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i.

It's been ten years since he's seen those eyes.

He remembers seeing those eyes, dreary from the long nights. Long nights of the flickering television or the soft glow of his phone screen as he laughs, half-giggle and half-whisper, into the early morning hours. He remembers in the morning the slouched shoulders, broad and pronounced collarbone that peeks out from his muscle tanks and both hands adjusting the drawstring of his sweatpants.

It's an odd feeling, being in love with your best friend. Though more so now than ever, Noctis worries that he's only in love with a vision of the past and not the real thing.

The Prompto in front of him carries himself differently now. Noctis doubts that Prompto would believe him, but he seems entirely at home in the garb of the Kingsglaive. One of the lionhearted warriors that will accompany the king into his final battle; Prompto's entirely that, from the way he holds his gun to the way he holds his posture. Noctis still can't tell if it's confidence, or simply the strength that's born out of survival. Prompto's taller, more muscular and a sharp edge to his jaw and his gaze that wasn't there before. And when he speaks, it isn't quite as soft as before. He can keep up the cheerful act, though only for a moment, until his voice begins to shift into a rougher, deeper quality.

“Hey,” he feels like a fucking fool. Ten years of thinking to himself and this is all that Noctis knows how to say, as though the very words to leave his lips have been stolen by the Astrals.  As though stealing his youth wasn't enough for them.

“Hey,” Prompto mutters back, face pulled into a half-hearted smile, though not entirely concentrated on Noctis. Instead, he's lazily cleaning the barrel of his gun with a worn-down cloth. “It's good to have you back.”

Noctis pulls out another camping chair and gently lowers himself down to sit. His muscles and bones ache with age, entirely emaciated from ten years of going unused. In fact, he still hasn’t really come to terms with the fact that this is his body and that, soon enough, he'll be ripped away from it once more.

He glances over at Prompto again, head still fixed on the barrel of the gun.

Despite the years of prolonged silence, this isn't something that Noctis would've ever expected. This is new. Different. The increasingly familiarity they seemed to have before has all but vanished. Either that, or it's shifted into something else. They say that separation makes the heart grow fonder, though Noctis wonders if it just as easily can cause the heart to snap.

As Prompto finishes polishing the gun, he withdraws it into its holster and lifts himself off the camping chair. “I’m off to bed soon,” he says. “You coming with?”

Prompto extends out on hand, which Noctis takes into his. It’s warm, though calloused and covered in burn marks and healing scars. “I’m not an old man, y’know,” he scoffs. “I can walk on my own.

“Had me fooled,” Prompto laughs. How much could a single person possibly miss another? In his crystal stasis, Noctis didn’t have time to think about that. And yet now, as he looks across to Prompto and sees his face soften up with laughter, Noctis thinks he knows the answer.

Prompto lifts him to his feet and the two of them stand face to face. Is Prompto taller than him? He notices that he can’t even look Prompto straight in the eyes anymore. But as he tries to look closer, he notices the light dissipate from Prompto’s eyes just as it had to the world around them. He hates this so much. The fact that he can’t even look at Prompto’s face without wanting to cry.

Prompto briefly pauses before taking a sharp breath. His breathing hitches as though he wants to cry, but he doesn't allow himself to. Prompto's about to turn away from him, until Noctis's head jerks forward as Prompto tugs him in for a close embrace. He hears the shifting of fabric as Prompto digs his fingers into his suit jacket.  

“We’re here together,” Prompto says, while Noctis begins to bury his face into the comfort of Prompto's chest. He's heaving now, eyes entirely watery and just about to let himself go to his melancholy. “And, fuck, even if I know it isn't gonna last long, it's a damn good feeling.”

Noctis tries to mutter something in reply but it doesn't come out right. None of this is coming out right, it's all falling apart in front of his eyes. And the powerless he has, it hurts more than any of the years he—they both—endured separation.

"Yeah," Noctis says. "We're here together."

Is this it? The last night he ever gets to see Prompto? It's an odd feeling, being in love with your best friend. And now, Noctis realizes, it isn't simply the nostalgia that's getting to him. The callouses and scars across Prompto's body that weren't there ten years ago might as well have been there forever, because now Noctis can't help but get lost in the sight of the elder Prompto, even more alluring than he ever remembers.

Still huddling close to the warmth of Prompto's chest, the familiarity overtakes him. He just wishes they were somewhere else, anywhere else. Lost to another space and time where it didn't have to end like this.

The only thing Noctis can do is close his eyes. And when morning comes, he'll just have to walk on forward as he promised to.


ii.

When Noctis comes to, he finds himself in a place outside of space or time. Or something to that effect, he can't really be sure of anything. His head is spinning, pounding and everything he sees is too blurry to be identified.

Is he dead? Maybe, he remembers their final fight with full clarity. And the searing heat as he felt his skin fade into ash, beams of light bursting out from his arms and his chest.

Then again, maybe not, maybe he isn't dead. Because for all intents and purposes, he should be non-existent right now. No longer able to think and feel. Reduced to a simple stain on a diary page that will be washed away soon enough.

Still, he can't feel anything in his body, if he even has a body at all. He surrounds anything and everything, more akin to a gust of wind than a person. There's nothing more to him, except for his thoughts.

It's odd, to say the least.

And so he's formulated a catalog of sorts, or maybe a scrapbook, of all his memories. They've been scattered one by one in the expanding space around him. By the Astrals, they can try to take everything away from him but they can't take his memories.

Though without a body, he still tries to reach forward to an unclear shape in front of him. Is that a picture frame? Or just the memory of one? A vision, a dream, something intangible. It looks to be a small picture in a tackily decorated frame, golden frame with a few stickers that have become tattered and torn. A photo of some distant, half-blurred face looking lazily in the distance. It looks so much like him and yet vaguely doesn't, at least, it doesn't look like him in his current state.

And alongside that reflection of his far-off youth, Prompto is sitting next to him.

|||

 

Two things at once, he can see himself sleeping softly on his old living room couch and Prompto standing beyond the doorway simultaneously. He's certainly not stuck in whatever limbo he was before but he still can't quite figure out where he is. A state of observation, it seems, as if he's replaying all his memories from behind a shifty television screen.

Noctis figures he must’ve been passed out on the couch for a while, though he can't be quite sure how long ago he fell asleep. He’d fallen asleep in his uniform too, the jacket thrown in a bundle on the floor and his tie almost falling off his neck.

From the other side of the door, he hears knocking. Persistently, Prompto's been knocking for a couple of minutes or so, visibly irritated at this point. Through the peephole, he carries two large boxes of pizza awkwardly with one arm and an almost-torn plastic bag of sushi boxes with the other.

Noctis remembers. This was the day he'd invited Prompto over while they were finishing their exams for the semester. Or maybe Prompto had come uninvited, Noctis wouldn't put it past him. He'd practically made Noctis's apartment his own home at this point. Slowly but surely, more and more of Prompto's things had invaded the living space, until Noctis is unsure what belongs to who anymore.

“Noct?” Prompto calls out.

He still feels vaguely dizzy, and far too exhausted to get up and reach for the door. “It’s open,” he says, voice raspy and mouth dry.

“Damn dude, you look like shit,” Prompto says, now carefully balancing the sushi bag on top of the pizza boxes while he opens the door.

He probably had dark circles under his eyes, if that's what Prompto is insinuating. "That's what Advanced Lucian History does that to you," Noctis says.

Prompto carefully sets down the food next to Noctis's coffee table, currently littered with folded papers, scattered pencils, and his high school textbooks. He bends over and starts to clear off the mess, setting everything in neat piles.

Just as Prompto stands back up, he accidentally knocks over one of the textbooks and it falls with the cover facing upwards. Ancient Languages and Religions: A Comprehensive Guide to  Lucian Theology. So, Noctis was studying for his next exam. Of course. And Prompto's come to help him study.

He can't explain why he feels so disappointed. It's not as though Prompto's never visited him just for that sake of visiting. But there's this deep-seated feeling of wanting more that won't go away. There are so many moments with Prompto he wants to hold on to and even more moments that he wants to create. The pain most poignant comes from the knowledge that he's eventually going to have to let go.

"So how'd you do today?” Noctis asks. “You had Physics, right?"

Prompto laughs his usual self-deprecating laugh. He’s trying not to show it, but his face spells worries all over it. "Yeah, Engineering Physics," he says, opening the first box of pizza. "Shiva, I hope I did alright. Otherwise, I give up."

As Noctis sits up, his back starts to ache. Fuck, he doesn't just look like shit but feels like shit too. Even at sixteen, it was all starting built up inside him. The stress, the training, the sicknesses that come and go.

He doesn't want to bother Prompto to fetch him an ibuprofen, nor does he want to get up for a slice of pizza, so instead he extends out one hand to try and reach for the bag of sushi.

Noctis prods around at the bag, only to notice the receipt sitting on top. “You didn’t pay for this with your card, did you?” he asks.

Prompto says nothing and continues eating.

“Prom, I told you I was gonna pay this time.”

“Ah, it’s no worries dude,” Prompto says. “‘Sides, I can’t keep mooching off the royal funds forever.”

Noctis hesitates, though doesn't say anything. In some ways, Prompto's completely right. Noctis can't help but spend heaps on him, probably to the worry of his poor father who has to keep tabs on the monthly deposit. He's even trusted Prompto with his PIN number, though more often than not, Prompto is too nervous to buy anything with it.

Before Noctis picks up a sushi roll, he looks over at a modest painting of Bahamut, hung in the corner of his kitchen. He closes his eyes and mutters a small prayer to himself. Whatever he was praying for—that he can’t remember anymore—the pain of irony still stings within him. However innocuous that prayer was before, it hurts now knowing that the Astrals have betrayed him. The very existence of his destiny is betrayal, he’s come to realize.

He can’t overwrite history, Noctis knows that well enough. But what he can do, from the limitless confines he finds himself in, is hope. Hope that somewhere in the endless expanse of the universe, there’s one world where he prayed to be together with Prompto. Hope that there’s one world where his prayers were answered.

 

iii.

Noctis can’t remember when he first realized he was in love with Prompto. It was more like a gradual shift in perception, from what was once just a simple crush into something a lot bigger.

And once he started falling, he wouldn't stop until he hit rock bottom.

It was the little things he did, maybe even beyond his own realization, that were certain to give away his little ‘crush’. Despite everything he'd been taught as a child, Prince Noctis wasn't always a subtle person.

Be it that slight brushes of the hand, or the surprise when Prompto comes up behind him and wraps one arm around his neck. Frantically, his heart starts to pick up, his hands feel clammy, and his face is bursting with heat. And yet he tries his best not to give anything away. His own body's betrayal of the mind.

And Prompto surely didn't make it any easier on him. He's asked him about love a few times.

“Have you ever been in love?”

He has his answer. He's completely, deeply in love. A lovesick fool.

While Prompto looks back at him expectantly, Noctis simply shakes his head. Just another lie, or rather, avoiding the truth. Brushing it away so that he doesn't have to say anything. He'd done it for years, avoiding the truth. Years and years of putting his own feelings second had made it almost second nature. Before, he didn't have the chance to say how he felt. He didn't have the chance or the time.

But of all his floating memories, he remembers one thing very clearly, just as clearly as the daylight he misses so much. What Noctis does remember, is the first time Prompto said he loves him back.

 

|||


It had been a long time coming for both of them, well aware of their own feelings and yet neither was willing to say anything about it. Fuck, the silence hurts worse than the pain of a stab wound, and worse than the pain of Noctis's burning skin as he clutches tightly to the ring on his finger.

“Hey,” Noctis says. “I'm sorry.”

Fucking pathetic, that's how he feels. A pathetic beginning to a pathetic apology. If not for his own stupidity, he would have avoided this all.

Noctis is slouched over, fingers still fiddling with the ring and his weight pressing into the mattress, emitting a low creaking noise. Part of him is too scared to look at Prompto. That feeling of betrayal that must be swelling up inside him, it's there, Noctis just knows it. And he can't bear to face that after all he's done.

He feels like such an idiot, really. To call himself a fool in love and yet he couldn't even tell apart his love from his enemy.

“For what?” Prompto says.

“For falling right into his trap,” he says. “And for hurting you like that.”

“I know right? How could you possibly do such a horrible thing—after everything we've been through,” he says, with a theatrical sarcasm. It falls flat, Prompto must realize, and lowers his head. “Nah, it's okay. You're not the only one who fell for it.”

Even after everything Prompto told him, that won't change the way he feels. There's nothing that possibly could, no will of the Astrals.

“Once this is all over, I say we break down the borders. Come together as one nation,” he says, feeling some heat on his face. Noctis learns back against the metal frame, crossing his arms. “I mean, what does it matter where you're from anyways?”

“Y'know I'd never thought I'd say this, but you sounded like a real king for a second.”

Noctis wants to laugh. He's no king, and hardly ever will be. He's still no more than the misguided young boy that believes he can save everything and lose nothing in return.

“Better late than never,” he says, lowering his head. “I'm gonna make this world a better place, you with me?”

“Uh-huh. Ever at your side.”

Even after all is said and done, he still feels guilty looking at Prompto. But to be ever at his side, that's a promise. A promise Noctis wishes he could return.

Noctis freezes. He realizes.

“Wait, what?”

“What?”

Prompto's face begins to flush with red, only just now processing what he had said.

It was just an offhand comment, wasn't it? Maybe Prompto himself isn't even sure of what he’s really saying.

“Nevermind, it's nothing,” Noctis says, still with his face completely flushed.

Prompto laughs and extends one hand, lifting Noctis up from the unstable bed. “Oh, c’mon you know what I meant,” he says, then turns his head to the side to whisper under his breath. “Honestly can't believe I'd fall in love with a loser like you.”

Noctis sinks back down into the mattress, still holding onto Prompto's hand. Prompto's body jerks forward in reaction.

“Hold on,” Noctis has to pause. He's just so dumbfounded by everything and yet Prompto never fails to find new ways to catch him by surprise. “You've been in love with me this whole time?”

“Huh? D-Did I say that?”

“You just said, honestly can't believe I'd fall in love with a loser like you!”

Noctis's heart is pounding, so fast he thinks it's gonna burst out of his chest.

“I mean before, it was just a crush,” Prompto says. “But then it didn't go away.”

“So it's more than a crush?”

“Yeah, probably.”

He’s not about to be angry at Prompto, not after everything that’s happened between them. If anything, he’s just so glad that Prompto’s in front of him right now, real life, flesh and blood. No, he could never be angry, Instead, Noctis bursts out laughing.

“Hey, what the hell?” Prompto says. “I was being genuine, y’know.”

Noctis covers his mouth with his hand. “I know, I know, it's just,” Noctis can barely speak between his laughter. “It's so you, to confess like that.”

“And what's that supposed to mean?”

By the Astrals, it means Noctis loves it, just like he loves everything else about Prompto.

As he stands up, Noctis wraps his arm around Prompto for support, both of them with a bit of a limp to their step.

It feels good, standing here like this. Something solid lean against.

 

iv.

Some memories come in flashes, disjointed pieces. The small moments. Memories prior to his departure, memories of the Crownsguard. It seems to occupy such little space in his mind and continues to grow weaker and weaker as time goes on. 

But now, with nothing between him expect for the lingering silence and a sea of endless stars, he's forced to confront them. Those memories he was worried he would've long forgotten.

He can't close his eyes, though the phantom feelings are almost enough to convince his otherwise. The residual pain of his torso, arms, legs, heart: it's all still there, despite the fact that his body remains scattered across the earth like ashes. But he can't still imagine, and so he doesn't. He imagines that his head is resting in a pool of water, the clear water of Galdin Quay, and the tides wash over his face until he doesn't hear or see anything anymore.

Even if for a moment, he wishes to drown out the shifting visions and return to Insomnia. Before the departure.

|||

 

The sound of bullets dropping to the floor catches his ears, distant first but then growing ever closer until it's all he hears. Maybe the occasional grunt, the subtle shifting of fabric. A gloves hand wraps around the grip and then comes the pull out the trigger.

He turns around the corner to see Prompto, alone, with only a practice pistol and some spare magazines.

There's a certain gleam to his eyes that Noctis doesn't think he's ever seen before. Prompto's fixed dead ahead, he doesn't even notice Noctis peeping around the corner. His arms are steady, unwavering, and he holds a gun like he'd been trained to do so his entire life.

He hadn't seen Prompto all night, but at least he's finally figured out why. Ever since his official inauguration into the Crownsguard, it seems like he's been training non-stop. Their outings together had grown to be more infrequent.

He has no way of knowing how long Prompto's been at this, whether he's been here the whole night or whether he's only just begun. Regardless, he doesn't appear to have the faintest bit of fatigue.

Finally, as the round of bullets comes to an end, Prompto takes a small hand towel from the bench and wipes his brow. He gently tugs on the collar of his shirt before using the towel to wipe his collarbone.

Noctis gulps. Since when had Prompto's arms been so big? His shoulders so broad? His chest so—so prominent?

Noctis steps forward slightly, causing Prompto to jerk his head and turn around. Something else Noctis had come to notice, after all these years, is Prompto's senses, or perhaps even gut instinct. Something about it was almost inhuman, how quickly his reflexes moved, before Noctis's brain could even process what was happening.

“Noct?” Prompto looks at him, in utter shock. “Noct, how long have you been there?”

“Oh, uh, not too long,” he says. “I, uh, just heard some noise coming from the training hall and I came to check it out.”

Suddenly, it's as though all of the confidence in Prompto's body has been drained from him.

Slowly, Noctis approaches and sits down on the bench next to Prompto, fiddling around with the empty magazine. Prompto plops down beside him like a heavy weight had just been dropped, his whole body completely drained of energy.

He doesn't need to waste time asking why Prompto's out here at night. Damn near midnight and yet he still insists on training. “I don't know if you know this but, uh,” he begins. “Cor’s been real impressed with your training ever since you joined the Crownsguard.”

Prompto scoffs. “Ah c'mon Noct, you don't need to lie to me to make me feel better,” he says as his lightly elbows Noctis in the stomach.

“No seriously, I mean it,” Noctis’s face begins to pull into a frown. “You're really good. Cor knows that, we all do.”

While Prompto has his head tilted downwards, Noctis can see a smile growing on his face.

“Good to know someone's proud of me,” like a mutter under Prompto's breath, though it's just barely loud enough to be heard by Noctis.

Prompto clenches his hand, imitating the motions Noctis makes whenever he summons a weapon from the Armiger. He can imagine that blue light gathering around Prompto's hand and arm and the subtle yet primal glow in his eyes.

"Sorry for worrying you," Prompto says while standing up. He begins to gather his things and slings his newly acquired coat, custom made for the Crownsguard, around his shoulder. "I'm off to bed soon, I promise."

Noctis playfully slaps Prompto on the back. "Good, 'cause it's your fault I'm missing out on sleep."

As Prompto walks away, Noctis observes his back muscles. Stretching and relaxing as he moves one shoulder in circles. Fuck, Noctis thinks. There's no way he'll be able to train like this. Not when his best friend is hot as fuck and he's been reduced to a fawning mess.

 

v.

It continues, for minutes, hours, months. The passage of time, though condensed into mere seconds, he feels with the same clarity as he would’ve before. Their years of training pass comfortably, with Noctis still poking his head around every once and a while to see Prompto, alone as always, in the training hall.

He looks about nineteen now, stance all the more confident than the first time Noctis had seen him. He watches as Prompto cocks the gun, holding himself firmly. One finger on the trigger and no hesitation. Not even as the recoil kicks back into him.

Prompto notices him again as he picks up the towel to wipe his brow. “Oh, hey Noct,” he says, the slightest bit of cheer in his voice. “Pretty good, aren’t I?”

Initially, Noctis doesn’t reply, only watching intently as Prompto twirls the pistol in one hand, throws it up and catches it in the other.

“Yeah,” he mutters, still in awe. The motions seem to come to Prompto with such familiarity that he might as well be a trained soldier.

Just as Prompto’s about to get up and leave, Noctis latches onto the edge of his jacket.

“Actually, before you go,” Noctis says. “Cor, he’s asked if you wanna tag along for some field mission tomorrow.”

If Prompto’s trying to hide his excitement, he does a poor job. Noctis watches as Prompto bears an excited smile.

“Hell yeah, I’m in,” Prompto says. “Whatever it is we’re fighting, we’ll show ‘em who’s boss.”


|||


He doesn’t quite remember the desert outside of Insomnia burning this bad. In a way, he enjoys it, despite the bulk of his sweat making the thick black leather, gaudy and garish as it is, stick to his skin. Gross, sure, but he enjoys it for the reminiscence.

They’d been given the mission, a simple hunt. He should feel at least the slightest bit insulted, the young prince sent to do the Crown’s cheap work, but he’ll accept it if it means being taken back to simpler times.

Three ravenous coeurls. Daemon infested. Easy.

He watches as the Engine Blade materializes in his hand, a little bit slower than he’s used to. This whole time, he hasn't been in control of himself, but now more than ever, he feels the disconnect between his active mind and unconscious body.

Maybe it's taken a toll on him. He does feel noticeably sluggish, even though logically he should've been training only hours ago.

Instinctively, he lunges for one of the nearby coeurls. Blade firmly in his grip, he thrusts it forward and warps behind it. He takes back the blade, once again his hands gripped tight the the hilt, and makes a wide swing for the coeurl’s backside.

Noctis coughs. Blood. He twists around to see the blood spill from behind him and a sharp pain spreads out from across his back. Temporarily, he loses his footing, about the plug towards the ground, until he catches himself with one foot forward.

“Watch out, Noct!” he hears as a bullet pierces into a rogue coeurl.

He turns to see Prompto stumble towards him, slowly gaining his footing and coming to halt pressed up against Noctis’s back.

Just behind him, the second coeurl falls to the ground, wincing in pain and bleeding out from the neck where Prompto’s bullet had hit it. He must not have heard it.

“Don’t worry,” Prompto says with a smirk. “I got your back.”

“As if I had any doubt,” Noctis says.

 

vi.

Among his torrent of memories, there are a few visions Noctis sees that never happened at all.

Bright lights fill the hall. The sudden burst of noise as he comes to consciousness in the Citadel catches Noctis by surprise. The chatter of people melts into the music, until the chatter itself feels like an accompanying beat.

Finally, it seems like he's regained control of himself and his body. Still, he feels lighter than usual. Well enough, he understands that this is temporary.

Temporary is temporary. But he still let's himself find enjoyment in the moment.

He's wearing a black suit, some elements of the traditional, royal wedding garb and some modernized to fit the setting. He sees Gladio and Ignis off to the side, both sipping from wine glasses and clinging into each other with warmth and affection in their eyes. It makes him feel more at home, and definitely at ease.

He tries to scan the room for Prompto. Though he sees crowded towards the back of the hall, it doesn’t take long for Prompto to notice him. Noctis sees Prompto approach, and as he finally gets closer, he draws Noctis in for a hug, planting small kisses along his cheeks and forehead. Just as Prompto brings his hands forward to cup his face, Noctis briefly sees the flash of a silver ring on Prompto’s hand.

He gazes down at his own hand. A matching ring.

As ostentatious as this all is, he never needed a fancy wedding. He just needed something .

It’d be really nice to stay this way. The familiar warm and affection from those close to him. Maybe in another time, another life, another universe? Somewhere, and he hopes that somewhere isn't too far off from where he is now.

He wonders if the Astrals still have any kindness left to give him.

 

vii.

He has one night left before he leaves Insomnia.

When he steps up to see his father, knowingly that this is inevitable and that it will be his last goodbye, how will Noctis bare to look at him. He wishes that he could look into his father’s eyes with conviction, though even back then, Noctis didn’t have the strength to do it.

One last night, he lets Prompto stay in his room before their departure. It feels more like their room now, as though the imprint Prompto had made on his heart wasn’t enough already.

Prompto lays on the bed, arms and legs outstretched and his shirt riding up ever-so-slightly that it reveals his stomach. His face is illuminated by a slight purple glow from the television screen, the jingle from a video game they’d forgotten to turn off plays over and over again.

“One more day and we’re out of Insomnia,” Prompto says. “You usually travel far from the Crown City? I mean, I know we’ve trained outside of Insomnia a few times but, this seems like a whole different ballpark.”

To that remark, Noctis’s throat starts to dry up. “I mean, I’ve been to Tenebrae before but that was for diplomatic stuff,” he says. “A road trip for once doesn’t sound half-bad.”

He really doesn’t want his eyes swelling up, not here, not now. Prompto, meanwhile, doesn’t notice. He’s more engulfed in his own tiredness, ready to fall asleep at any second.

The last thing Noctis remembers is closing his eyes. He doesn’t know what morning will bring. There remains little choice for the man that tries to challenge his fate. Or for the man that’s already seen his destiny to the end.

But regardless of what Noctis wants, morning will come anyways. And when it does, he has no choice but to move forward.


viii.

He inhales sharply, feeling the familiar motion and weight of his body returning to him. And then, like boulder had been smashed into his chest, he falls to the ground and swears that he hears one of his ribs crack on impact.

Running his finger over his body, he doesn't detect any wounds too grave and nothing actively bleeding. However, in the place of his naval, Noctis notices what appears to be a large gash that's just begun to heal over. A giant scar that ripples out like crackling lightning from his stomach.

Slowly, he gets up. This is the rubble of Insomnia from inside of the Citadel, just as Noctis remembers it. Expect this time, there is no chaos, no fight. Only the gentle comfort of silence that guides him through.

It's odd seeing the entire containment of his childhood, arguably his whole life, reduced to mere ash. Scattered about on the floor just as Noctis had once been.

For now, it seems he's been pieced back together. The real thing? The memories of their former king? He feels real, he feels alive and he hopes that that's enough to make it so.

The feeling of air flooding into his lungs is, at the very least, a simple comfort. He makes way for the entrance, easy to see as small bit of sunlight poor in through the cracks in the roof and on the walls. Luckily, he doesn’t find the door obscured by rubble or dirt. It’s been mostly cleared off.

As he opens the door, the warmth of the sunlight hits his skin. It's been a long time. He closes his eyes, it almost hurts to look at.

But it feels nice.

Not too distant, he sees a familiar head of blond hair, same gorgeous muscles from the back that stretch and flex as he lifts some rubble to make way. His fringe is pulled back with a recognizable black bandana and he still dons the garb of the Kingsglaive.

Prompto turns around, nearly dropping the heavy rubble in his hands out of shock, only to quickly regain himself. Instead, he doesn’t cry. Prompto smiles. Warmly, with a different kind of warmth from the sun, though a warmth that Noctis missed all the same. It seems that he too was waiting for a while.

“Hey,” Prompto says, extending out one hand. “Welcome back.”

With that, Noctis takes Prompto’s hand into his.