srry eggs! lorna made a surprise visit!!! pick up my route this wknd? begging u
Eggsy smiled at the text. Lorna, Jamal’s girl, had been planning the surprise weekend for a while and had kept his friends in the loop. Lorna attended a university a few cities over while Jamal had stayed for a local trade school. Carpentry or what-not, something about specialized skills and job markets. To pick up some of the tuition bill, Lorna had hooked Jamal up with a fancy dog-walking business. (“Oi! It’s more cushy than you think!” he had protested.)
what kind of begging? hands and knees? Eggsy tapped back.
that a yes?! i owe you a pint! :D :D :D
Eggsy pulled himself off the floor from where he had been playing tea party with Daisy, swooping down to give her curls one last kiss, “Gotta go Princess Daisy.”
He pulled on a pair of jeans and polo, discarding his stained sweats and tee. The posh types that Jamal worked for probably wouldn’t appreciate dirty clothes even though he was just going to get dog hair all over it later.
Swiftly he pulled on his shoes and slipped on a pair of sunglasses. It was four in the afternoon, but the summer sun was still shining brightly. It took a while to travel along the Piccadilly Line from his neighborhood to the posher areas and most of the dog owners liked their dogs walked before supper. The faster he got on the tube, the better chance he had of beating the evening rush.
“Mum, I’m heading out!”
“Eggsy! Dinner!” He heard chidingly from somewhere in the direction of the kitchen, but he closed the door with a ‘click’ before she could say more.
Eggsy normally took the Jubilee Line or the Central Line to get to the places he needed to go. Though he no longer lived in the projects they still weren’t necessarily well off.
The Piccadilly Line was a whole other experience. It was usually filled with the financial whizzes and rich CEO types, rich enough to afford the houses in the neighborhoods along the Piccadilly, but not rich enough to have their own private drivers. Even the air tasted expensive.
(Probably from all the expensive perfumes…)
He made it to all the houses without fanfare, starting from the furthest house from the dog park like Jamal taught him. He once followed Jamal around while he went dog walking and he’s taken a few of Jamal’s shifts for him during exam time. Remembering the key codes for each gate and house was easy – good memory and all. Eggsy didn’t have much patience for school, but he reckoned he would do pretty well for himself if he could just convince his ass to sit down and stop moving.
He scoffed to himself. His mum would love nothing better, but academics just wasn’t for him.
Halfway through his route his phone buzzed and flashed Jamal’s name.
mate! I forgot. new client today, supposed to pick up the dog and meet owner. 11 Stanhope Mews South, SW7. owe you two pints.
By then he had four dogs swarming around him, a tiny Chihuahua, a giant white Samoyed, and a pair of Golden Retrievers. The Chihuahua trailed behind him taking small steps and others paced in front of him.
keep it up and you’ll owe me a pack of guinness
Resigned, he ways back the way they had come and down a few side streets toward Stanhope Mews.
Number 11 was a two story white house with a steeple roof and a charming iron rail balcony on the second floor that was facing the street. It wasn’t particularly swanky, like the other houses on the route, but Eggsy could tell that it inside was meant to be more surprising than the understated outside from the thick velvet curtains the polished brass of the door knocker.
“Sit. Good boys.”
The dogs obediently sat while Eggsy ties their leashes to a nearby tree. Even though the posh types tended to have dogs they couldn’t even be bothered to walk they were very thorough in hiring the best trainers. After all, it would't do to have a dog who just jumped up on every guest who visited their distinguished homes.
Eggsy walks up to the door, takes off his sunglasses, and knocks very politely. (See? He could pull off polite when it suited him. Ryan could go suck bollocks.)
No response. He leans back to check that he had the right house, yes the sign still said number 11.
The door whips open and Eggsy does a double take. Eyes wide, he quickly scans the man from head to toe. His feet are in slippers, but the rest of him screams posh, like he just stepped off the runway or from a James Bond set. The black double-breasted suit is fit to his body. Just underneath the collared shirt Eggsy can barely make out some well-developed chest muscles. His mind fills the rest. Somehow even the pair of tortoise shell glasses he’s wearing doesn’t make him seem frumpy, just mysterious and like one of those intellectual types on the BBC ranting about black holes and the what-not.
Eggsy is torn between prostrating himself before the man, and thanking heaven for beautiful people, or maintaining a professional distance. This man is very much his type.
‘Jamal you cad, you’ve been keeping me away from the good looking blokes?’
He raises his right hand in an awkward wave, “Uh. I’m Eggsy. Dog-walker.”
Then he giggles a bit (dear god, just strike him down with lightening). He had just watched the new Star Wars with Ryan and Eggsy Dogwalker sounded a bit too much like Luke Skywalker.
The gent raises an eyebrow and smiles amusedly. “Yes, I’ve been expecting you.”
Eggsy dies a little on the inside and is rethinking his sanity. The man even sounds like he’s a proper gent, with smooth rolling vowels and a certain rhythmic cadence to his words. ‘A little bit like Snape, but less nasally.’
Eggsy might have grown up a chav, but gents are very much his type. This one standing in the doorway is hitting all his buttons.
“I’m Harry Hart and this is Morgana,” the gent (Harry) says with a nod. At his feet sits a black poodle. “I’m just watching her while Roxy is in Switzerland her with her friends. I promised her a month, but it seems as if I will be… away for a week and I can’t take Morgana with me.”
Eggsy deflates a little at the mention of Roxy, probably his wife or some sort of significant other. Men like Harry didn’t walk around single. Some hussy probably nabbed him at her cotillion ball and then waltzed him off directly to a church for vows.
“Nah. No need to explain, bruv. I’ve got this. Morgana and I are going to be good friends,” he says, waving his hand around. What can he say? He’s an expressive person, but incidentally his hand also has a mind of his own and nearly smacks into Harry’s glasses. Were they standing that close before?
His face must be plastered in horror because Harry just smiles and huffs a little laugh.
“Are you sure you’re coordinated enough to walk Morgana? She’s a little feisty.”
Eggsy doesn’t think it through and can only get defensive. Years living with Dean and his goons would do that to anyone. (But thank God they didn't with him anymore.)
He puffs out his chest, “Oi! I’m qualified okay? I may not be dressed like you, but my walking techniques are out of this world! I’m an expert pooper-scooper and none of the dogs have run off on my watch.”
He says this while waving his hands again. Expressive. It’s a thing. This time his sunglasses slip off the top of his head and slide down his nose.
Harry is definitely laughing now. “My apologies. I was joking.”
Eggsy deflates again. As far as first meetings go this would probably rank pretty low. Even if Harry was single Eggsy definitely be on the list of dateable candidates now, but then Harry reaches over and pulls off Eggsy’s sunglasses for him, slipping them back into his hand.
“Morgana’s leash will be kept near the door. Don’t worry about feeding her. I have a housekeeper that will come around and make sure her bowel is filled every day. Just make sure she has water? The key will be under the doormat and you need to use it in combination with a key-code, 12-19-97.”
“Eggsy, never use a birthday for a password,” Harry chides, but he’s still smiling and Eggsy is starting to think that if it’s Harry who is trading family jibes him then it might be okay.
Harry holds out a black leash with velvet details and metal clasps that look engraved. Morgana is now on her feet, doing a quick circle around the two men, clearly eager to go out.
“I’m afraid I need to lock up and head out. My jet leaves in an hour.”
Right. Harry was rich enough to charter his own jet. He’s definitely out of Eggsy’s league, so Eggsy clips the leash onto Morgana’s collar, gives Harry a parting nod. If he lets his hips sway a bit more than usual as he’s collecting the rest of the dogs and walking away, well, there was no one else to tell on him.
When he comes back in the evening to drop Morgana off he pretends not to be disappointed that the lights are off and Harry is gone.
The next Saturday, Eggsy is back on the dog route again. This time, Jamal forgot he had exams the upcoming week and had a little too much fun with Lorna the weekend before. (‘Eggsy, I’ll owe you a proper pack of Guinness. Pretty pleassse?’) This time it’s only Morgana on the schedule. In fact, it would be the last time Morgana needed to be walked before Harry came back.
Eggsy walks up to the house and opens the door expecting a dark house. Instead, he walks into a young lady in a defensive pose holding what seems to be an umbrella. She’s quite pretty, with blonde-brown hair and hazel eyes.
“What are you doing here?” she demands.
Morgana, the traitor, is nowhere in sight. Weren’t poodles supposed to be good guard dogs? Or were those bulldogs?
“Uh, what are you doing here bruv?” he replies with a raised eyebrow.
She looks like she’s five-stones when wet and couldn’t possibly deal that much damage anyway. He’s thinking about searching for Morgana and dealing with the pretty, but crazy, young lady later.
Unfortunately Eggsy misjudged and by the time he can even think thoughts about how much he regrets that she has whacked him on the right shoulder with her umbrella and pinned him under her bodyweight on Harry’s foyer floor.
“Who are you?” she demands more forcefully.
“What the hell, bruv!”
She wraps an arm around his neck and starts pulling him into an impressive backbend.
“What are you doing here?”
“I’m here for Morgana. What the fuck! Let go.”
The girl gets a peculiar look on her face. “That’s my dog.”
She’s digging her knees into his back and he can feel his balls getting smushed into the floor.
Finally it comes to him. Her dog. This was…
The voice that shouted was not in his head. In fact, the voice sounded a whole lot like Harry, but in this position he wasn’t in a state to confirm his hypothesis. Harry, who was supposed to be away on a business trip.
“Let him go! He’s the dog walker.”
Suddenly the pressure is gone and Eggsy can see Roxy crouching down beside his face with an apologetic look and a pro-offered hand.
When Eggsy gets up (he’s not enough of a twat to refuse) he can finally take in the situation. Harry’s indeed back and standing on the landing, looking down on the both of them with horror. Morgana, the traitor, is standing next to him.
Eggsy does not do a double take this time, but it’s a near thing. Harry looks as good as he did last time, but now he’s dressed in a warm beige cardigan with a navy button-up underneath. A pair of black slacks and red slippers completes the ensemble. Harry had definitely been expecting to be relaxing, not corralling two young hooligans in his own house.
“Sorry, Uncle Harry. I was just being vigilant.”
Vigilant. Like out of some Harry Potter scene?
Harry walks down the stairs and stands in front of them.
“Let’s not try to kill our guests,” he says with a sigh. “This is Eggsy, he was walking Morgana this week while I was away on a work trip.”
Suddenly Roxy’s eyes light up and Eggsy isn’t quite sure that it’s a good sign after the whole fiasco that happened, oh, 30 seconds ago. “Eggsy? The one with the bluest eyes you’ve ever seen?”
Eggsy blushes. Oh God, that’s not a good look on him. When he flushes he turns into a ripe tomato.
“Actually, Jamal is the one who-“
“Eggsy, it’s so nice to meet you!” Roxy interrupts, enthusiastically shaking his hands.
“It’s nice to meet you too, but Jamal-“
“I’ve heard so many thing about you from Uncle Harry!”
Then Eggsy’s mind screeches to a halt. “You have?” Then it all comes together. Uncle. “Uncle?” Oh. Roxy is Harry’s niece.
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“What? No? I don’t think so? Well, I know so. I mean, well, I’m more into blokes.” Ugh, now he’s just blabbering.
Harry takes a sharp breath inward.
Roxy’s eyes glint brighter and a look enters her face. It’s the same look that Jamal and Ryan get before they’re up to shenanigans. It’s the same look that Daisy gets right before she’s about to do something that she thinks is very clever.
“Really now? My, what tight jeans you have! They make your ass look delectable,” Roxy says with a swat of his bum. “You have to tell me where you get them.”
Eggsy preens a little at that, but one look at Harry quickly reveals how uncomfortable Harry looks right now. He deflates a little at that, but then gets distracted by how gray his eyes look.
You’re a goner, Eggsy Unwin. Done. Destroyed for life.
“Would you like to have tea with us? Harry got home early from his trip and I was already got back from Switzerland so he asked me if I could come pick up Morgana. I guess we forgot to call your agency.” Roxy at least had the decency to sound contrite at the last bit.
“I will ask the agency to pay you in full,” Harry speaks up. Also looking a bit contrite. “I apologize. It has been a busy few days.”
Before he knows it he’s sitting down at a mahogany table with Roxy to his right and Harry across from him, sipping full leaf tea (“It’s different from those crushed leaves in teabags, Eggsy. Those are primarily low-grade,” Harry informed.) from a china cup with gold filigree.
When he leaves that night he and Roxy are fast friends.
Harry also slips a box into his hands with smile, “I found this in Bolivia and thought of you. It’s getting cold now. Be sure to keep warm.”
Eggsy shouldn’t be hoping, but his heart is full every time he looks at the jacket.
“Say, Merlin, are there any puppies left over from the new recruits?”
“Harry, you’re Arthur now. It’s not your job to handle the leftover puppies.”
“I know, Merlin, but I’m… asking specifically about a Terrier.”
“I thought you weren’t going to adopt another after Mr. Pickles? You resisted Chester so much when he kept insisting in the past.”
“Well, I’ve thought about it and, admittedly, the house is a little too quiet now that-“
“It’s the dog walker, isn’t it?”
“Harry, you’ve never once entertained the idea of replacing Mr. Pickles, but Roxy has been mentioning a certain bright-blue-eyed dog walker to me over the phone lately.”
“There’s nothing wrong with wanting a replacement for Mr. Pickles. In fact, I will call him Mr. Pickles the Second.”
“Harry. Roxy saw you hand over that box. If it wasn’t a ‘look how I can provide’ courtship posturing, then I don’t know what is.”
“It was just a gift!”
“Okay. Okay… Do you think it was too much?”
Goan. “There are no Terriers, Harry.”
“Stop looking so defeated. Thankfully, Roxy adores you and already requested I look into it. Apparently you two are a lot more alike than you think. There’s a six-month old Terrier up for adoption in Surrey. I’ve already placed a claim for him on your behalf.”
“Thank you, Merlin.”
“Just do me a favor, think of how much easier this could be if you just asked him on a date. Drop the scheme.”
That evening while Mr. Pickles the Second is curled contently by his feet, Harry loads up the website for the walking company and tries to set up walks for once a week. As a repeat customer, it says it will allow him to pick his own dog-walker if he desires. Unfortunately, Eggsy’s name is not on the drop down list. Harry frowns. Could Eggsy have quit? What if Harry made it too awkward with the gift?
Hesitantly, he types into the comment box: 'I would like to request the presence of the walker I hired for Morgana, if he so wishes to work with me again.'
He considers typing more, but a gentleman should confess in person, not online through a work-order form. He pre-pays the fees for a month and clicks submit.
Jamal walks up to number 11 on Stanhope Mews South, again. Apparently the Harry-bloke that Eggsy was raving about had adopted a Terrier and was looking for a walker for Friday evenings.
When the gent opens the door, Jamal agrees with the overall assessment. He immediately understands all the ranting Eggsy was saying about the Bond-like clothes. Jamal doesn’t swing that way, but the man standing on the threshold is pretty good looking for a gent, even down to the faint wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. Really, it should be illegal to age this well.
Too bad the bloke’s frowning.
“Good afternoon. Are you the dog walker?”
“Yes. Good afternoon. I’m Jamal, nice to meet you,” he gives the guy a perfunctory shake of the hands.
“Well, this may be a bit awkward and a little offensive, but I thought I asked the agency to request Eggsy? He was the one who was walking the previous dog. I am sure that you are a fine employee, but I was hoping that he could work with me again.”
The gent says it sheepishly, like he’s trying not to offend Jamal, but is stubbornly insistent about what he wants.
Oh. Oh! The situation dawns on Jamal and he smirks. The gent likes Eggsy too. Well, this he can work with.
“Eggsy was just filling in for me. I had a few situations come up. He’s not exactly an official employee of the company.”
“I see. I didn’t know that.”
The gent’s starting to look defeated and Jamal has never been the type of guy to leave a guy hanging (or the type of guy who cockblocks his own friends), so he interrupts before the gent can go further into this mental downward spiral of depressed thoughts. “Do you have a pen and paper?”
Harry raises an eyebrow, but fetches them for him from a side table. Jamal quickly jots down Eggsy’s phone number onto a page and hands it back to the gent.
“That’s his personal number. You can hire him direct. I know for a fact that Eggsy is free Friday evenings and most weekends. I’m sure he’ll love to walk your dog. I’ll tell the company we couldn’t work out a scheduling agreement and you changed your mind.”
Jamal bounces back on his heels and gives a jaunty salute before walking away. “Good luck, bruv. He’s been talking a lot about you.”
He’s almost halfway down the street until he hears the gent call out his thanks.
Bless Jamal. Thanks to him, Eggsy had Harry’s number and an excuse to go see him every Friday night.
From the first night, Harry always greeted Eggsy at the door with a smile. “Eggsy, it’s so good to see you again.”
He meets new Terrier puppy. He is an excited little thing named Mr. Pickles the Second. Eggsy quickly shortens the name to Junior.
(Mr. Pickles the First was in the first floor bathroom. The first time he ran into the stuffed dog he had nearly knocked it from its perch.
“Harry! Bruv, you have a dog hanging out over your toilet.”
“Now, Eggsy. He’s a very precious part of my family.”
“Harry, that’s unsanitary. Haven’t you ever heard that the splash radius of the loo is more than a meter? He’s getting microparticles of poo in his fur. Please don’t tell me you still pet him.”
Harry had looked a bit sheepish after that.)
Junior was hyperactive, but well trained. He was also particularly good at playing dead.
(“Harry, look what I’ve taught Junior to do. Bang!” Eggsy said with a pop of his lips, miming a gun with his fingers.
Junior quickly flopped over sideways on the floor and lay very still. He stayed that way until Eggsy held out a treat. “Such a good boy!”
Two days later, Harry showed the trick to Merlin.
Merlin was decidedly less amused. “Not funny, Harry. Thank fuck we finally got rid of that test.”
Harry thought it was hilarious.)
At first Eggsy was nervous to be working for Harry in an official capacity, but that quickly went away. Harry went on more walks with Eggsy and Junior than not, but he wasn’t complaining, just enjoying the time with Harry. After a month or two of this, Eggsy began refusing payment.
(“Really Harry, I enjoy this. It’s barely considered working. You’re walking with me and Junior more often than not.”
“Junior and me.”
Eggsy shot him a glare, “Junior and me. Not the point, Harry.”
“Are you sure I can’t convince you otherwise? Think of it as if you were walking a dog and an old man. I surely need more exercise.”
“Harry, you’re not kidding anyone. You’re the fittest bloke I know and I’ve seen those muscles under your cardigans.”
As soon as that was out of his mouth, Eggsy blushed in mortification, but Harry looked pleased. Just when he was about to mutter out a string of explanations, Harry leaned close and whispered a thank you into his ear.)
Friday evenings turned into Fridays and weekends. Then they turned into pretty much any day that Eggsy happened to pop over.
The three of them would loop around Stanhope Gardens and then stay in at Harry’s for dinner or tea. When summer finally gave away to fall, Eggsy made sure to wear the Adidas jacket that Harry gifted him.
Then the scarf that Harry gifted him on a random Saturday.
(“Harry, it looks like it’s trying to eat my face.”
“It’ll keep you warm.”
“I think you’re trying to kill me.”)
Fall then turned into an early winter. There were a few weeks that Eggsy took Mr. Pickle out on his own when Harry was traveling for business. If Eggsy spent a few extra minutes moping around the house after walking Junior and cuddling with Harry’s sheets then it was okay, no one would know.
(Too bad Eggsy hadn’t caught onto the way Harry made his bed and Harry always knew.)
Harry comes back from one his trips with a slight limp and bruised rib. Eggsy wants to worry and fuss, but something on Harry’s face is bright and happy when he notices Eggsy making himself home on the stuffed armchair in the living room.
So instead Eggsy goes with a joke, “Seems like you’ve had a ruff week. Heh. Get it? Rough?” He’s cringing on the inside; in fact, his soul probably wants a divorce from his brains. Ruff? Where did that come from? But Harry is laughing and Junior is yapping on the floor from his spot next to the fireplace.
Eggsy smiles and can feel the expression on his face go soft. He would make a fool of himself for Harry any day. Even looking a little worse for the wear, Harry still looks as handsome as ever.
Harry’s face is soft as well when he takes a seat next to Eggsy on the arm of the chair. He has a long box in his hands, probably another one of his gifts.
(That’s another thing he likes about Harry, his generosity. Even though he keeps telling him to stop, Harry keeps on giving.)
“It’s for you. Open it.”
This time, instead of simply accepting the gift, Eggsy rises up and brushes a kiss on his lips.
Harry, well, it’s no surprise that he returns it, sinking into the kiss and framing Eggsy’s face in his hands.
“I’ve wanted to do this forever,” Eggsy says soft.
Harry just kisses him again.