," Roxy says as he ties his shoes. "Do you feel like joining me?"

He grins.

Do you think he'll be able to keep up this time? James says to Lee with an innocent look on his face.

Eggsy glances at him flatly.

Lee grins. Well...

"You won' beat me this time, Rox'," Eggsy says, jumping up.

"Sure, Eggsy," she says innocently.

The ghosts laugh. Eggsy grimaces.

And of course they're right, because despite his legs being longer, she still beats him by just a few feet every time. This time is no different -- until they're on the last stretch.

Lee is standing off to the side. He starts running alongside them when they pass him.

Not pausing in his stride, Eggsy glances over at him and mouths a 'what'.

It's Harry, Lee says.

Eggsy stops, stares at him.

Harry's awake. Lee's face and voice are both neutral, and maybe Eggsy would wonder about that if he wasn't too busy reeling from his words.

"Eggsy?" Roxy shouts as she jogs back to him. "What's wrong?"

"Gotta go, Rox'." He takes off towards the closest entrance, faster than he was running before, and this time she struggles to catch up.

Lee follows slowly.

"Eggsy, what --"

The sight of Eggsy nearly running into Merlin stops her. The older man isn't running when they almost collide, but he is walking very fast. (What she doesn't see is James warning Eggsy right before it happens and therefore saving him a few bruises.)

"Eggsy?" Merlin says, steadying the younger man with a hand.

"Harry's awake," Eggsy blurts out. "Isn't he?"

Merlin nods after a pause. "I can notify you when he's ready to see you."

"Fuck that." He pulls away from Merlin and strides down the hall towards Harry's room. (He's grateful when the man lets him.)

He's not ready to see anyone, James says with a distinctly amused look on his face as they both reach the door. His eyes, however, are more serious, more observant. But I'm sure he'll make an exception for you.

Eggsy walks right through him. "Harry?"

"Eggsy?" the man whose bedside he's slept by, worried by, and nearly fucking cried by says from the bathroom door, the lower half of his face covered in shaving cream.

Chapter Text

"What're you doin'?" Eggsy says with a frown.

Harry blinks at him. "Eggsy --"

"You just woke up, yeah? How are you even up? Get back in the bed."

In the background, James snickers. Eggsy ignores it.

The shaving cream partially hides Harry's bemused smile. "All I've done the last few months is lie in that bed, you know."

"Doesn't mean you can -- can take a bloody blade to your face. Christ, Harry, a straight razor?"

Like Bond, James butts in, the corners of his mouth twitching up. The movement highlights the split down the middle of them, but at this point, Eggsy's not bothered by it.

"It's a close shave," Harry says.

Eggsy rolls his eyes at both of the older men in the room. "Give it here, then."

The thing is that Harry is still so bemused by the younger man in front of him scolding him for being, perhaps, reckless that he just hands the razor over (and ignores the fact that Merlin had raised some of the same concerns earlier, of course) and moves back into the bathroom.

Do you even know how to use one of those? James says dryly.

Eggsy gives him a quick look before following Harry. But he doesn't know. Harry looks at him patiently, and all he can do is stand there and squint, aware that if he fucks up here, he could really fuck up. Like, accidentally-killing-Harry fuck up.

Sharpen it, James tells him from the doorway. Use the strip of fabric -- the strop. Hold it tight when you do.

He takes it fairly slow, though he gets more confident when the ghost nods approvingly. (The look in Harry's eyes helps, too. It's the same look the man had when Eggsy mentioned My Fair Lady.)

Now, Little Eggsy, you need very little pressure. Smooth strokes along the grain, and the blade is sharp enough to do the job with only a bit of guidance. Draw the side of his face up first.

Harry tilts his head automatically as Eggsy slowly shaves him, stroke by stroke, and gives the younger man a quick smile before rinsing his face at the end. "Thank you, Eggsy," he says as he splashes on some aftershave.

Practice will make perfect, James adds. The bastard's smirking.

It's a good thing that Eggsy can't actually punch him.

"Aye, Eggsy, thank you," Merlin says, almost startling him. "I was sure he'd need a few more stitches after this."

"I've been idle long enough," Harry grumbles.

"All the more reason not to jump into action right away."

They haven' changed, Lee mutters, and Eggsy notices him there behind Merlin for the first time.

James laughs, but Lee doesn't. He's too busy watching his son. Eggsy looks back at him, unsure of what his dad is feeling for one of the first times in his life.

"Lad," Merlin says to catch his attention. "Harry's due for a few tests, and I'm sure Roxy is waiting for you."

He gets the hint, of course, though he also notices that the man's reluctance to force him out of the room, and it reminds him of how easily Merlin let him by to get to the room before. It's why he nods instead of complaining. "See ya, Harry, Merlin."

The door closes on Harry's smile.

"And?" Roxy says from her place against the wall.

"He's up," Eggsy says with a shrug. It almost doesn't feel real, honestly, because Harry's been in that damn coma for months.

She gives him an unimpressed look before rolling her eyes. "Breakfast?"

"Yeah."

Chapter Text

When they get to the skydiving test, Eggsy’s still riding high on the pride in Harry’s eyes after both the shaving and his insight on Valentine later that day (even if Merlin surely would have found the press conference eventually). There’s nothing that can bring him down. Nothing that he’d allow to bring him down, at least, since he refuses to let Lee’s oddly quiet behavior bother him. His dad is still supportive, still grins when he does something great. Lee just… doesn’t talk as much as usual, not since Harry woke up. If there was any privacy in the dorms, Eggsy would try to reassure the ghost that Harry wasn’t going to replace him or anything, but even then, Eggsy’s not sure that’s the problem.

So he ignores it for now and tells an anxious Roxy not to worry instead.

“Follow me, yeah?” He steps backwards out of the plane with a wink at her and James.

Except of course there’s a catch.

“A Kingsman agent needs to be able to solve problems under pressure,” Merlin informs them cheerfully. “Like what to do when one of your group has no parachute.”

You didn’t think it was going to be easy, did you? James smirks from where he’s gracefully perched on nothing. Better think quick, Little Eggsy.

It’s obvious that James knew what was going to happen, and the ghost is not worried at all, so Eggsy knows there has to be a way to get through this safely. There are six of them left now. Six… enough to pair up.

He knows it’s the right decision when James smiles. It would have worked, too if not for Rufus panicking and pulling his chute early. He can see Roxy beginning to lose it, too, and she grips him as hard as she can when they form a circle, watching as one by one the other recruits safely deploy their chutes until it’s just the two of them. Part of him is relieved, honestly. There’s no one else out of the bunch that he’d trust not to leave him in the air.

Still, as they lie there in the grass, Eggsy can’t help but think that there was something that could ruin his mood after all.

Eggsy? There’s an off note in James’ normally cheerful voice.

Eggsy looks up at him. The ghost’s face is screwed up with worry, his nose and mouth not quite lined up because of the tension. He shakes his head when he catches the look in Eggsy’s eyes.

You must know Merlin didn’t target you.

That’s the thing - Eggsy wishes he could know for sure, because it’s Merlin. Merlin who let him visit Harry as often as he wanted, who kept him company by Harry’s bedside, and who seemed to honestly dislike the rest of the candidates bar Roxy. But Merlin is also the one who’s in charge of the tests, of monitoring the recruits and setting up everything. Who would have access to the packs, especially for a test that would require one to malfunction.

James shakes his head as the other recruits begin to land. Think about it, Eggsy.

He can’t. He’s come to trust Merlin as one of the three people who don’t seem to actively want him gone, and now he’s not sure what to think. He stands up slowly and looks over to where Merlin is making his way down to meet them.

Eggsy, James warns, moving to stand between them, don’t be rash.

He clenches his jaw, deploys his parachute with a quick tug, and is promptly tossed back on his arse by the force of it opening. The shock of it rips a breathy laugh out of him. Roxy shouting his name vaguely registers. He doesn’t even notice Charlie nearly trip over his own parachute, startled.

“Do you need a moment, lad?” Merlin deadpans and holds out a hand to pull him up.

Eggsy grabs it with a relieved grin. “I always knew you liked me, Merlin.”

Chapter Text

Lee’s not stupid. He’s fairly observant, actually, but, even in death, he’s only human, and that means that he tends not to notice the things that he doesn’t want to acknowledge. Whatever it is that’s developing between his son and Harry is one of those things.

He doesn’t resent Eggsy’s yearning for a father figure. He hadn’t when Eggsy was in the marines, either, though he often wished his son hadn’t been burned so many times in the past with Dean and his lot. He especially doesn’t mind when Eggsy begins to soften towards Harry. For as short as their time together was, Lee knows Harry was a good man and a good mentor -- and will be even more so for the guilt he carried over Lee himself.

Not that Eggsy isn’t good for Harry in return. James agrees that the man is lightening up, proud and sure where he was so often somber and regretful in the years since Lee’s death. They might not have started off on the right foot, but Eggsy and Harry fit. Lee’s glad. Harry is good for Eggsy and in turn will be good for Michelle and the little one.

Then Harry falls into a coma, and Eggsy begins to fall apart. It doesn’t happen in a dramatic way. Instead, Eggsy seems to dim. He spends hours by Harry’s bedside, and nothing Lee can say will convince him to go and relax or sleep. James even supports Eggsy’s decision and often helps him study there, which Lee tries not to resent. It isn’t good for Eggsy to be there so often, but he is well aware that his son would worry regardless of where he is.

At first, Lee convinces himself that Harry falling into a coma is almost like losing another father for Eggsy. The inbetween state Harry is in is no doubt the hardest on his son. Unlike with Lee or even James, Eggsy can’t have a conversation with Harry right now. If Harry dies, he could still mentor Eggsy in a way, but his coma makes it impossible.

It takes Harry waking up for Lee to stop deluding himself.

Lee watches as Eggsy follows James’ directions with care, hyper focused on his task. His hands are steady as he guides the razor around Harry’s face, and his cheeks become tinged red in response to the slight uptick at the corner of Harry’s mouth. He doesn’t even seem to notice Harry’s steady gaze on him. There’s something… awed there, not just proud. It’s a wholly intimate moment. Nothing about the look in either of their eyes is platonic, though he doubts Eggsy realizes it. (Harry, Lee later acknowledges, likely didn’t consider the idea of the two of them together until this moment.)

Eggsy has a crush on Harry, and it must be mutual. Harry wouldn’t let just anyone take a straight razor to his face.

Lee is… uncomfortable. He needs time to think.

Chapter Text

The next task is seduction, and Eggsy is confident. Maybe he’s never tested his skills against someone so rich, but he can be pretty charming when he tries (and no one has complained yet, either). Sure, Roxy and Charlie both have the same target. He thinks Roxy will definitely be a bit of a wild card, since it’s not like Merlin told them if the target even swings that way. Charlie, on the other hand, is too much of an arse.

In the end it’s James that throws Eggsy off his rhythm. Lee decided not to follow along this time on account of the fact that he really doesn’t need to watch his son seduce anyone, but James is there, quiet for once, which is what makes Eggsy pause. When it became clear that the ghost was going to tag along, he resigned himself to constant chattering, so the silence is startling. It’s almost as if James is holding something back.

Then Eggsy takes a swig of his drink, and it’s off. He tries to say something to Roxy and Charlie, tries to do the right thing, but neither of them are willing to listen to him. He pours the rest of his drink down the bathroom sink and casually slips out the front door. Maybe he could find one of Merlin’s agents, or, hell, even a payphone he could use to call the shop. Maybe breaking off is the only way to save the other recruits.

You know, James says suddenly, I don’t know that anyone has ever done this before.

Eggsy shoots him a look as he ducks down an alley. He almost opens his mouth to respond, too, but a weird feeling makes him glance back -- catching the gaze of a man he vaguely recognizes as the waiter that poured his drink.

This might be your cue to start running, little Eggsy.

The waiter grins at him, and Eggsy immediately starts down the alley. His heart starts beating faster, louder. His sight wobbles. He nearly pitches face first into the cement before he realizes that whatever was in his drink was strong, so strong in fact that he’s not going to make it to a phone, and if one of Merlin’s watchers hasn’t figured out where he is yet, he is screwed.

His foot catches on something, and that’s it. He hits the ground hard and is still trying to breathe when the waiter is suddenly there.

“It’ll be easier if you stay down,” the man says. “I’ve already got your friends.”

Eggsy kicks out at him in spite before the man knocks him out.

 

By the time that he wakes up on the tracks, scuffed up from his fall but otherwise unharmed, Eggsy has a rough idea of what’s really going on. Even the conspicuous absence of both Lee and James is telling. He’s not in any danger, nor was he earlier in the club. It doesn’t stop him from sticking to his guns and refusing to give Kingsman or Harry up just as he would if it were real, but he does feel safe enough to smirk at the interrogator as he refuses one last time before the section of track he’s on sinks into the ground.

The pride in Harry’s eyes makes up for the whole experience. (Lee, standing behind Harry and smiling softly is enough of a bonus that Eggsy doesn’t realize how stiffly his father is standing.)

Chapter Text

24 hours.

It occurs to Eggsy on the car ride to Harry’s house that he’s never really spent any large amount of time with Harry before, or at least, not with a conscious Harry. Even then, he only managed five or six hours straight before he’d have to leave for training or a test. The time he spent in a fitful sleep at Harry’s bedside most definitely did not count. Eggsy shifts, glancing at Harry.

The man smiles at him. Clearly Eggsy wasn’t subtle enough. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you where you can clean up when we arrive.”

As if on cue, the aches and scrapes from tonight’s test twinge. The adrenaline kept them at bay before. He also feels a bit grimy after his hard fall in the alley. “You have any ice packs?” He shifts again and winces. When he fell, he'd reflexively turned himself enough to not land face first, but in return, his side took the brunt of the impact, and there would no doubt be bruises to show for it. “And maybe some bruise cream?”

Now Harry frowns, leaning closer. “Merlin did say you fell, but I wasn’t able to watch the feed live. Do you need to go back to medical?”

Eggsy shakes his head immediately (and a little too vigorously, if the resulting dizziness is anything to go by). He’s aware that the clock is already ticking. Why would he want to waste some of their time together getting poked and prodded back at the facility?

“Are you sure?” The corner of Harry’s mouth ticks up, and his eyes soften.

“Yeah bruv, as long as I can get some ice or something, I’ll be good.”

“In that case,” Harry says, “I have full first aid at the house.”

 

He really did mean full first aid. Eggsy gapes at the amount of bandages and creams and pills Harry has tucked away in his house. There’s even sewing supplies, too, though Eggsy is glad that they won’t have to use those tonight. Some of the other things he doesn’t even recognize.

Harry deftly gathers a few general pain relievers and a tub of bruise cream, handing the latter to Eggsy before herding him into what appears to be a fancy guest room. “This will be your room tonight. My room is across the hall should you require anything later. For now, get changed and come back downstairs when you’re done. I’ll pull something out of the fridge so that you can take the pills and then we’ll settle in my office.” He smiles at Eggsy once more and leaves.

You’ll enjoy the office, little Eggsy, James chimes in suddenly.

Eggsy nearly trips over his own feet. He scowls at the ghost’s overly cheerful face.

Make sure you ask him about the seduction in France. I believe it’s the one with Hairy Mary.

 

Eggsy forgets the weird moment with James once he’s in Harry’s office staring at all those headlines. He can’t help but ask after this one and that one, and it’s distracting enough that he almost neglects to ask before sitting down (or rather, he almost doesn’t notice James telling him to ask). The one thing he does note is that Harry is looking pleased (more so after he asked to sit in fact).

The headline his ghostly companion told him to look for is tucked in the corner by the chair. There’s nothing special about it, especially not in comparison to all of the others.

“What about this one?” Eggsy says, pointing at it.

Harry gives him a calculating look before speaking. “I seduced an official in France in order to gain access to his files.”

Eggsy quickly asks about another one, distracted with the knowledge that Harry might just be into men.

(In the corner, James smirks.)

Chapter Text

It’s hard to sleep that night. Harry set Eggsy up in a guest room that’s undeniably posh -- especially compared to the times he’d slept on Jamal’s couch -- and while that takes some getting used to, the hardest part is that knows he’s in Harry’s house. Harry is down the hall in his own bedroom, probably sleeping absolutely fine. In a bedroom that might have seen both women and men since Harry got the house.

Because Harry is not straight.

Eggsy isn’t bothered by that. At least not in a homophobic way. He’s not straight himself, though he’s had to be very careful not to let Dean know that. He’s had relationships with men regardless, stolen nights at their apartments and dates that could be passed off as just two boys hanging out. Even the clubs he’s gone to are the more discreet ones, where he felt reasonably safe that no one would snitch on him.

There’s something about Harry being gay that affects him, though. He swipes a hand down his face and ignores how warm it is. He remembers the way he’d felt as Harry had ripped through Dean’s goons like nothing back at the pub, remembered how damn hot Harry was. At the time, he hadn’t dwelled on it, just figured it was the heat of the moment and brushed it aside in favor of getting out. Eggsy groans and rolls over, pushing his face into the pillow as he realizes he’s got a boner.

You really should try and get some sleep, little Eggsy, James drawls from across the room.

“Shut it,” Eggsy mutters into the pillow.

(His boner’s gone now, at least.)

You know, I didn’t expect you’d be this thrown by it. There’s no noise as he moves, but the ghost’s voice is louder suddenly. I thought you knew. Really.

Eggsy rolls over and glares at him. “And how was I supposed to know?”

Well you weren’t exactly subtle about your affections. James smirks. You did spend nearly all your free time by his side when he was in medical.

“He’s my mentor,” Eggsy hisses.

None of the others spent any time with their mentors.

Eggsy can feel his face heat and pointedly rolls back over, ignoring the ghost.

Don’t worry, James says quietly. I think you’ve grown on him, too.

 

When he wakes up in the morning, he doesn’t remember falling asleep. James is nowhere to be seen, thankfully, and while he hasn’t quite wrapped his head around last night’s revelation yet, he feels refreshed and ready to spend more time with Harry.

Eggsy dresses and walks out to the kitchen. Harry, of course, is up before him.

“Oh, good,” Harry says with a smile, coffee mug in hand and clad in his robe. “I was just about to wake you for breakfast. Did you sleep well?”

“Not too bad,” Eggsy replies and tries not to think about it too much.

Chapter Text

Harry doesn’t regret much in his life. He had a good childhood, he worked hard at university, and he did his damnedest to become a Kingsman. Most of his missions (especially as the years go by) are successes, and he’s learned not to dwell on the missions that don’t work out. He doesn’t even regret risking all of that with his opinions. Even if he were easily replaceable, he would still refuse to remain silent.

He doesn’t regret Lee Unwin, either. He’d done his research when the Lancelot position opened up, looked at many a young promising man of a higher class, but in the end, the draw to Lee was too great. Lee Unwin was simply a better fit for Kingsman than the others, and Harry knew even then that he could become a vehicle for change in the organization. He had the skills (arguably even more than most of the other candidates despite a disadvantage in opportunity), the drive, and the right attitude to be a great agent, all of which unfortunately led to his death.

Harry regrets Lee’s death, but not his candidacy. Truthfully, he doubts it would have ever been possible for someone like Eggsy to become a candidate without his father paving the way.

Years after Lee saved their lives at the expense of his own, a call comes in for Harry. He’s surprised to find that it’s Lee’s son of all people, having long since given up on hearing from the Unwins again. Part of him expected to hear from them soon after Lee’s death. Losing Lee meant losing over half the family’s income, and Harry knew from talking to his former candidate that there was no extended family to bolster the remaining Unwins. But there was no phone call until Lee’s boy was in his twenties.

He knows immediately upon seeing the boy that he -- Eggsy -- isn’t a boy anymore. He doesn’t need a father figure or even an uncle, really, or at least he wouldn’t accept one. Eggsy’s brash. He has a record. He’s given up on all of the worthwhile pursuits that showed his promise. Worst of all, he’s nothing like his father.

Harry remembers Lee like it was yesterday. The man, although understandably wary of a man of Harry’s status offering him a mysterious job, was kind and respectful in a way that belied his military background. He’d had enough positives in his records and personality that Harry had been able to get him into the trials all those years ago.

Eggsy had none of that, except for the military background, which was negated by his abrupt leave. Arthur would likely humor Harry by admitting him, but the chances of of the man letting him stay if he did anything disrespectful or wrong there was slim. None of the other Knights would be willing to vote with Harry if Eggsy didn’t show more promise, either.

But, as Harry will learn to get used to, Eggsy defies expectations. There’s much to admire in his refusal to back down to his stepfather, and as Harry begins to tell the man off himself, he privately thinks that even if it’s too late to be a father figure, he will do whatever he can to give the young man the opportunities he should have.

Chapter Text

Merlin takes Harry aside the next day, pulling out two glasses and a bottle of scotch before saying a word. It would be concerning if not for the years they’ve known each other.

“He’s a good one, Harry,” Merlin says as he tips some scotch into each glass. “Just like his dad.”

Harry picks up his glass but doesn’t drink any yet. “The flood test went well, I presume?”

They both ignore how he ignores Merlin’s second observation.

Merlin nods. “He, Percival’s girl, and Arthur’s boy all showed promise. Eggsy was especially… inventive.” He grins as he thinks of the two way mirror they have to replace. “I have a feeling he’ll go far.”

Like his father’ goes unsaid. Despite his doubts the day before, Harry has to agree. Eggsy may not be the clone of Lee that he is reluctant to admit he was expecting, but there’s something promising in him -- just like there was in his father. It’s hidden beneath his demeanor and yet there all the same. Combined with his partial military training, it should aid him in getting through the bulk of the tests. However, there’s no denying he’s a bit of a wildcard. The flood test is designed to shock the candidates. It’s rare that anyone actually manages to help the agent planted among them. Not even Lee had.

Eggsy could change the system, he thinks. Hopes. His candidate just has to make it through to the end alive and on top.

Logically, he knows that what happened to Lee won’t happen to Eggsy. Their protocols are much stricter now, and even if they weren’t, Merlin would do all he could to prevent anymore candidate deaths. Lee’s demise was not only unfortunate, but both Harry and Merlin had been looking forward to the change he could have brought to the organization.

It wasn’t for naught, however. James had pushed back against Arthur as much as possible during his reign as Lancelot. Merlin and Harry and even Arthur himself knew it was a consequence of his friendship with and respect for the man who had saved his life.

Harry can’t help but think of both James and Lee as he confronts Professor Arnold. Kingsman was set back twice by their losses. With both of them gone, he, Merlin, and Percival are the last fighting for change, and it vexs him to think that this whimpering man is the reason James is no longer with them. The reason why Eggsy will face so much opposition in his candidacy. It’s enough to distract Harry from the odd heat of the professor’s neck.

He throws himself out of the window with only one thought.

Eggsy… keep fighting.

Chapter Text

The first thing he realizes is that his eyes won’t open. He tries for a few minutes, of course, because Harry has always had a stubborn streak in him, but once it becomes exhausting, he focuses on what he can glean from his situation despite the disadvantage. There’s the usual sounds of a well stocked infirmary, thankfully. He’s inclined to believe he’s in Kingsman headquarters safe and sound, though he isn’t naive enough to rule out that his enemies might want him to make that assumption.

What allows him to relax is the soft cursing he can hear from what he thinks is the foot of his bed. It’s a distinct brogue and a very familiar set of words. Harry has heard Merlin curse him out enough to recognize it in an instant, and he can feel the corners of his mouth attempt to curl up in response. His mouth stays stubbornly lax.

“Let him in,” Merlin barks.

Perhaps two minutes later, Harry hears another familiar voice.

“Merlin,” Eggsy gets out between breaths.

“He’s stable, Eggsy.” Merlin sighs, and Harry can almost see the pinched look on his face. “Now, they can’t say when he’ll wake up, but he’s a stubborn one.”

You can say that again, a third voice cheerfully adds.

The only reason Harry doesn’t startle is that he physically can’t at the moment. That voice sounded remarkably like James. James whose death is the only reason Eggsy is currently in the room. To Harry’s knowledge, no one with a similar voice works at Kingsman at the moment, and even if they did, the inflection is pure Lancelot.

The rest of the day is quiet but for the soft noises of Eggsy shifting at his bedside from time to time.

 

That boy is entirely gone on you, you know, James says wistfully, no doubt thinking back on his own romantic ventures. He came right away. Didn’t even bother to finish what he was doing, just ran here as fast as his feet could take him.

Eggsy moves around in the chair by the bed, in as deep as sleep as he can in such a small spot.

You must have made quite the impression, Galahad.

(Harry rages against the thought that he must be close to death to hear these musings.)

 

Eggsy, another ghost from his past whispers an indeterminate amount of time later. Go sleep.

Harry mourns it even as he hears it again. It’s close enough to Eggsy’s to indicate a similar upbringing, not to mention that Harry has heard it before. Lee Unwin is coming through as clearly as James had several times since the first instance. Harry can do naught but listen as Lee and James talk --

With Eggsy?

Perhaps these glimpses of life around him are hallucinations after all. (Part of him can’t help but be proud that Eggsy gets most of the study questions correct.)

 

The phantoms don’t go away. Eggsy is by his bed every day, bringing the painfully familiar men allow with him, and sometimes even when Harry’s room is empty, one of them arrives. Mostly it’s James. The dead man tells him all the things about the candidates that Merlin already has, but instead of questions he often brings answers. The dogs (whom Harry has heard quite a lot about) aren’t crazy, just perceptive. Eggsy, although a strong candidate in his own right, is bolstered by his father and James himself.

I like the boy, James admits freely one morning. I just wish both he and Percival’s girl had a shot.

Harry quietly agrees based on what he’s heard from Eggsy.

Lee also stops by occasionally. Most of the time he talks about his son, as to be expected. His last visit, however, is not so conversational.

You wake up, Harry. You wake up soon or Eggsy will run himself into ground worrying about you.

The voice becomes louder.

Wake up, Harry. Wake up.

Harry groans.

Chapter Text

Harry gives him a pass on etiquette for breakfast, if only because it’s already hot and on the table. He does promise that they will get to it, regardless of how Eggsy may feel about that, and while Eggsy does somewhat resent the idea that he has to relearn how to eat, it makes sense. He’ll have to learn to be a gentleman if he’s going to be a gentleman spy.

They do etiquette lessons once the dishes are cleared. Unlike the night before, however, James is not there to be his secret guide. He remembers to ask before sitting, just barely, but the amount of silverware on the table is foreign to him.

Harry brings out a fresh set of dishes and sets them out on the table in a deliberate manner. Privately, Eggsy wonders how he’ll ever remember the way it’s supposed to go.

He’s so focused on the table that he doesn’t notice the other presence in the room right away. Lee settles into the corner of the room, quiet and observant, nodding instead of speaking once his son finally sees him. It’s pretty clear from his demeanor - he won’t be offering any help this time.

“Now then, Eggsy,” Harry says, pulling out one of the chairs at the table, “why don’t you have a seat and we can begin.”

Eggsy allows Harry to push the chair in behind him. The amount of things on the table in front of him are even more daunting up close. They don’t even set the table at his house. He’s used to fishing whatever utensils he needs out of the drawer.

It especially doesn’t help that Harry seems oddly observant now, his gaze a bit too weighty for what is essentially Eggsy’s first lesson in manners.

Eggsy messes up more than once.

Lee is no help today, and Harry looks mildly disappointed even if he insists it’s a good showing for someone with Eggsy’s background. Eggsy feels like he’s drowning for the first time in the trials. During the official tests he had the ghosts feeding him advice, his own instincts and knowledge, and at least a vague idea of what he’s supposed to do, but now there’s nothing to buoy him.

Eggsy insists on going over it again and again.

Lee disappears sometime before they finish, missing the way Harry claps Eggsy on the shoulder and suggests they go to the tailor shop to celebrate.

Chapter Text

Eggsy half expects that they’ll take a car and arrive in style, and he can’t hold back a grin when Harry scoffs and insists they just walk to the shop. He worried that the morning’s setbacks would put a little distance between them.

Harry seems unbothered. In fact, as they walk side by side, shoulders brushing every so once in a while, the older man is glad to entertain his questions even if they are ridiculous and even if Eggsy is wearing his own clothes for the first time in weeks. They must make a pretty picture, Eggsy thinks. He’d kill to see Dean’s reaction -- or even his mum’s. She might have gotten a kick out of his My Fair Lady comment, at least. (More than that, though, part of him wishes he could see Lee’s. His dad had been weird for a little while lately, and somehow he feels that his reaction would be important.)

It just feels good to walk next to Harry like this, almost like they’re on the same level. Hell, Eggsy feels like he already is a gentleman in that moment, if only by Harry’s definition. Compared to where he was before he called the shop number, he has surpassed himself. It’s almost a shame to walk into the tailor shop then, where he is once again out of his depth.

“One does not use fitting room two when one is popping one’s cherry,” Harry says then, and Eggsy can’t help but chuckle.

Neither can James, who, perched on the edge of one of the display tables, afterward mutters, A bit forward, Galahad, with a smile.

Eggsy hides his confusion at that by following Harry into fitting room three, which is by far the coolest thing Harry’s shown him that day. There are rows of all sorts of things along the walls, ranging from the obvious weapons (there are so many guns) to the less obvious (are those cigar cases?). James clearly shares his excitement.

I’m sure you can guess which tool in this arsenal is Galahad’s favorite, the ghost says cheerfully, ignoring the guns and umbrellas to look at the smaller, more innocent looking items. I was always quite fond of the lighters myself. They saved me from some scraps back in the day. He glances back at Eggsy and gives him a quick once over. You were a gymnast weren’t you? You’ll enjoy the shoes a good deal, I think.

Evidently Harry has a similar idea, because the shoes are the first thing he points out. There’s a gleam of anticipation in his eyes as he instructs Eggsy on what to do with them, though Eggsy gets distracted for a moment by James, who shows him exactly what to do before he can crack a bad joke.

(The look in Harry’s eyes when he snaps his heels together is worth it.)

Chapter Text

Eggsy isn’t new to this. The older he got, especially after returning from his marines training, the more and more of these tense moments he’d gotten into. Of course, most of the time it was him against Dean or one of his goons, both of them sizing each other up, gauging just how likely a confrontation is. He was always aware of the disadvantages he had in those encounters. If he only had to worry about himself, he’d go down swinging, but back then he always had to think about what his aggression would mean for his mum and sister.

Now it’s just him. He knows without a doubt that Harry can take care of himself. Harry has the training and the experience. He doesn’t have to worry about Harry if it comes to a fight. In fact, if he’s being honest, he’s Harry’s disadvantage here.

But he’s also aware that it can’t come to a fight. Not here, not now. There’s something in the way that their opponents are eyeing both of them up that sets off warnings in his head. He’s not entirely ready for this. He’ll need all the advantages he can get to guarantee his win. There’s something about the woman especially that stills his feet. Not to mention that he’s vaguely aware of James’ silence. If James is worried, too… Eggsy stays as stoic as he can and doesn’t argue when Harry leaves him in the no doubt capable hands of one of the tailors. It's funny in an awful way that he would have loved to meet Valentine months ago.

He lets the man measure him in silence. Even though he’s burning to ask James to say something, anything, this isn’t the time. He catches the ghost’s eye, however, and arches a brow.

James clears his throat and puts up a decently convincing unbothered facade. Don’t worry about me, little Eggsy.

Eggsy narrows his eyes.

It is jarring to see one’s own murderer, I suppose, James concedes after a pause.

Eggsy thinks of the odd line bisecting James and of the woman with the cold eyes and the leg prosthetics.

Watch her feet carefully, James says quietly. You’ve been dragged into this now.

As if he would let Harry go up against them alone if he couldn’t help it. Eggsy takes a deep breath and turns his attention back to the tailor.

Chapter Text

Harry’s distant when he comes back, distracted in such a way that Eggsy doesn’t even bother trying to get his attention back. It was one thing knowing that Valentine is a threat. It’s another to stand right in front of him and his assistant and feel so unsettled. They were the ones who killed James. The ones responsible for Harry’s coma.

James is gazing out the window at nothing when Eggsy looks to him. Eggsy can’t say anything with Harry in the train, and even if they were alone, he’s not sure what he’d say anyway.

It would be fair to say that all three of them are distracted right now.

He gives a halfhearted goodbye to a quiet Harry as they split ways, and James trails behind his favorite medium with an uncomfortably blank expression on his face. It doesn’t go away until Eggsy slips into his training clothes once again.

The ghost gives him a strained smile. Why don’t we take JB for a walk?

JB is happy to be their excuse to get away from any cameras or open ears.

“It’s going down soon, ain’t it,” Eggsy says then, and it very much isn’t a question.

Yes. James looks tired. I do believe Harry has pushed events up a bit with his interference. At the very least, he’s made them suspicious.

“Then I guess I just have to beat Roxy and take your spot,” Eggsy blurts out, hand tight around JB’s leash.

Harry has been a Kingsman for quite some time, you know. He knows what he’s doing, James says. They both ignore how his own experience failed to save him from his fate.

“They already put him in a coma.”

If you don’t think he’ll be more prepared this time, then you haven’t gotten to know Harry or Merlin very well. They were more prepared after his own death, after all.

“They know my face,” Eggsy tosses back at him. He looks away from the ghost then, his voice cracking slightly on his next words. “‘Sides, I can’t let Harry go after them alone again.”

Although there are a handful of retorts James could come up with, he knows without a doubt that Eggsy won’t back down. Then I wish you the best, little Eggsy. He hesitates. Keep your eyes open.

“Eggsy,” Merlin calls out from behind the two men, “Arthur would like to see you.”

Chapter Text

Neither James nor Lee are with him for the meeting with Arthur, and if his time as a recruit has taught Eggsy anything, it’s that their absence is a bit of a red flag. Usually at least one of them is hovering around, happy to chatter at him even if he can’t talk back. (He thinks James gets a kick out of it sometimes in fact.) Not to mention the fact that Arthur hasn’t done any one on one meetings before. It’s just Eggsy and Roxy now, sure, but still. It’s odd.

He keeps his eyes open, just like James told him to.

Arthur tells him to sit down, and Eggsy complies, JB running around his legs. There’s a sheet of plastic on the floor right between their chairs, which sticks out as weird. It can’t be to keep JB from getting the floor dirty. It’s too small for that. Arthur doesn’t draw attention to it.

That’s the other thing -- Arthur is being nice. He asks about JB and smiles and generally acts as if he’s okay with Eggsy being there, but Eggsy knows better. He knows that Arthur didn’t want him there. That Harry had gone against his wishes both for Lee and then for Eggsy himself. The other recruits (except Roxy, of course) made it clear to him he wasn’t wanted, that he wasn’t good enough to even try out for the open spot.

There were nights where Lee talked about it, too. He told Eggsy about his own trials, about how most of the other recruits were not accepting, and how Arthur was pretty obvious about his dislike, too.

There’s no way Arthur has changed his mind. If he had, wouldn’t he have been nicer to begin with?

Eggsy smiles and answers his questions and waits for the other shoe to drop.

Or rather, the other gun.

Arthur aims it at him and then smiles, no doubt satisfied at the flash of fear Eggsy felt as the gun registered in his mind, before handing it over.

“Shoot the dog,” Arthur says with the same tone and pleasantness he’d used to tell him to sit down.

The plastic makes sense now.

His instincts scream at him to tell Arthur off, to get up and refuse, but he can’t help but remember James and his advice.

Keep your eyes open.

With that in mind, Eggsy takes a moment to look at Arthur. The man is relaxed and waiting. There’s something in his eyes, though, something that seems almost gleeful at Eggsy’s hesitance, something that prompts him to turn the gun on JB without thinking. Arthur wants him to refuse. Which means he shouldn’t. He wants to refuse, especially as JB looks up at him unaware of what’s going on, because as much of a pain as the dog has been, he loves the bloody pug.

Keep your eyes open.

He breathes in and thinks about the gun in his hands. It’s loaded, or at least Arthur claimed it was. And yet… he knows James has talked about his dog before. Lee might not have finished his trials, but James had, and James very much had his dog as an agent.

Eggsy stands up suddenly, takes a few steps back, and fires.

There’s an echoing shot muffled through the wall, nearly covered up by the frantic, terrified barking of his very alive pug.

Chapter Text

If Eggsy had blinked or looked away from Arthur for even just a moment, he would have missed the look of disgust that came over the older man’s face for a split second. He knows he passed the test from that alone. He also knows that the other shot he heard was after his own by just a bit. It’s his guess that that was Roxy. If Roxy took longer to shoot than he did… maybe Eggsy won the position. Or maybe not, since Arthur looks like he’s thinking.

“It’s rare that the last two recruits tie, you know,” the man says finally, and Eggsy’s hand tightens on the gun. Arthur gestures at it. “I’ll be taking that back now.”

“‘Course.” He points the gun up at Arthur for a tense moment before flipping it around in a parody of what the man did earlier.

Arthur’s smile is sharp. “Congratulations Mr. Unwin, you’re in for another round.”

With a stiff nod, Eggsy scoops up his poor terrified pug and forces himself to walk back to the dorms.

Roxy finds him there, scratching JB behind the ears and feeding him treats.

“Hey Rox’,” he says halfheartedly. When Roxy’s dog comes over and paws at him, he absentmindedly feeds the poodle a treat, too, used to the dogs being all over him.

“Eggsy,” she returns with a smile. “I knew you wouldn’t make this easy for me.”

“Never,” he jokes. “Just you wait, at this rate they might have to make both of us Lancelot.”

“That could get mighty confusing,” another voice chimes in from the doorway, and it’s Harry, perfectly dressed as usual. This time however, he’s grinning quite wide, not bothering to hide how proud he is. “I heard you performed very admirably in the dog test.”

Eggsy flushes.

Both of you,” Harry adds belatedly, looking to Roxy. “It’s very rare for multiple candidates to pass the dog test, truthfully. As it is, Arthur has not decided on another trial, so we’ve been given leave to spend another day with our recruits. I imagine Percival will be along shortly for Ms. Morton.”

As the two men leave, Harry clasps Eggsy’s shoulder and quietly assures him of just how proud he is, without a word about just how red the young man is.

Chapter Text

A small part of Eggsy is worried. They’re on the way back to Harry’s house, and although Harry says he’s proud, it doesn’t mean he wants Eggsy at his house for another night. Especially because he doubts that Harry -- a professional spy -- hasn’t noticed that Eggsy’s a bit… gone on him. Eggsy doesn’t want to admit it, but even he can’t really ignore it anymore. He figures Harry’s just been nice enough to pretend he doesn’t see his mentee’s crush.

Except that Harry is clearly happy to have him over for another night. The older man smiles warmly the entire way home, and he mentions how proud he is several times over. Eggsy even catches him petting JB when he looks back on his way to the guest room. It gives him an odd spark of hope.

Maybe he’ll say something if he becomes an agent. Maybe.

When he gets to the guest room, he has to shove that thought to the side, because Lee, who has been absent for a little while now, is pacing angrily across the length of the room. It’s rare that Eggsy sees his father like this, but there’s not denying the tension in his shoulders or the snap of his steps.

“Dad?” he whispers, aware that Harry might check on him if he takes too long dropping off his stuff. “What’s wrong?”

Eggsy, Lee says stiffly. He stops the pacing, but he’s still tense. I wanted to wait until you finished your trials, but

“But what?” Eggsy hisses, the tension in the room putting him on edge and making him impatient.

It’s your mum.

If anyone was around to see the two of them, it would be undeniable that they’re related. Eggsy’s shoulders stiffen in much the same way, and he barely stops himself from pacing. “Is it Dean?”

Lee nods sharply.

Eggsy tears out of the room, barely bothering to toss his bag on the bed before he does so, and nearly startles Harry as he yanks his shoes on.

“Eggsy,” Harry says sternly. “Just what are you doing?”

The combination of his tone and the fact that he’s Harry makes the younger man pause.

Eggsy,” Harry repeats, but this time softer. “If something is amiss --”

“It’s my mum,” Eggsy bites out.

There’s a tense moment where neither of them says a word, but Harry breaks it up by putting his own shoes back on.

“Harry--”

“You’re going to stay here, Eggsy. At this time, taking your anger out on that creature you call your stepfather will only reflect badly on your trials. I have no doubt Arthur will be looking for any reason to choose Ms. Morton over you,” he says plainly.

Eggsy gapes. “You’re not going to ask how I know?”

They stare at each other for another moment.

“I trust your sources,” Harry says finally. “If it will reassure you, I will have my glasses on. I’ll set up the feed for you before I go, but I should go soon. I assume time is of the essence.”

Impulsively, Eggsy hugs him tight. Harry hugs back after a beat and then pulls away to go wreak havoc.

(It’s not as comforting to watch Harry threaten Dean as it would be to do it himself, but Eggsy feels relieved all the same.)

Chapter Text

You really love him, don’t you? Lee’s tone isn’t exactly happy. It isn’t angry either.

Eggsy tenses and crosses his arms, pointedly not looking at his dad.

You trust him with our girls, Lee points out. You dropped out of the marines because you didn’t trust anyone with them. He falls silent and lets that sink in.

“An’ what if I do?” his son snaps as he finally turns to face Lee. “He’s a good man, ain’t he? It’s not like anything will happen anyway.”

Lee shakes his head. Eggsy, he’s older than your mum and me. You’re supposed to love someone your own age, someone --

“Who what?” Eggsy cuts him off. “You may be my dad, but that doesn’t mean you know what I want. I’m of age. Years over it even.”

Someone who doesn’t have so much power of you, Lee finishes, raising his voice for the first time. He’s not just older, he’s supposed to be your mentor, Eggsy.

“Dean,” Eggsy hisses, “has power over mum. He’s Daisy’s da, he controls mum’s money, he has his goons intimidate her, he hits her. You think I’d let someone do that to me after what we’ve been through? Even if Harry would hold anything over me, we’re not together.”

Eggsy--

“No. He probably doesn’t even want me hanging onto him, so just give it up.”

Harry, thankfully, manages to arrive back at the house at just that moment, giving Eggsy a valid reason to ignore Lee for the time being.

“Eggsy?” he calls out into the house as he removes his shoes and hangs up his umbrella.

“Harry,” Eggsy replies. His smile is a little lopsided from the tension still locking up his body, but there is a certain amount of relief he feels at seeing Harry back, obviously successful in putting Dean in his place. “Thanks, Harry.”

Harry waves it off. “There’s unfortunately no guarantee that your stepfather won’t test my promises. I can, however, guarantee you I am having him monitored just in case. Should you beat out Ms. Morton, you’ll be given your own Kingsman house, where your mother and sister would be safe from him in the future.”

Very safe, indeed, James chimes in, having just floated through the closed door. The agency protects its own, you know.

It feels good to have the other ghost around, if only to be a buffer against his argument with Lee in a way that no living person could.

“Now, Eggsy,” Harry starts, oddly tense in a way he wasn’t moments ago. “I would like to talk to you about… well about Lee.”

Eggsy stills. “What about him?”

“I --” a chime interrupts Harry, and he frowns before slipping his glasses back on. “Yes, Merlin?”

A mission. Of course it has to come in right when they’re about to have a conversation, but Eggsy can’t be too mad. It’s Valentine, apparently, so it’s very important.

“Stay here for now,” Harry says once he finishes up with Merlin. “We’ll finish this when I get back.”

Eggsy nods.

Chapter Text

It takes hours for Harry to get to the church even with the added advantage of a Kingsman plane, so besides Merlin getting in touch to let him know Arthur planned to meet with him and Roxy again the next day, it’s just Eggsy and his ghosts. Alone.

Not even James is enough to get rid of the tension between father and son.

“You should check up on mum,” Eggsy forcefully suggests shortly after Harry left.

You heard Harry. They’re being monitored, Lee throws back stubbornly. Our girls will be fine.

Well it wouldn’t hurt to check up on them, I’m sure, James chimes in. He’s ignored.

Lee sticks around the entire time they wait, sometimes shooting annoyed looks at his fellow ghost before attempting to talk to his son. The conversation that follows is always tense. It’s clear to James that the man wants him gone so that he could talk to Eggsy in private, but it’s also blatantly clear that Eggsy doesn’t want to talk about whatever it was just yet.

So he stays. And he talks. He tells Eggsy all about this mission or that mission, and each story inevitably trails off into a lesson on something too specific to be taught in the Kingsman trials, like what kind of foods have the most potential as projectiles if you’re caught in a market without a working weapon. (James has a soft spot for apples, because of how compact they are.) It helps to a degree, though Lee’s continued presence still bothers Eggsy.

The only thing that does manage to distract him is Harry’s arrival at the church. Of course, putting his full attention on the computer feed means he quickly becomes aware that something is wrong. Very wrong. Eggsy can’t rip his eyes from the massacre on the screen at all. So far Harry is still moving, still killing, and it’s horrifying, but it means that he’s still alive. (Eggsy barely registers James’ whispered Galahad when the man makes his first kill.)

Harry is the last man standing.

And then he’s not.

Eggsy hears a scream, and he’s confused, because it doesn’t sound like either of the ghosts, until he realizes that it’s coming from himself. Distantly, he can hear James trying to comfort him, but even as his scream dies down, he can barely process it. Lee meets his eyes helplessly. If anyone knows how painful it is to be unable to physically do anything in this moment, it’s Lee. Lee, who watched his wife lose herself after his death. Lee, who had to watch Dean beat on Eggsy and Michelle. He meets his son’s tearful eyes and nods to himself.

I’ll go get him, Eggsy.

Chapter Text

It’s a good thing that he has James, because, as he sits down in the seat Arthur indicated, he realizes that he only has a vague idea of how he got to headquarters. His ghost companion had followed him and nudged him along the streets as needed until Arthur found him. Part of Eggsy wishes he’d run into Merlin first, but the rest of him insists it’s better this way with a dawning horror of realization.

Arthur has a chip.

Arthur is working with Valentine.

Keep alert, Eggsy, James says tightly, having seen the object of Eggsy’s attention. He earned his title.

Eggsy stills. He thinks about Merlin, who just couldn’t be in line with Valentine, too, especially not after Harry --

How many of the Kingsman agents were in on it? What if he gets rid of Arthur only to face several fully trained agents in their prime?

His mind goes back to Harry again, how the man was gunned down for being a decent fucking bloke, how Eggsy will probably never get to be the agent Harry knew he could be, and suddenly he can’t help but feel that it doesn’t matter. Maybe Harry was the only good one of the bunch. Maybe the rest of the agents are waiting to off him if Arthur can’t fool him.

Eggsy will take out as many of them as he can, and even if he can’t finish the job, he’ll get to be with Harry.

He switches the glasses and feels no remorse watching Arthur choke on his own poison. He’s just tired.

Eggsy? James murmurs to break the silence.

“Do you know where Merlin is?” Eggsy asks, not moving from his seat.

I’ll look. James hesitates. Don’t do anything rash while I’m gone.

Eggsy gives him a silent thumbs up.

 

It’s luck that Merlin, Roxy, and even Percival are in the same place.

Percival brought her back for the toast when he heard, or so I’ve gathered, James explains.

Eggsy clutches Arthur’s phone with white knuckles and nods. The halls seem to be relatively empty, but he’s not stupid. Kingsman is a spy organization. If any of Arthur’s allies know he’s dead, they could be lying in wait.

He knocks on Merlin’s office door.

Merlin nods solemnly when he sees Eggsy there. “I figured you’d show up, lad.”

Percival raises his glass in acknowledgement, and Roxy smiles as best she can considering the situation. They all seem so painfully sincere.

“You all have shit taste in bosses,” Eggsy announces, pressing the dead man’s cell phone into Merlin’s chest. “Anyone up to saving the world?”

Chapter Text

Knowing that Kingsman has jets is different than actually sitting in a luxurious jet with three other people and a ghost on the way to save the world.

Still, Eggsy can’t feel much past the numbness. Lee isn’t back. Harry hasn’t shown up. James can blather on as much as he wants, but Eggsy can’t actually engage with him in the plane without looking like he’s off his rocker. Or -- he can’t believe he’s contemplating it, but what does he have to lose?

“Rox’,” he starts, interrupting the tense silence, “you wanted to know why I’m so good with dogs, yeah?”

“I did.” She sits up straighter and just looks at him for a moment. “Do.”

“You all might as well listen,” Eggsy says. He ignores James’ calculating look. It’s not as if the ghost could actually stop him.

Merlin and Percival give up all pretense of not listening. It’s no secret that this latest batch of Kingsman recruits had quite a lot of trouble with their canines with the exception of Eggsy, who seemed to attract all of the dogs, and Roxy, who merely managed to escape the worst of it.

“I’m a medium.”

Silence.

Eggsy sighs. “I see dead people, yeah?”

“Lad --”

“Da’ named his dog Sting,” Eggsy says louder. “Lancelot had a Foxhound named Quentin. Dogs can see spirits, and neither Da’ nor James had any reason to like the others.”

“And my poodle?” Roxy’s face is hard to read, primarily because she’s not even sure what she’s feeling right now.

“James likes you. He likes Percival.”

He’s a good sport, James adds finally, subdued. His face, too, is difficult to read. Tell him I said that, would you?

Eggsy glances at him and nods. “He says Percival’s a good sport.”

“Why tell us now?” Percival cuts in then, looking oddly in the direction Eggsy nodded, as if looking for his old friend and comrade. “You could have kept it to yourself. No one would have guessed.”

“They’ve been helping me,” Eggsy admits uneasily. “Not like, givin’ me answers. Just... helping me study or keeping me on my toes.”

Percival hums. “You’re suggesting reconnaissance. With ghosts.”

Eggsy nods. “James will help. Right?"

Of course, little Eggsy.

“What about Harry, lad?” Merlin says quietly, hopefully.

Eggsy clenches his fists and looks at his shoes, willing the impending tears away with all the energy he can muster. “I can’t -- I can’t see him. I don’t know where he is.”

“We’ll talk about this more later, then,” Merlin decides, visually pushing his worries for Harry aside. “You use all of your advantages, the both of you. We’re going to need all we can get. Now, for the plan…”

Chapter Text

“We good?” Eggsy murmurs, settling hesitantly next to Roxy. It might be unfair to ask her while she’s strapped into that machine, but he also might never see her again. All in all, he’s glad that Merlin and Percival are giving them time.

She gives him a considering look. “I don’t know that I can be angry with you, Eggsy. A bit… miffed, perhaps, but I can’t fault you for using your talents to your advantage.” She tilts her head. “I know we don’t have time to discuss it all now, but tell me one thing -- would you have gotten as far as you had without outside help?”

“I dunno,” he says honestly. “I wasn’t half bad at school, and the physical stuff was all me, yeah? But otherwise…” Eggsy shrugs. There's no denying that Lee and James at least gave him an advantage.

Roxy smiles and nods. “Then you earned your space, Eggsy. Just don’t forget you haven’t beaten me yet.”

It gets a genuine smile out of him, too, one that he can’t stifle even as James literally inserts himself into the moment, resting a ghostly arm across his shoulders.

You two are precious, the ghost drawls. I wonder if our next Arthur will let you both be Lancelot. They are big shoes to fill, after all, little Eggsy.

“Oi, shut it,” Eggsy says, giving him a look. It’s freeing to not have to pretend to hear James. Especially with how much the man likes to rile him up.

Not that it still isn’t a bit weird, he thinks as he catches the bemused look on Roxy’s face.

“Hey, Rox?” He grabs her hands as she begins to rise. “Good luck.”

“You, too, Eggsy.”

 

And then it was just him, Merlin, and Percival. And James, of course.

“So now what?”

Apparently, what came next was the absolutely batshit plan for Eggsy to pretend to be Arthur.

“An’ what if they know what he looks like? They probably met, yeah?”

Merlin and Percival exchange a look.

“Then we’re fucked, lad,” Merlin deadpans. “Now, you’re going to change into the suit Harry had made for you, and you’re going to use all of your skills to pull this off. Percival will be my backup for now.”

“I’ll join you if it looks like your cover is about to blow,” Percival assures him.

Eggsy nods. “Looks like you ain’t retired yet, James.”

James grins, the line bisecting his lips more prominent as he bares his teeth.

Chapter Text

It would be easy to assume that Lee, being a ghost, would be able to transport himself directly to Harry’s (or anyone’s) side. It would be especially easy, in fact, because he often did so with Eggsy.

Eggsy is an outlier. So are Michelle and her daughter.

The difference is that Lee is tethered to them in a way that allows him to find them (or haunt them, really). He still aches to hug Michelle and apologize for dying on her, leaving her open to Dean’s advances. Eggsy is his only child and the only person who can see him. And Daisy -- well, Lee has grown to love Daisy as if she were his own, too, in part because she is Michelle’s even more than Dean’s, and because Eggsy loves his sister fiercely and unconditionally. All three of them are imprinted on him in such a way that he knows he could find them at any time.

Harry, on the other hand, may have been his mentor for a brief time, may have been one of the people Lee died for, but realistically, he never knew the man. Lee was already an accomplished soldier and family man before meeting him and therefore didn't need much guidance, and Harry had never been that open with him, though he was always pleasant. Lee did check in on Kingsman occasionally after his death. His family, however, was a higher priority than any of the agents he knew there.

 

And so Lee can only move himself to Harry’s last known location.

The church is full of corpses.

The villains have long since driven off, and even though some time had passed while Lee tried in vain to calm a screaming Eggsy down, he can only distantly hear approaching sirens.

Hold on, Harry, he murmurs.

The man’s chest rises softly, sporadically. He might just make it if the paramedics get him right away.

 

They do, thankfully. Valentine had done them one favor by waiting until Harry was right outside the church to shoot him. The paramedics rush right to him, skidding right through Lee as they rush to get the dying agent’s heart beating again. They carefully move him to the ambulance, and John Doe is rushed to the closest hospital before the rest of the responders can even realize he is the only survivor.

Harry dies several times before they can get him stable.

Lee stands by him the entire time, demanding he stay alive, that he get back to Eggsy alive and tangible. He can’t contact James or Eggsy without leaving. He can’t leave, either. Not with Harry straddling the line before life and death. Not with him at risk of being moved at any point. Lee won’t lose track of him until they can both go back to Eggsy.

Harry lies unconscious in his hospital bed, unaware that Eggsy already mourns for him.

Chapter Text

He thinks his name is Harry. He’d ask someone if he could, but there’s a disconnect between his mind and what must be his body. It’s rather troubling, and he gets the feeling that if he were more aware it would be much more than troubling to not be able to open his eyes or move his limbs.

We don’t exactly have a lot of time, a voice warns.

Harry wants to ask why but settles for drifting off into unconsciousness once again.

 

Some time later, he’s able to open his eyes (eye?) a tiny bit. Just barely, really, and it takes all of the effort he can muster to do so. The room he sees is boring, sterile. A hospital room, something inside of him thinks. It frustrates him that there are no doctors, no one at all --

A man paces into his view. He’s agitated and muttering and -- cracked? His face is shattered pottery glued back together, the spaces in between obvious to a keen eye.

Harry’s heart races. The doctors rush in shortly after and sedate him.

 

The next time he sees the cracked man, he’s prepared (as much as he can be, at least). He gives the man a wary look, silently observing how that cracked face goes from concerned to startled as soon as the man realizes he’s looking right at him.

Harry

(Harry is privately relieved that he was right about his name.)

How much do you remember?

The cracked man gets a blank look in return.

Nothing then? He frowns.

There’s something about that frown, though, something that hovers in the back of Harry’s mind, just out of reach. He winces at the headache he gets trying to get at it.

Oi, the cracked man snaps, the worry on his face at odds with his tone. Eggsy needs you to get yourself together.

The name sparks something. He can almost see a face, feel a loss that he wasn’t aware of.

If he doesn’t get to that bastard Valentine in time --

Harry curses and raises a weak hand to his head. It brushes a bandage, and he’s suddenly aware of why he’s there, and his heart rate spikes again when he remembers the way Valentine had pointed the gun and looked away.

They nearly have to sedate him again.

Sorry, the cracked man sighs out after the doctor finally leaves.

Harry finally recognizes him as Lee Unwin (or at the very least, admits it's him), and he wants to brush this off as a hallucination, except that he remembers hearing his voice the last time he was in a coma. He thinks he was planning on talking to Eggsy about it. He can't be sure.

-- but if those SIM cards go off, and you’re in a hospital full of people -- he trails off and makes a face. I’m just lucky you can see me.

“Let me be the judge of that,” Harry murmurs, a hand coming up to touch the edge of his bandages again.

Lee gives him an unreadable look. Harry, we need a plan if I’m going to get you back to my son.

Chapter Text

The suit fits like it was, well, tailored just for him. Eggsy didn’t need any help getting it on exactly right, having remembered all of the things Harry had imparted on him before leaving for that last, fatal mission. His grin slips as he absentmindedly smoothes out the tie.

Lee would be proud, James says, and although it wasn’t his intention, it makes Eggsy feel guilty.

He wasn’t thinking of Lee. Now that the idea is in his head, though, the young man feels the absence of his father in ways he’s never had to face, because ghost or not, Lee has been with him for every milestone in his life so far.

And Harry… James whistles, snarky bastard he is. I think he’ll be quite disappointed he missed this.

Eggsy shoots him a look but can’t help but smile, too. Leave it to James to break up his pity party.

(It certainly helps that Merlin and Percival react positively to his new clothes, too.)

 

Pretending to be Chester King is the best distraction he could have asked for. It isn’t training or a test anymore. His attention needs to be on the job, and if he fails, the entire world is at risk. Slipping into another identity allows him to not think about being Eggsy so much. He listens to Merlin’s guidance as well as James’, but he refuses to let either of them remind him of Harry.

Posture, little Eggsy. James surveys the room.

Eggsy straightens up a bit, copying James and putting on a charming smile. From there it’s easy enough to blend in smoothly. No one gives him more than a passing glance as he works his way up to the closest computer and swiftly, discreetly takes down the man who owns it. It’s too easy all in all.

So naturally James frowns. The Heskeths are here, be on your guard.

He works faster. As soon as possible, Eggsy slides out of the booth and casually makes his way back down to the lower level, all too aware of the eyes on him, following him.

It’s Charlie, James warns him. He’s getting closer.

Eggsy picks up his pace. He’s too far away from the door to safely make it without Charlie catching up, so he catches the eye of the waiter who greeted him earlier, and the man quickly brings him his drink order. He moves into a less populated part of the room from there. Ducking behind a pillar, he nods at James.

He’ll be here any moment. James gives Eggsy a look. This is risky. Harry and Lee are going to kill me when they see what an influence I’ve been on you, little Eggsy.

Eggsy grins, and, hearing the soft footfalls of his stalker, is prepared to grab Charlie and twist him around, turning the tables on him just long enough to get him with another sleeping dart before he can use the knife he’s pulled out. If he had more time (and less of an audience) he’d gladly fight the git, but sadly, he needs to get back to the plane.

Eggsy, James barks out.

There’s a woman staring at him and Charlie in horror.

“My colleague had too much to drink,” Eggsy tries, giving her his best smile.

The knife finally slips from Charlie’s slack hand.

The woman screams.

Eggsy, get out now!

He glances back as he dodges the now panicking guests and meets Valentine’s eyes.

“Merlin, I’ve been made.”

Chapter Text

James tells him where to go, and Eggsy goes. It’s instinct and trust, simple as that. Taking down any guards in his way is instinct, too, with a bit of panic mixed in.

“Don’t worry about me, Merlin,” he says as he knocks another guard off his feet. He wants to say that Merlin should focus on Roxy, but he knows to be vague and especially not to let on that they have another operative somewhere else. Maybe if they just think it’s him, Roxy and Merlin and Percival will pull it all off in time. Maybe --

(-- he’ll get to finish what Harry started, maybe he’ll get to spend his own afterlife with Harry and the knowledge that he made a difference--)

“Well done, both of you,” Merlin says in his ear, relieved, and Eggsy feels a rush of relief himself.

Roxy made it.

 

But of course it can’t be that easy. Percival gives him a nod as he chooses the umbrella from the weapons cabinet, and James echoes Merlin’s ‘good choice’ with a sad smile. They all know why he chose it.

“Eggsy,” Percival calls after a moment. “Now that they’re aware of our presence I’d like to be your partner on this impromptu mission.”

“But Merlin --”

“Can guard himself,” said man interrupts. “Arthur wasn’t allowed an unannounced guest, but they know you’re not Arthur anymore.”

“You’re not the only one with a personal stake in this,” Percival adds gently. “There’s no reason logical or not for you to go alone when Merlin can handle the plane himself. They’ll be prepared for you to show back up. They won’t be prepared for me.”

He's right, you know, James chimes in.

Eggsy sighs. “Thanks, bruv.”

 

It’s not enough. Eggsy and Percival hold up in doorways across from each other, guards coming down both sides of the hallway, and even James looks forlorn. Their only hope is Merlin and those chips, but even Merlin is surrounded. Part of Eggsy is accepting. He can be with his dad and Harry. He knows there’s more after death, he tried his best, right? Except that more now than ever he does not want to die. He wants to see his sister grow up. He wants to get his mum into a better home away from Dean. He wants to have a drink with Roxy and talk about missions. He wants time to show Harry that he picked right, that Eggsy could be the agent he saw in him. Then... maybe he could go and be with him for as long as ghosts could.

Eventually.

There’s fireworks down the hall.
Percival relaxes ever so slightly, although his guard is up once again when someone begins banging on the door behind Eggsy.

It’s a princess of all things. Eggsy almost flirts before realizing that Harry… Harry’s probably not truly gone, he can’t go throwing himself into people to mourn. Not without getting a chance to talk to Harry about his feelings.

He vaguely notices Percival picking up where he stopped, assuring the princess they’d be back for her as soon as they dealt with Valentine.