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Hungry

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Little tuft of blonde hair poking out, it was like that sun had graced the little baby with one of its flares. The baby was staring at him, the only one that was awake, it stared at him in confusion, ignoring the tubes in him, the barcode that was placed on his wrist.

Like he was a fucking product . He stood, watching the child, the baby was tilting his head, trying to figure out who he was. I’m your savior He decided in that moment and smashed the control panel, the tube lifting and allowing him to pick up the infant, holding him close.

Alarms blared and He bolted from the lab, rushing past MT units that aimed their guns toward him, strafing and holding the child close to his chest. It was a blurr, getting out of the facility, everything was a blurr save for the cries of the baby that clutched to him. When he finally made it out, he remembered the screams and tried to rock the baby, to sooth the shrieking cries. He rocked the baby and held him close as he began his long walk back to camp, promising the child he would do whatever necessary to protect him .

 

Cor gasped awaked in his dark room, body covered in sweat and heart pounding like he just fought a Behemoth.

I haven’t thought about him in ages , he gulped, hands pulling at his hair. Why now?

He figured Prompto reminded him of the little child he rescued from the Lab all those years ago, the similar hair and eyes making his brain link the two. But he knew he wasn’t that Baby, that baby was adopted by a carefully vetted family, that Baby was safe.

The kid just happened to be a refugee that wasn’t so lucky.

His alarmed sounded beside him, making his day officially starting. He was quick to shut it off and stand, heading to his shower to burn off the sweat that clung to his skin.

He continued his morning routine as normal: showering, shaving, eating, brushing, clothes, go over reports and messages he missed during the night.

Though when he opened his phone, he was greeted with a message from His Majesty himself.

 

Regis : Please go check in on Prompto, stay with him until he wakes up and take him to the doctors, I would rather not have anyone new around him quite yet. Drautos is covering your training today.

 

He made a soft gruff noise, of course, he’d stick me on babysitting duty. Just because all the kids loved him when they were little and made controlling them easy did not mean he could do the same with a fourteen-year-old, homeless child.

Still, he wasn’t one to deny orders from his King, even if said orders make him roll his eyes.

He pocketed his phone and headed towards the guest rooms where the blonde was staying.

~~~

When Prompto first woke up, he thought he had died and gone to heaven. He felt warm, so warm and comfy like he was laying on a cloud surrounded by blankets. His stomach didn’t have the aching pain of starvation, and it was all quiet... no rushing cars and hurrying people.

Then he remembered what he did last night and he wanted nothing more than to escape this all-to-comfortable bed and the Citadel all together.

As fast as his weak body would let him, he flew open his eyes and sat up on the bed, assessing his surroundings quickly and landing on the figure in the chair reading papers.

“Good to see you awake,” the figure spoke, the same one that guided him to this room last night.

The one who gave him soft clothes. The one his not-starved brain can recognize as Cor Leonis.

Prompto said nothing, staring intensely at the Immortal, aware of every move, every breath the man made.

Cor was still, he knew how a person on edge was, how they were on the line that kicked in their fight-or-flight response.

Prompto, he noted, was a person who always seemed on edge, ready to bolt in a second.

He telegraphed his movements slowly: closing the folder and setting it on the table in front of him, hands landing on his lap and body in a relaxed position.

“You don’t need to be afraid,” Cor tried his best to sooth the jumpy blonde. “I’m not going to hurt you.” He received no response, not even a twitch in the eyes, it was honestly unsettling how still the kid was being.

Slowly he stood, eyes never leaving the teen who instantly tensed and gripped the covers tight, ready to flee. Cor only lifted his hands and tried again for a response. “I know you don’t trust me and I don’t blame you. Anyone who’s been through only an inch of what you’ve survived would feel the same. But I need you to know that no one in this Citadel will harm you in any way. We are here to help you.” He saw the pale, thin hands slowly relax on the black comforter, Cor let a hint of a smile escape. “How about I go get you some soup, would that be alright?”

He got a single, jerky nod in response, but he would take it.

Cor left to gather the soup, leaving Prompto alone in the bedroom, allowing him to actually take in the large room.

It was big, at least in Prompto’s mind, he was sure the Prince’s bathroom was bigger than this. A large window was partially covered in black curtains, allowing morning sunlight to peer through the cracks and spread beams of light across the room.

He turned to the nightstand, a beautiful wooden nightstand that had an electronic clock that read ‘8:34 am’. He marveled at the time, at how long he managed to stay asleep.

When was the last time I’ve slept for an entire night?

That was when Cor re-entered the room, holding a long cylindrical cup. Prompto believes they’re called ‘thermoose’ or something like that, he’s seen adverts for them.

Cor extended the cup out to him, “Drink slow, like before, okay?” Prompto was, yet again, shocked beyond words when he realized the thermoose was meant for him !

He knew they were really nice, that they keep things really warm, and all that soup was meant for him to drink. He couldn’t possibly take this, they’ve already done too much, what if this was some kind of trap?

The sideways look he gave the Immortal, studying him, was enough for Cor to get the question.

Cor shrugged, brows furrowing. “I already ate, kid. C’mon, it’s good I promise.” He brought the cup closer, Prompto could feel the heat coming out from the top, could smell the rich flavors inside.

He grabbed it with two, shaky hands, carefully brining the cup to his lips and drinking. He couldn’t fight back the moan quick enough, the pure bliss of the soup was too much.

He remembered to go slow this time, taking small sips and waiting, allowing them to settle before drinking more.

Cor sat in the armchair again, reading his papers, but occasionally throwing a glance towards the blond who looked too small in that bed, too frail.

His phone buzzed with a text, no doubt Clarus responding to his earlier message that Prompto was awake.

 

Clarus: I’ll inform Doctor Rilee, she wants to see him as soon as possible considering what poor health he’s likely in. See if you can bring him by today for a checkup.

 

Cor typed out a quick reply before placing his phone in his pocket again, waiting until Prompto had finished with his soup before he would even bring up the topic.

Prompto marveled at how the cup remained so cool while the soup was still very warm. Maybe they’ll let me take it with me . It was a foolish thought, but one could dream.

When he felt the heaviness of his stomach again, signaling that he was full, he carefully put the thermoose on the nightstand.

There was silence for a few minutes before Cor spoke up. “So kid... do you mind if I call you ‘kid’?” The teen gave him a strange look with knitted eyebrows, guess not .

“Anyway... I was hoping I could ask you some more questions. If you don’t want to speak that’s fine, just some ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions?”

Probably wanting to see how much food I stole from them , Prompto thought grimly, but nodded all the same, he didn’t think his decline would mean much anyway.

The Immortal straightened a little, hands still resting on his lap. “Good, if you want me to stop you just hold up your hand, okay?”

“Let’s see... do you know who I am?”

A jerky nod.

“Did you know who the man next to you was last night?”

A short pause, eyes narrowing in concentration, before a slow shake of his head.

“That’s okay, his name is Ignis Scientia. He’s Prince Noctis’ advisor, meaning that he handles things that the Prince sometimes can’t do and helps him make decisions on a multitude of things. He’s also the one who made that soup for you.” At this Prompto blinked and shot a quick look to the thermoose still resting at the nightstand, Cor could see the blue eyes express total amazement as clear as day.

He couldn’t help that little laugh, “Yeah he’s a pretty damn good cook. I have a feeling you’ll be eating much more of his cooking later on, once you can eat solids again.” Prompto’s shoulders hunched, hand absently picking at the band around his wrist.

“Speaking of which,” almost violet eyes stared at him. “Prompto, would you be alright if we took you to see one of the doctors here? She’s a very nice lady and has helped Prince Noctis multiple times with his injuries and sickness. We want to make sure you’re not in any serious danger health-wise so that you have the best chance to fully recover.”

Prompto didn’t respond, he didn’t think he was capable of, only staring at The Immortal with wide, disbelieving eyes.

Doctor? They want to take me to a doctor? So I can recover? He understood each word separately, but together it was almost like a foreign language to him. Recovering would mean staying for a long period of time, seeing the doctor more than once, meaning he would be living in the Citadel for who-knows-how-long!

He tried to find some sort of trap involved, maybe they would lock him in the prisons while he was “recovering-”

But that wouldn’t be the worst thing to happen .

After what Cor thought was hours of silence, Prompto gave one curt nod.

Cor allowed himself a small smile, to calm the kid of course, “That’s great, Prompto. Do you think you’ll be able to walk there? If not we have a wheelchair ready for you.” The blonde blinked, looking down at his legs currently covered by the heavy duvet, only his drawn brown revealing his deep thought.

Prompto was quick, in Cor’s mind, to swing his legs over the bed and stand. But his legs giving out and sending him to the ground was quicker.

He managed to brace his hands on the bed, clinging to the sheets as he struggled to gain control of his dead legs.

Cor wasted no time bringing over the wheelchair and putting his hands under the boys arms, easily maneuvering him to the chair.

However, Prompto did not relax once seated, he seemed to gain more frantic. He gripped the arms of the chair, staring at Cor with such fear and uncertainty, Cor’s never even seen his enemies have a look of such fear before.

“Hey kid, it’s okay.” Cor knelt before him, but careful to keep his distance, “This is just so that we get to the medical wing nice and easy, okay? You’re legs aren’t exactly in the best shape to be walking that long so the wheelchair will just do the walking for you, okay?” Only when the fear finally subsided and he saw the bony shoulders collapse from tension, did Cor begin wheeling Prompto towards the medical wing; the homeless boy drifting to and from consciousness.

~~~

Prompto jerked awake when he heard people, lots of people talking all around him. He scrubbed his eyes awake and swallowed thickly when he saw he was sitting in a very clean, white room.

How could I fall asleep ! Gods I’m such an idiot ! His chastising of himself did not last long, for soon he heard his name being said by Cor the Immortal who was talking to a woman in white.

Prompto saw the people in pristine white coats, staring at him with questioning eyes as he sat practically tied to the chair.

Too many strangers, too close, they’re all looking at me, can’t trust anyone . His thoughts were running rampant as his body sat still and stiffed, his only solace being Cor the Immortal to his right: arms crossed and staring at the white-coats just as much as they stared at him.

Cor was quick to notice how tensed Prompto had gotten once they got to the waiting area, how his bulging eyes darted from person to person, as if waiting for one to suddenly attack.

“Don’t like doctors, huh?” Cor questioned, hoping to get an explanation as to the fear.

Prompto shrugged, but gave nothing more.

Shortly after Doctor Rilee appeared in her bobbed cut, brown hair and round face.

“Marshal, right this way.” She motioned towards the two and began leading them down the lengthy hallway, her smile never fading even when not facing the two.

They entered one of the larger rooms, one typically used if those close to the Royal Family needed attention, it was large and secured, Cor released a small breathe.

“So you’re Prompto, right?” Rilee questioned, kneeling before the blonde who seemed to try and move away from her with just his head. He gave a shallow nod, Rilee still smiled and continued despite his blatant fear. “Don’t you worry sweetie, nothing bad is going to happen here. I’m just going to do a few tests to see where you are at health wise, then we’ll be able to get a plan going on how you can be healthy again. Okay?” Another shallow nod, but Cor had a feeling Prompto was not actually fully on board with the idea.

A male nurse entered with a tray of equipment, and he too, bore a wide smile.

“Hi there,” He began. “I’m nurse Jone, I’m going to help out Doctor Rilee, is that alright?” Another fake nod.

So the appointment began, Cor having to help Prompto stand for his height, weight, and spinal check (Nurse Jone had tried, but Prompto quickly began to panic at the stranger who touched him).

After they got all the tests they needed with him standing, Cor was quick to help him into the hospital bed, noting how his eyes already drooped with exhaustion.

After the blood pressure and heart rate tests did he get a message about reports needing to be looked at.

He was very tempted to ignore it, he’s done it plenty times before, but he knew these were not the type of reports he could really push off.

Besides the kid is doing fine, he’ll probably pass out right when they’re done .

“Okay kid, I’m going to have to leave you for a little bit. Don’t worry, the doctors will look after you.” Prompto said nothing, he didn’t expect him to; but pleading look in those violet eyes hesitate the Marshal.

Prompto watched Cor the Immortal leave, his heart plummeting with him and left him with nothing but dread. He shouldn’t feel this way, he knows better than to place trust in someone so quickly, but he can’t help but match those blue eyes with safety. To know that if he’s in the room, he won’t get hurt.

Now he was alone with people in white coats and cold hands. The woman is walking towards him, he’s forgotten her name, only focusing on the odd, metal tool in her hand. Now she’s on his side, he can’t see her, and the man wants him to face forward, to not look at her as she begins to tug on his ear. He feels something enter, something that’s not supposed to be there!

Cor the Immortal isn’t here to protect him, so he has to protect himself.

~~~

Cor, meanwhile, was trying to focus on the recruit reports in his hand, reminding himself that Prompto would be fine, he was just nervous to be left with strangers in an odd place.

Should I have stayed ?

He’s only able to get through two files before his phone rings, the Caller I.D. showing the citadel medical wing.

“Cor Leonis speaking,” he answers, phone pressed between his shoulder and ear.

“Marshal,” it’s Doctor Rilee, Cor hears the worry in her voice. “We might need you with young Prompto-”

He’s already out of his office, “What happened?”

“I...I don’t know. I tried to examine his ears when he began screaming and struggling, he almost broke Nurse Jone’s nose. We had to sedate him before he could injure himself or others.”

“I’ll be there in ten.” Cor answers before ending the call and mashing the elevator button.

He entered the lobby seven minutes later, Doctor Rilee was already waiting for him. She began leading him towards the room, speaking along the way.

“There was nothing wrong with his ears, so I can only guess his fight-or-flight response kicked in when you left. We did some other exames when he was under the sedative.”

“And?”

“Well, it’s nothing really exciting considering his background. Malnourished, underweight, cavities, whole nine yards.”

“Will he recover?”

“With proper care and a steady nutrition plan, Lord Scientia has already prepared a plan for him I believe.”

“Heh, wouldn’t be surprised.”

They reached the room, door closed and blind drawn. “He’s going to be a bit out of it, I’ll let you calm him for a little bit before I come in for some blood work.” Cor nodded and opened the door.

The kid was out of it, he could almost laugh at the bleary eyes and lilting head that bobbed too and fro if it wasn’t for the situation.

“Hey kid,” Cor called out softly, the eyes snapping towards him, the rest of his body neary following. Cor sat in the chair next to the bed, taking Prompto’s left, bony hand in his own, shivering at how deathly cold his skin was. Still, he put on a small smirk, “Heard you have a little panic when I left.” Prompto seemed to be understanding to, or at least trying to, eyes locked onto his own while his head seemed to move on its own.

Then the eyes looked down and caught the needle in his arm, filling him with fluids and much needed nutrition, but the free limb still tried to reach it, to pull it away from him.

Cor easily stopped the lethargic hand, holding both now while the kid squirmed and whined, tears lining his eyes, shit this is sad . “Woah kid, it’s okay. There’s not need to be upset, this needle is giving you nutrition see,” He guided he heavy head towards the half filled bag. “This stuff is going to help your body heal up and feel normal again, so we need to keep that there okay?” A heavy nod, then the eyes were back on him, studying him with toddler-like intensity.

He heard the door quietly opening and hurrying steps of Doctor Rilee and Nurse Jone, he spared them a glance to see them with the proper equipment, awaiting his good-to-go order.

He gave a single nod and turned back to Prompto, who finally seemed to realize something was going on. “Okay Prompto, Doctor Rilee here is going to need your right arm for a second, okay?” The blond head shook violently as he practically threw himself to Cor. The Marshal easily righted him again and brought his right arm to the Nurse, who held it steady and firm.

More whimpers sounded, garbled words that Cor couldn’t make out and frankly did not want to. “Hey kid, look at me.” That got the kids attention again, violet eyes locking with his baby blues, staring at him desperately, hopefully. Cor only sighed, stroking the kids hand; what could I even say ? He knows he’s never been one for comfort, one who has an available shoulder to cry on. He used to soldiers, barking orders, and yes he has dealt with those soldiers with PTSD and has gotten them out of episodes, but that’s vastly different from this kid’s situation.

Right ?

He didn’t notice Doctor Rilee and Nurse Jone finishing up taking the blood, leaving as quickly as they entered to only leave him and a very tired Prompto who still stared intently at him.

“Ah,” he cleared his throat, pating the hand. “You did good kid, get your rest now.” The kid was out in a minute.

~~~

Clarus entered the room several minutes later, Cor still in his chair, trying to look at reports from his phone.

“Here,” Clarus extended his hand, revealing Cor’s tablet and lunch.

Cor snorted and took it, leave it to him to still mother me . “Thanks, how’d you know I was here?”

The Shield sat in the chair on the other side of the bed, leaned back and resting one foot over his leg. “Doc told me about the little panic attack he had and how she first sent for you to calm him down, which seemed to work quite well.” He glanced to the sleeping forum, mouth quirking a smile at the complete passed outlook he wore.

“Yeah well, I don’t think it really had anything to do with me, probably just wanted someone other than odd people with needles and lights.”

“I wouldn’t be too sure about that,” Clarus gave him a pointed look. “It is very likely he has... imprinted on you in a way.”

Cor thought he couldn’t roll his eyes any more obnoxiously. “He’s not a chocobo, Clar. Stop trying to think I’m just ‘naturally good’ with kids, because I’m not.”

“Yet he would only be calm with you around, allowed you to touch him and move him places-” Cor tried to speak again but Clarus held up a firm hand. “I’ve done my research, asked some therapists about the situation, it’s quite common for a kid like him, who’s been living in the streets for Gods knows how long, to have major trust issues. You saw how he was last night, didn’t let anyone near him, practically jumped out of his skin when Ignis even touched him. I’m not saying he’s immediately trusted you, he probably doesn’t, but he has associated you and probably everyone in the room that night, to safety. We were the ones who did not harm him, who gave him food and water and even a place to sleep and bathe. His subconscious has immediately latched onto you, and possibly us, as people who can take care of him. He might not want it, might not trust us in the slightest, but his underdeveloped brain that was never able to fully grow up to independence is searching for those parental figures.”

It made sense, complete logical sense about the whole situation, Cor hated that it did. He stared at the kid for a while, still staring when he sighed. “Guess that means he’s stuck with me, huh?”

He could hear Clarus trying to hide his laughter, “Don’t worry. Reggie and I can babysit on weekends.”

“Have we searched in the system for him,” he snapped up to Clarus, a thought forming. “If we can find him in the system, foster or adoptive, then maybe we can find his parents; see if they’re even still alive.”

“I’ve already looked.” Clarus brought his tablet over to Cor, showing the documents. “No Prompto in any missing person report, dating back fourteen years. There’s a Prompto in foster care but he’s six, ran his facial recognition to see if there were criminal records or anything Cor, but nothing. It’s like... like he’s a ghost or something.”

“Even ghosts have death certificates,” Cor mumbled.

Clarus ran a hand down his face, the exhaustion showing. “Have you gotten the last name from him?”

“He won’t even speak,” Cor handed the tablet back. “Refuses to, only able to get ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions from him.”

That took Clarus back, “but he spoke last night?”

“Yeah, but that might have been the desperation and starvation talking, not necessarily the kid. Either way, he’s not speaking now.”

The two fell into silence, listening to the heart monitor beep and the distant voices and calls within the medical wing. Finally, Clarus rose and made his way to the door, stopping to place a comforting hand on his friend’s shoulder.

“We’ll find a home for him Cor, don’t worry.” The Marshal bit back a sigh, “Eat your lunch, don’t make me come back here and force it into you.” That received another eye roll but he relented and opened the paper sack of no doubt a BLT with mustard and a side of buttered corn, his favorite.

Chapter Text

After his (rather good) lunch, Doctor Rilee came back to do a check-up, Cor took the chance to ask a question.

“Have you checked that right wrist? He wouldn’t even let me touch it last night.”

“Hm, I did,” Rilee commented. “I felt nothing swollen or broken, it looks normal.”

“So why did you keep the cloth on?”

“I figured it had special value to him. Didn’t want to take something away that could be important.” The Marshal left it there, though unfulfilled. Cor waited to see if Prompto would wake up again that day. However, when the young blond slept like the dead, he left to finally do some proper work.

The rest of the day was as normal as it could be, trained the afternoon Crownsguard, viewed some possible candidates for next year’s guards, beat Gladiolus (again) in a sparring match.

He asked about the kid before they began, worry written all over his face.

“He’s getting better, but it’ll be awhile.” Is all Cor said of the matter, Gladio did not ask for any more details.

Then the night was wounding down to a close, he was beginning to think about dinner when he remembered it was Saturday, the weekly meeting with Regis and Clarus.

He diverted to the King’s personal study, where the two waited for him with a fresh dinner and three glasses of whiskey.

The “meeting” was more of downtime for the three. Yes, they would talk about matters that needed discussing, but for the most part, it was an excuse for the three to enjoy a drink together without the trouble of children or other nobles around.

This night, however, was the more serious of the ones they’ve had lately, and it all centered around the young, homeless, boy.

“Still haven’t found anything?” Cor turned to Clarus as he poured himself another round.

The Shield sighed with the weight of failure behind it. “No, you?”

“Nothing, the wrist with the cloth on it isn’t broken according to the Doctor, but last night he refused to let me see it. We think the cloth might be special to him or something...” He trailed off, lost in thought, and the room was oddly quiet, a sudden tension in the air that Cor hadn’t felt until now.

“His right wrist...?” Regis spoke, “Cor... that baby you rescued from Niflheim from what? Fourteen, fifteen years ago?”

Cor shrugged, “Yeah what about him?” This is getting completely off topic .

“Well he had a barcode tattooed on his right wrist-” The very mention of that barcode sent a visceral growl through Cor, he could still see the black ink branded on the infant and every other clone in that laboratory.

“Yeah like he was a fucking product... wait, what's the point of this?”

The other two were quiet for a while, it was Clarus who finally cleared his throat. “Well..... I mean... it’s just... it’s possible that-” Cor did not give him a chance to finish that sentence.

“No. That kid is living with the Argentums, I haven’t received any word from them, no call about him missing or whatever, that kid is a safe, normal kid.” He promised to respect the Argentums privacy but told them explicitly to inform him personally if something was wrong. I haven’t gotten anything for ten years, that baby is normal, happy. He remembered the screening of the families, making sure they were just perfect for the babe.

Regis interjected before Cor could go deeper in these thoughts. “Right... of course. So maybe Prompto is also from Niflheim? You said they were all clones.”

The question made him take another swig of whiskey, the burn in this throat almost numb now. “Yeah maybe... but then how would he have gotten here if I didn’t rescue him?” None had an answer for that, the King and Shield giving each other looks,  however, and Cor caught onto them.

Do they not trust me? I promised to keep that child safe with my life, if something was wrong I would know about it!

But the two quickly changed the subject and Cor felt slightly relieved to be ridden of those horrid thoughts of Gralea.

 

Prompto woke up to natural light, the sun shining brightly into his window, it was still the afternoon. How long did I sleep for ?

He turned his head, ready to see The Marshal staring at him threateningly, or on his phone, or... whatever it is that the Marshal does when waiting for a prisoner to wake up.

However, all he saw was an empty seat with no reminisces to anyone ever in his room. He’s alone, he’s finally alone in the Citadel, not having his hairs stand on end due to eyes bearing into his soul. He took the brief respite to finally go over everything that’s happened in the last... 36 hours? I don’t even know what day it is ...

He does know what lead him to sit in this hospital bed; however, with needles stuck in his arm why are there needles?!

He knows he snuck into the Citadel kitchens and tried to steal some food and ended up being carted up to where the King himself was eating dinner with his family and friends. He knows he was discovered after his stomach growled louder than a behemoth and he tried to escape, only to end up backed into a corner.

He knows no one actually... touched him. No one shouted at him or restrained him... the guards did nothing as he limped to the empty seat where soup was waiting.

He remembers the soup, Gods that soup was something the Astrals themselves made just for him. He remembers eating too fast, a hand on his shoulder, the panic and fear that took hold of him.

Then he remembers soft words, more food, and water for him, a criminal... he remembers answering questions... taking a shower... sleeping in that fluffy bed and not some cell-

“Oh! You’re awake.” A mirthful voice broke him from his thoughts and he jumped, a scream trapped in his dry throat. The owner of the voice was the doctor, what was her name ? Her joyful eyes immediately softened into something like guilt.  “Oh I’m sorry sweetie, didn’t mean to interrupt your thoughts and scare you like that. I was just coming to check on your vitals, how are you feeling?” Question, right, have to answer.

Prompto gave a weak shrug, but the Doctor did not falter in her mood. “Probably groggy, huh? I’d expect as much, you were asleep for almost a whole day!”

I’ve been asleep for a day , the words rattled inside his empty head, his jaw hanging loose in pure disbelief.

“Don’t worry, your body really needed that long rest.” Doctor Rilee scribbled something on her clipboard as she viewed the monitor, her brow tight. “Hmm, well the good news is you are right on track for a full recovery! Bad news is that you will need more rest until you’ll be able to fully feel like yourself again. But I bet some good lunch will help with that!” She turned, her cheery voice still sounding so foreign to Prompto, even more so when she gave him those soft brown eyes again. “Do you want Cor here with you? I know you feel more comfortable with him around.” Prompto would laugh if he had the energy, how can I feel safe with the Marshal around? The one who’s going to drag me by my feet to the dungeons as soon as I’m ‘stable’ enough!

When he didn’t give a reply, Doctor Rilee smiled and said, “Well I’ll just tell him you’re awake.” Before leaving Prompto alone, again.

Prompto heaved himself into a sitting position, his body seems to be two steps ahead of his mind as his hand mindlessly went for the needle still in his arm.

His fingers closed around the metal before he took them away as if it was over a fire.

Idiot! If I remove anything it’ll surely send alarms or something that I’m trying to escape . He was trapped, no chance in making an escape before the Marshal came back to stare at him and wait for him to make that one mistake that will be his downfall.

The Doctor returned first with a tray holding a bowl of broth, toast, and pudding. She sets the legs on the bed to prop it up and steps back, “You don’t have to eat all of it, but I would like you to try, alright?”

Prompto waits for her to leave before carefully picking up the spoon and carefully bring the warm soup into his mouth. It’s plain, not that Prompto is complaining by any means, but it’s nothing like the soup he had that first night and that morning. The first time a piece of chicken entered his mouth he stilled, the heavy, solid weight so foreign to him now. He slowly chewed the soft meat, jaw sore from the effort as he mashed it enough until he could swallow.

Despite his attention focused on the meal, he learned and kept his hearing tuned towards the door, and snapped up when he heard heavy footsteps approach.

He caught a glimpse of short brown hair through the window and sat up, hands in his lap and away from the food, was I allowed  to eat  yet ?

Cor Leonis entered with the familiar gruff look on his face, Prompto shrinking under his narrow gaze. The Marshal leans over the bed to look at the, clearly eaten, tray of food, Prompto braces for a strike.

“Full already?” The Marshall questioned, lifting a brow to the tween who wrung his hands together, not knowing what the safe answer is. When Cor got no reply he simply stood straight again, going for the chair, “why don’t you try to eat some more.” He sits in the chair and opens his phone. 

Prompto waits another ten seconds, ten seconds of staring at his meal and waiting for Cor to snatch it away, angry that he didn’t fall for it.

When the food remained he bit a piece of toast and chewed.

Chewed.

Chewed.

Chewed.

Swallow.

He looks at the Marshall again, but the older man is typing away on his phone. Prompto doesn’t say a word as he continues to eat as much as he can. He eats until his stomach has that heavy feeling again, then quickly push the tray as far from him as he can, placing his hands back in his lap, remaining still and quiet.

Cor, meanwhile, watched from the top of his phone as Prompto sat still for several more seconds, looking his way, then eat his food again. Cor gave a soft sigh and made it a point to relax his muscles, trying to make his face soft and non-threatening for the kid.

It was another few minutes of silence and him trying to get work done on a phone before he saw the tray move to the end of the bed and the kid sit with his back straight against the pillows.

“So Prompto,” Cor begins slowly. “Doc told me that your right wrist isn’t damaged, not broken or anything serious.” The kid gripped said wrist like a reflex. “Does it hurt at all?” A quick shake of blond hair. “So... is that cloth... special to you? Does it have sentimental value?” The bizarre look he receives answers the question. “So then why don’t we take it off? I mean if it’s not-” he couldn’t finish his sentence before Prompto was nearly out of the bed, eyes blind with panic and fear as the wrist was clutched close to his chest.

Cor is quick to lift his hands and back down, “Woah, hey. It’s alright, I’m not gonna. No one’s gonna do anything to you if you don’t want them to, alright?” It was some long breath-holding seconds before Prompto finally seems to believe him and situate himself back onto the bed, though he appears much more on edge now.

Maybe it’s the hospital freaking him out , Cor thought, quickly sending off a message to Doctor Rilee to see if Prompto was discharged.

He got a reply a few minutes later-

 

Doctor Rilee : I can discharge him, yes, but he can have no physical activity (this includes walking) while his body works to get back to a stable level.

 

Cor agreed and set his phone to the side, putting on a soft smile before announcing. “So kid, Doc says you’re good to get out of here.” Bright, big, blue eyes snap his way and are filled with pure disbelief. “Yeah, I mean, you’ll have to be in a wheelchair until your body is fully recovered but you can go back to your own room.” The kid blinked and suddenly those eyes were back to the dull, lifeless orbs they normally were. “I know kid, being bedridden isn’t the most fun.” He ran a hand through his buzzed hair, trying to think of a solution.

Before he can, however, the Doctor enters the room again and begins detaching Prompto from all the medical equipment, giving instruction while she works.

“Okay sweetie,” she begins. “We think you’re stable enough to be off the constant monitor, but you have to be very careful over the next few days, alright? No physical activity of any kind, no stress, just relax and eat everything you can, alright?”

Prompto gives her no verbal reply, but his small nod is enough for her as she gives Cor a few more notes before leaving with a wheelchair parked by the door.

“Well kid looks like you’re about to have the most boring couple weeks ahead of you.”

Chapter Text

Prompto quickly realized two things after being returned to the large room in the Citadel. One, the room is on the 10th floor of the Citadel and requires a keycard to go up.

And two, he and the Marshal have a drastically different understanding of what “boredom” is. He supposed that lying in a bed doing nothing all day is a bit boring, but he is more stressed out of his mind than anything.

No way to get out, no provisions to prepare, constantly watched, and at any point, I’m being thrown in the dungeons or killed .

The rest of the first day he was watched by Cor, who sat in the plush chair with a laptop and pretended not to be watching him like a hawk.

After that, it was a mixture of him and Crownsguards that would stand guard by the door and stare ahead.

On the third day, instead of a servant coming in with a tray of broth, Ignis entered instead.

“Good morning,” Ignis greeted, Prompto’s eyes tracked him closely as he placed the tray on the bed. “I figured you were in need of some company other than silent guards, would you permit me to join you?” Like I have a choice . He said nothing and touched nothing, noticing Ignis pull up the plush seat right by his bed; not good . Ignis took out some containers that contained an assortment of foods. Prompto waited until Ignis took two bites of his food before he began eating. It was silent for a while, the two focusing on their respective meals.

When placed his own meal to the side and folded his hands on his lap, “I brought some things that may help keep you entertained, do you want to see them?” Admittedly this pequed Prompto’s attention and he cocked his head to the side, watching as the older teen began to go through his bag.

“It’s not much I’m afraid,” Ignis told. “Just some books I thought you would be interested in and some coloring pages.” When he finished laying it all out Prompto’s eyes grew twice their size.

It was not much, only four reading books (all for ages ten and below) and two coloring books that Ignis and Noctis used to enjoy when they were younger, a pack of high end colored pencils to accompany it.

Still, it was more than Prompto’s been given in years , and it was clearly written all over his face as he reached out a shaky hand to touch one of the small novels. He looked to Ignis again, the silent “ for me ?” signaled between the two.

Ignis wished his smile was more from happiness than sorrow, “Yes these are all for you, if you would like other books please let me know. Unfortunately I don’t know what your reading level is and so I cannot properly accommodate you on that, but I can always find more books for you if needed.”

Yet despite the encouragement, Prompto did not touch the gifts for the entire day.

The next morning, Doctor Rilee came in for a check up, and was concerned for the lack of progress Prompto has been making.

“He should be gaining more weight than this,” she explained to Cor and Ignis outside the room. “And his heart rate is still high, I think he is just under too much stress at the moment.”

Cor folded his arms tightly, “so what? We give him anti-anxiety meds?”

“That’ll probably do more damage than good,” Rilee pointed out. “I think it’s a matter of getting him used to... this life and making him as comfortable as possible. Is there anything in the room that you notice is making him uncomfortable?”

Cor was quick to nod, “He always stares at me and the guards like we’re going to attack him or something.”

“Indeed, and I noticed he visibly locked up when I sat next to the bed.” Ignis joined in.

“Okay so here is the plan going forward,” Rilee began scribbling on her clipboard. “We have the guard stationed outside, not inside. No one goes near the bed unless it’s to give food or assistance, and I would also recommend someone eats with him during his meals, based on Mr. Scientia’s report he will eat more if he’s not the only one. Agree?” The two nodded their agreements and the changes were quickly set in place.

After Cor explained to Prompto, the guards were now always stationed outside the door, a buzzer was placed on the bedside table for Prompto to use if he needed the guard at any time. Cor’s only visits were for breakfast and dinner, with Ignis joining Prompto for lunch.

Prompto was glad for the changes, though he did not understand why, but he did not bother spending time to think about it as he worked diligently on his escape.

The coloring pages were all one-sided, with a blank space behind each picture. He used that space to draw out his very vague and rough plan, but it helped get his thoughts together.

His first obstacle was getting water, food, and money to live off a short while, give him a little head start. Luckily there’s always a filled water bottle set aside each morning, so he can just not drink the day he leaves and take it with him.

All of his food right now is soups, broths, and various other soft foods; things you cannot easily bag and take with you. But there was always a pack of snacks: first it was juice pouches, then applesauce and yogurt, hopefully it shouldn’t be long before packaged dry food...

The money would be the hardest, but also the thing he needs the least.

The planning seemed to take all his energy, which made him even more worried thinking about how he was actually going to pull off the escape. I’m tired without even moving, how am I going to run and climb my way out of the Citadel ?

He couldn’t escape from his thoughts, which seemed to be the worst part of being trapped in the bed; the only time he got any sort of peace was sleeping, which constantly eluded him for most of the day while he nearly pulled his thinning hair out. He did not dare touch the gifts Ignis brought him, only the coloring book when planning, and after that they were carefully placed back at the end of the bed appearing like he did not touch them.

Cor and Ignis would talk to him, never anything important and never any questions, so he did not pay attention to what they were saying most of the time.

Still, Ignis would always leave little comments before he left...

“Noctis and I would always color before bed, it relaxed us after a stressful day or an energetic one spent playing.”

“I remember Noctis reading that book when he was little, it was one of the rare books he loved reading because it was a fun story he could enjoy with little effort.”

“Noctis says the best part about coloring is that you can make it any color you like and go outside the lines. I remember he colored a green sky and blue ground that seemed to blend together, it was one of his favorites.”

After his 2nd week of recovery, Prompto hopelessly picked up the coloring books and pencils after uselessly tossing and turning, he turned it to a random page of chocobo chicks, aw... they are really cute . And began to carefully color the yellow birds.

When Cor entered the next morning with breakfast, he was shocked to see a sleeping Prompto, a stubby yellow pencil in his hand, and a flock of bright yellow (and one pink) chocochicks.

Chapter Text

“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.






Chapter Text

When Cor heard his earpiece chirp he groaned and picked it up, sloppily putting it in his ear as he was drilled to do.

As soon as he heard it was a lockdown and a blonde boy was on the run he was wide awake and throwing open the doors to Prompto’s room.

Shit! Shit shit shit - he threw the blankets back, frantically searching every inch of the room and looking out the balcony for a sign.

Then he took off running and calling Clarus, who informed him the starving kid was running in the Citadel.

He followed the tracks Clarus gave, but he was always behind the boy, the spontaneous movements constantly throwing him and the guards off. When the guards officially reported losing sight of the boy Cor let his anger loose on them through the earpiece.

No one commented about losing the boy again.

He was slowly tracking the movements the guards reported Prompto taking, trying to find a clue or a hiding place for the boy. His body was surprisingly calm despite the panic his mind was making. It was like they were a part of two different bodies now: the brain panicking about all the possible things that could happen to Prompto and why this happened; while his body was tracking and searching as it was trained to do for intruder lockdowns.

~~~

“Cor, come to the Gardens Foyer, Gladio found the boy.” Claru’s voice crackled in the silent hallway, Cor had to take a moment to learn against the wall and let the relief swept across his body for a moment. When he felt like he could walk on solid legs again, he did, right to the indoor Foyer where Clarus was waiting with a Doctor Rilee and two other guards.

“What condition is he in?” Cor questioned as he stood next to his friend, shoving his hands in his pockets to avoid having them pick at something.

Clarus only shook his head, “Don’t know. Only got a single text from him that he was in the Gardens, I don’t even know what Gladio is doing here this late.”

“Well whatever it was I’m glad he did it.” Cor couldn’t help but speak his mind, if Gladio was the only person to find him because he decided to pull a prank on the Prince, he would gladly forgive him.

Clarus seemed to feel the same, for he gave a soft hum and nod in confirmation. They waited for several minutes, several grueling minutes where Cor began to pace the length of the foyer and Doctor Rilee had found a seat at one of the plush chairs.

Then they saw Gladio walk towards them with a bundled boy in his arms, and everyone was standing stiff once more.

Doctor Rilee was the first to reach him, carefully feeling the boys pulse and head for any grievous injuries.

“We’ll need him on fluids again, I’ll try to avoid a feeding tube unless he’s unresponsive for more than twelve hours.” Rilee quickly diagnosed, scribbling down on her clipboard and walking with Gladio.

Cor was quick to interject, “Can you do that in his room? I think it’s best we keep him in a single place for the time being.”

Rilee nodded, already making extra notes. “I’ll have some nurses bring up the necessary equipment.”

“And I’ll have a guard rotation set up.” Clarus spoke, replying to Cor’s unvoiced question. “We’ll have them outside for now, but if needed we will have to increase security to inside the room.”

“Oh here,” Gladio spoke up for the first time, taking off a sock from around his shoulder. “He had this with him. Looks like he made it himself.” He tossed it to Cor, who caught it quickly and examined the sack.

It was a pillowcase, parts of another tied on to make pockets with rolled sheets around it to make a strap. His stomach twisted at the sight of it, the fact that this was a planned escape...

He sat himself down at the chair beside Prompto’s bed, the one him and Ignis would use during meals. He let Doctor Rilee look over him some more while he and Clarus examined the contents of the bag.

Water, change of clothes, food packets-”

“All essentials,” Clarus noted. “This was purely used for an escape back into the streets, not to a home or even a damn safe house.” Cor grunted, hating and admiring the kid at the same time for the preparations.

“I just want to know why...” Cor whispered, pinching the bridge of his nose to try and subdue the oncoming headache.

“He thought we were going to interrogate him.” Gladio spoke up from the living room, the two hadn’t even noticed he was still here. “He thought you taking him to a therapist was you taking him to the prisons for questioning.” The two could see Gladio’s muscles tensing, his jaw locking. “Six. He thought this whole time us ‘caring’ for him was some sick trick before throwing him in the dungeons or something. He was terrified.” Cors stomach was now made of led, that fact this Prompto thought this whole thing was a ruse...

Doctor Rilee interrupted his thoughts before they could get any worse. “That would explain the lack of weight gain. The stress of it all was preventing his body from recovering properly. He was constantly in his Fight-or-Flight instinct.”

“Well I doubt he’ll stop stressing after this.” Cor grumbled.

“Well he’ll certainly feel less stressed now that Gladio has told him we won’t throw him in jail. But he’ll need to be around someone comforting. Someone he trusts and able to actually relax with.”

“Ignis?” Gladio suggested, everyone seemed to agree with that.

“I don’t know,” Doctor Rilee cuationed. “It might seem like he trusts him but we can’t tell. This will have to be something Prompto tell us... both verbally and physically.”

“What do you mean physically?” Clarus questioned.

“Well we’ll be able to tell if he’s truly relaxed based on his posture, slouched and soft... think like a cat. When they’re comfortable around you they can look away for long periods and they slowly blink, I bet his heart monitor will even go down around someone he truly trusts.”

Clarus nodded, running a hand through his shaved head. “Okay... so what? We each sit with him and see who he’s most comfortable with?”

“Maybe. But that therapist of yours should be able to help with this better than me.”

“You still think bringing her in today is a good idea?” Clarus looked to Cor, who was staring at the boy laying on the bed like a dead man.

It took a moment to notice the questioned was aimed towards him. “I don’t know. We’ll see when he wakes up.”

“That could be a while.” Doctor Rilee warned, “Based on the energy he put out and his lack of nutrition... it very well could be a day or two before he fully wakes up.”

“That’s fine. Just keep an eye on him.” Cor snapped, collapsing back into the chair, head tipped back and ignoring everyone’s existence. Well everyone except for Prompto’s.

~~~

When Prompto first believes he’s awake he doesn't open his eyes, instead scrunching them in pain due to the headache radiating in his head and the dull pain all around his body. He flexes and relaxes his fingers, but stopped quickly when he noticed his left ring finger had something on the end. Then he heard the familiar beeping, felt the softness his exposed skin felt, and see the red light swarming his vision.

He blinks his eyes awake and is somehow not surprised to find himself in the old room, surrounded by pillows and attached to many wires and tubes. His body is almost acting on instinct when he goes to try and pull the IV out, his mind screaming get out as a regular sense of panic set in.

But he stopped when his fingers brushed the metal, looking up to see Gladio Amicitia reading a book across from him, oblivious to his existence.

We all want to see you happy and healthy .” Last night's encounter replayed in his mind, the chase, the terror in his body, and Gladio’s soft voice and strong arms supporting him and denying his long assumption that they wanted him dead.

I’m a fucking idiot .

He must have made a noise, for Gladio was suddenly looking up from his book with a soft smile at his lips.

“Morning... or Afternoon, I guess... actually it’s getting towards the evening.” Gladio looked at his watch, still smiling. “You were passed out from exhaustion for a good 13 hours, how do you feel?” Prompto only gives a shrug, truly unable how he felt about everything that has happened in the past day. He goes to sit up but suddenly Gladio is placing a hand on his chest, keeping him still with minimal effort, which scared him more than it really should. “Don’t think it’s a good idea to be sitting up right now kid, we had to put a feeding tube in you not too long ago, I’ll get the doc to come take it out, but just... lay there okay?” Gladio doesn’t move until Prompto nods, then he’s quickly going to the door and cracking it open, saying a few hushed words outside before closing it again.

Prompto watches him do it all, observing his every move for the slightest change in demeanor. But Gladio remains calm and relaxed and soon he’s sitting in the chair beside him, book closed and on his lap.

The two don’t speak for a while, the beeping monitor filling it for them, Prompto still doesn't take his eyes off of the Shield for more than a couple seconds.

“Remember what I told you last night,” Gladio is suddenly speaking, low and gentle. “We’re not putting you in the dungeons, not interrogating you or anything like that. We truly just want you to get better.” Hearing the affirmation again pushes the air he’s been holding out of his lungs, his shoulders suddenly sinking further into the mattress. He doesn’t know why tears are pricking at his eyes, but he makes no move to wipe them away and Gladio does not seem to notice or care.

After a few more minutes of silence there’s footsteps marching down the hallway and suddenly right outside the door, and it’s not the Doctor who comes storming in.

Cor Leonis is striding into the room like he’s going to chew out recruits, face hard as stone. Prompto’s heart monitor gives away his fear.

But as soon as Cor’s at the foot of the bed, staring down at him, the stone suddenly melts into mud and he’s not so angry anymore.

He’s shaking his head, hand rubbing his shaved head. “Kid I...” Prompto is staring at him with wide, violet eyes, Cor is looking away from them and down at the feeding tube. “Why would you think we would torture you?” His voice is so small, Prompto almost missed the question. “We gave you a room, food, clothes... Six kid, do you really think we’re that cruel?” He’s looking up at him now, bright blue eyes filled with... some emotion. Prompto is not sure what, but it’s definitely not anger.

He doesn’t have a chance to follow up on the questions, because Doctor Rilee is gliding in after him with a warm smile on her face.

She takes Cors spot and essentially shoves him out of the way. “Hello Prompto, heard you had quite the run last night.” His cheeks burned with embarrassment and he’s looking away again. “I hope you enjoyed it because you won’t be leaving his room for a while,” her teasing comes to a pleasant surprise to Prompto. “I’m going to take this feeding tube out and then give you a tray, I want you to eat everything on it Prompto, okay?” He nods, glad to be rid of the extremely odd sensation in his stomach.

The process takes a while and is not very pleasant, but soon he’s carefully sitting up and surrounded by the mountain of pillows; a tray set before him with soup, water, yogurt, and crackers.

He downs the water first, his burning throat blissfully cooling off. The yogurt is next, savoring the nice cold foods before moving to the warm soup. Gladio’s seat was taken by Cors a while ago, who had not stopped staring at him since he sat down. It put Prompto on edge, making him think he’s done something wrong, is doing something wrong despite Cors earlier outburst.

He’s trying to shrink away from the stare, but the eyes burning into him.

“Cor, stop trying to mind control the kid,” a voice is suddenly at the door. “You’re failing terribly.” The two look up at the sudden guest, and Cor shot to his feet at the presence of His Majesty and The Shield at the door.

Once again, Prompto’s heart monitor is a traitor and he wants to shut it off.

The three are talking but Prompto’s not listening, he’s staring down at his tray, at his half eaten soup and untouched crackers as he desperately tries to calm himself down.

But he does hear Cor leaving, footsteps going away from him and the door closing, suddenly two pairs of old and powerful eyes looking at him. There is only one set of feet approaching him, slow heavy feet with the click of a cain every other step.

“Do you mind if I sit here, son?” King Regis questions, trying to get a look from the boy who does not budge from his spot.

Regis sighs and slowly sinks into the chair, he can hear the ragged breathing coming from the young man.

Prompto tries desperately to not disrespect the King, especially not after all he’s done, but he doesn’t know the first thing about royalty; and the damn bed is keeping him from bowing like he knows he’s supposed to.

“Prompto, please look at me.” The command is soft, a gentle rumble that minutely soothes Prompto, who quickly shoots his eyes to the grey stormy ones.

This earns a sigh and Prompto is trying to analyze what he did wrong.

“Prompto,” The King speaks again. “The first thing I want you to know, the most important thing I want you to know is that you have not done anything wrong.” That’s a lie . “You have never done anything wrong.” Also a lie . “You sneaking into the Citadel is not your fault-” lie. “Your escape last night was not your fault-” He’s really bad at lying . “These are all our faults. Mine included.” That just doesn’t make any sense .

His scrunched face must have caught the King’s attention, for he was nodding and holding his gaze steady. “It is completely true, Prompto. If we had been more clear about our intention towards you, been more vocal... If I had done my duty as King and made sure every one of my subjects had a home and food to eat, you would not be in this situation.” Prompto wishes he could explain, explain to the King that it was him who was stupid and ont realizing what was clearly in front of him, who ran when he should have known better.

It’s always me .

“You don’t believe him,” Clarus is suddenly speaking, the accusation sends a large lump down his throat. “That’s alright, neither of us expect you to. But we are going to tell you that every day until you do believe us, that none of this is your fault.”

“A child is not responsible for their actions the parents forced upon them.” The King's words sent goosebumps up his spine, but he doesn’t know why.

They talk to him some more after that, nothing as serious as trying to lie to him. Just explaining what would happen next and that they would visit him again, along with others.

“Gladio tells me he explained to you about the therapist visit.” Clarus is sitting in a chair now, feet propped up on the foot of the bed. “She was supposed to come today but we thought it’d be best to have this discussion first. Along with asking if it was alright if she came to talk to you.” Another question towards him, one where his opinion mattered, one where he could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and they would listen .

He nodded hesitantly, still unsure about it but knowing they wanted him better.

The two older men smiled wide, “Great! She’ll come tomorrow when you wake up. Nothing too serious, you guys are just going to chat.”

Regis leaned forward, “And if you don’t like her; you have but to tell us and you’ll never have to see her again.” He knew it wasn’t supposed to be a threat towards the woman he’s never met, but he couldn’t help but feel bad for her.

It was 6pm when the Royals left, Cor coming back and apologizing for his outburst earlier, despite Prompto’s utter confusion as to why he was apologizing.

Prompto feel asleep twenty minutes later when he finally felt relative peace and quiet since waking up that afternoon.