Noctis should’ve just gone and spent his summer break in Altissia like his father offered.
But instead he stayed in Insomnia to take on an internship of sorts with his father’s company. Being the CEO’s son ensured his experience would be a rigid but pleasant Monday to Friday 9-5, and his weekends free to do whatever he wanted.
Woefully free. Entertaining himself with video games lasted all of one weekend until Ignis caught wind of how he spent the Saturday just past. This morning, Noctis awoke to Ignis blowing up his phone with ten missed calls at 7:00AM, on a Sunday , and sending him threatening follow-up messages to Leave the apartment and get some sun, or else.
All the rest of his friends were smart enough to fly out for the break, and Luna spent her weekends tutoring children and giving them weekend piano lessons and she wouldn’t have time to hang out until the evening, leaving most of Noctis’s Sunday morning free. Ignis worked through to Saturdays most weeks, but surely even Specs can keep a Sunday morning free to spend some time with his good friend he had gotten out of bed on a Sunday morning before 10:00AM without good reason.
On the first Sunday of every month Ignis visited the Insomnian Farmer’s Market, which was held on an old fairground just outside of the city.
“ Unless you wanted to join me ?” asked Ignis over phone,
Noctis sat in the chairs in Ignis’s apartment lobby. In truth, the thought of driving out of town to one place that concentrated his least favourite part of the food pyramid in one place was dead last in his list of things to kill time, but he hadn’t been to a Farmer’s Market before and he was already awake, so he might as well. Ignis said it wouldn’t be all vegetables too and that a rummage sale set up on the same day where Noctis could browse second-hand items.
The elevator dinged its arrival to his side and out stepped Ignis, with a collapsible shopping basket hanging on the crook of his elbow.
He walked past Noctis to make his way to the parking lot and Noctis jogged behind him.
“Cute,” said Noctis with a smirk at the shopping basket.
“I’m going, Noct,” and Ignis’s brisk strides went faster,
Ignis stowed his shopping basket in the back seat and settled himself into the driver’s seat. Noctis strapped himself into his seat and tossed his wallet into the basket despite Ignis’s soft protest of Hey now. They pulled out of the apartment parking lot and then out into the bustling city streets, and it wasn’t long until the backdrop of the car window that Noctis stared out of were sparse of Insomnia’s looming gray buildings.
“Is it pretty far out of the city?” asked Noctis. More trees had begun to dot alongside the rode they drove on.
“Twenty, thirty minutes tops,” said Ignis,
“Seems a long way to go for vegetables,” said Noctis with an involuntary grimace at the phone in his hand, “Wouldn’t it be more convenient to just go to a grocery store? Probably cheaper too right?”
“By buying direct from your farmers, you can ensure the freshness of the produce you purchase, and speak with them directly about how they’re grown, and any exposure to pesticides,” said Ignis, “It’s all very fascinating stuff.”
“Trust you to put the words pesticide and fascinating in the same sentence,” Noctis laughed, “What about organic grocery stores then? I’m sure you can afford those,”
“Buying from farmers’ markets means you would be supporting local farmers Noct, and not some—” Ignis released one hand from the steering wheel to wave his hand in the air, “New wholefoods trend. For farmers, this is their livelihood.”
“Huh,” Noctis nodded, “I didn’t think you were so passionate about this.”
“Admittedly, it was when Monica took me the first time around that got me interested. In the end, it was nice to make a pleasant trip out of something so mundane like grocery shopping.”
“I’m glad you do something fun on your day off then Specs. Even if it is grocery shopping.”
Ignis shook his head, but smiled at the road anyway.
They spent the next few minutes of the drive in silence while Noctis fiddled with the radio knob. He sat back in his seat when he found a station that wasn’t all Dad-rock and glanced at his friend in the driver’s seat.
“Are you always dressed nice for the markets?” said Noctis,
“I’m always dressed nice,” replied Ignis primly.
The mugginess was what hit Noctis first when he stepped out of the air-conditioned haven of Ignis’s car. What slapped him in the face next were the lively crowds and an assault of bright colours, and the idyllic scene may as well have jumped out of an early painting. Rows and rows of market stalls with their clashing colours and patterned shades filled the fairgrounds field. They walked past baskets and bundles of fruits, and the way the sun bounced off their bright and saturated colours made Noctis’s mouth drool, and even the crates of vegetables, many of which, were not potatoes, could convince Noctis to entertain the idea of eating a vegetable. Maybe.
“I’ll get started on my list then,” said Ignis. The collapsible shopping basket was back on his elbow and Noctis really couldn’t help his smile at his ensemble of a neatly pressed linen shirt and dark jeans and, a collapsible shopping basket, “Over to the other side of fairgrounds is where the rummage sale is, you might find it more interesting to go through old belongings than produce.”
“Sounds cool, I’ll call you when I’m done yeah?”
“I won’t be long.”
“Don’t rush yourself, this is your morning Iggy,” said Noctis with a flippant wave, “Now I’m off to go rummage.”
Not that Noctis didn’t see the objective appeal of fruits and vegetables, but the rummage sale had Noctis darting excitedly from one stall to the next. Most vendors were selling their old clothes, but there were others selling their handicrafts or old books, jewelry that looked more like relics from times gone by, an old man selling watches because a market always has to have one of those, then finally, a corner of stalls selling second-hand boardgames in yellowing boxes and retro game consoles and cartridges.
Noctis’s eyes lit up when they spied a cartridge of one of the first generations of games from the King’s Knight series.
This is a gold mine.
The old man at the stall didn’t even know how cheap he was selling the cartridge and Noctis fumbled with his pockets to find the loose bills he had stowed in his wallet, only to find that he hadn’t brought it with him.
Noctis tried calling Ignis’s phone at least three times before he asked the old man to hold on to the cartridge for him so he could come back with his money. The markets hustle and bustle must’ve drowned out the sound of Ignis’s ringtone so he’ll just run back to fetch his wallet.
At first he wasn’t sure how he’d find Specs in the crowd, but in the end, it wasn’t all that difficult to find a sharply dressed man that towered at six feet in the crowds with, Noctis laughed to himself, a collapsible shopping basket.
Ignis stooped over a crate of bell peppers sitting on an edge of one stall, examining a pepper in his hand with immense concentration. He’d put one down and pick another one up and glance up at the vendor manning the stall, and then he’d stare back at the next pepper.
Is he okay?
At first Noctis thought he should probably go let Ignis know that his scrutinising of the peppers is bothering the vendor but it wasn’t until Noctis waited for Ignis to reach his fifth pepper—you know, just ‘cus he was curious—that Noctis realised the vendor was sneaking glances of his own at Ignis as he tidied up the arrangements from the other end of the stall.
“Peppers suck, don’t buy ‘em,” said Noctis from behind Ignis.
“Gods! Noct, don’t sneak up on people like that.”
“What’s the pepper done to you that deserves a glare like that?”
“I was just wondering— If they were a certain variety—”
“Why don’t’cha just ask?” said Noctis, “Hey, big guy!”
“ Noct! ” hissed Ignis,
Noctis waved the vendor over, who must’ve caught onto their conversation because he was leaning on the edge of one table with his arms crossed as if he was waiting for Noctis to call him over.
The vendor strolled over to their end of the stall and the man was huge . He was clearly taller than Ignis, who was tall enough already, and he was bursting through the white shirt he wore under his denim overalls. A small towel hung around his thick neck and tucked under the hair he had pulled into a small low bun, and his already tight shirt sleeves were folded up, further hugging his large biceps which had dark tattooed feathers sprawling down to his forearms.
“If it isn’t my favourite customer!” bellowed the man, flashing a bright wolfish grin at Ignis, “So what can I do ya for?”
Ignis recoiled and his face reflected the shade of the red bell pepper he held in his hand.
Ignis stuttered out his question about the peppers that Noctis missed, because really, fuck peppers, but also, Ignis just stuttered . The guy took speech coaching all through high school, something he liked to remind Noctis often, he didn’t stutter.
The big guy hadn't noticed. He flapped his hands about one way or another while he spoke enthusiastically about how this particular batch of bell peppers came about, all the while his muscles seemed to move with a mind of their own with his hand gestures.
The topic of his spiel was completely lost on Noctis, because seriously, fuck peppers, meanwhile Ignis nodded along with wide eyes and quick hums of agreement, totally enraptured by the big guy’s toothy smiles, since it sure as hell ain’t his talk about crop rotation that had Ignis nervously chuckling and fiddling with the handle of his shopping basket.
“I’ve got your usual set aside for ya too, and I’ll add the peppers in—” the big guy crossed his arms and Noctis actually flinched from the fear of the man’s shirt ripping to pieces from the flex of his pecs and biceps. He called out to someone from the back of their stall, “Hey Iris, could you bring that box around?”
“Wait what— Your ‘ usual ’, Iggy?” asked Noctis with a raised brow,
“Yeah your friend comes here every month and gets the same things more or less,” the big guy said with another smile, “It’s why he’s our favourite customer.”
An amused smile surfaced on Noctis’s face, one that Ignis deliberately ignored.
“You mean your favourite—” said a girl with a large box from behind the big guy. Next to her, a blond man laughed.
“So!” the big guy said loudly to Ignis, “Iggy huh?”
Ignis put his basket down on the table as a small girl about half the big guy’s height brought a box of mixed produce over to him.
“Ignis,” said Ignis, eyeing every vegetable he stowed into his basket,
“But I call him Iggy,” said Noctis, “I’m Noctis,” he said, just to remind the two that he was right there, “And you are?”
“Gladiolus,” the big guy extended his hand and he shook Noctis’s in a strong firm grip. Yikes. “But you,” he turned to Ignis and he shook his hand too, except his hand lingered in Ignis before he pulled away with a sly grin and a lidded gaze, his already deep voice slinking down deeper, “Can call me Gladio.”
Ignis sharply retracted his hand and went back to bagging his vegetables. The girl behind Gladio met Noctis’s confused gaze and shook her head.
“This is my sister Iris,” the girl gave a small wave, “And that’s Prompto. He helps out from time to time,”
A blond head poked out from behind the back tables, and he waved at Noctis and Ignis from the chair he sat in, and Noctis acknowledged them both with a nod.
“You know, now that you mention it,” said Noctis, “Iggy always did say that he looked forward to one thing whenever he went to the markets every month,”
“Did you need anything from me Noct?” asked Ignis, with a stomp on Noctis’s foot did not deter him at all,
“Issat right, Iggy ?” said Gladio, and Ignis made a strangled choking noise,
“And that’s for the chance to buy fresh produce to support Insomnia’s local farmers, and the uh—” Noctis recited, and he quickly read the logo off one of the fruit boxes, “The Amicitia Family Farms have the freshest around.”
Ignis didn’t so much as glare, but the blank stare he shot Noctis over his glasses said it all.
“That’s great! I love hearing what our customers think, ” Gladio laughed loud and rubbed the top of his head with a bashful smile, “But it’s a shame we only get to see ‘em every month.”
His gaze drifted to Ignis again, but Ignis was more interested in a lemon in his basket.
“Amicitia Family Farms,” wondered Noctis out loud, “As in Clarus Amicitia?”
“That’s our dad,” piped up the girl named Iris,
“He’s friends with my dad,” said Noctis, “Regis Lucis Caelum?”
“Wait, as in the hotel chain? We source their fruits and vegetables wholesale!” asked Gladio, “I didn’t know you were Uncle Regis’s kid!”
“We don’t spend much time out of the city, I haven’t seen your dad since I was a kid probably,” said Noctis, “But did ya hear that Specs?” Noctis turned to Ignis, who only nodded, suddenly incapable of speech apparently, where's all that speech coaching gone to now huh? Noctis jabbed a thumb at Ignis, “He works for my dad too.”
"I wish I knew earlier!” said Gladio to Ignis, “I could give you a wholesale discount and your stuff delivered to you by our boys the next time they’re in the city and it’d save you the trip out here next time,"
“That’s quite alright, I enjoy coming out here,” said Ignis as he shifted the weight of his basket to his elbow, "I like to get a close look at the produce.”
"You sure do," Noctis coughed out. He hadn’t stopped trying to catch his eye, but Ignis hadn’t stopped trying to avoid it either.
"That works out then,” said Gladio, with a quick wink, “‘cus some of us here would be pretty sad if you stopped showing up,"
Behind him, Prompto gave Iris a nod with a downturned mouth. Not bad , it said.
"I suppose cutting out the middleman through selling wholesale would mean less revenue for you,” said Ignis, “So I see why you would prefer more business through your presence at the local markets.”
“That’s true from a business perspective but,” Helpless at this point, Gladio exchanged a confused glance with Noctis as he rubbed the back of his neck from under his towel, "I like getting to know our customers a better."
Just say it man , Noctis transmitted telepathically , You gotta tell him precisely who you want to get to know better.
"I see,” said Ignis, completely business-like despite the red tinge in his cheeks, “I suppose for businesses such as yours, you’re competing with commercial businesses, which makes networking and establishing a name amongst the locals especially pertinent.”
Oh my gods mouthed Prompto at Iris, who looked at him with her face screwed up like she’d eaten a lemon whole, before they both looked at Noctis with concern.
Noctis was beyond words. He had never seen Ignis Scientia—BLaws, MLaw, PhD, graduated from the Royal University of Tenebrae summa cum laude , or so his curriculum vitae said—display such volume of stupidity in the years they’ve known each other,
“Was there anything else?” asked Gladio, and the poor guy’s smile looked totally defeated,
“I think that’d be all,” said Ignis as he pulled his wallet out of his pocket.
Once he’d paid for his vegetables, Ignis would probably drive back home to his apartment. He'd stare longingly at each vegetable that had touched the hands of the man he’d been ogling that morning, and would swear the following month that he’d do something the next time he went back to check out the “local produce” again.
Only he wouldn’t have Noctis to help him then.
"Hey uh big guy, sorry to interrupt," said Noctis.
Gladio and Ignis both turned to look at Noctis.
"How much for uh—" Noctis leaned over the front row of vegetable crates, and looked over at the fruit displayed behind Gladio, his eyes darting from one colourful fruit to the other in the back, “The uh— Those small green oranges over there— how much are they?”
From his chair in the back the man called Prompto suppressed a loud snort, and Gladio glanced at the box behind him and raised an eyebrow at Noctis.
“You mean the limes?”
“Yeah. The limes,” Noctis swallowed, and he placed a hand on his hip, “Yeah. I want ‘em.”
“You want limes Noct?” asked Ignis skeptically.
“I sure do.”
“How many limes do you want?” asked Gladio,
“ Ki-los ,” Noctis squinted his eyes to read the units on the sign that accompanied the limes. He didn’t know they used different systems when they weren't even that far out of the city's centre, “Ten kilos.”
“Are you sure?” said Gladio, “That’s like two hundred limes.”
Even Iris and Prompto looked unsure with what Noctis was doing.
Noctis nodded slowly, more at Iris and Prompto than at Gladio’s question.
Trust me guys .
“They’re really small, and, I uh, want a lot of limes?”
Ignis shot Noctis another glare, but it slid off Noctis’s resolve like it was nothing. If Noctis had a lime for every time Ignis tried to discourage him with a stupid decision with a glare, he’d have more limes than what he’ll have at the end of this morning.
“You got my wallet right Specs?”
Ignis practically slapped Noctis’s wallet in his hand.
Iris started weighing the limes out, and handing them to Prompto to load up into three open boxes printed AMICITIA FAMILY FARMS on the side, while Gladio set up their portable card reader.
”You guys take yen?” said Noctis,
“Sure do,” said Gladio, “But I only have the price in gil if you want to convert it and check.”
Gladio brought his display to Noctis’s face and he whistled at the 40k gil read out. He swiped his card and paid for his limes, whilst Gladio walked to the back table to write Noctis a receipt.
“Noctis,” Ignis groaned as a last ditch attempt,
“Woah,” said Noctis, “That’s so cheap . That’s like what? Two hundred gil a lime?”
“What the— Why the bloody—” Ignis rubbed his eyes behind his glasses, “How much did you think one lime would cost Noct?”
“I dunno? Like a grand each?”
Prompto and Iris brought a box of limes each to an empty space in the front stall tables to display to Noctis, and Prompto went around the back and returned with a third.
“There you go Noctis,” said Ignis through gritted teeth, “Two hundred limes.”
"The big guy told me to add a few extra," said Prompto, "Since you're friends with his favourite customer and all."
Ignis groaned, but his face was nonetheless still bright red.
“Pleasure doin’ business with you guys," said Noctis, "But unfortunately, I have a bad back.”
“Ouch, I heard about that accident from dad, hope that’s treatin’ you okay,” said Gladio with a look of concern, and hamming up Noctis's performance was worth it for the total look of adoration on Ignis’s face alone,
“From time to time, it flares up, but I have to make sure I don’t push it,” said Noctis with a heavy sigh, “Do you think one of you guys can help me take it back to Iggy’s car?”
A smile slowly formed on Iris’s face, and it was contagious, as Prompto caught on to it as well.
“I can do it,” said Gladio, “I don’t think these two can carry it all in one go.”
“Why don’t you show him over to the car Iggy? Empty your basket while you're at it."
When he was sure Gladio was looking away, busy stacking the boxes of limes together, he ended his suggestion with an exaggerated wink at Ignis.
“Sure, I’d be Gladio— I’d glad—” Ignis let out a shuddered sigh, as he distractedly shifted the vegetables in his basket around, “I can— I’d happy to—”
“He’d be happy to do it,” said Noctis.
“Why don't you have a break after, Gladdy?” said Iris, “Me and Prom’ll hold the fort and you go have something to eat first. Maybe show Iggy all the best places to eat.”
“You guys'll lemme know if you need my help yeah?” Even while carrying two hundred limes in his bulging arms, the big guy’s eyes were lit up bright, “Lead the way Iggy,”
With a small nod, Ignis turned away towards the parking lot, almost tripping on a rock while the other man followed behind.
Prompto walked up to the front of the stall and let out a low whistle.
“ Nice ,” said Prompto, “Why didn’t we think to get them alone?”
“What? You guys couldn’t come up with an excuse as good as ‘we need to get two hundred limes over to this car and this poor guy with a bad back can’t carry it himself?’ ” said Noctis with a mock scoff in disbelief,
“Gladdy’s a sucker for helping people out,” said Iris, “Especially if it’s in front of the poor guy’s hot friend.”
“Think he’ll say anything?” asked Prompto,
“Is he the type to?” asked Noctis,
“He’s the type that knows what he wants and goes for it,” said Iris, “But once Gladdy gets a little crush, its like his brain goes on vacation.”
“Brain ain’t coming home from holiday any time soon,” chuckled Prompto, “He’s got it pretty bad.”
Iris giggled, “And you can bet the farm on that.”
It was less than a five minute walk to the empty field that served as a makeshift parking lot, but it was still an agonising walk of small talk with an infuriatingly handsome man whose biceps flexed with the slightest shift of the boxes in his grip.
He unlocked his car, careful not to drop his keys as he fumbled with the button to open up the boot. Inside the boot was another empty box from his last market visit, and he loaded the produce from his basket inside it as the other man approached him from behind.
Finally setting the boxes down in the boot, Gladio let out a loud relieved groan that had blood pulsing in Ignis’s ears.
“Your friend sure loves limes," said Gladio. And though that sentence encapsulated the chaos of Ignis’s morning so far, Ignis felt the deep rumble of Gladio’s voice in his bones.
“It’s probably for a friend of his at home,” Ignis shook his head. It’s silly to cover for Noctis's questionable decisions, but he had an inkling as to what Noctis was up to and frankly he’d rather cover them up than lead to any potential trail to any embarrassing assumptions that could come from them, “She bakes.”
Lunafreya does bake. So it wasn’t a lie.
“She bakes a lot, it looks like,” said Gladio with a smile. Ignis pulled his now empty basket out of the boot and held it on his hand, before snapping the boot shut.
Gladio walked closer to Ignis, and Ignis finally looked up at him, only there were no tables covered in fruit and vegetables separating them, and no foldout shades hiding Gladio from the bright sunshine.
Picking up one end of the towel hanging from his shoulder with one hand, he wiped the sweat on that formed on the back of his neck. He caught Ignis's open mouthed stare and he grinned.
By the gods, no mortal should be permitted to be so handsome.
“Did— Did you want me to buy you a drink?” asked Ignis,
"Sure," Gladio’s smile cocked up sideways, “When?”
“Now— For a cold drink— I meant a cold drink in the daytime—” Ignis groaned internally and he wished the soft dirt that had been run over several vehicles under his feet would swallow him whole, “You must be parched and it's the least I can do for helping me carrying Noct’s things over,”
“Hmm, do you have much more shopping to do?” asked Gladio.
“Just some browsing, I’ve gotten all my essentials. Your stall’s always my last stop.”
“Saved the best for last huh?” said Gladio with a sly smile,
Ignis pursed his lips to prevent himself from saying anything else, while his cheeks flushed with heat.
“I was just about to have my break,” said Gladio with a chuckle, “Wanna grab something to eat with me? You can buy me my drink then,” he stuffed his hands in the pockets of his overalls, and the way his shoulders jumped up to his ears when he smiled made Ignis’s heart do somersaults, “And maybe we can have a look around the markets together?”
Ignis fidgeted with the handle of his basket his heart beating a mile a minute, as it caught up with the fact that his brain was trying its hardest to process—that this devilishly handsome man, who was already a source of sensory overload just by virtue of choosing to exist in front of Ignis, was asking him to spend time with him.
“I mean," said Gladio hastily, "We’re good friends with some of the other vendors, I can help find you a good deal—”
“I’m very adept at bartering myself,” said Ignis.
Gladio let out a breathy laugh, and he scratched the back of his head.
“Alright,” he said with a slump of his shoulders. He raised his hand in a reluctant wave as he turned to leave, “I'll see you next month then.”
"But," Ignis called out, his heart rattling in his chest. He turned his nose up in the air and crossed his arms, forgetting that his basket hung on his elbow and now clattered against his front, "I would like it if you kept me company while I did the rest of my browsing for the morning."
Gladio halted in his tracks. He turned on his feet and smiled wide, and Ignis's heart stopped.
“Anything for my favourite customer," said Gladio.
Eventually Noctis managed to run back to the rummage sale and purchase the retro handheld from the old man, as well as the rare game cartridge, with plenty of change to spare for a box of hot chips which he brought back to share with Prompto and Iris.
Prompto was just as much of a fan of the King’s Knight series himself, and he leaned his elbows against the front table and stared in awe while across from him, Noctis ran through the 8-bit menus, his handheld powered by batteries Prompto found lying around with their stall’s supplies.
“Dude, do you know how much that goes for online nowadays?” asked Prompto,
“What, you think I’d sell this ?”
“Meant no disrespect brother,” said Prompto with a hand over his chest, “I am jealous though.”
"They had heaps of other games too," said Noctis, “If you want, we can head over to the rummage later when the boss man comes back?”
“Sure!” said Prompto with a bright smile, and the sides of his freckled cheeks held up in his hands. And for a moment, Noctis was silent as he began to understand what drove certain people like Ignis to show up to the same fairground field every month just to see one person at a produce stall.
Noctis turned back to his game and cleared his throat, “Cool.”
“Did ya see ‘em?” said Iris. She had come back from the ice cream truck with three chocolate covered soft serves in a paper tray. She pointed her chin to the stall across them, where Gladio and Ignis were checking out jars of dried herbs and spices.
"They look real cute huh?" asked Prompto,
Ignis had his chin in his hand while he perused the goods, and Gladio was sidled up right behind him, pointing at various jars while he spoke near his ear.
“So just checking, there aren't any significant other people in your brother's life right?"
“Mom stays at the farm house most days. She’s not a huge fan of city living, and she and dad spend their Sunday mornings looking over the fruit orchards.”
“You know what I mean," said Noctis,
“Depends,” said Prompto, “Who’s asking?”
“I knew it!” whooped Prompto,
The roll of Iris’s eyes was accompanied by a dismissive wave as she ate her ice cream.
“We both knew Prom,” she said, “Sorry Noctis, your friend isn't really all that subtle either. You should’ve seen him the first time they met.”
“Gladio walked around the front to help him load his basket,” Prompto laughed, “Iggy walked back one step too far and knocked over an entire barrel of walnuts.”
“You’re joking,” said Noctis, “So that’s why he brought back all those walnuts a few months ago?"
"Loqi from the Sophiar's farm made him buy some of 'em, that jerk ," said Iris, “But Gladdy was smitten.”
Prompto broke out into another loud laugh into his ice cream.
“So the big guy knows?” asked Noctis,
“Gods no,” said Iris, "Your friends obvious, sure, but Gladdy thinks he's out of his league."
"It doesn't really help your Iggy’s a master at deflecting," said Prompto, "I gotta admit I was impressed with how he handled Gladio’s flirting. He was like a ninja really."
Noctis laughed through his nose, and Iris swatted Prompto’s arm.
"Poor Gladdy thinks he's too much of a bumpkin for him."
A loud laugh caught the three's attention as Ignis and Gladio walked into their row, and past the stall across from them, stopping by a stall lined with crates of deep red cherries. Gladio leaned closer to whisper something in Ignis's ear and Ignis laughed again, his face flushed and his hand on Gladio's exposed bicep.
Gladio turned to the vendor in the cherry stall and said something inaudible. The vendor gave him a thumbs up, and Gladio picked a cherry and held it up to Ignis's lips.
After a hesitant glance at the cherry and then his immediate surroundings, Ignis parted his lips and took the cherry into his mouth, his lips brushing against the tips of Gladio's fingers.
"Yeah I'm pretty sure Iggy doesn't care," said Noctis with a grimace, "There's not many people he'd let get away with gross shit like that."
"You mean adorable !" squealed Iris,
"Guys, wait, wait, wait, watch," said Prompto, leaning far forwards over their table to point at the two.
The vendor had handed a large paper bag of cherries, presumably, to Gladio and Gladio handed her a few bills in return. He placed the paper bag on top of the items already in Ignis's basket, and whispered something in Ignis's ear again.
“Oh my gods,” Prompto gasped, “He’s carrying Iggy’s granny basket!”
"Prom that is so rude—"
The basket hung on the crook of Gladio's elbow, and he gave Ignis a fond smile. Without his basket to ground him, Ignis crossed his arms tight and strode off to the next stall, and this time, he did trip on a rock.
Gladio hurried behind with a worried smile.
"At least there aren't any walnuts," said Noctis.
The only sound between them in the car was the click of the buttons on Noctis’s handheld and the soft beeps from its speakers, and occasionally, the robotic voice of Ignis's phone from its cradle as the GPS navigated them back home.
The phone had blacked out on a long stretch of road, but then vibrated and flashed briefly.
With one hand, Ignis locked the phone again, without giving Noctis a chance to see who the message was from.
"Farmer's markets are kinda fun huh?" said Noctis as he looked back down at the handheld console. He had made some friends too. Iris was in town from time to time, and Prompto studied at the same university as Noctis did, but stayed home with his dad at their vineyard over the summer break.
He'd promised he'd stayed in touch so they could all hang out whenever they were ever out in the city, but also so they could keep each other updated. On developments.
"It all depends on what the location has to offer," said Ignis, "I've been to a few overseas that had nothing on Insomnia’s markets."
"And this one had 'fresh produce'," said Noctis with a smirk,
"What are we going to do with ten kilograms of limes Noct."
Noctis chortled, "That guy was probably the freshest produce the region could offer you Specs,"
" Ten kilograms Noct ."
"I dunno, what did you do with all those walnuts?"
" Who told you?" mumbled Ignis,
“We can give some limes to Luna, of course you can have some, maybe Uncle Weskham," Noctis hummed in thought, "Monica?"
“Are you just naming everyone you know who owns an oven?” asked Ignis, his voice pained. He'll probably grill Noctis about the walnuts later.
“Got a problem with that?”
“That’s two hundred limes Noct.”
“A little over two hundred, remember? He added extra for his favourite customer ,”
Ignis groaned but he continued, “What? And you expect us to make,” Ignis waved his hand in the air, "Lime tarts with two hundred limes and everything will be fine and dandy?”
“Now you’re using your head,” said Noctis with a triumphant punch of the air, “Unlike earlier .”
“He was so flirting with you.”
“He was not ."
Ignis phone flashed again.
“Why’d he give you his number then?” asked Noctis,
“How did you—” Ignis spluttered out,
“Ha! I actually didn’t know, but thanks for telling me.”
Ignis released a frustrated sigh. His phone vibrated and flashed in its cradle again and this time Ignis didn't even bother to lock his phone and hide the message notification that showed Gladio's name.
Noctis smirked, “You’re welcome.”
They pulled up to the stoplights and Ignis swivelled the phone cradle to his direction so he could quickly type out a response. They sat by the lights in silence until the stoplights blinked green, and Ignis accelerated again.
“I feel that something must be said about your flagrant spending," muttered Ignis under his breath,
"Are you kidding? I wouldn't have gotten that many limes in a grocery store for the amount I paid."
"You didn't even know how much they went for before—!"
The phone vibrated in its cradle again but Ignis had his eyes on the road as he had to make a sharp turn.
"Leave it," warned Ignis, but Noctis was already swivelling the phone cradle towards his seat.
"It's Gladio, but you probably knew that," said Noctis helpfully, " It’s a date then, can’t wait to see you on Saturday ," he read from the notification out loud, in a deep groan that probably sounded more like someone’s death throes than an imitation of Gladio’s voice, "Then a red heart. Red, Specs!” Noctis slapped Ignis’s shoulder, “ Nice ."
Ignis exhaled through his nose.
Noctis snickered and leaned back in his seat, and fiddled with his handheld again, "Seems like I bartered you a pretty good deal to me."