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Anyone with doubts about Noctis’s ability to take charge of a situation simply didn’t know him very well. Or at least, they lacked a certain intimacy with him, an intimacy that Gladiolus Amicitia had long grown to appreciate, and even crave. As sworn Shield to the future King, he was ever at Noct’s whim, and it was where he belonged.  Of all the birthrights he could have borne, Gladio was proud to say that this was his, and his alone.

He knelt in the Prince’s chambers, bare knees aching where they pressed against the cold marble floor. He’d been here for hours, and could well be for hours more. He kept his wrists folded across each other behind his back, head bowed, eyes open, alert. He could, if he wanted, rest back on his toes, which took the edge off, spread the pain a little thinner. It wasn’t against the rules, unlike allowing his calves to bear the weight; if Noctis found him resting on his legs like that, there would be trouble. So he knelt, obedient, and waited for his Prince to return from his evening meal with the King.

In the beginning, he had been confused when Noctis ordered him to remain behind when he went for these meals. The Shield should, Gladio believed, be at the Prince’s side always, to protect him from harm. Noctis corrected him on that. The Shield should be wherever the Prince told him to be.

‘You will wait for me,’ said Noctis, eyes bright and voice hard, ‘and you won’t move from here until I return.’

So Gladio had obeyed, and he had waited.

He was well practiced now. He knew how to still himself, how to keep his breathing even and slow. How to not even flinch at the crack of a whip, or the tell-tale clank of chains. Discipline was Gladio’s forte, after all.

The door behind him opened, but it was not Noctis who entered. The footsteps were different, and Gladio recognised them – Ignis, no doubt dropping off some important documents for the Prince’s perusal. Ignis walked straight past him, not acknowledging Gladio’s presence in the way of greeting, or even looking at him. Gladio wasn’t sure if he was embarrassed, or acting under orders from Noctis not to break Gladio’s concentration. Both options melted away beneath Ignis’s finger tips as he trailed a gloved hand along Gladio’s bent back on his return journey. The contact was fleeting, and it made the hairs on Gladio’s neck stand on end, but then it was gone, and so was Ignis.

Gladio steadied himself, breathing heavily through his nose, thrown off kilter. What was Ignis playing at? Perhaps he was deliberately trying to rattle Gladio, knowing that it would bring Noctis down on him all the harder. It took all of Gladio’s efforts to get himself back into his placid, tranquil state in time for Noctis’s return. He tried not to tense in anticipation as the chamber door opened and the Prince stepped inside, the familiar sound of his boots treading across the floor toward his pliant, obedient servant.

Noctis cupped Gladio’s chin in his hand, tilting his head up so that Gladio could look upon him. He was smiling, but it wasn’t warm. His lips were a thin line, his eyes unreadable. Then he bent down and kissed Gladio, hard and demanding. Gladio met the kiss eagerly, which made Noctis chuckle. He tucked a stray stand of hair behind the kneeling man’s ear, stroking his head thoughtfully. Gladio waited to see what his Prince would ask of him.

Gladio would do anything for his Prince.

‘On the bed,’ said Noctis, without pause or preamble. Gladio obeyed at once, despite the screams of protest from his knees as he stood.

Noctis’s bed was, like everything else in the Citadel, an ostentatious affair. A grand four-poster with heavy black drapes, the blankets were blissfully soft beneath Gladio’s knees compared to the floor. He didn’t relax, however, instead resuming the position he had been in before, waiting for Noctis’s further instruction.

The bonds Noctis chose this evening were soft silk scarves that he wrapped around Gladio’s wrists in an elegant knot, before securing them to opposing bedposts. Gladio’s arms were stretched across the full width of the bed, the muscles in his shoulders and back stark beneath the dark ink of his tattoo. Noctis expressed his appreciation with a gentle drifting of the fingers across that great expanse, much as Ignis had done earlier.

Gladio was summoning all of his will not to let this brief contact immediately go to his cock, which all evening had hung free between his legs, and now was being tempted to hardness by the miserly ministrations of his Prince.

‘Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,’ said Noctis, sounding amused at Gladio’s premature excitement, ‘you’ll need to earn it, first.’

The waiting was the test of Gladio’s worthiness. Now Noctis would lead him to his hard earned reward.

When Noctis had learned of Gladio’s proclivity for pain, it had led to a sleepless night. Sleepless because the possibilities racing through his mind had his heart pounding, and he didn’t know how to explain them to anyone. Having no one to confide in was not a new experience for Noctis, but this was a burgeoning need that he had uncovered, and it had to be addressed. It had been Ignis who, with all of his usual discretion, had advised him on what to do.

‘He already belongs to you,’ Ignis had said, ‘but you need to make him yours.’

Gladio had been more than happy to comply. Noctis had seen it in his eyes, in the way they darted and then widened at his initial proposal. In the way his normally stoic Shield had worried at his lip with his teeth, unable to believe that Noctis would suggest this in earnest, expecting some sort of joke or prank. Noctis had swiftly demonstrated otherwise.

This was a bond unbreakable.

On the bed, Gladio’s anticipation was building. It wouldn’t be long, now, before Noctis lay bare his wrath over Gladio’s skin. With every second that passed, the tension built. Gladio found his mouth was dry. He strained to hear what Noctis was doing – which cupboard did he open? Would he test a crop against his gloved hand, or would he draw a whip and crack it against the air?

A warm hand pressed to Gladio’s right buttock, squeezing, hard. ‘Dinner was boring,’ he said in a low whisper, ‘and I missed you.’ A kiss replaced the hand a moment later, and then pain blossomed in its stead.

Gladio gave a soft cry as the leather of the crop smacked against him; Noctis hadn’t hit hard enough to raise a welt but it was a glorious, warming sensation that spread over his skin like fire. Noctis brought the crop down again on the other side to match, eyes lazily drinking in the sight of Gladio’s patience unfurling as wanting gasps. He considered for a few moments, before returning to his cupboard, and bringing back a small black device; a gag formed of a rounded mechanism that, when rotated, allowed the wearer’s mouth to be either levered open or clamped shut.

Noctis got on the bed in front of Gladio and, holding his gaze the entire time, pressed thumb and forefinger to Gladio’s mouth, opening his lips – not that Gladio resisted, eagerly accepting the gag between his teeth. With almost reverent care, Noctis fastened the gag in place, making sure not to leave Gladio’s hair awkwardly tufted or snagged underneath. He reached over to Gladio’s bound right hand and placed in his grip a small, bright red foam ball – now gagged and unable to speak, Gladio could instead indicate to him to stop immediately by letting go of the ball. Once this was done the tenderness was gone, and Gladio’s mouth was stoppered for the moment, his groans silenced, dying in his throat as Noctis stood back at the bed’s end and resumed applying the crop.

Noctis danced painful strokes across Gladio’s buttocks and thighs in an erratic, unpredictable rhythm that Gladio could not anticipate. Gladio found his eyes closing and eyes rolling back as Noctis began to revisit wounded skin rather than fresh, finally raising thick red lines where the blows fell. Each strike lanced to Gladio’s cock, which was now swollen and heavy between his legs, starting to moisten at the tip with need.

As suddenly as Noctis had begun, he stopped. Gladio’s chest heaved with the heavy breaths he was drawing through his nose; sweat was running down his forehead in beads, his hair damp. It took so little, Noctis had found, to bring his Shield to heel. Robust as he was in battle – fearless, strong and dependable – finding how to bring down the mountain, how to make Gladio crawl at his feet, had been liberating.

Noctis set down the crop and returned to sit on the bed in front of Gladio again, once more cupping his chin and lifting his head so that Gladio was looking into his eyes. Noctis saw longing there, and devotion, and in returned granted a soft kiss to Gladio’s temple, closing his eyes as he did so.

‘Do you love your Prince?’ he whispered, breathing in the smell of Gladio’s hair, of his sweat, his skin, ‘do you?’ he asked again, opening his eyes. Gladio nodded in answer, eyes wide, desperate to speak, and denied.

‘Would you do anything for him?’ Noctis pressed, and again Gladio nodded, more urgent this time. It wasn’t just his duty that spurred him on; he didn’t have to do this for Noct, this was something beyond being the Shield, beyond his calling, but he was here, willing and able to give himself over to the Prince’s whims.

Noctis smiled, and it was a little crooked. ‘Good,’ he said, and he undid his belt, pulling his trousers and boxers down about his thighs to reveal his own erection, the sight of which made Gladio strain forward with desperation. Noctis tutted at his lack of restraint, but was in no mood to delay further; he turned the mechanism on the side of the gag in Gladio’s mouth so that the struts levered his mouth open wide enough to accept Noctis’s cock. Without hesitation, Noctis slid his entire length deep into Gladio’s throat.

Gladio moaned around the Prince, closing his eyes and focusing on relaxing his throat, drawing his tongue up and down the shaft in slow motions as Noctis rocked his hips back and forth. It was a languid movement; Noctis was in no hurry, enjoying instead the sight of Gladio swallowing him down, taking him all the way to the hilt, his nose buried in the tight black curls of Noctis’s pubic hair. Noctis hummed appreciatively, lacing his fingers through Gladio’s hair and tugging at it.

‘You do this so well,’ he murmured, ‘you take such good care of me, Gladio.’

In response, Gladio sucked in his cheeks around Noctis’s cock, intensifying the sensation building there. He watched for Noctis’s reaction, large amber eyes searching his Prince’s face for approval, for acceptance. Noctis smiled down at him, and started to rock his hips harder. Gladio accepted the new rhythm with gusto, offering his mouth entirely for his Prince’s pleasure, and Noctis took him for all he had.

Noctis knew that more than anything, Gladio wanted to taste his Prince’s come – but he wasn’t ready to give Gladio everything he wanted just yet. As his hips began to jerk beyond his control, Noctis untangled his fingers from Gladio’s hair and withdrew from his mouth, stroking himself instead until he came in hot, white bursts across Gladio’s face. Noctis’s come rolled down his brow and cheeks, some dripping across his lips. Gladio’s tongue darted out to lick a drop up, and he took an open-handed slap to the face for his trouble.

‘Not until I say so,’ Noctis hissed, eyes darkening with unbidden fury. Gladio’s cheek was reddening from the strike, come now smeared across his face where Noctis’s hand had fallen, and drool was starting to dribble from his open mouth. ‘Look at you,’ he whispered, ‘you’re an animal. So messy.’ He clicked the mechanism on the gag so Gladio’s mouth was closed once more, his eyes wide and begging forgiveness. He whined, and Noctis shook his head, wiping Gladio’s face clean with a soft towel. The motion was, again, far more tender than what followed. Noctis’s words had adopted a colder edge at Gladio’s disobedience.

‘You need to learn control,’ he said, pulling his trousers back up and rethreading his belt. ‘I need to be able to trust you to do what you’re told.’ He got off the bed, leaving Gladio alone again, the bed growing cold. Gladio cursed his impatience, his hungry for his Prince; it would cost him, and dearly, that tiny slip up. He might not get to come tonight, or for days hence. His own cock was still aching between his legs, ignored and neglected.

Noctis untied the silk knots from the posters of the bed, moving the scarves instead to the wooden supports overhead that held the canopy in place. Gladio was pulled half upright, his shins still flat against the bed but the rest of his body straight, his arms in a crucifix position. The greater pull of the scarves on his wrists meant that he could no longer control the red ball, so Noctis ungagged him, and helped him with a drink of water to ease his throat. Then with surprising ease, Noctis took from his cupboard two dumbbells, affixing one to the end of each silk scarf, securing them in place with metal clamps that provided a grip to the slippery material. Gladio was now being stretched, his arms pulled in either direction, his muscles straining at the awkward position.

‘Pull the dumbbells up,’ Noctis instructed, standing at the end of the bed with his arms folded, ‘and move your wrists down.’

The exertion required was tremendous, with Gladio’s muscles already twitching as he obeyed his instructions, the scarves sliding over the canopy rails, slipping a little as they went. Holding his wrists down by his sides now required every ounce of his concentration, and he couldn’t help but grunt as he worked to keep in place. It hurt, a wash of pain moving through his wrists and up to his shoulders. The veins in his biceps were stark, and he could feel a tic going in his neck.

‘Be strong for your Prince,’ said Noctis, nodding approvingly as Gladio steadied himself and held position. ‘It makes me proud, when you can prove you’re better than that.’ He jerked his head to indicate the position on the bed where Gladio had infracted by licking at Noctis’s come. ‘Don’t disappoint me.’

Where did this man go, Gladio had to wonder, when they stepped outside these four walls? The Noctis before him was calm, collected and completely in control. This was the King in Noctis, the true leader, the man Gladio would follow into the depths of Hell. His faith in Noctis was unwavering, and unconditional.

Noctis left him there for a long time; at least an hour, perhaps more. Where he went, Gladio wasn’t sure, but he wouldn’t have gone further than earshot, so he wasn’t afraid. He knew what he had to do. Upon Noct’s return, after some quiet minutes admiring Gladio’s strength, watching as his arms refused to give out under the strain, he returned to the bed, kneeling up in front of the Shield so that they were eye to eye. Gladio’s breathing was heavy, sucking as much air into his lungs as he could to maintain the height of the weights. Noctis kissed him on the cheeks, and offered him a smile. ‘Do you love me?’

Gladio nodded, a sharp, jerking motion.

‘Say it.’

‘I love you,’ came his deep, gravelly voice.

‘Would you do anything for me?’

‘Yes.’ Gladio answered without hesitation, his voice laden with conviction. ‘Anything.’

Noctis stroked the side of Gladio’s face, fingers gentle, and kissed him. It was a soft, warm kiss, not the harsh demand of a Prince but the affections of a lover. He reached over and undid the scarves from Gladio’s wrists, one after the other, the dumbbells crashing back to the floor. As each one fell, Gladio’s arms slumped to his sides, and he gave a long groan of relief. Noctis pushed him backward to the bedcovers, resuming his kisses, and straddling his hips.

‘You did good,’ he said, deliberately affecting Gladio’s usual compliment whenever Noctis had made progress in the training room, ‘you did very good.’ He finally took Gladio’s cock in his hand, and Gladio made a truly carnal sound at the contact. ‘Despite the slip up.’

‘M’sorry,’ said Gladio, eyes closed, hips bucking up into Noctis’s touch, ‘I just want...’

Noctis tilted his head, waiting for Gladio to finish his sentence.

‘... to please you, your Highness.’

Noctis smiled, and it lit up his face. He leant forward to kiss Gladio as he stroked, and reached to the bedside table to pull a bottle from it.

‘You’ve pleased me well enough tonight. Now let me please you.’

The tenderness with which Noctis made love to Gladio was thrown sharply into contrast with the roughness of their prior session; he poured a liberal coating of lubricant over the Shield’s cock, spreading it thick and warming it with his hand. He shifted upwards and then lowered his thighs around Gladio’s length, closing them together. Gladio moaned at the new pressure around his cock, and bucked his hips between Noctis’s legs; they exchanged hot, wet kisses as Gladio pleasured himself between Noctis’s legs, Noctis whispering him encouragement as he went.

‘You look so good like this, you do. Let yourself go, come for me, come for your Prince, come on your Prince-’

Gladio came with a low, guttural moan, and all those hours of waiting, on the floor, then bearing the weights, all of it was worth it, that Noctis would share these moments with him. The evening had peaked, and Noctis was all over him now, rubbing his sore arms, bringing him a fresh glass of water, stroking his hair out of his eyes.

‘Are you all right?’ he asked, the command in his voice gone, that all-too-familiar uncertainty returning. He was still only a Prince, not yet a King, and it would take him time.

Gladio held his arms open and Noctis went to him gladly, enveloped in his Shield’s arms. ‘More than all right. Are you?’

Noctis nodded, resting against Gladio’s chest, listening to the thrum of his heart, the steady flow of his breathing. He was exhausted now, and would sleep well. Gladio had met every challenge he’d set; Gladio loved him above all others, and would do anything for him. Would amend for any misstep he might make. He was a worthy Shield.