Word Count: 2,370 (this excerpt); 11,864 (all excerpts total)
Primary Pairings/Characters: Harry Hart/Eggsy Unwin
Content/Warnings (for entire story, not just excerpts): GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, RAPE/NON-CON (mentioned, not explicit), UNDERAGE (mentioned, not explicit)
A/N: These excerpts are all from my first EBB fic in the universe, they are in order but skip around through the fic’s chapters. Thanks to lanalucy for the beta. Enjoy!
April 19, 2001
Eggsy sat forlornly on one of only two unbroken swings in the playground near the council estate. He was alone and feeling incredibly sad. The day before had been his birthday but his mother had completely forgotten. She had gone to work and Eggsy had gone to school. His friends, Ryan and Jamal, had made him cards and each had given him a pack of candy as a gift. It wasn't much but neither of the boys came from families that were more well-to-do than Eggsy’s own. And the fact of the matter was, Eggsy realized that since his dad’s death, his family was slipping steadily down the economic ladder.
Over the past several months, Eggsy had educated himself on what death benefits were and why they should have gotten them but didn’t. He realized that his mum’s previously part time job as a hairdresser that she had begun when Eggsy started school as a way to not be stuck on the flat all day and to have a bit of extra spending money for luxuries, had been transformed. It had now become a full time job with overtime when she could get it in order to put food on the table and to keep the electricity and gas on. Luckily the flat was fully paid for, it had been bought, Eggsy knew, after his mum’s father had died before he himself was born, with the money from his will. So they wouldn’t end up on the street.
But Eggsy realized rapidly after that visit from the posh gentleman that his mum wasn’t going to get over it. Passing out on the sofa that horrible night had not been an aberration but the start of a pattern of behavior. She started drinking as soon as she got home from work and didn’t stop until she passed out. Sometimes she would make dinner but most nights it had become Eggsy’s responsibility to cook and make sure she didn’t just drink her dinner. He had used the internet at school to look up lots of cheap, easy to make recipes and gotten money from his mum to go shopping. He took care of her as much as an eight year old could care for a grown woman who didn’t want to be cared for.
Christmas had been miserable. Eggsy had eventually opened his presents that were under the tree and had opened Michelle’s for her and left them in a pile in her bedroom. There had been no mother-son bonding over the gifts. Just a lonely and sad little boy carefully unwrapping presents while his mother lay unconscious a few feet away.
Eggsy was hating his mother’s drinking, even if he was sometimes able to get answers from her when she was drunk. Michelle had different types of being drunk. When she was nostalgic or weepy, she would tell Eggsy tales of Lee and her in childhood, or just ramble on to herself about her soulmate and Lee’s soulmate. She would answer questions on those topics if Eggsy posed them carefully. If they weren’t carefully posed, or if Michelle took them the wrong way, her calm stupor would transform into a raging one. She would throw things and scream and yell, though she never hit Eggsy. But she would rage at him, telling him that his existence was the reason Lee was dead. That his birth was the reason she and Lee married and Lee joined the Royals. If they hadn’t had a family, Lee could have gotten other work and wouldn’t be dead.
Eggsy sighed as he pushed himself on the swing. He had known that his mum wouldn’t remember his birthday. Most of the time she couldn’t recall what day of the week it was, let alone what month. But still, the now 9 year old hated her in those moments. And he hated the man who took his dad away from them.
The sun was starting to set when Eggsy looked up from his contemplation of the ground beneath his trainers and saw a man standing, leaning against the pole that held the swing set up. To Eggsy’s eyes, the man looked a bit out of place though he couldn’t pinpoint how. He was wearing dark blue, well-worn, jeans and a blue striped button up shirt. He was carrying a jacket over his arm. It was brown and long, looked like a trench coat. Eggsy looked down at the man’s feet. The shoes looked a bit posh, they weren’t trainers but they could be what a man around here would wear to work if he was in an office or something rather than a factory or lower end job. As his gaze flowed back up the man’s frame, Eggsy’s eyes caught on his right hand and realized what had detracted from the picture of casual man who lived in the council estate or nearby. There was a bright gold ring on the man’s finger. And not on his ring finger either, like a wedding ring. It was on his pinkie finger. That was posh. This bloke didn’t belong here. Eggsy raised his eyes and met the man’s, a bit of curiosity but mostly wariness showing in his gaze.
The man smiled, “You’re bright, just like he always boasted, Eggsy.”
Eggsy stood up from the swing and walked behind it, putting the strip of plastic and its metal chains between him and the man. “How d'ya know my name?”
The man stood straighter but didn’t move from his spot ten feet from the boy. “I knew your father, Eggsy. He talked about you constantly. He was so proud of his little egg.”
The boy relaxed minutely but didn’t move from his defensive position. “Yeah? Prove it.”
“Before he left for his last - deployment, he took you to the zoo and you spent over an hour in the snake house because you wanted to see if you were a parselmouth like Harry Potter. At the last tank, the snake actually moved when you talked to it and you thought it had worked until you saw the zookeeper behind the tank, slipping a mouse into it. When you left, you were embarrassed and made him promise not to tell your mum.”
Eggsy nodded and his eyes filled with tears that he refused to let fall. “Yeah, okay. He wouldn’t’a told that story to just anyone. You in the Royals? A Marine like him, then?”
The man looked down for a moment, biting his lower lip, then met Eggsy’s gaze once more. “Not exactly.” The man took a deep breath. “You know that your dad wasn’t with his unit when he died?”
Eggsy nodded. “That’s why we don’t get no death benefits. He wasn’t a Royal no more. Or something.”
The man looked incredibly sad. “Yes, Lee had left the Royal Marines to join a - hmm - another unit. That other unit, that’s where I met Lee. I - we - uh - Eggsy, can we sit on the bench. I’d like to tell you a few things but I think you should be sitting and all. I’ll sit on one end of the bench and you can sit on the other and I won’t come any closer, okay?”
Eggsy narrowed his eyes and bit his lip. He really wanted to hear more about his dad and so far this bloke hadn’t lied to him. And he could sit on the edge, ready to run if he need to. He nodded and walked over to the nearest bench, keeping a careful eye on the distance between him and the man. He perched on the edge of the bench seat as the man sat on the other end, a few feet away, and leaned back against the bench, his back pressed against where the arm of the bench met its back. His leg was drawn up and tucked under his other leg which was bent so the foot was flat on the ground. Eggsy relaxed a bit as he understood that the man’s position wouldn’t allow for swift movement or at least, not swift rising.
The man smiled again. “First, I realized I haven’t introduced myself. My name is James. Lance. James Lance. And when I met your dad, at the - um - training with the other unit, we realized that we - Eggsy, you know about soulmates, right?”
Eggsy nodded. “We learn about that in school and dad used to talk about the visions and stuff. And since he died, mum, well, I found out that mum and dad weren’t soulmates, just best friends.”
The man sighed, “That’s right. Your dad loved your mum very much but they weren’t mates. They grew up together and got married so they could have the family they both wanted. They were both in situations with their mates that meant they might not be able to have children - at least, not easily - with them if they ever met.”
“Right, I know. Mum’s mate is a kid, real young and she might be too old if they meet.”
“Yes, and your dad, well he knew that his soulmate was a man. And two men can’t have children together biologically. They can get surrogates and things like that, but well, you understand that only women can have babies, yes?”
Eggsy nodded with a roll of his eyes. “I’m not an idiot, bruv.”
The man laughed, “Right, sorry, I’m just trying to make sure what you know at your age but I don’t want to treat you like a baby. So, forgive me for my missteps and clarifying, alright.”
The young boy nodded. “I guess it’s been a long while since you had school classes on mates and sex and all, huh? You’re pretty old.”
“I’m not ancient, Eggsy. In fact, I’m only 26. But I wasn’t sure what your particular school taught and when and how in depth. Or what your mum might have told you.”
Eggsy smiled. “Okay, I’ll forgive ya for bein’ a posh bloke what doesn’t know what lower class schools teach.”
Eggsy nodded. “Yer got it almost right, bruv, but the ring - that ring looks solid gold, and yer wearin’ it on yer pinkie. That screams posh. A guy around here might have a solid gold ring, but it’d be a wedding ring and on the ring finger. On the left hand.”
“Sharp eyes. Well done, Eggsy. And yes, I suppose you could call me posh, at least compared to the people you know. But I’m not high class, Eggsy. Not nobility or even close to it. My parents were well off before they died and my father inherited his business from his father who inherited it from his father. But my mother, she came from the East End when it was near its worst reputation. She still spoke with a bit of a Cockney burr up until she died ten years ago. I spent a lot of time with her and when I’m comfortable - or drunk - I tend to slip in my speech patterns to a softer tone.”
“Yeah? She got out, huh?”
James nodded. “She married out, if you will. She and my father were soulmates and they met and bonded during the Blitz when they both took shelter in the same - well - shelter.”
“But we seem to have gotten off track, Eggsy. When your father and I met, during training, we realized that we were soulmates. We -”
“Ya got the whole gold light show and all? I ain’t never seen that.”
“And you won’t, not until you meet your soulmate after you’ve gotten to puberty. The only ones who see the ‘gold light show’ as you put it, are the mates themselves. It isn’t thrown off for the masses, Eggsy. It is entirely in the minds of the soulmates. But, yes, we saw the golden flowing lights between us when we met. We wanted to bond but the situation we found ourselves in, it wouldn’t have been - prudent or - well, maybe not safe. We planned to complete the bond once the training was over and decided one way or another. But, well, before that could happen -”
James looked down, tears in his eyes, “Yes, Lee died. He was my hero, your dad. He saw something that the rest of us didn’t and he died saving my life and the lives of the others who were with us. If he didn’t do what he did - lots of people would have died, both then, including Lee, and later. I can’t tell you details, it is classified, but know that your dad died to save others.”
Eggsy swallowed hard. “Fanks.”
“I - I would like to get to know you, Eggsy. If things had worked out differently, your father and I would have completed the bond and we would have blended the family, it would have been you, your mum, your dad, and me. But, well, we didn’t and now - I don’t have any legal standing to even see you and I don’t want to hurt your mother more than she already is, so that’s why I haven’t come to the flat.”
Eggsy nodded, eagerly. “I’d really like that.”
James smiled. “Good. You, well, you are sort of like my stepson, at least to my mind if not to the legal system and while I can’t be around all the time, I’ll be around when I can.”
Eggsy smiled. “I get it. You’re still in that unit thing that you met dad in. You got missions and deployments and what all.” Eggsy nodded solemnly. “You got ta protect crown and country. It’s what my dad woulda wanted.”
James chuckled wetly. “Quite right. It is exactly what your dad would have wanted me to do. Not waste his sacrifice. And I won’t.”
James reached out a hand to the boy, and held it in the air. The young boy scooted closer and his own hand grasped the larger one and carefully shook it.
“Oh, and I happen to know that yesterday was a very special day. I hoped we would be able to meet soon, so I got you something.” James reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a small wrapped box. “Happy Birthday, Eggsy.”