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The Office Ink

Chapter Text

Eggsy glanced curiously down at the bound, blank volume he held in his hand. He opened the book and skimmed his fingers along the expensive eggshell pages within, raising an eyebrow.

As the spine of the book tilted back, a small scrap of paper fell out and fluttered to the ground.

He knelt quickly and fished the scrap of paper from the floor.

For the most important year of your life, always remember it, happy birthday, sweetheart xxx

Eggsy smiled to himself as he recognised his mothers' hand. That explained why she had gifted him a diary for his 22nd birthday, but it looked expensive, and Eggsy knew his mother didn't have all that much money. He felt guilt tugging at his stomach mixed with a wave of gratitude.

He carefully closed the diary and set it down on the table in his kitchen, next to a variety of birthday cards and resolved to drop by his mother's house on the way to work to thank her for such a token of kindness.

The way to work, he repeated in his head, grinning to himself.

Eggsy checked himself in the mirror, happy with his formal trousers and button down shirt, before he walked out of his flat and made his way into the heart of London.

He stopped when he came to the imposing glass building in the centre of the city, the words HESKETH PUBLISHING screaming down at him in white letters above the entrance.

He tried not to feel intimidated as he stood at the door, willing himself to walk inside. But Eggsy wasn't used to posh, he was barely used to clean. This was what came of growing up on a council estate with his poor excuse of a step-father.

He remembered leaving college with an A Level in advertisement marketing and thinking that the world was his oyster, but then reality had set in. There were no jobs going and no one wanted to employ anyone like Eggsy for what their companies were worth.

So it had been jobseekers and council flats for three long years until he'd received a letter from the council informing him of the apprenticeship scheme they were rolling in. It had been the decision of the Tory government, apparently, to get people off benefits and into work.

Eggsy had rolled his eyes at the letter, knowing David Cameron just wanted to lower unemployment so he'd be re-elected in five years, he knew the government didn't care about people like him, but he'd always been thirsty to learn and to work and had been the first on his estate to jump on such an opportunity.

When he'd met with his adviser, a surprisingly nice woman named Sue, she'd been surprised at his qualifications and told him that the fields for advertisement were a lot wider than anyone realised and he'd told her to get him any apprenticeship, any where, anything to save him from a future on the estate and Dean's 'odd jobs' just to make ends meat.

Now here he was, stood outside of a publishing agency with no experience, no degree and a heart full of hope.

He walked inside.

Eggsy looked around himself as he stepped into the building, there was a small receptionists desk to his right and beyond that was an open-planned office space with varying desks and computer monitors. He noted a few doors to the side that probably left off to other areas but what really attracted his attention was the small staircase situated in the middle of the room which led to an elevated office with glass walls and doors.

He cocked his head to the side as he looked inside. He reasoned with himself that he wasn't really looking inside, he was merely looking, and the inside of the office was presented to him.

It was a large office, and at the far end was a desk with a man leant against it, speaking quickly into a phone.

This must have been the famous Charlie Hesketh, Eggsy had been informed in his welcome package that Mr. Hesketh was quite a renowned figure in the publishing world for being successful and handsome and clever.

Eggsy wasn't exactly sure if it meant anything to be renowned in the world of publishing but supposed he was soon to find out.

"Can I help you?" A voice to his right asked.

He turned from the glass office and saw a woman in a skirt suit staring at him from behind the receptionists' desk, she was bent across the desk and had her hand pressed against the receiver of a telephone as she stared up at him.

"Err, yeah, hi," Eggsy said inarticulately as he hurried across the space to her. "I'm Gary Unwin, I'm supposed to be starting today?"

"Hold on a sec," she informed him before she put the person on the phone on hold and began rifling through various multi-coloured binders on her desk. Eggsy felt the colour rise in his cheeks and anxiety bubble in his stomach as he watched her work.

She finally seemed to find what she was looking for and smiled down at the folder as she read.

"Of course, I remember now," she said, "Sue called last week. Yes, we're expecting you. Mr. Hesketh said he wanted to see you when you got in, if you go up those stairs over there, that's his office."

Eggsy stood there for a few moments, unsure if he were supposed to let her take him or go himself, but when she took the person on the phone off hold and turned away from him he figured he was on his own.

He walked slowly through the thin crowd of workers towards the staircase, earning a few looks from men and women as he passed. The first thing he noted about them as he looked back was that they were all dressed in smart/casual and felt instantly better that he hadn't decided to wear a suit.

He jogged up the staircase and stared at the glass door for a moment, feeling a little strange at knocking on the door when he could clearly see the boss looking at him from within.

Mr. Hesketh beckoned him inside with the hand that wasn't holding the phone and Eggsy quickly slipped inside and stood, waiting for Hesketh to finish his phone call.

He wondered how he got any work done if everyone could see what he was doing all of the time, he refrained from looking below at all the other employees because he knew they were still staring at him.

"...yes, yes, absolutely, absolutely, listen, mate, I've got to go, yes, I've got some important business...yes, okay, lovely, okay, speak to you then, bye." Mr Hesketh hung up the phone and looked at Eggsy.

"Unwin, right?" He asked in an upper class English accent, smiling in his direction, Eggsy felt immediately better.

Charlie Hesketh must have been in his early 30s, with a mop of chestnut brown hair and gentle eyes, he was wearing a casual suit with no tie and was nothing like the disciplinarian Eggsy had been unconsciously expecting in his mind.

"Yeah," Eggsy finally breathed out in response, "yeah, um, everyone calls me 'Eggsy'". He clarified, feeling dumb.

Charlie, however, merely nodded. "Eggsy it is, then." He said, smiling. "Well, welcome to the first day of your apprenticeship, Eggsy, how are you feeling?"

Eggsy felt his mouth go dry as he tried to articulate the friendly and non-confrontational question presented to him.

"Fine." He said quickly, suddenly consciously aware of his London accent and wishing he sounded more like Hesketh did. "Okay, I, err, I'm really grateful for an opportunity like this..."

"We're glad to have you," Hesketh said immediately, "my name is Charlie Hesketh, but you can call me Charlie, everyone does," his eyes seemed to twinkle, "and I'm the editor. Let me introduce you to your superior in the advertising department."

Charlie led them out of the office, down the stairs and across through one of the doors Eggsy had spied earlier.

As he followed his boss, and the space between them was filled with friendly conversation, he couldn't help but find himself quite enamoured with the older man and his gentle nature.

He found himself unconsciously smiling at everything Charlie said, and when they reached a double-doorway, he didn't even notice them come to a stop.

"Now this is the advertising department," he told Eggsy, pushing the double doors open and leading him into an open-planned office space much like the previous one with the exception that it was filled with canvases and digital rendering computers. Eggsy felt suddenly at home again, like he'd just walked back into college after a very long weekend break.

Eggsy allowed Charlie to walk him over to a vacant desk as he stared around the room.

"This is your work space," he told him, and Eggsy surveyed the empty space and wondered exactly where everyone was until a young woman around his age wearing a tweed blazer and skinny jeans walked up to them, holding an unfortunately large stack of paperwork in her hands.

Eggsy surged forward immediately and captured the files before they fell to the ground, the woman before him let out a shocked gasp and then clapped her hand to her chest in relief as she looked up at him.

"You've just saved my entire filing system." She told him earnestly in an upper class English accent, albeit softer than Charlie's.

Eggsy wanted to say something in reply but became suddenly conscious of opening his mouth and letting his cockney-drawl escape so resolved to merely stare at her for a moment with a startled look on his face.

He felt himself go hot as she laughed and looked at Charlie.

"Roxy, this is Eggsy, he's Merlin's new apprentice." Charlie said, leaning over Eggsy's shoulder as he spoke. "Eggsy, this is Roxanne Morton, she's my research assistant."

"Hello." Eggsy finally said, making an exaggerated effort to pronounce the 'H'. "Sorry, nervous." He quickly clarified.

"No need." She said sweetly, extending her arms out as if to hug him.

His eyebrows quirked in confusion for a moment before he realised she was holding her hands out for her files and Eggsy quickly bundled them into her arms.

Will you please calm the fuck down? He berated himself in his head.

"Nice to meet you," he said quickly, eyes lowering in embarrassment.

"See you again." She winked as she walked around him, Eggsy turned on his heel and watched her go.

"She's very pretty." Charlie commented lightly and Eggsy turned immediately back to him.

"Oh, no...I didn't..."

But Charlie merely smiled and held up a hand to silence him.

"It's okay, Eggsy, calm down. Everyone here is really friendly." Charlie smiled as he said this and Eggsy found himself believing him, he let out a shaky breath and gave Charlie a smile in return.

"Okay, yeah, sorry."

Charlie laughed and patted him on the back and Eggsy felt his stomach do an anxious flip for a multitude of reasons. One of the them being that it wasn't Roxy he was at risk of developing a crush on.

"Come on, follow me, I'll take you to Merlin." Charlie said, starting across the room.

It took Eggsy a moment to realise his boss had shot off and he hurried quickly to catch up, head whipping around at the empty desks around them.

"Um, sir...sorry, Charlie, where is everyone?"

"We're a little understaffed at the moment." Charlie commented lightly, reaching a plastic-wooden door and rapping his knuckles gently against it. "That's why we're hiring apprentices."

Eggsy nodded quickly in response when the door opened and a bald man in his mid forties stepped out, he was wearing a grey sweater over a white shirt and clutching a transparent clipboard in one hand.

"Ah," began Charlie, curling a hand around Eggsy's lower arm and urging him forward, Eggsy flexed slightly at the contact, "Merlin, this is Eggsy Unwin, the apprentice I was telling you about. Eggsy, this is Merlin, he is the senior advertisement manager in the company, you'll be his assistant."

"Nice to meet you," Merlin said in a soft Scottish accent, extending his hand out. Eggsy took it and was taken aback by the firm shake that met him.

"If everything is alright with you, Merlin, I'll leave Eggsy in your good care."

"Certainly, sir." Merlin replied, folding his arms behind his back in one fluid motion.

Charlie gave the Scotsman a jokingly disapproving look.

"Now, Merlin, what have I said about calling me 'sir.'?"

Eggsy liked to think he saw Merlin's lips tighten slightly but the action was replaced by a reassuring smile so quickly he was certain that he just imagined it.

Merlin offered no further comment to Charlie who patted Eggsy on the back again before he walked away and out of the office-space and through the double doors, Eggsy kept his eyes on his retreating back until he left, a small breath escaping him.

Eggsy was acutely aware of Merlin stood beside him and expected to be called back to attention but after a few moments he inclined his head to see Merlin merely staring at him, expression neutral.

Eggsy immediately clocked that Merlin wasn't much of a talker and felt a wave of relief wash over him and it felt like he was physically deflating.

"I would show you your work area," Merlin said eventually, grinning slightly, "but I think you can take your pick."

Eggsy again let his eyes trail over the empty office space and felt a wave of confusion settle over him.

"Were there a lot of people here before?" He asked. "Charlie said you were short-staffed."

"We are short-staffed," Merlin reminded him with a twinkle in his eye that warmed Eggsy to the core. "And no, there were never that many people here. Most of the company's budget is tied up in editing rather than advertising."

Eggsy's forehead creased.

"But there wouldn't be any point to the editing without the advertising," he said, "he wouldn't 'ave any customers if no one liked the covers."

Merlin's smile grew suddenly bigger.

"Precisely," he said as if Eggsy had just explained quantum theory to him. Eggsy couldn't help but blush as he realised he'd just impressed his supervisor for the first time.

Maybe things here might actually work out.

Merlin had given him a whistle-stop tour of the art department which, luckily, seemed to employ a few people who looked like they knew what they were doing, before showing him around the editing office he'd walked through before.

Eggsy felt like Merlin had taken him under his wing ever so slightly and was glad someone was actually helping him out. But the more he thought about it, the more he noticed people in the editing department smiling as they were introduced, and Charlie had waved at him from inside his office and Roxy had smiled as they passed her in the break room.

Eggsy leant against the wall of the aforementioned break room whilst the coffee machine beside him squeezed out what he hoped would be a drinkable latte.

The break room itself reminded him of the staff room at his old school. The walls were painted a periwinkle blue and there were varying tables and couches adorning the walls.

Eggsy had felt uneasy when he had entered and had just put it down to nerves but, as he watched the dribble of milk pour into the cardboard cup he realised what had unnerved him.

He was suddenly the adult.

Of course, he had technically been an adult since he'd turned eighteen but he'd attended college after that which had felt exactly like school and he'd been living with his mother until very recently.

Eggsy had always been an adult in name but in nothing else. He'd had no responsibilities, no expectations, no paycheck. But that was suddenly all about to change and instead of making him feel glorious and accomplished, it just made him feel queasy.

The coffee machine beeped abnormally loudly, startling Eggsy slightly, before he pulled the latte from its release and tested the hot liquid on his tongue.

He pulled a face to himself before setting the cardboard cup down atop the machine and grabbing a handful of sugar packets and dumping them into the coffee, when he brought it to his lips again it was marginally better.

"The coffee here stinks." Merlin told him as he approached, holding something out to Eggsy. "You're better off with the deli across the road."

Eggsy accepted the proffered item and glanced down at it, turning the unfamiliar plastic card around in his fingers a few times.

"What's this?" He asked.

"Your key card." Merlin told him. "Access all areas, don't worry, it's not spies or anything, just to work the printer."

Eggsy nodded carefully as he ran his finger along the embossed edge.

"So, how are you settling in?" Merlin asked, tucking his clipboard under one arm.

Eggsy nodded.

"Yeah, yeah, it's good." He informed him. "I 'aven't actually done anything yet, but..."

Merlin chuckled.

"Don't worry, I have something to show you later, your first project."

Eggsy felt his face light up at the declaration, the idea of finally contributing something to the field he'd dedicated two years of his life training for made him glow.

"Charlie tells me you don't have any experience."

Eggsy felt his face go hot and tightened his grip around the cardboard coffee cup, he looked down as he saw a few drops of creamy liquid erupting from the hole.

"Nah," he said, feeling self-conscious, "I mean, what I did in college, but that's about it."

"Well, that's what apprenticeships are for." Merlin reminded him, cocking his head to the side slightly. "This is how you gain experience."

Eggsy swallowed slightly as he forced himself to relax, reminding himself that he didn't have to hide anything, that everyone here was trying to help him rather than hinder him.

"Tell me about some of the work you did at college." Merlin asked lightly.

Eggsy felt the blush reappear on his cheeks but for an entirely different reason, he was proud of the work he'd already done, and if his A was anything to go by, it was pretty decent quality.

"Well, one of my friends, he worked in computin', and he made all these adverts for this website he had, promotin' concerts and events and stuff around college but it wasn't gettin' many views so I told him to put a dog on it."

Merlin shifted slightly as if he was certain he had misheard.

"I'm sorry, put a what on it?"

"A...dog." Eggsy said slowly before taking a deep breath. "They always say the only two things that sell are sex and death but people highly underestimate the power of a cute dog. We put a cute little baby pug in the advertisements and the website hits went up by a thousand a day."

Merlin stared at him for a moment before he laughed, loudly. Eggsy froze, worried he'd made a complete arse out of himself until Merlin clapped him on the shoulder.

"'Never underestimate the power of a cute dog'," he paraphrased, "that's genius."

Eggsy felt a smile creep out across his face and realised that, yeah, it was genius.

Fuck, why was he so afraid? He knew what he was doing.

He stood a little straighter as he felt his faith in himself grow exuberantly, he was Eggsy Unwin, and he had this.

Eggsy glanced instinctively at the sound of the door to the break room opening and watched as a man walked briskly inside.

This man must have been in his late forties, but had the gait and look of someone much younger and fitter. His tall, angular frame was swathed in an expensive, double-breasted pinstriped suit, his dusky chestnut hair combed meticulously and a pair of tortoiseshell glasses perched on his nose.

Eggsy felt himself swallow involuntarily. If this was the staff room then that was the headmaster.

This was exactly the kind of disciplinarian Eggsy had been fearing from the moment he opened his placement letter.

"Harry," Merlin called over, and the well-dressed man glanced over to them. His gaze fell over Eggsy for a few moments and Eggsy shifted uncomfortably as he couldn't help but feel like he was being scrutinised intently before the man, Harry, turned quickly on his heel and picked up a large, neat binder he'd obviously been searching for, before walking towards them.

As he came nearer, Eggsy appreciated just how prim and polished he seemed, like he'd just fallen off of a nutcracker conveyor belt.

"Merlin," he said by way of a greeting as he attempted to walk past the pair, Eggsy arched an eyebrow in his direction.

"Wait, Harry, this is Eggsy Unwin, the new advertising assistant, it's his first day. Eggsy, this is Harry Hart: assistant editor."

Harry stopped walking and turned to Eggsy. Eggsy was shocked to see a pair of gentle brown eyes harden immediately as they surveyed him.

"Mr. Unwin." Harry greeted in a crisp English accent that wasn't dissimilar to the accents of Roxy and Charlie with the exception that he sounded as if he were addressing a rotten piece of meat rather than a co-worker.

Eggsy was taken aback by the cold greeting and merely stood his ground, willing his mouth to open and say something that didn't include a curse.

"Nice to meet you...Mr. Hart." He replied, voice slack.

Harry gave him a curt nod before walking past him and out of the door again.

Eggsy stared at the closed door for a long moment in silence, wondering exactly what he'd done to garner the man's immediate dislike.

After a moment, he turned back to Merlin in the hopes that his supervisor had appreciated such a display of abject rudeness but Merlin was distracted by a slip of paper in his hands.

"Is he always that grumpy?" Eggsy asked lightly, in the hopes that Merlin would enlighten him to the fact that, yes, Harry Hart was a dreadful fellow who hated everyone and not just him.

"No, not at all." Merlin commented, not really paying attention. "He's just rushed off his feet."

Eggsy felt his stomach dip and watched sullenly as Merlin walked around him and opened the break room door.

"Come with me, there's something I want to show you."

Eggsy walked out of the door and into the editing department and waited patiently for Merlin to take him to their destination.

He decided, in that moment, not to let himself be destroyed by the actions of one man.

It's not like he was his boss or anything important.

Chapter Text

Eggsy thumbed through the pages of the manuscript in his hand and cocked his head to the side as he read the blurb on the back page.

"'To mark the centenary of the first world war'," he read aloud, raising an eyebrow to the senior advertising manager who was stood beside him with his arms crossed. "Merlin, it's 2015."

Merlin nodded gravely.

"Yes, I'm aware. This book was meant to be published last year but it fell through and the publication date was set forward six months. Now we have a couple of months to run an ad campaign in time for the launch date and hope it doesn't get struck off again."

Eggsy blinked a couple of times as he carefully closed the pages in his hand and laid them down on the desk.

"So, you want me to help you?" He asked disbelievingly, tapping the manuscript with the pad of his finger.

"Yes, absolutely." Merlin replied. "I understand it's throwing you in at the deep end but I have faith. Besides, you're the only one I've got."

Eggsy smiled instinctively at Merlin as he felt his cheeks go hot at being entrusted with such a big project and such a short time period on his first go.

"What do you want me to do?" He asked.

"Take the script, read it and come up with some ideas," Merlin instructed, "covers, fonts, special editions and ideally I'd like a new blurb. I hope whomever came up with the current one was sacked."

Eggsy let out a breathy laugh as he picked up the manuscript again. It was quite hefty and at a glance looked to be around three hundred pages long. He was a little sceptical about reading it, history not being one of his favourite subjects, but resolved that he wouldn't let Merlin down.

"I won't let you down." He said.

Merlin clapped him on the back.

"Good lad."

Eggsy sat on a vacant sofa in the break room, legs splayed out across the cushions with the manuscript out and open at his side and a notepad open and poised on his lap.

He tapped the pen against the page marked with aggressive scribbles as he worked to decipher a paragraph of particularly messy printed handwriting.

The novel, a day in the life of, was a compilation of someone's great-grandfathers' discovered letters detailing his experiences in the lead up to the battle of the Somme in 1916.

Eggsy couldn't help but feel like it was powerful stuff, but the message was dampened slightly by the fact that the manuscript was a remake of the soldiers scruffy scrawl and it had taken him three attempts to figure out that the unfortunate man had come across a shot dog and not a processed meat snack.

Change font, italics, written, easier to read he scrawled down ironically before he felt the sofa dip next to him.

He glanced up to see Roxy Morton sitting beside him, smiling sweetly in his direction.

He immediately moved his legs from the sofa, embarrassed, and she gave off a tinkling laugh.

"Thanks for the room," she said, crossing her own legs and shifting closer to him.

He apprehended her wearily for a second before slowly moving his legs back into the position they had been.

"Hi." He said slowly.

"Hello," she replied immediately, "I thought I'd come and sit with you, first day and everything."

He felt the colour rise in his cheeks and she laughed again, Eggsy found that he liked her laugh, it was sweet and non-confrontational. Much like everything else around there.

"Don't be embarrassed," she said, "I only started working here a year ago and I used to work through lunch as well."

Eggsy snapped his notepad closed quickly and sat up a little straighter, watching as she brought a mug to her lips and took a gentle sip.

"What are you working on?" She asked. "a day in the life of?"

"Yeah." Eggsy nodded. "A...apparently it went badly last time."

Roxy nodded and widened her eyes as if recalling some great tragedy. "Oh, yeah. You should have been here. Marking the centenary of the first world war and we get chucked back. Charlie threw a fit."

"You must have done a lot o' work on it." Eggsy said quickly. "Being research, and this being fact and stuff."

She nodded around another sip.

"Yes," she wrinkled her nose slightly. "I'm not really that fused, though. I haven't had to do any work for it this time around, I don't really have a nose in the publishing part of the publishing agency."

"Do you like it here?" Eggsy asked as he smiled softly at her.

"It's great here." She said immediately. "Everyone is so lovely, you're so lucky to be working with Merlin, he helped me out in my first few weeks, as well."

So Merlin was a mama bird then, Eggsy ascertained, not just looking after him because he was advertising but looking after everyone because they were family.

He and Roxy chatted happily while she finished her tea and when he re-opened his notepad and turned back to the manuscript he felt a renewed kind of vigour.

Eggsy Unwin. Member of the Hesketh Publishing family.

He liked the sound of it.

It had taken him the entire weekend to finish reading the 'a day in the life of' manuscript.

If anyone had told him that he would get a job that would require him to work for whole weekends at a time he would have grimaced, but he found that he had a surprisingly good time doing it.

For once in Eggsy's life he was doing something. He felt like the void in his existence had been filled by a substantial reason to get out of bed in the morning not just lie there and contemplate the schedule of 'fuck all' that was usually laid out before him.

He spent less and less time on his estate and when he did run into people he used to see everyday, they commented that he had a spring in his step.

This was it. This was the beginning of life he'd been looking for.

So on Sunday evening, when he placed the manuscript and his newly accumulated work folder down safely on his coffee table he felt inexplicably buzzed.

He hoped Merlin would like his ideas, he hoped Charlie would like his ideas. His stomach did a little flip as he imagined his cute, floppy-haired boss smiling at him and telling him he was proud of his work but quickly shook his head and told himself that that was the last thing he needed to get himself into.

Dream job and dream boyfriend seemed just too lucky.

When he finally settled down into bed he reached across to his bedside table and pulled the leather-bound diary into his lap, opening the front and glancing down at the first blank page.

He didn't want to write in it because of how expensive the eggshell pages looked and how messy he knew his own handwriting to be, but he plucked a half-used biro from his bedside table and began to write.

Diary of Eggsy Unwin

Just started job at publishing agency, went better than I thought it would. Boss really nice (and cute) and co-workers v. nice.

Have been given reins on book project ad campaign and am v. nervous but am sure will impress supervisor/cute boss.

Cannot afford not to.

Have promised self will put down payment on new place once first paycheck clears + will eventually help out mum and sis.

He smiled as he wrote that bit.

Feel odd writing in diary, will try to make habit of it, should get used to writing now part of book world lol

Did he really just write 'lol' in a diary?

G2G bye

Eggsy very nearly signed his name before rolling his eyes at himself. He sighed heavily at his messy scrawl as he closed the book and clasped it shut, resting it on his bedside table with the biro atop it.

He checked the time on his phone quickly before hopping out of bed, switching the light off and hopping back in.

He closed his eyes as his head hit the soft pillow, willing himself to fall asleep quickly before he could dwell any further on the work folder lying on his coffee table.

Eggsy made a conscious effort to keep his eyes on the floor as he walked up the stairs to Charlie's office. He found it incredibly awkward to make eye contact with the man before he'd even knocked on his door.

When he reached the top of the stairs, he could see Charlie reading something off of his desk and felt himself go hot, he felt like he was invading the man's privacy every time he looked through the glass walls.

He knocked quickly and the older man looked up and greeted him with a big smile, beckoning him in.

As Eggsy pushed the door open, he reasoned that glass walls were a great way to see who was coming your way so you knew who you'd have to deal with but also a shit way to have sex on the desk.

Stop it, he berated himself, concealing a small grin as he walked to Charlie's desk.

"Eggsy," Charlie said, standing, "how are you today?"

"Fine." Eggsy smiled, placing the two fresh editions he was holding onto the desk. "These just came through from the art department." He clarified. "Merlin said you'd want to see them."

"Yes, indeed, indeed," Charlie said, picking up the paper back version of 'a day in the life of' and skimming through the pages.

"Are these the revised editions?" He asked, still looking down at the books.

"Yes." Eggsy nodded.

Charlie looked up at him through the mop of unruly fringe and Eggsy felt his breath catch in his throat.

"With your changes?" He asked, smiling coyly.

Eggsy felt the heat rise in his face and prayed that it didn't show.

"Yes." He repeated. "Err, I mean, I didn't really...um, the whole layout of the book is different, really, I thought..."

"Eggsy," Charlie grinned at him, "calm down, of course the entire layout of the book needed to be changed. That was why it fucking flopped last time."

Somehow, hearing his boss swearing good-naturedly worked to relax Eggsy pretty instantaneously, he let out the breath that had caught in his windpipe.

Eggsy cocked his head to the side as Charlie examined the dust cover of the hardback.

Eggsy was quite proud of it, he'd had a word with one of the photographers in the art department and the result was a candid of a male hand clutching at a diary against a backdrop of dilapidated French country side.

Scene setting, Eggsy thought to himself, scene setting.

"I like the cover." Charlie commented. "Encapsulates the story and the format neatly, how did you think of it?"

Eggsy shrugged, trying not to smirk.

"Just came to me." He said.

"I can see you're going to be an asset." Charlie murmured in a low voice, grinning coyly and winking at Eggsy.

Was...was Charlie Hesketh flirting with him?

Eggsy's eyes widened at the thought and he quickly slid his hands behind his back for no reason other than to distract himself from the bizarre thought that had presented itself.

"Um, anyway," he said quickly, "Merlin said to look over anythin' you want changed and we can do it time for the finished...edited version."

Charlie continued to grin at him and Eggsy hoped it wasn't noticeable how uncomfortable he'd suddenly become.

"I really appreciate the work, Eggsy, consider me impressed."

"Thank you." Eggsy smiled weakly before turning on his heel and walking to the door. He tried to hold in the excited laugh that was bubbling in his throat until he was at least out of the office.

He remembered reading that his boss was revered for being perfect and handsome and he thought he understood why.

Eggsy kept his eyes fixed on the floor as he allowed his mind to happily daydream on the thought of the pair of them zooming through the countryside in his expensive Jaguar.

He started slightly and looked up as Charlie's glass door was swung wide and Harry Hart was stood before him, still meticulously polished in a three-piece grey suit and looking quizzically down at him through his lenses.

Eggsy was glad he'd looked up when he did lest he collide with the hard glass door that was swung in his face or the hard-faced assistant editor stood before him.

"Sorry," he said quickly, more out of instinct that anything else, quickly standing aside to allow Harry entrance into the office.

The assistant editor barely even looked at him as he walked straight past him without saying a word, like he wasn't even there.

Eggsy slipped out of the office and down the stairs, too shocked to process his thoughts in that moment.

As Eggsy sat at his desk and fiddled with his pencil pot he tried desperately not to be offended at such a display, reminding himself that he shouldn't give two shits about what fucking Harry 'I have a permanent rod up my arse' Hart thought about him but he couldn't help his mind wandering back to the way the man had barely even acknowledged his existence despite the fact that Eggsy nearly knocked him down the fucking stairs.

It couldn't be him, there was no reasonable way Harry could simply hate him, the pair hadn't exchanged more than three words in their entire acquaintance.

He was just a bad apple, Eggsy reasoned with himself, a bad apple that had accidentally found itself inside a perfect bushel.

Eggsy accepted the envelope from the woman he'd never met before and tried in vain not to smile hugely as he pocketed his first pay check ever.

He collected his coat from the advertising department and said a quick 'good night' to Merlin before he exited the publishing house.

He was a little saddened that he hadn't seen Charlie on his way out, but for what reason he didn't know.

He'd decided that Charlie hadn't been flirting with him that day in the office for a number of reasons, but the main one being that why on Earth would he fancy Eggsy?

He understood the 'easy intern' stereotype but figured that applied more to beautiful young blonde women rather than rough blokes off council estates.

He resolved to himself to nip his crush in the bud right there and then lest he make life harder for himself than it needed to be.

He had a great boss, he had a great job and it damn sure would be enough for him.

He caught a bus to the outskirts of the city and stuffed his hands in his pockets as he made his way to the flat his mother currently resided in with his half-sister and his toxic step-father.

Eggsy realised as he scaled a small, crumbling wall that led onto a concrete pathway, that it had been a over a week since he'd seen his mother or his sister.

He'd been so caught up in other things he'd neglected them a bit, he felt suddenly guilty before he shook off the feeling and replaced it with the feeling a pride he got from the news he was about to give them.

He passed a couple of hooded teenagers who gave him the once over and Eggsy stuffed his hands deeper into his pockets and hung his head, suddenly conscious of the paycheck he was carrying.

He realised that he was beginning to feel a distance from the life he had always led simply from being an active and participating member of the real world and felt oddly proud of the mental achievement.

He jogged up the concrete steps and turned right until he came to his mother's front door in the sea of tenement flats surrounding him.

He walked straight through the door and turned the corner into his old living room. His mother sat on the couch gazing listlessly at the TV whilst Dean had an arm slung around her neck.

Eggsy's mother, Michelle, smiled hugely when she saw him stood in the walkway and attempted to stand but was held back by the arm around her.

Eggsy felt the ire rise within his stomach immediately and nearly said something to his lowlife of a step-dad before Michelle had wriggled from his grip and was enveloping him into a hug.

He put his arms around her but sent a warning look in Dean's direction over her shoulder but he was far too distracted by the television to bother to look up.

"Babe," Michelle said, a little breathlessly, when she let him go. "How are you, okay?"

"Yeah, I'm good, mum." He grinned back. "What about you? Sorry I haven't been 'round for a while."

"Oh no, don't worry, sweetheart, you've got other things to..."

"Michelle, will you shut the fuck up, can't hear the fucking programme."

Eggsy raised his eyebrows confrontationally as his mother fell silent and looked away uneasily.

"Yeah, why don't you shut the fuck up?" Eggsy fired back immediately before he felt his mother's hand on his chest.

"Don't start anything, babe," she said gently, inclining her head to the right, "come on, we'll go have a cuppa in the kitchen, let Dean watch the telly in peace."

Eggsy sighed internally but dutifully followed his mother into the dingy kitchen, not bothering to look back at Dean on his way out.

"D'ya want me to make it?" He asked, moving towards the kettle.

"Nah, you sit down, babe. I'll do it, s'pect you've had a long day at work."

Eggsy couldn't help the smile creeping onto his face he collapsed onto the badly upholstered chair beside the small kitchen table.

"Yeah." Was all he said.

"Look at you," Michelle commented, fishing two teabags from a small tub and dumping them into two mugs. "All lit up."

Eggsy smiled bashfully and tried not to blush as he watched her prepare the tea and place a mug with a picture of a Pug with its head lolled to the side in front of him.

"You've still got this?" He asked.

"Well, it's your mug." She said simply as she sat down opposite him, like that answered his question fully. He supposed it did.

Eggsy cupped his fingers around his favourite mug and let the hot liquid within warm his cool hands.

"So, how's it going with the new job?" Michelle asked.

"It's really good." Eggsy told her immediately. "I've got this supervisor, Merlin, he's wicked, really helping me out. And my boss, he's...err..." Eggsy trailed off, staring into the beige liquid beneath him for a moment. "...He's cool, too. They gave me this big ad campaign for this book release next month, so that's pretty major."

Eggsy tried not to go into the finite details of his art too much around his mother, because she didn't understand the particulars of what he actually did and he knew that she didn't find it very entertaining, but she smiled and nodded nonetheless.

"I'm glad it's all going so well, I'm proud of you, Eggsy."

"Thanks." He said. "Got my first paycheck today."

"See, it's official." Michelle commented. "What are you gonna do with it? Don't just get wasted."

"I'm not," Eggsy laughed, "I promised myself I'd spent my first paycheck on a nicer place for myself."

"That's very old and wise of you," Michelle told him, "you deserve it."

Eggsy hesitated for a moment, taking a sip of tea for courage before marvelling at how much he missed his mother's tea.

"I was thinkin'..." He said slowly, "when I'm earnin' proper, I could help you and Daisy get a...a different place."

Eggsy didn't know what he was expecting his mother's reaction to be to such a comment but he didn't expect her to completely ignore it with a wave of her hand.

"Don't be silly, sweetheart. Spend your money on yourself, not on us. I know you feel like you're the 'man of the family' but I can look after myself, and I've got Dean."

Eggsy refrained from rolling his eyes, he knew his mother disliked when he made unfriendly comments about her current beau and tried to respect her wishes.

Still, he thought he did a good job about that by not punching the dickhead in the fucking jaw every time he saw him.

What he couldn't help feeling, however, was quietly hurt that his mother had refused his help so easily. He knew she could look after herself, she'd been doing that, and raising him and his sister, ever since his father had died, but she deserved better, and Eggsy had always promised himself that he would give it to her.

He took another gulp of tea.

Eggsy dug around in his kitchen drawer for a working pen that evening and when he found one he plucked his diary up from the side and opened it to the next clean page.

Dear diary

mum said no to flat idea today, knew she was going to

refuse to be upset, mum will come around, always does

Chapter Text

"Staff meeting in the conference room." Roxy called over to Eggsy as he walked into the advertising department.

"In the what?" He asked, shrugging out of his jacket.

"Conference room," she repeated, smile in her voice. "Haven't you been there before?"

He shook his head.

"Come on, I'll show you." She said, walking past him and through the way he'd entered.

Eggsy's eyes hit the ceiling as he shrugged back into his jacket and followed her out.

"Do you guys have a lot of staff meetings?" He asked when he caught up to her.

"You mean do we have a lot of staff meetings?" She corrected.

"Right, yeah," he said, "do we have a lot of staff meetings, then? Sod."

"Not really," she said, concealing a smirk as she turned them from the editing department and down a corridor, "just when Charlie has something to say and he can't be bothered to write a memo."

The pair came upon a set of wood-plastic double doors with a plaque that read 'CONFERENCE ROOM' in bold black letters.

"Sorry, I can't find the conference room." Eggsy said coyly, inclining his head to the woman stood next to him.

She hit him, surprisingly hard, on the arm before she pushed the door open and walked inside.

He followed her in as he rubbed his arm and saw a number of people sat around a varnished wooden table with two vacant seats.

Charlie sat at the head of table, obviously, rifling through some messy sheets of paper and along the left side of the table, beside the two vacant seats, sat two men from the sales and finance department Eggsy had seen a few times but didn't know the names of and on the right was the receptionist, whom Eggsy had quickly learned was called Sheila; Maggie, the head of the art department; Merlin sat at the far right talking softly to Harry Hart.

Roxy walked around the table and sat in the first vacant seat and Eggsy quickly joined her.

He glanced across the table and found his gaze settling on the bespectacled assistant editor. Despite the fact that he was still talking softly to Merlin, the angle of his head suggested that he was pointedly looking away from the direction Eggsy was sat in.

He frowned to himself, telling himself that he was being ridiculous and the man was simply chatting to his mate and not quietly planning his murder.

He glanced away and caught Charlie's eye, who smiled at him slightly before standing up.

"Okay chaps and chapettes," he grinned in Roxy's direction and Eggsy watched her shake her head at such a cheesy line. "You're probably wondering why I've gathered you all here today..."

Eggsy watched as Merlin folded his arms and Harry sat back a little further in his seat.

"Basically, a bit of bad news." Charlie said, frowning exaggeratedly. "The launch has been brought forward a couple of weeks."

"What?" Harry asked immediately, coming forward in his chair again. "When is the launch?"

Charlie didn't answer for a moment and Eggsy felt his heart go out to him, the publishing launch date was obviously out of his control and Eggsy knew that he didn't want to skim half a month from their deadline date.

"The 6th." He said eventually.

"We can't do it." Merlin said immediately. "we haven't even ran it through the press yet. We don't even have the finished edited copy."

Eggsy liked to imagine he saw Harry bristle ever so slightly but couldn't be sure.

"Look, look, I know it's not great." Charlie said, holding his hands up as if trying to break up an altercation. "And I'm really, very sorry, we're just going to have to work a little faster. Shuffle a few people around for the moment. It'll all work out, I promise. If anyone can do this then we can."

There was a quiet murmuring around the table for a moment, Eggsy resolved that as motivational speeches went, it wasn't bad.

He gave a sideways glance to Roxy to see her tapping her pen passive-aggressively against the table.

"Shuffle people around how?" Asked Maggie suddenly, eyebrow raised.

"Well, let's just work towards what needs doing for the moment." He said, before his eyes landed on Eggsy. "Like, Eggsy, you're new. Perhaps you could help Harry out with some of the editing stuff."

Eggsy watched Harry visibly stiffen and turn his face away and felt his own face go unintentionally hot.

The last thing, the very last thing he wanted was to work in close proximity with the man who tried to burn a hole in his face every time he saw him and the thought made his stomach go queasy, but he took in the pleading way Charlie was looking at him and how much help he needed from the uncooperative staff and found himself smiling.

"Sure." He said, watching as Charlie's face lit up.

"With respect, sir," Harry voiced stiffly from across the table, not looking at Eggsy, "I'm doing most of the official editing, anyway, I don't have time to look after the boy."

Eggsy went hot around the ears and pursed his lips together.

"I don't need lookin' after." He said a little bitchily, causing Harry to swivel in his chair and stare at him. His face looked mildly shocked and Eggsy thought smugly about how he could tell his diary that he burned Harry Hart today.

"It would be a favour." Charlie said, attempting a smile in Harry's direction.

Harry let out the smallest of breaths before he said, "fine."

As Eggsy paid for his lattes in the deli across the street he came to a decision.

Eggsy had never been a defeatist, he'd never allowed himself to be. Sure, he had always been a bit of a pessimist but he did try to look through rose tinted glasses, even if it didn't always work. Work through all the shit with a smile on your face and you might convince yourself you're okay, those were words to live by.

And his new job and his new mentality made it easier to believe that everything would work out somehow so he figured he had nothing to lose.

Eggsy had decided that if he and Harry Hart had to work in close proximity for the next two weeks until the launch, then he would try his utmost to get along with the man.

It followed that not every person you met would instantly like you, particularly people you'd never really spoken to.

Harry would surely like him when he got to know him a bit, and saw how competent he could be at his work. And even if the man didn't end up liking him, he may at least not hate him which would only be a step in the right direction.

He found himself grinning as he crossed the road and entered his publishing house.

He walked down one of the doors to the right of the editing department until he came to the door with 'Assistant Editor' embossed on it.

Apparently Harry was important enough that he got his own office and Eggsy was quietly grateful that it wasn't glass.

He knocked a few times and waited for the door to open. He licked his lips as he felt the all too familiar pang of anxiety settle in his stomach. He tried to laugh at himself, to tell himself that there was no Godly reason to be afraid of the man but he couldn't quite bring himself to it.

Instead, he reached to that part deep inside of himself and clawed out his resilience. The same resilience that had gotten him through the death of his father, every second he saw his step-dad and every minute he'd spent wilting away on his old council estate.

The door opened and Harry stood in the doorway. He was wearing a double-breasted grey woollen suit that cut against him perfectly and his classic tortoiseshell glasses sat on the bridge of his nose.

Eggsy considered for a moment that, despite everything, Harry Hart was pretty attractive but hell, he'd be more attractive if he ever smiled.

But the expression that instead met him was one of complete neutrality.

At least he's not glaring at you, Eggsy comforted himself as Harry invited him in.

Eggsy couldn't help but feel like the naughty kid being admonished by the headteacher as he watched Harry walk around to the other side of his desk.

His office had a very 'headteacher' feel to it, as well. On the far wall was a bookcase of what looked like first editions and the walls were soft red.

Harry's desk, oaken and polished, was meticulously sorted – much like the rest of him – with a neat stack of papers to one side and a laptop open at the centre and pens lined up perfectly next to each other.

Eggsy wasn't sure how anal a person could actually be but assumed Harry was up there with the very best.

"Do take a seat." Harry said in an emotionless voice, gesturing to the fabric-lined wooden seat on the other side of his desk.

Eggsy walked forwards quickly, setting down his work folder on the corner of the desk and sliding the latte across the surface towards Harry.

"I got you a coffee." He said sheepishly.

Eggsy watched the shock blossom across Harry Hart's face and it must have been the most open expression he'd ever given him. Eggsy was again met with the gentle brown eyes he'd seen on his first day before his eyebrows lurched downwards in confusion.

"Thank you." He said after a moment before opening his suit jacket and sitting down in his own chair.

Eggsy kept his eyes on him as he opened his laptop and began to type. After a few moments, it became clear that Harry wasn't going to say anything any time soon.

What was Eggsy supposed to do? Just sit there for two weeks when he could be doing his own job?

"So what do editors do?" He asked.

Harry looked up at him from over the top of his laptop before he closed it half-way and made a steeple of his fingers, regarding him with his usual cold expression.

"Essentially, we procure and read manuscripts, generally within our subject area, and decide what should and shouldn't be in the book, what makes it flow and what will make it appeal to the chosen audience." He said professionally.

Eggsy found himself nodding.

"So, you, like, read and edit the whole book? Every word?"

"Sometimes." Harry said.

"That sounds like a lot of work," Eggsy expressed, raising his eyebrows in shock, "is that why you have two editors?"

Eggsy was taken aback when Harry laughed suddenly; cruelly.

"Hardly," he said in the same tone, "it's very rare the esteemed boss of Hesketh Publishing does any actual editing."

Eggsy fought hard to keep his grimace to himself. It wasn't very professional to slag off the boss to the new guy, especially when the boss was Charlie. All Eggsy had seen from the editor was that he was kind and sweet and surprisingly flirty.

Of course he knew what it was.

Jealousy.

Harry was only the assistant editor, he probably had one of those complexes where everything Charlie did annoyed him simply because he was in a better position.

"Charlie's a nice guy." He found himself saying.

Harry rolled his eyes before he re-opened his laptop and peered down at it. And it was a good job that he did because he didn't see the hard press of Eggsy's lips or the way his jaw set in place.

Harry Hart wasn't just fucking cold, he was insufferable.

Eggsy had resolved that one minor blip shouldn't ruin an entire working relationship. He'd only really been working there for a week so whatever beef Harry had with Charlie could have been perfectly well-founded for all he knew, he decided that he would simply not bring up the boss within earshot of the assistant editor and hoped everything would be smooth sailing from there on out.

Which it was, essentially, it seemed that the Hesketh Publishing family had highly underestimated their ability and the final draft of 'a day in the life of' was progressing much faster than anyone had thought it would.

This was down to the staff throughout the building working harder and longer than they ever had, but Eggsy admired the way everyone seemed to take it within their stride.

But it did mean, however, that people were frantically running around trying to get things done and, crucially, not where they usually would be.

So when Eggsy found himself struggling with the font design of the revised dust cover and tried to find Merlin to ask for his advice, the motherly Scotsman was no where to be found.

Eggsy sat down in Merlin's chair and dumped the designs he'd gotten from the art department in front of him, hoping a different angle would give him a better idea.

He'd decided that the title of the book should be written entirely in lower case for added poignancy and was happy with the decision but as a result, it meant that the title didn't have a definitive area on the page and Eggsy couldn't think of a way to place it without obscuring the image of the diary-wielding man.

He looked up when a knock sounded from Merlin's ajar door and saw Harry stood there, holding a stack of papers in his hand.

"Oh," he said, sounding flustered and stepping back slightly, "I...where is Merlin?"

Eggsy shrugged, too preoccupied with his cover problem to deal with Harry's shit right now.

"Dunno." He said, not looking up again. "Can't find him."

Harry walked slowly into the office and placed the stack of papers gently down on the desk.

"Will you give these to him when you see him next? They're the revised blurbs, and tell him to get back to me?"

Eggsy nodded absent-mindedly, maybe if he talked to Maggie in the art department and have her move...

"Is something troubling you?"

Eggsy looked up suddenly to see Harry still stood there, peering quizzically at him from the other end of the desk.

His eyes were wavering as if he knew he was making a terrible decision about something but he kept them fixed on Eggsy.

Eggsy sighed as he pushed the prints across to Harry.

"I just can't figure out what to do with the title," he explained, "long titles are hard to place, it's a bit trivial compared to the new blurbs."

"Advertisement isn't my area of expertise," Harry voiced a little uselessly as he stared intently down at the prints of the cover beneath him, moving them closer to himself with the tips of his fingers. "But...why don't you drastically reduce the size of the font and stick it in the top left hand corner, and if you add an ellipses to the end it leads in down to the cover art. That way you can place the authors' name at the bottom, which is traditional."

Eggsy hopped out of Merlin's chair and circled the desk, sidling up to Harry to look at the prints.

Harry seemed to shift slightly but remained where he stood. He circled his hand around the top left part of the cover art, the only part not inhabited by anything.

"Around here, should stop it being overcrowded and it won't ruin the poignancy of the lower case italics."

Eggsy stared unblinkingly at him for a few moments before he turned his head back slowly to the print.

"That's a really good idea." He said when he finally found his voice. "Thanks."

"Well, yes, as I say, I'm no advertiser but I've known Merlin for several years and, yes..." Harry blurted out, suddenly flustered again before he shot out of the door.

Eggsy watched him leave with a satisfied smirk on his face. Harry had actually just been nice to him, within his capacity and in a cold, professional kind of way.

He was breaking him down.

Eggsy rolled his eyes at the post-it he found stuck to his computer that morning.

'email revised blurbs to boss, revised cover art to mags, launch venue info to merlin

Harry'

Not even a thanks, Eggsy thought to himself as he ripped the post-it from his monitor and crumpled it on his desk.

As he waited for his log in to load on the unusually slow server, he let his chin rest against his palm and recalled the good old days of being an advertiser rather than the assistant editor's lapdog.

He supposed he couldn't really blame Harry, the launch had been brought forward by an entire fortnight and they had to speed-track the editing process, but surely if both Harry and Charlie were working on the whole thing then at least one of them could find time to send a few emails?

He continued to dwell on the thought as he logged into his company email and attached the revised blurbs to Charlie's email, the revised cover art to Word, the publishing magazine they were subscribed to and quickly typed in the name of the launch venue and the confirmed 6th date to Merlin.

"Eggsy, they need you down in photography, apparently there's been some problems with the company newsletter." Sheila, the receptionist, said, sticking her head through the door of the advertising department.

Eggsy wanted to ask exactly why he had to sort out the company news letter when he was far to busy sending out emails for everyone when he realised that probably wasn't the best quip to make to a receptionist.

Instead, he nodded at her and smiled before clicking out of his inbox and exiting the office space, leaving the crumpled post-it note lying on his desk.

When he came back over half an hour later, after explaining diligently to a group of 30-something's that using a picture of puke-coloured stroganoff from their last charity dinner probably wasn't the best way to invoke interested parties, he found Harry Hart leaning against his desk, ankles crossed and fiddling with the crumpled up post-it note Eggsy had abandoned.

"Hello." Eggsy said quietly as he approached. "Sorry, did you need something? I was down in photography."

Harry uncrossed his legs and righted himself before facing Eggsy and Eggsy couldn't help but feel like he was suddenly in trouble about something.

He guessed the churning feeling in his stomach was the same feeling kids felt when their strict dad's reprimanded them.

"Is something wrong?" He asked carefully, eyes wavering.

"I would like to know why Word have our revised blurbs and Merlin has the revised cover art that he sent to me in the first place?" Harry asked, head cocked to the side and voice hard.

"Err..." Eggsy began, feeling his blood run cold in his veins. "I...I sent them...I'm sure..." In his head, Eggsy saw the three separate tabs open with the three separate email addresses and closed his eyes as he realised his cock-up.

"Shit," he said, louder than he had intended to, "shit, sorry, Harry, I messed up, I didn't even realise..."

"Well, maybe it would suit you to take more care in the future." Harry replied callously.

Eggsy felt his back go up at the comment, he'd made a mistake, sure, but Jesus, it was his second week.

"Look, I'm sorry," he said stiffly, unconsciously standing a little straighter. "I'll resend the emails..."

"It still damages the integrity of the company," Harry interrupted, jaw set in a hard line. "Take more care in future." Was all he said before he walked passed Eggsy and left the room.

Eggsy stared at the spot he'd been standing in for a long moment, quietly urging himself not to punch something as he felt the anger twisting in his stomach.

He actually felt his fingers shake as he brought his pen to his diary that night.

Dear diary

fine, fine, fine.

If Harry Hart wants to be a dick then he can go ahead and be a dick.

I'm done.

Done trying to impress that fucker.

Fuck him.

Fuck him.

He went to put the pen down before another thought materialised itself and he quickly scribbled -

like I need to impress him anyway

Chapter Text

Eggsy felt inexplicably happier when he shrugged out of his coat the next morning and knocked on the door of Merlin's office.

"Good morning, Eggsy." Merlin greeted once he'd bade him entrance, he was stood at the far end of his office, peering into a filing cabinet.

"Good morning." Eggsy replied happily.

Merlin extracted the slim folder he'd apparently been looking for before he turned to Eggsy with a raised eyebrow.

"You seem chirpy today." He observed, and Eggsy merely shrugged in reply.

"I was wonderin' what you wanted me to do today?" He asked. "Any last minute stuff?"

"Err..." Merlin began, looking around his office hurriedly before opening his laptop.

Eggsy felt his heart go out to the man at the work load impressed upon him at such a time. He'd taken a shine to Merlin, much like everyone else in the agency. Merlin had looked after him and helped him settle in more than anyone else and Eggsy knew he'd always be grateful for it and always on hand to lend Merlin his whenever he needed it.

"Um, I'm not sure. Just let me run this down to Harry and then I'll check out my schedule."

"I'll do it." Eggsy said, holding out his hand. "Is he in his office?"

"Should be." Merlin said gratefully, handing the slim file to Eggsy. "Thanks, Eggsy."

"No worries." Eggsy smiled before exiting the office.

He smiled slyly to himself as he walked through the editing department, waving at Charlie as he passed him, he knew he was being very passive-aggressive about the assistant editor but he'd always firmly believed that sticking pins into voodoo dolls was better than sticking knifes into people.

Easier to explain away, too.

He walked the now familiar route to the assistant editor's office and knocked quickly on the door.

"Come in." Harry called from behind the door and Eggsy opened it to see the man leant against his desk, suit jacket discarded on his chair to reveal a crisp dress shirt and braces, looking worried as he spoke quietly into his phone.

Eggsy stopped before he walked in as he registered the look of concern on his co-workers face and wondered, momentarily, if something was wrong.

When Harry looked up at him, however, and shifted slightly against his desk, Eggsy felt all the sympathy drain from him and remembered all the slights committed against him.

"I've got to go," Harry said hurriedly into the phone, "no, something has come up. I'll speak to you later, bye."

He put the phone down and stood straight, eyes trained on the young advertising assistant.

Eggsy had meant to be in and out but cursed himself as he felt his natural-born curiosity get the better of him and found himself saying, "is everything okay?"

Harry nodded immediately, stiffly, before crossing his arms. "Everything is fine." He said. "Busy, just busy. Can I help you?"

Eggsy blinked a couple of times at the blunt interrogative and thrust the slim folder unceremoniously into his face.

"These are for you." He said coldly.

Harry apprehended him with a weary look before he slowly took the folder from him.

"W...what are they?"

"From Merlin," Eggsy said curtly, "he didn't say what. Goodbye."

And with that, he turned on his heel and stalked out of Harry's office. The rules of payback forbade him from glancing behind himself to gage Harry's reaction but he liked to think the man was staring, shocked, at his retreating back.

Eggsy clattered around the kitchen in his flat, desperate to find his keys and keeping a conscious eye on the time.

Today was the day of the launch, some swanky do in the foyer of the Hilton hotel, Eggsy had been informed.

He'd scowled loudly when he'd been informed by Merlin that he had to attend.

He hadn't understood why, at the time, because he was merely the advertising assistant and, as Merlin himself had once commented, people cared more about the editors than the advertisers.

Merlin had merely flashed him a grimace and mumbled something about 'Charlie wants you to be there.'

Eggsy had beamed at that, regardless of his decision to quash his crush on his perfect boss, and had found himself graciously agreeing to attend.

But now he was stood in a navy blue suit with the first few buttons of his dress shirt undone, searching frantically for the keys that had decided to fuck off and realising, far too late, that he had no idea how to behave around a bunch of hoity-toity editors and literary critics.

'so what do you do?'

'ah you see I'm the genius who put the font in the top left hand corner of the page...'

He rolled his eyes heavily to himself and let out a satisfied hiss as he found his keys hiding under the kitchen table.

"You can do this," he told himself quietly as he walked into the Hilton hotel, "you're the same as everyone else in there."

The foyer walls were painted a rich, deep purple that were swathed in semi-darkness. A series of chandeliers hung from the ceiling in a perfect row, the glass drops sparkling like diamonds or stars and glittering down on the people below.

The entire scene reminded Eggsy of one of the princess films his sister was so entertained by, he momentarily wondered if everything would turn to burberry and cheap vodka when the clock struck midnight.

All around Eggsy stood people of varying ages mingling with each other in floor length dresses and bespoke suits.

He gulped as he realised that a book launch was a pretty formal event, especially for a publishing agency as esteemed as Hesketh.

He felt the familiar waves of anxiety roll through his stomach and fought them down as he tried to calm his breathing. He was definitely not on the council estate anymore.

He felt weirdly alone within the sea of people and found himself looking around frantically for anyone he knew.

Roxy had mentioned in passing that she would be attending, telling him that she loved posh launches, but he couldn't seem to identify her in the crowd.

He spied a waiter walking past with a tray of champagne flutes and snagged one. He was unsure if they were meant for anyone or simply there for everyone to take but he didn't particularly care.

It was only reasonable to accept that some things in life could only be sorted with alcohol.

He walked through the crowd, sipping at the bubbly liquid and having to side-step to avoid a few 50-something's that had started the party a little too early.

He got a few curt nods and professional smiles from people, mainly women, as he passed and tried his best to smile at ease in response.

He finally noticed Roxy leaning against a buffet table. She was dressed in a black satin evening gown and her hair was down and softly curled around her collarbone.

She truly was beautiful, even Eggsy had to admit that, and she seemed to be effortlessly elegant; much like the man stood next to her.

He stopped walking as he noticed that Roxy was talking to Harry Hart. That evening, the man was dressed in a black, tailored suit with a thin tie tucked into his jacket, he looked bloody run-way ready despite the fact he wore fine suits every day.

Eggsy couldn't figure out why the man was looking particularly gorgeous that evening until he noticed the softness in his expression and the gentle curl of his lips as he spoke to the research assistant.

Eggsy felt his heart sink and settle somewhere near his gut as it was truly confirmed for him that Harry Hart wasn't simply a cold bastard who hated everyone – it was just him.

Something about Eggsy made the man limp as a fish and there was no denying it.

Eggsy reasoned with himself that it could have been a multitude of reasons that didn't necessarily pertain to his personality. Hell, Harry was fairly snobbish, it could have been a class thing that Eggsy had absolutely no control over.

Still, it still made him feel pretty shitty and he had enough people in his life to do that for him already.

Even as he reminded himself that he'd recently decided that he no longer wished to garner the man's affection, he couldn't help feeling glum at the knock to his already fragile ego as he walked over to the pair of them.

"Hey, Rox." He said cheerily, holding out his free hand and accepting her into a side hug when she spotted him. "You look amazin'."

"Oh, thank you." She said in a high pitched voice, grinning, "so do you. All dressed up."

Eggsy thanked her for the compliment while making a pointed effort to ignore the bespectacled man stood next to them, effectively giving him a taste of his own sour medicine.

"So, how's your first launch party?" Roxy asked.

Eggsy shrugged. "I dunno, bit swanky."

"I know," Roxy said gleefully, "don't you just love it?"

Eggsy shook his head before he craned his neck to look around them.

"Have you seen Charlie?" He asked hopefully, leaning into the research assistant.

"Over there," Roxy nodded, "he's about to launch it."

Eggsy looked in the direction she had gestured to and saw Charlie and a young woman step up behind a microphone on a slightly elevated section of floor he hadn't immediately noticed on his way in.

Despite the fact that Eggsy thought his boss looked hot most days; this evening he looked particularly dashing in a dark suit with his hair combed back and a few errant strands falling rebelliously into his eyes.

Eggsy found himself smiling when he turned the microphone on and asked for all their attentions.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he began, smiling at no one in particular. "I'd like to welcome all of you to the, unfortunately belated, launch of 'a day in the life of'," there was a small smattering of applause that Eggsy joined in on, "detailing the real life events of one soldiers' daring participation in one of the most famous battles of the first world war, this true account not only means a lot to this nation, but a lot to me as well."

Eggsy heard an unexpected snort come from beside him and turned instinctively to see Harry staring, with a raised eyebrow, in the direction of his boss.

The young man felt oddly comforted as he realised he had a strange ally in Charlie when it came to Harry Hart's disapproval.

He'd been so preoccupied with the workings of his co-workers' sinuses that he missed the end of Charlie's speech and came in with him introducing Maria Sharsberry, the great-granddaughter that had discovered and complied the letters.

Charlie left the small incline that served as a stage as she spoke and weaved his way through the crowd towards them.

"Hey guys," he greeted, fishing a glass of champagne from the table and taking a long swig.

"Good speech," Roxy commented.

"Really good speech." Eggsy clarified.

Harry remained silent.

"Thank you, Eggsy," Charlie said sincerely, smiling at him in a way that made his stomach flip. "I really want to take this moment to thank all three of you for all of the hard work you've put into this launch. It's all you."

Eggsy flushed deep red at the praise and Roxy smiled hugely, he barely even noticed the assistant editor walking away without a word.

"Oh, excuse me, I must visit the ladies." Roxy said suddenly, veering off in the other direction. "Need to pee." She whispered in Eggsy's ear and he fought to conceal the smirk that spread across his face.

Unfortunately for him, however, that meant he was left stood alone with his boss. Which, normally he wouldn't have minded, but tonight Charlie looked fantastic and the room was swathed in low light and the pair of them had both had at least one glass of champagne.

So when Charlie leant in dangerously close to Eggsy, he found himself bristling slightly.

"Did I get the chance to tell you how hot you look tonight?" He whispered against Eggsy's ear.

Eggsy blinked rapidly for a few seconds, unsure if he had really heard what he thought he'd heard, before lurching backwards and seeing Charlie grinning coyly at him.

"How about we ditch this place and you let me buy you a drink?" Charlie asked.

Eggsy felt an unexplainable wave of pleasure wash over him mixed with a feeling of uneasiness in his stomach because he couldn't believe that this was actually happening, that his perfect boss was actually interested in him.

"Okay." He smiled.

Eggsy smiled gratefully at the glass of wine placed in front of him but was internally wrinkling his nose at it.

What most people called wine he called heart burn juice but was far too taken with actually being bought an expensive drink in an expensive bar by one of the most attractive men he'd ever seen.

"I had no idea that you..." Eggsy began, faltering as he tried to figure out how to word his next sentence. "That you liked...guys."

"Deceptively straight," Charlie winked and Eggsy found himself relaxing.

He brought the glass of red wine to his lips and took a sip. He fought off the grimace as the foul liquid burned its way down his throat and longed for more of the champagne from the launch or a nice cool lager, but he merely smiled in Charlie's direction as the man apprehended him.

"I knew about you on your first day," Charlie began in a husky voice, leaning closer to him across the table. "The way you looked at me..."

Eggsy felt himself blush the same colour as the rouge liquid in his glass and instinctively turned away out of embarrassment.

"Hey, don't be embarrassed." Charlie said with a tinkling laugh, "it does wonders for a man's ego."

Eggsy swallowed but nodded, certain that the heat in his cheeks could be picked up by satellites.

"So..." He began, racking his brains for something intelligent to say, "great about the launch goin' so well, and gettin' the publication space this time..."

"Yeah, thank fuck that one is out of the window." Charlie smiled. "That bloody book has been driving me mad for six months."

Eggsy raised an eyebrow.

"Are you sayin' you don't really care about the impact this novel has made on your life?" He asked, mock-accusingly.

"I couldn't give a fuck." Charlie replied simply, taking a sip of his own glass.

And Eggsy was laughing, loudly, and greeted with a sense of relief that he didn't have to pretend to be posh or pretentious, that Charlie might just like him the way he was.

When the pair left the bar, a few drinks south of what Eggsy considered safe, Charlie slid his arm around Eggsy's waist and Eggsy's eyes popped but he didn't attempt to move away, secretly enjoying the warm appendage cupping him as it did.

"Do you want to come back to mine?" Charlie breathed against his ear. His breath smelled like expensive wine and tickled Eggsy's neck, he shivered as he realised he hadn't felt this turned on in a long while.

Suddenly, Charlie's arm around him was one of the most intensely erotic things he'd ever experienced.

"I shouldn't." Eggsy finally said.

"Something stopping you?" Charlie asked.

He was impossibly close, the line of his body was nearly pressed against Eggsy and his presence was just as intoxicating as all of the alcohol Eggsy had consumed that night.

"I don't want to screw up everything at the office." Eggsy admitted sheepishly albeit honestly.

Charlie apprehended him with what Eggsy could only describe as a fond smile before he leant so close that their lips were ghosting against each other.

"You forget," Charlie whispered against his skin, "that I'm the boss."

Eggsy's booze-addled brain boggled and all sense left him as he pressed forward and captured his boss' lips with his own.

The kiss was brutal and bordering on aggressive and bloody fucking perfect. Eggsy sighed loudly as his senses became overwhelmed by the smell, touch, taste of everything he'd been thirsting after for the last few weeks.

Charlie chuckled downright dirtily as he called for a cab.

In the back seat on the way to Charlie's apartment, Eggsy worked to rid the man of his clothes whilst keeping his mouth attached to his lips, cheek, neck, anywhere he could get access and Charlie reciprocated just as hungrily until the pair stumbled into his apartment, both flush-faced and breathing heavily.

Eggsy was so fucking horny that when Charlie pushed him onto the bed he swivelled his leg round and straddled the editor's waist, grinding his ass down onto the hardening member he could feel there.

Charlie gasped loudly as he pulled Eggsy roughly down by the collar into another bruising kiss.

Eggsy felt an inappropriate laugh bubble its way out of his throat as he was met with the sheer exhilaration and joy at what was happening.

"I'll wipe that smirk off your face." Charlie growled, grasping Eggsy's hips tightly and dragging the younger man down onto the bed.

Eggsy happily let him.

The first thing Eggsy noticed when he awoke the next morning was an uncomfortable pain.

He stretched languidly and looked under the covers to find the source of the discomfort and grinned to himself when he saw the aggressive purpling bruise on his hip.

He sat up slowly, stretching his arms above his head and scowling at the sticky mess on his stomach.

He looked around the room, Charlie's bedroom, but couldn't find the man anywhere.

He got out of bed, not bothering to put anything on in the hopes that he could tempt his boss into round two before work.

What he instead found was orange juice on the side and a note attached to the fridge that read -

morning sexy,

called into office early

fantastic night xxx

Eggsy grinned to himself and picked up the glass of orange juice gingerly. He was oddly touched at such a simple gesture of affection and leant against the counter as he took a gulp.

He shivered as the naked skin of his back came into contact with the cold edge of the kitchen counter and looked down again to see the discoloured bruise at his side, noticing a few other mottled patches surrounding it.

It had turned out, rather surprisingly, that the sweet and caring Charlie Hesketh had been a complete beast in bed.

Eggsy let out an involuntary giggle as the enormity of what had happened the previous night presented itself to him.

Part of him could barely believe he'd spent the night with his boss and yet another part of him felt on top of the world.

He took another swig of juice as he realised that everything was coming up roses.

Chapter Text

Eggsy prayed that the light in the Hilton foyer had been so low the previous evening that no one would notice that he was wearing the same shirt and the same suit trousers he had been then.

When he'd checked the time at Charlie's he realised he didn't have time to go all the way back to his flat on the council estate at the outskirts of the city to change so he'd resolved to try and find a place that was more central and had discarded the navy blue suit jacket and untucked his shirt in the hopes that it looked casual enough to pass for every-day.

There was no way in hell Eggsy wanted anyone to find out about what had happened, particularly not the day after.

He knew how it would be misconstrued. Everyone would assume that he and Charlie had shared a drunken hook-up and that he was some easy slutty intern who'd shagged the boss, and that was certainly not a reputation he wanted for himself.

So when he entered the office he consciously kept his eyes low and headed straight for the break room for some much needed coffee.

"Hey, Eggsy," Eggsy looked up to see a man he repeatedly forgot the name of stood in front of him, "just wanted to congratulate you on the book thing. Was really impressive for your first go, Charlie was saying."

Eggsy felt himself blush furiously and feel highly embarrassed at the same time.

"Thanks." He said gratefully, instinctively looking up and seeing Charlie wandering around his glass office and holding a phone to his ear.

Charlie caught him staring and gave him a wink that was so sexy it should have been illegal.

Eggsy looked away immediately and again smiled way too happily at the forgettable man in front of him.

"Thanks again, means a lot." He said quickly before turning on his heel and barrelling for the break room.

Once he got inside of the, thankfully empty, room he rested against the door and let his head fall against it.

He closed his eyes and let out a shaky laugh, internally berating himself for acting like he was sixteen again rather than twenty-two.

But he felt indescribably dirty at having the man who had made him see stars the previous night winking at him all innocently where anyone could see and not have the faintest clue what it meant.

It made him want to run and hide but at the same time ravage the man on his desk in his glass office where anyone could see.

He giggled involuntarily at himself as he reminded himself that he was a fully functioning adult and needed to act as such.

So, taking a deep breath, he pushed himself from the door and walked to the far side of the room where the foul coffee machine lived.

Eggsy froze on the spot and let out a startled shriek as he spotted a huge, disgusting, hairy, black house spider perched obnoxiously on one of the blue couch cushions.

He barely registered the embarrassment at making such a noise as he felt a cold chill run down his spine and found he couldn't move from the spot where he was stood, eyes fixated on the eight-legged invader.

Eggsy jumped in shock as the break room door was flung open and Harry Hart burst inside. He wore an expression of concern that quickly turned to confusion as he saw Eggsy stood, solitary, in the middle of the room staring back at him.

"Eggsy?" He asked. "Did...did you shout?"

Eggsy nodded and slowly pointed to the couch, turning back and wincing as he noticed the spider had moved considerably closer to him.

Harry walked across the room and froze when he saw the house spider Eggsy was pointing at.

Harry looked at the spider, then at Eggsy, and then back to the spider, then back to Eggsy before he let out a short, mocking laugh.

"This...you shouted because of the spider?" He asked, eyebrow raised.

Eggsy didn't offer any kind of reply and jerked back when Harry leant forward and gathered the unwelcome arachnid into his bare palm before walking to the window and throwing it outside.

"There, all gone." Harry said, walking back to Eggsy and showing him his hands.

Despite the obvious teasing, Eggsy felt himself relaxing but his heart rate was up and his breathing was coming out in short bursts.

Harry's expression faltered as he apprehended him. "Eggsy...you're shaking."

"C...can't stand those things." Eggsy breathed out, clapping a hand to his chest and steadying his breathing.

The pair stood there for a moment, Harry simply staring at him until his face went lax and he opened his mouth as if to say something but Eggsy was out of the door before he had a chance.

Dear diary

fucking hell, mortified, shit shit shit

giant huge gross spider of satan in break room, fucking arachnophobia attacks and who breaks down the door to save me? My awesome supervisor? My good friend Roxy? My gorgeous and hopefully new boyfriend boss? No, Harry sodding Hart.

Fucker laughs at me for being scared and PICKED UP THE SPIDER, IT WAS THE SIZE OF SATURN AND HE JUST PICKED IT UP AND THREW IT AWAY JESUS.

Anyway, spider-incident aside, news:

went home w/ Charlie last night. Know in head it was bad move, not good to screw the boss in the best (only) job you've ever had but feel good about it, better than have felt in a long time + launch and first project went well so good times

will go and see mum and sis tomorrow

Eggsy scaled the small, crumbling wall and stuffed his hands into his pockets as he walked through the deserted estate.

He made quick work of jogging up the steps and walking through the front door of his mother's flat.

He poked his head into the cluttered living room and frowned when he saw it deserted, he stepped into the kitchen but a quick survey of the small room told him that no one was in there.

"Mum?" He called out, arching an eyebrow. "You in?"

"In the bathroom." His mother's voice called back to him. "Come in!"

Eggsy hesitated for a moment, unsure as to why his mother was inviting him into the bathroom while she was using it, but the logical part of his brain told him that she obviously wasn't sat on the loo if she'd told him to come in.

He opened the bathroom door to see his mother knelt beside the bath with his little sister splashing around happily inside.

He smiled hugely when she squealed and flapped her pudgy arms at the sight of him. Michelle turned to him and smiled, a dollop of bubble bath on her cheek.

"Heya," he greeted, giving her a quick peck on the clean side of her face before he sank to his knees in front of the bath tub.

"Hello Daisy Baisy," he cooed, reaching a hand out and tickling her cheek. She let out a happy laugh and flicked her hand out, wiping bubbles on the tip of his nose.

"Now why would you do that?" Eggsy asked, voice high, "now why would you do that? Why would you do that, eh? Wouldn't like it if I did it to you..." With that, he scooped a handful of bubbles into his palm and splatted the lot onto her wet head.

She squealed loudly and attempted to bat off the invading bubbles by stroking her head and Eggsy grinned loudly as he watched her do it.

"You okay?" Michelle asked, nudging him.

"Yeah, I'm good. You?" He asked, turning to her with his smile fixed firmly in place.

Michelle laughed by way of response as she reached a hand out and wiped the bubbles from his nose, leaving the appendage feeling suddenly wet and cold.

"Come on, little one, time for you to get out." Michelle said, standing before she picked up a big fluffy white towel and heaved Daisy from the bathtub and attempted to swaddle her in it before she got too wet.

Eggsy made coffee whilst his mother dried and dressed his little sister and when he walked into the front room, the now sparkling clean baby waddled over to him and grasped him around the leg.

"Woah, woah, woah, Daisy, let me go. Let me go, sweetheart." Eggsy said quickly, moving the cups of coffee carefully to his side so if the liquid did spill it would at least hit the carpet and not her.

"Come on, babe." Michelle said, walking across the room and wrestling the little tyke from her son's leg and sitting back down on the couch.

Eggsy cleared some room on the coffee table with his elbow and set the cups down, sighing loudly as he allowed himself to sink onto the couch next to his mum and sister.

"You look tired." Michelle commented and, despite everything, Eggsy found himself smiling at her but he knew he could never tell her exactly why he was losing so much sleep lately.

"What?" She asked accusingly, raising an eyebrow and Eggsy shook his head but continued to grin, he couldn't help himself.

"What's got you so happy?" She demanded. "Go on."

"Alright," he said, shifting slightly as he felt his stomach do flips inside of him. "I've got a boyfriend."

Michelle's face lit up immediately.

"Oh, really? Who is it?"

Eggsy felt his cheeks hot up and decided that perhaps he shouldn't let on that he was shagging his boss so he merely replied, "someone I work with."

Michelle pursed her lips together as she smiled.

"Do you like him?"

Eggsy shrugged non-committally as he looked away. "He's alright, I guess."

"Ooh, when do I get to...?"

Michelle's question was cut off by the sound of the front door opening and Dean walking into the front room, followed by one of his lackeys, a sour-faced man named 'Poodle'.

"Shift up a bit, yeah?" Dean instructed, heading straight for the couch.

Michelle stood instantly, taking Daisy with her and settling down in the armchair next to the sofa and Eggsy sighed internally as he stood and crossed the room.

He watched from his standing point as Dean and Poodle occupied the sofa and sent a raised-eyebrow look to his mother as he crossed his arms.

She sent a pleading look back and he rolled his eyes before he perched on the armrest of the armchair, realising with a sinking feeling that all catch-up with his family had deceased now that the cavalry had arrived.

He stuck his hand in his mouth and began to bite absent-mindedly at his fingernails as he watched his step-father turn the television on and flick to some ungodly daytime telly programme that by all rights shouldn't have been allowed to air.

It was some form of property hunting programme where a well-dressed man or woman would show rich people country villas in foreign countries that people like Eggsy could never even dream to afford.

He watched as the brightly coloured and garish font swept across the screen and thought that, had he been in charge, he would have drastically downscaled the volume of the introduction, because people favoured simplicity and elegance over bright and irritating and that way they would...

"Eggsy, don't bite your fingernails." Michelle admonished suddenly, hitting his leg lightly.

Eggsy blinked a few times before he lowered his hand and grinned as he realised he was unconsciously working even on his weekends.

"What are you smirking about?" Dean asked suddenly, apprehending him from across the room.

Eggsy let the smile drop immediately and had intended not to respond, lest his step-father find some way to find fault in whatever lie he came up with, but his mother spoke instead.

"Eggsy's got a new bloke, Dean." She said, as if it were the most interesting thing in the world.

Poodle snorted loudly, unattractively, and Eggsy's eyes hit the floor and his stomach twisted painfully in his stomach.

Dean shook his head and looked away. "Fucking disgusting." He said quietly.

Michelle quickly berated the man for swearing in front of Daisy and, despite Eggsy's devotion and care towards his little sister, he found himself hurt that his mother had jumped to his sister's defence rather than his.

Anything to escape a fight with Dean, even if it meant compromising Eggsy's very existence.

Eggsy shook his head and stood quickly.

"Mum, I'm gonna go." He said dejectedly, leaning down and giving her and his sister a quick kiss.

His mother looked suddenly disappointed but all Eggsy wanted to do was get out of the suddenly suffocating flat immediately.

"Oh, okay. See you soon, though? We can have a proper catch up?"

Eggsy merely nodded before he stood and walked from the living room. He pulled the front door shut tightly before he made his way slowly down the steps.

Part of him had wanted to start a fight with Dean back there, to challenge his homophobic views and justify his rights but the logical side of his brain had won him over.

Not only would it create tension with his mother that would result in a massive fall out that would twistedly end up with him apologising, but Eggsy shied away at the prospect of getting into a physical fight with the man in a confined space when he had his lapdog and Eggsy was alone.

So instead he hung his head as he zipped his jacket up against the cold and walked, like so many times before, away.

The doorman let Eggsy in with a weary look and Eggsy held back the sneer he wanted to send in his pompous-ass direction as he trudged his way to the lift and walked inside next to a man and a woman dressed in formal wear and regarding him suspiciously.

Eggsy didn't think he could make himself appear prim and proper even if he tried, and he didn't particularly want to.

A lifetime of being snubbed by people who thought they were better than you rather gave you a chip on the shoulder about the whole thing. Why would Eggsy want to elevate to the class that had stopped him going to a nice school or having a comfortable upbringing?

He was quite comfortable in his little middle-ground at the moment, he realised he worked in a relatively posh place but he tried to subdue his accent and his attire just enough that he didn't stand out.

He smiled softly to himself as he realised he'd stopped worrying about Dean's inappropriate homophobic comment and began worrying about marxism before he knocked on the door of Charlie's flat.

The door was opened almost immediately and a very puffed-out editor appeared there, face beaded with sweat and eyes wide when he saw Eggsy stood there.

"Are you alright?" Eggsy asked, taken aback. "You look like you've been attacked."

Charlie's clouded expression lifted and he laughed, it was a gentle, comforting sound that assured Eggsy that nothing was wrong.

"I was working out," Charlie informed him, lifting his shirt up to mop at his brow and allowing the advertising assistant a completely intentional glimpse of his abdominal muscles.

Eggsy shook his head as Charlie stood aside and bade him entrance.

"Is everything okay?" Charlie asked as he shut the door behind him and followed him into the room. "You seem a little sullen."

"Yeah, my..." Eggsy swivelled around to tell his boss all about Dean and everything he'd ever said and done to disgrace his sexuality when he saw Charlie stood there, staring intently at him with a sheen of sweat over his face and dampening his chestnut hair and realised there were a million other things he wanted to do to him in that moment than talk.

"Just wanted to see a friendly face." He concluded, smiling slightly. "I think your doorman thinks I'm casing this place to rob."

"Well, it wouldn't be all that smart to come up in the lift then, would it?" Charlie pointed out, sauntering over to him. "I thought I employed far better staff than that."

Eggsy found himself grinning profusely as Charlie placed a hand on his neck, his fingers tickling the nape, before he pulled him down into a bruising kiss and Eggsy effectively forgot all of his worries about his step-father, he seemed to forget everything.

The next few months brought nothing but good will and good fortune to Eggsy Unwin.

His first real accomplishment, as he saw it, was bagging a nice, cosy flat nearer to central London and, crucially, nearer to work.

Obviously it had some flaws. For a start it made his commute to visit his mother and sister a little longer and a little more expensive and it wasn't exactly a luxurious apartment but it was his.

He'd finally moved off of a council estate for the first time in his life and a bubble of pride seemed to settle inside his stomach and stay there.

He and Roxy had spent one glorious weekend shopping around central London for curtains and bedspreads and crockery and ridiculous wall features and when Eggsy stood back to admire the little placard in his kitchen that read 'The home that hope built,' he couldn't help but feel that that was exactly what this place was.

Home.

His career only seemed to be on the up, as well. After the successful launch of 'a day in the life of', he'd been entrusted with far more responsibility.

They'd taken on a new manuscript, an up-and-coming crime thriller that Eggsy had sheepishly admitted to Merlin he'd enjoyed reading immensely more than their previous historical tome.

Merlin had merely laughed at such a comment and Eggsy hadn't felt so bad anymore.

He and Roxy had become pretty firm friends pretty fast. Eggsy secretly believed that the woman delighted in having a male around the office that didn't constantly hit on her or stare at her chest the moment she took her jacket off and Eggsy liked to think that it wasn't just a gay thing, either – he reckoned he'd treat her with as much respect no matter what sexual orientation he was.

His relationship with Charlie had continued quite steadily. It wasn't exactly what he'd call a relationship, more of a fling, mainly because no one else in the entire world knew that it existed.

But Eggsy was happy enough to take things slowly and to have a bit of fun, he wasn't really looking for anything, anyway.

The young advertising assistant had begun to become suspicious of his new-found jamminess when his apprenticeship came to an end a few months after it had begun and Charlie had immediately offered him a full-time position as the advertising assistant, accompanied with a company parking space and a rather significant pay rise.

Eggsy had graciously accepted, naturally, but more because he loved his job rather than the money.

But it had to be said that earning more than you spent on necessities certainly had its upsides and when he left the publishing house to walk home that evening he'd been slightly afraid a falling piano would crush him at any moment.

 

...

 

Dear diary

Charlie has offered me job as permanent ad. assistant. Cannot believe it, am so bloody happy, life has never been better.

Obvs odd family blips now and then and still family in bad place but will all sort itself out

besides, family and job and relationship cant be great at same time, not enough luck in world haha

although have felt a little lonely lately, is that weird because have more friends than ever before + am seeing someone?

Eggsy paused, pen poised over the page in his diary as he realised he'd written the last sentence down before his brain could really process what he meant by it.

He did feel kind of lonely lately, that much was true. But by all accounts, and by the laws of nature, he shouldn't have been.

He'd made friends and was even in a semi-relationship – fling – with the perfect man. What was he missing?

Eggsy looked around the small albeit empty flat he was sat in and realised that what he really craved was intimacy, the kind of intimacy you couldn't get from a fling or a friend. The 'I'm lazing around in dirty pants eating cereal from the packet and you don't care because you're doing it too' kind of intimacy that only really came with having an honest-to-God companion.

A light suddenly went on in Eggsy's head and he almost berated himself for not having the course-altering idea before.

I'm gonna get a dog

.

So that was how Eggsy Unwin had ended up stood outside of his flat with the tiniest, cutest and most perfect little pug he'd ever had the fortune to see in his entire life.

He'd lovingly named the little pup after Jack Bauer, the protagonist of one of his favourite TV series, and had taken a full fifteen minutes out of his morning routine to carefully hold the little thing in his arms and show him around his new home.

Eggsy felt inexplicable joy come over him when he placed little, perfect JB down onto the floor of the kitchen and watched as he scampered around happily.

He checked for the millionth time that he'd put out food and water and toys on the kitchen floor so JB could keep himself entertained whilst Eggsy went to work – as the official advertising assistant.

"I'll be back later, little man," he promised as he opened front door, "I'll pick you up some treats on my way home. Promise."

JB gave a small squeal that wasn't quite a bark yet, as if he'd somehow understood what Eggsy had said to him.

Eggsy grinned hugely as he shut the door quietly behind him.

Chapter Text

Eggsy was bombarded by Sheila the moment he stepped foot inside the door of Hesketh publishing.

He'd been so consumed by thoughts of tiny, squishy puppy paws that he hadn't noticed her stepping in front of him and had to jump back several paces to avoid colliding with the unfortunate woman.

"Eggsy," she began immediately, looking flustered, "Charlie wants to see you in his office, he was pretty insistent on it."

"Okay," Eggsy nodded, eyes narrowing, "is everything okay?"

She nodded quickly as she glanced down at her watch. "Yes, yes, everything is fine. I have fifteen minutes to set up three company executive meetings in the next week for a publishing firm I can't even remember the name of."

"Why do you only have fifteen minutes?" Eggsy asked, taking his jacket off and folding it over his arm. He could see Charlie within his office, beckoning him towards it.

"Poor bloody management, that's what." Sheila huffed, but Eggsy wasn't really paying attention anymore.

He allowed her to get back to her hefty schedule and jogged the steps up to Charlie's office, shutting the glass door behind him and striding up to the man with a smile on his face.

"I just got the cutest..." Before the assistant advertiser had even finished his sentence, the editor had pulled him to him by his shirt collar and planted a kiss on his lips.

Eggsy jumped back immediately but couldn't wriggle out of the vice of his boss' arms.

"Charlie...! Jesus, what are you doing?"

"I have been ridiculously horny ever since this morning," Charlie murmured, pressing a kiss to his neck.

"Ch...anyone can see...!" Eggsy began desperately, finally pushing the editor away and taking a step back.

Charlie looked dishevelled and fucking hot and all Eggsy wanted to do was jump him there and then. Curse that man for having a glass bloody office. Eggsy quickly scanned the office floor below and no one was staring up in shock at them or phoning the police, he felt himself physically deflate with relief.

"You're lucky no one saw us." Eggsy reprimanded.

Charlie pouted and leant against the desk, smiling at Eggsy.

Eggsy found that he couldn't stay mad at the man, and he also couldn't help missing the feel of the man's lips on his neck.

"Eggsy, come here." Charlie said softly, beckoning the younger man over with his finger.

"I can't." Eggsy said desperately. "What if someone sees?"

"The only way people can see into this office is if they choose to look up."

"People look up all the time."

Charlie grinned wickedly as he walked towards Eggsy and wrapped his arm around his waist, pulling him flush against the line of his body.

"Isn't that part of the excitement?" He said quietly, eyes lust-blown.

Eggsy very nearly moaned at how turned on he was and let Charlie press a hot, open-mouthed kiss to his neck, gasping involuntarily at the wave of pleasure that cascaded over him.

He felt a hand on his thigh, hiking it up around Charlie's waist and pulling him impossibly close.

Eggsy was next to disorientated, he was lost in the feeling of Charlie's body against his and Charlie's hot mouth on his neck, but at the same time he was hyper-aware of the glass all around them and how they would be discovered the moment someone decided to glance upwards.

His cock grew painfully hard in his jeans and pressed against the meat of Charlie's thigh.

"I knew you'd come 'round to my way of thinking." Charlie murmured into his skin with a smile in his voice but all Eggsy could do was moan in return and rut desperately against him. He needed relief, any kind of relief.

Eggsy felt his blood run cold when he heard the door to Charlie's office open suddenly behind them.

His boss cursed quietly and Eggsy leaped away from him immediately, turning instinctively on his heel and seeing Harry Hart stood in the door way, folder hanging precariously in a lax hand and expression unreadable.

Eggsy felt the embarrassment hit him like a white-hot poker being thrust onto his skin, he could hear Charlie rustling behind him and wished, fervently, for a hole to open in the ground and swallow him up forever. He felt moisture gather in the corners of his eyes and willed himself not to cry.

"Can I help you, Hart?" Charlie asked, almost cheerily, from behind Eggsy but Harry didn't move.

His eyes met Eggsy's and Eggsy found that, despite his burning cheeks and moist eyes, he couldn't look away.

The pair stared at each other for a long moment until Harry turned on his heel and left, shutting the door behind him loudly and walking swiftly down the steps and out of sight, Eggsy watched him go until he couldn't see him through the glass walls any more.

His eyes settled for a moment on the crowd of onlookers below staring up at him and he blinked back involuntary tears before he turned back to his boss and saw him leant languidly against his desk, as if nothing had happened.

"Eggsy." He said suddenly, seeing the young man's wet eyes. "Don't get upset, for heaven's sake. Who gives a flying fuck what that tosser Harry Hart thinks, I mean, really?" He said with a smile in his voice and, despite the cavern that had opened up in Eggsy's stomach, he found himself comforted by such a sentiment.

There was nothing against seeing anyone in the office, he reasoned with himself. And surely this was nothing but a big 'fuck you' to the man that made him feel like shit on a regular basis, the thought made him smile.

"Yeah, you're right." Eggsy said, sighing loudly. He wished he could cross the space and let Charlie take him in his arms and make him feel like none of that had happened but he could see people still staring up at them in his periphery. Probably wondering what confrontation between the three had led to the assistant editor slamming the door and hurrying away as he did.

Eggsy had spent the rest of the work day trying to maintain a semblance of calm and propriety. He'd nearly lost it when Merlin had come up to him and asked why he was an hour late to his station, he mumbled something about being held up by Charlie and Merlin had nodded, satisfied, and asked him if he wanted a coffee.

Eggsy felt the sinking feeling in his stomach dissipate slightly, so it wasn't going around the office then. Unless Merlin was hiding the fact he knew but Eggsy couldn't think why he would.

Eggsy was forced to conclude that maybe, just maybe, Harry hadn't told the world of his sordid affair with the boss.

Eggsy was met with enormous, almost crushing relief at the fact that his entire life hadn't come crashing down around him and resolved to keep his and Charlie's work relationship and social relationship two extremely separate things, and after today, he was sure Charlie would agree with him.

The assistant advertiser felt marginally better as he left work that evening and the feeling was only amplified when little JB came scampering up to meet him at the door.

Eggsy had gathered the fragile ball of fluff happily in his arms and allowed his face to be thoroughly licked, letting out one long, shaky sigh and expelling the bad feeling inside of himself, feeling safe again.

JB slept soundly, small head resting on Eggsy's lap, and the man smiled fondly down at him as he grabbed his diary from his position on his bed.

As he opened it up to the next clean page, he allowed himself to truly feel the wave of unease that had been threatening to engulf him all day.

He knew there was no use in addressing the subject when he was at work and didn't have anyone to talk to, but now that he had his diary open in front of him and his pen poised in his hand, he was able to explore what had been eating at him all day.

Dear diary

day from hell. Charlie wanted to have sex in office and I (idiot) let him and Harry saw us. Lucky no one else did + don't think he said anything to anyone but can't stop thinking about it.

This is gonna sound crazy but he looked at me, didn't look shocked surprised angry ect he looked worried, like really really worried and I don't know why, ran away before I could ask

kind of want to ask him about it but can never ever talk about it, probs can never ever see him again after today

know I have bigger problems but can't stop thinking about look, it was worried, troubled, concerned

what does it mean?

Eggsy had to keep reminding himself to breathe the next day as he sifted through some of the cover designs the art department had sent him.

He kept looking up worriedly whenever the door to the advertising department opened and had to quietly berate himself for such action, he couldn't spend the rest of his life worried that something was going to happen.

If Harry was going to tell anyone he would have done it by now, he reasoned with himself, the guy was a bit cold but he had never struck Eggsy as being particularly sadistic.

Although, as he thought about it, it occurred to him how obviously Harry seemed to hate Charlie, and maybe dobbing him in as sleeping with the new guy would be the best way to tarnish his reputation, and taking Eggsy's with it.

Eggsy shook his head to himself, the very fact that he thought it just proved it wasn't going to happen.

He took a deep, calming breath as he sat down at his desk and fumbled around in one of the drawers for the crime/thriller manuscript he was half-heartedly working on.

He looked up again when the door opened and Merlin walked in, looking quietly irritated as he stalked to his office.

"Fucking hell, bastards, son a bitch..." Eggsy heard the man curse quietly as he passed him.

"Merlin, is everythin' okay?" Eggsy asked, abandoning the manuscript search and standing.

"Both Harry and Charlie aren't in today." Merlin told him exasperatedly. "Which is useful considering we have to edit this bloody book."

Eggsy's forehead creased in confusion.

"Why? Has one of them phoned?"

Merlin shook his head.

"C...can I do anythin' to help?" Eggsy asked, not seeing any plausible way in which he could replace the two editors but he thought it polite to offer, nonetheless.

Merlin shook his head, a small smile ghosting across his lips. "No, son, you carry on as you are. I'm sure Charlie will roll in at some point, it's not the first time he's turned up whenever he wants." His eyebrows knitted together in confusion. "Not like Harry though..." He mumbled as he headed for his office.

The minute his door shut behind him, Eggsy fell back into his seat as a new wave of panic washed itself over him.

He gripped the edge of the desk until his knuckles turned white, praying to whatever God was listening that he hadn't just ruined the only chance at happiness he'd ever had.

Roxy and Eggsy were stood, chatting by the door on their way out to lunch when Charlie walked through the entrance. His face was partially obscured by a pair of sunglasses but what was visible looked drawn and tired, he covered his face with his hand as he walked past them.

"Hey..." Eggsy began, trying to catch the man's attention but Charlie didn't even glance in his direction as he passed.

Eggsy stepped forward to try and follow him but was stopped by a hand on his chest, Roxy pressed gently against his skin until he stopped moving.

"Don't." She advised. "He's best to avoid when he's pissed."

"Didn't you see him, though?" Eggsy asked, concerned, craning his neck to try and catch a glimpse of the retreating man. "He looked ill as shit."

Roxy merely shrugged. "I dunno. Ask him later, maybe? I'm hungry."

Eggsy felt a wave of unease go over him, mainly due to his concern over Charlie's health, they were seeing each other, after all, but he dutifully followed Roxy out of the publishing house anyway.

Whatever was wrong, Charlie would tell him all about it when there were less prying eyes.

Eggsy dropped the revised cover art off at the art department before making a quick detour to the editing department.

He took the steps to Charlie's office and immediately saw the man through the door, he was leaning back in his chair with his eyes closed, sunglasses abandoned on his desk.

Eggsy gasped at the obvious purpling bruise covering his right eye and before he could help himself he had rushed into the office.

Charlie immediately lurched forward but stilled when he saw Eggsy stood there, his expression turned from one of anger to one of mortification.

His fingers flexed next to his sunglasses, as if deciding whether or not to put them back on, but he seemed to decide that the damage had already been done and put his hand on his lap and looked at the assistant advertiser.

Eggsy winced as he was greeted by the impressive black eye his boss was sporting.

It was aggressively purple and lined with slowly scabbing grazes, Charlie blinked and it looked like it hurt him even to do that.

"Fucking hell," Eggsy said quietly, worry washing over him. "What the fuck happened to you?"

"Nothing." Charlie said immediately and Eggsy rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, right, 'cause I believe that. Who did this? I'll fuckin' kill..."

"Eggsy, it's none of your business." Charlie said stiffly. "Just get back to work."

Eggsy almost physically recoiled from the hard edge in his voice and felt hurt at being treated like a mere employee when he thought he was more than that.

He felt like insisting but the logical part of his brain reconfirmed his earlier thought. That Charlie wouldn't want to discuss such a thing in office hours, particularly in his fucking glass office where anyone could see.

So, despite his better judgement, Eggsy nodded and turned on his heel. Trying to quell the wave of queasiness that settled in his stomach as he jogged down the steps and made his way back to the advertising department.

Eggsy couldn't help but feel quietly hurt as Charlie's inexplicably cold attitude carried on for the rest of the week.

He wasn't necessarily being cruel or mean to Eggsy but he was certainly avoiding him, to the point where he got flustered and defensive if they accidentally passed each other in the hallway and quickly stalked off like he was afraid Eggsy was going to hurt him or something ridiculous.

Eggsy was slightly worried Charlie was experiencing PTSD at what had happened to him, that he was seeing any kind of confrontation as potentially dangerous. As far as the advertising assistant could see, he was behaving a little strangely to everyone, having rebuffed Merlin's attempts to have him look at the sales pitch and not turning up to the routine staff meeting in the conference room.

Eggsy spent every evening that week wrestling with the desire to phone him or call round his flat, to check on him if nothing else, but had resolved to leave Charlie to it.

He obviously didn't want anyone near him and, as much as Eggsy wanted to comfort him and care for him, it wasn't what he needed and he just hoped that he would come around soon.

Friday morning came and Eggsy was stopped by a man named Justin who worked in the art department, he loaded an armful of blueprints into Eggsy's arms before he had time to speak.

"Can you give these to Charlie?" He asked. "I need his approval before I can send them to Word."

"Oh, sure." Eggsy said, flustered at his sudden burden.

Justin gave him a grateful smile before he quickly walked back the way he'd came. One thing about Hesketh that Eggsy had quickly picked up on was just how busy everyone seemed to be all the time.

As he made his way precariously to Charlie's office, to avoid dropping the prints in his arms, he toyed with the idea of suggesting to his lover that they down size their workload a little or employ some more staff but considering the pair hadn't spoken since Monday he figured now wasn't the time for business suggestions.

Eggsy immediately saw Charlie's vacant office and looked around the editing department to see if he could see the man anywhere but couldn't spot him amongst the crowd.

He turned quickly and walked to the receptionists' desk, getting Sheila's attention.

"What do you do with stuff that needs Charlie's say so when he ain't here?" He asked.

Sheila surprised him by laughing in response, he momentarily thought she was laughing at his query before she spoke.

"All of Charlie's stuff goes to poor Harry." She told him.

Eggsy arched an eyebrow at the odd epithet before thanking her and making his way to Harry's office. He thought about the odd comment as he came to the assistant editor's door and knocked.

No reply came so he knocked again but still, nothing happened.

He struggled to hold the mass of paper in one hand as he toyed with the idea of just opening the door, he was unsure if someone as anal as Harry would berate him for such a move but he resolved that he could defend himself by explaining that he didn't want to destroy Justin's prints by dropping them all over the floor.

'I didn't want to damage the integrity of the company', Eggsy thought, grinning smugly to himself as he opened the door.

He stopped in his tracks when he saw that the office was empty.

Not just devoid of Harry, but devoid of all Harry-esque things.

The first editions in the bookcase were gone, the usually meticulously organised desk was empty and the curtains were closed, effectively cutting off all light in the abandoned room.

Had Eggsy actually seen Harry since the glass office incident he still winced about? He hadn't, actually, now that he came to think about it. Not around the office or in the break room, or at all, but it hadn't really occurred to him until that moment.

He went back to the advertising department and placed the prints on one of the vacant desks before knocking gingerly on Merlin's door.

"Yeah?" The Scotsman called from within.

Eggsy opened the door to see Merlin leant against his desk, reading something from his ever-present clipboard.

He smiled as he saw Eggsy walking in.

"Eggsy, what can I do for you?" He asked cheerily.

Eggsy wavered for a moment, playing with a loose thread on his top in an attempt to seem nonchalant.

"Where is Harry?" He asked.

Merlin's expression was unreadable as he put his clipboard down on his desk and crossed his arms.

"Harry doesn't work here anymore." He said.

Eggsy blinked a couple of times, processing the information in stunned silence before he seemed to find his voice again.

"What, why?" He asked, confused.

Merlin merely shrugged. "I don't know. Charlie has neglected to mention a reason."

"But surely you've seen him?" Eggsy asked. "I thought you were friends?"

"We are." Merlin assured him. "I'm certain I'll find out at some point but if Charlie won't discuss it, then I doubt Harry will want to, either. He's a very private person."

Eggsy didn't have a hard time believing that at all. His brows knitted together for a moment before something else occurred to him.

"Well, Charlie isn't here and he needs to approve some prints..." He explained.

"I'm afraid all we can do is wait." Merlin said, looking suddenly glum.

Eggsy nodded, mouth uncharacteristically dry, before he excused himself.

"Did you know Harry was gone?" Eggsy asked Roxy as the pair sprawled out across one of the blue couches in the break room.

She nodded as she sipped at a carton of fresh orange juice. "Yeah. Monday, I think."

"Why did he leave?" Eggsy asked, forehead creased in confusion as he picked at the label of his drinks bottle.

Roxy shrugged as she took another sip.

"I don't know. No one knows. I suppose we'll find out in the next meeting or something. Good for him, though."

"Good for who?" Eggsy asked, turning his head to her.

"Good for Harry," she quickly clarified. "I mean, you know, I don't actually know why he left but I assume he got tired of running the whole show in Charlie's name with half the pay and half the recognition."

Eggsy remained motionless as she opened a sandwich packet loudly and took a bite.

"What do you mean?" He asked eventually.

Roxy said something that was completely unintelligible through her mouthful and Eggsy couldn't help laughing.

"I think that was English." He smirked.

She swallowed quickly before repeating, "didn't you notice the way he was always rushed off his feet? Charlie always pushed everything on him all the time. Poor bloke, he was always on edge."

Eggsy was unceremoniously reminded of the day he'd walked into Harry's office to find the man frantically taking a phone call, 'busy, just busy', that's what he'd said.

"I never really thought about it before." He said finally. "To be fair though, Charlie is the boss. He should be allowed to overwork people a bit." He quickly defended.

Roxy merely shrugged as she took another bite.



Chapter Text

If there was one thing in the world that Eggsy hated, truly hated, then it was bullshit.

He'd dealt with nothing but bullshit his entire life, from family to teachers, and he was tired of it.

That was why he hated Harry fucking Hart for being so unnecessarily cryptic and he would be damned before he let Charlie do the same thing to him.

He'd tried, he really had, to let Charlie figure out his problems on his own but he and Eggsy were supposedly linked now, and the things Charlie was going through inadvertently affected him and Eggsy had given him long enough to sort himself out but nothing had changed. Now he was pissed, and he wanted answers.

Eggsy ran his pantheon of questions through his mind as he ignored the disapproving look of the doorman when he jabbed the lift button a little harder than necessary.

Were they still together? Why had he been ignoring him? Who beat him up? Not to mention Eggsy's personal favourite: what the fuck is going on?

Eggsy knocked loudly on Charlie's door and bounced on the balls of his feet as he waited for the door to open.

He half-feared that the editor was going to slam the door in his face the moment he saw him but as the seconds ticked by and Eggsy lost the adrenalin rush that had brought him there, he started to doubt if he would even open the door at all.

Just when Eggsy decided to abandon his mission, the door was opened and Charlie was stood there.

He looked immensely better than he had done the last time Eggsy had seen him. His face actually had a little colour in it and the bruise on his eye had turned from an aggressive purple to a mottled brown. He was smiling softly and suddenly looked exactly like his own self again.

"Eggsy," he said, "I'm...glad you came round, actually. I've been meaning to call."

Eggsy let out an internal sigh of relief. Maybe he'd just been imagining things? Perhaps all Charlie really needed was a few days on his own to heal and to come to terms with what had happened.

Eggsy shut his eyes in embarrassment as he realised his mistake.

"Sorry," he found himself saying when he opened them and looked up at Charlie, "I've...I've had a stressful couple of days, I wanted to make sure you were okay."

"I really, really appreciate it." He said, opening the door wide to allow Eggsy to walk inside. "I'm sorry I've been so distant these last few days...I was just trying to gather myself."

Eggsy leant gingerly against the couch as Charlie shut the door behind him and followed him into the living room.

"What happened?" Eggsy asked after a moment. "Who hurt you? I've never seen you so freaked out about anythin' before."

Charlie gave him a shallow, embarrassed smile as he itched the back of his neck, probably more for distraction than anything else.

"Listen, Eggsy, I don't really want to talk about it..."

"I get that." Eggsy interrupted him quickly. "I proper get it, trust me, but maybe you need to talk about it, yeah? You can't keep yourself cooped up in here all day on your own, it ain't healthy. You were attacked."

"Who said he was on his own?"

Eggsy's eyes widened as he turned his head to the source of the noise, an attractive young man with nothing but his underwear on walked out out the open bedroom door, slipping an arm around Charlie's waist and grinning cockily at Eggsy.

Charlie's face fell into his hands and he didn't react to the arm around him.

Eggsy stared at the scantily clad man for several long moments, mind completely blank, until Charlie looked tentatively back up at him through his fringe.

It was something Eggsy had always found adorable but now it only served to make him feel sick.

His stomach twisted painfully and a wave of anxiety cascaded over him but he forced himself to stand his ground, thrusting out his chin and crossing his arms.

"You've been seein' someone else?" He said quietly.

"Actually, Darren and I have been seeing each other for a few months." Charlie replied, voice wavering as he spoke.

Eggsy bit his tongue, hard, to stop the moisture from gathering in his eyes as he turned quickly and bolted for the door.

"No, Eggsy, wait...!" Charlie called after him.

Eggsy turned back to see Charlie wrestling his way out of 'Darren's' grip and slipped out of the door before he could catch up to him.

He covered his face with his hands as he heard the apartment door open and close and suddenly he and Charlie were stood alone in the corridor.

"Eggsy, please," Charlie began desperately, "I really, really like you, and we were just having some fun, I didn't want you to find out this way."

Eggsy whipped around quickly, startling the older man.

"Just fuck off," Eggsy said loudly, "and stay gone. Don't ever fucking come near me again."

Charlie remained silent as Eggsy thumbed the lift button and stepped inside. When he was alone, he allowed himself to fall against the cool metal of the lift and the pain in his stomach suddenly became unbearable.

He clutched at his abdomen as hot, fresh tears slid rebelliously down his cheeks.

He attempted to scrub his face dry as he stepped out of the lift and walked passed the door man.

He stuffed all the raw pain deep inside of himself as he made his way home, refusing to make a scene out on the street and wishing for the comfort of his own flat where he could shout and scream and no one could tell him to stop.

The relief Eggsy felt when he rested against his door was short lived as the horrible feeling washed over him again before he could stop it.

By the time he reached his bed, he was crying again. Loud, racking sobs he was unused to.

He buried his face into his pillow to try and calm himself until he felt movement beside him and something started licking at his hand.

Eggsy lifted his head slightly and saw JB nuzzling into his fingers, he smiled through his tears as he clambered into a sitting position and gathered the small creature onto his lap.

Eggsy stroked up and down JB's soft back as the torrent of tears began to thin out and his breathing slowed considerably.

As he calmed, he considered phoning his mother or Roxy for support but immediately decided against it because the last thing he wanted to do in that moment was talk about what he'd just seen.

He couldn't pinpoint what was upsetting him the most, the fact that he'd really cared about Charlie and now he'd lost him, or the fact that he'd been made a fool out of, that he'd allowed himself to be vulnerable and all of his affection had been thrown back into his face.

His stomach gurgled uncomfortably and Eggsy sighed loudly, aware of the subsequent irritable bowel pain that was surely to follow.

After a few long moments of listening to his stomach complaining at him, Eggsy reached across the bed and grabbed his diary.

He opened it immediately but as he looked down at the blank page he realised he had nothing to say.

He wasn't capable of the words needed to express the level of shit he felt in that moment, and suddenly the diary in his palm seemed to become a mascot of his loneliness rather than a cure for it.

He put the diary back on his bedside table and cuddled JB closer before closing his eyes.

Eggsy didn't leave his flat once that weekend.

He knew it probably wasn't healthy, isolating yourself in the way that he was, but he supposed a wounded ego deserved a few days off.

He had simply resolved to settle on the living room floor with his duvet cover and marathon-watch 24.

He ordered pizza but if he were being totally honest with himself, he'd ordered more ice cream dessert than actual pizza but no one had to know that. He was halfway through a tub of mint chocolate chip when his phone began to ring.

His stomach flipped as he worried for a moment it might be Charlie trying to get a hold of him but was relieved to see that it was only Roxy.

"Hey," he said when he'd picked up, shoveling another spoonful into his mouth.

"You sound really bloody cheery," she said accusingly from the other end. "Is everything okay?"

Eggsy toyed with the idea of telling her what had happened but realised that he didn't want to think about it at all, let alone put her through it.

"No." He said. "Bored, that's all."

"Oh, okay. I was just wondering what was going on with the new manuscript. Merlin was telling me he needed source material but according to David the thing hasn't even been edited yet, the deadline is in a couple of months. I'm not fucking doing 'a day in the life of' again."

"I don't know, Rox," Eggsy replied glumly, "I haven't heard anythin' about it. I s'pose we'll find out at the staff meetin' tomorrow."

"Yes, I suppose. Oh well. I wanted to try and get some work done today, at least. It hasn't been a very productive week. See you tomorrow."

"See you tomorrow." Eggsy replied before he hung up and put his phone down.

He rubbed his tired eyes as he contemplated whether or not he would have to find another job because of what had happened with Charlie but the thought made him feel instantly sick.

Dear diary

have decided will not quit job, short of Charlie firing me I'm gonna stay where I am

I love my job, wouldn't leave it for the world + I got myself in this mess for shagging the boss in the first place, will just go on as I am

will suck for a bit but will have to find a way to deal with it

have lived through worse

….

The ingenious plan the assistant advertiser had come up with to try and get over Charlie's betrayal was to put as much distance between himself and his boss as he possibly could until his stomach stopped growling at him every time he thought about it.

He realised that that probably wasn't the best game plan he'd ever come up with but he couldn't very well spend the rest of his life in his flat being depressed and eating ice cream. It wasn't healthy, physically or emotionally, and would probably result in the law forcing him to trade in JB for a litter of cats.

Besides, sometimes time was the best healer, that's what his mum had always said, and he supposed he just had to have faith that everything would work out somehow.

Although even Eggsy had to admit that his distancing tactic hadn't gotten off to a smooth start when the first thing he'd done on Monday morning was attend a staff meeting.

He and Roxy grabbed a couple coffees and walked together to the conference room, as they always did, and took their seats next to the two sales and marketing representatives Eggsy still didn't know the names of.

He said hello to Maggie and to Sheila and his eyes lingered on the empty seat next to Merlin for a moment until Charlie walked into the room.

Eggsy's eyes hit the floor as Charlie took a seat at the head of the table but quickly realised that he couldn't spend the entire meeting staring at the fibres in the carpet.

Charlie looked a little worse for wear and Eggsy liked to think perhaps he was paying for losing the best thing in his life, but the main thing that struck his attention was the fact that his black eye seemed to have disappeared.

Either he had regenerative qualities or he was covering it with make-up.

Make-up, Eggsy reasoned.

"Now, listen, everyone," Charlie began, "I'm not sure how many of you have noticed but over the last few months, the company has...lost quite a bit of money."

Eggsy saw Merlin quite obviously roll his eyes at Roxy, who grinned back.

"Yes, we've all felt it." Charlie continued, having apparently missed the sarcastic exchange. "We've lost a few people in our advertising department and lost a couple of publication spots...to put in straight, we don't have the money to continue anymore."

There was silence around the table and Eggsy's eyes widened in horror.

"We don't have the money..." Merlin began, sitting forward. "What does that mean? Are you closing down the company?"

"Not at all." Charlie said quickly. "No, nothing like that. I'm just saying we cannot support ourselves anymore so...Hesketh Publishing is going to be working as a subordinate under another publishing agency, a bigger, more powerful publishing agency. I'll still be the boss, but there will be a higher authority that can affectively tell us what to do."

"And sack whoever they want." Maggie chipped in from across the table.

"Or just downright shut us down if they want." One of the sales guys chipped in.

"They're not going to do that," Charlie insisted, "I've had initial conferences with the editor and they've said they have no intention of shutting us down. If anything, this is a big opportunity for our esteemed publishing agency. Over the next few months, we'll work towards a merging of the two companies and I think it will really help to get everyone from every department involved. That is why I think it prudent, Merlin -" he turned to the senior advertiser as he spoke - "should represent us at their next company gala dinner."

Eggsy watched as Merlin's jaw set and it felt like a light bulb was going off in his brain. Ever since he'd started working at Hesketh, everyone had told him Charlie always palmed off his work to Harry in some way or another, Eggsy hadn't believed them or simply brushed it off but now Charlie was palming off his work to the next senior in the company, namely Merlin.

Eggsy felt a wave of hatred towards his boss wash over him and he suddenly realised that getting over him wasn't going to be as hard as he had thought.

Eggsy had once thought that Hesketh was a family, and he still did, but Charlie was not part of that family; Merlin was.

"Surely you should be doing that?" Eggsy found himself saying in a surprisingly hard voice.

Everyone sat around the table, including Charlie, stared at him. Eggsy kept his expression cold as Charlie's wavering eyes remained trained on him.

"I don't have the time." Charlie said quickly. "I have editing to do, now that I don't have an assistant with me, my work load has just doubled."

Eggsy wanted to say more, to ask the man what poor sod would really be doing his job for him and exactly who he'd be shagging when he was supposed to be working but he bit his tongue and crossed his arms.

Roxy sent a questioning glance in his direction and he raised his eyebrow in response, hoping it effectively conveyed a message of 'I'll tell you later.'

Roxy, Merlin and Eggsy stood together outside of the conference room and when everyone else had filed away, Roxy rounded on him.

"What was that all about?" She asked.

Eggsy looked at the pair of them staring intently at him and licked his lips slightly.

"Charlie is a dick," Eggsy finally voiced. "All he does is fuck people around, I got tired of lettin' him get away with it. Besides, it's not like he's gonna be our proper boss for much longer."

Merlin laughed as he clapped Eggsy on the back.

"I was wondering when you were going to see Charlie's true colours, I'm glad you're with the programme. I appreciate you standing up for me the way you did back there, I really don't want to represent us at a bloody gala dinner."

"Why don't we come?" Roxy voiced, gesturing to Eggsy. "I mean, why not? Hesketh together, and all that."

Merlin smiled gratefully at the pair of them.

"You wouldn't mind?" He asked.

"Not at all," Eggsy said immediately. "I mean, I don't even know what a gala dinner is but I'm sure we'll struggle through."

"And look damn good doing it." Roxy chipped in, causing the three of them to laugh.

"I can't believe Hesketh is going under, though." Eggsy voiced after a moment.

"I can." Merlin said. "Charlie had no fucking clue how to run a business, it was only a matter of time. But at least the company stays together rather than falls apart. This 'superior company' thing is actually a pretty good idea."

"How would that even work?" Roxy asked. "I'm not sure I understand."

"Basically, Hesketh would pretty much carry on as is, but we'd be a part of this other publishing agency. Kingsman, I think Charlie said. We'd get all of our manuscripts from them and work to their schedule. But it might be nice to be subordinate to an editor who knows what they're doing."

"Kingsman." Eggsy echoed, frowning. "Never heard of them."

"No, me either." Roxy voiced. "Are they new?"

"Not at all." Merlin shook his head. "Very high up, very esteemed. But old, probably why you squirts haven't heard of them before."

Roxy and Eggsy frowned in unison at being called 'squirts' and Merlin chuckled.

 

Chapter Text

"Do I look like a penguin?" Eggsy joked as he turned to Roxy. She didn't even bother looking at him as she continued to straighten her hair.

"Shut up." Was her only reply.

"I've never worn a tuxedo before." He continued, checking himself out in his bedroom mirror. He took in the dark suit and bow tie, examining his combed hair and polished shoes. He didn't feel like the same Eggsy he'd always been, like there was someone rich and important in his mirror staring back at him. "Not somethin' you do when you grow up on a council estate."

Roxy clicked off her straighteners and unplugged them, rolling the cord around the base as she turned to Eggsy.

"What time is Merlin picking us up? And shut up again, stop defining your self-worth on your upbringing."

Eggsy smiled to himself as he looked down at his watch.

"Err...about fifteen minutes."

Roxy nodded. "Okay. How do I look?"

Eggsy turned to her, she was wearing a floor length white gown that dipped low at the chest with a trail of gossamer swathing the skirt.

"Fucking incredible." He said, grinning at her.

She smiled gratefully as she reached for the matching clutch bag on the bedside table.

"I've never been to a gala dinner before." She admitted sheepishly.

"Nah, neither have I." Eggsy admitted, despite the fact he assumed such information was obvious. "Merlin will look after us, though."

"I love how we don't even try to pretend that we're adults." Roxy said. "We just hide behind Merlin."

The senior advertiser was efficiently prompt and the three of them drove to the Kingsman gala dinner venue, spending the journey exchanging theories on what Kingsman would do to Hesketh when it got a hold of it.

Roxy was in the middle of a particularly gruesome narrative about how the Kingsman editor would lock all of the Hesketh employees in a dungeon and force them to work for twenty four hours a day and kill off anyone who slacked off, when they arrived.

They were taken into a large reception area by a valet in a nice tux who led them down a purple-carpeted corridor with silver wall brackets and into a large banquet room.

The room, again a royal purple, housed one of the longest banquet tables Eggsy had ever seen. The table itself had a tablecloth that matched the colour scheme of the room and a line of lit candles were sat in the middle, burning brightly.

Around the table sat around thirty people in total, chatting happily to each other.

Eggsy was shocked at just how formal this entire event seemed to be and wondered, momentarily, if he'd made a terrible mistake by attending.

But he supposed this would be their world soon enough. The thought made him queasy, he'd enjoyed the easy going, quaint attitude Hesketh had, he hoped they could maintain that in the future.

"Come on." Merlin said, walking towards the table. Roxy and Eggsy followed, exchanging a daunted look as they did.

Eggsy sat at the empty seat Merlin had directed him to and found that he couldn't even fully see the other end of the table it was so long.

Roxy sat next to him and surveyed her surroundings nervously, Merlin sat opposite and leant towards them.

"Bit bloody posh, this, isn't it?" He said, to which Eggsy nodded, wide eyed.

"What are we supposed to do?" Eggsy asked quietly, looking around himself at all of the people talking and laughing daintily with each other.

"Chat. Eat. Get drunk." Merlin informed him. "I'll get the attention of the editor at some point in the evening, but basically all we have to do is turn up."

Eggsy was suddenly distracted by a soft tinkling and turned to see a man stood at the far end of the table, gently tapping a fork to his glass.

Eggsy fought off the urge to laugh, he didn't realise that was a thing people actually did in real life.

"If I could have everyone's attention for just a few moments," the man said gently. He was old, Eggsy noticed, but in a refined, well-lived kind of way. He was wearing a bespoke tuxedo and stood and spoke with an air that suggested old money.

"That's the guy," Merlin whispered to them across the table. "Arthur something, the editor."

Eggsy opened his mouth in a silent 'oh' before he craned his neck to give the editor his full attention as he spoke and then froze.

At the far end of the table, sat next to Arthur, was Harry Hart.

Eggsy blinked a few times and narrowed his eyes, certain that he was mistaken. But no, that was definitely Harry. He had his elbow propped on the table and was leaning gently against his fingers as he watched Arthur speak intently.

As Eggsy continued to watch him, too stunned to look away, he saw Harry fold his arm down and turn his head as if he were subconsciously aware that he was being watched.

Eggsy swallowed as he looked right at him.

Eggsy willed himself to look away but it was like he couldn't, something in Harry's brown eyes and uncharacteristically open expression was keeping him there.

Harry's gaze lingered on him for the longest moment before he looked away again, back to Arthur, and Eggsy was finally able to look down at the table.

"Is that Harry?" Roxy asked quietly from beside him.

"I think so." Eggsy replied. "What's he doing here?"

"He works for Kingsman now." Merlin said under his breath. "Didn't I mention?"

Eggsy shook his head.

Merlin nodded minutely. "Same job. Better pay. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't jealous."

Whatever Arthur was saying seemed to go on forever but Eggsy was far too busy reeling with confusion to pay attention.

His gaze involuntarily fell back to the former assistant editor but Harry wasn't looking back, Eggsy made a conscious effort to look literally anywhere else in the room for the duration of the meal.

"Come on." Merlin said as people started to move away from the table. Roxy and Eggsy stood and followed Merlin to the far end of the room.

Eggsy felt his mouth go dry as he watched Arthur and Harry stand and wondered if there were some way to make a quick escape without anyone noticing.

His poor self-esteem had suffered so much in the last few weeks that he just didn't have the strength to have Harry Hart stare him down like he smelt bad.

He unconsciously hung behind Roxy as Merlin greeted Arthur.

"Sir, my name is Merlin. I'm the senior advertiser at Hesketh Publishing."

"Oh, of course." Arthur replied, smile in his voice. "Mr. Hesketh mentioned you would be attending. Is he not here this evening?"

"I'm afraid not." Merlin admitted. "Mr. Hesketh sends his warmest regards and his sincerest apologises as he is, regrettably, tied up with work at the moment."

"Well, that is good to hear." Arthur laughed. "Who have you got with you?"

Eggsy was forced to look up then. He saw Merlin and Arthur stood together, Roxy was beside him and Harry Hart was stood behind his new boss, hands behind his back and looking at nothing in particular.

"This is Roxanne Morton, the company's junior research assistant, and this is Gary Unwin, my advertisement management subordinate."

Eggsy did his best to smile warmly as he shook Arthur's hand.

"I'm sure you all know my colleague." Arthur said, gesturing to Harry. "I don't think I would have considered your boss' proposal had Mr. Hart not persuaded me."

Harry made no move to show he'd acknowledged such a compliment and remained motionless where he stood, Eggsy's eyes widened at such a revelation but remained silent.

"Why don't you join me, Merlin?" Arthur began. "In the drawing room, we can talk shop, as it were."

"Lead the way, sir." Merlin said, and followed as Arthur led him out of the banquet hall from a different door to the one they had entered from.

Eggsy assumed they were to wait until Merlin came back, the very fact that Merlin had said nothing to the contrary only confirmed it.

The banquet hall, now devoid of life except for Harry, Roxy and himself, seemed even more daunting now than when it was full.

The vacant space was suddenly filled with a loud vibrating and Eggsy inadvertently jumped, he heard Roxy snigger behind him and turned to her just as she pressed her phone to her ear.

"Hello?" She said into the receiver. "Oh, Charlie, hi...wait, what? What do you mean the man..." Eggsy's eyes narrowed suspiciously as Roxy took the phone away from her ear and growled.

"Eggsy, I've got to take this, Charlie is freaking out. I'll be a couple of minutes."

Eggsy watched her walk hurriedly from the room, talking quickly into the phone whilst wondering precisely what was wrong the their manuscript.

As he angled his head to watch her leave, however, he was reminded that everyone else in the room had left as well.

Leaving him alone with Harry.

He turned back to the man, almost guiltily, and saw that Harry was looking at him. But surprisingly, there was no malice in his expression. If anything, he looked a little downtrodden.

Eggsy shifted uncomfortably as he searched his brain for anything to say to get him out of the awkward encounter.

"So, where are we?" He finally said. "This ain't your office, is it?"

Eggsy could swear he saw a smile ghost across Harry's lips for a moment before he spoke.

"No, this is King Manor. It belongs to Arthur's family." He said conversationally.

Eggsy blinked a couple of times at this sudden, radical change of attitude.

"W...why aren't you in the meetin'?" He asked, gesturing redundantly to the door Merlin and Arthur had left through and praying simultaneously that Roxy would walk back in and save him.

"Arthur is quite capable of running things without constantly having to have me by his side. It's oddly refreshing." He explained, titling his head with amusement in his voice.

"Did Charlie really used to palm off all his work on you?" Eggsy blurted out before he could stop himself.

Harry nodded. "Oh, yes."

"Is that why you didn't like him?"

"Among other things." Harry replied quietly. "So," he continued, voice brighter, "how are things at Hesketh for you?"

Eggsy was unsure how to process such an interrogative. Was Harry Hart seriously asking after him? Eggsy wasn't definitively sure if this was even the real Harry Hart stood in front of him. He was being so civil, nice even, towards him and Eggsy didn't know how to react.

"Fine, thanks." Was all he said.

"Good." Harry replied, and then he smiled.

Eggsy remembered the cold expression and the hard voice that had greeted him on a daily basis and tried to compare it to the softness and sincerity in front of him but he couldn't manage it.

If he were being honest with himself, Harry had a breathtaking smile, crinkling at the sides to meet his dimples and Eggsy found himself smiling in return.

He couldn't help it, he felt a sudden, immediate warmth towards the man. So much so, in fact, that he found himself asking a question that had been quietly plaguing him for weeks.

"Is that why you left?" He asked. "Because of Charlie."

Harry didn't answer for a moment and Eggsy was unsure if he was going to to.

"I didn't leave." Harry finally said slowly. "I was fired."

"But...why?" Eggsy asked, shocked at the sudden revelation. "Why would Charlie fire the person who basically ran the company for him? We've been off our feet for weeks, that's why we're fuckin' here. Why?"

Harry looked down immediately, like he was suddenly uncomfortable, and physically backed away from Eggsy.

"I don't think it's any of your business." He said, voice emotionless. Eggsy couldn't help it, his back went up at his tone.

He would later realise that he had reacted a little harshly to Harry's words, but then would justify himself by admitting it wasn't just this one incident, it was all the anger and frustration he'd felt towards the man since they'd met bubbling up in his throat and coming out of his mouth.

"For fucks sake, Harry. I thought we were passed that. I thought, finally, thank fuck finally, you were actually being okay with me."

Harry's eyes widened but it wasn't enough to close the floodgates that had opened after months of build up.

"We haven't seen each other for months," Eggsy continued angrily, "what could you possibly have against me? You're just one big fuckin' snob and I 'ave enough people to treat me like shit in my life without you helpin', Charlie fuckin' Hesketh included. I'm not dealin' with your bullshit anymore, goodbye."

Harry's expression was unreadable but Eggsy didn't stick around to see what he had to say.

He turned to see Roxy stood in the doorway, expression one of shock as she stared at him, but he merely stalked past her and out of the room.

Dear diary

what in the bloody god and fuck am I supposed to do with my mess of a life? Do I carry on working for Charlie? Can I? And why is every single fucking man on the planet I know a total bellend? Do I make men act weird around me or are they weird in the first place?

Do they need to see a bloody shrink or do I?

Merlin and Eggsy were perched on the edge of Eggsy's desk in the advertising department. Merlin was holding two separate prints out in front of him and Eggsy was examining the pair of them for finite differences when Roxy burst in the room, causing the pair of advertisers to look up in shock.

"What the fuck was all that about?" Roxy asked, and Eggsy blushed as he realised that he knew exactly what she was talking about.

"Nothin'." Eggsy mumbled but Roxy appeared to be having none of it.

"Oh, no. Of course it was nothing. I often scream at Harry about how horrible Charlie is." She said sarcastically, expression hard-lined and arms folded.

"What?" Asked Merlin, eyebrow raised. "What is she talking about?" He asked, looking at Eggsy.

Eggsy sighed and shifted uncomfortably on the edge of the desk.

"Eggsy and Harry were fighting at the gala dinner," Roxy explained, "I don't know what about, but it sounded like you were saying something about how Charlie treated you like shit about something." Her expression suddenly softened. "Eggsy, I'm only worried about you."

"Eggsy, you know if you have any office-related problems, or any problems at all, then you can come to me." Merlin offered, looking concerned.

Eggsy felt suffocated by the pair of them. He felt oddly touched at their gestures of kindness but at the same time wished that they would just back off and leave him alone.

"I just..." Eggsy began, searching his brain for something plausible to say that wouldn't reveal his embarrassing tryst. "...Never got on with Charlie." He finally decided. "He always rubbed me up the wrong way, that's all. I, kind of, was angry with Harry for not telling me about the whole 'forcing all his work on him' thing."

Eggsy was shocked when Merlin snorted next to him.

"Charlie made it a shit time for all of us, but Harry definitely got the worst. At least he got out, finally."

"Plus the whole 'fiancé' thing." Roxy chipped in.

Merlin's expression went lax and Roxy clapped a hand over her mouth rather dramatically.

"What fiancé thing?" Eggsy asked immediately.

"Shit." Roxy said under her breath, eyes trained on the floor.

Eggsy shook his head. "Merlin, what fiancé thing?"

"Eggsy, it's Harry's personal business..."

Eggsy rolled his eyes heavily. "Oh, come on. If Roxy bloody knows, then it must be common knowledge. Merlin, will you just tell me, please?" He asked exasperatedly.

Merlin sighed and rubbed his eyes under his glasses.

"Okay, alright, but don't say anything, particularly to Harry. I'm only telling you because you're a part of affairs now."

Eggsy nodded eagerly and became aware of Roxy sitting down across from them.

Merlin sighed again at his sudden audience.

"Harry and Charlie have known each other for years." He began. "I didn't know them back then, but apparently they were best friends and they founded this place together. When I started working here, Harry and Charlie were the co-editors rather than Harry being the subordinate. But then not long after that, it went around that Charlie was having an affair with Harry's childhood sweetheart, they were going to get married that year, poor bastard was heart-broken.

"After that, Harry tried to leave the publishing agency but all of his shares were tied up in it and he couldn't go anywhere. I remember, we had this huge conversation about it and he told me he didn't want to lose everything he'd created. So he decided to stay on but because he couldn't buy Charlie out, he decided to work under him instead of along side him until he could figure out what to do. When the business starting going under, there wasn't really much he could do. Pretty much everyone here has hated Charlie ever since."

"Shit," was all Eggsy could say when Merlin had finished. He didn't have a particularly hard time believing that Charlie had stolen Harry's fiancé and felt marginally sympathetic for the man as he remembered all the pain he'd gone through when Charlie had cheated on him. He couldn't bring himself to forgive him for his past behaviour, though. Merlin's anecdote explained why Harry hated Charlie but it didn't explain why he treated Eggsy the way he did.

It wasn't like Eggsy had anything to do with what Charlie had done, and Harry wasn't exactly the nicest guy in the world.

If Eggsy took anything away from what he'd just been told, it was a feeling of shame for completely missing all the warning signs he'd had about Charlie in the beginning because of his childish infatuation.

He wouldn't catch himself doing that one again.

….

Eggsy took a detour on his way home across a sunny grassy bank and JB trotted along happily beside him.

Eggsy smiled down at the animal, he'd grown substantially in the few months Eggsy had had him and now reached his shin rather than his toes but he was still just as cute as the moment Eggsy had seen him for the first time.

He felt inexplicably happy that day, he assumed it was because of the sunshine and he stuck his face up as he walked and allowed the rays to warm his skin.

Once he reached his flat, he dumped the heavy shopping bags he'd been holding and knelt down to take the lead from JB's collar.

The pug gave him an appreciative lick and Eggsy fished in his shopping bag and tossed him the marrow bone he'd bought.

JB settled down by the fridge and chewed happily as Eggsy unloaded the rest of his shopping and checked the time.

He had invited his mother and sister, and begrudgingly, Dean, around to his flat for dinner that evening.

The idea had sprung from a phone conversation with his mother when she had pointed out that she hadn't actually seen Eggsy's new place yet.

Eggsy went hot around the ears and had mumbled something about being too busy with work lately to remember to invite them but she had merely laughed and Eggsy had decided to cook by way of an inadvertent apology.

He didn't know whether or not his cooking was saying sorry or something he would have to say sorry for. Eggsy enjoyed food as much as the next person but he barely knew enough about cooking to feed himself let alone a family of people.

His sister wasn't even on solids yet so he supposed he had a good few years until she could laugh at his charred attempts at roast dinner.

Deciding to forgo the hassle of preparing meat that evening, Eggsy pulled the packet of pasta from the shopping bag and read the back earnestly, deciding that even he could heat pasta in boiling water for twenty-five minutes.

He'd just lowered the heat to a simmer on his marinara sauce when JB barked loudly, catching his attention.

Eggsy made his way out of the kitchen and saw JB scratching lightly at the door.

"JB," Eggsy admonished crossly, "don't scratch the door. Come on, come."

JB whined at him before he scampered from the door and towards Eggsy.

Eggsy bent and lifted the small dog into his arms before opening the door with his free hand.

Daisy squealed loudly at the bundle of fur in his arms and Michelle's face lit up.

"You got a puppy?" She asked.

Eggsy rolled his eyes and shifted to allow her to walk in, Daisy in her arms.

Dean shuffled in after her and leaned against the door, hands in his pockets, like he owned the place; Eggsy scowled.

"Wow, Eggsy, this place is amazing." Michelle said, looking around the furnished living room whilst trying to stop her daughter from jumping out of her arms to try and get to JB.

"Thanks," Eggsy smiled gratefully before putting JB carefully on the floor. JB was so overexcited that he ran straight at Dean and nuzzled his leg.

"Get the fuck off me." Dean snarled, moving his leg as if to kick him.

Eggsy quickly snapped his fingers and called JB to him, who happily bounded over to his owner and wagged his tail.

"He's well trained." Michelle observed and Eggsy sighed internally at the fact that she was simply going to ignore the fact Dean had nearly just kicked his fucking puppy.

"Tea's nearly ready." Eggsy said by way of a distraction. "I made pasta marinara."

"Ha ha. We'll probably get food poisoning, right, love?" Dean joked and Eggsy felt his back go up.

"Oh, shut up." She said playfully.

Eggsy was actually surprised himself as he took a bite of the entirely edible pasta on his own plate, watching as his mother spoon-fed Daisy some vaguely banana flavoured baby pap.

"Here, mum, let me do that." Eggsy said, moving around the table and picking up the jar of baby food.

"It's alright, Eggsy..." She began.

"It's fine," Eggsy said, smiling reassuringly, "you just relax. I got her."

Michelle tentatively handed the spoon to her son and Eggsy carefully spooned out some of the mixture and gently fed it to his baby sister.

He smiled fondly as half of the mixture slid down her cheek and carefully scraped it up with the side of the spoon.

"Messy pup, ain't ya?" He cooed and she laughed and opened her mouth to accept the proffered spoon.

Eggsy could see his mother staring at him from the corner of his periphery for far longer than necessary but was too busy fawning over Daisy to figure out if something was wrong.

Eggsy left his family in front of the TV whilst he went into the kitchen to feed JB and do the dishes.

He looked up as Michelle walked in just as he was scraping left over pasta into a tupperware container.

"You shock me sometimes, you know." She said. "You're growing up so fast. Not a kid anymore."

Eggsy merely smiled in return as Michelle leant down and scratched JB's head, he yelped gratefully back at her.

"'The home that hope built'", he heard her say and froze.

"Yeah," he said, turning to her and willing his blush away. "I thought it was cute."

"It is cute." She said, smiling at him and then suddenly there were tears in her eyes.

"Mum?" Eggsy said, alarmed, rushing across the room to her. "What's wrong?"

She immediately brought her hand to her face to wipe away her tears as Eggsy continued to stare at her, concern in his eyes.

"We're...um...we're gonna lose the flat." She finally said.

"Why?" Eggsy asked immediately, panic washing over him and settling in his stomach. "What's happened?"

"They're taking it off of us because we haven't been able to keep up with the rent payments."

"Why haven't you been able to keep up with the rent?" He asked.

Michelle looked away and Eggsy felt his blood run cold, knowing the answer before she even had a chance to speak.

"It's Dean, ain't it?" He asked rhetorically. "He's been taking your money again. For fucks sake, mum, you can't let this happen again. What is it this time? Drugs, again? Whores?"

JB barked at Eggsy's raised voice but he was beyond caring, he stared at his mother until he answered.

"Drugs, I think." She said quietly.

Eggsy shook his head to himself, suddenly feeling like exactly the same person he used to be on the council estate. He'd given Dean hell in the past, he could do it again.

He attempted to brush past his mother and walk into his living room.

"Eggsy, don't." His mum said warningly, putting a hand on his shoulder to stop him. "It won't help, you know it wont."

Eggsy was tempted to shrug her off and confront Dean but something in her expression stopped him, softened him and he sighed heavily and wrapped his arms around his mother.

She seemed to cling to him and after a moment he noticed that she was softly crying again.

"How long have you got?" He asked.

"Couple of months." She replied.

"It's alright," he found himself saying, "I'll sort somethin', I promise."

And he meant it, he had no idea exactly what the hell he was going to do, but he meant it.

Ever since Lee had died, Eggsy had taken it upon himself to be there for his family whenever they needed him. It wasn't a veiled, sexist 'man of the house' thing it was a 'I love my family more than anything and I'd die for them' thing.

He wanted his mum and his sister to rely on him, not Dean, him.

It was his job.

 

Chapter Text

Eggsy swore, loudly, down at his mobile banking app and was quietly grateful that he was the only one in the advertising office.

After his family had left his flat that evening, he'd had a good long think about what he could do to help them.

Apparently it was no use offering to pay the rent on the current flat they were renting because the landlord didn't want anything to do with them and just wanted them out.

Eggsy had asked his mum if she'd tried the council, especially considering she had a little one, but apparently their waiting list for London was so long it would take them months to find a place so the only option they had was to find a flat and put a deposit down on it in the next few weeks.

Eggsy had been pleased at such a viable solution until he'd checked his bank and realised he didn't have nearly enough saved to give his mum the money she needed for the deposit in the time frame they had.

He was just about to google loan types when Merlin stuck his head out of his office door and got his attention.

"Eggsy, can you come in here for a moment?" He asked.

Eggsy hid his phone quickly and walked into Merlin's office.

"This is really short notice," Merlin began, looking sheepish as he fumbled around in one of his desk drawers for something. "But there is this book signing today for a novel series we published and Charlie promised there would be a representative there. He's literally only just sent me a memo today and I'm up to my arse in paper work. I don't suppose you have a spare hour?"

"Sure." Eggsy said immediately. He knew it should have been an inconvenience on his schedule but he was grateful for a distraction from his current family crisis.

"Thank you a million times over," Merlin said gratefully, "I would do it myself, you know I would, but with this damn deadline coming up..."

"I know, Merlin, I understand." Eggsy smiled softly. "You're no Charlie."

Merlin chuckled as he handed Eggsy the piece of paper he'd been searching for.

"That's all the details I have on the whole thing, I'm pretty sure it's near Covent gardens."

"What do I do?" Eggsy asked as he read the paper beneath him. The Forbidden Fruit – the most sinful horror of the 21st century.

"Tell the author who you are and stick to them during the book signing, bat of any literary critics...all the very boring stuff."

Eggsy's lips pulled up into a half-smile. Exactly what he needed right now.

Boring. Menial. Distracting.

"Cool, see you in a bit then."

"Thank you, Eggsy. Thanks, again."

Eggsy gave Merlin a little salute as he walked out of the office and folded the paper into his pocket.

As he walked through the editing department and towards the door, he saw Charlie stood talking to someone.

The older man's gaze fixed on him as he passed but Eggsy made a conscious effort to keep his eyes straight. His stomach did an uncomfortable flip and Eggsy berated himself for even caring anymore. He reasoned that he had really liked Charlie in the beginning, and even now he supposed he missed the intimacy, he definitely missed the sex.

He shook his head to himself as he left the publishing house, thinking about the unpredictable marks people could leave on you.

He walked purposefully into a once Victorian brick-building in Covent gardens that had been refitted as a library and found a small crowd of people were already beginning to gather at the entrance.

He muscled his way through and showed his I.D to the doorman who let him through.

Eggsy followed the corridor until he reached the heavy wooden double doors he'd been directed to and slipped inside into the main reception area of the library.

In the middle of the imposing shelves was a table with several copies of the first editions of 'The Forbidden Fruit' but the seat behind was empty.

A few V.I.Ps, like himself, had already been allowed in and were quietly perusing the shelves around them.

Eggsy supposed he should join them, to kill time until the author arrived and to look like he belonged in the literary world, so he turned down one of the aisles between the book shelves and saw Harry Hart, wearing a long, black tailored coat and examining the blurb of a hefty tome.

Eggsy wished diligently that he would stop running into the bloody man wherever he went. He bet Harry probably thought he was stalking him.

He realised, with dread, that it was too late to turn back and pretend he hadn't seen him when Harry glanced up and caught his eye.

Eggsy stood his ground as he stared back, wondering what on earth he could possibly say after their last meeting.

"Eggsy." Harry greeted professionally.

"Harry." Eggsy said back immediately. "H...how are you?" He found himself asking.

"Fine." Harry replied stiffly, expression stoic, and it was like their last meeting hadn't even happened at all. It was as if nothing had happened at all since the day they'd met.

Eggsy's eyebrows lurched down in confusion. He'd come to the conclusion, with the help of his diary, that he had touched a nerve with Harry and his personal life last time and that was why they'd clashed but before that Harry had been perfectly civil, nice, even. Now he was acting as if he hated him again, it sent Eggsy's head reeling.

He hated bullshit. He wished Harry would just decide whether or not he liked him instead of changing his mind every five minutes like the weather.

"I should be getting back." Harry said suddenly, slotting the book back onto the shelf. "I have to speak with the author."

Eggsy stood aside silently and Harry passed him without even attempting to say goodbye, he didn't even look at him.

"Wait." Eggsy said suddenly, he snaked his hand out and grabbed Harry's bare wrist before he could leave.

Harry stilled immediately, shocked, and turned slowly back to the assistant advertiser.

Eggsy blinked a few times at the feeling of Harry's slightly cool skin under his own and realised that he'd never actually touched him before.

Harry made no attempt to jerk his arm away but instead regarded the contact with a weary look in his eye. After what felt like an eternity, Eggsy seemed to suddenly become aware of himself and dropped his wrist and then the moment was over.

"What is your problem?" Eggsy asked once he found his voice again.

Harry blinked slowly, as if it were taking him a moment to process the question, before he fixed Eggsy with an accusing stare.

"What is my problem with what?" He asked in a hard voice.

"Why are you being so weird?" Eggsy asked, aware his voice had risen a few octaves but he couldn't find it in himself to care. If he needed to shout at Harry Hart to be heard then he supposed he had to shout. "You were totally friendly last time we met, now you're acting like a prick."

"You made it perfectly clear the last time we met that you wanted nothing to do with me." Harry said calmly, eyes narrowed. "Or did you forget the particulars of what you said?"

"How in the fuck am I supposed to have anythin' to do with you?" Eggsy spat loudly. "You're as cold as ice. You don't tell me anything. You didn't tell me why you got fired, you didn't tell me that Charlie slept with your boyfriend. Don't you think it would have been useful for me to know he was a serial bloody cheat?"

Eggsy expected Harry to be angry, wanted him to be angry, that he knew about the intimate details of his life but Harry just looked surprised at such an outburst.

Eggsy lost some of his fire when Harry offered him nothing, as usual, so he turned on his heel and walked away.

"I'm sorry."

Eggsy froze.

He turned slowly back to see Harry was staring at him forlornly, eyes gentle and saddened, as he took a step closer to the assistant advertiser.

Eggsy thought he was as surprised as he could ever be to hear Harry apologising but he was proved wrong by the words that came out of his mouth next.

"You're right."

"I'm...right?" He asked, eyes fixed on the editor in front of him.

Harry sighed loudly as he ran a hand through his hair, dishevelling his perfect locks slightly. Eggsy watched him precariously.

"I should have said something." Harry admitted softly. "I did try to look out for you, but it seems I went about it the wrong way."

"What're you talkin' about?"

"The day I saw you and Charlie together," he faltered slightly before pursing his lips and swallowing, Eggsy found himself enthralled by the bob of his Adam's apple. "It was like I walked in on them, all over again. It...hurt. I didn't want you to get hurt that way. I told Charlie to leave you alone, to break things off immediately but he didn't listen to me. He fired me the second I punched him in the face."

Eggsy's face went lax when his entire world seemed to fit together like a thousand piece sky puzzle he'd finally completed, but the feeling that came with it wasn't nearly as satisfactory.

Charlie's black eye suddenly made sense, not to mention the reason he'd avoided him so diligently the week after Harry had left. He felt an odd sense of pleasure at the thought that someone had actually been looking out for him when he'd thought that he was alone, but the feeling was quickly overshadowed by a sudden feeling of immense guilt.

This all meant that he had been the reason Harry had lost his job, and with it, the company he'd built up from the ground with Charlie.

"Shit," he said quietly, opening his eyes and meeting Harry's concerned gaze. "This is my fault." He said dejectedly by way of an explanation.

"What ever happened, it wasn't your fault." Harry said resolutely. "I made all those decisions for myself."

"But...Merlin told me." Eggsy admitted sheepishly. "It was your publishing agency, and you lost it."

"Charlie Hesketh destroyed it long before you came along." Harry said, smiling reassuringly. "Don't worry about me for a second. I'm okay. This job is better than I could of hoped for. Plus, I don't have to see his smarmy face everyday, which, trust me, is only a bonus."

Eggsy laughed softly, dissipating the terrible feeling in his stomach slightly, but he still couldn't help feeling awful about the way everything had happened. Although, there was still one thing he didn't necessarily understand.

"If you hate me so much then why did you protect me?"

Again, there was no anger in Harry's expression, more of a saddened resignation.

"I don't hate you, Eggsy. I've never hated you." Harry admitted softly, apologetically, and Eggsy realised this must have been the most gentle, most open he'd ever seen him. Eggsy suddenly became hyper-aware of his hazel-tinted eyes and the way his lips parted as he spoke. "I just didn't think I could control myself around you. Self-preservation gone wrong."

Eggsy couldn't even look away from him when a man approached them to tell them the author had arrived.

Harry had given him a lingering look, almost like he resented having been pulled away, before he followed the man out of the aisle and left Eggsy stood alone.

He had no idea how he was supposed to even process such a thing, such a world-changing revelation.

He thought...he didn't know what he thought. He certainly didn't know what he felt, or how he felt about Harry Hart.

He wanted to run after him, but then realised he had no idea why, let alone what to say. He also wanted to run home and crawl under his bed covers and hide there forever.

But he didn't do either of those things.

He didn't do anything.

Dear diary

Is it weird when you get the answer to a question, the answer confuses you more than the question ever did?

Sounds weird, I know

bumped into Harry today at book signing (omg most boring shit ever had to sit through btw) and he said he doesn't hate me (mind fuck) but was 'self-preserving' (?) does that mean he l

Eggsy stopped writing immediately, aware that he was about to scrawl down 'does that mean he likes me?' but he just couldn't write it, he couldn't go there. Not just because it was improbable and ridiculous and complete madness but also because what was the point?

Eggsy didn't think he could let himself be burned again, not when he felt as bloody vulnerable as he did lately.

He sighed frustratedly as he cast his diary aside, he didn't even know what he was even thinking about.

There were so many implications with what Harry had said to him and Eggsy wished he'd just kept it to himself. His life was monumentally easier when he thought that Harry hated him, it was easier to process, easier to deal with.

But now, it was two in the morning, he had work the next day and he couldn't concentrate on how to help his mother and his sister because he was being bugged by the unidentifiable feeling that had settled in his stomach since the confrontation at the book signing.

The next morning, he rubbed his tired eyes and watched from afar as two people cleared the furniture out of Harry's old office.

He hadn't really realised until then that he'd kind of missed the man, more out of familiarity than anything else.

He felt the unidentifiable pull on his stomach again for a moment until it was replaced with a feeling of undeniable guilt as he was unceremoniously reminded that it had been his fault Harry had been fired in the first place.

He tried to reason with himself that it hadn't really been his fault, he didn't ask Harry to clot Charlie, after all. Not to mention that, if anything, all he'd done was do him a favour.

He still wanted to say sorry again, though, even though he knew Harry would never accept his apology. He'd never get the chance though, there weren't very high odds of the pair ever really seeing each other again in a non-professional environment.

But then Eggsy wasn't sure if he wanted to see Harry in a non-professional environment again. He knew he'd have no idea what to say even if he did.

Eggsy had tried, in vain, over the last couple of days to pinpoint exactly how he felt about the editor now but couldn't.

He'd spent such a long time hating him, or at least convincing himself that he hated him, that he'd never taken a proper look at the person who had been stood in front of him all that time.

Of course Harry was flawed, fucking flawed, and whatever he'd tried to achieve with his 'self-preservation' tactic had gone horribly wrong. He was socially awkward and vaguely snobbish but at the end of the day, Charlie Hesketh had humiliated him and crippled his trust in men and Harry Hart had made him feel, just for a moment, like he was safe.

He watched as the two men shut the office door tightly before he turned on his heel and left.

 

Chapter Text

Eggsy manoeuvred deftly around a stack of cardboard boxes perched in the doorway to his mother's flat that he very nearly walked into on his way in.

"Mum?" He called out, confusion in his voice.

"Kitchen!" She called back.

Eggsy walked into the kitchen and found his mother sat at the table, constructing flattened cardboard boxes with packaging tape.

He regarded her with a raised eyebrow as he sat down. "Don't you think you're being a bit hasty?" He asked.

"Just wanted to keep myself busy." She replied, preoccupied with scraping her nail against the tape to find the puckered end. Eggsy knew she was deflecting, she always did this; find some way to preoccupy herself so he wouldn't think about the big problem.

He tapped his fingers against the table quickly as he willed himself to speak.

"Look, I've been havin' a think," he began, "I can afford a deposit for a new place, just not at the moment. We've got this big company reorganisation and all that...give me about a month and I can get it together, easy. Just...if you and Daisy stay with me until then..." She looked up at him immediately and Eggsy winced. "...It'll be cramped and everythin' but it's gonna have to do, innit?"

Her eyes hit the floor and Eggsy knew she was embarrassed, despite the fact he was a grown adult supporting himself she still felt like she had to provide for him.

"I don't like havin' to take money off you." She said, not looking up at him.

"It's not takin' money off me," he assured her, "you can pay me back if you want. It's my job to look after you, and Daisy. S'pecially since Dean ain't lifted a fuckin' finger." That last bit came out a little resentfully but Michelle didn't seem to notice as she smiled gratefully at him.

"I don't know what I'd do without you, babe." She said, pulling him into a hug.

Eggsy rolled his eyes over her shoulder as he heard the front door open and close loudly and booming conversation wander into the front room.

"They're gonna wake Daisy." Eggsy said pointedly.

"Oh, will you check on her, babe?" Michelle asked. "I'll pop the kettle on."

Eggsy nodded absent-mindedly before he stood, resenting the fact that he had to pass through the front room to get to his mother's bedroom.

Eggsy looked out of the corner of his eye to avoid confrontation and saw Dean, Poodle and two other men not that much older than himself sat on the couch and the armchair, they had a few four packs of tesco-brand lager on the table and were talking raucously between themselves.

Eggsy sighed quietly as he crossed the room and slipped into his mother's bedroom quickly in an attempt to keep as much of the noise out of the room as possible.

Eggsy crossed to the cot on the other side of the master bed and peered in to see Daisy sleeping soundly below.

She had thrown her blanket off of herself and her dummy lay beside her with a trail of spit linking it to her mouth.

If it were anyone else's child he probably would have found it vaguely gross but because it was his little sister, it was perfect.

"I'm gonna sort somethin' out." Eggsy promised quietly to the sleeping child as he carefully readjusted her blanket and moved the dummy away. He wanted to reach in and stroke her hair or give her a gentle peck on the forehead but didn't want to risk waking her, knowing full well she'd never get back to sleep with the muted laughter he could hear through the walls and he didn't think his mother would appreciate being kept up all night by her over-tired wailing.

Eggsy shut the door quietly behind him and attempted to walk back to the kitchen when his step-father got his attention by calling out his name.

"Eggsy, tell your mum to come out and keep us company."

Eggsy could tell by the way his words were vaguely slurred, and by the suggestive laughter that followed such a comment, they had already been drinking for a while.

All it did was solidify how very much he wasn't going to pass that message on to his mother. He completely ignored the tipsy arsehole as he walked passed him.

"Oi, don't ignore me, you fucking poof."

Eggsy stopped in his tracks; back to Dean.

He'd accidentally been outed to his step-father by his mother a few years ago but had he had the choice, he would never have told the man. But as far as he was aware, no one outside the family knew, unless of course Dean had told all of his lackey's but Eggsy had always imagined he was too afraid of losing his precious reputation to spread around that his step-son was a 'poof', as he so delicately put it.

He just hoped that they would take it simply as a general insult rather than a specific one, he put his hand on the door handle to the kitchen.

"What do you mean 'poof'?" One of the younger ones asked, sounding suddenly uncomfortable.

"Yeah, this prick with his high-end fucking 'boyfriend'..."

Eggsy turned quickly on his heel to see Dean stood and pointing at him.

"Will you just shut the fuck up?" He asked rhetorically. "Enough now, if you say one more fuckin' word about me then I swear I'll kick your teeth in."

The four men stared at him in shock and even Eggsy was surprised at such an outburst.

The door to the kitchen opened behind him and his mother walked out just as Dean swung his fist at him.

Eggsy ducked instinctively and felt his mother's hands on his shoulders, dragging him backwards. He lost his footing and collapsed against her.

"Dean, leave him the fuck alone!" She shouted heatedly. "Stop picking on him for once, he'd just a kid!"

Dean looked suddenly murderous and Eggsy closed his eyes as he waited for the next blow but opened them immediately when he felt the weight of his mother disappear and heard her crying out.

He saw his mother across the room, clutching her face and he felt something inside of himself that he hadn't even known was there snap.

He punched Dean, hard, on the nose and hissed at the satisfying crunch that followed before he barrelled straight into him before he had a chance to retaliate, gripping him around his midsection and knocking him to the floor.

In his blind rage, Eggsy had recklessly forgotten that Dean was not the only person in the room and bundling him to the floor left him irritatingly vulnerable.

He felt more annoyed at his stupidity than scared of his immediate fate.

He grunted when he felt the first foot connect with his back which effectively flattened him to the ground.

He quickly clambered onto all fours only to feel another blow to his stomach, he clutched at himself as he cried out and then something hit him squarely in the face and then everything went fuzzy.

He could vaguely hear his mother talking, or was she shouting? He knew he was still being hit, but the blows became muted, dulled, against him as he lost track of time and it felt like he was underwater somehow.

His world seemed to centre suddenly on his mother's face close to his own, she had a nasty bruise on one cheek and her eyes were full of fear.

"Eggsy, Eggsy, can you hear me?"

"Mmm." Eggsy mumbled, turning over slowly on the floor. He winced as he felt pain at his side and let his head fall against the carpet, closing his eyes.

"No, don't close your eyes, sweetheart." Came his mother's voice in the darkness. "Come on, come with me, come with me..." He allowed himself to be hefted onto the sofa and blinked a few times to try and steady his eye sight.

He rubbed his face, which hurt, before his gaze settled on his mother sat beside him.

"How do you feel?" She asked gently.

"Your face..." He found himself saying, before a wave of nausea lurched over him. "Jesus, what happened?" He blinked again, even his voice sounded slurred. "How did you get them to leave?"

"Threatened to call the police," she replied, shrugging, "Dean's done enough to get himself banged up for life, he scarpered."

"I've got a crackin' headache." He said.

"I'm not surprised." Michelle replied. "I wanna take you to the emergency room."

"Nah, don't worry. I'm fine." He assured her, shaking his head suddenly which made him wince and also affectedly voided his point.

"Babe, look at yourself."

Eggsy pulled his phone gingerly from his jeans pocket, which miraculously wasn't cracked, and checked his reflection.

He recoiled slightly when he took in the myriad of angry, mottled bruises spanning the entirety of the left side of his face.

"Shitting hell." He said under his breath before turning to his mother. "Alright, maybe we should go to the emergency room."

Eggsy held himself around the middle as he eased himself down onto an uncomfortable plastic chair in the accident and emergency waiting room.

"You alright?" Michelle asked sympathetically.

"Yeah." Eggsy nodded. "Christ. I must be covered."

"Do you want me to have a look?"

"Nah, you're alright." Eggsy replied, giving her a shallow smile. He'd gotten enough stares for the bruises on his face and neck from the nurses and other patients, the last thing he needed was to strip in the waiting room.

"They look sore." She said quietly, biting her lip.

Eggsy knew she felt at fault for what had happened despite the fact there hadn't physically been anything she could have done. He supposed it was just a mother's instinct.

"They look worse than they feel." Eggsy assured her, and he was telling the truth. He was stiff and achy but it felt more like he'd slept awkwardly rather than been pummelled by four grown men.

"I should have stood up for you," Michelle sighed, "not just back then, but every time he said something. I'm sorry, love."

"It's alright." Eggsy said. "You got involved today and look what happened." He gestured to the bruise on her own cheek and felt the anger inside him flare up again momentarily before he forced it down.

"Still, it's not the lesson I wanted to teach you."

Eggsy angled himself carefully so as not to hurt his tender body and took both of her hands in his own, fixing her with a knowing look that was far beyond his years.

"Look, mum, you have a young'un, you need a quiet life. You're right to avoid conflict, especially with that wanker. It's not like you 'ad much of a choice."

She smiled gratefully at him and kissed him on the clear side of his face. He smiled in return, satisfied, before he dropped her hands and slumped back into his own seat.

"I could do with a quiet life, an' all."

"What do you mean?"

It was far too innocent a question to garner the response that Eggsy gave her, but he felt so fucking vulnerable in that moment he realised that he wanted her to know.

"Remember the guy I told you about, Charlie?"

Michelle nodded silently.

"Well, he cheated on me."

Michelle didn't answer for a long moment. Eggsy looked down to see her hand snake out and take his, he smiled down at the warm, comforting contact.

"I'm so sorry, darlin'." She said softly. "You don't deserve that."

"Nah." Eggsy replied quietly. "I didn't."

He let his head rest against the wall as she began to stroke tenderly across the back of his hand with her thumb, feeling, for the first time since he'd walked in on Charlie with that fucking twink wrapped around him, truly comforted.

"Relationships just ain't worth it." He voiced pessimistically after a moment.

"I know." Michelle merely replied.

It was nearly two hours later by the time they were seen but Eggsy was grateful, such a wait and two ibuprofen meant that he was in significantly less pain than when they had arrived.

"Well, I would ask what the problem is but I think I can guess." The paramedic said as Eggsy blushed. "What happened?"

"I...I was attacked."

The paramedic nodded, suddenly serious. "I see. By whom?"

"Four guys, one of them attacked my mum first so..."

"Okay, well, let me have a look at you, have you called the police?"

Eggsy shook his head.

"I recommend it."

"Yeah, I will." Eggsy lied, there was no point in calling anyone. He knew for a fact that Dean had been peddling illegal drugs, hospitalised someone who didn't pay and robbed a pharmacy all in the last few months and had never been done for any of that.

Eggsy wouldn't be surprised if he'd ever killed anyone.

The thought made him shiver suddenly and he realised he was one of the lucky ones.

"Hop up on here, Mr. Unwin." The paramedic said, patting an unfolded hospital bed covered in heavy duty tissue paper.

Eggsy pulled himself up onto the apparatus carefully but still managed to make himself wince. The paramedic apparently caught this look then said, "where are you most bruised?"

"I don't know." Eggsy admitted. "This was all a bit rushed. Pretty sure I have some on my stomach though."

"Okay, then, if you wouldn't mind popping your shirt off then..."

Eggsy gingerly pulled his top over his head and nearly cried at the pain it caused him to stretch that much. He gasped quietly as he looked down at himself for the first time. The entirety of his midsection was black and blue.

It really did look worse than it felt.

"I'm just going to press gently along your skin now, Eggsy." The paramedic informed him as he snapped on a pair of adhesive gloves and proceeded to press the tips of his fingers to the underside of Eggsy's ribs and work them down his abdomen.

Eggsy had expected it to hurt but such a gentle application tickled more than anything else.

After he was done with his stomach, the paramedic examined his face more closely, turning his jaw to the right and feeling alongside the bone, before pressing along the length of his naked collarbone and nodding to himself, snapping his gloves off.

"Okay, that's all fine." He said. "You don't have any broken bones, which is pretty lucky, you're one tough cookie. There are no skin abrasions or tears, either. What I'm going to do is prescribe you some painkillers, because even now I can see you're in discomfort, and also I'm going to give you some anti-inflammatory ointment. Obviously bruises like this heal naturally but this should just speed the process along, okay, you will be a bit stiff."

"Okay." Was all Eggsy could think to say as the paramedic leant over a desk and typed something into a computer.

"Do you work at all? Or study?"

Eggsy blinked a couple of times, unsure what that had to do with anything, but answered with a hasty 'yeah' anyway.

"I suggest you take a few days off, then. Just to heal. You won't be much use to anyone if you can't move."

Oh, thought Eggsy as he accepted the prescription from the paramedic. He didn't want to take any time off work, especially considering the massive upheaval happening over the next few weeks, but the paramedic was right. He couldn't even sit down without it hurting, he doubted he'd be able to run around the corridors of Hesketh publishing, hastily picking up the pieces of the business that was falling apart around their ears.

Not to mention the fact that he was at least one hundred per cent sure Merlin would take one look at the state he was in and send him straight back home. With hot chocolate. And marshmallows.

"Alright, a couple of days off work it is." He said a little glumly.

"Don't worry, you'll be back on your feet in no time." The paramedic smiled.

Eggsy thanked him, shook his hand and painfully pulled his shirt back on before he left the consultation room and walked stiffly back to his mother.

So that was how Eggsy Unwin had ended up laying on his mother's couch two days later with his diary and JB lying on his lap, surrounded by moving boxes, the telly on mute and his phone pressed to his ear.

"So how are you feeling?" Roxy asked over the phone.

"Okay." Eggsy replied honestly. "Bruises are a lot better, less noticeable, I guess."

There was silence on the other end of the phone for a moment, Eggsy knew Roxy was worrying about him too much but thankfully, she didn't press it. So neither did he.

"How'd the deadline go?" He asked absent-mindedly, scratching JB behind the ears and getting an appreciative lick in return.

"Oh, same old. There wasn't a launch for this one." She said, voice glum.

Eggsy chuckled.

"Oh, I'm so sorry we couldn't help your fetish."

"Shut up." She berated.

JB shifted slightly on Eggsy's lap, brushing against the slowly healing bruises on his chest and he moved the phone away so Roxy wouldn't hear him hissing lest she phone for the fire brigade.

"...so that's big news, I guess." Came her disembodied voice when he pressed the phone back to his ear.

"Sorry, what is big news?" He asked, pulling a face.

"The meeting." She clarified, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"What meetin'?" He asked.

He couldn't see her but he assumed she was rolling her eyes at the phone.

"The big meeting, the final countdown meeting, the meeting to end all meetings."

"Oh. That meetin'." Eggsy mumbled.

That meeting was the be-all-and-end-all meeting between Charlie Hesketh and Arthur King, to finalise Hesketh becoming part of Kingsman. He remembered Charlie saying something about it a few weeks ago but hadn't really been paying attention at the time.

"When's that happenin'?"

"The sixteenth."

"Oh, I'm back on the sixteenth." He told her, brighting up suddenly.

"Oh, really?" She replied hopefully. "Awesome. Just in time to see Charlie swallowed whole."

Eggsy snickered into the phone. "We'll all be Kingsman." He mused.

"Bagsy being Lancelot." Roxy replied instantly.

Eggsy had wanted to reply with something equally witty but Lancelot was the only knight he actually knew so he settled on laughing instead. But that laugh quickly turned into a gasp as JB attempted to crawl up his chest to lick his face.

"Ow, ow. JB, go down, go down, come on..." Eggsy sighed in relief when JB hopped off of him and trotted happily around the moving boxes and into the kitchen.

"Eggsy, are you okay?" Came Roxy's startled voice from the other end of the phone.

"Rox, I'm fine." He found himself smiling. "JB just jumped on me, that's all."

"I still worry about you, you dumbass." She retorted huffily. "You got beaten to within an inch of your life!"

"That's a bit of an exaggeration," he pointed out, raising his eyebrows. "I have a few bruises."

"Has your mum left Dean yet?"

Eggsy angled his head and looked through the kitchen door, he could see his mother pottering around inside.

"I dunno. We 'aven't really talked about it. I 'aven't seen him for a few days, though."

"Well, that can only be a good thing. Bad relationships just aren't worth it."

"That's what said." Eggsy told her, shifting slightly so he was lying down fully.

"You shouldn't be with someone like Dean. You should be with someone who cares about you. Someone whose capable of being gentle as well as rough. I know there's all this crap about being with someone who makes your blood boil in angry passion but exhilarates you, which is all well and good, but it just isn't enough. You should be with someone who can do all that and more. Someone who makes you feel safe."

Eggsy wasn't precisely sure what had sparked her little tangent about the perfect man, but his eyes rested on the ceiling as he listened to her say it.

"Yeah..." Was all he managed to get out in response as his fingers lingered on the leather-bound spine of the diary perched on his lap.

Dear diary

Roxy was chatting away today about what a perfect man is + she got it bang on, wish could find someone like that but probs don't even exist.

Charlie excited me but never made me feel comfortable, was rough but never gentle

can one person be two opposite things at same time?

Kind of miserable thought really, don't have anyone who is rough AND gentle, pisses me off but cares about me and looks out for me and

Eggsy's pen stilled suddenly on the page as Roxy's words and his thoughts all aligned with each other.

Oh

 

Chapter Text

Eggsy frowned into his mirror as he undid the top button of his shirt.

Although the bruise on his face and the ones leading down his neck were smaller and more yellow than the gaping, angry blue they'd been two days ago, they were still very much visible and his bones still felt creaky and stiff inside him.

He wondered momentarily how he was going to explain this one away when he walked into the office later that morning.

He was already fairly pissed off by the obvious stares he'd received on his way in and supposed that there was really no way to pretend he wasn't aware of how he looked.

Instead, he walked straight up to the receptionists' desk and smiled loudly.

"Hey, Sheila, do you have any letters for me?"

Sheila glanced up from her desk and Eggsy watched as her eyes widened in shock.

"I know," he said immediately, disarming her. "Trust me, they look worse than they feel."

"Oh my God." She said slowly. "What happened?"

"Just an accident." He brushed off quickly, smile still firmly in place.

She looked like she was going to say more before she pursed her lips and riffled around the papers on her desk.

Eggsy felt the mortification in spades and wished he was back curled up in bed but stood his ground and waited.

"These are for you." She said eventually, handing him the last few days' build up of memos and letters, he thanked her profusely before walking away from her desk and into the editing department as fast as his stiff legs would carry him.

He'd meant to bolt through before anyone had a chance to say anything to him and get to the safety of the advertising department where he knew Roxy was waiting with coffee, but was attention was piqued.

He assumed that people in the department must have been staring, and judging, in equal measure.

'oh look that common boy started a fight blah blah blah...' But he found his attention commandeered as his gaze locked onto the glass office and he saw Charlie, Merlin, Arthur King and Harry Hart sat around the desk, talking quietly.

The minute he saw them all there, he remembered Roxy telling him that today was the day they were having the finalisation meeting; crossing the I's and dotting the T's on Hesketh Publishing being absorbed into Kingsman, but the feeling was muted slightly by the unidentifiable twang in his stomach that had been plaguing him for the last few days as he stared, embarrassingly obviously, at him.

He knew he should have walked away immediately but some unknown, dominating force seemed to keep him there. He tilted his head ever so slightly as he took in Harry's polished and pristine form and found himself smiling, like he was suddenly greeted by an old friend or the smell of his favourite food. Comfort. Home.

His little zoned-out bubble was suddenly burst when he caught Charlie's eye, watching as the man stared, shocked, right down at him.

Embarrassed at being caught staring, Eggsy meant to turn his face away but four pairs of eyes were suddenly locked on him.

Shitting fucking fuck, his head screamed at him at Merlin's worried gaze and Arthur's confused one. When his eyes met Harry's, however, he found that his mind was unusually silent.

It was only for a split second, but Harry looked so bloody scared that, for the first time since Eggsy had started working there, he found himself profusely grateful for the dumb glass office.

The reason their eyes only met for the briefest of moments was because in the next second Harry was on his feet and hurrying out of the office. As the man approached briskly, there was something in his focused expression that made Eggsy believe, for one wild second, that he was going to kiss him.

But, of course, that didn't happen.

Harry came to an abrupt stop in front of him, eyes glazed with concern and fists clenched, and Eggsy felt like he was going to spew with the mixed emotions of embarrassment, anxiety, excitement and gratitude all churning within him.

His mind seemed to settle on embarrassed when he noticed Merlin, Arthur and Charlie approaching behind Harry.

Eggsy almost wished the dominating presence of Harry wasn't stood directly in front of him and giving him the entirety of his attention so that when the questions inevitably came, he might have stood a chance at a coherent answer.

Much to the shock of everyone present, it was Arthur who spoke first.

"Mr. Unwin," he began, confusion in his voice. "What happened to you?"

Eggsy was met with a sense of pleasure that not only was he being asked after, but the head of Kingsman had even remembered his name but it quickly subsided as he realised that he was now going to have to answer this question.

He wanted to lie, but he couldn't think up anything that quickly that would explain the bruises on his skin so he settled for a partial truth.

"I was attacked." He mumbled.

Merlin's reaction struck him first as he looked immediately horrified, Charlie looked sheepish for a moment until he looked away and Eggsy almost said something to the git before he noticed Harry's mouth move slightly.

Eggsy was met with the sudden and immediate urge to cry but was saved by Charlie finally pipping up.

"Um, gentlemen, I believe we have a meeting to get back too..."

Harry turned slightly towards him and Eggsy was almost certain that, had they not been stood in the middle of the editing department, Harry would have hit him again.

Instead, he turned on his heel and stalked back to the office, followed by Charlie and Arthur.

Merlin hovered for a moment, looking like he wanted to say something but Eggsy gave him a reassuring smile and nodded towards the retreating figures of Harry, Arthur and Charlie and Merlin reluctantly followed.

Now that he was stood alone, Eggsy became aware of the crowd stood around him and turned and bolted for the advertising department before he could do anything else to embarrass himself.

He stopped when he got to the double doors and breathed heavily as he leant against the wall, feeling his stomach twist painfully inside of himself and his heartbeat thump erratically in his chest.

He didn't have a clue what on Earth was happening to him but he wanted it to stop, like immediately.

He'd nearly fucking cried, stood right in front of everyone, and it was all Harry's fault. He wished he could tell himself that he'd merely imagined it, but he knew that he hadn't, and it hurt. Itfucking hurt.

Because the moment he'd confessed what had happened to him, Harry had said his name.

So quietly, so softly and yet so unequivocally that Eggsy had wanted to reach out, he'd wanted to touch him, to feel the same cool skin under his hand as he'd had in the library all those weeks ago.

What did it all mean? What could it mean? Was there even a logical explanation for it?

He was certain that he had despised Harry Hart not that long ago. He tried to remind himself of the times when he'd made Eggsy feel terrible, of the feeling of annoyance he felt at the sight of him but he couldn't quite call the emotion back up.

Everything suddenly had a but attached to it.

Harry was a dick at the Kingsman gala but Charlie had fucked him over and forced him out of his own company.

Harry had withheld information about Charlie Hesketh which could have saved Eggsy a whole load of heartbreak but he'd defended Eggsy behind his back and lost his job in the process.

Harry was undeniably rude to him the first time they'd met but he'd only been trying to control himself so that he wouldn't...

Eggsy's thought process faltered. Wouldn't what, exactly?

There was obviously no denying the fact that Harry had made some bad choices, and they'd started off their acquaintance terribly, but he'd done some good things too, some nice things, and weren't people supposed to be a good mixture of both rather than too nice or too bad?

He remembered Roxy's 'gentle and rough' remark and mulled the concept over in his head for a moment before he concluded that he didn't have a fucking clue what he thought.

At the thought of Roxy, however, he suddenly remembered that she was waiting for him and pushed open the double doors to the advertising department.

"Hey," he greeted, walking over to his own desk where she sat.

She looked up at him and as Eggsy neared he saw her eyes fill with tears.

"Don't you fuckin' start." He said exasperatedly.

"Sorry," she said, wiping her nose before standing up and hugging him.

Eggsy was surprised by the sudden warm contact but smiled into her shoulder for a moment nonetheless.

When she pulled back, Eggsy watched her gaze travel over his cheek and down his neck and hover on his collar, she bit her lip.

"Are they bad?"

"Not so much anymore," he replied honestly. "Trust me, it wasn't that big a deal anyway. I don't really remember it."

He grabbed the nearest chair to him and plonked down and Roxy sat back down at his desk before handing him a cardboard cup of coffee.

"Thanks." He said, accepting the cup and shivering as it warmed his fingers.

"Your step-father should be locked up." She said, shaking her head at her own drink.

"Tell me about it." Eggsy replied immediately. "This-" he gestured to his own face. "-this is nothin'. He's done worse, loads worse. I want him locked up for fuckin' over my mum, let alone me."

"Has she found a new place yet?"

Eggsy shook his head. "Nah, not yet. Think she was a bit preoccupied with everythin' that's been happenin' the last few days, to be honest. It's a proper fucked up situation."

"Family dramas generally are." Roxy replied knowingly.

"Ain't that the truth." Eggsy agreed, turning his head instinctively when he heard the double doors opening and Merlin walked through, Harry on his heel. Eggsy swallowed unconsciously.

"Oh, hey." Roxy greeted, smiling. "Did everything go okay?"

"Yes, yes, everything is fine." Merlin said quickly, eyes on Eggsy. "Someone attacked you?"

Eggsy felt the non-bruised part of his face go bright red and suddenly he had three pairs of eyes on him again.

"Yeah." He said quietly, looking at the ground. "It's not a big deal."

"Not a big deal, Eggsy, you're black and blue." Harry said, causing Eggsy to look up.

"Who was it?" Asked Merlin suddenly and Eggsy found himself smiling slightly at the mental image of Merlin and Harry going after Dean. They'd probably win, though. He mused.

He looked at Roxy, silently asking whether or not he should say anything and the reproachful look she gave him in return answered his question.

"It was my step-father." He said sheepishly, hyper-aware of the can of worms he was effectively opening.

Finally there was silence in the room, Merlin looked pissed and Harry looked blankly at him.

"Is this a common occurrence?" He asked quietly.

Eggsy allowed himself a small grin as he shook his head.

"No, I'm not an abused child, alright? There was just a bust up because his mates found out that I was..." Eggsy stopped talking immediately, forgetting, momentarily, that Roxy and Merlin were yet to know this little facet of his life.

"That you're what?" Asked Roxy suddenly, regarding him quizzically.

Bollocks, he thought to himself. They'd been so good to him so quickly that Eggsy had, in all honesty, forgotten to disclose his sexuality to them. He'd supposed it would all come out when he and Charlie told everyone they were seeing each other, the thought was tragically laughable now.

"...that I'm gay." He said simply.

Harry gave no response, naturally, because he was already aware of the fact. Roxy, however, had immediately wrapped her arms around him again and Merlin looked angry. Fucking angry.

"...Merlin?" Eggsy asked wearily from the cocoon of Roxy's embrace. Real fear shot through him for a brief moment until Merlin shook his head and spoke.

"They beat the shit out of you because you're gay?" He asked rhetorically, turning to Harry suddenly. "Fuck, do people still do that?" He asked incredulously.

"Sometimes." Harry replied sincerely with a look of resignation in his face before he looked at Eggsy.

"Have you told the police?" He asked him gently.

Eggsy shook his head. "No point, Harry. They won't do anything, you know they wont."

And Harry knew they wouldn't. It really struck Eggsy in that moment that Harry really knew. He'd overlooked the fact that, despite everything, they both had such a major thing in common.

He felt immediately like a idiot for doubting Roxy and Merlin when the pair of them were happily aware of Harry's sexuality, not to mention Charlie's.

"There was a thing..." He found himself blurting out suddenly, shocking everyone. "With Charlie."

"What thing?" Asked Roxy. He found himself quietly grateful for the arms around him, and Harry's comforting gaze looking over him.

"Me and Charlie, we were seeing each other for a bit." Eggsy finally said. "I thought...I don't know what the fuck I thought, but, you know, it ended badly...there was another guy and..."

"Jesus." Merlin said guiltily. "Fuck, I should have told you about Charlie sooner. I'm sorry."

Harry suddenly looked away and Eggsy knew he was feeling just as guilty as Merlin was, probably more so.

"It's okay." Eggsy said immediately. "You didn't know. You couldn't have. I had to fuck up for myself, right?"

He wished Harry knew that he was talking to him as well as Merlin but Harry's eyes were still cast downwards when he inclined his head back to them.

"We've always got your back." Roxy said comfortingly, holding him a little tighter. "Fuck Charlie for hurting you, for hurting you," she glanced up at Harry. "Hesketh is a family, Kingsman is a family. No one can destroy it, especially not that imbecile."

Eggsy found himself touched by such a sentiment, and as he looked up to see Merlin and Harry glancing at each other, he tried to recall the moment the four of them had become one weird family but couldn't quite pinpoint it.

But Roxy was right, they'd always look out for each other, no matter where any of them ended up.

The home that hope built, he thought to himself as he smiled.

Dear diary,

so this friday night they're having a big do at Hesketh to celebrate then on monday we're all kingsman, gonna be totally weird but will be nice not having Charlie in charge, feel like this Arthur guy knows what he's doing, plus he'll have Harry at his side so he can't fail, can he?

Hope bruises will look better for party, can't stand all the stares around office.

Eggsy blinked a few times as he stared down at his words, thinking it odd to be concerned with such trivial things after the emotionally up-heaving day he'd had. Part of him didn't want to talk about it, but he knew that that was what diaries were for. Getting your shit onto a page so that it was out of you.

He'd found the process of owning a diary to be rather therapeutic and would definitely be buying a new one for his upcoming twenty-third birthday.

You know sometimes you find yourself wishing for stuff? Not for like money or a bigger house or whatever, but for real stuff?

Sometimes it's obvious shit like I wish my dad was still alive and I wish my family had a nicer life, sometimes, in the dark days, it's dumb shit like I wish I was straight or had better luck with school and all that.

My point is, all that stuff is out of my control, stuff that will never happen, but, lately, I found myself wishing for more useful things, wishing personal things that actually happened had happened differently so I could try again, do better this time

I mean, how different would everything have been if Harry had been the editor of Hesketh? (Hart Publishing haha) what if I'd met him first?

Just feeling down, ignore me, can't help feeling this whole kingsman thing means that something is ending, when that happens you can't go back and do things properly, because they've already happened and you can't change it

my dad won't magically come back to life, I'm never gonna wake up straight and more socially acceptable, I've already made my mistakes with Charlie

you can't go back to the beginning again

depressing thought

 

Chapter Text

"You look like you're off to a fucking funeral."

Eggsy looked down at his black dress shirt and dark jeans and frowned. "Do I?" He asked, suddenly self-conscious.

His mother shook her head as she smiled. "I'm just yanking your chain, you look very smart."

Eggsy sighed in relief as he patted down his pockets. Wallet, keys, phone...no phone, where is phone...

"So what was it again?" Michelle asked suddenly, interrupting his mental checklist.

"Kingsman launch celebration thing." He murmured as he began burrowing around the sofa cushions for his mobile.

"So," began Michelle, frowning, mug of tea paused in the air, "your company has been taken over...?"

"Sort of." Eggsy sighed, finding his phone wedged beneath the couch cushions and wiping it on his sleeve. He didn't particularly want to go into the specifics of the Hesketh/Kingsman coalition, especially considering he didn't fully understand it himself.

"Basically, Hesketh ran out of money because Charlie was fuckin' shit at runnin' the place, then Harry joins this proper renowned publishin' agency called Kingsman and convinces their boss to save Hesketh by absorbin' it into it's, like, realm. As far as anyone else is concerned, Hesketh continues on as normal, but it's owned and instructed by Kingsman."

"Like when Kraft bought Cadburys?" Michelle asked, as if it suddenly all made sense.

"Yeah." Eggsy agreed. "Exactly. It's well weird, innit? Business men and all their shit."

"But you still keep your job, yeah?"

Eggsy nodded quickly as he leant down and pressed a kiss to her cheek. "Yeah, I still got my job. Merlin is still my supervisor, Charlie is still my boss but the only difference is that Arthur is like a higher authority, like the EU. So if Charlie pulls any of the shit he used to, we can do somethin' about it."

He'd meant to exit the flat at that moment but his mother stopped him and called him back.

"What?" He asked from the doorway.

She tilted her head to the side as she stared at him. "Whose Harry?"

Eggsy blinked a couple times as he stared at her, realising fully in that moment that they'd never actually talked about him. Michelle was such an intrinsic part of Eggsy's life that he sometimes forgot that she didn't know everything about him, and it also made him realise that Harry was one of the few things he'd never spoken about.

"Just someone I used to work with." He said glumly before giving her a small wave, grabbing his jacket and exiting the flat.

As he made his way to Hesketh, he reasoned with himself that he couldn't let Harry Hart dominate his entire life, he'd let Charlie do that and it was unhealthy.

Not that Eggsy was in anyway comparing Harry to Charlie, but he'd made mistakes last time that he'd learned from.

The entire situation was so fucked up that there was no way it could work out well for anyone involved. Whatever feelings Harry claimed to have for him, in all their capacity, it was obvious that he had no intention to act on them and Eggsy would be wise to do the same. He couldn't feel down forever that things hadn't worked out or...

He snorted to himself at the thought, it was like he was mourning a relationship that had never actually happened. He missed Harry despite the fact he'd never really been there.

Could you get this upset over something that hadn't happened in the first place, or was it worse this way?

At least if they'd tried, and failed, like he and Charlie had, Eggsy could walk away and tell himself that it was for the best.

But now, after everything, they'd always be an almost something. Almost together. Almost happy.

Eggsy felt sudden moisture gather in his eyes and shook his head as he scrubbed roughly at his face, leaving his eye sockets stinging and wondering exactly why he was in so deep, why he feltthis sharply and this constantly about an almost.

Eggsy felt a giddy excitement course through him as he stepped into his office at night. It seemed wrong to see the genial editing department swathed in low light, music drifting softly in the air and people offering food and drink around.

What struck Eggsy the most was the amount of unfamiliar faces in the room. The Kingsman lot, he thought to himself as he smiled at a couple who nodded in his direction before walking through the crowd.

Eggsy frowned as he heard Charlie laughing loudly and saw the man clapping a confused looking Arthur on the back with an empty glass in his hand.

Eggsy veered immediately in the other direction, not particularly looking to encounter his drunk boss, and waved at Justin, the art department kid, before he sidled up to Roxy.

"Charlie is making an excellent impression on Mr. King." She said dryly, face betraying nothing.

Eggsy crossed his arms and settled against the wall behind him until he noticed Roxy staring at him with an eyebrow raised.

"What?" He asked.

"You're not hiding from him, are you?"

"Of course I'm not." Eggsy replied immediately. "Why would I do that?"

"You look like you're trying to get the wall to absorb you." She pointed out.

Eggsy immediately stepped forward and uncrossed his arms before looking at her pointedly.

"'Appy?"

"Ecstatic."

"Have you seen Merlin?" Eggsy asked, craning his neck to see if he could catch a glimpse of the Scotsman through the thick sea of suits and dresses.

"He's over there," Roxy said, pointing to her far left. "Talking to Harry."

Eggsy, unfortunately, had followed her finger before the end of her sentence and felt that unidentifiable pull on his stomach as he saw Harry across the room, laughing happily at something Merlin was saying to him.

What really struck Eggsy about Harry in that moment was just how casual he looked. He was wearing a dark suit, as always, but the jacket was open and the first few buttons of his white shirt were undone.

It was debauched, filthy even, for such a tightly wound person to simply stand around with the first few buttons of their shirt undone.

Eggsy felt his cheeks go hot suddenly and muttered a quick 'gotta pee' to Roxy before he headed for the closest bathroom he was aware of.

He didn't even bother locking himself in one of the empty stalls because the restroom was empty, instead, he rested against one of the sinks and took in a few gulps of air.

It was one thing to be ridiculously hyper-aware of someone's presence but another to be ridiculously turned on by a couple of centimetres of skin, embarrassing even.

Eggsy hadn't felt that kind of insane attraction since puberty when he was first coming to terms with his sexuality and had gotten hard over the thick veins in his P.E teachers' hands.

He found himself laughing at such a memory and was glad he was alone, lest someone wonder exactly what business a man had laughing alone in an empty bathroom.

Luckily for Eggsy, however, unlike that awkward occasion in the changing rooms all those years ago, he didn't have an erection which was lucky as he wouldn't know what to do about it if he did.

There would be way too much shame in wanking over someone like Harry, and would probably bring on a whole new pantheon of pain if he began developing sexual urges towards him.

He clenched his fingers around the sink basin and looked at himself in the mirror, luckily for him the bruises visible were patchy and almost transparent on his skin, but he still frowned at the bags under his eyes from his very recent sleepless nights.

This had to stop. There was no denying it now, he couldn't even look at Harry across the room without needing to bolt into the bathroom and have a panic attack. It had to stop, he couldn't carry on like this, all he was doing was hurting himself and knew that he wasn't strong enough to go through that again.

It's for your own good, he assured himself glumly as he exited the bathroom, wondering when he'd gotten so bloody mature.

He snagged a drink from someone and took a hefty gulp before he made his way back to Roxy. She and Merlin appeared to be in quite an intense conversation and were staring worriedly across the room.

"What's the matter?" Eggsy asked when he was within earshot, eyebrows knitting together in confusion.

"Charlie." Merlin supplied darkly, as if it explained everything.

Eggsy glanced across the editing department to see the boss of Hesketh publishing, his cheeks were red and his hair mussed and dishevelled and his eyes unfocused.

"How wasted is he?" Eggsy asked.

"He always does this." Roxy said, sounding irritated "Bloody prick. That's why we try and avoid taking him to social events."

Eggsy was unceremoniously reminded of the night of the launch and realised that he may not have even gone home with him that evening had they not both been drinking.

He found himself suddenly weary of the glass in his hand and settled it down onto the nearest desk.

"Well, this is fun." He finally voiced after a moment of standing around in silence.

"No one knows anyone." Merlin pointed out, crossing his arms. "I think everyone is a bit intimidated by the swanky Kingsmen."

"I was intimidated by you lot when I first started," Eggsy pointed out thoughtfully. "But I got over it, they just need time. And an open mind."

When he looked at his two colleagues, he found the pair of them staring at him in confusion.

"What?" He asked, eyes wavering.

"We intimidated you?" Roxy asked.

Eggsy suddenly felt a little sheepish, he hadn't meant to offend them.

"Not in a bad way." He quickly clarified. "I was just well nervous, you all spoke proper and I was worried you was all gonna hate me." His eyes hovered on Harry as he caught sight of him across the room. "But you all turned out to be really nice. It's the same problem now, I'm sure the Kingsman are a nice lot. Arthur seems alright."

"Yeah, shockingly so." Merlin commented. "I was expecting him to be far more snobbish."

Roxy said something in response but Eggsy wasn't paying attention, he blinked as he watched Harry smiling hugely at the woman he was talking to. His eyes hit the floor as he reminded himself of the pep-talk he'd had with himself in the bathroom before shaking his head and looking back up to Merlin and Roxy.

After a few seconds, however, he began to feel strangely uneasy and turned his head instinctively to the side and caught Harry staring straight at him.

He looked away immediately, cheeks going red as he realised he must have been subconsciously aware that he was being watched.

Eggsy tentatively sneaked another look in Harry's direction, expecting him to have looked away by then but the editor's eyes were still trained on his own.

He tried to tell himself to look away, to remind himself that all he was doing was intentionally causing himself pain but as he stared at Harry's gentle brown eyes gazing back at him he found that looking away was the very last thing he wanted to do.

"Ladies and gents, can I get your attention?"

Eggsy nearly jumped in shock at the sudden interruption and turned to see Arthur stood at the head of the room and addressing them all.

Eggsy turned quickly to Merlin and Roxy to see them giving the Kingsman editor their full attention and supposed he ought to as well.

"I would like to thank each and every one of you for attending this get together this evening," Arthur began, smiling warmly. "I would like to announce how very much I'm looking forward to working with your esteemed company..."

Eggsy couldn't help feeling awkward as fuck because everyone in the room knew what Arthur was really sugar-coating. The two companies weren't 'working together' at all, Hesketh had fallen apart and Kingsman had picked it up again.

"...I'd like to take this moment to say a special thanks to my new co-editor, Mr. Harry Hart."

Eggsy let out a startled breath as the room erupted into sudden applause. He swivelled to see Harry smiling bashfully at the ground and found his face splitting into a smile of its own, he heard Roxy whoop loudly behind him as he clapped along with the rest.

Harry hadn't mentioned that he'd been promoted back to co-editor, but of course why would he? It's not as if he and Eggsy ever really spoke. Still, Eggsy couldn't help feeling happy for him, especially considering he no longer had to feel quietly guilty for making him lose his job in the first place.

"...I think..." Arthur attempted as the applause died down slightly, "...I think Charlie Hesketh will agree with me when I say I have never had the privilege of working with anyone so..."

"Actually, Charlie Hesketh doesn't agree with shit." Came the slurred voice of the Hesketh boss. Eggsy's mouth fell open as Charlie stumbled his way to the front of the room and fell against Arthur who backed away immediately.

Charlie turned to the crowd and stared at them, in whatever capacity he was capable of in his drunken state.

"I don't need to thank Harry fucking Hart for anything!" He continued loudly.

"Oh, Jesus." Merlin said quietly.

"The prick is a cold, incapable bastard. Running a company, don't make me laugh, guy can't even keep a fucking boyfriend." Charlie laughed at his apparently hilarious taunt and Eggsy immediately looked over to see Harry staring at the floor, he was visibly hurt and cheeks tinged red at all of the eyes on him.

Eggsy felt a tug on his heart strings and before he knew what he was doing, he found himself crossing the room towards him.

"And you!" Came Charlie's drunken roar, startling the young advertising assistant who stopped in his tracks when he realised he was being addressed.

"Charlie, maybe it's time you..." Someone said, trying to approach the drunken man but Charlie threw him off and pointed at Eggsy.

"You, Eggsy! You think you're so clever, right? Ha ha. You think we haven't all noticed how you've got your eye on him? What are you doing, working your way through rich editors?"

Eggsy's eyes hit the floor as he felt the mortification rock through him in spades. He wanted to tell Charlie to shut the fuck up, or possibly just go and punch him, but he found that he couldn't move.

"Watch yourself, Arthur." Charlie laughed, clapping the shocked Kingsman editor on the back. "He'll be after you next."

"Charlie, shut the fuck up, right now..." Roxy began threateningly.

"Yeah, leave the poor lad alone. With your god damn track record." Maggie, the head of the art department, shouted out from the other side of the room.

Eggsy, however, didn't feel backed up or defended, he felt like he was made of stone, he felt the bile rise up in his stomach and burn his throat. There was no way in hell that moment could have gotten any worse.

The world did like to take the piss sometimes, though.

"Sex wasn't bad, mind. Fucking slut on his back the first night we..."

The thing that made Eggsy look up wasn't anger or embarrassment, it was a simultaneous shocked gasp from the crowd.

He momentarily worried he'd accidentally projectile vomited without realising until he saw Harry striding deftly through the crowd towards Charlie and seize him roughly by the lapel.

What was that he just thought about it not getting any worse?

"Woah, woah, hey," Charlie called out, suddenly distracted from taunting Eggsy by being cruelly man-handled by the Kingsman.

Eggsy wanted to use the distraction and bolt from the room before anyone noticed but he stayed where he was, staring at the pair, along with everyone else.

"What are you going to do, hit me again?" Charlie asked, the alcohol gave him dutch courage but there was a definite tone of real fear in his voice.

Harry merely chuckled lightly but it was a hard, cold sound that reminded Eggsy of the first Harry he'd ever met all those months ago.

"What would be the point in that?" Harry asked rhetorically, voice shockingly calm considering he held a handful of Charlie's suit in his fist. "You didn't very well listen last time, did you?"

Eggsy started as Harry dragged the editor closer to him and pointed directly at him in one swift movement.

"You threw away the best thing that ever happened to you." Harry told him, a tremor in his voice. "All because you couldn't control yourself."

"Yeah." Merlin barked out from behind Eggsy, but Eggsy was too captivated by Harry's words to pay him much mind. There was no way Harry had just said what he had thought he'd said...

"You can talk shit about me all you like," Harry continued, "you can burn my company to fucking ground for all I care." Harry let go of Charlie and pushed him roughly away, the Hesketh editor lost his footing slightly and struggled to right himself.

"But if you tarnish that innocent young man, anymore than you already have, all because you're pissed that he's the one thing you can't take away from me, then all you're doing is showing everyone present, the entire precious Hesketh family, your true colours."

"Jesus, Harry," Charlie finally mumbled out, somehow finding his voice. "Can you make any more of a scene?"

Despite having basically just been given a dressing down of epic proportions, there was something in Charlie's voice that still managed to be snide. For some bizarre reason, Eggsy suddenly felt scared.

"I really wish I hadn't sacked you all those months ago," Charlie continued. "You know, I would love nothing more than to hand your arse to you in front of all these people."

Harry crossed his arms and stood his ground.

"Luckily for us, though, Hesketh doesn't belong to Kingsman until Monday." Charlie suddenly turned to him and Eggsy understood his fear, he felt his stomach drop before the words were even out of Charlie's mouth. "Goodbye, Eggsy. Consider your employment terminated."

Eggsy wasn't one hundred per cent sure if the entire room were deathly silent or if it were so loud in his own head that it drowned everything else out.

He felt what could only be described as a wave of nausea wash over him and he very nearly stumbled over. He suddenly wasn't aware of anyone in the room walking towards him or speaking to him, he just knew he needed to get out. He needed air. It was too hot. He needed air.

Despite the frantic pull on his emotions over the last few months, it wasn't very often that Eggsy actually cried. And even when he did, it was generally just solitary tears streaming down his face. In fact, the last time he cried must have been the first time Charlie had fucked him over.

Yet he found himself sobbing in earnest into the cocoon of his arms, back cold against the brick wall of the back alley of the publishing building and legs pulled up into himself.

He couldn't pinpoint exactly what was wrenching such a reaction from him, they were tears of humiliation, of anger, of abject sorrow all rolled into one big ball of pain tugging cruelly on his insides and escaping through his rasping throat.

Eggsy looked up in shock as he heard the back door open beside him and saw someone walk slowly outside and stand in front of him.

"You're shaking." Harry commented dolefully.

"N...no spiders this t...time." Eggsy muttered; quick, panicked breaths punctuating his words.

Harry remained standing, stuffing his hands into the pockets of his coat. Eggsy sniffed loudly and attempted to wipe his tears away with the back of his hand as his gaze fell to the floor. He knew he was no where near as embarrassed as he should have been but he cared very little in that moment.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?" Eggsy asked, rubbing his nose again, wincing at the pain his shirt sleeve caused to his raw skin.

"For making you lose your job."

Eggsy glanced up at Harry and the man seemed to take a step back at the sight of his wide, red eyes. Harry looked suddenly so forlorn and so sorrowful that it made fresh tears escape Eggsy's eyes and he quickly wiped them away, willing himself to pull himself together.

"S'not your fault." Eggsy told him, finding himself actually smiling slightly as he was reminded of the similar conversation the pair had had in that library near Covent Gardens. "He would have done it anyways...thanks for defendin' me."

Harry didn't reply for several moments and Eggsy tried to blink the soreness in his eyes away.

"You do know he was talking complete and utter shit, right?" Harry questioned suddenly, eyes weary. "You're not a useless slut, what he did was his fault and..."

"I know." Eggsy said in such a dejected voice that he didn't even believe himself. "I don't really care what he thinks, not a nice thing to hear about yourself, though."

Harry smiled shallowly down at him but there was concern in his eyes.

Eggsy gave him a thin smile that he hoped looked reassuring before he closed his eyes and rubbed them, aware that at some point he would have to move from the dirty ground and get on with whatever was left of his life.

He opened his eyes to see Harry's open hand in front of his face, he looked up questioningly up at him.

"Come with me." Harry said softly.

Eggsy hesitated for a moment, regarding the unwavering hand in front of him before he gently grasped it.

He'd wanted to touch Harry for so long now, even unconsciously so, and when the editor teased his fingers around Eggsy's own and pulled him carefully to his feet, he nearly shivered at the warm, sparking feeling it sent through him.

 

Chapter Text

Harry Hart had been many things to Eggsy through the time they'd known each other, an acquaintance, an enemy, a friend...to the point where Eggsy was actually a little embarrassed that it had never really occurred to him that Harry was a human being.

The thought of him driving a car, owning a home seemed far too realistic for such a cryptic person, absurd, even.

Yet there he was, sitting in the passengers seat of Harry's Jaguar, being driven through the moonlit streets of London to Harry's home. It was a surreal experience.

Eggsy forced himself to keep his eyes front as headlights of passing cars illuminated the editor's face in the gloom. The passengers window was cracked open an inch and the wind cooled the dried tear tracks on Eggsy's face.

They pulled into a driveway and Eggsy looked out to a large, detached house in front of them.

"It's late." Harry observed suddenly, shooting Eggsy a quick smile before he stepped out of the car. Eggsy followed quickly, afraid that if he didn't, then Harry would open his door for him and that was the last thing he needed albeit exactly the kind of thing that Harry would do.

He paused on the driveway as he saw Harry stood, hands clasped behind his back, waiting patiently for him to join him.

Eggsy stuffed his hands into his jeans pockets as he walked with the editor to the front door. He realised he should have felt more uneasy than he did but after the evening he'd had; if it turned out Harry really was a serial killer about to murder him it would actually be a help.

"Your bruises are looking fantastically better." Harry said, glancing across to Eggsy as they walked. "They're barely noticeable."

"Yeah, the doctor gave me this stuff for it...really good..."

"I'm glad to hear you went to the doctor, at least, if not to the police."

"Actually, my mum made me go to A and E." Eggsy admitted sheepishly, he sent a sideways glance to Harry to see him concealing a smirk.

"I don't know what I'm going to do with you, Eggsy." He said jokingly, voice soft. "So irritatingly selfish."

Eggsy found himself laughing as Harry unlocked the door to his home and stood aside to allow him entrance, suddenly, he didn't feel so glum anymore.

Eggsy sat at the kitchen counter, a glittering black marble affair, and looked around the expensively kitted-out kitchen as Harry made tea across the room. Eggsy watched in interest as he strained the tea leaves, obviously Harry was the kind of person who would have tea leaves, it made perfect sense. What didn't make perfect sense was why Eggsy found this insignificant detail so fascinating, and exactly why he was being made posh tea in Harry's posh kitchen at midnight.

"Why am I here?" He asked suddenly, it wasn't accusing, merely questioning.

Harry paused what he was doing for a moment before resuming his task as delicately as before.

"Because I think we need to talk," he admitted gently, "was it two sugars?"

"Yeah." Eggsy said, mouth dry. "Yeah, two. I think we need to talk, an' all."

Harry turned and brought two tea cups to the counter. He'd discarded his jacket and was stood in the half-buttoned dress shirt that had caused Eggsy so much distress earlier in the evening, the younger man fought off a small smile as he brought the cup to his lips and sighed at the regenerative qualities the tea possessed. Another fun fact about Harry, then, he made nice tea. Better than his mum.

"This is good." Eggsy expressed before placing the cup gently down on the counter, he looked up as Harry took a seat opposite.

"Do you want to start or should I?"

Eggsy waved his hand in a silent affirmation that Harry should go first, crossing his arms loosely on the counter and leaning forward slightly, battling the warring feelings of finally having this conversation and wondering if he really wanted to have this conversation.

Harry looked suddenly uneasy as he fidgeted with his tea cup.

"I wanted to avoid this," he admitted quietly, eyes cast downwards. "I thought I could just pretend..or accept...but it turns out I'm not very good at it, so..."

Harry looked up and caught Eggsy's gaze, Eggsy tilted his head to the side as he waited for him to continue.

"I think I loved you the moment I saw you." Harry finally admitted. He was speaking so softly and smiling so gently that the bulldozer effect his words had on Eggsy didn't seem fair.

"You..." Eggsy tried, blinking rapidly. He tried to call up his thought process to process such a remark but his brain was surprisingly blank. He...Harry...Love...

"I..." He tried but couldn't get the words out, making Harry laugh.

"It's true." He admitted. "I can't explain why, of course. At the beginning, I was just as confused as you look now. I remember seeing you in the break room when Merlin introduced us, I thought everything about you was perfect. You looked so scared...I thought it was some ridiculous crush I'd get over but then you turned out to be so competent, you ran the entire campaign for that war book in two weeks."

Eggsy felt himself flush slightly but didn't look away, he didn't think he could.

"I wanted to...well, to be honest, I don't really know what I wanted. But you were so young, and so impressionable, I didn't want to take advantage of you in that way. So I never made my feelings known. Had I known that Charlie would basically do just that, I might have said something..."

Eggsy rolled his eyes suddenly. "Will everyone stop blamin' themselves about the Charlie thing?" He asked. "It was my fuck up. I told myself, time and time again, I knew it was wrong but I felt so bloody good, for the first time in a long time, that I let the prick get away with murder." He smiled reassuringly across to the editor. "There's nothin' you could have done, I wouldn't have listened to you, anyway."

"That may be true." Harry conceded. "But it doesn't excuse my behaviour."

Eggsy looked down, not wanting Harry to see the flash of hurt that crossed his eyes as he thought about everything that had happened. When he looked back up, Harry was staring dolefully at him.

"It doesn't." Eggsy admitted honestly. "I...I was hurt..."

Harry nodded quickly, as if only too eager to admit his mistakes. "I thought that if I kept my distance, somehow everything would be okay, that if you didn't like me then we'd never have to see each other and my bizarre attraction would fade away...but all that happened was that I turned into an unforgivable arse. I was cold and cruel and selfish and I'm sorry, if you only take one thing from this evening, let it be that." There was such sincerity in Harry's voice, and in his eyes, that Eggsy smiled shallowly at him and felt the unease slip away.

"Yeah, I forgive you. I think I already did, to be honest but, I'm glad you said it."

"I never meant to hurt you the way that I did," Harry continued, and Eggsy watched, captivated, as his tongue teased the inside of his lips. "I know it's a bullshit apology but I love you."

No one had ever said those words to Eggsy that wasn't a family member and he wasn't quite sure if he understood.

Aside from the obvious self-esteem issues of oh my god why would he love me there were real and genuine emotions present. Harry had just spilled his heart out to him and Eggsy had no idea how to respond.

Things were so weird and so complicated between them that Eggsy understood why Harry had wanted to keep his feelings to himself, but he felt so unspeakably touched at Harry's explanations.

Whatever Harry had done, he'd done all of it, absolutely all of it, with Eggsy's best interests at heart. He didn't want to take advantage of him like Charlie had, Eggsy didn't like to think he was impressionable but he had fallen for all of Charlie's bullshit within the first few minutes of working for Hesketh.

He adored the idea that Harry cared for him that way, he adored the idea that Harry felt for him that way.

He couldn't believe that all those months he'd spent fretting and worrying, all that time, Harry had loved him.

Fuck.

Now Eggsy understood that unidentifiable feeling he kept getting in his stomach, the reason he couldn't stop thinking about Harry no matter what he did and why it hurt so fucking much.

"That makes sense." He said quietly.

"What?" Asked Harry, looking concerned.

Eggsy caught his gaze and held him there, eyes bambi-wide as he stared at him.

"I'm in love with you." He told him, voice light with shock. "I've been in love with you this entire time and I didn't know."

"Oh," Harry said, so imperceptibly quietly that it was barely a breath before he stood and crossed around the counter to Eggsy.

Eggsy stood immediately and could barely mumble out another 'I love you' before Harry's hands were grasping at his shoulders and pulling him into him.

They met in a surprisingly gentle, open-mouthed kiss. Eggsy sighed loudly as Harry pressed into him and circled his arms around the editor's neck as he tilted his head. Somehow, the movements of their mouths worked in complete synchronicity as if the kiss had been choreographed and Eggsy found himself dizzying at the warmth and intoxication of the embrace.

Eggsy was breathing hard when Harry pulled away, small gasps of air escaping through his swollen lips.

He peaked up at Harry through their entwined bodies and saw the editor staring down at him, eyes alight and cheeks tinged ever so slightly. Beautiful.

"Was that as perfect for you as it was for me?" Eggsy croaked.

"Mmm hmm." Was Harry's vaguely breathless response before he moved a hand from Eggsy's shoulder and pulled his arm from around his neck. Eggsy watched as Harry entwined their hands together and the gentle touch seemed to electrocute his skin.

Every sense seemed to be filled with Harry in some way or another, he could feel his electrifying skin under his hand, he could smell his expensive aftershave, he could taste him on his tongue. Everything seemed immediately intensified as if they were the only two people on the planet, caught up in their own hazy reality that no one else was invited into.

"Eggsy..." Harry said softly, captivating the younger man's gaze again. "Did you mean it?"

"Did I mean what?"

Harry pursed his pink, bitten lips. "You...love me?"

Eggsy smiled bashfully as he tightened his grip on Harry's hand. "You sound surprised."

"I am." Harry admitted. "I thought you hated me, to some degree, at least."

"To some degree, I do." Eggsy informed him. "You're a total fuckin' bastard and you have no right to go 'round kissin' me like that, it ain't fair."

Harry was smiling then and Eggsy felt himself relax in his embrace.

"I'm not a fair person." Harry said quietly, almost suggestively, and Eggsy shifted against him.

It occurred to him, bizarrely, in that moment that if he were with Charlie, or anyone else, this would be the bit where they had sex. All wrapped up in each other, swollen-lipped and love-drunk –lust-drunk, he mentally corrected himself, he was talking of Charlie after all – but stood there, in a kitchen in the middle of the night with Harry's arm wrapped around him, Eggsy felt none of the pressures he'd felt with Charlie. He didn't feel like they needed to collapse onto the bed and fuck like rabbits.

He was happy to just stay like they were, he was happy just to watch him like this. You really do love him, he thought.

Eggsy was brought from his reverie by Harry's fingers teasing at his cheek. He looked suddenly up to the man as Harry cupped his chin and tilted his head up to him.

"You're distracted." Harry observed.

Eggsy felt embarrassed at admitting what he was about to admit but he said it anyway, somehow he couldn't imagine a scenario where Harry would laugh at him.

"I was just thinkin'..." He finally began. "I...don't take this the wrong way or anythin', but it doesn't feel like we have to fuck straight away, does it?"

Harry smiled, amused, down at him. "No, it doesn't." He murmured before pressing another soft kiss to Eggsy's lips.

Eggsy made a sound at the unexpected touch and felt his brain go foggy again before Harry attempted to pull away but Eggsy tightened his grip on Harry's neck, keeping him there for a few more blissful seconds.

"We do whatever you want to do," Harry informed him when Eggsy had finally let him go, "whenever you want to do it."

Eggsy's cheeks tinged as he felt a wave of pleasure glide over him but raised an eyebrow nonetheless.

"What about your happiness?" He asked.

"You are my happiness." Harry replied, smiling crookedly down at him.

Eggsy had once thought that Harry's smile was breathtaking and it turned out that he was right.

Eggsy keened at the soft pillows beneath him as he settled himself down on Harry's king-sized bed.

He suddenly realised how tired he actually was, the stresses of the day seemed to come crashing down on his shoulders and make his lids heavy.

He covered his mouth as he yawned before he spotted Harry still stood beside the bed.

Eggsy smiled coyly as he patted the empty space next to him.

"Are you gonna join me?" He asked, waggling his eyebrows.

Harry rolled his eyes at him but still looked doubtful as he untied his shoes and sank down on the bed next to Eggsy.

"What's wrong?" Eggsy asked.

"Nothing in particular..." Harry said, scratching the back of his neck.

"You still feel guilty, don't you?"

Harry gave him an apologetic look. "Sorry."

Eggsy smiled softly at him as their eyes met and he reached a hand out and gently took Harry's glasses off.

"Can you see me?" Eggsy asked as he folded the glasses and put them on the side.

Harry nodded mutely, looking very young and very innocent, causing Eggsy to grin endearingly at him.

"It's been a long time since I've had anyone in my bed." Harry admitted.

"Your fiancé?" Eggsy asked quietly, expecting Harry to look away or tense up, but instead he laughed.

"God no, that was years ago. That was years ago. I'm not that lonely."

Eggsy let out a sigh of relief and Harry grinned back and then suddenly the pair were kissing again. This kiss was far more passionate than the previous, their lips moved sloppily against each other and Eggsy feared he might actually pass out when Harry suckled ever so slightly on his tongue.

"Fuck," Eggsy whispered breathlessly against his skin, "I'm so annoyed."

"You sound it." Harry replied, still managing to sound sarcastic as he breathed heavily.

"I'm annoyed at us," Eggsy clarified, pulling back until they were facing each other again. "I'm annoyed that we could have had so much time. You could have banged me right there in the break room on my first day."

"I'm sure you would have had something to say about that." Harry commented lightly.

"Oh, I dunno..." Eggsy began, feeling himself blushing slightly as his mind was drawn back to the vague flash of attraction he'd subconsciously felt for him when they'd first started working together.

Harry smirked down at him. "You mean to tell me you still..."

"I thought you were hot, okay." Eggsy said quickly, eyes cast downwards. "I couldn't help it. S'your fault anyways."

"I'm deeply sorry." Harry replied, but he was grinning ear to ear.

Eggsy shook his head as he fingered the top button of Harry's dress shirt and that seemed to sober the editor up immediately.

Harry watched silently as Eggsy began to undo the rest of his shirt buttons. Eggsy's breath caught in his throat as he remembered clutching at a sink basin not two hours ago, forcing himself not to fantasize about Harry because all he would be doing was hurting himself more, yet here he was, tracing the planes of Harry's exposed skin with shaking fingers.

Harry shivered slightly at the touch but didn't move away, watching Eggsy with perceptibly shadowed eyes before he reached his own hands out and reciprocated.

Eggsy bit his lip as Harry opened his black shirt, exposing more and more of the yellowing bruises on his midriff.

Harry stared, forehead furrowed in pain, at his naked stomach. He gave Eggsy a quick glance before he shifted across the bed and pressed a soft kiss to the largest bruise beneath Eggsy's ribcage.

Eggsy's breath hitched as Harry continued to press soft, butterfly kisses to the sensitive skin of his healing abdomen, eyes fluttering closed and fingers tangling in the editor's hair as his head hit the pillow.

"Harry," he breathed, "Harry."

Harry hummed contentedly against his skin before he rested his hand against Eggsy's skin, fingers ghosting over his trembling windpipe.

Eggsy grasped Harry painfully around the neck and pulled him down into a kiss. Harry, caught off guard, let out a surprised yelp as their lips connected that quickly turned into a satisfied moan as Eggsy slid his tongue languidly against his own.

"You realise," Harry murmured as they lay side by side, facing each other, "that we're fucked."

Eggsy smiled hugely, eyes barely opening as exhaustion swept over him, pulling him down into its sweet embrace.

"Harry Hart," he said sleepily, "I've been fucked from the moment I saw you."

Harry chuckled lightly. "You and me both. Get some sleep."

Eggsy nodded and attempted to shift closer to the man but Harry's gaze shifted wearily, still afraid to touch him the way Eggsy wanted him to.

"Just hold me, yeah?" Eggsy prompted quietly.

Harry stared at him unblinkingly for a moment until his instincts seemed to nod his head for him. He shifted slightly on the bed and pulled Eggsy into him, wrapping his arms around his shoulders and sighing gently as Eggsy lay his head on his chest.

Eggsy grinned at the sound as he wondered if anyone had ever held him like this in his entire life, if he'd ever felt this safe, if he'd ever felt this happy.

He felt fingers tease gently through his hair and he was gone, enveloped into the warmth.

 

Chapter Text

Eggsy rolled over and clutched the pillow underneath him, moaning contently at the slightly cool fabric beneath him and the pleasant, if unfamiliar, smell surrounding him.

He opened his eyes immediately as he remembered that he was not in his own bed and was greeted with the sight of Harry Hart sleeping soundly next to him.

Eggsy stared intently at the rise and fall of his bare chest, and the steady breaths ghosting from his mouth.

Quietly, ever so quietly, Eggsy propped himself up onto one elbow and watched as Harry's eyes fluttered and he nuzzled into the pillow beneath him.

Eggsy had never seen Harry like this before, so relaxed and so vulnerable, and found it hard to look away.

He also found it hard to believe that everything that had happened between them had happened in the space of only a few hours. Not last night was he prepping himself in the restroom at Hesketh to stop pining after the editor in case he hurt himself more than he already had and then before he knew it, they were professing their love for one another and snogging the life out of each other.

He grinned, ear to ear, at that part.

He loved Harry, he felt like a bit of a prat for not realising it sooner, now it was completely obvious and he actually felt a bit guilty that he'd almost let him slip through the net.

But it wasn't just that, Harry loved him, as well. Harry loved him. In what fucked up universe was someone like Harry Hart allowed to love him?

The thought made him giddy and dizzy all at the same time and he fought to keep still on the bed lest he wake his partner and have to explain his moronic thought process.

Harry made a soft noise and Eggsy froze, worried that he'd woken him, but he merely hiked the covers further up his body as he shifted.

He never got these kind of moments with anyone else he'd been with, especially not with Charlie. But he supposed as people went, Charlie and Harry were like binary opposites of each other.

Harry's expression was so soft and calm that Eggsy found he couldn't quite recall the man he'd known all those months ago. He was so much more than Eggsy had thought he could be and was in no way as callous or aggressive as he'd come across when they'd first met.

He supposed not judging a book by its cover was an apt metaphor, all things considered.

"Eggsy."

Eggsy jumped as Harry opened his eyes and stared quizzically up at him, clapping his hand over his face.

"Please tell me your weren't watching me sleep."

Eggsy peaked out at the older man through the crack in his fingers to see Harry gazing up at him with a smirk, hair beautifully mussed and hazel eyes warm and welcoming.

He let his hand fall away and nodded sheepishly. "A little." He admitted. "You looked so peaceful."

Harry kept his gaze for the longest moment until the pair of them dissolved into unexpected laughter that shook the mattress beneath them.

Eggsy sat atop the quilt covers with his hands clasped together as he watched Harry slip a fresh white shirt over his naked torso, feeling saddened by the loss.

Harry eyeballed him over his shoulder before he shook his head and turned to him.

"You're still watching me." He pointed out, eyebrow raised.

"Sorry." Eggsy said, eyes hitting the covers beneath him before he peaked back up and watched as Harry's long fingers deftly buttoned up his shirt. "I like watchin' you," he admitted, "no wait, that sounded creepy as fuck. You're nice to look at."

Harry pressed his lips together in an attempt to conceal a smirk and Eggsy knew he was passed being admonished. He turned from the editor and searched on the floor for his own shirt he knew he'd discarded in that vague direction last night.

His face lit up as he spied a bundle of black fabric across the room and hopped from the bed, crossed the room and picked it up.

He knew his mother would probably admonish the creases its night on the floor had garnered but Eggsy could barely care less as he slipped the dress shirt over his bare skin, spinning on his heel to find Harry staring at him from across the room.

Eggsy smiled a little sheepishly as he buttoned up the shirt, wishing he had the same flair and finesse Harry had whilst dressing, instead he just felt clunky and heavy-handed.

"Do you have any day plans?" Harry asked carefully, and Eggsy made a show of contemplating such a question as he finished buttoning himself up. He'd meant to coyly smirk and suggestively say that noooo he didn't have anything he needed to do, but then it had occurred to him that he did.

"I have to feed my dog." He admitted honestly.

"You have a dog?" Harry asked, leaning casually against his bedside table as he slipped his tortoiseshell glasses onto his nose, seemingly poised and ready to listen.

Eggsy was momentarily taken aback at his apparent interest in JB and it took him a moment to find his voice.

"Err...yeah, JB. He's a Pug..."

Harry laughed, it was a quiet and gentle sound. "I'm sorry, should I refrain from such complicated questions in the future?"

Eggsy's eyes narrowed and he wished he were across the room to justify batting the man on the arm, he instead settled on sending him a dirty look that didn't quite reach his eyes. There was something bizarrely endearing about this gentle teasing side of Harry he was beginning to uncover.

"Alright, asshat. No one's ever asked me about JB before."

"I'm asking."

Eggsy felt a flutter of pleasure in his stomach mixed with the unnerving feeling of having someone care enough about him to ask personal questions. As he looked at the man staring at him expectantly from across the room, he found his ever-present anxiety waning slightly.

He felt like he could tell Harry things without boring him because he'd always have his undivided attention. It was an odd feeling.

"I got him a few months ago," he admitted, "I moved into this new place and I felt a little, I dunno, lonely? But he's perfect." He was smiling then, he knew he was. He'd always be a sucker for cute animals even if it made him look like a freak.

"Never underestimate the power of a cute dog." Harry said quietly, almost to himself.

"What?" Eggsy asked immediately. "How do you...?"

An almost imperceptible blush spread across the editor's cheeks as he shifted against the table behind him. "Merlin told me about it," he admitted, "he seemed to find it very amusing."

Eggsy was greeted with the memory of Merlin laughing earnestly at his advertising technique and wondered if that meant that Harry had asked after him the moment he started working there, to the point where he remembered Merlin's response and it was almost a year later. He felt himself flush with pleasure.

"Why?" He asked after a moment, attempting to keep his voice light and calm as he took them back to their earlier conversation. "Do you have any plans?"

"Actually, my schedule is surprisingly blank. I thought perhaps our schedules could be blank together. Permitted you can find a dog-sitter, of course."

It was such an innocent request but Eggsy couldn't help grinning hugely despite himself. The thought of spending the day with Harry, just the two of them, regardless of what they did, seemed like the most appealing offer he'd had in a while.

"Sure." He said after a moment, trying to gage Harry's reaction but he seemed just as calm and collected as ever.

"Can I use your bathroom?"

"Certainly." Harry said, gesturing to the oaken door behind him. "Through there."

Eggsy nodded once before he dived into the en suite. His brain was trying to process a million things at once but what immediately struck him was the vast collection of pressed butterflies in crystal glass cases on every wall.

He stood, transfixed, for a moment as he looked around himself, eyes passing over red admirals and cabbage whites and more exotic breeds he didn't know the names of before he shook his head and smiled. He wasn't sure if he ever expected any less as he checked himself in the mirror, trying to straighten his hair as best he could with his fingers and humming contently at the barely there bruise on his cheek.

He allowed himself a quick wee before he pulled his phone from his pocket and pressed on his mum's number.

"Hey, babe." She said once she'd picked up. "You alright?"

Eggsy nodded instinctively before he remembered he was on the phone. "Yeah, I'm good. You?"

"Yeah, yeah. Fine..."

"Listen, mum, it's a bit bitchy but can I ask a favour?"

"Sure."

Eggsy licked his lips in anticipation of the questions he knew would be coming as soon as he voiced his request.

"Do you reckon you could let yourself in and feed JB for me? Be really grateful."

"Yeah, sure." She breezed. "No worries, where are you?"

He winced slightly as he looked around the imposing en suite bathroom he was stood in and saw his own reflection a million times over in the polished glass butterfly cases.

"I may be at a man's house..." He said slowly.

Michelle shocked him by laughing, full-on laughing down the phone.

"Mum..." He started, embarrassed. "It's not that bloody funny."

"Just use protection, yeah, love?"

"Oh Christ," he said, pulling a face he knew she couldn't see. "Gotta go, bye." And with that, he hung up and slipped his phone back into his jeans pocket before he took a deep breath, clenched his fists together quickly and opened the door to Harry's bedroom.

Although his mental preparation seemed to be for nothing when Harry was no longer stood against the bedside table.

He looked around himself quickly before heading out of the bedroom and down the stairs, turning into the kitchen and finding Harry disposing of the tea cups they'd abandoned there from the previous night into the sink.

He shook his head at the odd, surreal and bizarrely domestic situation they were in before walking across the kitchen and catching Harry's eye.

"Hey." The editor greeted lightly as he turned the tap off.

"Hey." Eggsy replied. "Why do you have butterflies?"

Harry's eyes widened slightly at the comment and Eggsy couldn't help but grin.

"It's just a hobby." Harry explained a little sheepishly. "It's a bit odd, I grant you..."

Eggsy shook his head. "It's not that weird. It's better than collectin' human hearts or makin' furniture from human skin."

"How do you know that's not what I do?" Harry asked, raising a suggestive eyebrow. "Maybe that's been my plan all along."

Eggsy snorted, he knew it was an unattractive sound but he found himself surprisingly at ease chatting to Harry against a kitchen sink. It seemed, bizarrely, like they'd known each other long enough that there was nothing to be afraid of.

"You don't want my skin," Eggsy pointed out. "It's all battered and bruised."

Eggsy regretted his words as soon as they were out of his mouth as Harry lowered his eyes and looked suddenly forlorn.

"The situation with your step-father..." Harry began after a moment, inclining his head towards Eggsy.

"You really wanna hear my life story?" Eggsy asked sceptically, and then Harry nodded.

Eggsy wanted to brush it off with some cocky reply and talk about something else, but he really found himself believing that Harry wanted to know. He never liked talking about his life, especially about his dad and Dean, to anyone, but he wanted Harry to know. He wanted Harry to know everything.

He leant against the counter and began to unconsciously fiddle with his fingers, aware that Harry's gentle eyes were still on him.

"My...my dad, he died when I was little. Spec ops. We still don't know what. But..." He felt his cheeks go hot but when he met Harry's sympathetic gaze he forced himself to soldier on. "We could barely survive on his army pension and my mum got involved with this drug lord on the estate, my step-dad, he's proper bad news, should have been locked up years ago. Things became pretty solid when they had my little sister."

"You have a little sister?" Harry asked gently.

"Yeah." Eggsy nodded, finding himself smiling slightly. "Yeah, Daisy. She's, she's so perfect, you'd never imagine that he's her dad."

Eggsy was unceremoniously reminded of the flat situation he'd yet to find a solution to, made only more difficult by the fact that he no longer had a job, but forced himself to shove it aside for the moment. "Anyways, it's pretty much what I told you lot. There was a fight about some homophobic thing, it was like four against one."

"I'm sorry." Harry said after a moment. "I can see that it's difficult for you to talk about."

Eggsy shrugged slightly, looking down at his hands. "Nah, it's alright. No one's ever really asked before." He glanced up quizzically at Harry. "Why do you wanna know?"

"Because I care about you."

Harry's expression was so unblinkingly sure that it startled Eggsy for a moment. He wanted to tell Harry that he didn't deserve such attention but he couldn't quite get the words out.

Instead, he allowed the editor to envelope him into a comforting hug, smiling as he felt Harry's arms snake themselves around him and pull him close.

The pair grinned shyly at each other as their fingers brushed when Eggsy passed two mugs over to Harry.

Harry gave him a quick wink by way of a thank you as he took the proffered mugs and Eggsy actually found himself blushing and had to turn his face away minutely so Harry wouldn't notice.

Once the coffee was made, Harry led Eggsy into the expensively furnished living room and Eggsy marvelled and the shining yet comfortable leather couches and the flat screen that was just the right size for the room, the vase of flowers on the glass coffee table and the plant pots by the refitted fireplace. Everything seemed expensive yet tastefully done, Harry wasn't flaunting his obvious wealth to anyone, it was merely stitched into the seams.

"You have a really nice place." Eggsy commented as he sat down.

"Thank you." Harry said, with the barest hint of embarrassment in his voice. Eggsy couldn't fathom why anyone would be embarrassed at having money but then he supposed that was because it was a luxury that he didn't have.

"S'pose you're pretty loaded." Eggsy mumbled as he looked around the room.

"Err, I suppose." Harry replied sheepishly, sitting beside Eggsy. "Not rich or anything...just well off. My parents were, and Kingsman pays fairly well."

"I knew you were a snob." Eggsy said, grinning cockily at him. "But a nice one. Snob exception."

"I'm certain there was a compliment in there somewhere." Harry said as he rolled his eyes.

Eggsy held the warm mug between his fingers and leant back further in the comfortable couch cushions, trying to figure out the exact moment he'd stopped living on a council estate and started having coffee with rich businessmen.

"This has been a weird year." He finally voiced.

"How so?" Harry asked beside him.

"It sounds dumb but my whole life has changed, and I don't just mean for the better, either." Eggsy shook his head to himself as he closed his eyes momentarily. "God, I've never told anyone this before but sometimes I feel like such a fuckin' idiot. I fell for Charlie, how did I fall for Charlie? S'pecially when he turned out to be the biggest panto villain of them all."

Harry didn't immediately reply and Eggsy knew he still felt guilty, that he probably always would feel a little guilty no matter how many times Eggsy told him that he shouldn't.

Of course, there were other reasons Harry would go a little quiet when Charlie Hesketh was mentioned.

Eggsy leant forward on the couch and shifted his body until he was facing Harry, the older man met his gaze.

"Look, we're getting to know each other, right?" He asked.

Harry nodded.

"I don't want you to think I'm asking this because of like, morbid curiosity or nothin', I just..." He felt his face flush but didn't look away. "I care about you as well."

Harry smiled, it was a small, pleased smile and Eggsy felt it warm his heart.

"What do you want to know?" Harry asked softly, cocking his head to the side ever so slightly.

"What really happened with Charlie and your fiancé?" He asked tentatively.

"We met at Cambridge." Harry replied, so promptly that it shocked Eggsy. "I, err..." Harry smiled again, embarrassment seeping into his dimples, "I thought that I loved him, for the longest time. When H & H was up and running, properly, we were living together. He kept going on about how it felt like our lives were finally on track, that it was time to start making big decisions and he asked me to marry him. I said yes, because I was a fool in love and then one day I came home and he and Charlie were on the floor of the study..."

"Jesus..." Eggsy said quietly, trying to imagine the scenario in his head. What instead came to mind was seeing Charlie with that naked twink wrapped around him. The memory still hurt, shockingly, because it reminded him of all the pain he had felt.

He remembered how shit he'd felt and what Harry must have gone through, with someone he shared a life with, must have been magnified by a thousand.

"I'm really sorry." He found himself saying, and he meant it.

"It was so long ago," Harry explained, smile in his voice, "I don't particularly care anymore. Besides, I've comforted myself that it couldn't really have been love, if it was, he wouldn't have hurt me like that, would he?"

Eggsy shook his head as he thought about human nature, and about how people could do certain things that others simply weren't capable of.

Like Eggsy didn't think he was capable of causing someone that level of emotional harm, especially someone he loved. At least not intentionally. He looked at Harry and involuntarily imagined himself in his fiancé's place, rutting against Charlie on the floor. The thought blurred into the day Harry had walked in on them in the glass office and the two worried and hurt expressions must have been the same.

Eggsy shuddered at the thought and immediately cast it away.

"Where is he now?"

Harry shrugged. "Um, Kent, I think. Although I'm not sure."

Eggsy shook his head. "That must be so weird, to have someone you used to be so close to be a stranger."

"You and Charlie were close," Harry reminded him, "now look at the pair of you."

"Yeah, I suppose." Eggsy conceded, watching the dark liquid in his mug ripple and getting lost in his own thoughts.

"It was more embarrassment," he finally said, looking back up to the editor.

Harry sent a questioning look his way.

"With you," Eggsy continued, "it must have hurt, like proper hurt. Because you'd been betrayed. It wasn't so much the betrayal that got to me, it was the embarrassment." He laughed at himself suddenly. "I thought about it so much and I still don't really understand it. I was so taken with him, so quickly I should have known, I missed all the signs even when people threw them in my face."

"You did nothing wrong," Harry said suddenly, sincerely, catching Eggsy's gaze and keeping it there. "You need to accept that, Eggsy, you didn't do anything wrong. Because that's what I thought, I thought it was me, I thought it was something that I'd done. That if I'd been a better boyfriend he wouldn't have left me, or if I'd been a better business partner and a better friend then Charlie wouldn't have spited me in the way that he did. It took me a long time, and good friends, to figure out that I did nothing wrong. That what is easily and willingly taken from you wasn't ever really yours."

"You said I was the one thing Charlie couldn't take away from you." Eggsy said softly, captivated by Harry's hypnotising gaze.

"I meant it," Harry replied, and Eggsy suddenly realised how much closer they'd managed to get to each other on the couch. "Not because you belong to me or anything ridiculous like that, but because things that are meant to be seem to find each other, in spite of everything that comes between them. Like magnets, or sea turtles."

"Sea turtles?" Eggsy asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Yeah," Harry grinned, "sea turtles find their way back to the same beach they were born on somehow to have their own eggs."

"So we're sea turtles?" Eggsy asked dryly.

"Well, I'd be the mother sea turtle. You'd be the beach."

Eggsy frowned. "I don't wanna be a beach."

"You have to be, I don't make up the rules."

Eggsy could barely keep his expression serious for a second before he'd dissolved into a fit of laughter.

"Do you understand now?" Harry asked, grinning ear from ear.

"I understand." Eggsy laughed, placing his mug on the coffee table and interlocking their fingers. "I didn't muck up my relationship with Charlie, you happy?"

"Immensely." Harry replied, still grinning, as he massaged the back of Eggsy's hand with the pad of his thumb.

Eggsy couldn't wait for the day when touching Harry would be as familiar as breathing was to him now. He thought about the idea of things that were meant to be finding each other, no matter what happened or how long it took. It was oddly romantic.

"I missed you, you know." Eggsy admitted. "When you left Hesketh."

"Really?" Harry asked, genuine surprise in his voice.

Eggsy nodded and he was being sincere. There had been a part of him that had, if only subconsciously, missed Harry when he had been fired. The way he found himself looking for him even when he knew he wasn't there.

He didn't know how, and realised he probably never would, but somewhere along the way, Harry Hart had gotten under his skin and had stayed there.

"I missed you, as well." Harry admitted. "I wanted to be away from you but I missed seeing you, even if I was an arsehole when I did."

As they began to play with each other's fingers, Eggsy was momentarily reminded of all the unpleasantness between the pair in the beginning and he disliked the feeling that came with it.

"I'm sorry for thinkin' the worst of you in the beginnin'." He said, feeling suddenly guilty.

"Don't be." Harry simply said as he brought Eggsy's hand to his face and kissed the back of it.

Eggsy's breathing stopped as he watched him, realising immediately that this was exactly the kind of quiet intimacy he'd been craving. As much fun as he had with his family and his friends and his puppy, he'd never had anyone to stroke his hair or hold his hand. Being with Harry made him feel special in a way he'd never felt when he'd been with Charlie.

Eggsy allowed Harry to wrap an arm around him and pull him into him, moaning contentedly at the affectionate press of his mouth.

He supposed it really all boiled down to one thing; Harry was a better man.

 

Chapter Text

Harry had made him food. His head span at the concept. It was almost a little too domestic for the pair of them.

As the pair ate, sneaking glances at each other from across the table, Eggsy contemplated the weird no-day they were in the middle of, and the fact that at some point they would have to re-enter the real world.

The thought was oddly depressing, Eggsy was quite content to stay in this little bubble forever.

As he sat across from Harry, complementing the tenderness of the meat and making him blush, he realised that he hadn't been this happy in a long time. But in all, depressing, honesty; it was the first time in a long time that he didn't feel alone.

"I'll do the dishes." Eggsy offered happily, hopping to his feet and whisking around the table for Harry's plate.

Harry, however, had risen first and stilled Eggsy's eager hand with his own.

"I'll have no such thing," Harry said, tone playful, "you're the guest. Sit. Now."

Eggsy pressed his lips together to conceal a smirk before he sunk into the chair Harry had abandoned.

Harry gave him a smug look before he took the crockery to the sink. From his position at the dining table, Eggsy could see Harry in the kitchen and watched as he pottered around inside. Although he wasn't sure if he could call it 'pottering', there was a real, unnatural grace to the way he moved.

From this distance, Eggsy began to really appreciate Harry, his long legs, the curve of his back as he bent down, the way he ran his hand through his hair to brush his fringe from his eyes.

Eggsy felt himself grow uncomfortable suddenly and crossed his legs, mouth opening slightly as he tried to calm his thought process for a moment.

He eyed Harry carefully, the editor had his back to him as he washed the dishes and each movement of his arms caused the muscles on his back to ripple beneath his shirt.

Eggsy shivered involuntarily as he felt that desperate need pool in his stomach, so familiar and yet so new all at the same time.

He licked his lips tentatively as he moved from his spot at the table and walked over to Harry, moving on the balls of his feet so that the ever-vigilant editor wouldn't hear him approaching.

Eggsy stopped when he reached him – and his breathing stopped too. He held a hand out, pressed against the air, and felt the heat emanating from Harry's back. The moment was so weirdly yet intensely erotic yet Harry had no idea it was even happening.

Eggsy forced himself to take a slow, silent breath before he snaked his arms around the older man's waist. Harry stiffened for a moment before he relaxed under Eggsy's touch, the young advertiser marvelled at the starchy feeling of cotton beneath his fingertips, coupled with the warmth of Harry's skin as it seeped through, burning him.

"Eggsy..." Harry said in a low voice as Eggsy leant against his back, breathing him in when suddenly he found himself whirling around and he was face to face with Harry.

Harry stared at him, lips pressed together and jaw set, eyes deceptively darkened and Eggsy gasped loudly as an arm curled firmly around his waist and pulled him flush against him, the line of their bodies pressing together until their was no air between them.

Then Harry's lips were against his, forcing his mouth open and tongue sliding inside, brushing forcefully against his own and Eggsy couldn't breathe, he didn't think he could remember how to breathe.

He clutched desperately onto Harry's shoulders but Harry pulled away. Eggsy whined loudly at the unexpected loss and Harry chuckled as he gazed down at him, cheeks flushed and eyes lust-blown.

"Fuckin'...Harry, don't...kiss me again, now."

Harry's eyes visibly darkened and Eggsy wavered for a moment and then they were kissing again, but instead of the tangle of tongues as before, Harry effectively trapped the young man's mouth with his own. Eggsy was so surrounded and so full of Harry, everything was Harry; the arm around his waist, the body pressed against him. Harry began to suck on Eggsy's tongue and Eggsy's head span, dizzying him to the point where his knees buckled and he couldn't keep his footing against the hard press of Harry's body.

The arm around his waist tightened, keeping him upright and pressed firmly against him. Harry moved away from the kiss and Eggsy's eyes began to find their focus again.

He noticed Harry's hand in his hair and Harry's face smiling gently down at him.

"I've got you." Harry whispered against him, breath ghosting over Eggsy's lips and he wanted nothing more than for Harry to kiss him again, fill him again and keep him like that forever.

Eggsy keened at the strong arm around him and the gentle eyes above him. Harry was being so dominating, yet protective and sweet and fuck, Eggsy had never been more turned on in his life.

Harry suddenly shifted against him and Eggsy knew he could feel how hard he'd gotten in the heat of the moment, but he couldn't care less as the shift of Harry's thigh offered delicious friction to the sensitive head of his trapped cock. He gasped loudly as the fabric of his underwear scraped against him and he trembled in Harry's arms.

"Eggsy," came Harry's voice in the darkness, and Eggsy's attentions were pulled away from his own crotch and turned to Harry, staring down at him with one hand gently teasing through his hair. "Is this what you want?"

"Yeah," Eggsy croaked desperately, nodding his head fervently. "Fuck, Harry, this is all I want...please..."

Harry nodded almost imperceptibly before his arm shifted from Eggsy's waist and curled around his ass, hoisting him onto the counter next to the sink.

Eggsy instinctively wrapped his legs around Harry's waist and pulled him into him, gasping as he felt Harry's own hardness against his own.

"Christ...Eggsy, do you have any idea what you do to me?" Harry asked.

Eggsy found himself grinning breathlessly as he squeezed his legs in response, eliciting a soft groan from the older man who cupped his chin and tilted his face up to meet his.

The kiss was decidedly tender for such an intense and erotic moment but it was perfect. Eggsy sighed loudly as he felt the heat of Harry's tongue sliding against his own. From his position on the counter, he had an inch or so on Harry and every time he moved Eggsy found himself moving with him.

Eggsy met each roll of Harry's hips with his own and mewled as he felt pressure pooling in his groin but Harry seemed far calmer, like he was far too preoccupied with driving Eggsy crazy with his mouth than his own release.

Eggsy felt light-headed as he tried to keep up with the deep kiss but he was too full of Harry, of his smell and his taste, to allow room for oxygen. He felt like he was going to burst with the amount of love inside of him, splitting him at the seams.

"I love you, Harry." Eggsy whispered into his mouth.

He knew he'd never get enough of saying those words, he'd never get enough of the almost surprised look on Harry's face, the way his eyes widened and his mouth let out a quiet breath before he said the words back.

I love you, Eggsy.

He'd never get enough of hearing them, either.

Harry's hand massaged his naked back as he moved slightly. "Shh, Eggsy, it's okay, you're doing great..."

Eggsy trembled against the press of Harry's fingers inside of him, head falling to rest on his forearms as he rocked back wantonly onto the thick digits.

"Harry..." He mumbled incoherently. "Shit...you're..."

"I know." Harry said, almost soothingly as he continued the slow, comforting strokes on his back. "I know, just one more, I don't want to hurt you."

Eggsy inclined his head and saw Harry propped up behind him, shirt open and beads of sweat glistening enticingly on his collarbone.

It was hard to believe Harry was still managing to be so caring and comforting when he had two fingers deep inside of him, the tips ghosting softly over his sensitive prostate but never giving him enough pressure to be satisfying.

Eggsy arched his back when he felt the push of another, sliding without resistance to the hilt.

"Nnggh..." Was the only noise he managed to get out as he felt the pleasant burn intensify, sending shivers down his spine and heat coiling in his stomach.

"There we go, there we go, Eggsy. You're doing so well." Harry continued to praise him, voice soft and delicate. "You should see yourself like this, you're so open, so beautiful..."

Eggsy didn't want to think about what his hole looked like stretched around Harry's hand, the skin pink and puckered against the resistance. Instead, he slid a hand underneath himself and groped blindly for his cock.

He shivered as he wrapped his hand around the rock hard length, hissing as he pressed a finger to his slit and felt the dampness there.

"Fuck, Harry, what are you doing to me?" He asked rhetorically, voice barely above a breathless whisper.

Of course Eggsy knew what Harry was doing to him, he was destroying him so that he wouldn't be fit for any other man. And Eggsy wanted him to. He wanted the kind and caring Harry Hart to rip him apart, to push deep inside of him until he was the only thing he could feel, to fuck him ruthlessly until he passed out.

He gripped himself tighter at the dirty thought and moaned involuntarily, writhing against the fingers moving deep inside of him.

"Shit, shit, Harry, fuck. Fuck me, please."

"I will," Harry promised from behind him. "I..."

"Now," Eggsy insisted breathlessly, desperately driving himself back onto Harry's hand. "I want your cock, in me, I can't take it anymore..."

A quiet chuckle drifted towards him before the fingers left his ass gaping and exposed to the cool air. Eggsy barely had time to let out a whine of disappointment before Harry had rolled him over in one fluid movement.

Eggsy caught sight of the man above him, flush faced and running one hand through his perfectly combed hair until it was messy and untamed.

"You're quite insatiable, aren't you, my dear boy?" Harry asked, smirking slightly.

And he looked so fucking hot and debauched and fucking filthy all half-naked and half-finished and half-Harry Hart, Eggsy's cock twitched interestedly against his stomach, red and swollen and drooling precome onto his stomach.

"You really are beautiful, Eggsy." Harry murmured, staring down at him with darkened eyes.

Eggsy squirmed under Harry's gaze, feeling bashful at being eyeballed so obviously.

"Harry, please..."

"Insatiable." Harry repeated, stroking a strong hand along Eggsy's inner thigh. "Oh how I want to give you everything you want, make you scream out my name with my cock deep inside of you. Perhaps I'll finally shut that mouth of yours."

Eggsy was honestly shocked, the last thing he expected was anything that dirty coming from Harry's articulate mouth. Something about his accent, his enunciation made his promises far hotter than they should have been allowed to be.

But despite his shock, as soon as the words were out of Harry's mouth, the younger man realised that that was exactly what he wanted, desperately and immediately, and he found himself nodding erratically.

"Yes, Harry...please, fuck me raw, shove your cock in my mouth and shut me up, do all of it, please..."

Harry didn't answer, instead, he moved his hand from Eggsy's thigh and trailed his fingertips over the exposed underside of Eggsy's twitching member.

Eggsy bit his lip, hard, as he teetered on the edge of pleasure. He felt sweet arousal course through him, and the gentlest amount of friction on his cock but Harry gave him nothing.

"Will you stop teasin' me?" He asked, wishing it sounded more like a command and less like a childish whine.

Harry's hand vanished as he folded it into his lap and he smiled down at him. "I'm not teasing you, Eggsy. That wouldn't be fair."

Eggsy shook for a moment, calming his breathing before he hitched himself up on his elbows and gave Harry the once over.

"I'm completely starkers," he pointed out, eyebrow raised, "you're still fully dressed and you won't fucking touch me, what is that if not teasin'?"

Eggsy watched the line of Harry's tongue press against his cheek as the older man fought off a smirk, but it only served to turn Eggsy on more.

He watched, transfixed, as Harry trailed his hands to his open shirt and slid the cotton, tantalisingly slowly, over his arms.

Eggsy swallowed as Harry threw the garment aside and his fingers deftly opened the zip on his trousers, hand ghosting over the impressive bulge as he kept his eyes fixed on him.

Mouth suddenly dry, Eggsy moved until he was on his knees before he leant over slightly and batted Harry's hand away from his zip.

Harry dutifully let his hand fall to his side and watched, interested, as Eggsy slid his hand inside his underwear and pulled him free.

Eggsy's lips parted, tongue teasing the side of his mouth as he was greeted with the sight of Harry's impressive cock. It was thick, thicker than his own, and shaded a flush crimson, the glistening tip a pale rose.

Eggsy swallowed involuntarily, unsure if he was even capable of having such a thing inside of him. It made Charlie's long and lean dick seem like nothing, he felt virginal again.

His mouth went dry as he took Harry into his fist, curling his fingers around the girth of it.

He gave him a few shallow tugs, tightening his fist until he looked up and met his gaze. Harry's eyes were trained on him, hooded and desperate.

"I want you." Was all Eggsy could manage to say.

Harry shucked out of his trousers, throwing them unceremoniously to the floor before getting back on his knees, his impressive length bobbing against his stomach.

He moved his hand to his face, fingers poised around the rim of his glasses until Eggsy reached a hand out and stilled him.

"Eggsy...?" He asked.

"Keep them on." Eggsy said, feeling embarrassed even as he said it. "You look hot like this."

Harry smirked at him for a moment before changing tact and pushing his glasses back into place before moving his hand away from his face and stroking a tender line down Eggsy's cheek.

Eggsy could see his own face, eyes wide and cheeks flushed, in the reflection of Harry's glasses.

"Get on your hands and knees." Harry instructed in a surprisingly dominating voice and Eggsy did just that. He clambered up until he was leant on his elbows, staring back at Harry and wiggling his ass in his direction.

Harry rolled his eyes for the barest second until he curled his hands firmly around Eggsy's hips and tugged them back.

Eggsy gasped at the unyielding hands holding him firm against the line of Harry's hipbones, his knees splayed out helplessly across the bed in response as the thick length of Harry's cock slid slickly between his thighs, dragging across his own straining member.

Eggsy bucked, hard, against the friction on his sensitive skin and then suddenly Harry's bruising grip disappeared from his hips and the hot heat against his cock was gone.

He moaned as he felt suddenly cold and empty without Harry pressed against him, all he could feel was the barest hint of Harry's thighs pressed against the back of his own and the scorching heat emanating from his body.

Then he heard the tell-tale sound of a condom wrapper being ripped and his breath caught in his throat. This was surreal, this was insane, there was no way this was actually happening...

Harry's hands curled around his chest from behind, warm and comforting, and Eggsy felt himself instantly relax. He allowed the muscles in his neck to go lax and moaned gently as he felt Harry press a soft kiss to the small of his back before his arms were gone and Eggsy felt his fingers grip his hips again.

Then the thick, blunt head of his sheathed cock was pressing into him, slipping past the tight ring of muscle and it felt like the sheer size of it was pushing all of the oxygen from his body, like there wasn't room for both.

Eggsy gasped, trying to suck in as much air as could, spasming under the thick, hot heat of Harry.

"Eggsy, are you okay?" Harry asked softly, stroking his back tenderly as he stilled.

Eggsy nodded blindly, pulsing around the gorgeous stretch, the addicting burn before he unconsciously reached behind himself and fumbled until fingers found Harry's thigh, he grasped tightly into the skin and Harry hissed above him.

"Harry, Harry, feels so good, you're so big...nuhh..." He lost his train of thought as he felt Harry slide in deeper, stretch him further. He opened his mouth wide but no words came out.

"I know." Harry said, and it sounded like he was apologising but Eggsy didn't know what the hell for. If he had a perfect cock like Harry's he wouldn't be saying sorry to anyone. "Eggsy, fuck..." Harry continued, voice tight. "You're so tight, you're suffocating."

"'Cause no one's ever been this deep..." He found himself moaning out.

Harry shifted forward and that was all Eggsy could take, he collapsed, overwhelmed, against the bed, legs wobbling and giving out beneath him.

He'd never been this full before, it had never been this intense before. He let go of Harry's thigh and attempted to support himself until he felt the length of Harry's chest pressed against his back and Harry's soft lips ghosting over his neck.

Eggsy gasped as the sudden change of position seemed to push Harry's cock impossibly deeper, shifting the angle ever so slightly until he could feel him, hot and hard against the sweet spot deep inside of himself.

He let out a strangled gasp as he instinctively ran a hand across Harry's cheek, the warm press of his body was intoxicating and too much and not enough all at the same time.

"Eggsy, Eggsy, are you ready?" Came Harry's soft voice, warm breath gently tickling the back of his neck.

"Yeah, yeah, shit. Please, please fuck me. I can't..." I can't form a coherent sentence, apparently.

Eggsy rolled his hips back onto Harry's cock to demonstrate his wanton need, muscles coiling as he felt the slick slide against his sensitive prostate, Harry gasped above him before he thrust forward instinctively to meet him.

Harry's thrusts were tortuously slow, Eggsy could feel every inch as he pulled out and then pushed back into him, keeping the same agonizingly rhythm. Eggsy moaned blearily as he rolled his own hips back every time, anything to meet his lover.

It was slow and excruciating and bloody fucking perfect. The intense drag, in and out, in and out, pressing hotly against his prostate every time...Eggsy felt like he was going to pass out from the inexplicable suffocation of it all.

Part of him wanted Harry to fuck him faster, harder, offer him some kind of release, but then half of him wanted to continue this maddening, consuming pace forever. He imagined spending hours being repeatedly impaled on Harry's thick cock, spikes of pleasure coursing through him until he couldn't remember his own name.

It was the sweetest torture he'd ever known.

"Eggsy, you're so perfect, so fucking perfect..." Harry babbled breathlessly into his neck, and Eggsy could only let out a stream of unintelligibly curse words in response.

His back arched into Harry's chest every time Harry seemed to choose the exact roll of his hips, pinning him back down again as their bodies seemed to move as one being instead of two.

Eggsy whined loudly as the press of Harry against his back suddenly disappeared, and his cock pulled out a few inches.

"Harry, what...?" He managed to get out, before he felt hands on his thighs pulling him back, impaling him onto the thick length and he cried out at the sudden intrusion.

His back arched and he fisted the sheets around him as Harry's thrusts became harder, faster, the pleasurable burn becoming continuous and unbearable, the pressure against his prostate near-constant.

Eggsy couldn't think, he couldn't breathe, all he could do was mouth the pillow beneath him, barely registering the damp patch he'd created in the white cotton before he felt Harry's hand on his cheek, pressing his fingers into his gaping mouth.

Eggsy accepted the digits readily, greedily slurping against them, too far gone to process anything in his addled brain. Tasting Harry's skin in his mouth was the hottest thing in the world in that moment.

Suddenly, the fingers in his mouth were curling and pulling him back, forcing him onto his knees. Eggsy moaned wantonly around the digits at the painful stretch and bit down, hard, before they were pulled from his mouth.

Eggsy half-expected Harry to be mad at him for biting but the shallow moans above him proved him otherwise. Instead of taking his hand back, Harry instead trailed it across Eggsy's abdomen before seizing his neglected cock.

Eggsy's eyes burst open at the sudden contact of Harry's spit slicked fingers wanking him painfully slowly, damn near growling when Harry pushed his finger into the wet and swollen slit as his other hand disappeared from Eggsy's hip and dug into the meat of his ass.

Eggsy's entire body stiffened as his vision began to cloud around the edges, and then sun spots burst in his eyes and he was having one of the most violent and explosive orgasms he'd ever experienced.

And it seemed to go on forever, he convulsed deeply from the inside out until he was shouting, surprised at how raspy his voice seemed to sound, and then Harry's comforting weight was back against him, sinking the pair of them onto the bed.

Eggsy made a contented noise when Harry wrapped his arms around him, enjoying the heat and the quiet burn of his cock still embedded inside of him.

"Was that as perfect for you as it was for me?" Harry asked, mimicking Eggsy's earlier words.

Eggsy laughed quietly as he nuzzled closer against Harry's chest. He opened his eyes when he felt the tell-tale dribble of semen on his chest.

He cracked one eye open and saw a dollop sliding south beside his right nipple and arched an eyebrow.

"Fuck."

"What?" Harry asked sleepily from behind him.

Eggsy wriggled out of the man's grip, gasping as his cock slid from him with an obscene pop, before turning to face him.

Eggsy was momentarily taken aback by the sight of Harry, face flushed and hair mussed, glasses steaming at the edges. But what struck him most was the sated look on his face and the contented smile he was sending in Eggsy's direction.

"What?" Harry asked nervously.

Eggsy found himself smiling as he propped himself up on his elbow. "You. You're beautiful."

Harry blushed deeply and ducked his face away, pushing his glasses on his nose. "I don't think that I..."

Eggsy shook his head to himself at the mumbling mess in front of him before he glanced down obviously at his own chest.

"I've never come like that before." He admitted shyly, feeling his own blush tingeing his cheeks.

"Neither have I." Harry admitted honestly, "I...I was worried..."

"What? That I wouldn't enjoy it?"

Harry paused for a moment before he nodded minutely.

Eggsy leant forward and pressed his lips to Harry's, smiling against him at the surprised noise he elicited from the man.

"Does that answer your question?" He asked coyly, grinning ear to ear as Harry bit his bottom lip enticingly.

"Come on." Harry said after a moment, voice a few octaves lower than usual. "Let's get you cleaned up."

Eggsy's grin stayed plastered to his face as he watched Harry hop out of the bed, eyes focused on his perfect ass as he walked to the butterfly en-suite.

Clean and sated, Eggsy allowed his naked form to fall under the covers of Harry's bed, realising that it would be the second night he'd slept there.

He also realised, with renewed dread, that it meant that tomorrow would be Sunday, which directly preceded the Monday morning where he had no work to go to.

The thought was instantly depressing and managed to push all good feeling out of him, he allowed his head to hit the pillow and closed his eyes, not even bothering to open them as he felt the bed dip beside him.

He felt the quick press of Harry's lips against his jaw and opened his eyes, seeing Harry leant on his elbow with freshly dampened hair having apparently discarded his glasses.

Harry immediately frowned when Eggsy looked up at him, gentle eyes filling with concern.

"What?" Asked Eggsy, suddenly worried and propping himself up until he and Harry were face to face. "Is something wrong?"

"You." Harry quickly clarified. "You look...upset."

Eggsy was both touched and depressed at the fact that Harry could read his expression so easily, but supposed he must have looked fucking miserable if Harry could tell his mood from a quick glimpse at his eyes.

"How do you know I'm upset?" Eggsy asked. "I might not be."

Harry reached a hand out and stroked up and down Eggsy's wrist, Eggsy stilled at the contact.

"Because I can't tell you how many times you've been upset around me since we met." He said, giving him a shallow smile. "So what's wrong?"

Eggsy sighed as he twisted his wrist, interlocking his fingers with Harry's, enjoying the comforting feel of skin on skin contact between them.

"Hesketh was my life." He said sullenly. "It changed my life, you have no idea how I lived before it...and now it's gone. I don't know what to do."

He hung his head dejectedly until he heard a faint chuckle emanating from across the bed, his head shot back up, anger flaring in his eyes as he saw the grin on Harry's face.

"You are not laughin' at me!" He exclaimed. "That ain't fair, I don't..."

"I do." Harry said suddenly, inching closer to him. "I'm not laughing at you, Eggsy. I'm sorry. It's just, I know what to do."

Eggsy froze, barely even blinking, as he felt a quiet stab of hope. Somehow, even though it didn't seem possible, something about Harry confidently telling him that he could help made Eggsy believe him.

"What do you mean?" He asked quietly.

Harry was still smiling, even as he spoke. "I don't know if you heard," he began slowly, "but Arthur didn't hire me as an assistant editor."

"No, I heard." Eggsy said quickly. "On Friday, co-editor. You're co-editor of Kingsman. I forgot to mention, I was well happy when I found out."

Harry smiled gratefully at the congratulations before a faint blush spread across his cheeks.

"It means I have a lot of say so in the publishing agency," he continued, "with this entire upheaval, bringing Hesketh in, not to mention a few other agencies as well, we're reorganising, re-shifting..."

"Re-shifting?" Eggsy asked, eyebrow raised. "You could talk English, you know."

"Eggsy, Kingsman is hiring."

Eggsy blinked a couple of times before he shook his head suddenly. "Harry, you..."

"We're actually on the look out for a new senior advertiser," Harry continued, ignoring Eggsy's interruption completely. "You see, Kingsman never put that much thought into its advertising department and I told him it was one of the downfalls of H & H. I didn't care when we started but then I met Merlin and he convinced me otherwise. Considering your track record this previous year, and how personally impressed I've been, I have no qualms in offering you the senior position. You already know the conditions of the pay."

"Harry, you...can't." Eggsy said slowly. "Just because of this," he gestured around them at the spooled bed-covers.

"Eggsy, I want to offer you this position because you're a competent, capable, hard-working young man who has given 100% to everything he does." Harry said sincerely. "When I was unforgivable rude to you in the beginning, you made every effort to commit to a viable working relationship with me, Merlin praises you to the high heavens whenever he speaks of you and there is a real sense of professionalism and integrity and pure talent in what you specialise in. It really has nothing to do with how nice your arse is."

Eggsy laughed but on the inside he was singing, he'd never been praised on such a level before. Hell, he'd never had anyone believe in him like that before.

Harry apparently caught the look on his face and continued: "You really do suffer with a crippling lack of self-confidence, Eggsy." He observed matter-of-factly. "The worse thing about it is that I don't even think that you know that you do. When you thought that I hated you, you thought there was something wrong with you, something that you'd done. You consistently deny any compliment on the work that you do, you think your self-worth is based on what you achieve and not on who you are."

Eggsy swallowed, hardly believing that Harry seemed to have his number so accurately.

"I want to do everything I can to change the way you think about yourself," Harry continued quietly, "if you'll let me."

As he held Harry's gaze he imagined, just for a moment, that he was a Kingsman. He imagined continuing the job he loved without having to see Charlie Hesketh every day, he imagined how he wouldn't lose all the work he'd done over the previous year, nor would he lose his friendship with Merlin and Roxy and everyone else because they all worked for the same company now.

He imagined the fatter paycheck, how easy it would be for him to put a deposit down on a nice new flat for his mum and his sister.

This whirlwind of thoughts left him, surprisingly, quiet.

"Eggsy," Harry asked slowly, "is everything okay?"

"Has there been a single moment," Eggsy began quietly, "since we met, that you haven't looked out for me?"

The look Harry gave him nearly broke his heart. "I could have been nicer about it." He replied.

"Like I was an angel." Eggsy said sarcastically, voice dipping. "I treated you like shit as well."

He huffed loudly as all the memories of their awkward and nasty encounters flooded through his brain.

"It's ridiculous. I wish, seriously, that we could just start again. Make it right this time."

There was a pause.

"Why can't we?" Harry asked softly, head tilted to the side.

Eggsy stared at Harry Hart for the longest moment. Knowing, instinctively, that no matter what had happened between them since the day they clapped eyes on each other for the first time that they were always meant to be.

He sighed loudly as he rested his forehead against Harry's in the simplest yet purest gesture of human connection that he knew.

He'd never given much thought to destiny before, but supposed it looked a lot like this.

Chapter Text

Eggsy was bouncing on the balls of his feet by the time he reached the door to his mums flat, JB had apparently picked up on his excitement and was scampering around his ankles so much that Eggsy nearly tripped over him as he wrestled to get the door open.

He smiled down at the not so small anymore dog, regretting slightly that he was too heavy to pick up anymore but he supposed they all had to fly the nest eventually.

He found his way into the living room and saw his little sister perched in her cot, playing contentedly with a rattler-type toy.

Eggsy let JB out of his lead before he crossed the space and picked Daisy up, she squealed in delight as he did so, squirming in his arms and eliciting a soft 'oof' from the soon-to-be senior advertiser.

"Wow, Dais. Soon you'll be too big to hold an' all." He cooed. "Let's go find mummy, eh? You wanna go find mummy..." Eggsy continued his nonsensical baby talk as he pushed the kitchen door open with his foot, met with the sight of his mum washing up dishes in the sink.

"Hey, sweetheart. Thought I heard you." She greeted, smiling and inclining her head back so that he could press a quick peck to her cheek. "You alright?"

"Yeah." He said, grin helplessly plastered to his face, he looked quickly around himself. "'Ere, I'll make tea. You finish that, I gotta talk to you."

Michelle sent him a raised eyebrow but didn't look particularly confused, probably from correctly ascertaining from his mood that it wasn't bad news. It wasn't even neutral news. It was ground-splitting, Earth-shatteringly good news.

He returned Daisy to her cot and gave JB an affectionate scratch before walking back into the kitchen.

Around ten minutes later, the dishes were finished, tea was made and mother and son were sat in the living room, Michelle almost as entranced by JB as Daisy was.

"Okay," she began, stroking down JB's back. "What's this news, then?"

Eggsy grinned as he reached into his jacket and pulled out a manilla envelope, handing it to her.

She stared at him as she took it but he didn't say a word.

She slowly opened it and Eggsy laughed as he watched her eyes go wide as she pulled out the folded over estate agent papers, she opened them in shaking fingers and looked over the ground plan and agents' photos for what Eggsy believed to be a downright lovely, furnished two-bedroom flat a couple of streets over; out of council estate area.

Eggsy nodded when a tear dripped down her face, knowing instinctively that she was going to cry, and he held his arms out and allowed her to hug him.

"I hope you like it," he said against her neck as he wound his arms around her, "I mean obviously you can change it if you like but I thought it was well nice. An' I don't want you worryin' about rent an' all 'cause..."

"Eggsy, wait," his mother cut him off., pulling back quickly and looking suddenly worried. "How did you afford this?"

"Salary prepayment." He said, shrugging non-committally despite the fact that he himself couldn't get over how incredible it was, either. "From my new job."

"What do you mean, new job?" She asked, eyes wide and Eggsy had to fight to keep his cheek-splitting grin down.

"I got offered a new job at this really smart publishin' agency, as the senior advertiser. I start on Monday."

She stared at him for a nanosecond before she was on him again, hugging him tightly and he let out a started squeak. She was laughing against him and JB barked as if sharing in her rejoice.

"Jesus, mum..." He said, startled, when she pulled back. "You nearly gave me a heart attack."

"I can't believe it," she said, biting her lip and Eggsy feared she was going to cry again. She looked at the floor suddenly, as if she were guilty of something, Eggsy's eyebrows quirked in confusion. "I know I never say it," she said, looking back up, "an' I should say it all the time but I'm proud of you, babe."

"Thanks, mum." He said. Quietly – but with feeling.

She smiled in return before looking back down at the agents' photos.

"Listen, mum..." He said quickly, before he could talk himself out of it. "This new place does come with one condition."

"What?"

"No more Dean." He said seriously.

She looked like she was hesitating for a moment before she nodded. "I promise." She said quietly.

Eggsy smiled, rubbing her comfortably on the back, knowing he would probably have to lend some moral support on the subject in the future, before, just for a change of pace, he hugged her.

Monday came and Eggsy woke with a renewed sense of hope. He'd always tried to look at the world through rose-tinted glasses, even if there were a few blips sometimes.

Besides, he no longer had to worry about his mum and his sister, he had a shaky promise that his step-dad was out of his life and, crucially, he was no longer unemployed.

He liked to think that he'd been given a second chance, a chance to start again and make things right this time – and he wasn't going to waste it.

Eggsy checked his hair in one of the many mirrors in the Kingsman reception, grinning at his perfectly cut royal blue, double breasted suit. He allowed himself a brief moment to straighten his pinstriped tie, silently thanking all the youtube videos on Windsor knots, before he strolled to the receptionist desk, content that he looked damn good.

"Good Afternoon, Eggsy." Percy, the Kingsman receptionist, greeted as he approached. "First day?"

Eggsy nodded diligently. "Yes."

Percy nodded as he glanced down at the neat stack of folders on his pristine glass desk.

"Of course, yes, that's all fine. Mr. Hart has asked to see you in his office."

Better not be fucking glass. "I'll take you."

Eggsy thanked the man profusely before he led him through a labyrinth of neatly furnished, dark-oak corridors until they came to a door with 'HARRY HART' written on the front in black font. Eggsy was taken with the suave and almost dangerously sexy appeal of the Kingsman, like they were a secret service rather than a publishers.

Eggsy knocked swiftly on his boss' door before walking inside, sketching a little half-wave to Percy as he entered.

A man in a dark, figure-hugging bespoke suit, meticulously combed hair and tortoiseshell glasses was leant against the side of his meticulously organised desk, perusing through a first edition.

The editor looked up as he entered.

"Mr. Hart." Eggsy greeted formally, he attempted to enunciate the 'H' but knew deep down that his accent would never change. He was cool with it. "My name is Eggsy Unwin, I'm your new senior advertiser."

Harry Hart's face lit up in recognition as he placed the book down and took a seat behind his desk.

"Of course, Mr. Unwin. We've been expecting you. Do take a seat."

"Thanks." Eggsy said, unbuttoning his suit jacket and sitting at the chair in front of the desk. He allowed his eyes to travel over the startlingly attractive man in front of him. He was struck, almost immediately, by how charming and friendly he seemed to be.

"Now, Mr. Unwin," Mr. Hart began, straightening his glasses before he made a steeple of his fingers and smiled gently at Eggsy. "I'm sure your station has been explained to you. I've commissioned you to work closely with the advertising department in one of our subordinates, Hesketh Publishing. They'll need a little extra guidance now that their previous chief-editor has been...let go."

"I understand." Eggsy replied, smiling sweetly in return whilst trying to stop the bubble of joy in his stomach erupting. "I'm very grateful to have the opportunity to work with such an esteemed company."

"Kingsman is indeed an esteemed company," Mr. Hart agreed. "But I've always firmly believed that a whole is more beautiful than the sum of its parts." He smiled professionally. "I expect great things from you."

"I won't let you down." Eggsy promised sincerely.

"I know you won't." He replied softly, before blinking. "Excellent." Mr. Hart said, smiling widely before he stood. "I'm glad to hear it."

Eggsy gave him a nod before he stood and headed for the door.

"Oh, Eggsy."

Eggsy turned back and saw Harry looking at him, he grinned coyly back.

"Yes, Harry?" He asked.

"I was merely wondering if you would like to join me for dinner on Friday evening?" Harry asked, smiling softly. "I've heard, through the grapevine of course, that it's your birthday."

Eggsy made a show of deliberating for a long moment.

"I don't know," he finally said, sounding torn. "You see, I had personal relations with my last boss and that didn't end too well."

The side of Harry's mouth pulled up into a half-smile and he tilted is head as he regarded him. "And if I promise to be the utmost gentleman, and treat you with the finest care, respect and love?" He asked, eyes shining.

Eggsy's heart fluttered in his chest and he couldn't stop the smile spreading across his face as he replied.

"Then I'd love to, sir."

Dear diary

Year end summary

jobs lost: 1

better jobs gained: 1

relationship failure: 1

relationship success: 1 (hopeful)

overall life improvement: 100%

The End