“No, he’s still not talking,” Cor’s frustrated voice jolted Prompto from his sleep. “Yes... yeah I know Clarus but we can’t do shit if he’s not talking.” They were talking about him of course they were . He could only assume they were referring to his eventual questioning and sentencing, can’t interrogate me if I can’t answer .
“Yeah... Tomorrow we’ll take him in, hopefully, she can get some answers.” his heart plummeted to his stomach and suddenly he was anything but tired. Everything was suddenly muffled like they were coming from two doors down. Even Cor’s last command, “...And stop setting a guard by his door, the kids not gonna run or try and hurt anyone... good.”
Torture, interrogation, something bad is happening to me tomorrow . Prompto’s thoughts ran wild, his stomach churning and nausea spreading.
He pretended to be asleep for two hours before Cor finally left with an untouched breakfast. The breakfast was eggs, not necessarily solids, but close.
Not close enough ! His teeth grounded against each other as he tried to focus on his plan, the plan that now has to be ready to go by tonight otherwise he might never see the sunlight again.
Focus ! Just take it step by step. First: provisions and something to hold them in .
He took a pillowcase from one of the many large, fluffy pillows. He grabbed the knife and fork that was placed with his eggs: used the knife to cut another pillowcase into strips and the fork to begin poking holes in the case.
It was difficult, but Prompto has done more with less, just with more time to complete it...
He used the holes in the pillowcase to thread a thin, long strip inside, tying it off to make an over-the-shoulder sack.
Next, he tore some of the coloring pages out, the extra thick paper being bent, pocked, and hastily sown to make pockets.
It was rough, bound to become torn and useless in a couple of days... but it would last.
He hid the bare pillows and anxiously ate his breakfast as he went over the plan again and again.
He heard the clock chime for twelve, Ignis is bound to come with lunch soon .
He stuffed the sack under the blankets and pretended to be asleep, willing Ignis to wait and eventually leave as Cor did.
Ignis did not leave, he instead gently shook Prompto’s shoulder, and even though he was awake, he still jolted at the touch.
“Apologies,” Ignis was quick to bring his hand away. “I know you must be tired but eating is an important part of your recovery, please.” He extended a tray with peas, ground beef, and a flaky biscuit.
Prompto could only eat half until he felt too nauseous to continue.
“Full already?” Ignis questioned when he pushed his lunch away, Prompto gave a small nod. “Odd... you’ve been eating all of your meals the past couple of days... do you feel alright?”
No I feel like my heart is beating fast enough to vibrate and I can’t feel my legs .
Prompto nodded anyway.
“Alright... but please let us know if you feel unwell, your health is our top priority.”
Because you don’t want me dying too soon
Ignis left shortly after, and this time Prompto actually fell asleep waiting for nightfall.
He woke up to an empty room, an orange sky, and dinner.
He forwent the dinner and instead waited for the right time.
Prompto waited on the bed, watching the clock slowly ticks away the hours, his fear and anxiety doing enough to keep him awake without pinching himself.
His breathing was slow, but shallow, never able to get a good breath into his lungs.
The clock turned signaled that it was 2 am, no noise save for his own breathing, he was finally alone.
Prompto wasted no time tiptoeing off the bed, quickly changing into one of the clean pairs he sees Cor take from a drawer when he bathes. He was careful about where he placed the food, their own little pouch so they wouldn’t get crushed and spill. He checked the bag once, twice, and on his third check, he deemed it ready.
Wish I had time to get some credits , he sighed as he slung his bag over his shoulder, but that’ll take too much time, time I don’t have . It was a fool's hope, in Prompto’s mind, to believe they really did care about him. That they just wanted to feed him and clothe him, and not have him interrogated or tortured or killed.
He tiptoed to his glass doors that opened to a balcony, carefully turning the handle and opening so he could step out into the cool air.
He was high, he never realized exactly how high off the ground he was. He was never one for a fear of heights, but being on the ground for so long made him forget just how daunting it was.
Too high , he chewed his bottom lip, I’ll definitely die from this height... maybe I can climb down from the balconies? He tested the stone, it felt sturdy, easily able to hold his weight, but as he looked down again, at the rows upon rows of balconies, he knew his frail body was too weak for such a task.
He closed the doors as silently that he opened them, turning to the door that lead out into the hallway, his only way out. Prompto at first was worried about the guard he vaguely remembered stationed outside, just for him, but then he remembered a conversation Cor had on the phone with someone.
“...And stop setting a guard by his door, the kids not gonna run or try and hurt anyone... good.” Idiots , Prompto felt a small smile grow as he carefully went to the door and twisted the handle, the large wooden door not even creeking as he slipped out into the hallway.
He released a breath he had been holding for the past four hours, as if he was already out of the Citadel gates. He turned to the right, retracing the way Cor would guide his wheelchair towards the elevators and main hallway of the Citadel.
Five doors down... turn left... three doors then another right . He couldn’t stop the smile on his face as he successfully found the elevator and called it, the bright ding and yellow toned lights like a doorway to heaven.
He entered and hit for ground zero, knowing confidentially you did not need a key card for this floor.
He was almost out, his legs were shaking, from excitement or exhaustion he didn’t know which, but he was almost out !
The elevator slowed to a stop only five floors down, too confused to fully understand why until the doors dinged open and revealed the elder Amicitia.
The Kings Shield.
“...Prompto?” The Shield sounded tired, and if Prompto was not shell shocked in complete fear, he would have noticed the worry in his tone. “Is something wrong?” He couldn’t speak, couldn’t move, his body locked up and cold: Move dammit ! The Shield stepped closer, “is that a bag with you? Why don’t we go back up-” Prompto shoved the man aside and ran as fast as he could down the hallway.
Shit I need him to go to bed earlier , Clarus noted in his mind, it was another grueling long night in the Kings study while said King refused to go to bed until all the reports were read and checked through. It was as much for his health as well for Regis, they both couldn’t perform as well as they could with only four hours of sleep, especially at our age .
He grimaced at that thought and lazily hit the button to call the elevator, running a hand down his face and rolling his shoulders.
The sight of a complete terrified Prompto standing stiff before him woke him up real quick.
Looks like an Anak in the headlights , he would have laughed at the boy’s facial expression, if it wasn’t 2 in the morning and the kid had what looked to be a hand-made backpack with him.
“Prompto?” He held out his hand, trying to reassure the boy, who had yet to even blink. Need to get him to calm down... why the hell is he up and walking around? Bad dream? No, he has a bag with him... wait- His thoughts and speech was interrupted by bony hands shoving him back and the blonde sprinting down the hallway.
“Shit,” he tapped his ear piece, quick to give orders. “Low-level lock down! Close the gates and don’t let anyone leave.”
“...My lord?” A guard answered, but he knew the orders were being carried out.
He ran after Prompto, explaining. “A boy, fourteen years of age with blonde hair, thin and carrying a bag, he is in the left tower and heading towards the main gates, do not let him escape.” He stopped suddenly, voice now more a growl. “Under no circumstances are you to harm the boy! Pacify and calm him down, but I don’t want to see one damn scratch on that kid, understood?”
“Yes Sir!” The voices rang out like a symphony, and Clarus began his pursuit again.
He chased him as far as he could, but the kid was too fast, despite him barely on his way to a full recovery.
He stopped to catch his breath, breathing through clenched teeth as he thought of the child getting farther and farther away from him, but then his phone rang...
“Where is he!” Cor’s bellow came before he could even get a word in, he could tell the Marshal was running.
“Last I saw he was on level 5, kids fast, he’ll burn out soon.”
“Fuck!” Cor shouted and the call ended as soon as it began, leaving Clarus alone in silence.
Prompto sprinted down two flights of stairs, he could hear the thundering boots of the Shield after him, and did not stop until he reached the other end of the wing where another set of stairs were and an elevator.
He was ready to descend again when he heard the faint shouts from behind the door, multiple shouts, they’re coming up the stairs .
He called the elevator, smashing the button over and over again, willing it to come faster. It dinged open and he hit the ground level button, then smashed the close door button just as the guards came into view and stared in disbelief.
His legs could barely keep him standing, he knew he had to either get out fast or find a place to hide before they gave out completely. The elevator did not interrupt his journey this time, and nearly sobbed when he saw the panel reach 0, but as the doors opened he was greeted with the sight of three Crownsguards standing at the door, faces undoubtedly turned in venomous rage behind those helmets.
One reached for him slowly, he dived under the arm and ran, another grabbed his shoulder, he twisted out of that and turned away from the main doors where more guards stood. He ran like this throughout the Citadel, slipping and twisting from different grasps and holds, ignoring every “Wait!” and “Stop!” that reached his ears.
Luckily the Citadel was practically a maze in hallways and closets, so after close to five minutes of running and hiding, he heard no footsteps following him. He was tempted to wait in the small closet, to slide down and rest his legs, wait it all out.
But they would check every room in the Citadel, they’d find him, and the room was too small to escape from.
It was too small in general, the walls were closing in, it was dark, too dark-
He flew from the room in a blind panic and clutched his chest, doubled over as he gasped for air.
Get out. Have to. Get out . The order was a loop in his mind, reminding him of his goal as he crept down the large hallway.
He was about to give up and go another way when he saw a door cracked open, and he could feel a breeze come through it. He opened it carefully, checking his surroundings for any guards, only stepping out when he was sure no one was around.
He bet if he had proper time and the right light, the beautiful and large garden would be a complete marvel, a flash of bright colors and chirping birds. But it was the dead of night, only the moon to slightly illuminate his way, and the constant order rattling in his head to prevent this.
Instead, he walked as fast as his legs could handle to the bushes, crawling in the undergrowth and hiding in a small clearing in front of a tree and behind some hedges. Wait here, no one will find you . He hugged his sac in front of him, this time having to nearly draw blood to keep himself awake.
Gladio knew if his father found him up this late he would be in trouble. In ‘run-drills-for-a-month’ type of trouble. After his training with Noct he went to the Citadel library to return a book and check out another, one in a series he’s been meaning to read.
Then another, then another, until he looked up and discovered the library utterly dark save for his little lamp.
He could easily just slip into his room in the Citadel, dad always left too early to tell if I’m actually home . But the problem would be getting to said room, for it was a matter of not running into anyone who will tell his father (which is quite a few, the traitors) and not have his father himself find him.
He’s done it before, but he was much younger, still he knew the right path to take. He quickly and quietly made his way to the gardens, knowing no guards were stationed there this time of night. He was perhaps halfway there when he felt his earpiece vibrate within his pocket, he took it out and placed it in his ear on instinct, his father's commanding voice instantly assaulting his ear.
“-fourteen years of age with blonde hair, thin and carrying a bag, he is in the left tower and heading towards the main gates, do not let him escape.” Gladio didn’t need any more information to know who it was, he ran for the gardens with a new motive.
By the time he reached the gardens, the guards had informed that Prompto had escaped all attempts to hold him and they lost the boy.
Cor’s going to make them run until they puke , Gladio couldn’t help the low chuckle that escaped him, he’s already heard the Marshall bark several orders and unkind words to guards who did not report any good news about the boy.
He was surprised to see no one in the gardens, they knew he was heading for the main gate but did no one think to check anywhere else?
He made his way slowly down the path, earpiece now taken out so he could have the best chance of hearing anything from the kid.
He was almost to the end of the gardens when he heard it, breathing, haggard breathing that could not be kept quiet. He turned and knew instantly where Prompto was, crouching between the two shrubs at the right angle to find the blond sitting up against an oak tree, clutching a sac like a lifeline.
The kid whimpered when Gladio’s face came into view, and Gladio softened his features into a warm smile he often held only for his sister.
“Mind if I hide with you?” He asked in the softest tone possible, “if dad finds out I’m out here this late I’ll be doing pushups for two days straight.” The joke didn’t seem to phase the kid, but the soft tone did, the brows furrowed in confusion, body tight, a chocobo ready to snap it’s beak and bolt.
But then he made the softest shuffle, Gladio knew that was an invitation and began crawling on his hands and knees into one of the many hiding spots he and Noctis used to utilize when playing.
Shit I’m too big for this , Gladio swore as he kept his head lowered and back hunched in the small space, careful to sit as far from Prompto as he could.
The kid was still staring at him, almost like he was ready for Gladio to summon his sword and slice him in half, but instead he pulled out his phone and gave a side smile. “Gonna put this on silent so it won’t rat us out.” He did do that, but not before sending a text to his father.
Gardens. Don’t come.
He knew his dad would understand, and quickly closed his phone and put it away, leaving just the two between a shrub and a hard place.
Prompto didn’t stop staring at him, so Gladio tried to calm him down more. “It’s Prompto right?” The piercing blue eyes darted over his body before giving the smallest nod; well there’s a start .
“I’m Gladio, I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced.” He gave a closed smile and a single wave, not expecting Prompto to return it.
They were silent for a little longer, Gladio thought he could see the faint glow of the sun starting to color the sky.
“Did you make that bag yourself?” He asked, Prompto tightening his grip on instinct, his nod this time was shakier. “It’s well made! You’re good at that sort of stuff, huh?” No reply, Gladio asked another question. “Why did you make it?” Nothing but a pale stare. “Were you going to leave?” The body tightened into itself further, Gladio took it as a yes.
“Can I ask why?” Silence. “Are you scared of us?” He knew that was a yes but there was no reply. “Have family waiting for you?” He knew that was a no and actually got an answer. “Hmm... don’t trust us?”
This caused a sharp inhale, he could see the small chest heaving before a weak voice came out. “M-marshal w-wanted me... take me to-to wo-woman for an-swers.” Gladio was confused for a minute, actually wondering if Cor wanted to question the kid, of course, he didn’t !
Then he remembered Ignis talking about therapists, looking up credentials for multiple ones while waiting for Noct.
Gladio laughed a soft rumble. “Ah shit kid, he’s talking about taking you to see a therapist. Not some sort of interrogation.” Blue eyes squinted in confusion, Gladio sadly understood why. “A therapist is... is a special doctor that you talk to and they help you with things normal doctors can’t.” For the first time, Prompto looked away from him, to the ground with his mouth limply open.
Prompto was confident when the large, muscular, incredibly scary looking younger Amicitia crawled into the space with him he was going to die, he had accepted it. He only hoped he made it quick.
But instead, he sat far away from him, hands in his lap, talking quietly and gently like he too was hiding.
He did say he was , Prompto remembered, the interaction already a fog, but he doubted the Princes Shield was actually hiding from anyone.
Still, Gladio, that’s his name, did not break his smile, did not come closer, or even demand he answer his questions.
Prompto still doesn’t know why he answered the Amicitia about why he was trying to escape, maybe his brain thought Gladio would defend him or something stupid.
But then Gladio explained what a “therapist” was, and why he shouldn’t be scared of them. That he could trust them...
Suddenly he didn’t feel so bad about telling Gladio.
“Kid, did you think the entire time we were waiting to like imprison you or something?” Gladio leaned forward, Prompto could only shrug at the question. “Gods kid... hey, we’d never do that. That thought never even crossed our minds.” Prompto continued to look at an ant crawling along the dirt. “Why would we give you clothes and your own room if we were just going to put you in a cell?” Prompto gave another shrug, still unable to answer the pesky question that’s been on his mind since day one. “Exactly. Makes no sense.” Prompto lifted his head, did he just say they wouldn’t do that ? “I understand why you would think that. Living on your own for so long, you probably had some bad experiences trusting people, huh?” Prompto nodded dumbfounded, “Well you don’t have to worry about that anymore. You can trust us, we all want to see you happy and healthy. We know you might not trust us now, but we’ll work hard to earn it. Okay?” They want to earn my trust? They... they want to see me happy...
Prompto’s mind was going a thousand miles a second, yet it was all fuzz from the exhaustion: a song skipping from a bad disc.
“We’ve been here for a while, and I don’t know about you, but I could fall asleep right now...” Prompto managed to focus on what the Shield was saying. “Can we go back to the Citadel now?” Not ordering, not saying, asking me... Prompto suddenly really wanted to be in that soft bed again, even if they’d imprison him later for attempting to escape.
But they won’t do that... Gladio said they wouldn’t .
“Hey kid,” Prompto jumped at the feeling of a hand on his shoulder, but the feeling was quickly gone, he turned to see Gladio, closer now, with a large hand hovering over his shoulder. “I’m not too comfortable with you walking on your own, you had quite the run I heard... can I carry you back?” Prompto had to nod, he couldn’t even feel his legs, let alone walk on them.
Gladio crawled out first, Prompto following before Gladio gingerly placed two hands on his sides and pulled him the rest of the way out, easily positioning the blond to be cradled against his chest.
Prompto had his ear against the broad chest, listening to the heartbeat thunder.
“Get some rest, kid.” The rumbly voice was muted and Prompto was quick to pass out from exhaustion.