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Stars Above, Cars Below

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The finest point in all of Insomnia for stargazing is at the top of a hill overlooking one of the city's largest parks. From up there, the lights of the city are muted, receding in contrast to the glorious spectacle of the night sky. It's renowned for the view.

Ignis, in his early teens, takes young Prince Noctis there exactly once before realising that while it is indeed an excellent place for scenery-gazing, most of the people who visit there are there for other things.

Noctis is only twelve, and so enraptured by the bounty above that he doesn't pay heed to the things Ignis, with dawning horror, notices. The many parked cars, interiors darkened but not empty, some of them creaking on their axles in response to the movements of the inhabitants inside. Faint sounds of exertion and pleasure, audible through cracked windows. Couples strolling out of the nearby woodland, hand in hand, clothes askew and hair rumpled.

Ignis hastens to make excuses to leave, despite Noctis's obvious desire to stay and match up the stars in his books to the ones above. While he's fairly certain nobody at the Citadel knows precisely where he takes Noctis on their little adventures, he can't risk it getting out that he took the twelve-year-old heir to the throne of Lucis to a, a hookup spot.

He ushers Noctis down the hill and into the open space below the hilltop. He makes up some excuse about the car headlights maybe ruining the darkness if someone turns their car on, and points out that the trees around the edge of the clearing on the hilltop block some of the lower stars from view.

--

They're older, and Noctis has -- for the first time in nearly a year -- expressed a wistful and nostalgic urge to go out and look at the stars again.

Ignis digs out the old constellations book from his lower shelf. When he first found it in a corner of the Citadel's library, it was pristine. After a decade undergoing Noctis's intense interest and affection, it's rather the worse for wear. The cover is hanging on by a few determined threads, and the inside is nearly as much childish scrawl as it is vaunted wisdom of the ages.

"Did you have anywhere in mind to go?"

"I'm looking it up."

Ignis sets the book on the table, leans over the corner and squints at Noctis's phone screen. "Try not to pick anywhere people might report your presence back to the Citadel."

"Yeah, yeah." Noctis stops scrolling. "Oh, hey. We went here once, right?"

'Here' is, when Ignis looks, a photo of a hillside with a panorama over a city park. It's a daylight photo, but even so, Ignis knows exactly where it is. "Ah. Yes. Very briefly."

Noctis turns the phone back to himself. "Says here it's great, low light pollution, good views."

"It's heavily populated," Ignis says, cagily. "I wasn't comfortable with being there, what with the high chance we'd be seen."

"Huh."

Hoping that's a sufficiently convincing excuse, Ignis turns his attention back to the book. It might be possible to get it rebound, he thinks. Or at least to have the cover stitched back on. Perhaps he could even do that himself.

"Holy shit, I just read the comments for this place. 'Blowie point?'"

Ignis sighs. "...that was the other reason I didn't linger, yes. It was a tad insalubrious."

"Oh my god. 'Popular dogging spot'. 'Casual hookups in the woods'. '#1 for Grindr dates'."

"May I suggest you find somewhere else, please?"

Noctis looks more amused than horrified, but he shakes his head as if aghast. "I can't believe you took me there."

"An honest mistake. Find an alternative."

"Yeah, yeah."

--

He and Noctis are close, now, having found their way back to friendship after months of floundering to understand one another. It had been awful. But these days, they often talk until late in the night. Ignis spends nearly every evening in Noctis's apartment, even when there's no real reason for him to do so. It's just… comfortable, being there.

"Specs," Noctis says, and it's with that fond tone that makes Ignis feel liked, "put that down and come sit with me."

"It will only take a second to--"

"It's my place. You cooked. I'll wash the dishes. Come here."

Ignis sets the pan down, obediently, and goes to sit on the sofa. Noctis immediately slings half of his blanket over Ignis's lap.

"Pick a movie," Noctis says, nodding towards the remote control. "Or a show, or something."

"Any requests?"

"Nah, anything you want."

Ignis finds a cookery show, one with a vivacious and entertaining presenter that he knows Noctis likes watching. As soon as he fires it up, Noctis shifts towards him, closer, under the blanket. Noctis's head on his shoulder, Noctis's thigh against his thigh.

It makes his head feel light, makes him almost giddy with something. For a while he'd thought it was merely relief that he and Noctis aren't at odds any more, but now… he itches to move his hand to cover Noctis's, can feel his lips tingle at the idea of turning his head to press a kiss to Noctis's cheek.

He's in love with his Prince, that's the truth, and Ignis holds the knowledge like a hot ember in his heart.

And Noctis is innocent in his affection, tactile like they're still children. He'll probably fall asleep on Ignis's shoulder, possibly even curl an arm across Ignis's waist as if they're lovers.

It's a torment, but Ignis wouldn't give moments like this up for anything.

--

Noctis is navigating, the first time Ignis is allowed to drive him out by himself. It shouldn't be a surprise that they're chasing the stars on their inaugural journey in the car, Noctis with his list of viewing places and Ignis's driving gloves creaking with the stiffness of brand new leather on the wheel.

Ignis steers them obediently into the turn-off that Noctis signals, and then as they drive upwards his heart clenches.

"Noct," he says, reprovingly. "Not here. If we're seen you'll give out quite the wrong impression."

"I know it's got a bad rep, but It's still the best spot in Insomnia. Please? I mean, look at that sunset. Please?"

Ignis, despite his misgivings, can't say no when Noctis pleads, and so he just sighs, and parks up as far away from the other vehicles as he can. Already the sun is setting, hanging low in a riot of orange and reds over the city skyline, a view that is almost as breathtaking as the one Ignis gets when he glances over at Noctis's expression. The light paints that beautiful face a golden hue, turns him into a living sculpture, makes Ignis itch to touch.

He resists, turns his face towards the sunset.

"The sky is so clear up here," Noctis says, and he unbuckles his seatbelt. "Almost nightfall. It's beautiful."

"It is lovely."

"And, uh." Noctis inhales, hard. "I gotta ask you something?"

"Hm?"

"Can I kiss you?"

Ignis blinks, certain he's misheard, but when he looks at Noctis he barely has a moment to register it -- Noctis closing the gap between them, Noctis pressing his mouth against Ignis's, his nose bumping Ignis's glasses upwards.

A kiss. Ignis's mouth moves automatically, opening and allowing the kiss to deepen briefly before his brain manages to catch up with events and he pulls back a little and regards Noctis in utter bafflement.

Noctis just smiles at him, his hands still loosely clasping the front of Ignis's shirt. "I've wanted to do that for so long."

"I… " and Ignis has to clear his throat, has to cough before he can find words. "Have you?"

"Yeah. Can I do it again?"

Noctis's obvious happiness and enthusiasm is enough to wipe all protest from Ignis's head, and so he nods and when Noctis leans in again Ignis just allows the kiss to happen, lets his hands reach for Noctis in return, tangles his fingers in soft black hair. Noctis's mouth is a wonder, makes Ignis feel light-headed and dizzy with delight.

"Specs," Noctis whispers against his lips, sounding reverential, and then he sits up, and fumbles down the side of his seat. A clunk, and the passenger seat-back reclines hard enough for the headrest to hit the rear seat with a thud. Noctis tugs at Ignis's shirt. "Come here."

It's still only one seat, even if it's temporarily laid flat. "I won't fit."

"Yeah you will." Noctis squirms back against the door, making space next to himself. "Come on."

Ignis has to climb out of his seat ungraciously, over the gearstick and handbrake, but he manages, and lies down as best he can facing Noctis on the narrow seat. It's too short, but Ignis accepts the discomfort without complaint and crams his legs into the footwell. Noctis tangles their hands together, slides one knee between Ignis's thighs, dips his head down so his forehead is resting against Ignis's chin. It's peaceful. A perfect moment, just the two of them, connected and content.

The sky, or what part of it Ignis can see, is darkening to a pinkish hue. It's a marvel; it feels like time should be frozen, and yet outside the world still turns.

Noctis lifts his face. "I thought you'd tell me, I dunno. That this was inappropriate. Or bad. Or something."

"It is absolutely inappropriate," Ignis says, and shifts, presses their foreheads together. "And yet here I am, not caring."

Another deep inhalation from Noctis. "Good."

The next few kisses are gentle, then Noctis narrows his eyes playfully, tugs Ignis's glasses off, and -- Ignis realises it's a pretext even as Noctis does it -- climbs halfway on top of Ignis to put his glasses on the driver's seat. Once the glasses are set down, Noctis shifts his weight, and Ignis allows himself to be straddled.

Noctis sprawls himself on top of Ignis, as much as Ignis supposes he can in this situation, one elbow propped by Ignis's face, the other hand flat on Ignis's chest. He nudges Ignis's nose with his own, and Ignis can feel the smile.

Ignis turns that into a kiss, lets his hands drift up Noctis's back.

"Specs," Noctis mumbles, some time after the sky has darkened to deepest purple and they've kissed so much that Noctis's mouth looks red-raw at the edges. "You wanna -- I mean, nobody's gonna see us. Or care if they do. We can do anything you want."

"...Hm. Is that why you made me bring you here?"

"Well, yeah. Back in the Citadel everyone can just walk into my room. Or yours."

Ignis brushes Noctis's hair back from the side of his face. He's achingly hard and he can feel that Noctis is too, but here seems like a bad idea for indulging that. "Whereas here we might get strangers thinking we want them to watch us."

"Oh."

"And I have a room with a lockable door."

Noctis furrows his brow. "Yours locks? Mine doesn't."

"Well, perhaps I can persuade someone to install one. In the meantime, we'll use my room." Ignis fumbles down the side of the chair. "Come on. Let's go home."

Sitting up, with a lapful of Noctis, immediately leads to more kissing, and Ignis very nearly decides he doesn't care where they are. But there are people walking past, other cars pulling up into the area, and after one man seems to pause and peer into the passenger window, even Noctis concedes that he'd rather go back to the Citadel.

It's late when they leave, and therefore inevitable that Noctis falls asleep on the way home, curled up in his seat, hair a tousled mess and clothes in disarray.

Ignis glances over, several times, marvelling. He's in love with his Prince.

His underhanded, beautiful, ridiculous Prince Noctis who believes a popular makeout point is the perfect place to confess his feelings.

Ignis grins to himself. He's doomed. And he doesn't even care.