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They’re somewhere between Lestallum and the back end of nowhere. The Regalia’s smooth ride is eating the miles, but it does nothing to eat the time it takes to get from place to place out here.

Traveling from one hunt to the next to get the gil they need just to live is getting old. Iris is waiting for them at Cape Caem, and Gladio has half a mind to just tell Iggy to get on with it and get to Caem so they can just be done with all this crap. But Iggy would just remind him that they needed to be responsible.

And there’s no way to make the travel time out here in Cleigne any shorter, anyway.

Gladio's had his book out for a long time so he wouldn’t have to watch the same scenery flit past. He’s just getting to the end of the midpoint, where things start getting real… when something heavy drops on his thigh.

He looks down, and sees Noctis. Completely dead to the world, slumped against his seat belt. With his head. On Gladio’s thigh.  

Gladio rolls his eyes and keeps his heavy sigh to himself. No need to wake the prince, if he needs his beauty sleep. Instead, he settles in his seat a little more, and tries to get back into his book.

… It’s hard.

He’s not sure if it’s the weight of Noct’s head, the relentless cheerfulness of whatever music Prompto’s playing on the radio, or the bland repetitiveness of the landscape… he just can’t get back into his book. Finally he places the moogle bookmark Iris gave him to keep his spot, and tucks the book away. He leans his head back against the headrest.

He has to admit… Noct's warmth is soothing against his side.

Somewhere between one twisted tree and the next, he must fall asleep… because the next thing he's aware of is the click of a camera shutter and a hissed whisper, "I totally got it!" Shortly after that, he realizes that he's got a nasty crick in his neck, and he's leaning in a way that his back is going to hate him for as soon as he straightens up.

He blinks to see the slanted light of late-afternoon burnishing golden highlights on the tips of Noctis's spiky hair. Of which he has an excellent view, because he's slumped over Noctis like a living blanket. His arm is wrapped over Noct's side, draping over Noct's hips -- but his shoulder is bent at an awkward angle.

He groans and sits up, trying not to disturb the still-sleeping prince. His tortured muscles complain exactly as much as he feared they would. He gives his arms a good stretch, and his back pops several times.

"Feeling rested, are we?" says Ignis, with more than a hint of amusement in his voice. The jerk.

"Shut up," Gladio says, his voice gravelly from sleep.

"We're nearly at Malmalam," Prompto says. "Thought we'd spend the night there, since it'll be getting dark soon."

"Better watch your camera," Ignis says softly.


"'Cause if I get a hold of it," Gladio growls, "I'm gonna smash the SD card."

Prompto makes an offended noise.

Noctis slumbers on, blissfully unaware of the puddle of drool he's leaving on Gladio's lap.