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Picture Perfect

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Merlin hands them all an envelope, telling them to open it. Eggsy opens his without hesitation, peering inside first before taking out the folder. There's only a few pages inside, with what looks like a profile written on them. On top of them there is a picture, though, and it catches Eggsy's attention first.

The man in the picture looks a little like a Kingsman agent. Eggsy tilts his head to the side, taking in the severe black suit, the perfect dark red tie, the collar, so nearly ironed. The man is in his forties maybe, has dark hair with a receding hair line, face lined with what Eggsy can only describe as a not impressed expression. He's not handsome precisely, but his face is… expressive – not that it's easy to tell by an image alone.

"Who's this?" Charlie asks, showing the same picture to Merlin – apparently he, Roxy and Eggsy all got the same file.

"Your target," Merlin says, looking at each of them in turn. "Your mission is to use your NLP training to win over the individual on the photograph – and when I say win over, I do mean it in the biblical sense."

"What?" Charlie asks sharply, turning the photo around again and scowling. "It's a man."

"Very observant," Merlin agrees and folds his arms.

"We're supposed to seduce some man?" Charlie demands, holding the picture a little further away from himself, as if it might attack him. "That will give Roxy an unfair advantage," he then complains.

"Does it?" Merlin asks, sounding about as unimpressed as the man in the photograph looks. "Now, there is a brief summary on the individual in your folder, and what we know of his schedule in the upcoming week. Please review that file now."

Eggsy takes the profile and the schedule out, frowning. Mycroft Holmes, the profile says. A minor government official judging by the looks of it – something of a workaholic too, if one went by his schedule. On average the man spends ten hours every day at work.

"There are three distinct opportunities for someone to approach the individual in question. You will each choose one of these opportunities and that is your one and only chance to make yourself acquainted with him," Merlin says. "On Tuesdays and Thursdays he visits a gym for two hours each day – these are the first two opportunities. The last is on Saturday, when he visits a private club. Choose your timing."

Roxy glances over the files – her eyes narrow and then she quick snaps out, "I'll take Tuesday," she says.

Eggsy blinks at that and looks over the files, trying to see what she saw. He doesn't – but Charlie obviously does because his eyes widen and then he quickly snags the second gym day – leaving the Saturday to Eggsy. He's not sure what's wrong about it – but there's obviously something off because Charlie grins and Roxy sends him a sympathetic look.

There's no chance to ask though. Merlin nods. "Good. You have one day to plan your approach and your alias accordingly – tomorrow I will assist you in the creation of a false background, but you will have to come up with the details yourself."

He waits until they all nod and then continues. "Now, due to the timing issues involved with this training mission,  the three of you will be separated for the duration – there are private rooms prepared for each of you in the estate, and naturally under no circumstances are you to co-operate," he says. "Your room assignments should also be in your envelopes. You will vacate the barracks immediately."

Merlin then stands there, waiting. Apparently immediately really means immediately. Frowning, Eggsy looks at the picture again before quickly checking his new room assignment. It's top side – in the actual mansion, rather than underneath it. Letting JB down from his lap, he heads to get his things, Roxy and Charlie doing the same. They're out of the barracks inside five minutes, Eggsy heading to the east wing and to his own room while Charlie and Roxy head elsewhere.

 


 

There isn't much info about Mycroft Holmes available. Eggsy's not sure if it's because there's just not much to know about the guy – on paper he sounds boring as all get out – or if it's something else. Did Kingsman intentionally cherry pick the info to give them as little as possible – or did they just not know? Whichever it is, there's really barely anything on the paper about him – and there's precisely nothing about the guy on the net. Kingsman servers might have something, but you need access codes and shit to get info out of those, so that's not particularly helpful.

Still, Eggsy researches the man as well as he can, trying to figure out why this guy – why a guy at all? Just to make the mission as difficult as possible? Probably not – Kingsman was always throwing curve balls at them, the fucking parachute test being a prime example, so Eggsy doubts very much that it's that simple. Besides, Kingsman wouldn't intentionally go about making a test that's more difficult for some candidates than it was for others – that just doesn't seem like shit they'd do.

Besides, Charlie was fucking Arthur's candidate – which Eggsy wasn't supposed to know, mind you, but Charlie hadn't been able to keep his fucking mouth shut about it. Merlin wouldn't make a test that was intentionally biased against Arthur's candidate. Right?

So either the guy is bisexual, pansexual or otherwise oriented towards multiple sexes or whatever… Or they were all going to fail, and the mission wasn't about getting into the guy's pants. Which actually made sense – because the fuck sort of mission is that? Getting into someone's pants in order to get something else from them, now that was some spy shit. Just getting into someone's pants and nothing else, that was different. That was pretty much just prostitution. Actually it wasn't even that. As far as Eggsy knew, no one was paying the Kingsman candidates salary for this shit.

So what was it? Just a test on how well they prepare, how far they get – how believable they make their attempt? Or were they supposed to get something from the guy? Info, maybe? The profile was fucking thin as it was. So maybe that was it.

Eggsy kinda wished he could ask Harry, but Merlin had been pretty adamant about no co-operation. That probably meant no co-operation with Harry either. Besides, Harry wasn't even in the HQ anymore. He was out somewhere wining and dining Richmond Valentine for his head-explosive relates secrets.

Sighing, Eggsy drops the file on Mycroft Holmes on his desk and then whistles at JB. "Come on, boy," he says. "Let's go for a walk."

 


 

"So, what sort of alias do you have in mind?" Merlin asks when Eggsy enters his office later for mission preparation.

"Charlie and Roxy been in yet?" Eggsy asks. "Can I ask what they came up with?"

"No, but I'm sure you can draw your own conclusions on the basis of their mission location," Merlin says, arching his eyebrows – and yeah, Eggsy can. Charlie and Roxy had it fucking easy, what with a gym and all. They were probably going to go in as new clients or at most as temporary trainers or some shit like that. Eggsy though, Eggsy's mission is in a private fucking club. A fancy private club.

A fucking gentleman's club.

"Well then?" Merlin asks, turning to his computers, ready to get cracking. "What sort of identity do you have in mind?"

Eggsy considers it and then shakes head. "None," he says.

Merlin pauses at that, arching his eyebrows at him. Eggsy meets his eyes head on, and refuses to fucking falter. It's not that he didn't come up with anything – he did, he considered something like eighteen potential ways to approach the fucking place. Problem was, he wasn't going to pull any of them off.

"I just need a way in – so that when I get there, they don't just throw me out or some shit," Eggsy says, and shuffles where he stands. "You can do that, right?"

Merlin considers him, saying nothing for a moment, just staring at him – teetering on the edge of disappointment maybe. Then he narrows his eyes. "Do you feel like sharing your approach plan?"

"Not particularly," Eggsy says and pushes his hands into the pockets of his overalls. "Would help me if I was there with someone. Like, I had an invitation or some shit. And it'd be better if they wasn't there."

"Hmmm," Merlin says, narrowing his eyes and then turning to his computer. "That I can do. If you're really think that is all the preparation you need."

"Well…" Eggsy considers. "Some fancier clothes would be nice. I don't have anything nice enough for that place."

"You'll have access to the Wardrobe," Merlin agrees and types away for a moment. "Alright, you will have the invitation of Mr. Overton to join him for a dinner at the Diogenes Club – but he will fail to show up, due to the fact that he's going to Japan that weekend. Will that do?"

"Yeah," Eggsy shrugs – it doesn't really matter who he's supposed to be there with, so as long as he had way in. "Cheers, Bruv."

"Remember that it is a quite serious mission, Eggsy," the Scott says, giving him a look. "Don't go in half assed."

"I'm not. Hence fancier clothing," Eggsy says and frowns. "So what's the Wardrobe?"

 


 

 The Wardrobe was a fitting room about the size of an average storage house, hidden in the belly of Kingsman HQ. It was where agents could grab some quick disguises if they needed them – though most often than not, they didn't. Most Kingsman Agents had their own wardrobes for things like that, with each article of clothing perfectly fitted to their bodies. And more often than not they just went in wearing their usual clothes – the benefit of having a bespoke suit for an uniform.

There were some old-as-shit clothes there, like too old to be retro, from the times of Kingsman's conception and shit like that – but there were newer pieces too. There was a surprising amount of dresses too – apparently Roxy and Amelia weren't the first Kingsman candidates of the female persuasion.

Eggsy strolls around the Wardrope for a while, going over racks upon racks of clothes until he picks something out – a charcoal grey, single breasted jacket with matching slacks and a light grey button up shirt. They're not quite up to Kingsman standards – there's frayed seam on the suit jacket and the left knee on the trousers looks like something's scraped it bad – the fabric's a little worn. Harry Hart wouldn't be caught dead wearing it.

While he considers his choices, one of the support staff members approaches him carefully. "You're one of the Lancelot candidates, right? Do you need some help?" she asks.

"Yeah, there anyplace I can see if this fits?" Eggsy asks.

"There's a dressing room in the back," she says, eying him and the suit somewhat dubiously.

Eggsy goes to test the suit out – it doesn't fit right, the shoulders are a little too tight, and the arms are a little too thin – when he bends his elbow in, his bicep make the fabric almost groan. The trousers, well. He fills them up to the brim. The suit's obviously made for someone a bit thinner than him - thinner and maybe a bit taller. Eggsy eyes his own reflection, smoothing the collar of the button up shirt down and then tugging it askew to reveal his throat. He looks like he feels. Someone playing dress up with an ill-fitting suit.

"Do you need help refitting it?" the tech staff member asks. "Or maybe picking out something else?"

"Nah, this is good," Eggsy says, grinning, and tucks the suit under his arm – probably wrinkling it horribly. "Thanks all the same."

 


 

Tuesday comes and goes, and Eggsy wonders how Roxy did, if she got anywhere. If she did, he doesn't hear about it – he's all but in black out mode, with no contact coming in or going out. He spends the time doing other shit in the mean while – parks his ass on the firing range for hours on end. It's, hands down, his favourite place in Kingsman HQ, especially since the tech people are in and out constantly and always looking for someone to test fire this new gadget or see how this modification would do.

Eggsy fucking loves guns. He loves the smell and the feel of them, the sheer brutal lethality and the efficiency of them. They're, in his opinion, the most beautiful horrible things humanity has come up with and he'll never ever get enough of the feel of them. Be it one of the Kingsman's special hand guns to their rifles to the umbrellas, he fucking loves all of them.

And he hasn't gotten a chance to handle a gun since he left the marines, so he's totally going to enjoy it while he can. Playing Call of Duty just doesn't compare to the real thing.

He's in the firing range when Harry comes in, apparently to get some practice done himself.

"Three months in a coma does have its sad side effects, I'm afraid," the agent says while setting a briefcase and his umbrella down on the desk beside firing lane next to Eggsy's. In the briefcase he has a couple of pistols, one of them the Kingsman special mod with shotgun cartridges, and the other a full on customisable fucking kit with everything from several silencers to a couple of different sights.

"You done any shooting since?" Eggsy asks.

"The work hasn't called for it," Harry admits, taking the standard pistol and checking it over with the eye of an expert before taking out a clip and inserting it with easy, well-practiced movements. "But you never know when it will, and I had better be prepared."

Then he tugs on his noise cancelling headphones – Eggsy following quickly suit – and then it gets a little too noisy to chat. Which Eggsy muses is just as well – he isn't supposed to be talking to people with the whole training mission thing happening.

He concentrates on his own weapon instead – he's testing a new silencer for the tech people. Kingsman, he's very quickly found out, have fucking amazing silencers. Even military grade silencers have nothing on the shit Kingsman has. They can actually reduce sound down to the quiet thwip sounds movie people think silenced rounds sound like. It's fucking sweet.

 After a while though he just stops to watch Harry. Three months in a coma or not, the man is really fucking talented. It takes him a couple rounds to get warmed up, but after that the shots he scores are all pretty much bullseyes. The way he shoots is pretty interesting too – not once does he assume the standard firing position. Instead he switches positions between each shot, making it into a weird sort of choreography, moving, pausing, shooting and moving again all in perfect rhythm. Standing, leaning, he even goes down on one knee, both knees, even lies down to shoot – practicing angles, as well as aim.

"Do you mind if I turn on the moving targets?" Harry asks, after emptying his clip.

"Be my guest," Eggsy says, not even pretending to be practicing himself anymore. Harry turns the mobile targets on – they pop in and out in the back wall of the firing range, and quickly Harry starts taking them out – all but dancing between shots. And he never misses.

If the man's fitness took a dent from his coma, it's definitely not showing here.

"I hear you three have an NLP mission," Harry says suddenly and Eggsy tugs his headphones off.

"Huh?"

"The candidates were given an NLP mission," Harry says and glances at him. "Nervous?"

"Not particularly," Eggsy shrugs, though he probably should be. He's got shitty NLP scores – he can swing the acting no problem, can get the attention and keep it on himself but the careful manipulation, he stumbles over that shit all the time. Not like Roxy who's text book perfect at everything, or Charlie who fucking revels in the NLP shit.

"If you got any tips though…" Eggsy trails off hopefully.

Harry looks him over while switching to the other gun, fitting it with a scope and a silencer before he puts the magazine in. "Don't get caught," he says, and gets back to practicing.

 


 

Charlie's day comes and goes, and suddenly it's Friday. Eggsy doesn't bother to stop and wonder how Charlie did, he's too busy with the notion that tomorrow, tomorrow he was going to head to this Diogenes Club to try and win over this bloke who he's pretty sure is un-winnable. He might be panicking a little for a while there, before he manages to beat it back and calm down again.

He knows seducing the guy isn't the goal. It can't be. No, it's just getting close, getting something done, probably. Selling the whole act, probably. Well, he would try and seduce the guy if he could because that was the mission after all. But in the mean while his goal would be info gathering, getting close – getting just friendly. He can do that.

Eggsy spends Friday walking around the HQ grounds with JB and just chilling and relaxing, not letting himself get all nervous and shit. Over-thinking's what gets you in the end, after all. He ain't going to be over-thinking it – he's just gonna do it, and see how it turns out.

He's pretty sure he sees Charlie carrying his bags out of Kingsman HQ as he does, but he's on the other end of the yard, it might've been someone else.

And then it's Saturday. He takes that morning to prepare in ways he hasn't in a long-ass time – and he's really fucking glad that the private room came with a private bathroom. This would've been kind of awful in communal showers. Once he's done there, he heads off to very awkwardly question Merlin whether or not he ought to get peripherals himself or is Kingsman supplying him with the stuff he needs. Because as much as he doubts his chances of actually ever getting into Mycroft Holmes' pants, well… that is the letter of the mission. And no way is he heading in unprepared.

"I mean," he says, a little awkward with Merlin staring at him flatly. "I can just pop back home, get all the shit I need, but, uh…"

"And what, precisely, do you think you will need?" Merlin asks, arching an eyebrow.

And fuck if it ain't awkward. Because it is. It fucking is. Because Eggsy – Eggsy has a list.

Eggsy's list is a long one.

And Merlin's eyebrows start migrating up after the third item on the list – and they stay up through the whole of it, all the way down to the last item on the list. Eggsy rocks back and forth on the balls of his feet, staring up at the ceiling while Merlin looks over the list again. He's this fucking close to starting whistling awkwardly, just to break the fucking silence.

 Finally, Merlin lowers the list and just looks at him. Eggsy expects him to ask something, ask him fucking anything, but he doesn't – not about that, not about his intentions, nothing. "Right," he says and hands the list back – expressionless and bland and severe as if he hadn't just read through a whole litany of evidence of Eggsy's past misdeeds. "I'll have everything on the list delivered to your room inside two hours. Anything else?"

"Um, no, I guess not," Eggsy says and inches his way towards the door. "Thanks. I'll just – I'll be going then --"

"One more thing," Merlin says and turns away. "I was going to have these delivered just before your departure, but this is as good a time as any. Here."

He hands Eggsy a dark case that holds in it a pair of dark rimmed, heavy spectacles. The same sort of spectacles Harry wore. The same sort they'd trained with other candidates – but never gotten to actually keep after those training sessions because these things, they cost a fucking arm and leg to make.

Kingsman glasses are some serious fucking shit.

"Shit, really?" Eggsy asks, eyes widening a bit.

"We need to monitor your mission somehow," Merlin says.

Of course, the glasses fit perfectly. And two hours later, one of the support staff people delivers a nice, bland briefcase to Eggsy's door, smiling fleetingly at him before heading off. Inside the briefcase in a perfect, pristine arrangement, is everything Eggsy asked, sitting on shaped packing foam like fucking crown jewels or some shit.

Someone somewhere in the bowels of Kingsman actually sat down and made fucking shaped packing foam for Eggsy's brand new sex toys before fitting them all in nice and proper in a suitcase. He's not entirely sure if he should laugh or cry about it.

"This fucking place, what the actual fuck," Eggsy says, and cackles over the fucking briefcase hysterically for a little while, JB grinning widely at him and having no fucking clue how fucking weird Kingsman really was. Lucky bastard, JB.

Eggsy waits until it's about an hour before Mycroft Holmes usually goes to the club before changing clothes, leaving his Kingsman jumpsuit in his room and donning the ill-fitting suit instead. It feels even more awkward now, after all the preparation he's gone through – the shit they used to wash the thing is just irritating as fuck against recently shaved skin. Still, he looks… good. He looks like he's about to bust the seams of his trousers – but that, too, looks kinda good. The glasses don't really fit, though, but… he can't do fuck-all about that, can he?

And then it's time to get going.

He catches a ride in one of the Kingsman issued taxi's – it's weird and wonderful, sitting in one of those things. They're kitted out like fucking limousines on the inside – there's champagne and expensive cigars and shit there. It's really fucking tempting to grab a drink and just live it up for a moment. But no.

He's got a mission.

"Good luck, sir," the driver says as he stops in front of the fancy-ass building that houses the very exclusive and very elite Diogenes Club. Eggsy eyes the building with its nice window frames and fences and shit. It looks like the whole fucking thing is made of marble or something.

"Yeah," Eggsy murmurs, adjusting his glasses and all but strangling the handle of the briefcase. "Thanks."

Then he gets out of the cab, steels himself for the mission, and heads inside. And of course the building is just as fancy on the inside as it is on the out – everything is like mahogany or something, and there's polished brass or some shit like that everywhere. It fucking gleams, this place. And there's a staff of people in suits who wear white fucking gloves and everything. Jesus fucking Christ. Still, he's here.

Better get on with it.

Then he figures out why Roxy and Charlie were so quick to grab the gym days instead.

In the Diogenes Club it's fucking forbidden to speak.

Chapter Text

Eggsy is directed to take a seat in a hall full of tables and chairs, where some other patrons of the club are having tea, reading newspapers, smoking cigarettes – all of them perfectly silent. The whole fucking place is just… just fancy. The tables are some dark wood, lacquered so damn finely that they reflect the desk lamps sitting on them – and the lamps all look designer, probably cost hundreds of pounds apiece. The chairs in the room are all armchairs, wood with velvet-like cushions, pretty damn comfortable considering how much they must weigh.

After setting the briefcase down to stand by his leg, Eggsy shifts awkwardly where he sits, more than a little uneasy. Most of the people in the Diogenes club are old, white haired, and utterly concentrated on whatever they're doing. There's no communication between them at all, not even a glance – the most interaction Eggsy's gotten was from the servant who'd showed him in, and even he'd been quick to leave.

How the fuck is he supposed to do this?

Why would anyone come to this place, what's the fucking point? They just sit there, lost in their own heads, doing fucking nothing. Though, hell. Maybe that's it. Who knows, maybe their own houses are full of squealing kids – er, grandkids probably, seeing how old everyone here is. Maybe this place is the only place where they get the chance to enjoy some peace and quiet.

And he's supposed to seduce a man who probably came here for that same purpose. Fuck his life with a rusty knife.

The servant comes back in quietly, with a silver tray in hand. As Eggsy watches, utterly uncomfortable with the whole fucking thing, the man lays down a tea cup in front of him and then shows him a metal tin with a variety of teabags in it. Eggsy has to arch an eyebrow at that – tea bags, in a place like this? What, no loose leaf? Or maybe it is because he is so obviously not as wealthy as the people here, obviously out of place.

Well, no fucking matter. At least he is served something.

He picks a brand he recognises and then watches how the staff member prepares the tea for him, not making the slightest sound as he does. He's offered sugar and milk, both of which he accepts, and then he's left alone to enjoy his tea, once more in the silent void of anything resembling communication.

Sighing – quietly, though – he picks up the tea and takes a sip. Well, he's fucked here. And not the way he should be. This ain't gonna work. Mycroft Holmes isn't even there – fuck, maybe he won't show up at all. That could give him a nice excuse, wouldn't it? Wasn't his fault if the man failed to show up…

And then, less than a minute after that, Mycroft Holmes shows up, with an umbrella hanging from one arm and face void of expression.

Shit. There's a lot the picture didn't show, isn't there? The guy is pretty damn tall – almost as tall as Harry. The suit he wears is obviously bespoke, though it's sort of bland. Eggsy isn't entirely sure how it comes across as bland, but it does – when Harry and the other Kingsman wear suits, it's just… it's noticeable, the fineness of it, it's just striking. This guy's suit looks like it might blend into a wall, if the wall was a matching colour.

The man himself strikes a not-quite-imposing figure. He's obviously wealthy – got to be, to come into a place like this – and he's probably more powerful than the minor government position he's supposed to have would lead you to believe. There's power there – but there's something weirdly unassuming about the guy too. Maybe it's just that Eggsy's still comparing him to Harry Hart, who wears a suit like it's armour, who walks around like he's stalking prey, who moves like he's always just  about to strike. This guy isn't like that at all.

He's… forgettable. If it wasn't a mission, Eggsy wouldn't have given him a second glance.

And really fucking observant too – because he notices Eggsy staring pretty much instantly. Just barely managing to withhold a grimace, Eggsy looks away, at his tea, keeping his eyes on it. In the corner of his vision, faint green text informs him that he's recording the whole thing. Merlin is probably watching back at HQ, watching him doing fucking nothing.

Shit.

Okay, so. Why this guy? Because he was so bland, so boring and probably utterly unattainable? Nothing like someone you'd imagine a Kingsman Agent going all seductive on. Hell, it's definitely nothing like Eggsy might've imagined. He though honey-traps were all about beautiful and vaguely deadly ladies, rich heiresses, and intellectuals, the sort of people who had power and access and means.

Mycroft Holmes takes the empty seat by another table not too far from Eggsy. Almost instantly there is a servant attending to him – bringing on a tray a cup of already prepared tea, a pack of cigarettes, and a newspaper. As Eggsy watches – making damn sure he's not caught staring again – Holmes takes the tea and the paper, casting a thoughtful look at the cigarettes and then waving them aside. With a slight bow, the servant backs away, taking the tray and the cigarettes with him as he goes.

So, apparently Diogenes kept track of what people liked, Eggsy muses. That might explain why he got boring, cheap tea – they don't know his preferences, and so offered options. Still… that was handy. And he learned something new about Mycroft Holmes.

A smoker trying to quit. That's something.

Pushing his glasses a little awkwardly up his nose, Eggsy looks around the place, making mental notes of everyone there. No one looks at him, not the older members and not Mycroft Holmes who's now reading the front page of the newspaper, the slightest frown marring his face as he does. A gentleman club full of antisocial rich people who come together just to ignore each other. If that's not some fine ass snobbery, Eggsy doesn't know what is.

Fucking fuck – what the hell is he supposed to do here? How the fuck is he to get close to someone when that very thing is against the club's rules? No talking and apparently no interaction what so ever – fuck, even eye contact is probably forbidden here. What the actual fuck?

Eggsy sits there for a moment, his knee bouncing with irritation and nerves, trying to figure out a plan of attack, and if not that, then an exit strategy that won't get him kicked out of the Kingsman trials. He has to get something done, has to report back something, probably, so he can't just up and leave. He needs to get something done. He needs to…

Oh, just fuck it.

Eggsy looks at Holmes – noticeably, keeping his eyes on the man until he frowns, notices and looks up. Eggsy looks away, looking at his tea cup but keeping his attention on Holmes. When Holmes turns his eyes away again, Eggsy turns to look at him again, just staring until the man looks up again, downright scowling now.

It's so fucking awkward that it almost hurts, but Eggsy keeps at it – looking and then looking away, avoiding eye contact like he's supposed to, but keeping Holmes noticing him. It annoys the fuck out of the man, obviously, his expression gets more and more irritated by the moment and after seven or so such exchanges, the man's knuckles start going a little white as he grips the newspaper.

Eggsy looks up – and then away before Holmes can catch his eyes and then has the pleasure of hearing the man vocally sigh and put the paper away. And then Holmes leans back, crosses one leg over other, folds his arms, and stares.

Alright, getting somewhere now.

Eggsy adjusts his glasses and meets his eyes – and oh boy, that's a stare and a half. Eggsy's been stared at a lot of ways, with a lot of intentions – he's received so many hostile stares that he has a whole collection of them. But this is something new. Holmes eyes him like he's something very small and very irritating, a fly on the wall and he's weighing the pros and cons of getting up and squashing him. How the hell the man can convey such easy distain, Eggsy has no idea, but he does, and it makes Eggsy feel just fucking small.

He'd though the man was expressive when he'd seen his picture. Fucking right about that, A-plus on character analysis for Eggsy Unwin.

Still, it's on now.

Eggsy stares back and very deliberately swallows, leaning back a little in his own armchair. He contemplates going a bit more obvious, but instead he waits, watching Holmes. The man narrows his eyes and his gaze flickers up and down – still irritated but paying attention.

Eggsy glances around, a calculated, conscious move. The other people in the room aren't paying attention to them – there's something pointed about it, though, so at least a couple noticed the mutual staring going on. Holmes is obviously aware of it too – his lips thin and the irritation racks up again and when Eggsy meets the man's eyes again, Holmes is looking at him demandingly.

A question of what the hell do you want? goes unspoken but well heard between them.

Eggsy inhales, lifts his shoulders, and then slumps down a little, sighing – silent, silent, not making a sound. A wordless expression of I don't fuckin' know, alright?

Holmes watches him without acknowledgement for a moment and then he shifts where he sits – it's just a slight move, he doesn't actually change his position at all, and his expression stays the same except for the slightest lift of his eyebrows. Daring, questioning. Something between what do you want me to do about it? and go on? maybe.

Jesus they're actually doing this, it's actually working.

Eggsy scratches at his neck – pausing between the motions. It wasn't intentional, but it works. He casts a glance around them – at no one in particular – and then back at Homes, arching his eyebrows. What even is this place?

Holmes looks decisively unimpressed with him at that, the expression just a shade disbelieving and wholly annoyed. Why are you here if you don't know? Geez the guy is subtle – how the hell does he convey so much with so little?

Eggsy tries for the same subtlety – and fails. He has no fucking idea how to convey the answer. He settles on glancing at the empty chair on the other side of his table and pressing his lips together in annoyance, in disappointment. Was supposed to meet someone. They're not showin' up.

His silent conversation partner just gives a flat look at him for that. And I care because?

There is an awkward cough to the left of Eggsy and he glances away from Holmes. It's one of the elder men, who's scowling very disapprovingly at his own newspaper and very pointedly not looking at them. A lot of other people in the club are doing the same, glaring at their teas or their newspapers, staring at their cigarettes like they'd done them great offence.

It's fucking hilarious and Eggsy just barely manages to keep himself from outright leering at them, just to rub it in. Jesus fuck this fucking place is ridiculous.

Holmes casts a slight glance around them as well, his lips pressing together in irritation before he lifts his chin and looks at all of them down his nose, like no one there is worth his time. Fucking classy act, he is, and Eggsy kind of has to admire the balls on the guy. He has no idea who any of these people are, but he can just smell the old money in the air – and this guy just disses the fuck out of them.

 When Holmes looks at him, Eggsy is grinning at him. It seems to surprise the man a little, he leans his head back sharply and the irritation fades into a split second of puzzlement before he gets it under the control. Then he, too, looks judgmental. Honestly, is somehow conveyed in it. Behave.

Eggsy just arches his eyebrows and grins wider. Hell no, he conveys and then leans an elbow back on the table, tilting his head a bit, looking at Holmes in question. So the fuck are you doing here? Because seriously, the guy doesn't fit in with this crowd, not really.

Holmes makes a face, almost rolls his eyes, before reaching for his tea cup. So apparently that was a dumb question. After taking a sip, Holmes looks at him again, and then casts a look at the empty chair and arches a single, elegant brow at him. The purpose of your meeting?

Well that's an easy one. Eggsy lets his knees part slightly, enjoying more than a bit the way Holmes's dark eyes flicker down to follow the movement. When the man looks up at his face again, Eggsy wets his lips as subtly as he can and then lowers the glasses, to look at him over the black frames. Then smiles, slow, eyebrows flickering up. Answer enough for you?

Holmes doesn't move for a moment, his expression like carved stone. Then he lifts his head slowly, his eyes narrowing. After a moment, a painstaking moment… a bit of intrigue slips into his face. Indeed?

Eggsy arches an eyebrow and glances down at himself. Then at the club around them. Then he looks at Holmes, sneering a little. Yeah, because this is obviously my sort of scene.

Holmes looks a little amused at that – and then there is another pointed cough, this time from the other end of the room. One of the older gents is now scowling in annoyance at the empty space between Eggsy and Holmes, just radiating his displeasure.

Holmes sneers at the man and rolls his eyes – and then he stands up, picking up his umbrella as he does. The nod he gives to Eggsy is the slightest fucking thing Eggsy's ever seen – but he does see it. When Holmes heads out, Eggsy hesitates only for a moment before grabbing his briefcase and all but bouncing to his feet and following him out.

Bland suit or not, the man's a fucking sight from behind. Obviously he's not wasting his fucking time at the gym.

Holmes clears his throat – audibly – and Eggsy snaps his eyes up. He grins at the look the man gives him – disapproval, amusement, maybe even a hint of embarrassment? The man's expressions are like fine cuisine, full of flavour. Eggsy's still not sure how the man's doing it – not sure how someone that's not an actor by profession could do shit like that. It's fucking awesome, in any case. He kinda wishes he could do it too.

Then Eggsy's shown into what looks like a private study. The décor is more or less the same as it was in the hall, just… a bit fancier. There's couches and a fire place and a side table with a decanter and shit – so obviously it's a place for private meetings, and not for sitting around being antisocial. Sweet.

After he enters the room Holmes steps in after him, closing the door behind him. And then they're alone, with no one there to bitch about them interacting. Eggsy looks at him, pushing his hands into the pockets of his way too tight trousers, wondering – is it forbidden to talk here too? In either case, Holmes was the one who got him here, soo…

The elder man eyes him thoughtfully before stepping forward, closer to Eggsy – and then past him. 

"A drink?" the man offers – out loud.

"Fuck yeah," Eggsy says, sighing as the tension leaves him. "Jesus fuckin' Christ, this fuckin' place. What is this place?"

Whatever Holmes had been expecting, that wasn't it – he pauses in the act of reaching for the decanter and eyes him with astonishment. Eggsy winces and scratches the back of his neck – fucked up there, didn't he? Should've tried for a posh accent, with less fucking swearing. Fucking fuck.

Holmes blinks and clears his throat. "The Diogenes Club is a traditional hideout for wealthy men with loud wives," he says then, still eying him. "A place not to be bothered in."

"Right," Eggsy mutters, swaying back and forth on the balls of his feet, trying to figure out how to go about it – how to fix it. Oh fuck it – he's already fucked up, better go all the way. "Wait, what?" he asks, turning to the man. "Hideout from loud wives? Fuckin' seriously?"

Holmes makes a face at that. "Traditionally yes," he says, still watching Eggsy oddly. "But then perhaps all gentleman's clubs had a similar original purpose. Diogenes merely took it a step further – hence the silence."

"Christ," Eggsy says, looking towards the doorway and running his free hand through his hair. "What's the point of comin' to a place just to sit around bein' quiet? I mean, gentleman club's for like drinkin' and gamblin' and shit, innit?"

Holmes arches a single eyebrow at him and then nods almost amiably. "Yes, I suppose so," he says and then turns to face the table with the decanter again. "Diogenes sees its share of… gambling when the situation permits. Poker is poker, whether you speak during it or not. As is alcohol, really. Brandy?"

"Anything's fine," Eggsy says. "So long as I don't have to pay or nothin'."

Holmes hesitates and then smiles. "On my tab, then," he says, and pours.

Eggsy takes a breath, looking him over – shit, even the brandy glasses are posh, like, crystal sniffer type. Quickly he looks away and around the room instead, fiddling with the briefcase handle as he does. The Kingsman glasses are heavy and awkwardly present on his face, with the recording still showing faint green in the corner. He's on a mission. An awkward, weird-ass mission. Right.

He's gotten Holmes's attention. Now what?

"So, what brings you to the Diogenes Club?" Holmes asks, capping the decanter and turning to face him, a sniffer glass in each hand. "Because, and pardon my forwardness… you are no regular."

"Yeah, I ain't," Eggsy says with a little laugh which he hopes doesn't sound as relieved as he feels.  "Was invited, supposed to meet someone here."

"Hmm yes, I did figure as much," Holmes says and hands him a glass. "And he failed to show up."

"And he fucking failed to show up, yeah. Guess he chickened out or some shit, just my fucking luck," Eggsy agrees, accepting the glass Holmes hands him. It's surprisingly heavy and solid considering that it looks like someone made it out of star light and fucking honey. "Cheers," he says, lifting it slightly.

Holmes watches him over his own brandy glass, inhaling the scent slowly with all the casualness of a connoisseur. "Did you get paid beforehand?" he asks suddenly.

Eggsy blinks at that and gives him a sharp look. How the fuck…?

Holmes just smiles at him, knowing and falsely innocent all at once. Then he arches his eyebrows, a quick little move, all challenging and shit. Eggsy just barely manages to keep himself from snorting out loud at him. Fuck this guy and his fucking expressive face.

Eggsy kinda wants to bite him, just a little. On the cheek maybe. See what that would do to his expressiveness.

"Yeah, I got paid," he says then and then looks around, shaking his head. No matter how long he looks at the place, it's still so ridiculously posh, all of it. Well. In for a penny… "Kinda weird place to invite a rentboy to," Eggsy adds, not quite casual, prodding.

"Is that what you are?" Holmes asks without missing a beat, arching an eyebrow at him.

"Well, if it's too fuckin' low for you, bruv, then call me an escort or some shit," Eggsy mutters, rolling his eyes at him. "It's the same fuckin' thin' in the end, no matter what you call me."

"Hmm," Holmes hums, noncommittal. "And your client was…"

"Ain't gonna tell you that, bruv," Eggsy scoffs at him. "That shit's fucking confidential."

"Mm-hmm," Holmes answers, smiling. "If your client failed to show up, why did you stick around? Surely you have other places to be."

"Not tonight I don't – had the whole night booked for him," Eggsy shrugs.

Holmes is quiet for a moment, just watching, observing – it's weirdly harder to tell what he's thinking now that there is actual verbal talking involved. After a moment he motions to the couches and then steps ahead of Eggsy, to take a seat on one of them. Eggsy, after a moment, takes a seat on another, setting the briefcase down by his foot again, awkwardly aware of it the whole time. It's just so fucking official, a fucking leather attaché case. Duffel bags were easier to ignore.

"So, you got a loud wife you're hidin' from?" Eggsy asks, glancing at the man's left hand – yep, there's a ring there. Fucking Kingsman with their twisted-ass training missions.

Holmes smiles faintly at him and sips his drink, and doesn't answer. "What is your name?"

"What's yours?" Eggsy asks in answer, and sniffs at his own drink, not actually drinking it yet. "Jesus fuck this smells rich."

"It's dreadfully expensive, yes," Holmes agrees, considering him. "Like most everything in this place," he hums then, and his eyes trail down Eggsy's jacket.

"Most everything?" Eggsy asks with some amusement and eyes the brandy. Yeah, a sip of it was probably more expensive than a whole night with a rentboy of Eggsy's class. Fucking hell. He's so fucking glad he ain't paying for the stuff. Rich people and their rich fucking entertainments.

Holmes arches an eyebrow at him and smiles. "Mycroft Holmes," he then says. "My name."

"Fuckin' nice to meet you, Mr. Holmes," Eggsy says and lifts his glass in a toast. "I'm Eggsy."

"Are you?" Holmes asks, sounding amused.

"I most definitely am," Eggsy snorts at him and then takes a drink. "Cheers."

Chapter Text

Merlin leans back in his chair a little, watching through Eggsy's eyes how Mycroft Holmes slowly sips his brandy. He'd had his doubts about Eggsy – Harry's candidate had done barely any preparation, selection of a suit and suitcase full of sex toys aside. He'd planned no background, done very little research – hadn't even known Diogenes favoured silence before actually seeing it for himself.

And yet, in less than ten minutes, Eggsy is doing better than Roxy and Charlie combined.

"So, whatever made you fixate on me?" Holmes asks, his voice echoing through the speakers in Merlin's office. Eggsy's view shifts – he changes positions slightly, watching Holmes steadily. The elder man nods towards the door. "Out there. Why did you decide to bother me of all people?"

"Because everyone else out there was a –" Eggsy stops and clears his throat, probably thinking better of whatever he was about to say. Merlin snorts at it, and Eggsy continues. "Erm. Well. Didn't think anyone else would, I dunno… give a shit."

Holmes lips thin at that a little – though whether he's suppressing a grimace or a smile, it's rather hard to say. "And why did you think I would, hm, give a shit?"

"Guess I didn't. But you just came in and I was dying of boredom," Eggsy answers and looks down at his brandy – though Holmes stays in the upper corner of the view. Holmes' expression stays the same, aloof, cool, unreadable, but for some reason Eggsy chuckles. "'sides. You do give a shit."

"Yes, well," Holmes says, his lips thinning further – and Eggsy actually laughs at the man, sounding delighted. Again he's seeing something in Holmes' face that Merlin can't distinguish. It's starting to irritate the hell out of Merlin.

The door to his office opens and without glancing Merlin can tell who it is. "Sure you want to be here for this?" he asks, making another annotation about Eggsy's freakishly good people reading skills. "Most agents don't, you know. Something about lines between mentors and mentees, things being awkward later on, and whatnot."

"Considering that it's Mycroft Holmes, what, pray tell, am I in danger of witnessing here?" Harry asks and stops to stare at the screens – at Holmes, sitting across from Eggsy, drinking brandy. "Shit," he says, and he sounds honestly surprised. "Eggsy managed to get him alone? How?"

"I haven't the faintest notion," Merlin answers, a little frustrated about it. "How he managed it precisely I can't tell – there are no security cameras inside the club, no way to get an angle on Eggsy's face. But he somehow engaged Holmes in a silent conversation in the middle of the Diogenes common room. They interacted silently for about seven minutes before Holmes headed off to a private room – and Eggsy followed. And it wasn't unwelcome."

Harry hums, stepping closer to the desk, leaning his knuckles lightly on it, watching Holmes. "I thought he was slated for an utter failure."

"So did I," Merlin says, folding his arms. Eggsy walked in half-cocked with next to no preparation – and he made it work. Roxy had done nothing but prepare and research before her mission, and Holmes had barely given her a handful of words before dismissing her. He glances at Harry. "Holmes actually served him a drink."

"Well," Harry says, considering. "What is Eggsy's strategy? Or does he really have none?"

"Oh, he has a strategy alright," Merlin mutters. A strategy that involved two types of lube, handcuffs and multiple sex toys – and latex gloves too which was… interesting.

On the screen, Holmes hums and delicately sniffs at his brandy. "If you don't mind me asking… Eggsy," he says slowly, thoughtfully. "How would one go about hiring someone like you?"

Harry leans back a little, surprised, and Merlin looks at him, smothering a little grin.

Eggsy's view shifts as he shrugs, and he sets the brandy sniffer down on the table between them carefully. "You thinkin' of hirin' me, bruv?" he asks. "Because I gotta tell ya – it ain't as easy as walkin' up to me and shovin' money down my pants. Not that it wouldn't be appreciated, but that's ain't how it works."

Merlin chokes a little trying to swallow his cackle at the face Harry makes – Galahad definitely hadn't been expecting that.

"I thought not, hence my asking," Holmes says, eyebrows twitching the slightest amount. "What is the proper procedure, then?"

Eggsy hesitates and then shifts where he sits, shimmying out a mobile phone. "I'm on this site," he says, and through the feed they watch him open a browser on the phone, and then the website – he has a profile page on it book marked. There's a picture there – of Eggsy himself.

"Sorry," Eggsy says, even as he hands the phone over to Holmes who accepts it with slightly arched eyebrows. "They don't got a mobile version of this shit. Anyway, there's me and contact info and shit. Email exchange or chat usually works. We talk terms, I figure out whether or not it'll work or not, and then we make plans. That's usually how it goes."

"How very modern," Holmes says, eying the phone with interest even as Harry looks at Merlin.

"You didn't help him make that profile," the agent comments, even as Merlin opens said site on a secondary screen, typing in Eggsy's handle – which is, simply enough, Eggsy. They both look up, at the pictures presented on the profile page. Some of them are more than slightly suggestive. "And judging by his age in these pictures, he did not make it here," Harry says, frowning. "Some of these pictures are at least four years old."

Merlin lets out a sound that's somewhere between laughter and disbelief. "Well, your candidate is certainly full of surprises," he mutters and leans back, reading the profile. It's sort of detached and brutal in its efficiency – a list of things Eggsy would be willing to do, things he wouldn't do, and contact information.

"That prick at the Black Prince was actually serious," Harry mutters and sighs, running a hand over his face and knocking his glasses askew momentarily. "Merlin, might there be any chance you could keep this from Arthur?"

Merlin grimaces at that, closing Eggsy's profile. "I can skew it up a bit," he says. "Make it seem like I created him a false background for this mission. Shouldn't raise any questions."

"Much appreciated."

In the live feed, Holmes is flicking his thumb idly over the screen of Eggsy's touch sensitive mobile, flicking through pictures judging by the looks of it. The expression on his face is utterly unreadable, perhaps a little severe. Yet, Eggsy is perfectly at ease – his pulse has evened out after his initial nervousness and he's actually relaxed.

"Well this is certainly informative," Holmes says and blinks at something he's seeing, tilting his head ever so slightly to the side. It's a little hard to tell over the feed – but Merlin could swear his ears go red. He clears his throat. "And you get all your clients through the website?"

"Mostly, yeah – it's the easiest way to go about it," Eggsy says and reaches for his brandy again. "I mean, you can go standin' around some curb or some shit if you really fuckin' want, but that's just a good way to get screwed over. The site keeps records of people, rentboys and clients both, it's just… a bit safer, I guess."

"I suppose so," Holmes says, looking sat the phone again and reaching out to place it on the table between them. He looks at Eggsy considering. "May I ask what sort of payments you usually ask for?"

"Monetary," Eggsy answers – and then laughs at the face Holmes makes him. "It depends on the client. What they want, where, how, for how long, and so on."

"And tonight?"

That makes Eggsy pause and Harry glance at Merlin – who quickly explains Eggsy's flimsy cover of having been hired by a man who didn't show up.

"That's between me and him, innit?" Eggsy says and shakes his head a little. "You tryin' to gauge price range or somethin'? Because I ain't a fuckin' prude, bruv. You can just ask."

Holmes considers that for a moment and then smiles a sort of obviously fake smile that's always made Merlin dislike the man. "Very well then," he says, crossing one leg over another and folding his arms. Then, like a challenge, he just throws it out, "Anal sex?"

"Fifty plus payment for time – which is five for fifteen minutes, twenty for an hour, and so on," Eggsy says and then they're off, having one of the most brutal and honest conversations about prostitution Merlin had ever witnessed first-hand – and it's all happening on live feed. Holmes asks short questions, naming various sexual acts – and Eggsy prices them accordingly, or rebukes them with "I ain't into shit like that, sorry bruv."

Even the world travelled and much seen Harry Hart starts looking a tiny bit embarrassed somewhere in the middle of it. He clears his throat around the time they're discussing various things one can do with his mouth and finally looks away when Eggsy details the concessions involved with anilingus. "I do believe you're right, Merlin," he says finally. "There are some things mentors shouldn't know about their mentees. I believe I will be off. Please let me know if something goes wrong."

"Weakling," Merlin grumbles after him and runs a hand over his face as Eggsy explains just why he doesn't do gaping related acts. He rather wishes he could walk away too and it's a small comfort that Mycroft Holmes is most definitely blushing and Merlin has it on record.

Blackmail material is only good if one can actually do something with it, after all – for Eggsy's and Harry's sake, this recording will mysteriously vanish the moment Merlin is done evaluating Eggsy's performance.

… Fuck. If Eggsy proceeds as he is now, there might be an actual performance. Because it would take a blind man not to see that Mycroft Holmes is considering something, and so far with his rentboy act Eggsy has gotten closer to Mycroft Holmes than any other Kingsman, ever. Eggsy Unwin might actually succeed, and he made next to no preparations, using instead his own, actual, real background.

Was it luck that Eggsy had decided not to bother with false identities? He couldn't have known that with his abilities, Mycroft Holmes could see through such things instantly. There was no data on Holmes, nothing to indicate his abilities, and yet Eggsy had opted for honesty.

 Scowling, Merlin thinks back to the water test in the beginning of training and then the parachute test. Both times Eggsy had been quick to think outside the box – quick to figure out a way to save everyone, rather than just himself. This mission was supposed to be the clincher – Eggsy's leadership qualities had been well proven and documented, but his solo abilities were still a mystery. And yet, here he was.

Chatting up the Ice Man, easy as anything.

Once was a fluke, twice a coincidence. But three times?

 


 

Eggsy pauses, watching Holmes. His face is hurting a bit because he can't keep himself from grinning. The guy is looking a little ruffled around the edges, his ears bright red. He'd tried so hard to fluster Eggsy by throwing various kinks at him – but it is kinda obvious now that Eggsy is old hat at this, and Mycroft Holmes… isn't.

The guy is either years deep into a dry spell or a fucking virgin. Whichever it is, it's just fucking cute, him trying to mess up Eggsy. Holmes is starting to figure out that too, because the embarrassment is starting to be a bit more obvious, and shit if that doesn't make the man seem just adorable.

There is certainly something to be said about making a man in a bespoke suite blush.

Holmes clears his throat and then makes a move as if to stand up – only to stop and reconsider. The glance he gives at his glass and the other aimed at the decanter makes it kinda obvious what he wants, so Eggsy swings to his feet and fetches the thing. Holmes gives him a look that would probably be scathing, if he wasn't so charmingly flushed.

"You done proddin' at my expertise yet?" Eggsy asks. "Because there's shit you didn't even start coverin'. Wanna talk about felchin' next?"

"I really rather don't, if that's all the same to you," Holmes says quickly, leaning back even as he holds out his sniffer glass for a refill. "You're obviously well practiced."

"That's one word for it," Eggsy laughs, and pours a smaller refill for himself before sitting down, leaving the decanter on the table between them. It's been a while since he's gotten to do this– everyone back home knows he's a bit of a slut when it comes to this shit, there ain't much he hasn't done. But in Kingsman everything's so damn clean and proper and shit. It's weirdly relaxing, being properly filthy.

Jesus but he hopes no one's actually watching his feed right now. Are these things saved for posterity? Shit.

"So, am I satisfyin' your curiosity just for the fuck of it, or are you actually interested?" Eggsy asks, sipping the brandy. It's really fucking good shit, the brandy – tastes just as good as it smells. It's probably the best shit he'll ever taste – except maybe if he gets into Kingsman, then it might become an everyday occurrence. And isn't that weird? Though considering Harry Hart's drinking habits, probably best he enjoys the brandy for what it is, a rare treat.

Holmes arches an eyebrow at him, a little more composed after his drink. "And here I was under the impression it took more than shoving money down your pants," he comments idly.

Eggsy grins a little wider at that. "Yeah, it takes negotiation and settlin' terms. Guess what we're doin' here right now?" he asks, motioning between them.

"And yet I have not told you anything of my own interests," Holmes says, giving him a look.

"Yea, you have," Eggsy says, shaking his head and leaning back, watching the man, wondering how crude to be. They've been pretty crude – or well, Eggsy has been, Holmes' been sort of clinical about it, aside from the fetching blush. Never mind the semi he's sporting. "D'ya want me to tell you what you want?"

Holmes actually seems to consider that before turning his attention to his glass. "Thank you, no. I'm quite certain I am already well aware of what I want," he says and takes another sip. "Whether I want it from you is another thing."

"Someone on your mind, then?" Eggsy asks, whirling the brandy idly in his glass. He stops when Holmes glares at him, at the glass – obviously not supposed to that to brandy then. Right. "Or just not me in general? Because there's some good boys on the website, I can give recommendations."

"Could you really?" Holmes asks, watching him.

"Sure," Eggsy shrugs – and honestly he will if Holmes actually asks. Because it's kinda obvious it's been a while since this guy got laid and Eggsy can't help but think it would do him a world of good… and there are plenty of good rentboys out there who could use the money. So there's that. "You got a type in mind? Dark, light, tall, short, thin, thick… what?"

Holmes eyes him silently and then shakes his head. "Say I decided to hire you now," he says thoughtfully. "How would we ago about it?"

Eggsy sips the brandy and then holds the glass up, out to Holmes. "We discuss in detail what you want and what I won't do for you. We talk precise payment for the precise thin' you want. We talk location – I don't have a place, you'd have to provide if this place isn't good. You pay me. I call some mates of mine so that they know where I am and will call me at a set time to make sure you haven't murdered me. Then we get on with it."

"Charming," Holmes says, watching him.

It's kinda hard to say if the guy is actually considering it. He's interested and into it too… but whether he is interested interested or just curious about the stuff in general, that's hard to say. A lot of people want to talk about this shit, even get off on the idea of it, but not participate. After all, that costs money. And a lot of people just ain't down with the idea of paying for something they might in other situations get for free.

Eggsy ain't against the idea of sleeping with Holmes – the guy's weirdly fascinating, now that he knows him a little. If the situation was different, he might go for it just for the sake of going for it – that is of course, if he got through the initial blandness. He still got no idea why this guy was chosen for the mission, but hell. He doesn't really care anymore.

The idea that Holmes might actually pay to sleep with him when it's Eggsy's fucking mission to get into the guy's pants… it's kinda hilarious. And a lot ironic.

Holmes lets out a hum and then his eyes flicker down "I have been wondering. What's in the case?" he asks, nodding at the attaché case sitting by Eggsy's foot.

"Tools of the trade," Eggsy leers at him. "Wanna see?"

"Please."

Eggsy lifts the briefcase up and then sets it on the table between them, handle facing Holmes. The man hesitates for a split of a second before opening the thing. There is the tiniest twitch, a little lift of his eyebrows as he pushes the briefcase fully open, revealing the shaped packing foam and all the goodies displayed in it.

"This," he says slowly. "Is the fanciest way to carry sex toys I have ever seen."

"Ain't it just?" Eggsy laughs, leaning forward. "It's fucking ridiculous, is what it is."

Holmes hums, examine the arrangement of tools. They might not be Eggsy's usual stuff, but Merlin covered everything on his list. Condoms, check. Latex gloves of his size with replacements, check. Two types of lube – water based and silicone based, just in case. An average sized dildo – it's hot red with a flared base and no balls. Two vibrators – a probe and an egg, also red. Two butt plug, small and average. A couple of cock rings, both of them silicone, one of them big enough to go around the balls. There's a bit of rope, just in case - hemp, medium thick. A couple of hand cuffs. And then there's misc medical stuff just in case, and a safety cutter.

Fucking everything there is a lot more expensive than Eggsy himself would've gotten. When Kingsman had your back, it really had your back. Jesus.

"Why the cutter?" Holmes asks, looking up and motioning at the foldable cutting blade.

"In case the rope comes in handy and then doesn't come off," Eggsy shrugs, scratching at his neck. "I don't do much rope stuff, but some people like bein' tied down, rather than just cuffed. Better be prepared for that shit, just in case."

"Hm," Holmes says and looks at the case again. "You seem to be rather well prepared."

"Well, plan was to ban' a guy tonight," Eggsy snorts. "Didn't know how it would go, so I brought the general stuff."

"This is general stuff?"

"This shit's pretty tame, bruv," Eggsy shrugs. "Once bought a fuckin' monster dildo for a customer. Like, it was fuckin' huge, horse sized. It was a very interestin' day," he muses.

Holmes stares at him and then looks down at the case. He coughs. "I see," he says and slowly closes the case again. "Well," he then says and stops again, frowning.

Eggsy watches him and grins a little. "Bruv, relax," he says. "It's just stuff, most of it not even necessary stuff. Ain't no need to use any of it. Except the essentials."

"Yes, well," Holmes says and runs a hand over the front of his suit, as if trying to straighten something that isn't actually askew. Bit more ruffled now, Mr. Holmes. "This is a rather unique situation for me."

"I bet," Eggsy grins, taking the briefcase and snapping the locks shut before sitting it back down again.

"Indeed. I admit, I am rather conflicted," Holmes says, considering him. "You seem experienced, and I judge you to be quite talented. I am actually entertaining the thought of hiring you for the night," he says, thoughtful and casual. "And yet you're a spy."

Eggsy freezes at that – can't help it. It's like the guy casually shoved a spike of ice in his spine. When he looks up, Holmes is eying him thoughtfully, calmly – not in the slightest concerned. Fuck. He's known the whole time, hasn't he? Did Kingsman inform him, is he in it – or is he just that good? Is Eggsy that bad?

 "So you see my dilemma, I'm sure," Holmes says, looking him up and down, considering, judging. And then he smiles, a broad and utterly fake smile that stretches across his face, transforming his whole countenance. It's fucking terrifying.

It's also stupidly hot.

Chapter Text

There's a long silence. A long, awkward silence.

Eggsy stares at Holmes in stunned arousal for so long that eventually the man leans back a little, looking oddly affronted by his lack of proper reaction. Then he glances down and arches an eyebrow. "Do you need a moment?" he asks, derisive.

"Nah, I'm good," Eggsy says – he's not sporting a half mast, nope. Clearing his throat he, not in any way subtly, crosses one leg over another, wincing a little. "Yea, um. What the hell –"

"Your people aren't particularly subtle," the man says, smoothing a hand over his tie, looking at him strangely – half annoyed and half something else that Eggsy can't quite name – amusement, resignation, intrigue, all of the above? "Inside a single week I have been approached on three occasions by fit young individuals, and all of these meetings have happened during my rare, non-work related outings, in semi public settings. Such thing is a rare occurrence even once, but three times, in a single week? Honestly," he rolls his eyes. "Never mind the fact that all three of you wear identical glasses, of a style I hardly think you would normally wear."

Eggsy snorts at that, pushing said glasses higher up his nose. Nope, he wouldn't – the Kingsman glasses are clunky old-man glasses. Harry can pull them off, sure, but Eggsy? He just looks off with them. But then there's the fact that they're also equipped with more tech than Eggsy's phone, so…

"So you don't have pretty youn' things hangin' off you all the time?" Eggsy asks, grinning.

Now Holmes looks cold, glaring at him. "I am very close to being done humouring you, Eggsy," he says cuttingly.

"Nah, you really ain't," Eggsy grins, and leans forward. This whole fucking mission was a fucking mess right from the beginning to be honest, he's kinda enjoying this turn of events. The state of his cock aside, this is much more interesting that just playing the prostitute – not that that wasn't fun in it's own right. Eggsy's just much better with honesty. Besides… it's gone tits up now. Might as well go with it.

"How'd the others do? Just out of professional curiosity."

Holmes considers him, glancing up and down again and then rolling his eyes. He reaches for his snifter glass and takes a long sip. "Roxanne Morton played the part of a substitute fitness trainer very well," he then says. "I suspect she's a regular at one gym or another herself, and she did her research well enough – with some missteps I'm certain she will be able to correct next time. Her biggest problem was the fact that when she paid too much attention to me, the numerous other middle aged male patrons of the gym took notice – and naturally, tried their chances with her."

"Damn," Eggsy says, smothering a sympathetic grin at Roxy's behalf. Kinda made sense though, if Holmes's gym catered to guys of his type. A bird like Roxy going out, flirting with a guy there… yeah. Christ, did that mean that Roxy failed? "And Charlie?"

Holmes made a face. "I'm afraid Charlie Hesketh had to be removed from the gym. His advances were… obvious, crude, and extremely unwelcome."

So Charlie couldn't flirt. Big surprise.

"And me?" Eggsy asks, tilting his head to the side and smiling. "How am I doin'?"

Holmes narrows his eyes at him. "You know how you're doing," he says and then lifts his head. "What I don't know is what you're after. Access to my private house?"

"Hotel's fine, bruv," Eggsy answers, smile widening to a grin. "Or here. Here's good, too."

Holmes frowns. "Access to my person then," he murmurs and lifts his glass, resting its edge thoughtfully against his lower lip, inhaling the scent of the brandy slowly. Eggsy's starting to think the guy's a bit of a hedonist. Or just really into good alcohol. "You are not trying to build my trust," the man says slowly. "And with your behaviour, you are not after anything on my person. Not my phone, not my belongings. Nor are you here attempting to plant surveillance devices, trackers or otherwise…"

"How'd you know that?" Eggsy asks, honestly curious.

"There has been no indicative motions or behavioural signs indicating such things – you're focussed on me, not on my clothing, not on my things," Holmes says. "If you were looking for the best place to plant a tracker, I would've noticed…" he lifts his head a little and frowns at Eggsy. "Your mission is just to sleep with me, isn't it?"

"Is it?" Eggsy asks, grinning.

Holmes glares. And when this guy glares, he really glares. "So this is what, a competition between you and your co-workers? See which one of you can get into the pants of the Ice Man?"

Eggsy blinks at that. "The fuck?" he then asks. "The – seriously?"

"That is what they call me, I believe, in your circles," Holmes says, disdainful. "The Ice King is also used I believe, these days."

"Oh, that's just rude," Eggsy says and shakes his head. "Sorry, bruv, never heard of it. And no, it ain't a competition," he adds. "Pretty sure you can't win when you're all slated to fail."

"Oh?" Holmes asks, arching his eyebrows. "Do elaborate."

Eggsy shrugs. "Pretty sure you were picked because you're unwinnable," he says. "If you're as smart as you seem – and you're probably more – then we was never goin' to get anywhere with you. Plus, the locations – gym, this place. Chances of people hookin' up here kinda seems nonexistent. Then there's us in the roster – Roxy, Charlie and me. I dunno about Roxy, but Charlie's straight and narrow as fuck – ain't no way he was ever goin' to do it and ain't no way our superiors weren't aware of it. So either they were biased against him, which I know they ain't, or we were all going to fail."

Holmes blinks slowly at that. "A training mission," he then says, looking absolutely disgusted. "Honestly?"

"'Fraid so, bruv," Eggsy shrugs. "Dunno what they're really after – seein' how far we get, how good our disguises are or whatever. Don't particularly care – pretty sure I'm done anyway."

"Oh?"

"You saw through me, didn't you? So I failed," Eggsy says and shrugs. He isn't actually sure if he has, though. Fucking Kingsman, nothing's ever that black and white with them. Still, Holmes caught him – something Harry told him to avoid – so…

"Yes, well," Holmes hums, considering, looking up and down. "If it weren't for Miss Morton and Mr. Hesketh… I might not have. After two such encounters one tends to develop certain suspicions, but had it not been for those previous encounters… I might've bought your act."

Eggsy grins at that, lifting his eyebrows suggestively. "Yea?"

"It's rather convincing," Holmes admits and finally takes a drink of his brandy, draining the glass. He puts it down on the table between them with finality. "But then, that might be because it isn't an act at all, is it?"

Eggsy opens his mouth to answer, but Holmes holds up a hand to stop him. While Eggsy waits, thoughtful, Holmes takes out his own phone and idly taps on the screen a couple of times before lifting it up to his ear. "Give me the short of it," he says, watching Eggsy thoughtfully as he listens to whoever's on the other end. Eggsy can't even hear the murmur of the phone, the speaker's turned down low, but whatever Holmes is listening to is making his eyebrows climb up.

"Good," he finally says to the phone. "Thank you." And then he puts it away again, turning the screen off and tucking the phone away. "Do you prefer Gary or Mr. Unwin?"

"Eggsy, actually. No one calls me Gary, and definitely not Mr. Unwin," he answers, grinning and all sorts of excited. Jesus, this guy's a spy too? Or at least has people in his service who can run a quick background check.

Christ he probably shouldn't be excited about this. The guy knows who he is and that he's a spy, and if Kingsman didn't plan it this way, then this is all sorts of bad – might get him royally screwed. And yet here he is. Cursing himself for picking trousers a size too small for him.

"Eggsy, then," Holmes says and stands up. As Eggsy watches, the man walks to the side table where the decanter was – and from under it, he finds a silver shaded drink shaker. Instead of doing anything with it, though, he carries it back with him and sets it on the table between them. Then he holds out his hand. "Your glasses, please."

Eggsy leans back a bit, startled. He really shouldn't, really, really shouldn't. But Holmes just stares at him, expectant, holding out a hand and after a moment, Eggsy removes the Kingsman glasses and hands them over. "Pretty sure I'm never going to hear the end of it if I lose these," he says, frowning and rubbing at the bridge of his nose. The damn things left a mark.

"You'll get them back, never fear," Holmes says, turning them in his hands thoughtfully, gently folding the arms in. "At some point," he then adds, and without further delay he takes the cap off the drink shaker – and drops the glasses inside.

"Um," Eggsy says, eloquent, while Holmes puts the cap on the shaker, sealing the glasses inside.

The man smiles. "Apologies. I'm done being monitored by your people. It shouldn't harm the glasses in the slightest, and you will get them back, eventually," he says and then leans back again. "Now, let's talk terms, shall we?"

"Terms?" Eggsy asks, staring at the shaker with dismay. "Terms of what?"

"Of me hiring you for the night," Holmes says and gives him a look. "Obviously. Why do you think I haven't had you escorted out yet?"

Eggsy blinks at that, surprised. "Jesus, seriously?" he asks. He honestly hadn't thought there'd been any chance, but hell. Holmes just gives him a look, ever so slightly impatient, and Eggsy shakes his head. "Shit, bruv," he says and lets out a little laugh. "I'm this close to comin' in my fuckin' pants. You don't need to hire me. I'm fuckin' willin'."

Holmes arches a single eyebrow at him, and yeah, his ears are a bit red again. It's even hotter now. "Perhaps– but with the exchange of money involved, there is an implication of a certain professional standard to be held," he says and his eyes are dark, his voice low. "And I rather want the best money can buy from you."

Eggsy swallows and runs a tongue over his suddenly dry lips. "Fuck. Yeah. Okay," he says and leans forward. "Let's talk terms."

 


 

"Holmes took Eggsy off the grid," Merlin informs Harry with a heavy sigh. While it didn't quite constitute as something going wrong it was no doubt a prequel to it. You never knew with the likes of Holmes what they did, and Eggsy had gotten too deep, too far – revealed too much.

Holmes would no doubt take advantage of that.

"And how did he do it?" Harry asks, his voice tight over the line.

"He put his damn glasses in a drink shaker."

Harry arrives at his office no more than five minutes later, the skin around his eyes a little tight. Merlin offers him an equally tight smile and then starts pulling up everything he can from the area surrounding the Diogenes club. Damn the place and its lack of surveillance equipment.

"He won't do anything stupid," Merlin says, certain of that at least. "He knows we have evidence, if Eggsy… vanishes, then we know who's to blame."

"And yet knowing who's to blame will matter very little, seeing that the one who's to blame is in fact Mycroft Fucking Holmes," Harry says. "Whose idea was it to make Mycroft Holmes the target anyway?"

"Arthur's," Merlin says with a slight sigh, running a hand over his scalp. "With the VIPs going missing he wanted us to put extra security on the Ice Man. No one can't afford him vanishing. Arthur thought that it would make for a nice layer of extra security if the candidates accompanied Holmes to his semi-public outings."

"Tch," Harry answers, folding his arms and glaring at the screens. "What did I miss – what were they talking about before Holmes took the glasses?"

Merlin tells him, sending the footage to Harry's glasses as he does before diving into the CCTV cameras around the Diogenes Club. There are a couple of dark cars waiting in the front – Holmes's cars no doubt – but so far the man hasn't left and there is no sight of Eggsy. Scowling, he hacks into the club's registry – both Homes and Eggsy are still marked present.

Beside him, Harry skims the footage, and then sighs. "Oh, Eggsy, that is not how you perform on an undercover assignment," he mutters.

"Most undercover assignments don't involve people of Holmes's calibre," Merlin mutters, making a half hearted attempt of hacking Holmes's phone – which fails, naturally. And Eggsy's phone isn't advanced enough for him to do anything more than track his location.

Harry hums and then, after a moment, takes his glasses off, rubbing at the skin between his eyes. "Would you say Eggsy has succeeded in his mission?"

"Succeeded? He's done better than any Kingsman ever," Merlin snorts. "He utterly blew the curve for Roxy – if it wasn't for her background research and preparation, I'd have to fail her."

"Then, considering that Eggsy succeeded, perhaps extraction is in order."

Merlin glances at the man and then leans back in his chair, staring up at the screens. Eggsy had fulfilled the criteria for a mission success – even if not to the actual letter of the mission. He'd gotten close, gotten Holmes alone for fuck's sake, they'd engaged in private conversation. Hell, just by this one conversation alone, Merlin could double the personal info they had on Mycroft Holmes.

They could extract Eggsy now, and he would get full marks and more for the mission. However…

"I'm about forty-five percent certain they're planning to have sex right now," Merlin says, flat.

"Thirty-eight percent certain Holmes is actually intending to hire Eggsy," Harry agreed. "And Eggsy is more than willing."

"His interest was rather obvious," Merlin agrees dryly.

They share a look and then look at the screens again. Merlin makes a face at the seemingly calm front of the Diogenes Club, doing his best not to imagine what the fuck they might be talking about. "The letter of the mission was to win the man over. Biblically speaking."

"Mm-hmm," Harry agrees. "That wasn't the spirit of the mission however."

"And yet, Eggsy is succeeding in both," Merlin says. "Eagerly at that."

Harry considers that and then glances at him. His eyebrow arches with amusement. "You're getting sentimental in your old age, Merlin," he says. "I do believe you're worried about cock blocking our young candidate."

"I'm worried about cock blocking Mycroft Holmes," Merlin snorts at that. Not that he thought Eggsy would appreciate it if his mission, such as it was, was interrupted right now. Mycroft Holmes though… hell. They had the man marked as utterly disinterested in sex or anything related to it. God only knew how long it had been since the Ice Man had gotten some. With how worked up Eggsy had gotten the man…

Jesus fuck, when did his job start involving considerations for Mycroft Fucking Holmes's sex life?

"I'm starting to see Arthur's point," Merlin says thoughtfully. "Your candidates, Harry, are troublesome."

"But oh so good," Harry says, smug, and then glances up. "Movement," he then says, and the smile falls from his face.

Mycroft Holmes steps out of the club, with Eggsy casually following him, briefcase in hand. The CCTV camera isn't the best available, but Merlin zooms in and sharpens it as much as he can without ruining the quality. There's no mistake about it – Eggsy's smiling. Relaxed, smiling – not troubled in the least. And yeah.

The fucking prat looks like he's raring to go. Eager. Jesus fucking Christ.

And then, inside five seconds, it all goes to hell.

Harry makes a noise of alarm and Merlin spots the issue just in time to see the insurgents rush out of one of the black SUVs. Holmes is nabbed instantly, with an arm around his throat and a silenced pistol pressed to his temple just before he's pulled into the car. Eggsy steps forward, body tense and geared for combat, but then there's a pistol aimed at his forehead and he stops.

For a horrible moment Merlin is sure they're about to see Eggsy murdered in broad daylight.

 


 

Eggsy stares down the silencer at the man in black combat gear, judging his reach and actual willingness to shoot him out in the open. He can hear Holmes saying something inside the SUV – smart, cutting remarks, not on the right side of anxious. Not his people then – whoever these guys are, they aren't on Holmes's payroll, he didn't plan this. Kingsman? Another test, like the fucking water test, the fucking parachute?

The man with the gun is fucking ready to shoot him, and he wouldn't feel sorry about it afterwards.

"… co-operate, you may be certain of that!" Holmes snarls in the car and the man with the gun glances backwards, over his shoulder.

Eggsy tenses, getting ready to knock the gun from the guy's hands and turn it around – there's three other people, he could take them out. He still has the briefcase, he can throw it if necessary– and it's Kingsman issue, so it's probably sturdy as fuck, maybe even bullet proof, so he ain't out of options. Question is, should he? If these guys are Kingsman, then it's probably expected. But if they aren't

Can he deal with them without getting Holmes injured or, worse yet, killed?

"Bring the boy toy with us," someone snaps from inside the car, and the man with the silenced 9 mil turns back to Eggsy.

"Inside, now," he says, and motions to the car with the pistol. "Now!"

Eggsy gets in the SUV, shoved to sit beside Holmes who glances at him and then glares at the men sitting across from him. They're all holding guns, aiming them at Holmes – and not at Eggsy. The last man gets in and the car quickly drives off, off and quickly away from the Diogenes club.

Eggsy's mind works a mile a minute, even as he feigns terror and tries to look as innocent and helpless as possible. Four people, all of them trained in combat, skilled with firearms – they are all in good combat gear, but what they wear don't match precisely, aside from the colour. No uniforms, so, not a military organisation then, official or private or otherwise – these guys are mercenaries. Holmes is their target and they don't know to consider Eggsy a threat – so, Kingsman most definitely doesn't have anything to do with this.

Eggsy looks at Holmes, playing the part of the fearful and confused bystander, and Holmes suddenly takes his free hand in his, squeezing his fingers. It's just about the weirdest thing that's happened so far, but Eggsy goes with it, squeezing back desperately, thinking, thinking.

"Who do you work for?" Holmes demands to know.

"You'll find out soon enough, Mr. Holmes," the guy who's obviously in lead says, and lowers his gun a bit – not entirely, but just so that it's not in Holmes's face. "Our employer is quite eager to meet you. You seem to have quite the reputation."

"I really don't," Holmes says, cool, and does something with his finger against Eggsy's palm. At first it feels like he's just rubbing at it, as if soothing – but no. It's something else.

He draws a question mark on Eggsy's palm.

"In certain circles you do," the mercenary answers, looking at Holmes. "I do hope you co-operate with us, Mr. Holmes. Our employer is quite strict about you coming to no harm," he smiles. "And I'd hate to disappoint him."

Eggsy leans back a little, as if intimidated by the implied threat. He squeezes Holmes's hand, and then draws an X against the man's skin. No, he doesn't know who these guys are. No, he didn't plan this. No he doesn't have any idea what the fuck is going on here.

Holmes glares at the man in front of them, and shift's Eggsy's hand in his, tugging it slightly towards him, almost forcefully. Then he gives Eggsy the slightest glance, the shift of his eyebrows almost imperceptible. Are you with me?

Eggsy tugs back and then, deliberate, winds his fingers with the man's. It's harder to convey information while having to play terrified, but he manages, frowning, hesitating, trying to hide the question in nervous twitches. Yeah, but what the actual fuck, man?

"What's in the case?" one of the mercenaries suddenly demands, motioning at the attaché case in Eggsy's hand. He makes a jerking motion with his gun. "Open it. Now."

Eggsy swallows, hesitates as visibly as he can and then sets the case on his knees. After an awkward glance at Holmes, who narrows his eyes and dons a tight, forced expression, Eggsy opens the case. There's a stunned moment as the mercenaries just stare at the briefcase – then one of them chortles nastily and there's a lot of leering. Eggsy winces, playing the embarrassed little boy like a fucking champ.

"Jesus fuck," one of them mutters, snorting.

"It's a fucking – did we really need to bring the little bitch with us?" one of them mutters.

"If you want any sort of co-operation from me, then yes, you did," Holmes says, tight. "And should he come to any harm you may rest assured that any hopes your employer has of me playing nice will very much be in vain."

"Alright, alright," the head mercenary says, placating. "We won't touch a hair on your boy's head, alright?"

Holmes just snorts at that. "And could you possibly put the guns away now? We're hardly going to escape a moving car, don't you think?" he asks asks, angry and turns to Eggsy – taking the implied relationship and just running with it.

While the mercenaries hesitate, sharing looks, Holmes looks at Eggsy, his eyes steadily on his. His lips twitch downward, tightly white and he frowns, his shoulders shift, he glances away just slightly – subtle and fucking masterful, all of it. Then he looks over Eggsy, almost as if checking him for injuries, but there is something challenging in it too. And then he looks at himself, and his expression tightens.

I could've let you escape, the look conveys. But you are a trained spy, and I am no combatant. My chances for survival are better with you stuck in the same situation as I am.

Eggsy gives him a look. You asshole.

Holmes smiles – and then he fucking winds an arm around Eggsy's shoulders. Eggsy leans into it because that's his fucking role, but Jesus Christ, the guy… "It'll be alright," Holmes mutters, pressing a kiss on Eggsy's forehead much to the disgust of every other man there, and Eggsy makes a noise, a strangled sound of disbelief he can only hope passes for fear.

Unseen, Holmes draws another question mark on the skin on back of Eggsy's neck, and then taps the tips of four different fingers against Eggsy's skin on four different points – counting the mercenaries. Eggsy glances at them and nods a little against Holmes's shoulder – yeah he could take them out – and then he shakes his head and hums just a little as if afraid, in the tune of the SUV's engine – not in the car, though.

Holmes presses his palm against Eggsy's neck, warm and wide, still for a moment. Thinking, maybe. Then he shifts his sitting position, looking around. Eggsy does the same, taking note of gear and weaponry, some part of his mind keeping track of twists and turns the car makes, trying to make note of streets, passing by.

Then, slowly, Holmes trails a hand up Eggsy's neck and then draws another little question mark – this one on the skin behind Eggsy's right ear.

Eggsy goes completely tense at that and then, very careful, looks around at the mercenaries who are obviously very uncomfortable with the display in front of them. With them all trying to avoid looking at them, Eggsy gets a perfectly clear view on two of them.

Shit.

They all have implant scars on their necks.

Chapter Text

The kidnappers force them to switch cars three times, both times in unmonitored parking garages. In the first one they strip search both of them, and take away their phones, wallets and Holmes's various tracking devices. Turns out the guy has some experience with them – seeing that he carried four on him at all times.

"What about the case?" one of them asks, motioning at Eggsy's attaché case while Eggsy himself stands around in his pants, wondering if they're going to have him bend over or some shit to see if he's got anything worrisome shoved up his ass. One of them actually looks like he's fucking considering it. Two different guys have gone over his tiny ass suit, with metal detectors and other equipment – the one they found Holmes's trackers with. Jesus fuck, these guys are paranoid.

"Check it," the mercenary who's obviously the leader of the lot says.

Holmes himself is the very picture of disapproval. He radiates it. He's scowling and scoffing and has his arms folded very imperiously while the mercs go over his suit. He's also in his pants, and obviously well above the humiliation. Though why the hell should the guy feel humiliated? He has really nice legs. Really, really not wasting his time at the gym.

Eggsy honestly can't be blamed for noticing – he had fucking plans, and the kidnapping hasn't fully gotten rid of them.

"Are we quite done yet?" Holmes demands, while his suit is checked for a third time, and one of the mercs is grimacing his way through Eggsy's toys.

"Yeah, we're done," the leading merc says. "Put your clothes back on."

And they do, Eggsy shimmying into his too tight trousers quickly, casting glances around. Even now there is always one merc with a gun out, watching them closely – at far enough distance that getting to him would take too long to avoid being shot. The fact that it's Holmes they're worried about and not him doesn't make it any better because Eggsy is obviously an unplanned element to this kidnapping, and so they're hyper aware of him.

Plus, he's pretty sure at least two of these guys want to shoot him out of simple, pure homophobia. Fucking assholes.

Holmes dresses with the fastidiousness of a man whose closet only consists of suits – neat and meticulous, he goes over every article of clothing and picks at imaginary dirt before pulling the piece of clothing on. He tidies the cuffs and straightens the collar and knots the tie in a perfect, neat Windsor knot before easing the collar over it, the lines even and precise. Then he spends time smoothing out winkles from his trousers and checking the folds before easing himself into them. And then Eggsy gets a moment of pleasure of seeing him in his shirt sleeves before he pulls on the waist coat – and yeah, that's pretty nice too.

"Jesus Christ, this fucking –" one of the mercs mutters, glaring at Eggsy, who pretends to be embarrassed about drooling over the man – but hell. He has a role here. He's running with the role. He's fucking enjoying the role.

Do Kingsman agents wear waist coats? Harry never does. Neither does Arthur, as far as Eggsy's seen. It's two piece bespoke suits all the way. Which is a bit of a pity really. Holmes makes waist coats look pretty good. He even has a pocket watch and everything – and it looks fucking antique.

Holmes gives him an arched, pleased look, before glancing at his coat. And with a sudden spark of inspiration, Eggsy – who's already fully dressed, he just pulled his shit on, never mind the wrinkles – steps forward. He grabs the coat and then checks it over, smoothes down its wrinkles, straightens it's lines. Holmes watches him while fiddling idly with his cuffs for a final check and then the man steps forward and holds out his hands. And Eggsy eases him into the coat, slow and smooth.

One of the mercs groans with disgust.

"Thank you, my dear," Holmes says, turning to face him. Eggsy runs his hands over the man's front, smoothing down the notched lapel and straightening the man's tie. Holmes watches him, low lidded, touching his elbow.

The question mark is almost imperceptible through the clothing, but the question is repeated on Holmes's face before he glances at the table where their phones and Holmes's trackers sit in a sealed box, out of signal reach. Holmes looks at him, looks him over, arches his eyebrows. Do you have other monitoring equipment.

Eggsy draws a little X on the man's throat, and then looks up, eyebrows lifting. Then he rubs along the bridge of his nose, as if itching. You took my glasses, remember?

Holmes's lips thin and then he fucking pinches Eggsy's arm, trapping the loose skin between his fingers and the fabric of Eggsy's clothes. He presses down, meaningful and arches his eyebrows. Subcutaneous?

Eggsy just barely keeps himself from snorting at that. Another X against the man's throat. Then somewhat incredulously arched eyebrows. Do you have one?

The annoyed look Holmes gives him is answer enough.

"Alright, that's enough," the merc in the lead says while the others scoff and groan at them. "Grab the case and let's go."

 


 

When Harry arrives at the parking garage, he's not particularly surprised to find no sign of Eggsy. There is no sign of anything, in fact, and it takes him a moment to find the sealed box where the kidnappers shoved Eggsy's phone – along with Holmes's mobile and recording devices.

"Nothing useful," he says, annoyed, turning Eggsy's flimsy mobile in hand. When he unlocks the screen, it's still displaying Eggsy's profile on the rentboy website. Holmes's phone he can't even get into, naturally. "Even the first SUV they used isn't here.

"Well, we didn't really think we would find anything," Merlin says through the glasses. "These are professionals."

"Shit," Harry mutters, looking around. Damn Holmes for leaving Eggsy's glasses at Diogenes and damn Kingsman for not putting proper trackers on Eggsy. He isn't even wearing a proper suit – his suit is a mundane one, and too small for him at that. It might restrict his movements if it came down to combat.

"And we still don't know where Valentine takes them," Harry mutters.

"No, but we do know he doesn't always take them. Some of them he implants and lets go, like Professor Arnold," Merlin answers and there is the sound of typing. "The fact that Valentine knows about Mycroft Holmes, though…"

Harry grinds his teeth together for a moment and then straightens his shoulders, forcing himself to relax. Eggsy might not be an experienced agent, but he is well trained and talented – not to mention good at dealing with high pressure situations. He would manage and since the phones were present here, it meant that Eggsy was still alive and with Holmes. Which was better than nothing, as far as Holmes himself was concerned.

It would be a fucking mess if Holmes went and got himself killed. As it was, it will be a fucking mess if Holmes ends up disappeared, the same way some VIPs have so far. The man was one of the few, rare, truly irreplaceable entities in the British government, and though Harry can't say he particularly likes the man, he likes the stabilising effect he has.

But it is very much not Holmes he's worried about. Not after having witnessed first hand what Valentine did to the people he kidnapped. Eggsy had seen the footage too, though, Eggsy knew the truth behind the implants, he wouldn't take one willingly if it came down to it. But would Holmes?

"I don't know what it says about our preparedness, that Eggsy got himself kidnapped with a mere rentboy background, while Valentine all but brushed DeVere aside," he mutters, looking around.

"He has the luck of the devil, your boy," Merlin says. "Movement on the south exit – black Jaguar Xj. Looks like you're about to do some inter-agency dealing, Galahad."

"Oh I can't wait," Harry says and steps smoothly into the cover of a nearby concrete pillar, idly opening the strap binding his umbrella shut. The black car drives in smoothly a moment later, parking in the middle of the garage – a gesture of friendliness if he's ever seen one. They could've easily taken cover behind the couple other cars present, but instead opted for the open, unprotected space.

A woman with long dark hair steps out from the back, standing by the car with a newest model Blackberry in hand. "I have no time to play games," she says to no one in particular, not even bothering to look up from her phone. "May I have my employer's things, please?"

Harry smiles stiffly, and with his umbrella held at an easy, backwards angle, he steps out of the shadows. "Miss Anthea, isn't it?" he asks.

She looks at him, her face void of expression. "Mr. Holmes's things, please."

Harry considers her, her body language – tight but at ease, knows he's no threat to her. He steps forward and takes out Holmes's phone and trackers from his pocket, handing them over. "Your boss was kidnapped along with my underling," he says, and swings the umbrella idly from side to side. "I rather want him back."

She gives him a look before checking Holmes's phone, unlocking the eight digit code without pause. She does something, and then holds the phone out, not quite to hand it over. A moment later, an audio playback begins.

"Good afternoon, Mr. Holmes, and apologies for the rough treatment, but it really can't be helped. There is someone who would like to meet you and you are a hard man to schedule a meeting with," a voice says quickly, rushed. Male, mid thirties, accent nondescript – not quite British, not quite American. A second language, acquired and carefully honed so that it can't be pinned down to a location.

"I'm sure that if this someone had actually tried, some arrangement could've been made," Holmes's voice answers, tight, irritated. "I am not going to do anything stupid, you may put the guns away."

"Can't do that, unfortunately. Procedure, you know." The kidnapper answers and there's another voice.

"What about the kid?" male as well, early forties, a little less nondescript – there is inflections to the accent, middle eastern, bit of North Africa. Long assignments perhaps?

"Kill him," the first mercenary says, and Harry's fingers tighten on the umbrella handle.

"You will not," Holmes says, tight, furious. "Kill him and under no circumstances will I co-operate, you may be certain of that."

Harry meet's Anthea's eyes over the phone as the recording plays out. Holmes manages to wrangle Eggsy into the car with him – though why he does that, Harry isn't sure. He's grateful that the man didn't let his protégé be killed in any case – though he can't say he's particularly happy about the man pulling Eggsy into same situation he himself is in.

His eyebrows arch a little, as the recording goes on – painting a very clear picture of what the kidnappers think of Eggsy, and of Eggsy's and Holmes's relationship. Judging by the sound of it, Holmes and Eggsy are doing what they can to keep that belief alive – if Harry didn't know Holmes knew damn well what Eggsy was, he definitely would've bought it. He can very well picture it, Holmes with Eggsy clinging to him. A rich man with his sugar baby arm candy.

"Christ," Merlin mutters in his ear, and Harry just barely keeps himself from agreeing.

"How good is your agent?" Anthea asks, as the recording ends with Holmes's phone taken and stuffed into an isolated box.

"Very good," Harry says, and he believes it too. "But he is not equipped for a hostage situation."

"No, I don't imagine he is," Anthea says, pressing her lips together tight in a manner rather similar to Holmes's. "What do you know about the kidnappers?"

"That depends entirely on what you know about the kidnappers," Harry answers, smiling, tilting his head a little. He can't see, her hair is in the way, but he rather doubts he'd find an implant scar there if he looked. If there was one, then surely Holmes wouldn't be an issue for Valentine anymore. "Tell me, Miss Anthea… what do you know about the missing VIPs?"

She blinks at him, slow. "Get in the car, agent," she then says, and turns back to the Jaguar.

"Good luck, Galahad," Merlin says and, with a sigh, Harry gets in the car.

 


 

After a lot of circling and winding, the kidnappers take them to an airport. Eggsy's hand tightens a little on Holmes's when he sees it – fuck, they're going to be taken out of the country? Valentine isn't pulling any punches with Holmes, is he? They have more guards now, another car having pulled to ride along theirs after the first switch of cars, and now there are six people standing watch on Holmes.

Eggsy casts the man a look, arching his eyebrows. Just how fucking dangerous does Valentine think you are?

Holmes answers with tight, annoyed look. Very.

Not that Eggsy knows if Holmes knows about Valentine or not. The man doesn't know about the implants, that's for sure – while Eggsy hadn't managed to quite convey what they were, he knows Holmes did get the idea that they are fucking bad news. Eggsy's own reaction to them was a good fucking clue.

But fuck, if they're taken out of the country… Maybe he should've tried escaping back there, in front of the Diogenes Club, and damn the injury it might've cost him and Holmes. Their chances back there were much, much better than they were here, and infinitely better than they'd be wherever Valentine would have them flown.

"Go on, inside," the merc in the lead says, and after one last shared look of well, fuck, Eggsy and Holmes head up the stairs and into the private plane.

"Your employer must be really desperate to meet me," Holmes comments, as they're motioned to head inside, into the passenger compartment. It's fucking fancy inside, with leather seats and polished wooden tables, wet bars and everything. "And on his terms, too."

"Considering who you are, can you really blame him?" the merc says. "Please, have a seat, make yourselves comfortable. We'll be taking off shortly."

They sit, and though Eggsy would've preferred it, he can't sit beside Holmes this time – the seats are too spread out. He can only sit across from the man, which while making communication via expressions easier, puts an end to communication via-touch.

Holmes looks at him while buckling himself in, eyebrows moving, mouth a thin, tight line – he glances left, right, up down, and, very subtly, makes a gripping motion with his hand. It looks like he's just flexing his fingers, but Eggsy recognises it for what it is – someone holding a yoke.

Could you pilot this plane?

Eggsy tilts his head a bit from side to side, bucking his own belt – making it seem like an involuntary movement. I'm so-so. He's gotten the bare bones training during his time at Kingsman, and in emergency situations he can take the co-pilot's seat, maybe. But he's no trained pilot – that was training he would get only if he made it into Kingsman. He makes a face. I wouldn't count on it.

Holmes looks a little disappointed at that – he crosses his hands in his lap, his fingers twining together strangely. They form an H there. Eggsy takes it to mean that the man can pilot a helicopter – which might be helpful in some situations, but taking over a plane? Not so much.

Eggsy leans back in his seat, looking around, feigning worry and nervousness, taking in everything he can. It's a mid-sized passenger plane, with seats for about nine people plus the crew. Every seat's taken – there's Eggsy and seven guards, plus whoever's flying the plane. Everyone, expect for Eggsy and Holmes, is armed. A couple are even keeping Holmes at gun point, even now.

Running combat simulations in his head, Eggsy tries to figure out a way to take out everyone there without getting himself or Holmes killed – and every time he fails. These guys are no idiots, they're well trained and obviously nervous as fuck about Holmes. Whoever Holmes really is, it's enough to keep everyone there on their toes – so, even the fact that they're not worried about Eggsy isn't much help. The surprise wouldn't be enough.

Maybe if he got some of the mercenaries alone – he could feign a bathroom break maybe. He'd be escorted, that could get one or two guards alone with him. Quickly Eggsy glances around for the bathroom and then settles down again. No good, it's too open, with line of sight on the passenger compartment. No way to take out anyone without the others noticing.

Holmes watches him with a sort of weary look. "Calm down," he says, low. "It'll be alright." As he says it, he subtly shakes his head.

Apparently he doesn't think there's a way to take the plane safely either.

Eggsy sighs and then leans forward, reaching out, a scared little boy asking for comfort. With a slightly put upon sigh Holmes leans forward, reaching for him, tangling their fingers together. Underneath them the plane jerks slightly, and begins turning to face the runway.

V, Eggsy draws on Holmes's hand. Then A. Then L.

Holmes catches on from there, and draws the E himself on Eggsy's knuckles before his fighters tighten on Eggsy's. They share a tight look that's only half pretence. The plane starts its flight sequence, and out the window they can see the private airport, passing by as the jet starts gaining speed. They're taking off.

Holmes draws V, I and P on his hand, and then a question mark.

Eggsy draws a tight circle, and looks at him, steady.

"How long will this flight take?" Holmes asks, not looking away from Eggsy.

"About four hours," the merc answers, watching them with a gun resting idly on his knees. "So just sit tight and relax. You're not going anywhere."

Holmes makes a face and then they're in the air.

 


 

Kingsman has Mycroft Holmes under watch on and off because the man is vital to the stability of nation. Mycroft Holmes has insinuated himself so deeply into the running of the British government that things start stuttering the moment he goes missing – and not only because of the sheer panic it instantly causes in those who know his worth.

Harry is not entirely happy about getting a first-hand view of it. He, like all Kingsman agents, has his own opinions on governments and being a UK citizen doesn't make him any fonder of its management. But the truth of the matter is, Kingsman operates from the UK. They, too, benefit from Mycroft Holmes's influence. So here he is. At the heart of the Holmes empire.

Under the scrutiny of all of Holmes's people.

Anthea, thankfully, is the very soul of efficiency, and kills all attempts of interrogating Harry before they even begin. "Our co-operation will begin and end with the kidnapping case," she says to the assorted intelligence agents gathered in the meeting. "At 17:43 today, Mr. Holmes was captured in front of the Diogenes Club, along with an agent of an independent intelligence organisation, who was attending to him. Here are the particulars."

Harry sits back and watches her conduct the meeting. She's very good, and somewhere in the back of his mind Harry's rather envious of Mycroft Holmes with his connections, for having found her. Kingsman has nothing on her, only her code name and connection to Holmes – and that alone makes her quite remarkable. What a Kingsman agent she would've been, had they gotten to her first.

"Galahad here is representing the intelligence agency of the agent captured along with Mr. Holmes," Anthea continues and when someone lifts a hand to ask a question, she ignores it beautifully. "Now, let's talk about the recent kidnappings, the missing celebrities, intellectuals and politicians…"

Harry runs a hand over his lips and smiles. He can hear Merlin, scoffing in his ears. "She knows more than she lets on," the quartermaster says. "Probably aware of our recent effort to keep Holmes safe."

Harry hums in agreement. And she appreciates it, regardless of the cause. It was an attitude he thought he could rather admire – though he has no doubt she's looked into them as much as she could, that she was the one who ran Eggsy's background check for Holmes. Now, though, she doesn't care who they are or why they did what they did – she just wants her employer back as quick as possible, and Kingsman are a tool she's intending to use to gain that end.

Anthea informs the agents present of what they know about the kidnappings, the strides Mr. Holmes had done to solve the situation, and how it all related to this particular kidnapping case. With the information Kingsman had provided – as in, the news about the implants and the IP address of the computer that that triggered Professor Arnold's implant, which traced the whole thing back to Valentine Corporation – she was making leaps and bounds in her deductions and was all but calling for Valentine's head on a silver platter.

She didn't even care why Valentine did it or what the goal was, she just intended to deal with it. Wondering why was Holmes's job, obviously. Anthea just dealt with the problems presented to her.

Brutally efficient, this woman.

"If we go by Valentine's previous MO, they'll be out of the country by now," Merlin says to him.

Harry's smile fades a little. Straightening his shoulders, he concentrates on the matter at hand.

He can deal with professional admiration later. There's a job to do – and a protégé to find.