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Elevate

Chapter Text

Insomnia Academy was the school for the elite, those who were gifted naturally with a lot of family money and a sophisticated upbringing. Occasionally a student was accepted on scholarship, but those were few and far between and typically a charity case for the school to write as a tax write off. Right across the street was Insomnia High, the school dedicated to all the others who didn’t fit into the classification of monetary superiority. With it came the reputation of troubled teens and gangs, street fighting and drugs. The school relied on public funding and often went without unless one of the sports teams or the music department did particularly well. When that happened, Insomnia Academy would swoop in and offer the star athlete or musician a full scholarship. As a result, it created a lot of tension between schools.

The image of the two different schools were evident as well. Insomnia Academy was pristine, white, beautiful, a glimmering view of what academia should be like for high schoolers. Insomnia High was the exact opposite. It was worn down, although the same structure, full of graffitied walls and tired teachers. It was evident that private donors regularly gave to the academy, while the rest of Insomnia didn’t worry too much about where their taxpayer money was going to.

There were different types of students at both schools. Troublemakers, delinquents, and drug dealers were typically what most people associated with Insomnia High, although there were plenty of academics, musicians, and athletes trying to make their way with the best they had. Likewise, while Insomnia Academy was usually associated with the talented, intelligent, and elite, there were plenty of troublemakers, delinquents, and drug dealers there. It was no secret to those at Insomnia High that many of the smarter students at the academy were really making it with the uppers that they were supplied.

Most of the students who went to the academy lived in the better districts of town, where most of Insomnia High school students lived in the business district or the boroughs. The boroughs were easily the place where overt crime was contained, although everyone knew that the elite of Insomnia were just as likely to commit crimes as those who were poor. It kept the police relegated to the boroughs so they could arrest the poor, refugees, or immigrants for minor infractions or drug possession, while the elite would get away with embezzlement and all other manner of upper-class crime. It naturally kept the students of Insomnia High and Insomnia Academy further divided.

Prompto lived just on the other side of the boroughs, not quite in the territory lines but not quite out of it. He didn’t really belong in the quiet area of Insomnia or the loud and vivacious territory where children ran in the street and the cops patrolled regularly. His parents both worked in the business district, leaving him alone most of the time, but they trusted him to take care of himself and stay out of trouble.

Prompto had always kept his head down at Insomnia High during his time there. He was already a junior, but he liked being invisible. He was bullied by the popular students or the troublemakers from time to time, usually for being too quiet or too much of a good student. Sometimes they would remember that he used to be overweight and would tease him for that, but that didn’t happen as frequently anymore.

Occasionally he was heckled by the students across the way at the academy, but that was typical of any student attending the public school. When that happened, those at the public school would quickly come to his defense. It was evident that those bullied at the high school were under the protection from the academy. The only people who could bully them were those who attended the same school.
Prompto’s goal was to get through high school as quickly as possible, stay out of trouble, and get the hell out of Insomnia after graduation. No one at the high school knew that he had dreams of getting out of Insomnia. His parents knew, but they were only gently encouraging without holding out much hope. They had apologized to Prompto for not being rich enough to send him to the academy, but Prompto had explained to them time and again that he was just happy that they had adopted him.

So he spent his time in his room after school, working out how to play the guitar and singing. He was much better suited for the arts than anything else, but he worked hard to maintain good grades in each subject. Luckily his parents recognized that too and sent him to a tutor after school once a week to work on his guitar and voice. They could only afford to send him to a coach who didn’t charge too much, but ultimately they were able to find a tutor who was highly talented but didn’t charge a lot.

Prompto hated bringing his guitar to school on days he had a lesson. Usually he was teased by the delinquents of the school. You think you’re the next Jimi Hendrix, huh? Look how cool you think you are with your guitar! He ignored them all and made sure his guitar was either kept on him or stashed away in his locker at all times. It was better to hide it and keep his head down than respond to the teasing.

In Insomnia High there was one student that everyone avoided though, mainly to try and save their own skin. He was known as the leader of all the delinquents in the school, and whatever he said went. One time a student from Insomnia Academy got a little too haughty with him, and it was rumored that the student ended up in the hospital for a week as a result. He was by far the scariest student by far at the high school, and Prompto did everything he could to avoid him or his gang. Even the name Gladio instilled fear in students, and they all ran for cover or revered him for his command of the school.

Prompto and Gladio were complete opposites in appearance. Prompto was lanky, thin, with blond hair and blue eyes, and freckles that decorated his cheeks. He was clumsy, frequently tripping over himself, despite wearing sturdy shoes and sneakers most of the time. He dressed in black jeans and wore punk rock shirts, preferring it far more to the uniforms from the academy that looked stifling.

Gladio was tall, muscular, tattooed, and dressed in a leather jacket and jeans. Prompto never knew how his parents had allowed him to get tattoos, but then again, did Gladio ever really need to ask for permission from anyone? He had brown hair and ember eyes, but he constantly wore his face in a scowl or glare, standing so much taller over everyone that it just intimidated anyone who he passed by. Once Prompto thought he glared at him, but he hid quickly so that he could avoid any wrath from Gladio.

The days that Prompto didn’t spend his time at home after school or taking music lessons, he spent his time taking an extra course on photography down at the learning center. Of course the academy had photography courses, private vocal coaches, and even guitar instructors, but for the rest of society that had to rely on public assistance or pay out of pocket for other courses. So he went to the local center where they had photography courses and utilized what he could to make it work. He enjoyed it a lot and felt like he was getting better at it, but he never really had a lot of confidence in his talents.

Sometimes when it was late after school, and he didn’t feel like going home right away, he would find the run down music room used for choir practice and practice his guitar there. The chairs in the room were usually pushed away to make room for students to stand in a choir arrangement, while a rundown grand piano in need of tuning was in the corner. Occasionally a teacher would stop and tell him to go home if the time was getting late, but typically he would leave before anyone could catch him practicing.

His days passed by in relative anonymity, keeping to the middle of the crowd so that no one noticed him. It was better to pass the time in quiet and peace while the rest of the school around him was chaos and noise. As a result, Prompto never really had any friends. Growing up he was always a loner, which worried his parents. He didn’t really mind. He was overweight growing up and it always gave him a lot of anxiety, especially since he was frequently teased for his weight. When he lost the weight he was teased for that too. Being alone was the best option so he could avoid as much bullying as possible.

Today was one of the days he had guitar practice, so he kept his guitars in his locker until the end of class. If he didn’t then he had to keep them on him at all times. His parents had gotten him the acoustic guitar when he was still in middle school, and he had quickly taken to it. It was secondhand and used, but he loved it and cherished it. His coach had told him that the guitar was actually of surprisingly good quality for the price they paid.

During his sophomore year of high school his parents had surprised him with an electric guitar and an amp for his birthday. It was new, beautiful, a sleek black design that looked like it belonged on stage more than in his hands. He suspected that his guitar coach had given his parents a deal on it, but he had gratefully accepted it and played it constantly.

Today he had both guitars on him, which was a bit tedious and cumbersome to carry from home to school, so he would practice in his guitar before heading over to his instructor’s house. After another day of trying to focus over the noise of people who couldn’t really care about school, he grabbed his guitars from the locker covered in old stickers that the janitor had unsuccessfully tried to remove and moved quickly and quietly to the music room to try and avoid any attention whatsoever.

He had just taken out his acoustic guitar and was tuning it while sitting in one of the worn down chairs that looked like it was in much need of replacement when he heard laughter down the hall. It had to be one of the groups of delinquents who patrolled the halls after school, looking for someone to torture. Just what I need.

Prompto liked playing for himself. He didn’t like playing in front of students or others because with it came judgment and harassment. Based on how they treated him just by seeing his guitar in its case, they would tear him apart if they heard his music. He considered just packing up his guitar and getting out of there, wander around Insomnia until his planned lesson time, but before he could the laughter drew closer to the music room and one of the students eyed him.

It was a group of five male students and two female students, plus Gladio right at the center. Both of the girls were too tan and preferred to wear clothes that were too low cut for it to be deemed appropriate. Each had a guy, dressed in the same style as their idol, Gladio, with their arm around their shoulders. The guys were talking loudly, showing off to each other, while the girls were giggling in response. Gladio was silent, as usual.

“What do we have here?” one of the guys, with hair dyed a pretty bright blond, said as he stepped into the room. He looked like he was trying too hard to impress his boss, Gladio, who looked bored. “Looks like a rock star, right Gladio? You think you’re so talented, right kid?”

Kid? He’s the same age, maybe even younger. Prompto didn’t bother with a response. The best thing he could do would be to put his guitar away and get out of there sooner rather than later. But when he went to put his guitar away, the group of students clamored around him, telling him that he wasn’t allowed to leave. Gladio remained by the door, arms crossed over his chest. There was no escape.

“You can’t put that away until you play us a song,” one of the girl’s giggled as a guy with dyed black hair kissed her neck. “Come on! Play us something.”

Prompto breathed deeply, knowing that he couldn’t just easily get out of this situation. The only thing he could do was play something and hope they just let him go quickly. So Prompto ignored them instead and began to strum his acoustic guitar. The girls stopped talking and immediately paid attention to him, particularly when he started to sing. He enjoyed playing the music he wrote, and the world fell away when he got lost in his music. His words came out passionate and angry, directed at the group of students who had him trapped in the room. He noticed that Gladio was listening intently, his expression unreadable.

Who knew you’d be hated for being who you are?
And be the target for all the insecure
There’s a bullseye painted on our chest
In the cross hairs of the ignorant
I am not your scapegoat anymore.

When the song concluded, the girls immediately began to clap in excitement. The guys all looked like they wanted to tear the song apart, but Gladio cleared his throat, indicating that whatever they were going to do was off limits now. Prompto had given tribute, and Gladio found it adequate. The group walked away, the girls still clamoring about his music while the guys scoffed at their excitement.

Prompto breathed a sigh of relief and immediately put his guitar away. He rushed out of there, heading towards his guitar lesson, even though he knew he was a bit early. Before he left the school he made sure he was avoiding Gladio and his crew, but he did catch Gladio staring him down before he could make it off the campus. The worst thing he could think of was being under Gladio’s scrutiny. He didn’t need any of the pain that would inevitably be associated with it.

The panic and anxiety bubbled within him as he fled the school quickly, hoping not to draw attention to anyone else. On the other side of the street, the academy students who had lessons and practice late were bustling about, looking dignified in their uniforms. Anyone who didn’t belong on that side of the street was quickly reminded of it. Prompto didn’t need a reminder to know that he didn’t belong there, but he didn’t really fit in at the high school either.

Prompto had been adopted as a baby after he had been brought over from Niflheim. The details of his adoption were always vague and something that his parents never really addressed, other than that his real parents couldn’t or were unwilling to take care of him. It had been explained that from an early age he had been so loved by his parents that they couldn’t leave him alone in the orphanage. More so than someone who had given birth to him, they had specifically chosen him, that was how much they loved him instantly.

It did little to make Prompto feel secure in who he was. He didn’t now who his birth father or mother was, and it always made him feel like he didn’t quite fit in, especially when he was a kid and overweight. His parents gave him plenty of love, but he always wondered if he was better suited to living in Niflheim instead of in Insomnia. Most of the people in Insomnia had darker hair and eyes, unless they were originally from Tenenbrae, where they had a shot at being either blond or had lighter brown hair. In Niflheim Prompto would have fit in well with his blond hair and blue eyes. Here he stood out like a sore thumb. It’s why he tried to blend in as much as possible, falling into the crowd, making himself as small as possible.

He had always been a shy kid, and when he first entered school, overweight and freckled, he was teased mercilessly by those in his school. Anyone who was different was weird, gross, and undesirable. Prompto not only didn’t fit in because of his hair and eyes, but also due to his weight. The first few weeks of his school life were torture for him, but eventually he learned to stick to the middle of the pack, keep his head down, and ignore the constant bullying.

One day he got tired of it. He was playing on a public playground one day, alone. His parents were at work, so his babysitter brought him to the park to get some sunshine and fresh air. He always hated going because he was going to be teased no matter how much he stuck to himself. Still, he couldn’t convince his babysitter not to take him.

When he was there, playing in the sand box, of course a kid started teasing him for his weight and freckles. He kept his head down, trying not to cry, while the babysitter was flirting with a guy walking his dog through the park. That’s when another kid stepped in. He was thin, dark haired, and pretty even as a child. He told the kid to stop picking on Prompto and had even been kind enough to ask if Prompto was okay.

Prompto didn’t know how to react. He only got up and ran away, tears in his eyes. He didn’t know why he was crying so much by this act of kindness from the kid. It was probably because he had never been treated with kindness from his peers like that before. Usually he was either teased or ignored completely. Someone sticking up for him was unfamiliar and terrifying.

After that he decided to do something about his weight. He asked his parents to put him on a diet, and after a lot of back and forth, they complied. They were worried about Prompto developing an eating disorder early on but knew that he did need to be healthier in his eating habits. So they were very careful about how they proceeded, indicating to Prompto that healthy eating habits were the best, not starving oneself.

Prompto also started running. At first it was the worst thing in the world. He hated it and wanted to give up. Each time he ran around the track he felt like dying. But there were kind adults who ran avidly on the track, each one encouraging him and celebrating each and every step he took. Over time, running became easier, he lost the weight, and he even got faster when he ran. Now he ran every morning to not only stay fit but because he enjoyed it thoroughly. He still ran on the same track, and the adults who encouraged him when he was a child now took him to 5ks and other timed events to run with him.

It made Prompto faster than many of the bullies in high school, even with his guitar cases and backpack. When he left the school for the day, walking away quickly, adrenaline pumping, he knew that if he had to run they wouldn’t be able to catch up to him so quickly. He moved quickly through the city streets of Insomnia and to his coach’s house. He didn’t know how his parents knew of his instructor, or even how they had met, especially since when Prompto was a freshman in high school he discovered his tutor was a famous musician.

Prompto figured it out when his instructor would suddenly go out of town on business during the dates that the heavy metal band Kingsglaive would go on tour. At first he just thought that his instructor was potentially a roadie or worked the tour in some aspect like that, but then he actually looked up an image of the band and noticed that he was front and center as guitarist and lead vocalist. He had never told Nyx that he knew, but he had always been a fan of the band and had freaked out when he first discovered who he was. Prompto wondered if he could eventually broach the topic since he was old enough to go to concerts and wanted to see them on their upcoming tour.

“Everything okay?” Nyx asked as Prompto rushed into the house that was clearly decked out for as a musician’s pad. There were tons of records and albums on the walls, a large room with walls made for acoustics, and instrument upon instrument, record upon record, throughout the house. Now that Prompto thought about it, it was kind of obvious that Nyx was famous.

Nyx himself was attractive as far as adults went, but Prompto was in high school still, so it was weird to think of anyone ten years older than him as attractive. He kept his dark hair long, the sides of his head shaved, with braids in his hair in the style that many refugees wore in the boroughs. His eyes were a piercing blue, and Prompto had read on online forums that many of his female fans found him quite attractive and hoped to one day sleep with him. Prompto blushed at the thought, still too young and naïve to think about such things. He didn’t even have friends, let alone a lover.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied breathlessly. “School as usual. It’s crazy there.”

Nyx nodded. “I graduated from Insomnia High. I know how crazy is can be. You ready to put that into your music?”

Prompto nodded and took out his guitar. This time they would be using the electric guitar. They both hooked up their guitars to the amps that Nyx had on standby, their lessons more like jam sessions now that Nyx had indicated Prompto was fairly skilled. Nyx would stop him and tell him what to redo or focus on, and they would practice it until perfect. Prompto knew he was about to broach a topic that he had been building to, but he really wanted to try something with Nyx since it was so technical and so difficult to play.

“Can we try Global Warming by Kingsglaive?” Prompto asked nervously, looking at his guitar instead of at Nyx. “I’ve been practicing it at home and wanted to give it a try.”

“You into heavy metal?” Nyx asked in surprise.

“Somewhat,” Prompto said casually. “I really like how technically perfect they are. And the music is great to jam to.”

“Sure. If you can keep up.” Nyx smiled at that, and they began to practice.

Prompto stumbled along the way until his hands were warmed up. After a while, his fingers decided to move at the pace he needed them to. Long ago his fingers had blistered and turned to callouses, but his fingers still ached by the time the hour was over. Nyx had given him several pointers, and had stopped frequently to correct him, but by the time the hour was over they were able to make it through the song once without stopping. He had hoped that Nyx would sing while they practiced, but he was also grateful he didn’t. If he did then Prompto would have easily lost his concentration.

“You’re getting better,” Nyx commented after they finished. He didn’t even looked like he had broken a sweat, while Prompto felt like he was drenched in it. “Keep up the good work and you might even want to think about joining a band.”

“I don’t know if I can do that,” Prompto said, embarrassed. “Thanks for indulging me, Nyx.”

“Next time come in with another one of your originals and we’ll work on that.” Nyx had always helped him with writing his original pieces while also providing lessons on how to improve his vocal quality. “We might even try a hand at seeing how heavy your voice can get.”

That excited Prompto. He had been working hard on some heavier music, but he had been too shy and nervous to talk to Nyx about it. Some of it was heavier than what he usually presented to Nyx. Nyx always seemed to know where to go with their lessons, though. Instead of training him classically, as soon as Prompto showed an interested in rock and punk, he had immediately directed him down that route. Nyx’s belief was to make Prompto love music more through his lessons, not less. His parents didn’t mind as long as Prompto was kept out of trouble.

Nyx was likely the closest thing Prompto had to a friend. Whenever things were rough, if he was struggling at school or with bullying, then Nyx had always listened to him then told him to put it into his music. It was a way for Prompto to channel the darker aspects of his emotions while producing something that was therapeutic for him and not harmful to others. It kept him from easily falling in with the gangs at school.

Nyx had even invited him to come over from time to time for jam sessions and to hang out, figuring it was better than Prompto being out on the streets at night. He had given Prompto his first beer, which Prompto didn’t necessarily hate nor enjoy, and had taken a few selfies with him as he got further into his photography. Prompto never posted them online, worried that Nyx would get angry with him since he was famous. Besides, Prompto didn’t need it getting out that his coach was the leader of the band Kingsglaive.

“See you next week,” Nyx said as he showed him to the door, their lesson over for the day. “If you have anymore difficulties at school, let me know and we’ll talk it out.”

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto replied with a genuine smile. “I’ll see you next week.”

Prompto left the house, feeling lighter than he had when he went in. Music always made him feel better, an expression of his soul, no matter how light or dark it got. The walk home was easier, and most of the students from the high school and the academy were already home. His parents would be working late, as usual, but Prompto didn’t mind. He had the independence to do what he wanted and always stayed out of trouble, so they trusted him not to do anything dangerous.

As usual, Prompto’s mom left him a meal ready to reheat in the microwave. Despite never really seeing them save on weekends, his mother always cooked for him and made meals in advance so he always had three square meals a day. Most people at the high school bought their lunch in the cafeteria, but Prompto could never get used to the gross, bland food that they served there. He doubted the academy had such terrible food for their students.

Prompto thoughts about how he wanted the year to go since it was only the first week, but he doubted it would go so smoothly. He had already had a run in with Gladio and his crew, which easily made him a target going forward. But Gladio had decided not to torture him anymore, so maybe that meant he had the opportunity to fade into the background again and continue his life of anonymity. Maybe if he was courageous he would ask Nyx to about going to his concert in Insomnia in a few months.

He went to bed thinking about how he was going to try and make his junior year a bit better, as long as he kept his head down and stayed out of trouble. He had a 5k lined up in a couple of weeks that he looked forward to running, and maybe he would even go to a local dive bar or two for an open mic night. He didn’t think he had that much courage, but Nyx seemed confident in his abilities.

Prompto thought about it sleepily as he lay in bed for the evening. It was the year that he was going to make sure everything went right. He was going to be successful in his music, his running, and his photography. That would set him up for success as a great candidate for a college of the arts, maybe someplace in Niflheim or Tenebrae. It would be ridiculous for him to even think he could get into a school in Insomnia or Altissia. But he would apply anyway. Things were going to be alright. He just had to avoid people like Gladio and nothing would stand in his way.

Chapter Text

Prompto woke up early in the morning for his morning run on the track before school. It was the same routine, even though getting up early in the morning was always difficult for him. He didn’t really have time after school because he was either at one of his music lessons or taking a photography course. Morning was the only option for him, and he usually got to the track early enough to avoid any of those on the track team from the high school or the academy.

That was usually when the adults ran on the track so they didn’t get heckled by anyone on either team. The academy never verbally heckled other runners, but from time to time they would get “accidentally” tripped or shoved. It was a public track and the only thing the academy had to share with the high school and general populous, but it was difficult running on it when they were present. At least with the high school track team they would overtly heckle other runners.

Even though Insomnia was still hot during the day from the sweltering end of the summer, the mornings were fairly cool and pleasant. It was promising to be another humid day, and when Prompto stepped outside after putting on his running shorts and tank top, he immediately thought about how this morning’s run would be a bit unpleasant from the thickness of the air. It would make him a bit slower, but he was still going to run. Plus he was early enough to go home and change before class, and he lived close enough to the track and the school that it wasn’t such a big deal to go back and forth.

Prompto did an easy jog to the track, a lay of land off of both school’s properties and technically in a public park. It was pristine thanks to the academy’s influence, the track level and smooth to run on. It was used for track meets, relay races, and other events that required its use, both for schools and for the general public. Prompto enjoyed doing 5ks throughout Insomnia, and once his parents had even taken him to a 5k on a chocobo farm. That one was by far his favorite.

When he reached the track, he heard the shouting and clamor of students talking to each other, slowing his pace rapidly. On the track was a group of students, all dressed in the white running attire for the academy, shuffling sleepily, most of them grumbling and looking about angrily. At the head of the group was a student facing them. He had white hair pulled back for the morning run, was tall and slender, and one eye was a different color from the other. Prompto didn’t go to the academy but he knew it was Ravus Nox Fleuret. Everyone knew it was Ravus.

“This year we’re going harder and faster,” Ravus said. “Last year was a close call with the high school, and we even lost in the relay. That isn’t happening again. If anyone objects to this new training schedule, they can resign from the team now.”

No one moved or uttered a word. Prompto groaned internally. This would disrupt his entire routine, and he wasn’t getting up earlier in the day. The sun was barely peaking over the horizon, the sky still grey with the beginning of morning. He would just have to deal with the silent jeers and the risk of being tripped and hurt from the track team. It was evident he wasn’t even an academy student, wearing black running shorts and a red top.

He stepped out onto the track as the students began to stretch, following Ravus’s advice as they stood in the grassy area in the middle of the track. All of them eyed him, but none more than Ravus, who was glaring at him a great deal as he began his run. He put his music on, his headphones blocking out the rest of the world, as he ran. The music kept his heartrate up, his breathing kept it steady, and he timed his pace, trying to keep pushing forward until he could beat his previous time. He had worked on incline and stamina recently. Right now his focus was speed.

At some point the track team for the academy took to the track, all of them running under Ravus’s instruction. He was careful to navigate around them. It wasn’t the first time he had run in a group of people, although the 5ks he had completed were always friendlier than right now. Several times students tried to trip him or shove him, but he was always faster than they were, and he was easily able to step out of the way while he was passing by the students. He even ignored Ravus when he ran beside him, keeping pace with Prompto until Prompto ultimately passed him.

By the time he was done, he was panting and worn out from the run, but his adrenaline was pumping and he felt exhilarated as he always did. He enjoyed that he was getting faster, but he couldn’t spend much more time on the track before one of the students really tried something more than being passive aggressive. He thought he heard someone shouting as he jogged off the track and headed home, but his music was too loud in his ears for him to hear clearly enough.

The jog home was quick, and Prompto took an even faster shower before speedily getting dressed and scarfing down a quick breakfast. His mood was always elevated, and since today was one of the days he needed his camera instead of his guitar, he was able to be on the way to school with little trepidation.

At school he always kept his camera on him, tucked in his theft-proof backpack that his parents had gotten him when he started school. The camera was another gift for him, this time from his grandparents, who had passed away in the past couple of years. He used it for all his photography, including the courses he took and the photos he took for fun. It wasn’t a special camera, by any means, but it was his and he loved it.

When he got to school he was happily going with the flow of the crowd. He even successfully reached his locker without too much of a fuss and was working on the combination lock on the stickered tall piece of metal when there was sudden metallic clang next to him. It was the sound of a fist connecting with the lockers, the thin metal shaking violently by the force. Prompto jumped, as anyone would, especially since the fist connected so close to his face.

Gladio was glaring down at him, his face neither angry nor pleasant. Glaring seemed to be his face’s natural resting state, at least at the school. He was dressed in his usual leather jacket with a tank top and black jeans. Prompto was very much aware of how dangerous he was, but his large muscles and the scar above his eye were a decent enough reminder in case he forgot. Escaping Gladio’s gaze was impossible after all.

“Hey,” Gladio said. When Prompto didn’t respond, too scared and intimidated, he continued. “You write that song yourself?”

“Y-yes!” Prompto managed to reply, his voice about two octaves higher than it usually was. The bell rang, signaling the start of first period algebra, but he didn’t move. Being late was preferable to pissing off Gladio.

“I thought so,” Gladio said. “This is you, right?”

He pulled out his phone, making Prompto wonder what he was looking at, until he pulled up Prompto’s page on social media. It was mostly photos he took and sometimes a clip of him performing. He had plenty of followers online, but he doubted many of them actually took the time to listen to his music. Prompto nodded when he saw the feed, wondering how Gladio had found him.

“You should stop posting your music online,” Gladio warned him. He said it as a suggestion, but he meant it as an order. “Otherwise you’ll be targeted. You know what I mean by that, right?”

Prompto nodded his head vigorously. What he had done to anger Gladio meant that any future posts on his feed of his music was banned. If he did then it would be hell to pay. Prompto imagined everything from Gladio punching him to him breaking Prompto’s fingers and rendering him unable to play. Don’t draw attention to myself and Gladio won’t kill me, got it.

“Good. Don’t let anyone know,” Gladio said. He walked away before Prompto could even think of responding.

Prompto rushed to class, looking flustered. The teacher thoroughly ignored him, as he did for most of the students who came in late. There wasn’t much care where their education was concerned. Prompto studied hard and did good work and was in honors courses, but the teachers still didn’t particularly mind if someone was late. He took his seat unceremoniously, but the rumors had already started. People were whispering about how he was a dead man for crossing Gladio. The problem was, Prompto hadn’t done anything wrong. Had he?

He passed the entire day trying to make sure he avoided Gladio or his goons. It was hard to avoid them all entirely, and several times he saw Gladio glaring at him. It only made him hide, ducking behind a taller student or into an empty classroom. He went from class to class like this, but it was hard to avoid fifth period, where they had composition together.

Prompto was surprised the first day of school when he saw that they had the same honors class, but like everyone else, he wasn’t going to say anything about it. Just as on that day, he took his seat at the front of the class and waited until the lesson started. Gladio came in late, as usual, and glared at him as he walked by, sitting in the back and stretching his long legs on an empty desk next to him. He didn’t think that Gladio ever took notes or paid attention, but apparently his grades were good enough to warrant him being in the honors course. Either that or he threatened the teachers to get good grades.

At the end of the class Prompto bolted, out of there before Gladio could stop him. He was very appreciative that he had been working on his speed, being able to zoom through the students until he was in his next class. Whatever it took, he had to stay away from Gladio. Eventually Gladio would lose interest, especially since he wouldn’t be posting anything online for a while, and he would be left alone. But right now, the students at the school were all whispering about how Prompto was a dead man walking if Gladio stayed mad.

The rest of the day passed by quickly, and Prompto had to plan how he was going to get out of the school with as little attention on him as possible. He doubted that it would be difficult, considering the mass of students that left both the high school and the academy right after school ended. And he always had the benefit of being fast so he could escape the campus and reach the public learning center where he was taking his photography course.

As soon as he stepped outside the main doors of the school he hesitated. There was a large gathering of students on either side of the street, all of them standing still and watching two students in the middle of the road. The students were all whispering excitedly back and forth, but all of them were listening in rapt attention. There were some students closer to the two in the road goading each opposing side on, but the two in the middle remained composed despite the huge crowd that had gathered.

It was obvious why the crowd had gathered. Gladio was standing there, hands on hips, his body posture open and unintimidated. The other student was standing with his arms folded across his chest, clearly annoyed, even from this distance. He was fit but slender and wore the uniform of the academy, plaid pants, a white button up with the sleeves rolled past the elbows due to the heat, and a white sweater vest with the academy emblem stitched over the left breast. Prompto couldn’t make out his features from where he was, but his hair was brown and he wore glasses.

“You have no right to stop me from talking to him,” the student announced, staring down Gladio with a hostility that made Prompto question his sanity.

“He goes to my school,” Gladio growled. “If I say he belongs to me then he belongs to me.”

“You can’t own a person,” the student replied in exasperation, throwing his hands up in disbelief.

“Says the rich boy from Tenebrae,” Gladio replied. His voice was calm but menacing. Prompto was shaking just from watching the confrontation. He didn’t know how the academy student could remain so calm. “Tell me, how many slaves did your family own before slavery was ended, huh? How many refugees have been put out by the war?”

“The transgressions of Tenebrae is a topic that is irrelevant for this conversation,” the student replied. His voice was as calm as Gladio’s, although not quite as menacing. “I would be happy to enlighten you on history since it seems your education is so lacking, but that would have to be at another time. Now, you’re a student, not an administrator, not his parents. Step aside.”

“No,” Gladio snarled. “You won’t continue to take our best from us. The world isn’t yours to do what you want with it.”

Prompto didn’t need to hear anymore. He didn’t need to know who or what the conversation was about. While all eyes were on the academy student and Gladio, he made his escape attempt. It was better than everyone focused on him and Gladio, as they had been all day. As he walked away, he heard the academy student shout after him, making him wonder how he knew his name in the first place. It didn’t matter. He took off running before anyone could stop him.

He didn’t know why Gladio was so mad, but he assumed it had something to do with the boroughs. It was well known that Gladio lived in the boroughs, so many of the students often went to him with problems if someone was threatening them or their family. Prompto assumed it was how he got the scar over his eye. For years there had been a war waging in the backdrop of Eos, Niflheim and its territories, including Tenebrae, against Lucis.

Eventually the war ended, but they were still experiencing the aftermath of it. Many refugees from the outskirts of Lucis ended up in the boroughs, trying to make a home after being displaced from theirs. The government was trying to repair the towns that were still in Lucis territory, but the efforts were minimal at best. Most of the refugees ended up settling in small tenements in the boroughs until they saved up enough money to leave for greener pastures. The refugees were typically farmers, better at cultivating land than city living.

The worst part of the war was the slavery, or indentured servitude as it was called by Niflheim officially. Refugees who didn’t manage to escape were forced to work labor camps, serve rich masters, or fight in the war. When the war ended, they were released as part of the peace treaty, but there was no consideration to reparations or setting them free with something to help with their lives.
Unfortunately, it was rumored that there were those still in captivity, just under a different name.

It was definitely one of the reasons why many of the students at Insomnia High were so angry with the elite school across the street. Many of the students were refugees or knew at least one family that were refugees, still recovering from the effects of a war that ended twenty years ago. They had to stare at those who had never once experienced the hardship of losing everything they had, let alone having family that was stolen from them. Many still didn’t even know where their families were, and anyone who was from Niflheim or Tenebrae was a target, regardless of their family’s actual involvement in the war.

Prompto had hoped that if he became a successful photographer that he would be able to travel to places like Galahd to photograph the aftermath of the war. There were still places that were occupied by military forces on both sides, making them difficult places to travel to. It also meant that the refugees who once lived there had no hope of returning. Once a place was military occupied it was shut down to the public, even if it was later abandoned.

Even though there were certain risks associated with it, Prompto still hoped that if he decided to pursue photography as a profession that he would be able to go. He didn’t know if photography would be his career choice, or if it would be music, or if it wouldn’t be any of that. He knew he had no interest in joining any track teams, preferring to be a solo runner and do his own 5ks instead of competing for a school. And he knew that all of his choices could very well fail because the arts were not exactly a stable career choice. Maybe he would end up working at a desk job and all of these would just become hobbies. He wouldn’t know until he tried in the very least.

The photography course at the learning center didn’t begin right away, so Prompto spent most of the hour talking to the instructor and having her evaluate his recent photos. She gave him pointers, told him what he was doing well, and asked him about what the emotional intention behind the piece was. For her, as for many, the emotional intention needed to be clearly conveyed. If Prompto was confused and unsure of what he was doing, it would come across in the photo. It was a reason why he loved taking her courses and had been for several years already. Like Nyx, Aranea was difficult to please, but once he did then the praise was high.

Once the course started, Aranea instructed the diverse group of students on where they would be going and what they would be photographing for the night. Today it was a walk in the park, to capture natural scenery as the sun set on the vast city. Prompto wondered how Aranea was able to handle the group that she did, but most listened to her out of respect or desire. She was young, with long silver hair and beautiful green eyes. She knew what she was gifted with and tended to dress in low cut tops with jeans, but Prompto was never distracted by it. He respected her too much to be.

The group of students could be broken down into a few groups. There were the older attendees who were taking it for personal enrichment. There were the younger ones who were taking it because they wanted to impress someone or because they were lusting after Aranea. And then there was Prompto, who was taking it because he wanted to seriously consider photography for his personal enjoyment and for a career. Aranea always provided feedback based on what the student was there for. For Prompto that meant honest critique and high expectations.

They all followed Aranea to the park, some of them hanging around her to try and weasel their way into her heart, while those who were there for fun talked amongst each other about their day job or their children that they cared for. Prompto was quiet, as usual, trying to get into the headspace of what he was potentially looking for. Aranea had said the prompt for the day was beauty. She would often give assignments based off of one word or phrase, and today was no exception.

The park itself was active, alive, and full of children, teens, and adults trying to enjoy the last moments of warmth before the summer ended officially and fall swept in. Prompto was looking forward to the fall, but he would take advantage of the warmth today. Many of the older adults immediately started taking photos of the children, with parental permission of course, or the nature of the park. Those who were being particularly lusty took photos of Aranea before she shooed them away.

Prompto didn’t take any photos at first. He walked around the park, straying into the rose garden that was in full bloom until the cold made them dormant for the winter season. There were certainly many beautiful things around him, but nothing really caught his eye and screamed beautiful to him. Aranea had been really clear about her critiques. It had to evoke emotion in Prompto for it to evoke emotion in others. Otherwise, what was the damn point?

He wandered around until he saw a large weeping willow, the green leaves swaying gently in the wind. There was something about the willow, with the city skyline in the background and the setting sun on the horizon, that called out to him. It made his soul ache in almost a nostalgic way, as if the willow itself was calling back to more ancient times before the world had gotten so busy and preoccupied. He adjusted his lens and began to take several photos of the willow, moving around it so he could get it at all angles. There was still something missing though.

That’s when Prompto saw the sleeping academy student underneath the willow tree. He looked like he had been on his way home from school, decided to stop for a few minutes, and instead fell asleep for hours, using his backpack as a pillow. The student was beautiful himself, with dark hair and long eyelashes and pouting lips. He reminded Prompto of someone, but he couldn’t quite place it. All he knew was that this was what was missing from his photos.

He took a few wide shots of the willow tree with the student sleeping underneath, still in his uniform that was likely to be stained from the grass. Then he got a few closeups, trying to capture the essence of nostalgic beauty that he was looking for. His camera lens shuttered away, making a noise with each photo he took. After a little while, the student stirred, waking to the sound of a camera going off.
“Dude,” the student said as he stood up.

Prompto was taking a photo of the leaves, his back turned to him. He jumped and turned around in surprise, unsure of what to say as he stared down at the student. He rubbed one eye with the palm of his hand sleepily, his arms resting on his knees. When he looked up at Prompto, he noticed that the academy student had beautiful eyes that seemed blue one moment then almost like a stormy grey the next.

“Did you take a pic of me?” the student asked. He didn’t sound particularly accusatory, just sleepy and annoyed that he was woken up.

“Sorry,” Prompto replied. “It’s for a photography class. You might have been in a frame or two. I will delete them if you want.”

The teen considered it for a moment then shrugged. “It’s fine. Just send me the pic if it looks good.” He took out his phone and looked at Prompto nonchalantly. “What’s your number?”

Prompto was a bit startled by the easygoing nature of the student. Nevertheless, he wasn’t about to pass up an opportunity to keep a series of photos he was very excited to develop. He gave the student his number, wondering how someone could seem to care so little about it.

“My name is Prompto, by the way,” he said after he gave him his number. “Prompto Argentum.”

“Cool,” the student replied. “My name is Noctis Caelum. If you put any of it on social media then tag me. I’m not hard to find. And if I put it on social media, I’ll credit you.”

“I’ll do that then,” Prompto replied. Aranea was calling in the distance, trying to wrangle all of her students together. “Thanks, Noctis.”

“Sure thing,” Noctis replied as he stood up and brushed off his pants. He grabbed his bookbag and looked at Prompto like he wanted to say something. Instead he shrugged and walked away.

Prompto found Noctis to be quite an odd person, but he wasn’t about to question it. He knew the name Caelum well. Regis Caelum was the dean over at the academy, a scholar well known in many circles, and the descendant of those who originally founded Lucis. If Noctis was a Caelum, then he was likely Regis’s son. It was well known that Regis was the only child of his father, making Noctis anyone else’s kid an impossibility. He also knew that they were rich beyond imagination.

When Prompto rejoined the group they went back to the learning center and spent the rest of the course working on developing their photos. Instead of reviewing them, Aranea gave them the assignment to pick their favorite two or three then bring them in for critique next week. Prompto was lucky that his grandparents had gifted him a camera that had a hookup to his computer. Not only could he develop them in a red room like Aranea insisted on, but he could go home and upload them onto his hard drive or laptop easily. It was really the family laptop, but Prompto was the only one who used it since his parents had work laptops they brought home, on loan by the companies they worked for.

Prompto knew when he got home that he should just do his homework and get ready for bed, since the photography class always ran late. Instead, he spent the evening neglecting what he was supposed to do and pouring over the photos he took. He paused when he saw one of the closeups of Noctis sleeping. His features were so beautiful that Prompto found himself blushing when he looked at it. That was unusual and definitely the first time he blushed over something like that.

He looked at his phone and saw a missed text from a number he didn’t recognize. When he opened it, it was just a brief text from Noctis identifying himself and asking for the photos for social media purposes. Prompto looked through the ones that had him, selected the best ones, including the one that made him blush, and sent them to him, along with his social media handle so he could be given credit.

After a few minutes there was a pinging that alerted him to being tagged in a social media post. He pulled it up and recognized the photo he had blushed at, Noctis being kind enough to tag him in the post to give him credit. The caption read: Some guy took a pic of me while I was sleeping for a photography course lol. Jokes aside, he’s actually pretty good. Check him out. Prompto was further surprised to see that Noctis had followed him and liked some of his posts already. He had assumed that Noctis was the type not really to care about much of anything.

Prompto didn’t know if he should text Noctis back and thank him for tagging him or just let it go. He wasn’t used to having friends, so he didn’t know exactly what he was supposed to do in situations like these. Noctis wasn’t even his friend, just some guy he happened to think was beautiful, which was creepy enough without the photos he took. He must have waited too long because a moment later Noctis texted him.

Thanks for the pics.
You know how to get all the best angles lol.
Let’s chill sometime after school if you’re free.
I’m assuming you go to Insomnia High?

Prompto stared at the phone for a while. He was trying to hold a conversation with Prompto. Alarm bells went off, and he wasn’t quite sure why. Maybe it was the bullying. Maybe he expected to be made fun of instead of befriended. It wouldn’t be the first time that someone from the academy set up someone from the high school. He didn’t get the impression that Noctis was one of those types, though.

No problem. Thanks for tagging me.
I don’t go to Insomnia High so much as I
try to survive it haha.
I don’t have to guess you go to the academy.
Chilling sounds fun. I’m free after school most days.

It didn’t take long for Noctis to reply, and Prompto found his heart racing as he read the message.

Sweet. I am too lol.
You free tomorrow?
We can chill at my place.
You can take more pics of me too since you
make me look good lol.

Prompto couldn’t help but smile at Noctis’s own vanity. He looked at his measly follower count compared to the thousands of people who followed Noctis and understood why. The guy was obviously more than just popular. He was even account verified. That was likely due to his pedigree even.

Sure sounds fun.
I’ll meet you by the track?

Noctis confirmed the meeting place after school, and Prompto felt a thrill go through him. This was the potential of having his first friend ever, really. Then again, it could all just be because Noctis wanted someone to take good pics of him for his social media feed. That seemed to be the more likely cause of their sudden hang out tomorrow. After all, why would an academy student want to hang out with someone from their warring high school?

Chapter Text

The next day was full of anxiety and, surprisingly, dread. Prompto hadn’t really ever spent time with anyone outside of school, save for his music lessons and photography courses. But that wasn’t really hanging out. He was doing that to build on his skills and hopefully get into a good school for the arts when he graduated. Insomnia had the best art school around, although Altissia was a close second. He would love to get into one of those schools, but the only problem was they almost exclusively selected from the academy across the street. He had a better chance of applying to a school in Tenebrae or Niflheim. Still good, but not the best, and with political tensions still there, he would likely have to move there permanently during his entire college career.

Prompto suspected that his anxiety came from two sources. The first was from Gladio and his goons. He suspected that if Gladio knew he was going to spend time with one of the students from the academy then his life would be forfeit. He had to do everything in his power to keep it quiet. The second was that he was pretty sure Noctis only wanted to spend time with him so he could take pics for his social media feed. He knew he was going to be taken advantage of, and it made him uneasy. Nevertheless, he brought his camera anyway.

His acoustic guitar was also in its case and with him. Just because he was hanging out with someone after school didn’t mean he could neglect his practice. Nyx would give him a hard time if he didn’t come in with a piece of music that they could work on and fine tune. Instead of spending his lunch in the cafeteria in his usual spot in the corner, he went to an empty classroom that a teacher had given him permission to use and practice. The teacher was grading papers while Prompto strummed his guitar, trying to work out what his next song would be.

Recently he had been working on finding his genre, his voice, and what style of music he wanted to write. Nyx had said that over time, as he gained more real world experience, he would be able to write music that was more meaningful and more authentic. He was still in high school still, which meant his worldview was limited compared to a great musician like Nyx. He wondered what he could do to gain more experience while he was in school, but Nyx had only told him not to rush it and just to enjoy his youth before the real world hit him.

Instead Prompto focused more on his own internal struggles that came with growing. Bullying was a problem at the school, so he used a lot of his music to channel his anger and rage at the helplessness he felt to change that. His adoption was a bit of a sore spot for him, although he never would admit it to his adoptive parents, especially since they were oddly quiet about the circumstances of his adoption. They had only ever given him all he wanted, but he always felt like he never quite belonged since he was taken from a Niflheim orphanage and brought to Insomnia.

He wasn’t by any means rich. In fact, his parents often struggled to make ends meet, even though every birthday he was always given lavish gifts and he never had to miss a music lesson or photography course. Prompto suspected that his parents often were able to get discounts from Nyx on instruments, or at least he directed them where to go, although he couldn’t prove it. Prompto was lucky enough that he didn’t have to live in the boroughs, where cops were often looking to arrest teens and adults just for minor infractions like jaywalking. He was lucky that he wasn’t a refugee, trying to escape the pain of losing their home. All in all, he considered his experience privileged in comparison to many.

It didn’t mean that he didn’t have anxiety or worries, though. Whenever Prompto considered the pain of others around him he always felt guilty, like he shouldn’t really be anxious like he was or struggle with other issues. But Nyx had told him that everyone is entitled to whatever they feel, whether it’s good or bad. If he was anxious or depressed, then it didn’t matter if someone had it worse in the eyes of society. His suffering was just as valid.

Prompto was grateful for Nyx’s instruction and direction, especially since his parents usually weren’t home and he didn’t really have any friends. Nyx had taught him to channel everything into his music as a creative outlet and a means of self-expression. He put his anger, his rage, even his hope into his music, and the result was sometimes pretty and sometimes not. Nyx never said his music was bad. He gave direction on how to improve on it, but he was always adamant that there was no such thing as terrible music.

Each note was an expression of the soul, and sometimes there were aspects of the soul were ugly, broken, and torn. Those were the parts of the soul that society shunned and turned away from, afraid to look at what was hideous because it meant looking at their own inner turmoil and pain. Nyx had said that was why he got into music, and Prompto suspected that was why heavy metal even existed in the first place. It was music holding a mirror up to society while saying take a look at yourself.

It was also why Prompto was increasingly a fan of rock and the heavy metal and punk scene. He hadn’t been to a concert yet and hadn’t yet asked his parents to go to a concert, but he was really hoping that he could go soon. Looking at photos and videos online, it looked like such a great time for him to enjoy music with kindred spirits. Somehow he had a feeling that his parents wouldn’t like the idea of him going to a concert alone, since there was bound to be drugs and alcohol present, but he wasn’t a kid anymore and he could easily take care of himself. And if he was lucky, then he could see Nyx perform live with Kingsglaive.

As Prompto worked through what he was planning for the music, a vocal heavy song came to him. It wasn’t exactly within his typical vocal style, but he decided to stick with it since Nyx had told him to diversify his range. He thought of the lyrics, channeling his confusion at his own identity, his pain, his depression, his anxiety. After working out the basics, he knew that the song belonged on the electric guitar and could hear the beats of the percussion in his mind. It didn’t matter for now. He could work that out later.

Towards the end of lunch he did a run through of the song so he could figure out what needed to be worked on or what was going well. Nyx wouldn’t be happy if he only brought the bare skeleton of an outline. After he finished it, the teacher in the room stopped grading his papers to clap. It startled Prompto, nearly making him jump off the desk he was sitting on. He had completely forgotten the teacher was even there, which was typical when he lost himself in his music.

“You’re good, kid,” the teacher said. “You should start a band.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied awkwardly. He put his guitar away, realizing he had spent the entire lunch practicing and forgot to eat. Luckily most teachers didn’t care if someone ate in class, and he always brought his lunch.

“He’s right,” Gladio said at the door, his arms folded across his chest. He looked at Prompto with inscrutably. Prompto wondered if he was stalking him, but he couldn’t just outright ask him. “You ever think about joining a band?”

“Not really,” Prompto replied with a shrug. He didn’t dare look at the student. “Do you play an instrument?”

“No,” Gladio replied shortly. “My sister does though. She’s a grade behind us. Plays the drums.”

“Oh,” Prompto replied in surprise. He didn’t know that he had a sister. “That’s really cool.”

“Yeah, I’ll set you up with her so you can talk music.” Gladio walked over to Prompto, making him want to instinctively take a step backwards. Somehow he was able to refrain from doing so. “Give me your phone number.” He reached into his pocket, and for a moment Prompto assumed it was a gun. He was surprised when he saw it was a phone. Of course it was. Gladio was intimidating enough. He didn’t need a gun.

Prompto complied and gave him his contact information, although he was questioning exactly why. Probably because he was far too scared to say no. If his sister was just as intimidating as him then he knew he was going to be doomed to live at least his junior year in fear. But he hadn’t even heard that he had a sister, let alone seen her. She had to go to this school, right?

“Has anyone from the academy approached you?” Gladio asked.

Prompto thought back to this morning. The track team was still running on the track, so Prompto had to navigate around them. He was likely going to switch his running routine to the streets of Insomnia as a result. At one point he thought Ravus was trying to get his attention, but he willfully ignored it.

“No,” Prompto replied.

“Good. That brown-haired rich Tenebraean snot will likely try and talk to you. Whatever you do, just ignore him. Understand?” Gladio used his intimidating posture to make Prompto feel about ten times smaller than he actually was.

“Y-yes,” Prompto nearly whispered. The bell rang, signaling the end of the lunch hour.

“Good. See you later. Look out for my sister’s text or call. Her name’s Iris. Later.” He walked away before Prompto could think of anything to say. Prompto had a feeling he did that a lot, since he was always so in control of the situation.

He passed through the rest of the day in a worried haze. Prompto’s mind was spinning, trying to figure out the easiest way to get past Gladio when he left school today. It was becoming increasingly apparent that Gladio had his eye on him, for whatever reason, and he wasn’t sure if it was a good or a bad thing. He was clearly intimidated and afraid of the student, but Gladio had said that he was going to connect him with his sister? That scared him even more.

If someone like Gladio had a sister, he could only imagine how frightening she would be. Prompto imagined that she was Gladio’s height, with muscles much the same as well. In fact, the more he thought about it, the more his mind was just picturing Gladio in a dress, which was simultaneously comical and destructive. If his sister was just like him, then Prompto was doomed.

By the end of the school day, Prompto felt like he was going to panic as he walked through the halls. In the distance he could see many of Gladio’s followers walking around, laughing and joking. One of them had been in the group that had initially cornered him. He wasn’t prepared for any of their shenanigans today. He just needed to get out and get to the track so he could meet up with Noctis, who would likely have him take a few pics for him then send him on his way.

Prompto made his way out through the main entrance, following the shuffling students who were happily chatting amongst each other, grateful that the end of the school day meant freedom. He had almost successfully made it down the short flight of steps before he was grabbed by someone who he didn’t quite recognize. The guy had spiked dyed-blond hair and several piercings, his blue eyes looking at Prompto deviously while he wrapped his arm around his neck and pulled him over to his squad of fellow delinquents. He didn’t know what they wanted with him, but his struggling did nothing to break free of his grasp. While he was fast, he wasn’t particularly strong.

“Hey,” the guy said with a smile on his face. Prompto looked at him and suddenly thought he would’ve been more attractive if he didn’t have his hair done so ridiculously. That’s gay Prompto, he scolded himself. “You bring your guitar to school a lot right?”

“Yeah, why?” Prompto asked.

“Well, you see,” the guy began as the others in his group snickered. “We’ve noticed that you’re a pretty good kid. Keep your head down. Don’t really make any waves. Just the kind of guy we’re looking for.” He pulled something out of his pocket. A white powdery substance. Prompto didn’t need to know exactly what type of drugs they were to know that they were highly illegal. “We could really use your help to get this through the door. Just put it in your guitar and walk through the door.”

“And if I refuse?” Prompto asked, his heart racing. The guy was still holding onto him, and his grip got tighter, closer to holding him into a headlock than being friendly.

“Then we make you wish you wouldn’t,” he replied as Prompto struggled against his grip. The others in the group laughed.

“What are you doing Loqi?” Gladio asked behind them. Prompto looked up, still in Loqi’s grasp, as Gladio glared down at him. “Let him go.”

Loqi complied and held his hands up in surrender with a smile on his face. His eyes were not smiling though. He eyes were angry, like he knew he had been caught but didn’t want to quite admit defeat yet. “We’re just having a little chat.”

“Chat over,” Gladio declared. He pulled Prompto close to him and wrapped his arm around his waist. Prompto didn’t dare move. “Prompto’s under my protection. You mess with him, you mess with me.”

“This kid?” Loqi asked. He shrugged. “Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Didn’t realize that you swing that way.” The other sniggered behind him until Gladio glared at them. “Fine. We won’t mess with him.”

“And get that shit off campus,” Gladio snapped. “If I catch wind of you pedaling that here or in the boroughs then you’re done for. Got it?”

“Always the black knight coming in to save the day,” Loqi sneered. “Fine. The kids at the academy are better suited for this anyway. They can actually afford it.”

“Fuck off,” Gladio said as Loqi and his goons walked away. They were silent for a moment, until Prompto realized that Gladio was still holding onto him. He didn’t know if he should pull away or if that would offend him and make things worse.

“Um. Thanks,” Prompto said quietly. He had hoped to avoid Gladio after school so he could meet with Noctis on the track. Now he was grateful that Gladio had been there in the first place. The only thing that worried him was how he was going to get out of the situation.

“Word will get out that you’re under my protection,” Gladio said as he finally released Prompto. “They should leave you alone for a while. And they know they’re not allowed to bring that shit here anyway.”

Prompto nodded, but he was a bit confused. He had always assumed that Gladio was also pushing drugs or doing other violent activity. But they had called Gladio a black knight. Did that mean he was trying to protect the school? That didn’t really make much sense based on his reputation, but then again, reputations were often built on lies or exaggerations.

“I appreciate it,” Prompto said as he took a step away from Gladio. His phone was going off, and it was likely Noctis texting him, asking him where he was at. Gladio looked at him suspiciously. If Prompto was really under his protection then it meant that he had caught his attention, which may be equally as bad.

“Yeah,” Gladio said. “Tomorrow after school meet me here. I’ll introduce you to my sister.”

“Oh. Okay.” Prompto was ready to run away, to get out of the situation, but he hesitated when he heard that. The last thing he wanted was to spend time with Gladio and his sister after school, but he couldn’t just say no, especially after Gladio had rescued him. “Sounds good. I’ll see you then!”

Prompto left before Gladio could say anything else, leaving him on the steps of the school as he ran towards the track. It wasn’t far away, nestled in between the two schools, but he knew he had to get there quickly or else Noctis would likely just leave. When the track came into view, Noctis was standing at the edge of the track, his bookbag in one hand as he held it over his shoulder. He was looking at his phone, but Prompto couldn’t tell if he was annoyed or just bored.

He ran up to Noctis and slid to a stop, panting and breathing heavily as he stood in front of him. “Sorry,” he breathed between pants. “Got held up.” And almost made a drug mule.

“It’s fine,” Noctis said. He looked amused at Prompto’s disheveled appearance. “Come on. My ride is parked nearby.”

Noctis walked away, and Prompto followed, trying to avoid anyone who might recognize his face. Noctis didn’t really seem to care about the whispers of the few students who were loitering as they walked to the academy parking lot that was almost entirely empty now. A few uniformed students were leaning against their gleaming cars, chatting with each other. Prompto couldn’t tell if they were whispering about him and Noctis being seen together or something else, but he had the impression that he was being stared at.

“Get in,” Noctis said as he unlocked a classic Regalia. Prompto felt his stomach doing flips at the sight of it. Regalias were extremely rare, only ten or so made in Eos. The sleek black model was hand crafted by the finest mechanics, and each one was made to the purchaser’s specifications. Older models were even more rare, and this one looked like it wasn’t new, although it was in pristine condition. He couldn’t fathom how much one must have cost.

“This is your car?” Prompto asked as Noctis got in the driver’s seat. He opened the passenger side door and got in, immediately being welcomed by the most comfortable chair he sat in in his life, let alone in a car. The sleek black interior was carefully detailed, and Prompto imagined that someone cleaned it for Noctis.

“Yeah,” Noctis replied with shrug. Prompto kept his guitar case straddled between his legs, and Noctis looked at it before pulling on his seatbelt and turning the car on. It roared to life, purring beautifully, and he pulled out of the parking lot. “It used to be my dad’s. I got it for my sixteenth birthday this past summer. You a car freak or something?”

“Not particularly,” Prompto answered honestly. “Everyone knows what Regalias are, though.”

“True,” Noctis replied. He drove recklessly, making Prompto quickly put his seatbelt on, hoping that they didn’t crash on the way. He didn’t know if he should shut his eyes, but he found himself clutching to the passenger door. “Do you have a car?”

“No,” Prompto replied as Noctis swerved and nearly hit another car. Six, he’s going to get us killed. “It’s a short walk to school, so I’m not really worried about it.”

Noctis nodded. Prompto didn’t want to admit that his parents wouldn’t be able to afford a car, let alone a Regalia. He was very much aware of how different their living situations must be as they drove towards the upper class district. The houses got bigger and bigger as they drove in the opposite direction of the boroughs. Prompto had never been this way. He had always just assumed that someone would chase him off if he ventured into this territory. He wasn’t rich by any means, and he had a sneaking suspicion that the super wealthy could almost smell it on him.

“Usually my friend drives,” Noctis admitted. “But Ignis is staying after school today for something as class president. I don’t know. I didn’t really pay attention.”

He pulled into a driveway that was gated, a giant house on the other side looming over them. Prompto stared at it in awe. It looked like it had been there as long as Lucis had been founded, the white marble permanently worn to a faint sepia, although it was well kept. There was a sprawling lawn that was perfectly manicured, a lush green with a water fountain in the center. The water fountain itself had a statue that depicted Shiva, water flowing from her hands and to the pool below.

Noctis pressed a button on his dashboard and the gates opened automatically for them. Prompto was clearly not meant to be on this side of the gate. He was just a normal kid whose parents worked hard to make sure he was clothed and well fed. Noctis looked like he would never have to worry about anything other than what to do with all of his money.

“You live here?” Prompto asked as Noctis parked the car in a large garage where several other sports and luxury vehicles were parked. They got out and Prompto could only stare in amazement. He definitely did not belong.

“Yeah,” Noctis replied like it wasn’t a big deal. “This house has been in the family for generations. Dad says it’s the last vestiges of the line of the Kings of Lucis, whatever that means.”

“The Kings of Lucis were once the rulers of the country,” Prompto said. He had learned a lot about it in his history class and found it quite fascinating. “They were said to have powers to protect the kingdom from outside forces of evil, and the Six themselves blessed them. But eventually the country was turned into a democracy and they lost their power.”

Noctis looked at him, his expression both impressed and surprised. He opened the door that led to the main house and stepped inside, Prompto following closely behind. “You a nerd or something?”

“If I’m in class, I might as well pay attention,” Prompto replied with a blush. He shrugged. “Plus getting good grades are really my only shot at getting into school. If I can’t get a scholarship I can’t go.”

Prompto felt embarrassed to say it as Noctis took him into the house. It was clear that the house had been around for a while, but there was a lot of modern updates. The halls were expansive, looking more like the halls of a palace than that of a house. There were too many rooms for Prompto to really know what they were for, and he had a feeling that over half of them weren’t even used. Noctis would never have to worry about paying for college.

“Do they offer music classes at your school?” Noctis asked as they climbed a huge staircase to the second floor. There were even more rooms up here, and Prompto knew he would easily get lost if he didn’t stay close to Noctis.

“No,” Prompto replied. He followed him down a hall and to a closed door that had various Keep Out signs on it in black and red. “I practice during lunch and then go to a private instructor after school.”

“Cool. How long have you been playing?” Noctis opened the door and revealed a large bedroom that was easily the size of the entire space that Prompto lived in. It had a flat screen television mounted on the wall with every manner of gaming console, a black leather couch and coffee table that was cluttered with various things, a bed that was four times the size of Prompto’s and its own separate bathroom, complete with jacuzzi tub. It even had a large balcony that had outdoor seating and a table.

“What?” Prompto asked, distracted by the size of his room. “Oh, since the start of middle school.”

“Nice. So you must be pretty good right?” Noctis unceremoniously dropped his bag on the floor and walked over to the couch and flopped down on it. He patted the seat spot next to him for Prompto to sit down. “Will you play me something?”

Prompto felt unreasonably nervous as he took a seat next to Noctis. He was still holding onto his backpack and guitar case, using it for a protective support almost. He set his backpack down on the ground next to him and took out his acoustic guitar. He didn’t really play in front of anyone except for Nyx and his parents. If he wanted to pursue a music career he would have to get used to it, but he didn’t even know if that’s what he wanted to do. Stage fright wouldn’t be helpful in any case for a performer.

Noctis was smiling at him lazily as he tuned the guitar. He was used to being entertained, spoiled, and doted on. Prompto didn’t know what it was like to be so well off that everything just came naturally and easily. He had the strong suspicion that Noctis was extremely popular in school by his general attitude and way of conducting himself in the world. Being a Caelum also helped. Even sitting next to him, Prompto felt like they were worlds apart.

Prompto took a deep breath and began to play the song he had been working on during lunch. He knew that the song wouldn’t really make sense without singing along to it, even though he was still working on the lyrics and hadn’t quite ended it. As he played it, Noctis’s smile turned to intense focus and interest, his attention captivated by Prompto’s playing. It made Prompto nervous, but he finished the song without letting his nerves get to him.

Afterwards he half expected that Noctis would tell him that he wasn’t any good. Even though he heard Nyx’s words in the back of his mind telling him that he was talented and should start a band, his own anxieties were louder more times than not. Noctis was silent for a hesitatingly long moment, and that worried Prompto as well.

“Damn Prompto,” Noctis said finally. “That was amazing. Did you write that?”

Prompto nodded as Gladio’s voice echoed in his mind. He said not to post anything online, but he really meant not to draw attention to himself. This was the exact opposite of doing what he asked. It didn’t really matter. He was only playing for one person, let alone a crowd of people.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied. “I’ve been working on writing my own music more now.”

Noctis made a whistling noise, as if he were impressed. “You could really do a lot with that. And the sound if heavier too. You into rock?”

“Rock and heavy metal,” Prompto said. He felt like Noctis was asking him so many questions, but he didn’t really have any chance to ask him anything. “What about you?”

“Same here.” Noctis looked at his uniform with a disgusted face. “I’d rather be wearing black over this stupid uniform.”

A lot of people would kill to wear that uniform. Prompto didn’t say anything about that, though. “I like dressing in black too, as you can see.”

“So you’re a great photographer, an awesome musician, and you’re cute,” Noctis said with a grin that made Prompto blush. “Is there anything you can’t do?”

“Math,” Prompto replied. Noctis laughed, a sound that Prompto imagined what shadow and smoke would sound like if they had a voice. He really enjoyed the sound and couldn’t help but smile.

“So you want to play some video games or do something else?” Noctis asked. The way he said do something else was almost suggestive. Prompto had to scold himself and tell him to stop being so ridiculous.

“We can play a game,” Prompto replied with a shrug. His parents had been unable to afford any gaming consoles since he had the guitars. It was one or the other, and he had opted for the obvious choice. “I haven’t played any before.”

“Really? Oh shit, you’re gonna love this game.” Noctis grabbed two controllers and handed one to Prompto. Everything else was forgotten as the game started up and King’s Knight flashed on the screen. “It’s my favorite. My dad yells at me for playing it too much.”

They spent the next hour focused on the game. Noctis helped Prompto through the game since he hadn’t ever really played before. He caught on quickly, thankful that his guitar playing had made him relatively dexterous. Several times Noctis would lean over, their shoulders touching, as he would show Prompto what buttons to press on his controller. Prompto had a bad habit of blushing every time Noctis’s fingers grazed his.

Once he got the hang of it, they spent a lot of time laughing and joking about the game. Prompto found it really enjoyable, but he doubted that he would be able to get a console anytime soon. His parents had to be careful about where they planned their gifts and expenses, and he wasn’t going to ask them for something like that when he could put it towards his music or photography. Concert tickets were cheaper too, he considered.

“You know, it’s a lot of fun chilling with you,” Noctis said after they lost track of time. He looked at Prompto with a smile.

“Back at ya,” Prompto replied with an equal smile.

“Maybe next time we can hang at your place?” Noctis asked.

“It’s not as glamorous as yours is,” Prompto said nervously. He felt so uncertain about bringing Noctis to his place. He had a feeling that he would take one look at how small his place was in comparison and just laugh. “And I don’t have any video games.”

“Fine with me,” Noctis replied with a shrug. “We can do other things too.” Prompto thought that also sounded suggestive, but he knew he was probably just overthinking things again. “Oh did you bring your camera?”

“Yeah.” He pulled it out and looked at Noctis. He felt like Noctis had really invited him over for this, so he was shocked that he got to actually spend time with the guy. For a second it was like Noctis had forgotten the entire reason why he had invited Prompto over.

“Cool, let’s get a pic together,” Noctis said as he pulled Prompto close to him, his arm around his shoulder. “I want to put this online so I can show off my new friend.”

“Friend?” Prompto asked. He was blushing far too much at Noctis’s touch. That’s what I get for not having friends.

“Yeah. What else would I call you?” Noctis asked.

“Oh yeah. Sorry.” Prompto positioned the camera so that they could get a decent picture together. Noctis’s cheek was nearly touching his and he smiled for it, taking a few photos then checking on them to see if any of them were worth keeping.

“Oh I like this one.” Noctis had stopped Prompto on a photo where he was smiling, his eyes nearly closed. Noctis was smirking in the photo, his eyes almost betraying a secret he was keeping, although Prompto couldn’t say what the secret was. “You’re really cute when you smile like that.”

Prompto would have thought that Noctis was coming onto him if he didn’t know any better. “I’ll send it to you then,” Prompto said as he looked at the camera, trying to hide his blushing face. He blushed way too easily.

“Listen,” Noctis said hesitatingly. “You want to hang out tomorrow too?”

Prompto definitely wanted to hang out tomorrow, but the threat of Gladio making him meet his sister was looming over his head. “I want to, but I already have plans. Sorry. Can we do hang the day after?”

“Sure.” Noctis smiled. If Prompto didn’t know any better, he would think that Noctis was going to kiss him. He really needed to learn how to be friends with people or else he would just constantly misattribute their friendships as something else entirely.

There was a knock at the door, and Prompto and Noctis turned as a man who looked like an older and more refined version of Noctis walked through the door. He walked with a limp and used a cane, and his dark hair was greying. He smiled as he walked over to them, and Noctis looked at him with a relaxed expression.

“I didn’t realize you had a friend over,” he said as he eyed the guitar case and then Prompto.

“Yeah,” Noctis replied with a shrug. He leaned over, his elbow resting on the back of the couch as he used his fist to prop up the side of his head.

“Sorry sir,” Prompto said as he stood up and walked over to the man. He shook his hand as his parents had taught him to with adults. He learned at an early age to always show respect for those who were older, especially since he never knew what they were going through. “I’m Prompto Argentum, sir.”

“Such a polite young man,” the man responded. “I’m Noctis’s father, Regis. Perhaps you’ve come to teach my son some manners?”

“Unlikely,” Noctis said. He was smiling at Prompto. “But who knows? I just gotta keep him around long enough to see if it’ll work.”

“Please do. Do you go to the academy?” Regis addressed Prompto.

“No, sir,” Prompto replied. Regis seemed like the type of man who would be very polite and kind to Noctis’s friends. If he didn’t want Noctis to hang out with him since he wasn’t an academy student he would tell his son later. “I go to the high school.”

“Ah. Right across the street then.” It was the ah that adults gave when they found something unpleasant. Prompto suspected it was the last time that he was going to be hanging out at Noctis’s.

“Yes, sir.” He looked around for a quick escape. “Sorry, it’s getting late. I should be getting home, sir.”

“Of course.” Regis smiled kindly. “Noctis, please see him home.”

“It’s okay.” Prompto had paid attention to the drive and could figure out how to get home from there. It would only be a small subway ride and then a quick walk. “I can walk home.”

“Nah, don’t worry about it,” Noctis said as he stood up. “I’ll drive you home.”

“Will Ignis be joining us for dinner?” Regis asked as Noctis grabbed Prompto’s bookbag. Prompto grabbed his guitar case.

“No clue,” Noctis replied with a shrug. “I’ll text him later and find out.”

“Please do. Prompto it was lovely to meet you.”

“Same to you, sir.” Prompto followed Noctis out of the room, and his father gave them the clear space to walk ahead of him before he left the room. “I can carry my bag, if you want.”

“I’m good.” Noctis smiled at him. “Usually my dad works later. He’s the dean for the academy so he’s usually dealing with a lot of administrative shit that I don’t really know or care about.”

Prompto heard the implication behind that. His father didn’t come home so early all the time, giving Noctis the freedom to bring over anyone he wanted, even if they were the unsavory sort in his father’s eyes. He wasn’t going to be invited back. Rich kids belonged with the rich, after all, and Prompto wasn’t one of them. It was the better for him to just admit now that he wasn’t likely to hang out with Noctis again. He hadn’t really spent a lot of time with someone like this, let alone someone who called him a friend, so it made him a bit sad.

“Your dad seems nice,” Prompto said after they were in the car and on the way to his place. He had said that dropping him off at the school would be fine, but Noctis insisted on taking him to his place. It was a small town house, not even the size of Noctis’s garage.

“He’s cool enough,” Noctis replied. “He’s suspicious of people who go to the high school cause he’s worried about me joining a gang or doing drugs.” He laughed. “You aren’t in a gang or do drugs, right?”

“No to both of those.” Prompto didn’t like how they had just assumed that he would be a delinquent or into drugs because he didn’t go to the academy. “Most of us at the high school are just trying to get by with what we’ve got.”

“Yeah, I know,” Noctis replied with a nod. “I dated a girl from the high school who ended up being in a gang and had a drug addiction. It didn’t last long, but ever since then my dad’s been pretty suspicious of who I take home.”

“Oh,” Prompto replied. He didn’t know why he didn’t like the idea of Noctis dating someone. “So are you a playboy or something.”

Noctis laughed again. “Yeah, I guess you could say that. I guess I’ve earned a bit of a reputation at the academy from it.” He smiled as he said that, like he reveled in the idea of his reputation. Or maybe he was just enjoying the memories of all the girls he dated. “What about you? I’m sure the chicks over there go crazy for your cute freckles and pretty blond hair.”

Prompto blushed and was grateful that the sun had already set. Somehow in the glow of the lights from the car Noctis looked just as beautiful. The glow only seemed to make his features sharper, more defined. Prompto instinctively grabbed his camera and adjusted the lens for the lighting and snapped a photo of him.

“Sorry,” Prompto said. “It’s a habit. If I see something that I want to photograph, I just kind of do it.”

“You can take my pic as many times as you’d like.” Noctis winked.

“As long as I give you copies,” Prompto pointed out. They slowed in front of Prompto’s house. Noctis didn’t say anything about the size, but Prompto had a feeling that he was going to be judged for it. At least he was respectful enough for Prompto to keep his dignity.

“Nah,” Noctis said as he parked the car. He smiled at Prompto. “You can send me the ones you want to. I’ll take hanging out with you as payment.”

“Thanks.” Prompto grabbed his bag and guitar case. “It was a lot of fun. I’ll see you Friday.”

“Oh yeah it will be Friday.” Noctis grinned as if he were planning something. “That means we have the weekend too. I’ll bring some clothes for a sleepover.”

Prompto stumbled over his words, unsure of what to say. He didn’t want to say anything to reject Noctis, but he had never had a sleepover with someone before. Would his parents even let him? Noctis was liable to forgo the sleepover once he saw how small their space on the inside was compared to his mansion. He was further shocked that Noctis wanted to hang out with him after his father had been so passively judging.

“S-sure,” Prompto said finally. “I’ll let my parents know.”

“Great. Send me what you want. I’ll see you then, Prompto.”

“See you.” Prompto got out of the car and walked to the small house. He was surprisingly grateful for the smaller size of his home. He didn’t know what he would do with all the space that Noctis had in his house.

When he walked inside his parents were sitting at the dinner table eating a reheated dinner. They both looked up at him in shock and alarm, clearly worried where he went and why he was out so late at night. He hoped he wouldn’t get in trouble.

“There you are,” his mother said as he set his bag and guitar case down in the entryway. “Where were you?”

“With a friend,” Prompto replied stiffly, the words foreign to him. His parents looked even more startled by that admission. “He wants to come over Friday night to hang out and sleepover. Would that be alright?”

“Sure, son,” his father replied. “I’m glad you have a friend. Make sure you introduce us when we get home Friday.”

“Sure thing. I’m going to do my homework now.” They let him go without any further questions, and Prompto shut the door behind him when he got to his room. He sent Noctis the photos once they were uploaded. A moment later Noctis texted him an excited thank you. It wasn’t long before Noctis put his favorite one on his social media page. The caption read: Great night with this guy. Can’t wait for next time ;) <3

Prompto had a hard time not reading into that. He put his phone down and did everything he could to focus on his homework. His mind kept wandering to Noctis, his heart racing when he thought about him. Somehow he made it through his homework, but when he made it to bed his mind was still on Noctis. He had never had a friend before, and that was sending his thoughts on a spiral that he wasn’t prepared for. If he kept this up he would be in trouble.

Chapter Text

There was a lot to worry about the next day. First, he had to talk to Gladio after school and then somehow meet his sister and not die. That wasn’t likely. He could barely even speak to Gladio he was so afraid of him. What made him think he could utter more than one syllable to him and his sister after school? And talk about music, no less. If his sister was anything like he imagined then he was doomed to suffer and torment.

Then there was Noctis. He wasn’t concerned about the guy, per se, more so his reaction to him. Noctis texted him over the course of the day, gently teasing about his efforts to pay attention in class, as well as strangely flirtatious. Prompto had a difficult time reading his texts as anything but flirtatious, but he had a reputation for being a player, so he kept telling himself that it was just Noctis’s way of being in the world. He couldn’t read too much into it.

But last night he had a dream about Noctis that he did not expect, no matter how flirtatious the academy student was towards him. He had dreamt that he had been in his room, practicing his music, and Noctis came in and kissed him. He dreamt that while he was being kissed, Noctis had taken off his shirt, his pants, his underwear…

When Prompto woke up that morning, he woke in a cold sweat, hard from the dream. It wasn’t the first time he had a sex dream, nor was it the first time he had one about a guy. He just assumed that he liked men and women, and while he hadn’t really ever told anyone, his parents included, he was okay with it. It was the first time he had a sex dream about a specific person and with such startling clarity that he didn’t know how he was going to look Noctis in the eye tomorrow.

He spent the entire day worrying about both things. As soon as his mind would focus on something other than his anxieties, he would snap back to them with a jolt, like his mind was being electrocuted into worrying. Luckily enough, Loqi and his goons left him alone throughout the day since news had spread like wildfire that Prompto was under Gladio’s protection. No one dared touch him, and there were whispers that he was either dating Gladio or someone he knew. That was unlikely, and it almost made him laugh if it wasn’t so pathetic. Gladio only looked at him with disdain and was going to introduce him to his sister so he could be thoroughly put out of his misery.

Nevertheless, Prompto brought his acoustic guitar with him. Gladio had texted him late last night when Prompto was asleep, demanding he bring it. His worst fear would be that they smashed it and told him to never play music again. If that happened he didn’t know what he would do. Probably end up in jail for attempted murder or in the insane asylum for having a breakdown. Either way, it wouldn’t be pretty.

The bell for the final period rang with a startling finality. It was a ring that signaled he had to go with Gladio or suffer the consequences. He didn’t know exactly which consequences would be worse, going or not going. In the end, he couldn’t really decide and his fear guided him to the front steps, where he waited for Gladio. At first he thought that he wouldn’t show up, and he ignored the sneers of Loqi and his gang as they walked out of the school and towards some shady area to do whatever business they had with some academy students. But then Gladio stepped out of the front doors and looked at him, the same inscrutable expression masking his face.

“You ready?” Gladio asked. When Prompto nodded they started their walk away from the school. Prompto noticed they went on a very different direction from path Noctis took. They headed to the subway just a few minutes walk down the road from the schools. Prompto thought that as he was walking away he could see Noctis on the other side of the road, but for all he knew it was another student heading out for the day.

“You ever been to the boroughs?” Gladio asked as they hopped on the subway.

It was crowded with commuters heading home from school and work, and Prompto found himself standing in close quarters next to Gladio. Gladio really towered over him, so when the subway lurched and he stumbled, Gladio grabbed him and steadied him, his hand on the small of his back to hold him still. It made Prompto blush, knowing that there was no space for them to really move until everyone got off at their destination.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied honestly.

He had been a couple of times when he was looking for obscure music that he couldn’t really find except in the record shops that carried old, vintage, and otherwise odd music. As long as he kept to himself and was polite then he would be fine. The biggest issue wasn’t really the teens, the adults, or the refugees that lived there. Typically it was the police. They were always looking for some reason to arrest someone, and once Prompto had been accused of stealing his own guitar. The shop owner saw him being questioned, shaking in fear, and stepped out and spoke up for him. The cops didn’t like it, but they let him go. It seemed everyone was a target there.

“Alright. Just keep close to me and you’ll be fine.” Gladio’s eyes were hard as he looked past Prompto, the subway slowing until it came to a halt. They disembarked from the subway along with many other students and adults, and it felt like Prompto was entering another world, far removed from the pristine conditions of the neighborhood Noctis lived in.

The boroughs were made up of block upon block of run down buildings that looked like they were haphazardly stacked on top of each other. There was all manner of shops, from exotic faire sold at food stands to strip clubs to music shops. While certain areas of Insomnia were lively, particularly the entertainment district, the boroughs were lively in an entirely different way. Refugees, Insomnian natives, and everyone in between navigated through the city in a lively display of color and camaraderie. It was easier to walk here since most pedestrians would cross the street, ignoring the crosswalks or whether it was safe to do so or not. Children ran around their parents as they walked home, vendors tried their hand at making their fortune, and everyone looked out for each other.

It had earned the reputation of being dangerous due to the persistent drug problem that permeated any poor neighborhood in any city. Gang life was fairly active in the area, but there was a certain code that the gangs in the boroughs lived by that the upper class mafia elite did not. Women and children were strictly off limits, there was no sex trafficking allowed, and if an innocent bystander was minding their own business then they just let them on their way. Prompto wondered which gang Gladio was a part of and if he was the leader.

He followed Gladio down the street as the hustle and bustle of the citizens living in the boroughs reminded him of the chaos of the high school. Only this was a bit different in the fact that it wasn’t full of the angst and anger that came with any public high school. No matter how poor the people were here, they still had the energy and vibrancy that made Lucis a truly diverse place. If anything, they exemplified it, while those who lived in the stuffy large houses only seemed to revel in their separateness. Prompto didn’t really fit in the boroughs or in the upper class area, but he felt more at home here than elsewhere.

“Here,” Gladio said as he pulled Prompto to a rundown café where two older refugees were arguing about politics.

“I’m telling you there will be a draft in the next two years!” one yelled out to the other as they passed by them sitting at a table made of a thick metal wiring. “Mark my words, these youngsters are all going to disappear on a bloody battlefield!”

“Hey Gladio!” the other shouted out to him, clearly tired of the conversation. “Your sister is inside!”

“Thanks,” Gladio replied. “Staying out of trouble?”

“Me or her? Her? Always. Me? Never.” Both of the older men laughed as they walked into the café. There were red booths that were torn and graffitied lining the left wall while a dining bar with matching stools lined the right wall. The kitchen was on the right side towards the back, and behind the booths was a short hall that led to the bathroom.

Prompto couldn’t see anyone who looked like he imagined in the café. There were a few men sitting at the bar, but the only one sitting at the booth was a petite girl with brown hair and eyes like Gladio’s. She was dressed in a plaid shirt skirt, boots up to her knees, and a black pullover top cut at the sleeves. On her waist was a studded belt, more for aesthetic than function.

“Hey Iris,” Gladio called as he walked towards the girl. She excitedly got out of the booth and hugged her big brother. “This is the guy I told you about, Prompto. Prompto, this is my sister Iris. She’s a great drummer. Iris, he’s a great guitarist and vocalist.”

“Nice to meet you,” Iris said with a cheerful smile. “Now did Gladio drag you here because you’re terrified of him?”

“No,” Prompto lied.

She only laughed. “It’s okay. He terrifies everyone. The truth is he’s a big teddy bear. He wouldn’t hurt a fly unless provoked. And he likes you or else he wouldn’t introduce you to me.”

That admission startled Prompto. He looked at Gladio, who only looked away at the waiter and ordered a round of drinks and some fries for the table. They sat down, Prompto sitting next to Gladio in a booth with Iris across from him. It was awkward being next to Gladio, but he appreciated knowing that Gladio took a liking to him. As much as it worried him about what it meant, he was glad that at least he knew he wasn’t on his shit list.

Iris spent the next hour grilling Prompto about his tastes in music, his style, his goals with his music. He answered them to the best of his ability and was honest when he said he wasn’t sure where he wanted his music to take him. She seemed satisfied with his answers and offered up her own to the same questions. Like Prompto, she was into rock music, heavy metal, and punk. She had been drumming for about as long as he was, but since she was a year younger he had a bit more experience. She was entirely self-taught, whereas Prompto had the fortune of studying with Nyx.

“Have you heard of the band Kingsglaive?” Iris asked excitedly as they discussed the bands they liked. Prompto was surprised by how similar their tastes in music were, but nearly spat out his soda that he was drinking when she mentioned the band. Gladio clapped his back when he coughed, helping him clear his lungs.

“Yeah,” Prompto said. “They’re one of my favorites.”

“Oh me too!” Iris exclaimed. “They’re going to be performing here in Insomnia at the arena, and I’ve been begging Gladio to get me tickets.”

“You two should go together,” Gladio offered. Prompto had the strangest feeling that Gladio was supervising them because he considered this a date. How could he make it clear it wasn’t?

“That would be fun,” Iris replied. There was a dreamy look in her eyes. “Maybe I can invite a guy from school too.”

“Do you go to Insomnia High?” Prompto asked. “I’ve never seen you there.”

“Oh no,” she replied. “I’m considered a math whiz. Enough for me to get a full scholarship to the academy. I always change my clothes before leaving campus though. I learned to do that the hard way. When I was offered a full ride there I didn’t want to go, but Gladio insisted. Said it’s the best way for me to get out of the boroughs after graduation. I don’t see anything wrong with staying here though.”

“Because you don’t need to limit yourself when you have options,” Gladio pointed out.

Iris stuck her tongue out at him. “Well Nyx Ulric of Kingsglaive when to Insomnia High and got out.”

“You’re not Nyx Ulric,” Gladio replied. “It’s a moot point. Mom and dad insisted on you going anyway.”

“Gladio had this thing where he hates everyone at the academy and what the academy stands for, but he refuses to let me go to the high school.” Iris scrunched up her face as she looked at Gladio teasingly.

“That’s because the academy thinks they can take whatever they want from us. They take all our talent, all our athletes, all our brilliance, and then turn them into corporate whores.” Gladio looked at Iris angrily. “Lucky for you, you have me to keep you from becoming one.”

“I don’t see a problem with marrying someone like Noctis Caelum after graduation,” she said matter-of-factly. Prompto felt his heart stutter, remembering once again that Noctis had a bit of a reputation at the academy.

“You and this Noctis guy. I don’t care if he’s a Caelum, he’s bad news for anyone who gets involved with him.” Gladio turned to Prompto to speak to his sister through him. “You see, Prompto, Iris here has a crush on the most popular guy at school. He’s also the laziest and the biggest whore between the two schools. He’s been with countless women, and there’s a rumor that he’s into men too.”

“It won’t stop me,” Iris said with a dreamy sigh. “There’s a reason why he’s so popular, other than the fact that his dad is the dean and they come from a long line of money. He’s absolutely dreamy.”

Gladio sighed in frustration. “The best you can expect from him is to accidentally get knocked up, end up marrying out of wedlock, and divorcing a year or two later. And that’s if daddy wants the baby.”

“You’re so harsh,” Iris said. “Besides, there’s a rumor that he’s got his sights on a new beau. You should know, Prompto. You guys are friends right? Can you put in a good word for me?”

“Wait,” Gladio said as he looked at Prompto. Prompto felt the panic in him rising based on the look of bewilderment on his face. “You are friends with that guy? I thought you were better than that.”

“Noctis is a nice guy,” Prompto said. “And I really don’t know him that well. We only just became friends.”

“Good,” Gladio nodded, satisfied. “Stay away from him if you can manage it. That guy is bad news.”

“That’s what people say about you,” Prompto said. Gladio looked at him with another expression of surprise, making him wish he hadn’t said anything. “But you seem pretty cool.”

Gladio thought about it a moment, but Iris was the one who interrupted. “You can’t control who we hang out with, Gladio. That’s what our parents are for. I’m sure Prompto can handle himself.”

“I’m just trying to protect you,” Gladio said, more to Iris than to Prompto. “Those rich snobs over there will do whatever they can to take advantage of us. They see us as weak because we’re poor. I don’t want to see either of you used up and then left for dead.”

Prompto knew what all the glares from Gladio were for now. He was appraising Prompto, determining if he was worth the effort and time. Apparently he had decided he was, which surprisingly made him feel something akin to happiness. He had never had someone other than his parents or Nyx express an interest in him before. Now he had Noctis stating he was his friend, and Gladio was basically saying the same thing.

“I won’t let that happen,” Iris assured him. “And I know that it’s a far fetched dream to try and get with someone like Noctis. He’s got blinders when it comes to certain things. He won’t see anyone else until he devours his current target. When he does and leaves the poor girl it’ll be open season for him again. I’ll give it two months.”

Gladio nodded, satisfied by that answer. That concerned Prompto, however. Noctis didn’t seem like the type to get his fill of people and then get rid of them, but what did he know? He barely knew him, and he had openly admitted to his reputation. Perhaps he was really just looking at him with rose colored glasses because he was the first person to show an interest in him as a friend. Perhaps it was because he was physically attracted to him like Iris was. She, at least, had more common sense about it.

Whoever he was interested in, though, he decidedly felt bad for. Iris was right. If his reputation was true, then she would be left heartbroken. He was also more than a bit disappointed. Noctis was not only interested in some girl at the academy, but he wasn’t the type to date long term. Prompto didn’t know what type of guy he was himself when it came to dating since he had never dated before, but he suspected he was the committed type.

“Why don’t you two go on a date with each other then since you’re openly admitting that he’s not really an option?” Gladio suggested, startling them both.

“I knew you were trying to set me up!” Iris exclaimed. “You bring some guy you approve of here to get me to date him. I’m sorry, but I have a policy not to date the guys you approve of, Gladio. No offense, Prompto.”

“None taken.” Prompto saw it more of a sibling problem than a dig at him and his viability as a romantic partner. When he looked at Iris, he certainly thought she was cute, but he wasn’t particularly attracted to her in that way.

“I think you just need to get laid,” Iris continued, looking at Gladio’s glaring face and clearly not bothered by it. Siblings always seemed to have some sort of magical ability to ignore what terrified or bothered others. “I can set you up with someone if you want.”

“That’s enough,” Gladio said quietly. It was obviously a sore spot for Prompto, although he couldn’t exactly place why. Had he been hurt in the past by someone?

“So did you want to have a jam session sometime?” Prompto blurted out, changing the subject before the atmosphere became too tense.

“Depends on how well you play,” Iris replied. “Take out your guitar and show me.”

Gladio nodded, indicating it was okay for him to play in the near-deserted café. He knew he brought the acoustic guitar for this reason, but it still bothered him a bit. After he had gotten home last night he had worked hard at another new piece of music that came to him. He had an idea for how he wanted it to sound with a full band, but for now he would be content with the acoustic guitar.

As he played and sang, the employees and the men at the bar all turned to listen to him. It was awkward playing at the edge of the booth, but he made it work, positioning his body so he could play the guitar well enough and still be poised enough to sing along with it. Iris and Gladio listened intently, although not quite as intently as Noctis had yesterday. It was a different song, so maybe that was why.

Pull me from the darkness, life me back into the light
Fill this empty vessel, fill this hole I have inside
Am I worth forgiveness, I can’t make myself believe
Show me that you’re listening and tear this devil out of me

When he finished the song, everyone in the café clapped. Iris beamed in excitement, nearly jumping out of her seat as Prompto put his guitar away. The waiter came over to them and gave them a round of sodas on the house for the performance. Prompto wasn’t used to the attention, but he didn’t think it necessarily felt bad.

“I can really imagine that with a full band,” Iris commented. “Is it meant to be so calm or is there some screaming in there?”

“Definitely some screaming,” Prompto replied. They spent a while talking about the piece, and he had a feeling that this was the one he was going to present to Nyx next week.

“Who are you training with?” Iris asked after they talked about the music a bit more. “Do they encourage you to do this stuff or is it all classical?”

“No it’s all according to what I like,” Prompto said. “I’m sure Nyx would train me classically if I wanted to, but I’ve never shown the interest.” He stopped when he realized what he had just said. Iris’s eyes were wide, and Gladio was looking at him curiously.

“Wait, you just said Nyx,” Iris said slowly.

“It’s a common name,” Prompto lied. He was a terrible liar and it was pretty obvious.

“Dude, your guitar instructor is Nyx fucking Ulric?!” Iris nearly shouted. Gladio shushed her. “How the hell did you manage that?”

“I don’t know,” Prompto replied honestly. “It honestly was a slip up. Please don’t tell anyone. He doesn’t even know that I know he’s famous.”

“Iris,” Gladio warned. “You heard him. You say anything and I’ll make sure that you never see Kingsglaive live.”

Iris rolled her eyes, too excited to worry about the threat that Prompto expected was very real. “Can I meet him?”

“Iris,” Gladio warned again. “Don’t impose on him. It’s a secret, so the answer is obviously no.”

Iris made a face at Gladio but sank back into the booth and pouted in open defiance. “Fine. But I want an autograph. For my silence.”

Prompto groaned internally. How would he explain that to Nyx? Would he sever all ties with him just because he knew and accidentally told someone? He was just so used to talking about Nyx casually to his parents that it accidentally slipped out. He hoped he would understand, but he had to tell him next lesson one way or another.

“I think you two should at least consider forming a band,” Gladio said. “You’d need to at least find a bassist though.”

“True,” Iris considered. “Now I do know someone at the academy who is really talented, but convincing him might be a bit of an issue. He’s really talented, but he’s also really talented in everything he does. And he’s an heir to a company, so it’s not likely he’ll join us easily.”

“See if he’ll do it,” Gladio said. “I’ll be on the lookout for one in the meantime. Prompto, you lookout too.”

Prompto nodded, wondering exactly what he was getting into. Nyx’s words rang clearly in his head though, and he decided that Gladio wasn’t the bad person that those at school made him out to be. It was worth a shot to try his hand at starting a band, although it was more like Gladio starting the band for him.

“You seem to have a talent for writing music, so send me some demos of your stuff and I’ll see about laying a beat to it,” Iris said. She looked at her watch. “I’d love to stay, but I have homework. Gladio gave me your number so I’ll text you updates on the bassist.” She got up and kissed Prompto and Gladio both on the cheek. “See you later, boys.”

“We should go too,” Gladio said as he put plenty of gil on the table to cover all the fries and drinks plus tip. Prompto wondered where he got the money from. “The sun will be setting soon and I don’t want you to have to make it back from the boroughs at night. I’ll take you to the subway.”

Prompto got up and followed Gladio down the street and towards the station. He couldn’t help but think that Gladio was genuinely a decent person. He just had a different way of going about things. He didn’t ask things so much as declare them, preferring to take charge of the situation before anything could get out of hand. It made sense, really. Growing up in an area of town where the choices were typically to join a gang or get out could really affect how a person lived. Plus Gladio was still silent about the gang he was in, but he conducted himself like he was the leader of one.

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Gladio said. “Sorry about Iris. She’s a bit of a spaz.”

“She’s nice,” Prompto replied. “Thanks for today. It was fun.”

Gladio looked surprised, but he smiled. It was Prompto’s turn to be surprised. “Text me when you get home so I know you’re safe.”

“Will do.” Prompto boarded the subway and waved bye to him as he took a seat on the now nearly empty train. He noticed that Noctis had texted him and couldn’t help but smile when he saw the message.

Having fun today?
I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Prompto typed a quickly reply, hoping that whoever Noctis was after was being treated as warmly as he was by the guy.

Yeah a friend introduced me to his sister.
I think he wanted me to date her? Haha
That’s not likely.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow too.

The response was faster than Prompto could imagine, and he realized that Noctis was likely on his phone right now. It sent a thrill through him, knowing that he was talking to Noctis right now. Man I’m lame.

What’s wrong with her?
Not your type? Lol
You can’t be the problem.
You’re too cute to turn down.

Prompto didn’t want to get his hopes up, but his heart fluttered when he read the text, and he blushed involuntarily. He vaguely paid attention as he got off the subway and made his way home. The sun was setting, but it hadn’t quite disappeared behind the horizon yet.

Nah, I think she’d be a good friend.
And apparently she’s in love with you.

There was a long silence after that, and Prompto had the feeling that he said something wrong. Noctis had been so quick to reply that Prompto had just assumed he said something that put him off the conversation. He didn’t want to lose the conversation, but he couldn’t force it. When he finally got a response he felt like he could breathe easier.

Lolol yeah that happens sometimes.
What can I say? I’m hot. ;)
I’ll see you tomorrow.
I’ll have someone drop me off at school so
I can walk home with you. :)

Prompto texted him a brief confirmation then quickly texted Gladio and told him he made it home safely. He walked into his house a moment later. It was empty, his parents still at work as usual. He had a lot to consider. He had kind of started a band without meaning to, made a few friends, and had accidentally let slip that Nyx was his instructor. He would definitely have to apologize for that.

And he had found out that the guy he had a crush on had a terrible reputation for being a womanizer and liked someone else right now. Of course he liked someone else. It even startled Prompto to admit that he had a crush. If he played his cards right the he could possibly even find out who the girl was. Maybe it was Iris after all. Something in him told him that he hoped it wasn’t the case and that the rumors weren’t as bad as they said they were.

He went to bed that night with a lot more anxiety than he anticipated. The truth was that Noctis would likely never be interested in him, which made the idea of a sleepover easier on him. He hoped he could get through it without any slip up or issues. Knowing him, though, he knew that something inevitably would arise.

Chapter Text

Prompto was coursing with excitement and nervousness after school. He had admitted that he had a crush on Noctis, so he spent the morning just trying to find ways to deal with his crush. A lot of it was just knowing he’d have to do some deep breathing and ignoring his feelings for him. It was ridiculous of him to have a crush on someone who was his friend. He shouldn’t take advantage of that fact.

He had come out of his shell a little bit at school since he had decided that Gladio wasn’t the scary guy that everyone thought he was. He still kept to himself and kept his head down in most cases, but he waved to Gladio whenever they passed by in the hallway and had sat next to him in their honors composition course. Gladio still had his scary demeanor at school, but he smiled at Prompto when no one was looking.

After school Prompto was ready to get through the weekend. Classes always passed by in a blur. Very few students actually looked forward to going to school, and usually it was due to whatever extracurriculars they were participating in. For Prompto it was always his photography and music. Now that the weekend was here, he had the chance to spend time with an actual friend and then spend the rest of the weekend working on his photography and music.

He was on his way out of school when Gladio stopped him by the front door. Prompto looked at him nervously, knowing that Noctis was waiting for him. If he wasn’t quick then he would be late. Gladio seemed overly protective of his friends, but Prompto hadn’t told him that he was spending time with Noctis, otherwise he had a feeling Gladio would try and stop him.

“You doing anything after school?” Gladio asked him. “Iris is thinking about talking to the bassist she has in mind with you there. She said if he hears you play then he’s more likely to say yes.”

“Oh,” Prompto said. He hadn’t really considered it. His mind had been preoccupied with Noctis all day and making sure he didn’t let his crush show. He couldn’t wait until he wasn’t a teenager anymore without any raging hormones. Control your dick, Prompto. “I… um… I’m meeting up with a friend after school.”

Gladio eyed him suspiciously. “You’re meeting up with Noctis, aren’t you?”

“Yes,” Prompto admitted quietly. He felt like he was admitting it to his parents more than his friend.

He sighed and looked at Prompto, his expression almost tired. “Just… Just be careful okay? You heard Iris. Rumor has it he goes both ways. He’s a rich trust fund kid who will take advantage of anyone who he sees as beneath him.”

“Noctis is really a nice guy,” Prompto said. He was sulking a little bit, partially because he knew he should be careful and partially because Gladio was just judging him. “I don’t want to judge him based off of a rumor.”

“That’s what he wants you to think.” Gladio sighed again. “Just promise me you’ll be careful? And figure out if the chick he likes is Iris, if you can. I don’t want him anywhere near her.”

“Deal,” Prompto said. “Maybe we can chill later this weekend?”

“Sounds good. Take care, Prompto.” Gladio smiled a bit as Prompto waved bye to him.

When he left the school he noticed Noctis was already waiting for him, standing on the high school side of the street. Several students looked at him suspiciously, but he ignored those people. The girls who passed by waved to him and giggled, which he smiled at but declined any further conversation. At least the girl he liked had the benefit of knowing that she wasn’t going to be cheated on at least for a while, Prompto acknowledged. He didn’t know if Noctis was the type to cheat or if he was just the type to move on quickly.

“Hey Prompto,” Noctis smiled as he descended the steps. “No guitar today?”

“No,” Prompto replied with a nervous smile. “Just the camera today.”

“Still good then.” Noctis wrapped one arm around Prompto’s shoulder as they began the walk home. Prompto noticed that Noctis’s backpack was a bit fuller than it usually was, probably with his overnight clothes shoved in there. He didn’t look like the type to be careful about packing.

“What did your dad say about staying over?” Prompto asked.

There were several students from both schools looking at him and Noctis. He heard someone whisper something about how Gladio would be mad when he found out Prompto was cheating. He couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Apparently being seen with Gladio made him his boyfriend and being seen with Noctis made him unfaithful. Couldn’t he just be friends with someone without there being rumors? No because high school is a cesspool, he thought.

“He didn’t mind so much when I told him where you live,” Noctis replied with a shrug. “He’s really overprotective, so I’m sorry for him being so judgmental. He doesn’t really trust ability to pick friends. When Ignis told him it’s was cool then he was on board.”

“Ignis?” Prompto asked. He had mentioned Ignis a few times, whoever that was.

“Oh he’s my friend since birth, pretty much,” Noctis replied with a smile. “He’s like a brother to me, and he treats me like his annoying brother too.” He laughed. “My dad trusts his judgment better than mine to be honest.”

“Cause of that one girl?” Prompto asked and Noctis nodded. “Was it really that bad?”

“Not really,” Noctis said with a shrug. “I caught her doing drugs one day and offered to get her help, but she refused. Said she didn’t need some rich boy fixing her problems. So I told her I couldn’t date an addict and we split.”

“Well I can say I’ve never done drugs and I don’t plan on it,” Prompto offered. “I really don’t have a life, to be honest. You’ll find out that I’m very boring.”

Noctis laughed as his arm on his shoulder dropped to Prompto’s waist now that they were further away from the school. Prompto blushed, thinking about how Noctis’s fingers were gently holding onto his waist, cool to the touch over his shirt. He tried not to dwell on it too much, otherwise his mind would get muddled with other thoughts of the less savory sort.

“I don’t think that’s the case,” Noctis mused as they approached Prompto’s house. “I think you’re probably more interesting than you realize. People only say I’m interesting cause my dad’s rich, but all I really do is play video games and sleep. I haven’t even dated anyone in a while, but my reputation is hard to get rid of so all the girls keep talking about me.”

Prompto was going to respond to that but came up short when he realized his parents were home. They were never home this early, let alone on a Friday. Usually they were running around at work, doing who knows what to prepare for the weekend. Prompto’s parents had always said that they worked in business, but what business Prompto couldn’t say. He had realized a few years ago that he didn’t really know that much about them, but when he asked about their work they had been strangely quiet about it. He didn’t press for further details.

“Oh Prompto, you’re home,” his mother commented when they walked through the door. He removed his shoes at the small entryway and Noctis followed suit without having to ask.

“Yeah, school’s over,” Prompto said. Noctis followed him into the kitchen where his mother was making dinner and his father was reading the paper leftover from this morning. “You guys are home early.”

“We got off work early,” his father replied. “A rare treat.” Prompto had a sneaking suspicion they had asked for the time off to come home and meet Noctis, to make sure he wasn’t some sort of person that would be bad for Prompto. Instead of being embarrassed, he was strangely pleased. His parents always gave him so much freedom and independence that it was nice for them to take an interest.

“Is this your friend staying the night?” his mother asked with a smile.

“Yeah, this is Noctis Caelum,” Prompto said. They both looked at each other in evident surprise when they heard Noctis’s last name. “We met at the park earlier this week.”

“Nice to meet you,” Noctis said as Prompto’s parents gave him a hug. Prompto had never brought friends around to really know how they would interact with him, but he did know that his parents had always been huggers. His entire family was.

“It’s a pleasure to see Prompto bringing home a friend,” his mother replied, although her eyes looked a bit worried. Was his reputation really that bad? “He’s always been a particularly shy child.”

“He has a great heart though,” his father said. It came out as more of a warning than a compliment. My son is a good kid. Don’t hurt him.

“Sounds like you raised him right,” Noctis replied as he smiled at his parents, clearly unbothered by the accusation in their tone.

“Well we’re going to my room,” Prompto said before his parents could further interrogate or otherwise embarrass him.

“Dinner will be ready in about an hour,” his mother called as they went up the small flight of stairs to the small upper floor. There were only two bedrooms upstairs. His parents had the master suite, complete with its own bathroom, although far smaller than any rooms in Noctis’s house. Prompto had his own bedroom with a bathroom in the small hallway between his room and his parents’ room.

“Sorry about that,” Prompto said as he closed the door behind him in his small room.

There wasn’t really much for Noctis to look at in comparison to his large mansion. His room had a twin bed in the corner, a desk next to the head of the bed that was cluttered with photos he had developed and the laptop that was technically the family’s. At the end of his bed on the opposite wall was a small closet where he kept his clothes. Next to that was where he kept his music, his amp, his guitars, and anything else he could fit in there. Across from the bed was a small television, sans video game consoles. A small window rested on the wall opposite the television just over the end of the bed.

Prompto felt nervous about Noctis being in such a small space. He wasn’t used to having anyone in his room, let alone someone who was used to so much space and had just about everything he could ever want for. Surely Noctis would think his room too small, his entire being far too inadequate to be friends with him.

“It’s cool,” Noctis replied as he looked through the records Prompto had collected over the years. “Most people who hear that I’m a Caelum kiss ass, so it’s nice to see something different. They’re probably worried I’ll take advantage.” He looked at Prompto and grinned deviously and winked. “I just might.”

Prompto blushed and turned away, setting his bag and Noctis’s against the closet door so they could make room. He figured that Noctis was so good at flirting that it came naturally to him. There was nothing else for it. He liked some girl at school. Any flirtations with Prompto was just Prompto reading into things.

“I like your room,” Noctis continued without missing a beat. “You can really get a feel for your personality in here.”

“I know it’s pretty small,” Prompto commented as he sat on the bed, unsure of what to do with friends at all, let alone in his room.

“Yeah I like it though,” Noctis replied as he sat next to Prompto. “My room is huge, and it’s great, but it’s hard to make the space mine. My dad insists on keeping it all as original as possible. When I inherit the place I’m going to make some major renovations.”

“I never thought about that.” Prompto was shocked at the notion that everything in the house they lived in had to be preserved. “It’s more like a museum than a house then.”

“Yeah that pretty much sums it up.” Noctis saw a movie sitting on Prompto’s desk and grabbed it. “Have you watched this yet?”

“No,” Prompto replied. His parents had brought it home the yesterday as a rare gift. They usually didn’t spend money on movies. It was a comedy, and they had gotten it so Prompto could watch it “whenever,” which really meant when Noctis came over.

“Sweet, I’ve been wanting to see this.”

“Okay. I’ll put it on then.” Prompto turned on the television and popped the disc into the player. Instead of sitting on the floor, Noctis pulled a bunch of pillows and blankets off the bed and made himself at home on the floor.

“Now it’s a sleepover,” Noctis said with a grin. Prompto joined him on the floor, his nerves only rising when Noctis wrapped his arm around his shoulder and kept him close while they watched the movie.

About halfway through the movie his mom brought dinner to them, which Prompto got up and helped her with it at the door. She whispered something to him about how he needed to be careful, but he didn’t see what the problem was. They were only watching a movie. Noctis and Prompto ate while trying not to snort out their noses from the movie. It was the type of humor that was hard to find anymore and didn’t rely on stereotypes or tropes that were offensive to a particular audience.

Stuffed and content after eating, Prompto found himself finally relaxing. He leaned his back against the bed, Noctis’s arm around his shoulder casually. Without thinking too much about it, he leaned his head against Noctis’s shoulder as they continued the movie. It almost felt like they were dating instead of just friends, and Prompto’s heart was beating erratically at the notion.

Prompto didn’t know what to do when the movie ended. Did they put on another one? Did they do something else? Did they leave the house and go somewhere? What did friends do on sleepovers?

“That was a good movie,” Noctis said with a smile as Prompto sat up straight. “I’d love you hear you play some more music if you want.”

Prompto blushed and looked at his guitars on their stands. “Sure. Acoustic or electric?”

“Hmm…” Noctis looked at the guitars then back at Prompto. “Well I’ve heard your acoustic guitar, so why not electric?”

“Alright.” Prompto felt awkward as he got up and hooked up his guitar to the amp. He tuned it carefully, checking a few riffs to make sure everything was ready to go, then looked up at Noctis. “Any requests?”

Noctis looked up at him with a smile. Prompto thought that he looked really cute as he sat there and had to focus on his guitar instead of Noctis’s dreamy eyes. He didn’t know how to handle a crush this intense, let alone when a guy was supposed to be sleeping over at his house. This was simultaneously a dream and a nightmare.

“Know any Kingsglaive?” Noctis asked. “They’re my favorite. Well, besides you.”

Prompto had to ignore him as he winked, otherwise he wouldn’t be able to focus. He began to play the song that Nyx had been practicing with him, which was more like demanding perfection with him. It came out more naturally than when he had played with Nyx since he had been practicing it, his fingers moving at lightning speed without slipping up. Kingsglaive always had difficult music when it came to the guitar, but that’s what made it fun.

“Fuck man,” Noctis said when he finished. “I expected like a riff or two, but that was amazing. You really are a prodigy. Can you just quit school and start touring already?”

“I’m not sure if I want to do this or photography for a career,” Prompto said as he played a melody on the guitar absentmindedly.

“That’s a tough choice,” Noctis agreed. Prompto sat down next to him again, his guitar in his lap. “You’re really talented with both. I’m sure you’d be successful no matter what you chose.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied shyly. He was still not used to people telling him he was talented. “What about you? What do you want to do?”

“Dad wants me to go into academia,” Noctis said. He made a scowling face that indicated that was not what he wanted. “I’m not really sure if that’s where I’m headed though. Maybe politics? I don’t know. All I know is that I want to make a difference in some way.”
“That’s really cool too,” Prompto pointed out. “Not a lot of people really think about that.”

“I’m sure your music or your photography would really influence a lot of people too.” Noctis shrugged. “We make a difference in what ways we can.” He leaned his back against the bed. “Play some more for me. I like listening to you play.”

Prompto complied, cycling through a variety of songs that he knew and songs that he wrote. Noctis would always applaud whenever he sang with his playing, and eventually Prompto’s fingers tired themselves out. He had been working hard at increasing his stamina, so he wasn’t surprised that it was already getting late by the time he was ready to call it quits.

“You look really cool when you play,” Noctis said, his eyes dreamy. “You can tell you really enjoy it and get lost in it.”

“It’s hard not to. Same with my photography.” Prompto stood up and put his guitar off and turned off the amp. When he sat next to Noctis again, Noctis moved closer to him so that they were almost touching. Prompto felt his heartbeat quicken, aware of how he could hear Noctis’s body heat radiating off of him.

“I like you Prompto,” Noctis said as he looked from Prompto’s eyes to his mouth and back to his eyes.

“I like you too,” Prompto said as he blushed and couldn’t help but look down at his hands. Noctis’s eyes were too beautiful, his features too much like the Six had made him in their image.

He looked up just in time for Noctis’s lips to connect with his. Shock mingled with desire as he felt Noctis’s warm lips against his, his heart racing erratically. His stomach was doing flips as Noctis leaned forward, his tongue tracing against Prompto’s lips. Prompto instinctively reached up and put his hand on the back of Noctis’s head, pulling him further into the kiss.

Noctis’s hands reached over and held onto his shoulders until he pulled away, both of them breathless and blushing. Prompto felt the stirrings of something more, a sexual lust that spread as a warmth from where Noctis had kissed him down to his groin. He wanted more, but he also knew that Noctis had a girl in mind. Why was he kissing him? Was that something Noctis just did with anyone? Maybe a kiss was just as easy as breathing with him, but for Prompto it was something far more serious. Shit, I seriously like this guy.

“I was really hoping you’d be into it,” Noctis said with a grin as he released Prompto and leaned back against the bed.

“Uh… Yeah. I like guys and girls,” Prompto said, blushing still. His heart was definitely racing still, and he couldn’t really control his thoughts about how he wanted Noctis to do more right now.

“Damn, that means I have to really work hard to keep you.” Noctis leaned forward and kissed Prompto again, this time lightly and playfully.

“Son?” His father said as he knocked on the door. Prompto and Noctis immediately pulled away from each other. Noctis looked calm and stoic, but Prompto was sure he looked guilty. His father opened the door and looked at them with worried glances. “I know you two are having fun together, but I wanted to remind you that you have your run tomorrow morning. Your 5k is in two weeks.”

“Thanks dad,” Prompto replied.

When his father shut the door again, Noctis looked over at him, amused. “You run too?” he asked.

“Yeah ever since I was a kid,” Prompto replied. “I don’t want to run track or anything. I just like to run and do 5ks from time to time.”

“Shit how are you still single?” Noctis asked. “You are single, right?”

“Yes,” Prompto replied with a stifled giggle. “I’ve never really had friends, to be honest. My parents are probably freaking out because I’ve never had anyone over.”

“Really?” Noctis looked surprised. “How did that happen? You’re talented, smart, athletic, attractive.”

Prompto blushed. “When I was a kid I was really overweight so I got bullied a lot for it. So I just kind of kept to myself. And I’m just pretty shy naturally.”

“You can’t tell. But still, there should have been a friend or two somewhere along the way.”

“No.” Prompto shook his head. “Now that I remember it, my parents didn’t really let me have any friends growing up. And I just kind of got used to being alone.”

Noctis looked sad when he said that. “It’s like you’ve been hidden away.” He leaned forward again. “No more.”

Noctis kissed him again, his lips grazing against Prompto’s lightly at first. He nearly licked Prompto’s lips as he kissed him harder. His lips parted and their tongues eagerly mingled, tasting each other intently. Prompto was definitely hard, his cock straining against his jeans as Noctis continued to kiss him deeply. Noctis put his hands on Prompto’s thighs, his thumbs tracing his inner thighs lightly.

Prompto let out a sigh and a small moan, desiring more and more from Noctis. His heart hammered in his chest as Noctis reached up for the zipper on his jeans. He didn’t know if he was ready for this, but he also knew that he wanted Noctis to touch him. Instead of pulling away, he wrapped his arms around Noctis’s neck as Noctis tugged at his jeans until Prompto’s cock was fully exposed.

He shuddered when Noctis gripped his cock and began stroking it. Prompto felt like he was losing himself in Noctis’s touch, an intensity to his desire that he had never felt before. He was a typical horny teen, so of course he had touched himself, but nothing felt so exhilarating and pleasurable as Noctis stroked his hand up and down his cock. He moaned, trying to keep his voice down as Noctis moved his hand harder.

“Touch mine,” Noctis breathed as he used his free hand to unzip his own pants and pulled out his own hard cock. Prompto was vaguely aware that Noctis was still in his uniform and that he had never touched another man or woman before.

Prompto reached towards him as Noctis continued to move his hand, holding his cock in his hands. He didn’t know what would feel good to Noctis, but has he began to stroke his warm girth, Noctis moaned and rested his forehead against Prompto’s shoulder as if he couldn’t handle the feel of Prompto’s hand.

He matched Noctis’s pace, both of them moaning into each other’s touch. Prompto felt the pressure mounting, his need for release growing stronger. He moved his hand faster, the knowledge that he was holding Noctis’s throbbing cock in his hand only making him want to pleasure Noctis more. Noctis gripped his arm tightly with his free hand, and Prompto found his free hand holding onto Noctis’s thigh.

When Prompto came, he continued to stroke Noctis, knowing that he only wanted to give him as much pleasure as he felt. Noctis moaned into his shoulder as he came, his semen clinging to Prompto’s hand. They were both panting, exhausted and depleted. Prompto was still clutching Noctis’s thigh, and Noctis was still resting his head against his shoulder, clutching onto his arm tightly.

“Shit,” Prompto said as he looked down. They had to clean up. He released Noctis and grabbed the tissues he kept on his desk and they both cleaned up their mess, neither of them speaking. Prompto grabbed the trash can under his desk so they could throw everything away. He was beet red, the fact that they had just touched each other sinking in.

He had taken advantage of Noctis. Noctis was his friend and he had been too wrapped up in his own lust for him, and the result was great but also terrible. He couldn’t believe he was such a terrible friend that he wouldn’t be able to control his own urges. There had to be something he could do to make it up to him.

“No one’s been able to make me cum from just their hand,” Noctis commented nonchalantly.

Prompto couldn’t help but feel jealous knowing that Noctis had been plenty of women. He would always be compared to the other people he had been with. Would this be just another tick mark on his roster of sexual conquests? Prompto had never been with anyone sexually before. He was inexperienced and isolated, whereas Noctis was extremely popular and well versed in sexual methods. But every time Noctis looked at him, all his worries melted away until he had a chance to calm down and really take stock of what had happened.

“Sorry, I probably shouldn’t have said that,” Noctis said. “What I meant to say is that you’re really good, Prompto. I should have known that a musician’s hands would be amazing.”

“Oh,” Prompto replied. He was going to die from the blood rushing to his face. “You too? I don’t really know what to say.”

Noctis smiled as he got up and walked over to his bag. “Well if you don’t want your parents to worry about you too much, we should probably get some sleep. I’m going to get changed.” He paused and looked Prompto up and down. “I’m going to get changed in the bathroom, or else I’ll end up trying to do something with you again.”

“Okay.” Prompto had a hard time breathing when he thought of Noctis naked. He was grateful when Noctis left the room to get changed and quickly changed into his pajama pants that he really rarely wore when he was alone. Usually it was just briefs, but with Noctis he felt the need to put on the black sweats with yellow chocobos. He was trying to find a tank top that was worn down enough to be comfortable for bed when Noctis came back, eyeing him lustfully since he wasn’t wearing a shirt.

Noctis was wearing black sweats and a black shirt, and Prompto had the feeling that he didn’t really sleep in those either. He was glad that Noctis that the sense and decency to put something on for bed. Prompto hurriedly grabbed a white tank top and pulled it on, trying to ignore Noctis’s gaze.

“I can sleep on the floor and you can take the bed,” Prompto offered. He shut the closet door as Noctis came over and stuffed his uniform in his bag. They were standing inches apart from each other, and he had to resist the urge to touch Noctis. He was his friend. Noctis was just a very sexual person and he shouldn’t get ahead of himself.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Noctis smiled as he walked away and sat on the bed. “I think there’s room enough for us both. It might be close, though.”

Noctis laid down in bed, making enough room for Prompto. Prompto was forced to take a deep breath as he turned the lamp on his desk on and the overhead light for his room off. Seeing Noctis in bed, inviting him in, made him think all manner of things, and he had to think of rather unpleasant ideas to keep himself from getting hard again.

Trying to keep his breathing steady, he got in the bed with Noctis and turned the light off. It was already well into the night, and Prompto would probably regret staying up so late when he got up in the morning for his run. But right now he was just trying to focus on maintaining composure as he shared the same space as Noctis.

The bed was small for two people, even though they were both relatively thin. Noctis wrapped his arm around Prompto and pulled him close so that their bodies were pressed against each other. He didn’t know what he was going to do now. Noctis was making things difficult for him, and he felt like he was almost doing it intentionally. He couldn’t help but wonder if he did this with all of his friends, including the guy Ignis that he had mentioned.

Prompto couldn’t hold onto his thoughts as Noctis kissed him lightly. His arm reached around Noctis’s torso and held him, his hand pressing against the small of his back. He couldn’t remember why he was so worried a second ago. In Noctis’s arms all his fears and worries just disappeared without a trace.

“We should really get some sleep,” Noctis whispered as he reached up and caressed Prompto’s face with the back of his hand.

“Yeah,” Prompto agreed, his voice just as hushed.

Neither of them listened to reason. They continued to make out, holding each other close. Prompto enjoyed the feel of Noctis’s lips, his tongue, his hand tracing up and down his body, making him shiver in delight. They were both hard again, their cocks straining against their clothes once more as they pressed against each other to alleviate their desire. They didn’t touch each other again. Instead they just held each other, kissing late into the night, until they were both too tired to continue.

As Prompto fell asleep in Noctis’s arms he had the impression that he was easily falling head over heels for the guy quickly. There was a warning in the back of his mind to be careful, but he couldn’t really focus on that right now. He knew that he could easily get his heart broken, but he just hoped that the rumors about Noctis weren’t true. Even though he knew that Noctis liked a girl, something he felt immensely guilty about, he hoped that one day he could monopolize all of his time.

Chapter Text

Ignis was getting annoyed by Noctis’s behavior lately. He was acting like a love-sick puppy that couldn’t take his eyes off a pretty new toy. He hadn’t never seen Noctis quite like this before. He had always been so ready to move onto the next hot piece that he lusted after. This was new. Noctis was even talking about taking it slow with this personl that he apparently liked so much. Everyone at the academy was talking about how Noctis was dating someone new, and some people were even taking bets to see how long it would last, but Noctis was being strangely quiet about who he was dating. He said he didn’t want to ruin it with all the rumors that would result from dating a student of Insomnia High.

As the class president, Ignis had other things to worry about into his junior year at the academy. He had heard rumors of a talented student over at the high school who would be better suited at the academy, and Ravus had even told him to try and recruit him for the track team with Dean Caelum’s approval. He had tried a few times to go over to the high school and speak to this Prompto Argentum, but the hulking student who was more muscle than brain always prevented it. It infuriated him to no end, and the accusations that he threw about his family were more than a little hurtful.

His family had escaped and fled Tenebrae when the war had started forty years ago. The war between Niflheim and its territories and Lucis had lasted for twenty years, and they had only been celebrating a peace for just as long this year. Many alive still remembered the horrors that resulted from the war, the displaced families, those who were considered indentured, which was just a friendlier name for slavery.

The Scientia family had always been well off financially, but once the wars had started they had fled to Lucis and settled in Insomnia to have a better life. They had never been on board with many of Niflheim’s rule of Tenebrae as a sovereign territory, but they drew the line when it meant anyone and everyone of fighting age was expected to join the military. Had they stayed in Tenebrae, Ignis would have been forced to join the military once he was graduated from high school. His parents were not prepared for that since he was their only son.

Ignis took issue with the notion of his family owning slaves far more than the notion of fighting in the military for a senseless war. His parents had never owned slaves or indentured servants, escaping far before they were forced by the government to take any in. They had abhorred the idea once they caught wind of it after fleeing to Lucis, but Ignis wanted to take it a step further. He planned to go to college after graduation so he could enter the political world and make legislative changes that would better the refugees in Lucis and those still in captivity in Niflheim and its territories. It had been a goal he set early in life and one he took seriously.

Since he had such a clear path in life he had done everything in his power to make himself the perfect candidate for college applications. He had befriended Noctis early in life due to his academic parents traveling in the same circles as Dean Caelum. They had grown together and became friends as a result, although sometimes Ignis wondered if he was doing more damage than good by associating with Noctis. His penchant for sleeping around, albeit exaggerated, wasn’t particularly beneficial.

In middle school he had joined the debate team and had excelled in the area. He had been offered a full scholarship to the academy as a result, although he sometimes thought that his parents had pulled some strings with the dean for a full ride. He quickly became popular as a serious student among teachers and his peers, and by his sophomore year he was elected the class president and maintained the position. After school three days a week he volunteered at a homeless shelter in the boroughs, helping not only with secretarial duties, but also grant writing so that the shelter could get more funding. Thanks to him, the shelter had successfully gained three grants in only a year’s time. He also spent a large amount of time with the homeless, mainly refugees trying to get back on their feet, giving them a helping hand by providing resources or just lending them a compassionate ear.

He supposed that was why he was so upset when that hulking teen had accused him of just being another rich kid. He knew that the academy had a reputation for taking the talent away from the high school, but he also wanted to give each and every student the opportunity to thrive if it meant them ending up in a better situation. Each student that was offered a scholarship had clamored for the opportunity to switch to the academy, so why shouldn’t those who qualified get offered the chance? He had tried so many times over the course of the week to talk to this one particular student that he realized that he was going to have to go to the dean himself to speak with him.

Noctis came into school after the weekend looking happier than Ignis had ever seen him. Several girls had tried to talk to Noctis, to flirt with him knowing his reputation, but he was blissfully unaware of their flirtations. Ignis wondered exactly what had happened during the weekend to make him so happy. He knew that he was spending time with whoever this new beau was, but to see him so infatuated was entirely annoying. It was almost sickening to think about how deep into his puppy-love Noctis was.

“So when are the introductions?” Ignis asked him absentmindedly when they took their seat in the homeroom class. Students were chatting amongst each other happily, but a few had stopped to look at Noctis and Ignis to see if they were available to talk.

Ignis wasn’t as popular with Noctis for a one night stand or a quick romance, but many had tried to date him as the hard-to-get serious student. He didn’t mind those rumors, especially since he wasn’t particularly interested in dating. He was focused on his schooling. Once he graduated and moved onto college he would likely meet some pretty young woman there, marry her, and begin his life as a politician. It was all very well thought out, and he rather liked the notion of being focused on his singular goal.

“Not for a while,” Noctis replied as he leaned against the desk with a smile. “I want to make sure I don’t rush things.” He paused, a slight blush creeping to his cheeks. “Although I might have done something a little fast this weekend.”

“Did you sleep with the poor young lady already?” Ignis chided him.

“No,” Noctis replied. “Just some light touching. And it’s not a young lady, by the way.”

“You’re dating an older woman?” Ignis didn’t think that Noctis was the type.

“No I’m dating a guy,” Noctis replied with a laugh. “There’s no way I could go for the cougar-type.”

“Noctis.” Ignis’s voice got really low. “There’s nothing wrong with dating a guy, but you need to be careful. The rumors that will circulate will only be ten times worse if they find out you’re with a guy.”

“Why do you think I’m keeping it quiet?” Noctis replied. “He’s a really innocent type guy, too. Not the kind to be super flashy about a relationship or anything. I don’t want him becoming a target just cause we’re dating.”

“That is literally the opposite of the type you always date,” Ignis pointed out. “You only have ever dated the easy ones.”

“Yeah he’s different.” Noctis sighed as if he were remembering something pleasant. “He’s really shy and cute, and when he smiles, like really smiles, his eyes close. He’s a bit clumsy, but he’s really talented and you can tell he sees the best in people.”

“Careful now,” Ignis said with a slight smile. “Some might think you’re in love.”

“Maybe I am. I’ve never been in love before, and I’ve never felt this way before. Maybe it’s the same.” Noctis shrugged but he was smiling.

“Excuse me,” a female voice said with a Tenebraean accent. Ignis turned and saw Lunafreya Nox Fleuret walking towards them. Just like the male students, the female students wore a button up and white sweater vest with the academy emblem over the left breast. But the female students had a plaid skirt instead of pants.

Lunafreya was a beautiful student by any standards, and it was no secret that she had a pretty big crush on Noctis. It wasn’t atypical that a female student, or even some male students, had a crush on him since he was attractive and the heir to a large fortune, but with Lunafreya it was different. They had grown up together, and she had confessed to Noctis that she liked him.

She was the first person to admit her feelings to Noctis. He had turned her down. Lunafreya had been holding out the hope that he was getting his wildness out of him while he was in high school so he could settle down with her upon graduation or even after college. But the more time went on, and the more she pined at him, the less and less likely it seemed. Now with this new beau in the picture, Ignis was increasingly doubtful that it would ever happen.

It wasn’t like she wasn’t desired by many students. She had sweeping blond hair she kept pulled back with braids decorating it delicately. Her eyes were a startling clear blue, like the pools of two rivers meeting. Ignis had thought that she would make any man happy, but Noctis seemed more particular about who he got serious about than who he just fooled around with. She wanted something serious with him, and he wasn’t prepared to give her that.

“Good morning Luna,” Ignis greeted her. “How was your weekend?”

“It went well,” she replied politely. “And yours?”

“Great,” Noctis said with another dreamy sigh. He pulled out his phone and looked at something, possibly a text, and smiled. He typed something quickly and sent it before looking back to Luna and Ignis.
“Ignis,” Luna said. “May I talk to you? It’s about the student you’re trying to talk to.”

“Have fun,” Noctis said as Ignis got up and followed her outside the classroom. Homeroom would start soon, but they had enough time to talk.

“I’ve been unsuccessful in speaking with him,” Ignis said. “I think it’s time to involve the dean.”

Lunafreya was a student ambassador and vice president for the class. She would be responsible for recruitment if the dean asked them to approach a potential candidate. If they were unsuccessful, then the dean would work his magic and find a way to talk directly to the student or to their parents himself. It rarely ever had to resort to that, but this muscular delinquent kept blocking their path.

“I thought as much,” Luna replied. “The student blocking you might be related to a student going to the academy. If I can talk to her, then maybe that’ll bridge the gap.”

Ignis nodded. “Do it, then. The dean is growing tired of waiting around to recruit this kid. If he gets involved he’ll likely be angry. He’s patient, but not that patient.”

“I understand.” Luna nodded. She hesitated, glancing into the classroom at Noctis and then looked back to Ignis. “He seems happy right now. A new toy?”

“I don’t think so,” Ignis replied. “I think he’s serious about this one.”

Lunafreya frowned. “Ever since we were children his father had promised him to me. I don’t want to possess him, but I grew up with the understanding that we would be together one day. I don’t want him getting serious about anyone else.”

“We can’t help it if he falls in love,” Ignis pointed out. “As much as you want to covet him, I just want him to repair his reputation. If that means falling for someone else, no matter who it is, then I’m okay with it.”

“I was hoping you would convince him to just go on one date with me,” Lunafreya said. “If there’s nothing there, then I’ll let him go.”

“I’ll talk to him, but I won’t promise anything,” Ignis said with a sigh. He felt bad for Luna, but he also knew she had to let it go. If Noctis wasn’t going to ever like her, she needed to move on. If going on a failed date meant her giving up, then Noctis might want to consider it seriously.

The bell rang, signaling for them to take their places in their respective homeroom class. They parted with a quick wave and Ignis walked into the classroom and took his seat as the teacher began the morning announcements. He didn’t know how the high school across the street was structured, but at the academy each and every student was quiet and paid attention. Even if Noctis didn’t look like he was paying attention, he still got immaculate grades, so the teachers didn’t complain.

As each class changed, instead of the students going from classroom to classroom, the teachers came to the class. That meant that every class period they had the same students, more like a cohort experience than that of a high school experience. The academy had set it up as a means to eliminate traffic flow in the hallways, save for lunch. During lunch they had the option to go to the café on campus or to eat in the classroom or outside. After class the students would go onto their private lessons, tutoring sessions, athletics, and other club meetings.

Most of the students in the academy were well behaved, aiming towards their goal of being successful graduates of the elite school in Insomnia. Ignis was aware of the pervasive drug problem in the school, though, and had brought it to the dean’s attention. The dean didn’t quite believe him but stated he would look into it. There was a lot of pressure at the academy and many students took uppers to stay up all night and finish their homework while others took downers to get out of their heads.

Ignis was grateful that he or Noctis had never gotten into that scene, although they had been approached several times with the offer from local drug dealer, Loqi. He suspected that Noctis used sex as a means to destress from his life, which was just as problematic. Noctis had assured him one time that he was being safe, but there was the change that he could end up with a disease or getting someone pregnant. He really hoped that this new guy he was seeing was going to help him calm down.

He couldn’t help but feel bad for the new guy either. With Noctis’s reputation, once it got out that he was dating him, it would be difficult for the teen to get by without being heckled by those who had a crush on Noctis or were trying to snag him for his pedigree. The other issue was not knowing if this really was a serious thing. Noctis had always been happy when a new beau came into his life, but once he got bored of them things would end terribly for the beau. He was quick to move on and forget. If this guy really was as innocent as Noctis made him out to be, he was bound to get his heart broken.

Ignis took his place at the front of the class and made the morning announcements as class president. There were certain responsibilities he had to do to uphold the standards of the academy. At the start of the year it was mostly about organizing the clubs, making sure the budget for the club funding was disbursed accordingly, and ensuring that everyone knew their roles and responsibilities to uphold the academy’s reputation. Occasionally there would be a new transfer student, either an elite who had just moved to Insomnia or a scholarship student, and it was the student council’s responsibility to make sure they were welcomed. The student council was also responsible for welcoming the incoming freshman class, setting forth the expectation of the academy, and letting them know that there were great things that were expected of them.

Junior year was going much like every other year. Classes all passed by as expected, the demand for perfection growing as they got older. Once lunch hit, most of the students sighed in relief and made their way to the café or out to the front lawn. Noctis and Ignis typically stayed behind to share the lunch Ignis made. He had gotten into the habit of bringing enough for them both since Noctis either neglected his lunch or he just ate something unhealthy. Occasionally a girl tried to bring a lunch for one of them, but they were always turned down, even when Noctis was dating someone.

“What did Luna want?” Noctis asked as he ate from Ignis’s lunch. He knew what was his and what was Ignis’s.

“A date with you,” Ignis said.

“Never gonna happen,” Noctis replied immediately.

“You might want to consider it,” Ignis replied. “She said that she will give up if you go on a date with her and nothing happens.”

Noctis made a face. “Nothing is going to happen. And I don’t want to agree to a date when I’m already seeing someone.”

“Then consider it a meeting between friends.” Ignis sighed. “I’m tired of being the go-between for you two. If this is her way of letting it go, then just do it so she can move on.”

“I’ll consider it,” Noctis said.

There was a shuffling noise as a younger student came into the classroom. She was only a year younger than they were, cute, and clearly enamored with Noctis. When she had first joined the school she developed a crush on Noctis when he picked up for her after an older classman was teasing her for being a scholarship student. Ever since then, Iris attached herself to him.

“Hey Noctis,” Iris said as she sat down across from them. She looked at him dreamily, but her smile said she was holding onto something that they didn’t know. “How was your weekend?”

“Good,” Noctis replied without looking at her. “How was yours Iris?”

“Pretty decent.” Iris looked out the window at the high school across the street. “My brother said you spent it with a friend of ours.”

Noctis looked at her in surprise. “I did. You know Prompto?”

Ignis heard the name and looked at Noctis. “You mean Prompto Argentum?”

“Yeah, why?” Noctis asked.

“It’s the student I’ve been trying to recruit,” Ignis pointed out.

“Then drop it cause my brother will never let it happen,” Iris said. “It’s bad enough that I’m here. He doesn’t want the academy to steal every ounce of talent and claim it as their own.”

“I don’t get why,” Ignis said with a sigh.

“Class warfare,” Noctis replied. “If the rich steal everything from the poor and claim it as their own, what is the poor left with? Nothing.”

“Exactly,” Iris replied. “My brother is really against Prompto joining the academy because he has a real shot at making something of himself without having to.”

“It’s not his decision though,” Ignis argued. “Prompto should have the right to choose what is best for him.”

“True,” Iris replied. She looked at Noctis and smiled. “He’s really cute though. You think I’ve got a shot with him?”

“No,” Noctis shot back. Ignis knew she was saying it to make him upset, and he had taken the bait. That was unusual. Typically Noctis wouldn’t really care about any goading like that.

“I’ll have to check with him.” Iris laughed. “Actually, I was wondering if you could get me in touch with Ravus.”

“Why Ravus?” Noctis asked. “You trying to marry a pretty boy?”

“If I was I’d already be dating Prompto.” She giggled. “No, Ravus knows how to play the bass and I’m trying to recruit him. Prompto and I are starting a band.”

“Really?” Noctis seemed surprised. Ignis wondered if Prompto was a more secretive person than Noctis knew. “When did that happen?”

“Well we talked about it Thursday and decided it then.” Iris shrugged. “Well it was more like Gladio and I just decided it and Prompto went along with it. He’s really a shy guy. I wonder how he’ll do in front of a crowd.”

“Shouldn’t he consent to that too?” Ignis pointed out.

“He didn’t seem upset about the idea on Sunday when Gladio invited him over.” Iris’s eyes flashed mischievously at Noctis.

Ignis could tell what she was doing. She was trying to make Noctis jealous of the fact that he really didn’t know everything about the object of his affections. She was trying to get a rise out of him, and to what end, Ignis didn’t know. He didn’t think it was to put a rift in between them so she could make a move on Noctis. He had a sneaking suspicion that she was testing Noctis’s resolve on behalf of Prompto without him even knowing it.

“He sure seems popular,” Ignis pointed out.

“Not really. I think Gladio is the first real friend he’s ever had. You know, someone who just wants him to be happy and protect him.” Iris smiled at Ignis then leaned over the desk and looked at Noctis. “So how about it? Get me in touch with Ravus?”

“I’m not that close to him.” Noctis sounded dejected.

“Yeah, but you’re close to his sister.” She said that in a way that seemed to indicate that she knew Luna liked him and would readily date him. She frowned. “In all seriousness, Prompto is a really great guy. He’s really new to all this friendship stuff, and Gladio is really concerned that he’s going to get taken advantage of.”

“I get that I’m a whore and everything, but I really want Prompto to be happy too,” Noctis said sincerely. Ignis was shocked by the admission. He had never once indicated that he was serious about someone before. “I can’t promise that he won’t ever get hurt, but I promise I’ll treat him right.”

Iris considered it and nodded. “Gladio won’t be happy to hear that, but we can’t stop you. Oh, and I don’t know if I should say this, but I’m just forewarning you that Prompto is really dense. Like, you might need to be explicit in how you feel about him. Otherwise, he’s not going to get it.”

“Really? After…? You know what, I can see that. Thanks.” Noctis nodded at the suggestion.

“So… Ravus?” Iris asked with a smile.

Noctis sighed. “Fine. I’ll see if he wants to talk to you. I’m not promising anything though.”

“Yes! All we need is for him to hear Prompto play and he’ll be hooked. Thanks Noctis.” She got up and walked away. Apparently all it took was to give her what she wanted.

“Damn, she’s persistent,” Noctis said. “At least she’s not trying to ask me out or anything.”

“There is that."

The rest of the day passed by with relative ease. Ignis resumed his duties as a model student and class president, and when the bell rang he made his way to the bathroom so he could change into his casual clothes. On Mondays after school he went to the boroughs to volunteer at the homeless shelter. He quickly learned that wearing the academy uniform was likely to cause more problems than it solved, so he quickly dressed after school before taking the subway into that area of the city.

“I’ll see you later,” Ignis said as he handed Noctis the keys to the Regalia. He usually went by Noctis’s house to pick him up then drove to class, but it was up to Noctis to find his way home on days that he had to stay after school.

“I’m going to see if Prompto is up for something,” Noctis said gleefully.

“Talk to him about the academy too,” Ignis suggested as Noctis started walking away backwards so he could still face Ignis.

“Can’t. School official stuff is up to you and my dad. I’m not qualified.” He laughed and made a face before turning around and running out of the school. Ignis had never seen Noctis so excited before.

Ignis had changed into black jeans and a dark purple button up with a faded cheetah print. He kept the sleeves rolled up so it was more casual and admitted that had he been a gaudier person that the top would have been paired with something more foppish. Taking the train from the school to the boroughs was always an ordeal. The subway was typically packed with passengers, students and adults trying to make their way home after a long day. He felt like he was being packed in instead of getting on the train, and he was usually shoulder to shoulder with someone else.

It was always refreshing to get off the subway and step into the boroughs, the hustle and bustle of the are far different from the quiet community he lived it. This area of town made the city come alive with an electric vibrancy that always seemed so welcoming despite what his parents and others in the rich area of Insomnia said about the place. There were several homeless shelters here, however, and Ignis volunteered at one that specifically treated substance abuse disorders.

His mind was mulling over what Iris had said about the rich taking from the poor and leaving them with nothing. At the homeless shelter it really seemed to be the case. Many refugees had found themselves hooked on drugs that the elite mafia had peddled to the poorer communities, making it affordable to get hooked then jacking up the prices. Insomnia natives were not immune either. The were lost to the world, trying to escape from poverty and finding themselves hooked on drugs in the process. There were even children of the upper class elite who ended up there, unable to escape whatever pain they were dealing with without the drugs.

The shelter that Ignis worked at was specifically for the homeless who needed to get clean and find the resources to help them back on their feet. When he had first started working there he learned quickly that a lot of the myths that were perpetuated by the upper class were not necessarily the case. Most of these people were kind hearted, and all of them were trying to find ways to cope with trauma. This shelter specifically had mental health professionals to address these issues, and through the careful grant application process, Ignis and the others there had been able to secure even more funding.

Once at the homeless shelter, he spent about an hour in the grant writing department, helping organize the newest grant proposal for approval. It was a never ending cycle of submitting paperwork, hoping for funds, and then allocating grants as necessary to help those who sorely needed it. Ignis’s eyes eventually got tired, and he left that department to actually talk to some of the residents. He enjoyed this process, but it was also practical. It helped him understand their needs better so he could tailor the grant writing process to be more successful. The director of the shelter had practically begged Ignis to stay on through high school and would likely ask him to stay on after graduation.

Ignis spent a lot of time in the common room with the homeless there. A lot of times he would just talk to them, ask them how their stay was going, see what resources they need to do better in their recovery. Sometimes he played chess with the older residents who were unlikely to ever fully recover from their addictions. At times, when the withdraw effects were over, mental illness would reveal itself in a person, and nursing staff was on standby to restrain and take said person to a hospital for evaluation. Ignis had been caught in the crosshairs once and had been attacked by someone in the middle of a breakdown, but it was short lived and he came out the other side shaky but unscathed.

“Hey Harry,” a gruff yet familiar voice called jovially after Ignis had taken to playing chess with a homeless man. The man across from him was bald, tan, and had a long silver wiry beard. He had kind eyes that had diminished over the years of persistent drug abuse. He was likely younger than he looked.

“What brings you here?” Harry, the man playing chess with Ignis said with a smile. Ignis turned and nearly froze. The rough, tough, delinquent of a student named Gladio was walking towards them, a friendly smile on his face.

“Making the rounds,” Gladio said. His smiled fell. “Seeing who’s new here.”

“Not too many this time,” Harry replied with a nod. “Seems like you’ve been doing a good job of keeping Loqi away from the high school.”

“Good,” Gladio replied. That’s when he noticed Ignis. “What are you doing here?”

“You know Ignis?” Harry asked with a beaming smile. “Good! Ignis is responsible for getting all the grant money this place needed to get back on track. He’s probably the reason why this place is afloat to begin with. And he’s training the staff here so after he’s prime minister or something this place will still run smoothly.”

Gladio looked at Ignis in shock. “You did all that? Why? So you can swoop down as a savior?”

“I did it for entirely selfish reasons,” Ignis replied and Harry laughed. “I want to go into politics and need something to boost my resume.”

“Figured it’d be something like that,” Gladio grumbled.

“Yeah this kid is so set on going into politics so he can finally straighten out whatever those assholes in parliament are doing,” Harry barked out his laughter. “Kid is going places, and he’s going to help us all here in the boroughs.”

“You really believe that?” Gladio asked skeptically.

“Sure do. If he just wanted a resume booster then he’d half-ass his volunteer time. Instead, he’s usually here three to four hours after school three times a week. He’s the one who convinced me to come here in the first place and seek treatment.” Harry’s eyes smiled at Ignis.

“The decision was ultimately yours, Harry.” Ignis moved his chess piece. “I believe that’s check. If you’ll excuse me, it is getting late. I should head home.” He stood up and shook Harry’s hand.

“Take care kid. Next time I’ll beat you for sure. Come on, Gladio. Play me a round. Make me feel smart.”

Gladio looked to Ignis, who only nodded in his direction and walked away. He didn’t need further judgements from someone who didn’t even know him. Harry was a kind soul, and he was appreciative of him being so praising of his hard work, but he didn’t come here to gloat or to be praised. He came to make a difference. He was sure if he stuck around Gladio would only find another reason to be cruel towards him, to call him out on assumptions that he had about him and his family.

Ignis understood why he was angry, although he didn’t necessarily understand what anger of the disenfranchised felt like. He had been blessed with a comfortable life, but he was also insistent on using his privilege to create an impact for those who needed help. It wasn’t like he had a savior complex or like he wanted to appear as a champion for those who needed help. It wasn’t about selfish desires. He just genuinely wanted to make an impact.

“Hey Ignis,” Gladio called behind him as he made his way through the lobby and towards the exit. Ignis turned and saw Gladio jog towards him until he stopped in front of him. Ignis stared at him for a moment, wondering if he was going to say anything at all. “Thanks for helping out here.”

“Of course,” Ignis replied. He gave Gladio a nod and continued his trip home.

Chapter Text

Ignis tried to talk to Prompto the next day, but Noctis said it was no use. He had tried to talk to Prompto yesterday, but he had only rushed from school to head towards his music lesson. Today would be the same but with his photography course. Noctis seemed both happy that Prompto was pursuing his talents and dejected that the first time they would be able to spend time together would be on Wednesday. Ignis told Noctis to introduce him then so he could at the very least mention the idea of transferring schools to him. Noctis had only halfheartedly obliged.

Much of his school day was spent just like the rest, save for the duties that he was required to do as class president. Most of it was just smiling and looking like a dutiful student, but club activities were beginning, and the club leaders were required to provide details of their plan for the year so Ignis could pass it to the dean for approval. Ignis looked over the plans first, and if he didn’t approve it then they had to redo it. Usually the leaders of the clubs were juniors or seniors and were used to what sort of activities the dean would approve. There were only one or two that needed to be redone.

After school Ignis had to speak with the dean regarding the reports from the clubs. He knew that the dean would also be asking about Prompto. Ignis wondered if he should tell him that his son was interested in the student as well, but ultimately he decided that was a conversation between left between father and son. The dean was a rather calculating man, and Ignis didn’t want to interfere with whatever family matters that came up as a result.

Ignis had grown up with the dean in his life. He had always been a kind man, albeit intimidating to both adults and children. He commanded the presence of the room, and people often hung onto every word he spoke. The Caelums had come from such a long line of the rich and famous, worming their way into academia after the government shifted to a parliamentary democracy. Ignis was aware that the Caelums used to rule, and the rest of the world of sophisticates were aware of the fact as well.

As a result the dean of the academy always got his way. One way or another, he was always given what he wanted. He excelled as a dean, keeping the school immaculate and the funding coming from private donors. Due to his demands for excellence, students and teachers alike were put under immense pressure to perform. Some of the students who entered the academy thrived under the pressure. Others didn’t fair so well.

That was where the drugs came into play, which was something the dean was either unaware of or blatantly ignored for the sake of the school’s reputation. Loqi was the local drug dealer that came around and gave the students all manner of drugs they needed, whether it was cocaine or amphetamines to keep students awake or opiates to help students sleep, he had everything on hand. If a student became particularly addicted, their parents would conveniently go on a holiday then come back after their child was miraculously clean.

Anytime Ignis or Noctis saw Loqi nearby they would chase him off, as well as any of the others who knew how problematic his presence was. But he always found a way to get drugs to the students who had the money and the addictive need for it. The teachers and administration turned a blind eye or were unaware for the sake of perfection. It was up to the students to try and help each other, which wasn’t a particularly decent line of defense, and wasn’t particularly effective.

Ignis had brought it up wit the dean once. He thought that the dean should know since it was his school, and as class president he should have the duty to report it to him. Knowing him since childhood should have counted for something as well. But the dean had only told Ignis that he must be mistaken, that his students were not like the students across the street. Somehow Ignis had a feeling that the drug problem at the academy was worse than the high school.

When the final bell rang for class to let out, the students made the usual shuffle to their club activities, or for the slackers like Noctis, they made their way home to do something or nothing in particular. Ignis caught sight of Ravus’s white hair down the hall and wondered if Iris had a chance to talk to him. He didn’t have to wonder long. Iris ran past him, faster than he thought the petite girl could run, and immediately ran over to Ravus.

“Hey Ravus!” Iris called. Ignis was heading in that direction, so he hoped that he wouldn’t have to get involved.

Ravus was a difficult senior to work with, let alone talk to. He excelled as a track star and the captain of the track team, his test scores were always perfect, and he was in line to inherit his parents’ business. They owned a series of successful restaurants and night clubs, but it was also rumored that they were deeply embedded in mafia activity. Lunafreya would likely inherit a portion of the business, but Ravus would be in control.

“Who are you?” Ravus asked Iris as Ignis walked over to his pristine locker, just a few feet away.

“My name is Iris Amicitia,” she replied. “I’m a friend of Noct’s.”

“And what diseases has he given you?” Ravus shot back.

“None.” Iris laughed. “We’ve never dated. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about your bass playing.”

“How do you know I play bass?” Ravus asked. That was news to Ignis as well. He had known that Ravus was talented in everything he did, but he didn’t know he was musically inclined.

“I heard you when I passed by the music room one day. You’re really good. My friend and I are starting a band, and we want to recruit you.” Iris sounded genuine, but Ignis had a feeling that it wasn’t going to end well.

“What makes you think I’d be interested in something like that?” Ravus snapped. Ignis closed his locker, his books and materials adequately rearranged.

“Once you hear how talented he is, you won’t be able to say no! Come on, just meet him and listen to him and you’ll see.”

“You really must be delusional if you think I’ll even indulge you.” Ravus shot a look at Ignis as he walked past. He didn’t know why Ravus always seemed to be breathing down his neck, ready to say something snide at any moment. It had been like this growing up since Noctis and Lunafreya had played together, and Ignis had always been close to Noctis.

“You’ll change your mind one day,” Iris said with a bright smile. “I’m not giving up!” She smiled as Ignis as she walked away.

“Did you put her up to this?” Ravus asked as Ignis attempted to walk by him unnoticed.

“No,” Ignis replied. “You might want to consider her offer. The guy she’s talking about it apparently very talented.”

“Like you would know talent,” Ravus snapped.

“Nice to see you too, Ravus,” Ignis replied as he walked away from the conversation.

The student body was mostly gone, off to their next activity, as he made his way to the dean’s office. It was in the center of the school, where anyone could go to his office if needed. Most students and teachers avoided the office if possible, but Ignis didn’t have that luxury. Since he entered high school his relationship with the dean had become more professional and less of his friend’s father.

He knocked on the dean’s office and was immediately called in. The office was expansive and looming. A desk sat in the middle of the office with two leather chairs for the students or teachers that he needed to talk to. Rarely did someone had to be reprimanded. Students and teachers alike tried to avoid his judgment. The left and right walls were lined with books, which Ignis didn’t doubt Dean Caelum had ready each and every last one of them.

Dean Caelum was sitting at the desk, looking over something on his laptop, a gentle yet firm smile on his face. He looked every bit a dean in his business suit, doing work to keep the academy running perfectly. Ignis knew that a lot of the things that were better delegated to a secretary or administrator got delegated to the him as class president or to the other student council. He probably didn’t want to go through the process of hiring or paying another employee.

“Ignis,” Dean Caelum said as he looked away from his laptop and up at Ignis. “How are you?”

“Doing well, sir,” Ignis replied. He took a stack of papers out of his messenger bag. “I have the activities reports.”

“Thank you, Ignis,” he replied as Ignis handed them to him. “Any word on the new recruit?”

“He has activities after school today, sir,” Ignis replied. “I will attempt to talk to him tomorrow before my volunteer opportunities. It has been difficult since a student has been blocking my path.”

“Just one student?” the dean looked both concerned and amused.

“He is rather large, sir,” Ignis explained. “He has a bit of a reputation at the high school as a delinquent and a troublemaker. I much further suspect he is a gatekeeper and protector.” He thought about Gladio yesterday at the shelter, making his rounds to check on the homeless and addicted.

“Hmm… Someone will have to see to that,” the dean mused in a way that concerned Ignis.

“I think he is doing more good than harm, sir,” Ignis defended. He didn’t know why he was defending someone who shared such open hostility towards him, but he had seen the student turn Loqi away from the high school last week in a way that Ignis and others couldn’t at the academy.

“That may be so, but he’s impeding our ability to acquire a talented student. I want you to come with me tomorrow after school. I was able to obtain his home address and contact his parents. They are willing to listen to me tomorrow. I would like my best and brightest there.”

“Thank you sir.” Ignis thought about how he would have to rearrange his schedule. He would contact the shelter and let them know that he would be late. “Why not bring your son?”

“He is exceptionally bright, but I would prefer to have someone who doesn’t have a bit of a negative reputation.” He sighed. “How is my son’s reputation by the way? It couldn’t get any worse, and that’s what concerns me.”

“I think he’s turning it around,” Ignis replied honestly. If having a new boyfriend that he was serious about did anything, it would only make all the other rumors about his sexual interests calm down. “It will take time, but I think he has a good shot of leaving that behind him.”

“Good. I am glad he has your guidance. Thank you for this.” He held up the stack of papers. “Have a good evening, Ignis.”

“You too, sir.” Ignis left and made his way home. His parents were academics at Insomnia University, one of the best schools in Eos. He spent most of his evenings alone unless he was over at Noctis’s, but it gave him the time to do his homework. The homework at the academy was brutal, even for him, so he often spent most of his free time trying to get it done. He didn’t know how Noctis did it, but then again Noctis was likely a genius and could easily get through it without much thought. Wasted talent.

He lived in a large house, although it wasn’t nearly as large as the Caelum estate. Still, it wasn’t so big that it was uncomfortable, but it wasn’t so small that it was stifling. His room was what he considered to be a fairly decent size, well decorated and well furnished. He had a large bed and a sprawling desk so he could do his work with as much space as he needed. He had both a closet and a dresser, the closet for his uniforms and dress clothes, and his dresser for his casual clothing. There was no need for him to have a television, and the large window in his room had a seat instead of a window sill where he liked to read in his extra time, which was rare.

Ignis spent the evening tackling his homework. It wasn’t until late into the evening until he was finished. His parents had already come home from work and were fast asleep already. He understood why some students felt the need to reach out for drugs to keep them going, although he wouldn’t be one of them. Instead he relied heavily on coffee to get him through the day. When he was finally done, exhausted and nearly falling asleep already, he undressed and collapsed into bed until the next morning.

The routine went much the same that it always did. He got up in the morning, dressed in his uniform, and made his way to school. He meal prepped at the beginning of each week and grabbed the lunch he split with Noctis and a couple of cans of Ebony, his favorite coffee drink. It was going to be a longer day and he needed the energy, especially if he was supposed to look like a model student.

Noctis looked frustrated when he walked into the classroom that morning, but Ignis didn’t have a chance to talk to him. He wondered if something happened with Prompto. Maybe it was over before it had even begun. Or maybe Gladio was cockblocking him and keeping him from seeing Prompto.

“What’s wrong?” Ignis finally asked him during lunch as Noctis pulled out his phone and looked at his messages.

“Prompto said his parents are making him go straight home after school today,” Noctis sulked. “I haven’t been able to hang out with him all week.”

“That’s unfortunate,” Ignis replied. “But at least you two can text. Maybe you should video with him later?”

“That’s a good idea.” Noctis brightened a bit. “Well I’m hanging out with him tomorrow, and no one can stop us. I already made plans and he and I are sticking to them. I won’t let Gladio or Iris interrupt either.”

“Good luck,” Ignis said. “Is Prompto excited to spend time with you?”

“I think so. Iris was right. He’s a bit clueless when it comes to me flirting with him. I guess it makes sense though since he hasn’t had friends before.”

“Ever?” Ignis found that odd. Everyone had friends at some point. It was a natural part of growing up.

“Yeah. It’s weird, right? Like his parents have willfully made sure he hasn’t socialized with anyone growing up.” Noctis frowned. “I don’t really know what’s going on with that. It’s kind of worrisome, you know?”

“Perhaps he was a sickly child,” Ignis considered. “You just really met the guy. It’ll take time to learn about him.”

“True.” Noctis sighed. “I just have the feeling that there’s something else going on. But what do I know?”

“You’re smarter than you act. If your gut is telling you something is off, then it probably is. Just get to know him a bit and see if you can figure it out.” He hesitated. “I think I know the reason why you can’t hang out with Prompto today. Your father is going to see his parents about him coming to the academy.”

“What?” Noctis looked startled. “I don’t think he’s made the link that I know him. Are you going to be there too?” When Ignis nodded he considered his options. “Maybe I should go too.”

“Your father will be unhappy about that. He wants to make a good impression and said your reputation is too damaged to do that. I’ll keep an eye out for him and let you know what happens.”

Noctis nodded. “Thanks. My dad collects scholarship students for the academy like they’re his pet projects. I don’t want him getting his hands on him.”

“If he does go to the academy your father might be more willing to accept the relationship between you two,” Ignis pointed out. “Do you really think your father will want you to date someone he doesn’t approve of if you’re serious about him?”

“I don’t care about that shit. If I want to be with Prompto I will.” He sighed. “So my dad is dragging you to this and you have the volunteer stuff after school too, right? Do you ever rest?”

“No. That’s what coffee is for.”

The rest of the day passed with relative ease, but Ignis did find himself a bit anxious to be going to somewhere with the dean. This usually didn’t happen, and he anticipated being scolded for not doing his duty in recruiting him sooner. He also had the sneaking suspicion that the dean would be having a stern talking to with the high school regarding Gladio’s behavior. He wondered which was more frightening to the staff over there, Gladio’s intimidation or the dean’s?

“Good luck,” Noctis whispered to Ignis as the dean came out of his office and approached them.

“Noctis,” his father said with a smile. “It’s good to see you. You’ve been hiding out in your room a lot.”

“Lots of homework,” Noctis replied with a shrug. “Have fun with Ignis.”

“This is purely business,” his father replied. “Ready Ignis? There’s a car waiting for us.”

Ignis followed the man out of the building and towards a sleek black car with a driver waiting for them. The drive to Prompto’s house wasn’t long, but the dean was too dignified to walk and his leg was too weak to go the distance. When they pulled up to the small townhouse nestled in a neat row next to others that looked almost identical, Ignis wondered if it was such a good idea for them to be here.

Ignis followed the dean to the front door obediently, leaving his bag in the car but his cell phone in his pocket. The dean wrapped on the door with his cane, and a moment later a kind looking woman opened the door. Noctis had shown him a photo of Prompto, freckled with blond hair and blue eyes. This woman had brown hair and brown eyes, and the man standing a few feet behind her was much the same. They looked nothing like Prompto.

“Mr. Caelum,” Mrs. Argentum said kindly. “Thank you for coming. Please come in. Dear, please go get him.” Her husband immediately excused himself to retrieve their son.

“It’s a delight to be here,” the dean responded, although he was clearly making judgments about their small abode. Compared to his estate, nothing would add up. “Please call me Regis. This is my star pupil, Ignis.”

“I would have expected you to bring your son here instead,” she replied as she showed them inside and to the small living room. There was a tray of tea and finger sandwiches laid out already. They sat on the couch as she sat on the chairs from the kitchen table that had been placed opposite them.

“My son is busy with his homework,” the dean replied with a polite smile. Chances were Noctis was home texting Prompto and playing video games.

Mrs. Argentum nodded and poured them each a cup of tea then looked to Ignis. “You look a little tired, dear, if you don’t mind my saying. Please have some food.”

“Thank you,” Ignis replied. He didn’t realize he looked tired, but Regis didn’t seem to indicate that he looked particularly worn out either. Nevertheless, he obliged and took one of the finger sandwiches out of politeness and genuine hunger. It would be a while before he could eat dinner.

“Here’s the topic of discussion,” Mr. Argentum said as he descended the stairs with Prompto behind them. Prompto looked surprised and uncomfortable when he saw the dean. Ignis could tell why Noctis was attracted to the blond, though. He was really pretty, and if he wasn’t so isolated then he had the sneaking suspicion Prompto would have been a really popular teen.

“Mr. Caelum,” Prompto said in surprise. He looked to his parents then back to the dean.

“Prompto,” the dean said as he stood and shook his hand again. “I didn’t realize you were the one who everyone has been talking about recently.”

“You two have met?” his mom asked, her eyes flickering from the dean to Prompto nervously. There was something that she wasn’t saying. Ignis could tell at least that much.

“Briefly. He was over my estate one day when my son invited him over. I should have known then. Noctis does have an eye for talent.”

They all sat down, and there was an awkward silence. Prompto sat in one of the chairs like his parents while they all took a sip of their tea. Ignis had the distinct impression that his parents were particularly caring, although they looked nervous to have Dean Caelum in their residence for reasons that he couldn’t quite tell.

“My name is Ignis Scientia,” Ignis said to Prompto. “I’m Noctis’s best friend.”

Prompto brightened at that, a slight blush creeping to his face. “He’s mentioned you a bit. I’m glad to meet you.”

“Same here,” Ignis replied. “I am also the student council president. Dean Caelum brought me here because there are some rumors that you’re a particularly talented student. He is interested in you transferring to the academy if that is of interest to you. You could go to school with Noctis.”

Prompto looked hopeful at that idea, but then he furrowed his brow. His parents looked just as concerned. “Thank you for the offer,” his father said for him. “But we accepted your invitation knowing what you would be asking. We are going to have to decline.”

Everyone but Mrs. Argentum looked at him in surprise. Ignis had never heard of a family declining the invitation of going to the academy. It was usually met with tears of gratitude and happiness.
“It would be a full scholarship,” the dean explained. “He would be set up for success just by attending and graduating.”

“We believe we have already set our son up for success,” Mrs. Argentum said proudly. “He has an excellent photography teacher. His vocal and guitar coach is confident in his abilities. He is an excellent student and athlete. He doesn’t need the academy to wear him down and make him lose focus.”

“Besides, we’ve heard some rather sordid rumors about the level of pressure the students are under at the academy,” Mr. Argentum continued. “Many of your students are addicted to pills and other drugs to keep them awake long enough to complete their homework. I think you should devote more time to that then to recruitment.”

“I understand your concerns, but those rumors are not founded on fact.” Regis looked shocked by their confrontational attitude, but he maintained his composure. Ignis could tell he was angry though. This wouldn’t end well for Noctis’s plans to be with Prompto.

“Nevertheless, we will not take the risk,” Prompto’s mother said firmly. “We don’t want Prompto to go down the wrong path.”

“It’s a moot point anyway,” his father added. “We may be moving to Lestallum in a few months.”

“What?” Prompto looked at his parents in shock. “Why?”

“A job opportunity has opened up for your father, dear,” his mother replied. Ignis could tell she was lying. Her eyes betrayed her, but Prompto didn’t seem to notice. What were they hiding so much that they had to lie about something like that? Were they running because Prompto had come under the scrutiny of the Caelums, both father and son?

“I don’t want to move,” Prompto said as he sank back in his chair sullenly. He seemed to forget this was supposed to be a meeting for a different reason. He looked to both Ignis and the dean, flustered. “Please excuse me.”

He got up and walked away, clearly distraught by the news. His parents, both with a dignified look on their face, had clearly stopped the conversation from continuing. Usually the dean was the one to maintain control of these conversations, but they never gave him any room to do so as soon as it started.

“We want your son staying away from ours,” his father said once Prompto was out of the room. “We’re aware of his reputation and are worried for Prompto’s sake. He’s a good kid, kind and easily hurt as a result. We are not passing judgment on you or him, but we must do what is necessary to protect our child. He will not be attending the academy, and I ask that you tell your son to stop pursuing a friendship with him.”

“If I may,” Ignis offered before the dean could speak. “Noctis may be a bit misguided in his general attitude towards the academy and the people there, but he has no intention of hurting Prompto. He has expressed as much to me several times over.”

“Be that as it may, we cannot take the risk. Prompto is fragile.” His mother looked at him sternly, her kind eyes turned cold. “I won’t see him hurt because someone wants to treat him like a shiny new toy.”

They stood up, indicating that the conversation was over. Regis and Ignis stood up as well, but the dean was clearly angered by the way they had declined the conversation and had spoken about his son. Ignis knew this wouldn’t be the end of things for them, not unless they truly did move to Lestallum.

“I would reconsider your position carefully,” the dean said in an almost threatening way. “This is something that would greatly benefit you and your son.”

“We are aware of the choices we are making,” Mr. Argentum replied. “Cor explained as much to us.”

Regis looked at them in a shock, his composure clearly dissolved in those few words. Who was Cor? Why did that cause the dean great concern to the point where his usually regal demeanor was lost? There was something more here that none of them were saying.

“I see. Very well, then. We shall see ourselves to the door.” The dean walked away from the parents at that point, and Ignis had no choice but to follow. They awkwardly left the house and walked to the car waiting for them. It wasn’t until they were in the car on their way that Ignis pulled out his phone and sent Noctis a text.

This isn’t good.
You might want to call Prompto.

There was a response a moment later, Noctis clearly worried.

On it.

“Sir,” Ignis asked after a moment as the driver took them back to the school. The dean still had work to do, and Ignis had to take the subway into the boroughs to do his volunteer work. “What just happened?”

“It can’t be helped,” the dean only replied as he looked out the window in deep thought. “Prompto shouldn’t come to this school. And Noctis should not see him anymore.”

“But sir-”

“That’s all there is to it, Ignis. We must respect their wishes.”

Ignis may not have known what was going on entirely, but he knew that there was more to it than respecting Prompto’s parent’s wishes. The mention of the name Cor shocked Regis, and that meant there was something going on that gave him great concern. Enough for him to want Noctis not to interact with Prompto anymore. He wondered what Noctis would say when his father spoke to him.

“Thank you for coming,” the dean said as the car rolled to a stop in front of the school. “I do hope the volunteer work is going well.”

“It is,” Ignis replied awkwardly. They got out of the car, Ignis ready to begin another trip to the boroughs. “Take care, sir.”

“You too, Ignis.” The dean was focused on something else though, his mind somewhere else.

Ignis left and considered what was going on. Noctis was right. There was something about the family that was off, something that they were hiding, even from Prompto. He didn’t look anything like his parents, but that wasn’t always unusual. What he needed to do was find out who this Cor person was and what had the dean so concerned that he even appeared a bit scared.

For a moment, Ignis hesitated. There was no reason for him to go digging into someone’s past like that. He didn’t know Prompto, and his role here was done. If Dean Caelum was no longer interested in recruiting Prompto, then there was no need for him to try and figure out what the truth was.

That wasn’t exactly accurate either. Noctis was his best friend and was interested in Prompto. From the looks of it, they were even dating. Ignis couldn’t just ignore that fact and leave Noctis to figure this out on his own. Plus it seemed mutually agreeable from all parents involved that they shouldn’t see each other, all because of the mention of one name. And if it was a serious enough of a secret for the Argentums to want to flee to Lestallum, then it was enough for him to be concerned about Noctis getting hurt.

Ignis got on the subway and made his way to the boroughs for his shift, his mind filled with thoughts about what was going on and what this could mean. He had to help Noctis. Hadn’t Noctis helped him so many times growing up? Another concern blossomed in his mind. If his parents were so adamant on Noctis and Prompto not interacting that they were willing do move, could that mean that Prompto himself was dangerous? Perhaps that was the reason why they were hidden away. They had to get to the bottom of this, and fast, so that Noctis would remain safe if that was the case.

Chapter Text

Ignis was exhausted. It was only the second week of junior year, and he needed the full weekend to recover. He was glad it was Friday already. He had to get through his volunteer work then he would be free to go home and rest. Maybe he was taking on too much. Maybe he just needed to dial back his schedule.

That wasn’t really it, though. He was stressed because Noctis was stressed. Noctis had gotten into an argument with his father after they had gone to Prompto’s house, and he had openly defied his father and the Argentum’s wishes not to see Prompto. Prompto had also told his parents that he wasn’t going to stop seeing Noctis, and he had insisted that he wasn’t moving to Lestallum. True to their word, they had spent the day after school together, and apparently Prompto’s parents hadn’t tried to stop them so far.

While Noctis and Prompto were spending time together, Ignis had tried to do some research on who this Cor person was and how he could be related to Prompto, the Argentums, and Regis. Nothing really came up that was relevant no matter how many times Ignis had searched. Whoever this Cor was, he was really well hidden. When he had told Noctis what he had discovered, or the lack of what he had discovered, Noctis seemed worried as well. He wondered if Noctis was going to talk to Prompto about it too.

Ignis had given Noctis permission to give Prompto his phone number in the event he wanted to talk, particularly if Noctis had told Prompto what they had overheard. Secrets weren’t exactly the best way to start a relationship, but he wasn’t going to press the matter. He felt like the relationship had already started off shakily, which maybe was a good signal for Noctis to end it now before anyone got hurt. He had a feeling that defying their family had only made the relationship more exciting to Noctis.

“You okay, Ignis?” Noctis asked after school. “You look tired.”

“I am tired,” Ignis replied with a yawn. He pulled a can of Ebony out of his messenger bag and opened it. “I spent too much time trying to do research for you while you were messing around with Prompto.”

“Sorry,” Noctis replied guiltily. “But Prompto and I were trying to find info too. We looked through all his photo albums, old family mementos, anything that could give us a hint about this Cor guy. We found a photo hidden away in his parents’ room. I took a shot of it on my phone.”

Noctis pulled out his photo and showed him a picture that was clearly hastily taken. It was of a younger Mr. and Mrs. Argentum standing next to a stern looking man who was holding a blond toddler that could only be Prompto. The toddler in the photo looked terrified, had dirt on his face, and was wearing silk pajamas that looked more regal and expensive than anything Noctis had ever worn. The stern man had a crewcut and was wearing a military uniform.

“That’s… concerning,” Ignis said with a frown as he looked at it. “Does Prompto have any memory of this photo being taken?”

“No,” Noctis replied. “He knows he’s adopted, but that’s about it.”

“This is a lot. You just met Prompto. I know you’re attracted to him and dating him, but is this really something you should involve yourself with?” Ignis was concerned that this was out of their depth. They were only high school students, not equipped to handle something that was more serious or more dangerous than what a typical teen should deal with.

“Yeah I considered that too.” Noctis put his phone away then smiled. “But I guess it’s better to air our dirty laundry and get it over with. Besides, Prompto didn’t run away when he heard of my reputation.”

“That’s a bit different then something that might be dangerous. Just promise me you’ll be careful.”

“I will. I know you have to go do your volunteer stuff tonight, but we should hang out this weekend. Me, you, and Prompto. I’d like you to meet him. You’d see how great of a guy he is then.”

“Sounds good. Maybe you should come to my place then. I’ll make dinner.” Ignis added it onto the never ending list of things he had to do. If it was at his place, at least he could feel more comfortable and relaxed there.

“Great. Thanks Ignis. Let me know if you want me to bring anything.” His phone went off and he pulled it out of his pocket. “That’s Prompto. I have to go. I’ll see you later.”

He waved as he ran off, clearly far too infatuated with Prompto for him to really see just how out of his depth he was. Ignis sighed before changing his clothes to something more casual for the volunteer work. When he caught a glimpse of his reflection, he noticed the dark circles under his eyes and made another mental note to sleep in Saturday. He took a long drink of the Ebony coffee and made his way out of the school and to the subway.

Ignis’s mind was occupied on the ride in, the snapshot of the picture lingering in his mind. Noctis was in over his head and couldn’t see it. Perhaps he should tell his father about it so that he could put an end to their relationship. He didn’t want to betray Noctis in such a way, but there was something going on in Prompto’s life that could ultimately result in Noctis getting hurt. Everyone was worried about Prompto being hurt by Noctis, but Ignis was worried about the opposite. Whether intentional or not, Prompto’s existence could just put him in danger. Then again, Ignis just didn’t have enough information to determine if that truly was the case.

The time at the shelter went by much like it always did. Even during the summer he volunteered there, so for him it really was just another shift. He spent his time with Harry and the others there, his Fridays more dedicated to the time spent with the homeless there instead of the paperwork and grant submissions. He spent three hours there, until he was too tired really to stay around much longer.

On his way back, he absentmindedly drifted towards the subway station, his mind too tired to really think much about anything other than sleep. Perhaps that was why he wasn’t aware of the three men lurking behind him until it was too late. He felt a hand covering his mouth as another wrapped around his throat and pulled him. Ignis screamed, but no one was going to stop them as he was dragged down a dark alley.

Panic coursed through him as he struggled, but whoever had grabbed him was too strong. The man who grabbed him let him go just as the two other pinned him against the brick building by his shoulders, their strong hands ensuring that he wasn’t able to move. The third man punched him in the stomach, knocking the wind out of him. He had trouble catching his breath, wondering exactly what they wanted.

“You should’ve paid attention, pretty boy,” the guy said with a smile. It was too difficult to make out his features. “Coming into the boroughs like you own the place. Let’s see what’s in that bag of yours. How much money did daddy give you?”

One of the guy’s pinning him down grabbed his messenger bag and yanked it off him forcefully. Ignis let out a scream for help, but one of the guy’s punched him in the face. Everything went blank for a moment, the pain in his face swelling as his head hung limply. When he opened his eyes again, he realized that his glasses had been knocked off and the world had gone blurry.

“Hey,” a gruff voice called from the end of the alleyway. “Drop his shit and let him go.”

The three guys looked at whoever was calling out to them and immediately bolted, releasing Ignis and his belongings in the process. Ignis felt his body go slack from the pain and exhaustion and slid to the ground, unable to hold on anymore. He was tired and in pain. An attempted mugging wasn’t exactly what he had in mind when he had set out for the day.

“Ignis,” the gruff voice said as someone knelt in front of him and touched his face with a huge, gentle hand. “Ignis, talk to me.”

“What?” Ignis asked in confusion. “My glasses… I can’t see anything.”

There was a shuffling around followed by the man handing Ignis his glasses. He pulled them on, ignoring the pain in his face as he did so, and looked up at Gladio in surprise. He had been the one to call them men off? Why would he care? It was clear that he hated Ignis, so there was no reason for him to stop and try and help him.

“Gladio?” Ignis asked in confusion. The punch to the face left his mind muddled. He likely had a concussion. “What are you doing here?”

“I live in the boroughs,” Gladio replied with an edge in his voice. “What are you doing out here on a Friday night?”

“I was on my way home from the shelter,” Ignis said as he tried to sit up. His stomach hurt. Gladio put his hand on his shoulder as he crouched down, indicating to him to stay still. Ignis stopped moving. “I should have paid more attention.”

“It’s not your fault that you got attacked.” Gladio didn’t sound so angry anymore. “Come on. I’m going to take you home.”

Gladio grabbed Ignis’s arm and pulled his over his shoulders. He held Ignis’s hand over his shoulder with one hand and put his free arm around his waist, his hand resting on his hip for support while avoiding the tender area where he had gotten punched. Carefully, Gladio pulled him to his feet. Somehow he already had a hold of Ignis’s bag, but Ignis was too tired and too sore to really care. He figured if Gladio was going to hurt him, he would have already done it.

“You’re going to be sore for a while,” Gladio said as they slowly walked down the alley and back into the brightly lit main street. “I hope this doesn’t mean you’ll stop coming to the shelter.”

“The actions of the few do not define the actions of many,” Ignis replied. “It’s not the first time I’ve been attacked while volunteering, although it’s probably the worst of them. I won’t let my fear stop me from helping those who need it.”

There was a prolonged silence as they walked along the street. Ignis was vaguely aware that they weren’t headed towards the subway, which meant they were headed towards his house, but he couldn’t really focus at the moment. The streetlights, the boroughs lit up for the long night ahead of them, were too bright for him, and he found himself keeping his head down as he periodically closed his eyes. He just had to trust that Gladio would keep him safe. That in itself gave him reason for panic and fear, but if he was truly going to hurt him then he would have already done it.

“My mom’s a nurse so she should be able to help,” Gladio said as they approached a row of worn down town houses just off the main street.

They looked almost like Prompto’s house, just not as well kept. In the middle was one that had a series of extensive repairs done on it, and while the color was still tarnished, it was clearly the best kept one of them. Ignis noticed that the others looked like they had repairs done on them too, but it was slow going. He wondered who had taken the time to painstakingly make the repairs, including what looked like a hand built ramp for one of the homes for a wheelchair.

“Mom,” Gladio called as he opened the door to the best repaired house. Inside was well decorated, full of bright splashes of color, the smell of warmth and spices tantalizing Ignis’s senses. The layout was the same as Prompto’s house, which likely meant the same builder had been commissioned for each row of homes. Where Prompto’s house was bare and cold though, Gladio’s house came alive.

The kitchen was painted a bright yellow and was decorated with dried herbs, spices, and even dried flowers. There was something bubbling on the stove that smelled enticing, like it had been slowly simmering all day. Ignis wondered what was in there and if he could replicate it, given the chance.

The living room had a worn out green couch with two brightly colored bean bag chairs, likely one for him and one for his sister. There was a thoroughly scratched brown coffee table and an older television along the wall. A glass sliding back door looked out across a small lawn. The walls of the living room were painted a deep, lush olive green, and there were photos of the family strewn across the walls. Just on the other side of the partition that separated the kitchen from the living room was a worn down dining table that seated six comfortably.

“Gladio,” a kind voice called as someone descended the stairs. An older woman who could only be Gladio’s mother looked at them in surprise. She had brown hair and light eyes and was wearing nurse scrubs, clearly just getting home from a long shift. Her eyes looked tired like she worked long hours to support the family. “What did you do?”

“Nothing,” Gladio said. “He got jumped by some guys trying to rob him.”

“Gladio helped me,” Ignis added helpfully.

“Sit him on the couch,” his mother said as she immediately went back upstairs. “I’ll grab the kit.”

Gladio obeyed his mother without question, taking Ignis over to the couch and gently setting him on it. He looked at Ignis in concern, and Ignis couldn’t help but wonder how bad the damage to his face was. He knew there would at least be a bruise, but he was thankful that his eye hadn’t swollen shut just yet. All he knew was that it hurt.

“Let me see,” his mother said as she shooed Gladio away and took his spot next to Ignis. “I’ll need you to remove your glasses dear.”

Ignis complied and let her take an assessment of his condition. She checked his eyes for pupil dilation, bandaged the side of his face that had gotten hurt, and had him follow a series of commands and answer basic questions. When she was satisfied, she indicated that he could put his glasses back on. He did so thankfully, hating how blurred his vision was while knowing that it was likely a bit worse due to being punched in the face.

“You’ll have some light sensitivity for a while,” Gladio’s mother explained. “But if you start getting any sudden headaches or if your vision gets worse, then you need to see a doctor. Now lift up your shirt. I can tell by the way Gladio was holding you that they got your stomach too.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Ignis replied as he unbuttoned his shirt and pulled up his undershirt. He noticed Gladio give him a look, which he couldn’t quite grasp, but suddenly felt self-conscious of his exposed chest.
“Oof,” his mother said as she looked at the big bruise that was beginning to blossom on his stomach. “That will hurt for a while.”

She took her time check it out, making sure there wasn’t any signs of internal bleeding. For a nurse, she was as thorough as a doctor, but Ignis had a feeling it was due to her time in the medical field as well as her need to pick up the slack when the hospital was short staffed. There were two hospitals in Insomnia, one in the upper district where the rich went, and one in the lower district where everyone else went. The one in the lower district was constantly understaffed and underfunded. Ignis figured it was safe to assume she worked there.

“Alright,” she said finally after putting a salve on his stomach and bandaging the area. She took out a pill from the kit and handed it to him. “You should take this for the pain. It’s not as strong as a painkiller, but it won’t get you addicted either.”

“Thank you,” Ignis said. Gladio handed him a glass of water, and he wondered when he had gotten it. He hadn’t really been paying attention to him, though. If anything, he was trying not to look at him while his shirt was off. He took the pill and downed it with the water, then looked at them both. “I’m sorry to have put you out like this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” she replied. “Any friend of Gladio’s is a friend of ours. He’s a good kid, after all, even if he does get into trouble from time to time.” She gave her son a stern glance, but she was smiling. She turned back to Ignis and smiled at him kindly. “What’s your name, dear?”

“Ignis Scientia,” he replied.

She looked at Gladio then back to Ignis in shock. “A Scientia in the Amicitia household? That doesn’t happen every day. How did you two meet?”

“He volunteers at the homeless shelter,” Gladio said vaguely.

“Gladio is also the friend of someone my best friend is dating,” Ignis explained. Gladio looked at him curiously, his expression inscrutable. “Small world, I suppose.”

“Well please do take care of my son,” Mrs. Amicitia said with a hint of worry. “He may look tough, but he has a soft heart.”

It was the same warning that Noctis got whenever he dated someone new. It was the warning that the poor gave to the rich because of the long history of the rich taking advantage. Ignis couldn’t blame her. So many of those in the upper echelons of society abused their power by promising the world to the poor until they got what they wanted then discarded them when they were through. Ignis vowed to never be like that, but they couldn’t possibly know that and words only went so far.

“Mom,” Gladio said warningly, like he didn’t want Ignis to know that he was secretly a good guy.

“It’s alright,” Ignis said as he pulled his undershirt down and sat up straight. The medicine that she gave him was kicking in, but she was right. It took the edge off of his pain, but it didn’t completely get rid of it like a painkiller would have. “I understand your concern, Mrs. Amicitia.”

Ignis got up slowly, making Gladio reach out instinctively to help him balance. He didn’t know why the gruff man was being so kind to him, so much so that he brought him into his home. It was clear that Gladio hated him, his family, and everything that he was. There was no reason for him to be there. Even if Gladio had felt obligated to stop a mugging, he should have just left him on the street, let alone take him home to get bandaged up by his own mother.

“I will find a way to repay your kindness,” Ignis said to them both. “For now, I should be on my way so I do not continue to cause you anymore concern for your son.”

“You’re in no condition to go out on your own,” Gladio said as Ignis took a step towards the door. “You’re going to get jumped again if you step out that door. It’s a Friday night in the boroughs. Use your head a little.”

“Gladio is right,” his mother replied. “As much as there are people like us who look after our own, this part of Insomnia isn’t safe at night. Gladio should at least take you home, but I would really suggest you staying here the night in your condition.”

Ignis looked at them both, unsure of what to do. The last thing he wanted to do was stay in the house of someone who clearly hated him. But it wasn’t like there was a better alternative. Even if Gladio took him to the subway there was no guarantee he wouldn’t get jumped on the train itself this late into the evening. He suppressed a sigh, knowing that Gladio’s mother was really just looking out for his best interests.

“Dude, Ignis, what happened to you?” Iris said as she came down the stairs. She looked at Gladio. “Did you really beat him up cause you hate that he’s rich that much, Gladio?”

“No he got jumped,” Gladio snapped. “Like I would attack someone just because they’re rich.”

Iris shrugged and walked over to Ignis. She gave him a light hug in greeting. Ignis had never seen her out of her uniform before, but it was clear she was part of the punk rock scene. She seemed to have a particular love of black and red plaid, wearing a shirt and short skirt of the same pattern. “I wouldn’t put it past you, the way you’ve been acting recently. Thanks for helping him. Ignis is a good guy, despite what you think.”

“You know him too, Iris?” Mrs. Amicitia asked as she stood up and closed the first aid kit. She walked over to the kitchen to check on whatever was cooking on the stove.

“Yeah he goes to my school,” Iris said as she followed her mom into the kitchen and hovered over her, checking to see if dinner was ready yet. “He’s the student council president and the top of the class. Plus he’s friends with the guy I have a crush on, although I wouldn’t mind going out with Ignis either.”

She looked over to him through the large partition that separated the kitchen from the living room, the top half an empty space so whoever was in the kitchen could see what was going on in the living room. When she winked and giggled, Ignis felt a bit awkward. It wasn’t because Iris had done that. He knew she was just kidding since she had the biggest crush on Noctis already. What made him feel awkward was how Gladio looked at him with the same inscrutable gaze that he gave him when he had been bare chested.

“I didn’t realize that you had such a crush,” their mother replied. She sighed and looked over to Ignis. “Well Iris has always been a good judge of character. Dinner’s ready, kids. Come set the table so we can all eat.”

“Is dad going to be home soon?” Iris asked as she opened several cabinet doors and grabbed bowls from them.

Ignis made to help them, but Gladio stopped him. “Go sit at the table. My mom will flip if she sees you trying to help. It’s a thing she has about guests helping out here.”

Ignis only nodded and awkwardly sat down in one of the middle seats at the table. He figured the head of the table was meant for the parents. The chairs were surprisingly comfortable as he sat down, as if the years of use had only made things more relaxed instead of harder to sit on. The dining room at his house was a more formal affair, stiff and poised. Even though he felt awkward to be among the family, this ultimately was a more relaxing experience.

While he listened to their conversation as he waited for them to set the table, he pulled out his phone and sent a quick text to his parents to let them know he was spending the night at a friend’s house. It wasn’t exactly the truth since Gladio likely considered him an enemy, but it was easier to say that he was a friend than explain the situation. Plus, Iris was friendly enough at school that he technically wasn’t lying. If his parents knew he was staying in the boroughs they would send an escort to come pick him up. The last thing he needed was his family judging the Amicitias like that since they had been kind enough to help him.

“Your father should be home shortly,” Mrs. Amicitia said as Iris set the table with the bowls and spoons. Gladio was setting the table with cups and filling them with water. For such a tough looking guy, he really listened to whatever his mother commanded. Ignis had a feeling that his suspicions about Gladio being more of a protector were far more accurate than initially thought.

“What does your dad do for a living?” Ignis asked Gladio.

He looked down at him without saying a word then walked back into the kitchen. Ignis thought he had opted to ignore him. It didn’t surprise him. Ignis and Gladio weren’t anywhere on good terms, and now that Ignis had been cared for and bandaged, it seemed to be going back in that direction. A moment later Gladio came back out with the big pot that had been on the stove and set it on a warmer in the middle of the table.

“My dad is contracted with the military,” Gladio explained. So he wasn’t ignoring him after all. “He trains the special ops teams.”

“That’s really cool,” Ignis replied. He was surprised that such a position didn’t pay better, but he wasn’t going to say anything about it.

Gladio sat down next to him as Iris sat across from him and Mrs. Amicitia sat at one end of the table. The door opened as they all sat down, and a man called out to the family at the door. A moment later there was a shuffling as who could only be Mr. Amicitia walked over to the dining table. He was tall, well built though not quite as much as Gladio, and had his dark hair in the military crew cut style. His eyes were the same color as Gladio’s and Iris’s, and he looked more kind than stern.

“Good evening my lovely family,” Mr. Amiticia said as his wife got up and hugged him. He looked at Ignis in surprise. “Gladio, what did you do?”

“Why does everyone always think I did something?” Gladio asked with a sigh. “He was jumped and I helped him.”

“Well, then thank you for doing something,” Mr. Amicitia replied. He looked at Ignis closely. “You might want to consider not wearing name brand clothing in the boroughs.”

“Thank you for the suggestion, sir,” Ignis replied. He honestly had never considered that. “I will be more careful from now on.”

“Dear, this is Ignis Scientia,” Mrs. Amicitia said. He looked at Ignis in surprise. “Gladio and Iris are both friends of his.”

“I trust my children,” he said as he took his seat at the other end of the table. Mrs. Amicitia followed suit. “Let’s dig in.”

Ignis knew that had Gladio and Iris been at his house, his parents would have had the same reaction to knowing that he brought someone who lived in the boroughs home. It felt it was odd to be on the receiving end of such mild trepidation, but he couldn’t blame them either. The Scientias had always worked hard to cultivate a life as caring sophisticates, but that only stretched so far. As far as his parents were concerned, Ignis was the hippie liberal of the family, more focused on doing good for the community than making money.

“It’s a shame you got hurt,” Mr. Amicitia said, finally breaking the silence as Gladio dished out the stew that had been made for dinner. He handed each person a big bowl of it, and when he had set it in front of Ignis a cacophony of delicious scents tantalized his taste buds. “The boroughs are actually a wonderful for a lot of reasons.”

“I haven’t had much of an opportunity to explore the boroughs as I would like to,” Ignis said conversationally. He knew his every word was being judged. “But I have been told by so many that there are hidden gems in this part of Insomnia.”

“You need to come here during the day then,” Gladio said. “You only ever go to the shelter after school, so of course you’d only see it at night.”

“The shelter?” Mr. Amicitia asked in surprise. “You work here?”

“I volunteer,” Ignis said vaguely.

“According to all the staff and the residents at the shelter, Ignis pretty much single handedly saved it from closure last year.” Gladio sounded both proud to show him off to his parents and bitter that someone who was of rich parentage had been the one to do it.

“I only submitted some grant proposals,” Ignis said dismissively. “I’ve helped others there learn how to do the same. They’ll be more than fine without me.”

“Very impressive,” Mr. Amicitia said.

“I heard you train special ops teams for the Lucian military?” Ignis said, changing the topic of conversation. He didn’t want to talk about himself.

“I do,” Mr. Amicitia replied. He looked over to Gladio, who shrugged. “I’m a career military man.” He sighed and looked at his wife. “It was another long day. Cor has me running the team ragged.”

Ignis felt his stomach lurch forward, and it wasn’t because of the delicious stew they were eating or from being punched in the gut. Could this be the Cor that they were trying to locate? How could he broach the topic without it seeming obvious that he was trying to learn more about the man if it was the case.

“Do you think it’s related to the increasing tension between Niflheim and Lucis?” Iris asked.

“More likely than not,” he replied. He turned to Ignis. “I like to keep my children politically informed.”

Ignis nodded in understanding, the pain in his face subdued though still aching. “I think it’s important for us to all grow up being informed as well. You mentioned someone named Cor. I’m wondering if he’s the same family friend of ours. Stern face, dark hair, crew cut.”

“That’s the man,” Mr. Amicitia replied. He didn’t seem suspicious, but Ignis’s pulse was racing. “He’s a hard man to work with, but he gets results.”

“He leads the special ops teams? My parents were a bit vague on his job description.” Ignis took a bite of his food and tried not to look so interested.

“That’s a word for it. They don’t call him Cor ‘The Immortal’ Leonis for nothing.”

Ignis quickly filed that name away. He had a full name now, and that was all he would need. With that he could find out more information on the guy. “Thank you for your service.”

“Don’t thank me,” Mr. Amicitia said. “That’s just something people say to make themselves feel better about ignoring veterans once they come home from war.”

Ignis was a bit taken aback by the sudden anger, but then he remembered that he was speaking to Gladio’s father. If anger ran in the family, then it made sense he would get angry about topics such as this. “My apologies. I meant no offense.”

Mr. Amicitia sighed. “I know. If I can ask one thing, that’s please use your wealth to do good for our community.”

“Dad,” Iris said hesitantly.

“It’s alright,” Ignis said. “It has always been my intention to go into politics and do just that, sir. I want to be able to give the disenfranchised a voice where they otherwise might not be able.”

Mr. Amicitia nodded. “Good. We need more young men like you in parliament. The last thing we need is a draft and our sons going off to war for some stupid reason.”

“Do you really think that will happen?” Mrs. Amicitia asked in concern.

“Right now it’s a possibility. Parliament doesn’t know what the hell they’re doing. Both sides seem to forget the terms of peace as tensions get worse. Niflheim’s advancing their military, and Lucis is poised to respond. If tensions don’t deescalate then I wouldn’t be surprised if another war broke out.”

“We haven’t had enough peace for there to be another war,” his wife replied. She looked to Gladio and even to Ignis in worry. “They’ll send our children to die for no reason.”

He nodded grimly. “It’s the sad reality of the times we live in.”

Ignis had heard that political tensions had been on the rise recently, but he didn’t realize it was that bad. Niflheim and Lucis had gone to war forty years ago because Niflheim had decided they wanted more power and to take over all of Eos. They had acquired Tenebrae and then Altissia, but when they had tried to acquire Lucis they hadn’t anticipated the military opposition. When they had finally found peace after twenty long years of war, the tensions had died down initially. Now the tensions had began to escalate as it was rumored that Niflheim was prepared to try once again to take over Lucis.

Iris changed the subject after that, talking about her classes at the academy and her music. She excitedly talked about how she had found a great guitarist and singer for a band she was starting, which Ignis knew to be Prompto. Then she slyly said that she hoped his boyfriend didn’t hurt him because she didn’t need that kind of angst or drama to destroy a band before it even got started. Ignis thought that made a lot of sense now that he knew why she was so concerned for Prompto.

Once everyone was finished dinner, Ignis was ready to collapse from exhaustion. It was late and he was drained. He didn’t know how he had even made it through dinner, especially since the pain from being attacked was creeping back in his face and stomach. He didn’t want to be rude, but his eyelids were getting heavy.

“I think Ignis needs to get some sleep,” Gladio said as he stood up. Ignis adjusted his eyesight, blinking rapidly to clear his tired vision. “I’ll take him upstairs.”

“Anything to get out of the cleanup,” Iris complained. She was smirking though. “Be nice to him, Gladio.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Gladio said. He helped Ignis up the same way that he had when he had first found Ignis in the alleyway. “Come on, Iggy.”

Ignis was startled by the nickname and by him gently helping him, but his body was heavy and his mind exhausted. He was already exhausted before all this, but the coffee was wearing off now, and he was ready to sleep for hours on end. Gladio gently directed him to the steps, and Ignis couldn’t help but notice that his parents gave them a worried glance before they made their way up the steps.

It was difficult to pay attention to the details of the upstairs layout, but Gladio took him to a bedroom at the end of the hall that was clearly his. There was a large bed laid out against the wall with a large window overlooking the front street. Ignis was surprised there wasn’t a desk there, but Gladio didn’t seem to be the studious type. He had a dresser and a television with a gaming console, and his walls were decorated in a variety of band posters.

“I didn’t think that you would be so ready to pass out after just one attack,” Gladio said as he laid Ignis down on his bed gently. He looked down at Ignis and took his glasses off for him, setting them on his dresser.

Ignis covered his eyes with his arm, the lights from the room too bright. “I was exhausted to begin with. I was doing some research for Prompto.”

“Prompto? What about him?” Gladio asked.

“I would ask him. It’s a private matter and I don’t want to betray his or Noctis’s trust.”

There was a long silence as Gladio tried to work out whether that was an acceptable response or not. “Alright. I’ll ask him. Do you need help getting undressed or anything?”

“I can do that myself.” Ignis felt a heat rise to his cheeks at the thought of someone undressing him.

He sat up slowly, achily, and took off his shoes. Gladio was staring at him but seemed to catch himself and turned around so Ignis could remove his shirt and pants. As he did, Gladio walked over to the dresser and pulled out a pair of sweats, then threw them at Ignis.

“Why are you being so kind to me?” Ignis asked as he pulled on the pants. They were big on him since Gladio was all muscle, but he appreciated them nevertheless. He kept his undershirt on, and Gladio turned back to look at him again. “I thought it was pretty obvious that you hate me.”

“I might have misjudged you,” Gladio replied. “Or at least that’s what Iris keeps saying. Jury’s still out. Do you need me to call your parents or anything?”

“No I texted them.” Ignis ignored Glaido’s stares and laid back down on the bed. A moment later he felt Gladio pulling back the blanket on the bed and covering him with it. He was so gentle with him right now that it almost made Ignis’s heart ache. “They won’t be home late anyway. I don’t even think they’ll see me before my face has healed up.”

“That’s pretty sad, you know.” Gladio sat on the bed next to him. “My parents are always home for dinner with us. Unless they have a shift change or my dad is sent somewhere for the military, but we always know ahead of time.”

Ignis shrugged. “Your family seems nice. They’re worried I’m going to use you up and leave you hanging like every other rich brat.”

“Well you’re the richest brat I know.” Gladio laughed. “I still haven’t decided if you’re worth befriending, but everyone down at the shelter praises you like you’re one of us just trying to do some good. And I couldn’t just leave you there to get beat up and robbed.”

“Thank you for saving me,” Ignis said quietly. He felt like Gladio was leaning over him, but he didn’t open his eyes, too tired to move. The sound of the television turning on indicated that Gladio had just been reaching for the remote.

“I guess that means you owe me now,” Gladio said. “I’m going to game for a while, but I’ll be here if you need anything. Do you mind the noise?”

“I’ll be dead to the world in less than thirty seconds,” Ignis replied honestly. “Game away.”

Gladio turned off the overhead light so Ignis could get some sleep and took a seat on the floor so he didn’t disturb him. True to his word, Ignis was fast asleep quickly, a dreamless sleep taking hold of him and luring him into a sense of security. At some point late into the night he woke up, startled and aware of the noise from the game playing on the television. It frightened him at first since he was disoriented and unaware of where he was.

Then he saw Gladio asleep on the floor, sitting the same position he had been when Ignis had first fallen asleep. Groggily, he shook Gladio awake. Gladio looked at him angrily, but Ignis only moved over and indicted to him to come to bed. He was only half aware of what he was doing, but he wasn’t about to put the man who saved him from would-be muggers out of his own bed. Gladio seemed to have the same thoughts as he tiredly climbed into bed and rolled over, fast asleep before Ignis could say or do anything. He found it extremely odd that the man sleeping next to him had hated him only hours before. Still, he was too tired to stop himself from falling back asleep.

Ignis awoke when it was late morning, the sunlight from the day filtering into the room through the window. There was the sound of footsteps downstairs, indicating almost everyone was already awake. His entire body was sore from the attack yesterday, and he wondered how long that would last. Probably too long for comfort. It still wouldn’t prevent him from going to the shelter.

He tried to move, to get out of bed, but found himself unable to. When he looked down he noticed a large tattooed arm holding him by the waist and immediately felt het rising to his cheeks, his blush far too evident for anyone who happened to look at him. He had pulled Gladio into bed, which was only right to do since the man had saved him. He just didn’t anticipate Gladio holding him tightly through the night. It was evident that he was doing it unconsciously since the man didn’t even consider him a friend. Nevertheless, Ignis felt an embarrassing discomfort knowing that he was holding him so close, his chest pressing against Ignis’s back.

Ignis tried to move Gladio’s arm off him, but the man only pulled him closer. He felt something prodding his lower back and immediately felt his blush grow. He had to get out of there quickly, but his body was so sore that moving fast was not necessarily a possibility. As he felt Gladio’s girth pressing up against him, a newer sensation spread through his groin, shocking him as he felt himself going hard. It had to be a misattribution of desire or something, Ignis told himself. There was nothing else it could be.

As he felt his own loins throbbing, he knew that if he didn’t get out of bed to readjust himself then Gladio would inevitably wake up to see him hard from being held like that. Ignis could only imagine the number of profanities that would be thrown at him if he was found in such a state. Ignis ignored the groaning of his body’s soreness and shifted quickly and painfully, maneuvering Gladio’s arm so he was able to crawl to the end of the bed and get up. Gladio shifted in bed but remained happily asleep.

Ignis was breathing heavily, his heart racing, as he quickly left the room and found the upstairs bathroom. He didn’t know what that was all about, his thoughts racing as he thought of Gladio’s arm around is waist. Wait. Could I be attracted to the guy? That’s impossible. Ignis dismissed the thought immediately. Gladio had made it clear that they were from to separate worlds.

Perhaps it was just because he hadn’t been treated with such gentleness in a long time. Growing up he always had a nanny or a nurse when he was a small child, then a baby sitter until he was old enough to care for himself. There was still kitchen staff and maids in the household, but he spent most of his time alone and even preferred to prep his own meals for the week. Ignis chalked it up to not having a human connection like that in a while, and he had misattributed it as something else.

He felt calmer by the time he left the bathroom. When he opened the bedroom door, Gladio was stirring, and he looked up at Ignis with neither a smile nor a scowl. Had he felt Ignis’s panic and desire after all? Ignis tried not to look guilty, but it was hard not to. He reached for his phone and sent Noctis a text telling him to meet wit him tomorrow regarding the news he had discovered.

“How do you feel?” Gladio asked him conversationally.

“Sore all over,” Ignis replied. “I expect it’ll be like that for a while.”

“Probably.” Gladio got out of bed and stretched, leaving Ignis to wonder when he had taken his shirt off in the night.

He was chiseled, his muscles clearly displayed for Ignis to see. It was an enticing appearance, and Ignis immediately scolded himself as he grabbed his clothes and began to change despite his aching body. He needed to get home quickly so he could recover without having to worry about misattributing any sort of emotions that others easily wouldn’t.

“What’s the rush?” Gladio asked him. “It’s the weekend, after all.”

“I should be getting back,” Ignis replied with his back turned to Gladio. “I have homework to do.”

“So? Does the academy really give you so much homework that you never have a life?” Gladio was smiling when Ignis looked at him, but his smile faded when he saw Ignis’s serious expression.

“Basically. There’s a reason why a lot of the students there do drugs. I noticed Loqi tries to hover around the high school too.”

“Yeah. He knows if he worms his way inside then I’ll beat him to a pulp. The academy probably has a bigger drug problem than the high school does.”

Ignis nodded. “I wouldn’t be surprised.” He paused a moment. “I think we have both misjudged each other, if you don’t mind my saying. I’m sorry for anything I have done that may have made you think ill of me.”

Gladio seemed surprised by that, but after a moment he smiled. “Same here. I guess I was too hard on you.”

“It’s understandable. I should get going. I will have to make it up to you and your family for taking care of me. Will you let them know I said thank you?”

“You won’t even stay for breakfast? Why do I feel like a guy being left after a one-night stand?” Gladio folded his arms across his chest, and Ignis tried not to blush, as if he could control that. “I’m kidding. Just give me your number and I’ll let you know when you can make it up to me.”

Ignis hesitated. He was grateful to Gladio, but being friends was a whole different story. The man had a reputation between both schools for being a delinquent and likely being the leader of a gang. Ignis didn’t think that was the case, but should he even take the risk in the first place? Gladio grabbed his phone and handed it to him, and ultimately he complied and put his number in the teen’s phone.

“Here,” Gladio said as he sent Ignis a text. “That’s my number. Just let me know when you get home safely.”

“I will,” Ignis replied. “Thank you again for all your help.” He left the bedroom and walked down the steps quickly. His family must have already gone out and about to work, and Iris was nowhere in sight. He grabbed his messenger bag, which was by the front door, and left the comfortable house quickly.

The trip back to this house was uneventful. The only thing he had to contend with was people staring at his bruised face. He ignored the stares and made it back to his house in record time. People didn’t often travel from the boroughs to the upper district on the weekends, which garnered more looks as he got off the subway.

When he got home, he quickly went upstairs and to his room. He knew his parents would be out and doing something to network or socialize, but he didn’t want to take the risk of them seeing his injuries. He knew he had to get his homework done, he had to study and keep up his work, but when he saw his bed he immediately collapsed on it and fell into a deep sleep once again.

Chapter Text

“Dude, you look like you got hit by a car,” Noctis said late Sunday afternoon as Ignis opened the front door. Prompto stood behind him on his left side, looking shocked and nervous all at once. On his right side was Gladio, looking like he didn’t want to be there.

“Gladio?” Ignis asked, ignoring Noctis’s shock at his bruised face. The bruises would only get worse over the course of the next few days, and he was sure that he was in for a lot of rumors at the academy.
“Prompto invited me along,” Gladio said. “Said it was something I’d want to be included in on. I’d say you look well, but I’d be lying.”

“It could be worse, thanks to you,” Ignis said. He stepped aside and let the three of them in, wondering just how tense the car ride over here was with Gladio in tow. He suddenly remembered that he was supposed to text Gladio when he got home. In his exhaustion he had forgotten.

“Gladio told us you were hurt,” Prompto said as they followed him into the expansive house.

Gladio and Prompto both looked like they stepped into a different world. Ignis’s house was large, he couldn’t deny that. Still, Noctis’s was larger, and Prompto had been there. It was something he wasn’t used to, though, and he had to concede that it was probably still shocking to be in such a large house. He took them towards the back of the house where the large kitchen was nestled, with all shiny and new appliances. There was kitchen staff in there every other day of the week, but Sundays were reserved for Ignis to cook and do what he wanted there. His parents had agreed to give the staff the day off so Ignis could take control of the kitchen.

“I’m doing better now,” Ignis said. He wanted to apologize to Gladio, assuming that he was angry at him for not checking but didn’t know how to broach the topic. “It looks worse than it actually is. Just some soreness and stiffness. It would’ve been a lot worse if Gladio hadn’t found me.”

“So are you guys, like, friends now or something?” Noctis asked as he leaned against the large metal kitchen island and grabbed an apple from the basket of fruit resting on it. The others stood around awkwardly, but Noctis made himself at home. He was used to coming in and doing what he wanted.

“You can sit if you’d like,” Ignis said as he indicated to the bar stools under the island. He ignored the question entirely, only daring to glance at Gladio. It was difficult to look at him. He felt like he had taken advantage of his kindness by not only staying the night and forgetting to text, but also having all manner of lustful thoughts just by his simple touch. “I’ll be finishing up lunch in a moment.”

“What’s for lunch?” Noctis asked as he sat down. Prompto sat next to him and Gladio next to Prompto. Ignis had his laptop on the island, and Noctis grabbed at it and started pouring over the research that Ignis had done after waking up late on Saturday.

“Pork tenderloin crusted with smoky sweet spices and a sweet and tangy sauce, couscous with fresh dill and lemon, and roasted asparagus,” Ignis explained. “You will eat the green stuff, Noctis.”

“You can’t make me,” Noctis said as he made a disgusted face then smiled.

“That all sounds delicious,” Gladio said as he looked at Ignis with another unreadable expression. “Have you been cooking long?”

Ignis found it difficult to get a handle on what Gladio was thinking, which concerned him. He was usually able to read people fairly well. Somehow Gladio was different. He could read his anger very easily, but that was about it. He felt uncomfortable by the fact he couldn’t get a read on him while simultaneously noticing his defined features more and more as he thought about him. He didn’t like how he noticed how attractive the man was, especially since he was sure Gladio hated him.

“Since middle school, right?” Noctis asked. “That’s when your parents left you on your own more, I think.”

“Yeah,” Ignis replied. He chanced a glance at Gladio, who looked at him with a sad expression. “If you want something to drink, help yourself. There’s wine and beer too. My parents won’t notice, just don’t drive.”

He ignored the conversation as he focused on his cooking, the food just about ready. The asparagus was almost done roasting, the pork was resting, and the couscous had just a few seconds left. Carefully he sliced the pork and laid it out delicately on a platter, then transported the rest of the food to a bowl and plate. As he laid out the spread for the three in front of him, he ignored Gladio staring at him intensely, his stomach churning along with his thoughts. Quickly, he grabbed plates for all of them to enjoy and utensils to eat with.

“Come on Ignis,” Noctis whined. “You know I hate the green stuff.”

“That’s why I need to make sure you eat it,” Ignis replied. He looked at his options for seating and realized the kitchen island wasn’t the best place for them to talk. “Shall we move this to the table?”

“Sure.” Gladio helped him grab the food immediately, and Ignis was reminded of his family’s penchant for helping each other. Prompto grabbed some as well while Noctis grabbed the laptop and his own plate. Ignis took them into the other room where there was a large dining room table. It wasn’t the comfortable table that Gladio had, but it gave them the luxury of facing each other when they spoke.

Ignis sat at one end of the table and Noctis sat to his right, Prompto taking his spot next to him. Gladio sat on the other side of Ignis. He got up a moment later and grabbed drinks for each of them, taking requests as they shouted them while he was in the kitchen. It was decided that they would open a bottle of wine, which meant Ignis had to go down to the wine cellar. He knew that they shouldn’t be drinking as high schoolers, but no one really seemed to care if a bottle of wine or two went missing.

To the left of the kitchen was a hall that had a door at the end leading to the wine cellar down below. He turned on the dim lights and walked down the steps, trying to keep him mind from reeling that Gladio had showed up. That wasn’t something he had anticipated. The wine cellar was made of antiqued wood and full of wine bottle after wine bottle. He knew the most expensive ones were towards the back. He shouldn’t have grabbed one of them, but he couldn’t help but pick one of the mid-tier ones in terms of price point. His parents wouldn’t notice.

“Need some help?” Gladio said behind him suddenly, making him jump. Ignis turned around and looked at the high schooler standing close to him. When did his ember eyes become so beautiful? He was thankful for the dim lighting because he was definitely blushing.

“I was thinking a red Altissian wine,” Ignis said. “If you’d like, you can grab some wine glasses.” In the middle of the wine cellar was a small alcove that had a series of white and red wine glasses.
“I don’t know anything about wine,” Gladio said as he grabbed the red wine glasses. “But if you say it’s good, then it must be.”

“Gladio,” Ignis said hesitantly. “I’m sorry I didn’t text you. When I got home I collapsed, and by the time I woke up-”

“I figured as much,” Gladio replied. He didn’t seem too upset, but then again, Ignis couldn’t really tell what the man was thinking. “When Prompto mentioned that he was coming over here, I kind of ingratiated myself into the group to make sure you were okay. I hope that was alright.”

“Sure,” Ignis replied awkwardly. A small voice in the back of his mind was telling him to run, but for reasons unrelated to their prior disagreements. “I’m sorry for worrying you. Oh, thanks for grabbing the glasses.”

“These the right ones?” Gladio showed him the wine glasses, and Ignis had the sudden feeling that he was standing too close to him. He could feel the warmth radiating off his body. Ignis knew he had to be teasing him.

“Yes,” Ignis replied, his voice almost catching in his throat. He kept remembering the feeling of Gladio’s arm around his waist, his chest pressed against him, his cock rubbing against his lower back… “Let’s go upstairs before they wonder what’s taking so long.”

“Good idea.” Gladio turned around and walked back upstairs, and Ignis followed him as he kept a distance between them that was more than necessary. Once back upstairs, Ignis excused himself to grab a wine bottle opener and then followed him back to the table. He noticed that Noctis’s plate was suspiciously absent of asparagus while Prompto’s was suspiciously full.

“Noctis,” Ignis said as he opened the bottle. “If you want any of this you’ll eat some asparagus.”

“Fine,” Noctis grumbled as he took some off of Prompto’s plate, making a face the entire time.

Gladio helped Ignis as he handed each wine glass to him, waiting for him to fill it and pass it around. Prompto got the first glass, then Noctis got the second. Ignis finished pouring the glasses for Gladio and him, and they finally took a seat. For a while they ate, chatting amongst each other, while Ignis tried to ignore the glances that he was getting from Gladio.

Prompto chatted happily about the music he was writing and how he was hoping to get on a stage at some point, although he was particularly nervous about the idea of performing in front of crowds. Noctis stared at him while he spoke, his expression clearly enamored by every word he said. Gladio was paying attention intently as well, but it was a different expression. Noctis was clearly in love while Gladio was just interested as a friend. Ignis didn’t know why he felt like he was jealous at the thought of Gladio being interested in someone else, and he knew it was something he had to ignore for the time being.

“So I’ve done some research,” Ignis said as the conversation died down and they finished eating. “There’s not much info on Cor ‘The Immortal’ Leonis, but there are a few mentions online. I don’t think we would be able to do much more without going directly to the Lucian military and asking them, which I doubt would be likely.”

“What does it say?” Noctis asked hopefully.

“It only mentions him briefly in an article about the end of the war,” Ignis said as he pulled up the article on his laptop and turned it to them. “It doesn’t even mention him by name, only as The Immortal.”

Noctis took the laptop and looked at the article, reading it aloud for everyone else’s benefit. “The war has finally ended, thanks to a special ops team that has successfully negotiated peace terms in the heart of Niflheim. Few details are known about the peace agreement save for what was made public on the treaty, however mention of The Immortal have only made it clear that the special ops team was led by the best of the best.” There was a pause as Noctis scanned the rest of the article and sighed. “That’s it. That’s the only mention of him.”

“You know, most people think the war ended twenty years ago,” Gladio said after much consideration. “But my dad said that the war actually went on for a few years after that until the peace treaty was fully drawn up and signed by both sides.”

“So how long has it actually been?” Prompto asked. He looked a bit nervous, but Ignis had a feeling nervous was his resting state.

“Probably closer to five or seven years,” Gladio said.

“What?” They all said that at the same time. Ignis was the first one to talk. “You mean that the history textbooks are wrong? That we’ve been at war all this time?”

“Well there was the occupation and a series of special ops that most people don’t know about,” Gladio said. “The only reason I know is because my dad is military. Plus it took years for Lucis to convince Niflheim to release the slaves. Now that I think about it, there was something that happened about ten or eleven years ago that really solidified the peace. He won’t say what it was though.”

“Do you think he knows?” Noctis asked.

Prompto pulled something out of his pocket. It was a photo, folded up and tucked away safely. He handed it to Gladio. “Do you think it has something to do with this?”

Gladio looked at the photo, glancing down at toddler Prompto, then back up to him. “This guy is Cor? He looked familiar. I think I met him as a kid.”

Ignis sighed and took a drink of the wine in front of him. The others seemed to remember there’s were there and took a drink as well. “Are you all sure we should keep looking into this? I mean, I hate to be the one to ask this, but doesn’t this seem a bit dangerous?”

“Probably,” Prompto said quietly. “My parents had always been strangely quiet about how I was adopted, and this photo only asks more questions than it answers. But… the more we look into it, the more I need to know.” He looked up at them. “You guys really just met me, so I don’t blame you if you don’t want to pursue this with me.”

“No way,” Noctis said. “I’m not going to just leave this alone. I’m curious too now, you know.”

“Same,” Gladio said. “I’m going to ask my dad more about it.”

Ignis shrugged, knowing that it was useless to fight it. He was curious too, although he had a feeling that they were treading into dangerous territory. He had been under the impression, just as the rest of Lucis, that the war had ended over twenty years ago. It was an uneasy feeling to know that it had really been so recent that the war had officially ended and that it had been kept a secret from the citizens that it was still raging. If the government had been lying about when the war ended, what else were they lying about?

“That settles that then,” Ignis said as he took another drink of his wine. “Since there’s no use in worrying about this until we have more answers, I suggest we utilize the bonfire in the back yard and drink entirely too much for high schoolers on a Sunday.”

Gladio smiled at that, and Ignis was a bit startled by how pure and genuine his smile could be. He felt uneasy that he enjoyed it so much and that he wanted to see it again. Was he developing a crush on him? It was probably just because he had been rescued by Gladio, nothing more. He had to dismiss the thoughts entirely so he could keep his sanity. There was enough to be concerned about without worrying about much else on top of it.

“I didn’t realize you could actually be fun,” Gladio said as they cleaned up their mess and moved the party outside to the large back yard that was immaculately manicured. “I figured you were just some stuffy guy that was always too serious for your own good.”

“Who? Ignis?” Noctis asked as he walked over to the fire pit kept to the back of the yard. “He might be the perfect student, but he also knows how to have fun.”

There was a gardener in the back yard tending to the large row of rose bushes acting as a fence at the property line. Ignis didn’t necessarily require his assistance as they walked over to the pit. Everyone casually lounged in the oversized rocking chairs around the fire pit as Ignis walked over to the gardener’s shed, a large white structure that contained all manner of materials that his parents didn’t want out lest the neighbors know that they had tools to keep the household immaculate.

He grabbed wood from the large pile sitting next to the shed, the sun starting to set earlier now that fall was creeping towards them rapidly. It seemed that the weather was beginning to cool rapidly despite it being summer just last week. Ignis didn’t particularly mind, but his sleeves were still kept rolled up from the warmth the wine brought. He was startled when Gladio was suddenly beside him, grabbing the wood from his arms.

“I got it,” Ignis offered as Gladio grabbed from the pile once Ignis’s arms were empty.

“I know,” Gladio replied. He carried the wood over to the pit, leaving Ignis to grab the lighter from the garden shed. Prompto and Noctis were talking about something in hushed whispers, their heads almost touching. Ignis was about to ask them what they were talking about when they kissed and he got his answer. Gladio made a face at that, leaving Ignis to wonder if he was jealous of Noctis. For some reason he didn’t quite like that.

“Have you built a fire before?” Ignis asked as Gladio dropped the wood next to the pit. He knelt down and began placing the wood in the pit. Gladio knelt next to him and watched him intently as he built the fire, handing him pieces of wood as he held out his hand for one.

“No but I’m learning,” Gladio said. “In case I get lost in the wilderness.”

Ignis couldn’t help but smile as he lit the fire, watching it until the fire caught. He thought Gladio was staring at him, but he only picked up his wine glass and took another drink of his wine. When he stood up after the fire caught, Gladio stood up with him. He had another one of those looks on his face that Ignis couldn’t quite read. He felt uncertain, unsure of what he should do with a man who so obviously hated him but was willing to help Prompto to the point of coming to his house.

“Hey Ignis,” Noctis said as he jumped on his back from behind, surprising him. He was a bit of a light drinker and was already well into his tipsiness. “You should get a girlfriend.”

“Where is this coming from?” Ignis asked as he felt himself blush. Gladio gave him a skeptical look.

“Well you’re always so alone without me and now I have Prompto,” Noctis said, still clinging to Ignis, his arms wrapped around his neck playfully. “Won’t you be lonely without me?” He laughed, and Ignis made a mental note to not let him drink anymore.

“Noctis stop teasing him,” Prompto scolded him from his chair.

“I’m quite fine without a girlfriend,” Ignis said as he unwound himself from Noctis’s arms.

“Besides, he has me,” Gladio offered. Ignis looked at him in surprise.

“I thought you hated Ignis,” Noctis said, stating the obvious for everyone. Ignis walked over to Prompto and took Noctis’s wine glass from him, draining the rest into his own glass. Prompto uttered a wordless apology, but Ignis smiled at him dismissively. It wasn’t his fault that his boyfriend couldn’t handle even one glass of wine.

“Opinions change,” Gladio said with a shrug. “Or would you prefer him to get a girlfriend?”

Noctis looked at Ignis, who was trying his best to ignore the embarrassing conversation. He sat next to Prompto and took a long drink of his wine. “I don’t mind who he dates,” Noctis said. “As long as he’s happy.”

“No one said anything about me dating anyone,” Ignis chided. “You’re already flagged, Noctis. Take a seat next to Prompto already.”

Noctis complied as Gladio took a seat next to Ignis, rounding out the group around the fire. They all chatted happily next to each other as Ignis changed the topic to anything other that the romance in his life, or lack thereof. The chances of someone dating him were slim to none given the current bruising on his face, and he was too busy to really even think about dating anyone. Still, he couldn’t help but look over to Gladio a few times, wondering what he had meant by saying that he would be there for him.

Ignis ignored whatever concerns he had about his love life for the current moment as Noctis demanded he tell them a story fit for a campfire. He had always been designated the storyteller growing up, particularly when Noctis had insisted on them going on camping or fishing trips. Because of that, he had studied up on his world history and had embellished certain aspects to make it more exciting.

This time he told them an urban legend of the woman in white who haunted the academy. It was completely fabricated, of course. There was no suicide at the academy from a student who was jilted by her lover. But they all listened with rapt attention as he spoke in hushed tones, the sun setting beyond the horizon once he was finished. Prompto looked chilled, Noctis looked like he had sobered up, and Gladio looked intrigued.

“You’re a man of many talents,” Gladio said to him as Noctis and Prompto broke into their own conversation. “No wonder Noctis keeps you around.”

“What about you?” Ignis pointed out. “I suspect you’re the one who did the repairs on the townhomes?”

“How’d you guess?” Gladio asked.

“You’re helpful despite your stern and mean exterior. If I were to guess, it’s because you have to keep a tough front to protect yourself and your family,” Ignis offered. “Am I wrong?”

“You got me pegged,” Gladio said with a laugh. “See? It’s like we’re good friends already.”

“I truly thought you hated me,” Ignis said in a low voice.

“I could say the same to you,” Gladio replied.

“You were highly annoying at first, I have to admit. But once Noctis explained it to me, I understood why you didn’t want Prompto to be recruited.” Ignis smiled at him. “I don’t think I have it in my heart to hate someone like you.”

Gladio looked at him with the same expression that Ignis couldn’t read. He almost found it annoying, but he didn’t say anything. “I think it’s the same with me. I couldn’t stand that you were going to try and take one of the only talents away from the school. But Iris told me that we should give Prompto the option. I think she just wanted him close by to make it easier on her as a drummer for the band they’re putting together. But she was right. And when I saw you hurting there… I couldn’t just leave you.”

“Thank you for that,” Ignis said. “I hope I can repay the kindness one day.”

“You could make me dinner sometime,” Gladio said.

Ignis found he was constantly surprised by Gladio. He was a man of contradictions. It was clear that the tough exterior he put on was a front for the need to survive, to protect those around him. But his kindness, his genuine passion, threw Ignis off balance and he wasn’t quite sure how to handle it. He looked more like a man who would be the one to jump Ignis instead of save him, but Ignis found himself feeling an overwhelming gratitude towards him for being there.

“I think I can do that,” Ignis replied with a smile.

The soft glow of the fire danced on their features as they looked at each other, a bond between them forming, though Ignis couldn’t quite say how strong it would be. He caught Gladio’s eye, the ember nearly matching the color of the fire, Ignis found himself turning away to throw more wood into the pit, the heat on his cheeks rising for a different reason. He remembered the arm around his waist once more, the feel of Gladio pressed against his back, and had the sudden desire to run away. His body was still too sore from being attacked for such a feat.

“Prompto’s getting tired so I’m going to take him home,” Noctis said as he stood up. Prompto didn’t look particularly tired, but Ignis assumed that they just wanted time alone together.

“Are you sober?” Ignis asked.

“Yeah.” Noctis laughed. “Sorry I’m a lightweight. I’m good now.”

“Drive carefully,” Ignis called as Noctis took Prompto by the hand and walked back to the house so they could leave through the front door.

“You sure he’s okay to drive?” Gladio asked. Ignis was suddenly aware that they were left alone and regretted letting the other two leave.

“Noctis wouldn’t endanger Prompto like that,” Ignis explained. “For all his faults, Noctis won’t ever knowingly hurt someone he cares about.”

“And what about those he doesn’t care about?” Gladio asked. Ignis looked at him. “There have been plenty of girls at the academy and the high school that he’s hurt. Can you promise he won’t hurt Prompto?”

Ignis sighed. This was going to be an ongoing concern for them both, but he still felt that Prompto was more likely to hurt Noctis given the current situation. Noctis seemed far more entranced by Prompto than the other way around as well. That concerned Ignis. He didn’t know Prompto well enough to be able to tell if he was serious about Noctis, but given how they interacted, Ignis found Noctis to be far more infatuated than Prompto was.

“I can’t promise anything,” Ignis replied. “But I can say that I’ve never seen Noctis so infatuated with someone, let alone this quickly. I don’t think he would easily hurt Prompto if ever.”

Gladio sighed. “His reputation is hard to get past.”

“Prompto is able to,” Ignis pointed out. He smirked. “Besides, I can get past your reputation.”

Gladio smiled at that. “Alright. I see your point. You seem to be a good judge of character too, so I’ll try and ignore his reputation.”

“How can you tell I’m a good judge of character?” Ignis asked.

“Because you’re friends with me,” Gladio replied with a laugh. Ignis couldn’t help but laugh, the tension between them seemingly dissolving as they continued to talk. He could almost forget his soreness and his awkwardness around him.

“I should probably get ready to school tomorrow,” Gladio said with a sigh. Ignis nodded and they both stood up together. He grabbed a shovel nearby and carefully scooped dirt onto the fire to put it out. Gladio waited for him to finish, and Ignis was aware that he was staring at him while he did it. That was something that he couldn’t quite get used to just yet.

“I’ll walk you to the door,” Ignis offered once the fire was out.

“Always a gentleman, I see,” Gladio replied with a slight chuckle as he helped Ignis pick up the leftover wine bottle and glasses.

“Would you like me to take you to the subway station?” Ignis asked, wanting to do more for someone who helped him. He remembered that he had promised Gladio dinner and felt a churning in his stomach he wasn’t prepared for and couldn’t quite identify.

“I’m good,” Gladio said with a slight smile. They walked through the house and to the front door. Ignis simultaneously wanted Gladio to leave and for him to stay. He didn’t know how he could feel so conflicted about someone before. “Maybe next time, though?”

“That sounds good,” Ignis said as he reached for the front door and opened it. “Thanks for coming for Prompto. I’m sure he appreciated it.”

“I didn’t come for Prompto,” Gladio said with a sheepishness to him that made Ignis’s heart flutter.

He didn’t know what to do or what to say in response to that. Gladio took a step towards him and held up his hand. Ignis wasn’t sure what he was going to do at first, his breath caught in his throat. Gladio reached forward and smoothed his hair out of his eyes for him. Ignis felt himself blushing as Gladio leaned in, his breath mingling with Ignis’s. Ignis could have sworn that Gladio was going to kiss him, but he only pulled away and took a step back.

“Have a good evening Ignis,” Gladio said quietly before he walked away.

Ignis stared at him a moment before he closed the door to his house. He leaned against the door, his heart beating erratically. He thought of Gladio’s gentle touch and his face so close to his, their breath hot on each other. He felt confused and embarrassed, knowing that at most Gladio was teasing him. What had just happened?

Chapter Text

Prompto had a lot to worry about, and for once it wasn’t the bullying that he had always dealt with. He was worried about what his parents were hiding, if he was going to have to move to Lestallum, and if he could really continue to see Noctis without any worries. He had openly defied his parents, which had never happened before, and they had been just as shocked as he had. Now he was worried about the repercussions to his actions and if they would somehow retaliate by grounding him or making it impossible for him to see Noctis. So far they hadn’t done anything. He didn’t think that would last.

After he had gone to Ignis’s, Noctis had taken him home. His parents were off that day, but he had defiantly brought Noctis up to his room to hang out until his parents only asked for him to send Noctis on his way since it was a school night. They looked worried instead of angry, and Prompto couldn’t help but feel guilty, especially since Noctis had decided that it was more fun to kiss Prompto than to focus on the movie they were watching.

Prompto’s skin flushed whenever he thought of Noctis’s lips pressed against his. Since the night of their sleepover they hadn’t done more than kiss, and he was beginning to wonder if Noctis really would try to touch him like that again. He hoped he would, but then again he didn’t want Noctis to touch him like that if he wasn’t serious about him. Noctis may be used to such things between friends, but it wasn’t something he could get used to as easily.

He had felt a surge of jealousy when Noctis had clung to Ignis, even though he was poking fun at him for not having a girlfriend. Noctis navigated the world in a much more sexual way than Prompto ever could and it showed. He couldn’t help but wonder if Noctis had ever kissed or touched Ignis the way that he had done to him. If Noctis treated all his friends that way, it was likely that he had done something with Ignis.

Despite himself, Prompto couldn’t refrain from kissing Noctis. He never made the first move, but whenever Noctis pressed his lips against his, he always fell into his desire. Each time Noctis held him, he felt himself tumbling head first into his passion for him, his stomach churning uncomfortably, his heart beating rapidly. Noctis never did more than kiss him though, and Prompto couldn’t help but feel like Noctis was already growing tired of him.

He didn’t have time to worry about it this week, though. He had a 5k coming up over the next weekend, had his music lesson with Nyx, and had his photography course with Aranea. Prompto still hadn’t told Nyx that he let slip that he knew him, but so far there was no indication that Iris or Gladio had said anything. What really worried him was what Nyx’s reaction would be, and he knew he had to say something. He was working up the nerve to say something and was anticipating the worst.

Prompto didn’t know when his life had spiraled out of control. He had planned on going through junior year with his head down and his nose out of trouble, but that was the exact opposite of how things were going. He had developed a crush on the first friend he ever had, another friend was a delinquent, and the third friend had likely been with his crush in some capacity he didn’t like to think about. Somehow he had agreed to start a band with his friend’s sister, and he had openly defied his parents. What’s more, he had let slip that he knew Nyx, a famous musician, and the circumstances of his adoption were being called into question because his parents were hiding something.

Yeah, it’s safe to say that my life is spiraling. Prompto had gotten through another day at school only because Gladio had declared he was under his protection now. School was really just a blur to him at this point. He was having trouble paying attention in his classes, and it was mainly because he was wracking his brain trying to figure out why his parents were hiding something from him and what that was. The other part of the time he was worried that he liked Noctis far too much and that ultimately Noctis would leave him heartbroken like Gladio had warned him.

It was amusing now to see Gladio’s goons hanging onto his every word at school. He hadn’t realized before just how disinterested Gladio was in those who idolized him and had mistaken his cool disinterest for aloofness. Now he saw the truth since he had gotten to know Gladio a bit better. Gladio was just trying to keep the kids from becoming major screwups, but he had no interest in genuinely befriending them.

The first time Prompto had approached Gladio at lunch had been an interesting feat. Gladio had been surrounded by a group of would-be delinquents, all of them laughing about their latest sexual conquest. Prompto, still ridiculously shy no matter how much he had gotten over his fear of Gladio quickly, approached the boisterous table, his eyes downcast and his legs trembling slightly. He knew that Gladio wouldn’t turn him away, not since they had spent time together over the last weekend and he had even introduced him to his parents. What he had been really worried about was how the others around him would act.

“Oh I think he wants to say something to you,” one of the delinquents barked out in laughter, his tone mocking Prompto. “Move it, kid. Just because Gladio is protecting you doesn’t make you friends with him.”

“Hey Gladio,” Prompto said, trying to ignore the laughter of those around him. “Do you want to eat lunch together?”

The group looked at Gladio and laughed until they realized that Gladio wasn’t laughing with them. The laughter immediately died down once they realized it, and Gladio got up from the table. It exasperated the group, particularly when he put his arms around Prompto’s shoulders comfortingly.

“You serious man?” one of them asked in disbelief.

“Stay out of trouble,” was Gladio’s only response before he left with Prompto and they found a quiet classroom to sit and chat happily. Gladio always opened up more once he was alone. Prompto could tell he was a solitary person, but he had a different way of conducting himself than Prompto did.

Now that another Monday had arrived and Prompto had fallen into the habit of eating lunch with Gladio, he was grateful that the day had come to a quick close. He was looking forward to his music lesson, even though he wasn’t looking forward to telling Nyx the truth about what had happened. Gladio offered to walk with him to the house, but Prompto had shook his head. It would only make things worse. He could already picture Nyx’s disappointed, and even angry, expression.

Noctis had texted Prompto throughout the day, but Prompto had told him that he wouldn’t respond unless it was in between classes or during lunch. Once he was out of school he would text him to his heart’s content until his lesson. Noctis had simultaneously teased and praised him for being such a serious student, but Prompto also knew that if he just texted him once during his classes then he would lose all focus. Not that he was focusing well recently anyway. So far his grades hadn’t suffered, but he didn’t want to make a habit of being distracted.

Prompto got to Nyx’s house a bit earlier than he anticipated, and there was no reason for him to wait outside awkwardly. He rang the doorbell, worried about what Nyx was going to say, and waited. Nyx had told him specifically to bring his electric guitar and to practice a song that he had written and shared with him last week. He doubted that Nyx would want to continue to teach him much more after he told him what he had done.

“Hey Prompto,” Nyx said when he opened the door. He looked excited but frowned when he saw Prompto’s downcast eyes. “Everything okay?”

Prompto nodded as he stepped inside. “I have to tell you something, Nyx.”

“Alright.” Nyx walked over to the room they always practiced in and looked at him expectantly, his arms folded across his chest. “Shoot.”

“Well,” Prompto said, unsure of how to begin. “I was hanging out with some friends the other week and we were talking about music. So when they asked who was teaching me, I accidentally let slip that it was you. And they kind of figured out from your name that you’re a member of Kingsglaive… They promised that they wouldn’t say anything, but I thought you should know… And I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to name drop like that.”

Nyx stared at him for a while, then smiled. “That’s it?” When Prompto looked at him in surprise, he chuckled slightly. “Honestly, Prompto, I was expecting to hear you got in trouble and had your guitar taken from you or something. You’re a good kid. Anyone else in your position would’ve boasted about it at any chance they got. You don’t even put up the pics of us online, although you are more than welcome to.”

“You’re not mad?” Prompto asked. Had he been worried for nothing? Then again, it wouldn’t be the first time.

“No I’m not mad. Actually, I want you to come with me.” Nyx grabbed his motorcycle keys that had been resting on the top of the grand piano and took him back outside. Prompto didn’t know where he was taking him, but he complied as he put on one of Nyx’s spare helmets and got on the back of the bike. He held on tightly to Nyx, his schoolbag left behind at Nyx’s and his guitar case strapped to his back, as they pulled out of the driveway and headed deep into the city.

Prompto didn’t really know where they were at first until they passed through the entertainment district. This was where people came to party in Insomnia, the streets lined with bars and nightclubs. Further into the entertainment district were the strip clubs, both for men and women to enjoy whatever pleased them. And beyond that was the real reason why it was the entertainment district. Studios and backlots were strategically placed at the heart of it all, with security running tightly at each building or set so that fans or strangers couldn’t just wander in. That’s where Nyx was taking them, and Prompto felt his heart thudding in his chest for reasons other than the bike taking them there at breakneck speeds.

Nyx slowed the bike when he turned a corner and brought them to a parking garage that required a specialty pass to get into. He pulled it out of his leather jacket and flashed it to the security guard, who was already waving them through without needing to see it. Apparently he was familiar with Nyx. He only slowed and finally stopped once he found a parking spot designated for bikes like his.

Prompto got off the bike and took off the helmet, feeling like his legs were still vibrating from the engine. Nyx took the helmet from him and draped it over one of the handlebars. Usually Nyx brought his helmets with him, but this place was so secure that he didn’t need to. It would be a major catastrophe if someone here stole Nyx Ulric’s bike or helmets, wherever here was.

“Where are we?” Prompto asked as they walked over to the entrance of the building that was attached to the parking structure. His question was answered for him when they stepped foot inside. A sign saying Insomnia Records welcomed them, and he immediately felt his heart rate spike in both excitement and nervousness.

“I have a surprise for you,” Nyx said as he took him to the elevators in the main lobby. The security at the front desk only waved to him, not needing any sort of identification. He was a major recording artist with the label, after all. There was no need to ask for his identification when everyone there already knew who he was.

“For me?” Prompto asked in disbelief as they got on the elevator and ascended. He was just lucky to be in the building in the first place. What surprise would Nyx even have in store for him?

“I’ve been planning this for a little while now,” Nyx said. “But finally got an opening in the schedule to do it. I think the timing couldn’t be better.” He smiled. “Oh and you can tell all your friends about it too, if you want.”

Prompto blushed, embarrassed that he had been so worried to begin with. He followed Nyx once the elevator doors opened, going now a red carpeted hall until they stopped in front of a door. Above the door was a neon sign that was not currently illuminated with the word Recording. His stomach immediately started doing summersaults as he anticipated what was on the other side of the door. Was Nyx giving him a tour of the studio and showing him where he recorded?

When Nyx opened the door Prompto was amazed by all the recording equipment and instruments ready to be played. He had seen photos of a recording studio, but he had never been in one himself. It was like stepping into the world of his dreams, a door opening to the first hint of a future he could have. But he was even more surprised that the entire band of Kingsglaive was waiting on the other side, smiling and chatting amongst themselves happily.

They all turned when Nyx and Prompto stepped inside, their smiles wavering slightly when they looked at the two. Nyx said he had been planning this for a while, but Prompto got the impression that they were just as shocked as he was. Just like when he had sat down with his parents and Dean Caelum, he had the impression that they were all hiding something. He tried not to read into it too much, chalking it up to his nerves and anxiety.

Prompto knew the members of the band well just by press photos and magazine interviews. Libertus was the other founding member of the band, besides Nyx, and was a masterful drummer. His brown hair was kept shorter than Nyx’s but was done in the same style, and he had more weight on him, although he we clearly strong and fit. Crowe was the bassist, and she was easily the toughest of them all. She was tall with a lithe body and had beautiful brown hair and eyes. The other guitarist was Titus, who was a bit older than the others, but had a commanding presence amongst them. He kept his brown hair short in military fashion and had blue eyes a lot of the female fans liked, especially since he had relatively kind features.

“Hey everyone,” Nyx announced as he closed the door behind him. “How’s it going?”

“Hey Nyx,” Libertus greeted them eagerly, standing up from behind his drum set and walking over to them. “Is this the kid?”

“Yeah,” Nyx replied. They gave each other a knowing look, and Prompto was once again under the impression that there was something he was missing. “Everyone this is Prompto Argentum. He’s probably more talented than all of us combined. I wanted him to have the opportunity to jam with us a bit.”

“I wouldn’t doubt that he’s talented,” Titus said with a kind, almost fatherly smile. “Otherwise you wouldn’t bring him around here.”

Nyx made a round of introductions, and Prompto tried not to stare in utter awe. He was in the presence of heavy metals gods as far as he was concerned. It was one thing to know Nyx, but to be in the same recording studio where they played and to meet them so casually was another story entirely. He didn’t know what he was supposed to say or do in this situation. They all looked at him with a kind smile as he shook each of their hands, but their eyes were sad, as if they knew a secret that they weren’t allowed to discuss. It was the same look that people gave someone when they found out they had a terminal disease and wanted to be kind but couldn’t ignore the fact that they were dying.

“I was thinking that we might practice one of our songs then we can play one of Prompto’s?” Nyx offered to the band.

Prompto felt his heart flutter and his stomach do flips. “Really? I mean… My music-”

“Nyx has played us your music, kid,” Crowe said as she picked up her bass and strummed a melody absentmindedly, the low thrum of the strings pulsing from the amp. “Trust me. You’ve got talent that we only wish we had.”

Prompto didn’t know what to say to that. Crowe, the Crowe, had told him that he was talented. “It’s all thanks to Nyx’s guidance.”

“Talented and humble,” Titus commended him. “Keep it up and you’ll go places, kid.”

“What song do you want to play?” Nyx asked him. “Your choice.”

Prompto considered his options. He had been working on a series of Kingsglaive songs, but right now one stood out in his mind. He just hoped that he didn’t royally screw it up. “I was thinking… Silvera?”

The band members smiled and all made general noises of agreement. Nyx helped Prompto set up his electric guitar, hooking it up to the amp before he tested his microphone. He was going to be taking on Nyx’s guitar part. He was nervous, unsure of if he could even play amongst his heroes, his hands shaking slightly. What if he couldn’t remember how to play when they started? What if they were going to make fun of him for messing it up?

Libertus marked the beat when they were ready, and they began. Prompto was sure that his fingers weren’t going to move, that they were going to stop and stare at him and wonder why Nyx had even brought him around. But his fingers obeyed as he strummed the guitar, taking on the difficult melody. The others looked pleasantly surprised, but no one really paid him much attention as they played. It was all about the music for them, and they made that clear with each beat.

Prompto found himself getting lost in the music, and while Crowe and Titus took the lead in moving to the rhythm, headbanging while they performed, Prompto joined in with them. At first he felt awkward even playing with them, but there was an anonymity in the music. They all dissolved into it, the only thing that mattered was how well they played and if they worked well together. Prompto took the guitar solo, hoping that he didn’t mess it up, but Nyx only smiled as he moved his fingers over the fret board, refusing to let his idols down.

Time to open your eyes to this genocide
When you clear your mind you see it all
You’re receiving the gold of a better life
When you change yourself, you change the world

The words echoed from Nyx’s microphone, his voice carrying over the sound of the music. When the song ended, they all looked pleased, and Prompto was smiling through his breathless excitement. Hands down, Prompto had never been so excited or happy in all his life. Maybe a career in music was where he belonged more than behind a camera.

“Damn kid,” Crowe said with a laugh. “You could replace Nyx. If you’re as good a singer as he is, then there’s really no need for him anymore.”

“Ouch,” Nyx replied with an agreeable smile. “You’re not wrong though. If he decides to pursue music, he’ll be in the next generation of heavy metal stars.”

“If he decides to? What else would you do, Prompto?” Libertus asked.

“I also like photography,” Prompto offered. “But this is a lot of fun. It’s hard to decide.”

“You have a lot of options ahead of you,” Titus considered. “You’re young. You have time to decide.”

“So what’s the song we’re going to play of yours?” Libertus asked. His eyes sparkled like he knew exactly what song it was. They had mentioned that Nyx had played it for them. It made Prompto’s stomach flutter, wondering if it was actually a song worth playing.

“Let’s do it, then,” Crowe said with a smile before Prompto could even respond.

Nyx nodded to Prompto and took a step back so Prompto could take over on the microphone as well. “Deep breath. You’ll be fine. I’ll be watching from behind the glass.” He clapped Prompto on the shoulder and walked away, leaving him with the rest of the members of Kingsglaive.

He took a deep breath as Nyx had suggested, focusing on the music he had prepared per Nyx’s instructions. It was strange to be in command of a band, let alone a band of musicians who were far more experienced and talented than he was. He started the song when everyone nodded they were ready, beginning with a guitar riff before he started to sing.

I want to be a good man, I want to see God
I want to be faithful but I know that I’m not
I want to be a good man, I want to do right
I don’t want to be a criminal for the rest of my life

The others came in with perfect timing, as if they had been practicing the music before Prompto could even meet them. It must have been Nyx’s influence. He had told Prompto to practice, but he didn’t realize that the band would also be practicing his song. It drove him to perform it to perfection, letting the music drive his voice and hands as they worked over the fret. He felt a rush of excitement when he heard his music coming together, the first time he had ever really heard how his music could be.

When the song ended, the others looked at him in excitement and surprise, clearly impressed by his abilities as a musician. Prompto was smiling and was really beginning to wonder if he could make a career of this. He was shy and constantly anxious, but when he played his music all of that faded away.

Nyx came out from the other side of the glass where the recording equipment was kept. “Didn’t I tell you this kid is going places?” Nyx asked.

“You sure we can’t replace you with him right now?” Crowe asked with a laugh. “You’re amazing, kid.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied, his cheeks flushing red. He wasn’t used to praise, and to have his music idols telling him how great he was gave him a rush of excitement that he didn’t really expect.

“You know,” Titus considered. “In a couple months we’re going to be playing a show here in Insomnia. We should really consider having you on stage for a song or two. Get you some exposure.”

“Really?!” Prompto asked. He felt both excited and nervous at the thought. It would be a dream come true to be able to not only see Kingsglaive live but also perform with them. It also meant performing in front of thousands of fans who would show no mercy if he messed up. He couldn’t tell which was stronger, his dread or his anticipation.

“That might not be a bad idea,” Nyx considered. “Maybe you can play Silvera and Global Warming with us? Then if there’s one of your originals you’d like to play, we can take a look at that too.”

“I-I don’t know what to say,” Prompto said in bewildered amazement. He didn’t think he was capable of performing one of his originals in front of a crowd of people, but then again, he had never tried.

“Well don’t clam up when it comes to the concert,” Libertus said jokingly. “It’ll mean you’re going to have to rehearse with us more. We usually spend several times a week rehearsing, and we can make sure that we align with your schedule for it. You up for it?”

“Yes!” Prompto replied with a smile. He knew that meant that the availability in his schedule would shrink dramatically, which meant less time with Noctis. Hopefully Noctis would understand. It wasn’t like they were dating or anything either.

“Great,” Nyx said with a smile. “I’ll send you a schedule then. We have some meet and greets to go to and other press related things, but expect to have most of your evenings packed to rehearse with us. You don’t have to stay the entire time at first, but once the setlist is determined you should.”

“No problem,” Prompto replied. “I’ll make it work.”

Prompto spent the rest of the time listening to the band rehearse, taking notes on things he should work on with his own vocal and guitar technique. He joined in when they rehearsed the song Global Warming, which they were further impressed by his ability to keep up. Nyx had taught him well. He couldn’t help but wonder why Nyx was doing all this for him, but he wasn’t going to push it. He was just grateful to be there.

When he got out of the rehearsal, Nyx took him back to his place so he could get his backpack and then decided to drop him off at his house. Usually Nyx didn’t do that, and Prompto was too excited not to take a selfie of them on his bike. Nyx had laughed after they took it and told him to post it online so that they could tease his debut as a featured artist with the band. He felt his stomach doing even more flips at the thought of being considered a featured artist.

As Prompto was approaching his front door, it opened for him, making him stumble as he tried to stop himself. His parents were on the other side, looking concerned that he was not yet home. Prompto had told them his schedule several times. They should have known that he was with Nyx and not running about in the streets, not that he ever did.

“Oh Nyx,” his mom said with a sigh of relief. “We were so worried.”

“I kept him late,” Nyx replied. “He’s going to be rehearsing with the band after school and on weekends most days, so he’ll probably be running late.”

“Do you really think that’s wise with his school schedule?” his father asked reproachfully.

“He’s a smart kid,” Nyx pointed out. “If he wasn’t capable of it, I wouldn’t ask him. It will limit his free time with his friends, but he seems on board for it.”

His parents looked at each other, having a wordless conversation, then turned back to him. “If you think he can handle it then,” his mother said. She looked pleased though. Prompto could guess why.
More time with the band meant less time with Noctis. “He has a 5k this Saturday, Nyx. Will this interfere with that?”

“It shouldn’t,” Nyx replied. “I’ll make sure he has off on Tuesdays for his photography class and then if he has any races coming up. He’ll send me his schedule so we’ll coordinate.”

“That sounds reasonable,” his father added. “I hope you remember our arrangement?”

“I remember it well.” Nyx’s eyes looked cold, hard suddenly, like he wasn’t being conversational anymore. This sounded more menacing, more threatening.

“Good because Cor-” his mother said.

“You can name drop all you want, but it won’t do a damn thing,” Nyx said. Prompto’s stomach lurched. This Cor person seemed to be in control of everything, from Nyx all the way to Regis. How could one person have so much influence? “You should know that by now.”

His parents looked a bit shocked, but ultimately nodded. “Please just take care of our son. We don’t want him to be hurt.”

“You worry too much,” Nyx dismissed them. “He’s a good kid and stronger than he appears.”

“And I’m standing right here,” Prompto said, irritated that everyone but him seemed to know the full situation and what was going on. “Does anyone mind telling me who this Cor person is? Why does he get a say in my life when I’ve never even met him?”

“I’ll leave that one to you two,” Nyx said with a self-satisfied smile. “He’s your son after all. See you Wednesday, Prompto.”

Nyx walked away, leaving Prompto to stare at his parents expectantly. “Well?” he asked them.

“Cor is a marriage and family counselor,” his mother blurted out. It was clearly a lie. “He provides us guidance on how to raise you.” That didn’t seem so much a lie.

“I’m old enough to know that you’re lying,” Prompto said angrily. “You can lie to me all you want, but I’ll discover the truth eventually. I should be able to know the truth now. I’m almost seventeen, you know.”

“We will tell you when you’re ready,” his father said. It was the first time that he admitted that they were keeping something from him.

“When will that be?” Prompto demanded. He knew he was sounding childish, but it wasn’t fair to him that his parents were hiding everything from him right in front of him. They weren’t even being discreet about it now.

“When you’re eighteen,” his mother replied. “We cannot tell you until then. I know it may seem unfair, Prompto, but we love you and want to protect you. We have to protect you. Please understand when we say this. It’s why we don’t want you to hang out with the Caelums. They cannot be trusted.”

“Noctis has been more honest with me lately than you guys have,” Prompto said petulantly. “Until you give me a good reason to not see him, I’m going to keep hanging out with him.”

Prompto ended the conversation there. He walked inside, his anger making his footsteps louder than they needed to be. He doubted Nyx would tell him the truth. It seemed that he wanted to leave it up to his parents to tell him. They seemed far too happy that his schedule was going to be full now that he was rehearsing with Kingsglaive. He felt like quitting the rehearsals just to spite them, but he knew that he would regret that decision. Instead he resolved to find time with Noctis no matter what.

He was too angry to talk to anyone, knowing that he needed to calm down before he reached out to Noctis, Gladio, or even Ignis. He had been surprised by how receptive Ignis was to him, and he wanted to make him a closer friend, especially since he was Noctis’s best friend. Instead, he pulled up the selfie he took of him and Nyx and posted it on his social media page with the description Awesome jam session with this guy #kingsglaive #NyxUlric. It didn’t take long for his phone to start pinging erratically, and he turned his ringtone off.

His phone started vibrating as Noctis called him. “Hello?” Prompto said.

“How the hell do you know Nyx Ulric?” Noctis said in both excitement and irritation.

“Well he’s my music teacher,” Prompto said. “I didn’t really have permission to talk about it before now.”

“Does Gladio know?” Noctis asked.

“Well, yeah,” Prompto said considering. “I accidentally let it slip when I was hanging out with him. I told Nyx, and he gave me permission to put this online.” He wanted to tell Noctis the good news, about performing with Kingsglaive in the next few months, and about how he wanted him to be there, but he didn’t get the chance.

“So you mean to say it’s okay to tell Gladio but not me?” Noctis snapped.

“No, Noctis,” Prompto said. He was trying not to let his irritation at his parents bleed through into their conversation, but it was difficult. “I told you. It was an accident. And I had to fess up to Nyx.”

“That just sounds like an excuse not to tell me. I gotta go, Prompto. I’ll see you later.” Noctis hung up the phone before Prompto could say anything.

“What the hell?” Prompto said aloud. He threw his phone across the room in frustration, not hard enough for it to break, but just hard enough for him to get a feeling of satisfaction as he fed into his anger. He had told Noctis the truth. He didn’t expect him to be so upset about something so benign. It was an accident, after all. It wasn’t like he meant to tell Gladio before he told Noctis.

Prompto went to bed angry that night. He didn’t know when the next time he was going to see Noctis was since his schedule just got suddenly a lot busier, but he hoped that he could sort it out soon with him. Then again, he didn’t really owe Noctis anything. He had been honest and upfront about the truth. Why should he go out of his way to try and make amends?

Because I like the guy. Prompto answered the question for himself. With a sigh, he pulled the covers over his head, hoping that he would get some sleep and feel better in the morning. Instead his dreams were plagued by the image of the barrel of a gun in his face, bright lights, and voices pleading for mercy.

Chapter Text

Prompto considered skipping his photography course since he didn’t sleep well the night before, but he somehow got through it. Noctis hadn’t reached out to him at all on Tuesday, and he had assumed that he was still mad at him for whatever reason. He felt like Noctis was being unreasonable, especially since he made a simple mistake. He thought Nyx was going to be angry at him, not Noctis. Why did he have to suffer for it?

Gladio could tell something was wrong on Tuesday but didn’t say anything. Even Aranea had pointed out that he seemed a bit down during their photography lesson, but he had just told them that he was tired. It wasn’t a lie. He hadn’t slept well and woke up several times, his nightmares plaguing him. He couldn’t remember what the dreams were about, he just remembered being afraid. When the sunlight was just starting to filter in during the early morning hours he finally was irritated at his own nightmares enough to give up on sleep and got up for the day. Halfway through the day he was about to crash, but somehow managed to hang in there.

When Wednesday arrived, he checked his phone first thing in the morning, hoping that Noctis would have texted him. There was nothing waiting for him, save for the droves of people who were commenting on his social media post, wondering who he was and how he knew Nyx. At school people had come up to him, trying to ingratiate himself into his life, but Gladio ran interference and blocked everyone from getting close. He felt like a celebrity at school as a result, but it only made him nervous, worrying if he could be targeted.

Rumors were also circulating around school that Gladio had beat up Ignis since he showed up at the academy with a bruised face. Prompto wanted to tell everyone that it wasn’t the case, in fact it was the opposite, but Gladio had only stopped him. He later explained that it was better to keep his rough reputation. It kept him, his friends, and the school safer that way.

Still, Prompto couldn’t ignore Gladio giving Ignis a longing look as they went their separate way after school. He had told Prompto that he was going to Ignis’s place after school on Tuesday, and by Wednesday he seemed happy with the outcome. One step closer to friends is what Gladio had said. Somehow Prompto had the feeling that Gladio wanted to be more than friends with Ignis.

“Alright Prompto,” Gladio said Wednesday during lunch. They were eating in a quiet classroom, and Prompto wasn’t really saying anything. “Tell me what’s going on. You’ve been sulking all day.”

He was right. Prompto had kept his head down, barely uttering a word, staring at his phone constantly while he waited for Noctis to text him. He told himself he should just reach out, but something in him hesitated. If Noctis was mad at him over this then maybe it meant he wasn’t as serious about him as he had hoped. They were so fresh into their friendship that it was a tenuous connection at best. Noctis’s anger made him realize that, making him think that maybe Noctis just wanted an out. It made him both angry and upset, and his stomach lurched in all directions uncomfortably as he thought about it.

“Noctis is mad at me,” Prompto said quietly. He explained what had happened, from the argument he had with his parents to Noctis getting mad at him. He ended it by telling Gladio that Noctis hadn’t reached out to him since and he didn’t know what to do. “I mean, should I reach out to him or just let it go?”

Gladio considered this. “I think he’s being a baby. You told him it was an accident, and had he been there he would see that. If this is making him jealous and upset then maybe you’re dodging a bullet by him not reaching out to you.”

“Jealous?” Prompto asked as he looked at Gladio.

“Yeah. What else would it be? He’s jealous that I knew about it before he did.”

“Oh.” Prompto thought about that for a moment. “I didn’t realize that it was jealousy. Maybe I should reach out to him and apologize?”

“Fuck that,” Gladio insisted. “He’s the one acting out. You don’t owe him an apology. You didn’t do anything wrong.” He paused a moment before taking out his phone. “I’ll text Iris and see if there’s anything she can say to him.”

“Thanks Gladio,” Prompto said appreciatively. “I won’t be able to hang out with him after class for a while because I’ll be rehearing with Kingsglaive, and I wanted to tell him that. But he didn’t even give me a chance.” He sighed anxiously. “I was going to try and tell him that I would make time for him, but he was so angry.”

“Let him suffer a little then,” Gladio said. “If he realizes you can’t hang out anymore then he might start realizing that he should have apologized sooner.” He smiled. “He’ll regret it when he realizes you’re becoming a rock star and moving on with your life.”

“But I’m not moving on. I feel like I’m suffering for something I thought Nyx would be mad at me for.”

“True. Well I’m not going to stop you from reaching out to him, but I wouldn’t text him if I were you.”

“Chances are I won’t even have time to between class and rehearsal. They’re surprisingly intense and plan well in advance for their concerts.”

“I’m trying not to be jealous that you’re rehearsing with the band. You have to invite me to concert and hook us all up with tickets.” He grinned.

“I’ll talk to them about it.” Prompto smiled, grateful that he had a friend like Gladio who was so supportive despite having known him for only a short time. “Iris said she’s still having trouble convincing the guy she found as a bassist to be in a band with us.”

“Yeah he’s a tough nut to crack,” Gladio considered. “She’ll get him though. If anyone can get him, it’ll be her. Oh, you’re doing a 5k this Saturday, right? Do you want Iris and I to come cheer you on?”

“You would do that?” Prompto asked hopefully. He had never had friends come and cheer for him before. His parents were usually too busy with work to come to his races, and this was the first time he ever had friends.

“Yeah it’ll be fun,” Gladio said. “Afterwards we can get some lunch.”

Prompto considered his schedule. He had rehearsal with the band after his race, but it wasn’t for a few hours after. He would have plenty of time to catch a lunch with him. Initially he had hoped that he would be able to spend the time with Noctis, but now it didn’t seem likely that he would be spending time with him soon. Maybe if they were talking again by the weekend he could invite Noctis to lunch with him.

“Okay, that sounds great,” Prompto said with a tired smile. The bell rang, signaling the end of their lunch break. “Well it’s off to history for me. I’ll see you later.”

“See you. I’ll let you know if Iris says anything.”

They got up and went their separate ways. Even though Prompto’s heart was heavy at the thought of Noctis not talking to him, it felt just a little bit lighter being able to talk to Gladio about it and to know that he still had him as a friend. He just hoped that at one point or another Noctis would get over his anger and reach out to him. Before he walked into his history class, he pulled out his phone. No messages. With a sigh, he decided to try and reach out to him.

Hey Noctis.
Can we talk?

He didn’t know what else to say, so he left it at that. Prompto put his phone away and walked into the classroom, hoping that by the end of class Noctis would have reached out to him. They were going over the war between Lucis and Niflheim in history, and Prompto had dedicated himself to paying attention to the class in case there was something that could divulge anything about who this Cor person was. It was unlikely, but even the smallest piece of the puzzle would be better than nothing.

“The war finally ended when Minister Besithia and Chancellor Ardyn signed a peace agreement to stop the fighting until a treaty could be arranged,” the teacher said to a class of disinterested students. He was the only one paying attention. “Page three hundred and ninety four has the information on how the peace treaty was arranged. Please open your textbooks and review that. I’ll be asking a series of questions about it. Take the next five minutes to read on it.”

Prompto was the only one who budged. He opened his textbook, planning on reading the page as he was asked to, and his eyes immediately landed on the photo of Minister Besithia and Chancellor Ardyn getting ready to sign a peace treaty. He didn’t feel like his heart had started thumping in his chest. He felt like his heart had stopped.

Chancellor Ardyn looked familiar to him, his messy reddish brown hair kept to his shoulders and his eyes a golden ember. Despite their surrender, he had a knowing smirk at the corners of his mouth. Minister Besithia is what gave him feel like his entire body was immobile, like his heart had stopped and he was about to lose his lunch. Staring at him with serious, pained blue eyes was a man with blond hair that was nearly silver. That’s not what startled him. What startled him was how much Besithia looked like him. Or rather, how much he looked like Besithia.

Prompto didn’t know what to do. He felt like he had just stumbled onto something that he wasn’t supposed to acknowledge. It wasn’t as if Minister Besithia’s appearance was a secret. He just never had a reason to seek it out and look it up. Staring at it now, though, Prompto thought he was looking into his own reflection, only the mirror had aged him a few years and made his features a bit sharper.

He felt the edges of his vision begin to blur, a darkness creeping at the corner of his eyes that was making him woozy. The teacher began to talk, but everything sounded so far away, like he was trying to listen to her over the sound of a stream. Someone called out his name, but he felt the world toppling over. Or maybe he was toppling over. A moment later he felt the cold hard tile of the floor beneath his face, and he realized that he had collapsed.

There was a commotion in the room when he came to, his vision clearing slowly. The teacher was yelling for someone to get the school nurse as she crouched down next to him, putting her sweater under his head. He had hit it when he had fainted. The pain told him as much. He felt the need to sit up, but the teacher immediately stopped him, gently pressing on one shoulder to keep him still.

The sound of feet running in the hallway drew closer and the nurse rushed into the classroom. He immediately began taking assessment of Prompto, checking his pulse, his blood pressure, his pupil dilation. Prompto didn’t want to explain that he had fainted because he saw the image of someone who looked just like him. It had to be his father. Who else could it be?

“Prompto?” Gladio nearly shouted from the door of the classroom. Word of him passing out had gotten around since at the high school rumors traveled fast. He knelt on the other side of the nurse, the teacher moving out of the way. “What happened?”

“Give him some air,” the nurse said. “Prompto, can you sit up? We’re going to get you to my office.”

“I think so.” Gladio held out his hand for Prompto and he took it. He pulled him up slowly at the nurse’s suggestion, his head spinning still. “Sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” the nurse said. He looked to Gladio, who nodded. “Come on. Gladio is going to help you to my office. I need to call your parents.”

“They won’t pick up,” Prompto said as they helped him stand up. Gladio put his arms around his waist for support. “They work late and don’t answer the phone.”

“Is there anyone I can call?” the nurse asked once they were in the hall, Gladio guiding him gently, Prompto’s backpack on his other shoulder and his guitar case in his free hand. The world was still spinning for him, and he wondered if it was more than the shock of seeing someone who could only be his father or at the very least a relative.

“Nyx,” Prompto said after a moment. “He will answer.”

“Give me his number when we get to the office.” They walked in silence until they reached the office. A few stations were set up with uncomfortable cots for students who were ill or pretending to be. A couple of them were occupied by those just trying to skip class, but Prompto ignored them as Gladio helped him sit on a free one. Gladio asked Prompto for his phone, and he obliged.

“I’ll call Nyx,” Gladio told the nurse as he stepped out. He dialed a number then a moment later his voice sounded in the hallway. “Hey, you don’t know me but I’m a friend of Prompto’s…”

Prompto didn’t get to hear what else he was saying. The nurse was asking him a series of questions while giving him something sugary to drink in the event it was his blood sugar levels that dropped dangerously low. Prompto couldn’t tell him the real reason he had fainted. It was shock, pure and simple. He only had one question that concerned him. If Minister Besithia was his father, why would he just give him up to be adopted by a Lucian couple?

“He’s on his way,” Gladio said as he walked back into the room. “I’ll stay until he arrives.”

The nurse tried to tell him that he could go back to class, but there was no telling Gladio what to do. Instead, the nurse had Prompto lay back on the cot while Gladio sat next to him. When the nurse was satisfied that he wasn’t at risk for fainting again, he walked away, leaving Gladio to care for Prompto.

“What the hell Prompto?” Gladio asked. “What happened?”

“You have my phone. Look up a picture of Minister Besithia.” Prompto noticed his skeptical look as he whispered to him. “Just do it.”

Gladio shrugged and did as Prompto asked. A moment later his eyes went wide and he looked from the photo up to Prompto repeatedly, trying to figure out if his eyes were lying to him. “Fuck. He looks just like you.”

“Exactly,” Prompto said. “I saw it, and well… My shock is what made me faint. I mean, how can he not be related to me in some capacity?”

Gladio nodded. “It would be a really weird fucking coincidence if you aren’t related. I need to talk to my dad about this. He has to have some information on it.”

“Prompto,” Nyx said as he rushed into the nurse’s office.

Gladio stood up and walked over to Nyx, shaking his hand respectfully. “I’m Gladio, Prompto’s friend. He’s pretty shaken up right now and would probably appreciate if you didn’t tell his parents about this.”

Nyx looked over to Prompto, who was staring at him pleadingly and with guilty eyes. Gladio was right. He didn’t want his parents to know he fainted not only because they would probably put an end to his rehearsals with Kingsglaive, but it would also mean that he would have to explain why. He was a terrible liar, and he was too emotional about this for him to even try and lie to his parents.

“Hey Prompto,” Nyx said as he approached him. “Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, I guess my blood sugar level got low,” Prompto lied unconvincingly. The nurse was listening in. “I guess I just needed something to drink.”

“We shouldn’t push it with rehearsal then,” Nyx said.

“No!” Prompto nearly shouted. Nyx looked at him in concern. “No. I mean I’ll be fine. I just would like to rest and then I’ll be good.”

Nyx looked at him skeptically, but Gladio whispered something in his ear and he nodded. He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Okay. But you’ll tell me what’s going on later.”

Prompto nodded. The nurse was about to give him a hard time for not being on the list of emergency contacts for Prompto, but Gladio pulled him aside and began talking to him long enough to distract him. He was being almost flirtatious with the young nurse, giving Nyx the sense to grab Prompto’s belongings and hurriedly escort him out of the nurse’s office. By the time Gladio caught up with them, the nurse was left wondering what had just happened.

Nyx only had his motorcycle, but Prompto wasn’t so woozy anymore that he felt like he was in danger of passing out again. Gladio said his goodbyes and gave Prompto his phone back as Nyx thanked him for looking after Prompto. The roar of the engine drowned out any potential for conversation until they reached his house. Prompto awkwardly followed him inside, feeling foolish that he passed out at all by the time Nyx had forced him to sit down in his living room and grabbed him something to drink and eat.

“So tell me what’s going on,” Nyx said as he sat next to him. “Gladio told me it’s not about something health related.”

“Minister Besithia,” Prompto said quietly. Nyx suddenly looked as frozen as Prompto had felt. “He looks just like me. Well, I guess I look like him. I think he might be my birth father.”

“I’ve seen photos of him,” Nyx considered. “You do look very much alike. Perhaps you are related.”

“Perhaps? We look almost identical!” Prompto said. “How can we not be related?”

Nyx looked stiff, awkward, like Prompto had stumbled into something he wasn’t prepared to talk about yet. “I… I will do some research and see what I can find out. For now, you should rest until rehearsal tonight. I won’t tell your parents. I don’t want them to worry.”

Prompto did feel exhausted from his nightmares and the entire process of fainting. It took a toll on his body that made his mind feel sluggish, particularly because he had hit his head. His mind was muddled by the notion that he could have very well stumbled across his birth father, so he didn’t really think much about how Nyx had responded. Nyx flipped on the television for him, and he scrolled through his phone until he felt himself drifting off to sleep for a long nap.

He was startled awake by his own nightmares, sighing in frustration as he wondered if they would ever subside. Prompto had gotten into the habit of checking his phone for a text or call from Noctis, but there was nothing there. Despite his own worries and his recent discovery, he was still feeling a hollow ache in his heart knowing that Noctis hadn’t reached out to him after he texted him. The sun had long set already, and Prompto knew he wasn’t busy enough to not answer his text unless he was blatantly ignoring him.

Everything was oddly quiet in the house until he heard Nyx from the other room. He was talking to someone on the phone. It sounded like he was arguing with someone, actually. Prompto got up, ignoring his aching head, and quietly walked closer to the sound of Nyx, not wanting to disturb his conversation.

“I’m telling you,” Nyx said with a hushed tone, his voice angry. “It doesn’t matter how much you want to deny it. Regis, you can’t run from this. You gave the order. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been out of the service. I have to, you know.”

Prompto stopped when he heard the name of Noctis’s father. How did Nyx know him? His mind was too confused from the bump on his head to think about it. Right now he needed something simple in his life, something to ground him. With a start, he realized Noctis had been that person over the past few weeks, but it was evident that he didn’t want anything to do with him now. His heart hurt at the thought, and he only found himself drifting back to the couch in silent dismay.

Every adult in his life was keeping something from him, and no one was willing to tell him the truth. The guy that he had a crush on, maybe even more than a crush, wasn’t talking to him. He felt so alone, even though he knew Gladio was on his side. Part of him wanted to reach out to Ignis and see if he could relay a message back to Noctis. It felt like a futile attempt though. If Noctis wanted to talk to him, he would have responded to him by now.

Sighing, Prompto decided to just leave things as they were for now. He needed answers about Minister Besithia and why he looked so much like him, but pressing the issue with those around him wasn’t going to do much of anything. If Noctis wanted to have him in his life, then he would have reached out to him by now. This was just a fact of his life. Eventually he would get answers. But today was not the day for them.

When Nyx ended the call, he walked into the living room and looked at Prompt in surprise. It was evident that he thought Prompto was still asleep. “How are you feeling? Do you want to call it quits for rehearsal tonight?”

“No I’m fine,” Prompto said. His head ached a bit and his heart ached a lot, but otherwise he was fine. Putting it into his music was a better idea than just suffering in silence. “I’d like to play, if that’s alright.”

“Sure,” Nyx said. “The band is on their way over instead of us going to the studio. They seemed a bit more comfortable with that after hearing you passed out.”

Nyx fed Prompto dinner while they waited for the other band members to arrive. Libertus was the first to arrive, but each of them fussed over him more than what was necessary when they walked through the door. Crowe was especially worried, checking his head for the bump that had started to form. She seemed the toughest out of them all, so for her to look so upset worried Prompto. They all seemed concerned for him, like they had known him for a long time. Maybe Nyx had just told them about him over the years. It would make sense since he had been studying music with Nyx for so long.

Prompto had assured them all repeatedly that he was okay by the time they finally conceded long enough to start rehearsing. They were starting to formulate the beginnings of their setlist, but overall it was still in the early stages. Nyx explained that they would likely write and rewrite their setlist a few times until they were happy with it. Their manager hated it, but Nyx didn’t particularly care. He demanded perfection, and all of them fell in line. Prompto joined in on his designated songs, letting his mind get lost in the music. They held off on playing Prompto’s song, mainly because Prompto had insisted for the time being. He was starting to formulate a new song in his mind.

It was late by the time they finished rehearsal. Gladio had texted him, asking him how he was feeling. Prompto texted him a quick reply, indicating that he was okay but that he was feeling fairly dejected since he texted Noctis and got no response.

Don’t worry about Noctis.
He’s got his head up his ass.
I’m sorry Prompto. I was worried this
would happen. =/

Prompto sighed. Gladio had been right all along. Noctis really wasn’t serious about being friends with him. There was no way he was going to be serious about dating him, not like they even talked about it. Prompto had just been confused by Noctis’s overly sexual way of being in the world. That was how he acted amongst so many people. To him it was as easy as breathing, even though to Prompto it was much more serious. It made sense that something as simple as that would end it for Noctis. He was a guy who was always looking for a way out. Prompto wondered if this was the shortest friendship Noctis had ever had with anyone.

When he got home the house was still dark. His parents were still at work, as usual. Prompto was growing tired of this routine. His parents were never around yet demanded they keep secrets from him and that he stay away from someone who didn’t even want to talk to him anymore. The only thing he had going for him was his music and his photography. Aranea had been so impressed by his photography lately that she had taken some of his photos and submitted it to a local contest. The winner would get ten thousand gil and a feature in a magazine.

Prompto had to go back to his roots. He had to ignore the constant crisis he felt like he was in all because he had met Noctis. That’s when it had all really started. If he hadn’t befriended Noctis, if he hadn’t developed a crush on him, then he wouldn’t have started to notice that his parents were hiding secrets from him. He would put his heartache and confusion into his music and his photography and produce something great so by the time he graduated he would be set for whatever career path he chose. After all, there was a popular belief that artists were made better by their suffering.

Chapter Text

The week passed by in such a blur due to Prompto’s busy schedule that he didn’t have much time to think about Noctis or who his real father was or who Cor was. His mornings were spent practicing the 5k course that had been released to help runners prepare for Saturday’s race. Gladio had been in touch with him during school and texted him after to make sure he was okay. He had planned on talking to his father before Saturday so that he could hopefully have some answers for Prompto, although Prompto wasn’t holding his breath for answers anytime soon. Noctis still hadn’t been in touch with him since he had tried reaching out to him, and he didn’t try again. The rest of his time after school was spent rehearsing with Kingsglaive.

When Saturday morning arrived, Prompto was beginning to feel like he was getting back into the habit of not having a crush. Anytime he thought about Noctis his stomach would churn uncomfortably and his heart would hurt, but he didn’t really have time to worry about him so much anymore. Instead, he was devoting every ounce of energy he had into the things that kept him grounded. His music, his photography, his classes. It was best for him to focus on those things and nothing else.

He was happy that fall was starting to settle in faster and faster each day, promising that this race would have perfect cool weather. He got ready wordlessly, not bothering to check his phone anymore. There wouldn’t be anything waiting for him save for the regular notifications that he was suddenly popular on social media thanks to Kingsglaive’s influence. They were happy to boost his followers, taking pics with him and letting him take pics of their instruments.

Prompto pulled on a pair of black running shorts that were tight against his thighs, better for the race than the breezy loose ones he kept for hot summer days. He pulled on a tank top built specifically for runners, promising the best breathability and comfort when he would inevitably start sweating. He grabbed his compression socks, pulled them on, then put in his running sneakers. He continued his morning ritual by brushing his hair and teeth and grabbed a bottle of water and his headphones for the run. The last thing he grabbed was his phone.

There were a few messages of encouragement. His parents had each texted him good luck, Iris and Ignis had texted him the same, and Gladio had texted him telling him he would be there at the finish line. Still nothing from Noctis. Prompto left his house and made his way to the start of the race in downtown Insomnia, texting those who reached out to him a quick word of thanks. He was tempted to ask Ignis how Noctis was doing, but he decided to keep quiet about it. If Noctis wanted to reach out to him, he would.

A strange sense of calm came over him before a race. He was nervous and jittery about the start of the race, about making it on time, about his registration. But the race itself brought a calm that took him out of his thoughts. The only thing he had to focus on was his pace, his breathing, and his music blaring through his headphones. He didn’t even look at the people running past or the people he passed. It was all a matter of just making it from the start to the finish line.

It was a short subway ride away to the start line, and when he arrived there was already a crowd. He checked in at the registration booth and attached his racing numbers to his tank top with the safety pins they provided. Everything was so seamless and effortless that he almost didn’t notice Gladio and Iris waiting for him on the sidelines. When he sat the large, tattooed teen and his petite sister, he smiled and waved. They walked over to each other, meeting at the halfway mark.

“Hey Prompto!” Iris said cheerfully. She was holding a cup of coffee in her hand, even though it was already ten in the morning. “Ready for the big race today?”

“Yeah,” Prompto replied with a smile matching hers. His heart ached a little when he thought about how he would like Noctis to be there to cheer him on, but he disregarded the thought. Noctis wasn’t there and he couldn’t do anything about it. “Thanks so much for coming out.”

“Of course,” Gladio replied. “Are your parents going to be here to cheer you on?”

“Oh, they never come to these things,” Prompto said with a shrug.

Gladio and Iris looked concerned. “If I had known that then I would’ve told my parents,” Iris said with a frown. “They would’ve come to cheer you on.”

“It’s okay,” Nyx said behind Prompto suddenly, making him jump. “He’s got me to cheer him on.”

Iris let out a squeal, but Prompto only smiled and gave Nyx a hug. He was practically family, but Prompto was surprised that Nyx had come out to his race. He never really came out to these things due to his fame, and Prompto had stopped inviting him.

“Thought I’d cheer you on since you’ve been so stressed lately,” Nyx said with a brotherly smile. A few people had looked over at them since Iris let out a shriek in excitement, some of them questioning on how someone so famous had come out to the race.

“I’m so excited to meet you!” Iris said. “I’m a huge fan, and Prompto and I are talking about starting a band together. I’m a drummer!”

“That’s great,” Nyx said. “Any bassists in mind?”

“Just one so far but he’s stubborn.” Iris put her arms on her hips, but she looked past Nyx and Prompto and her face brightened. “That’s him!”

They all looked at who she was pointing at. He was someone that Prompto knew, even though he didn’t go to the academy. Ravus Nox Fleuret was hard to miss, even in his running shorts and tank top. Prompto had tried so hard to avoid him from the beginning. He was the person that Iris was thinking of to be the bassist?

“Oh I have an idea!” Iris said. “I’ll be right back!” She ran over to Ravus and began to talk to him animatedly, but they were too far away for them to hear. When Ravus looked over at them, his eyes wide in surprised when he saw Nyx, he looked back to Iris and looked less certain in his opposition.

“Apparently your presence gives Prompto some credibility,” Gladio said with a laugh. “My sister really knows how to play the game.”

Iris ran over to them a moment later, looking excited. “Ravus says that if you beat him in the race, he’ll be willing to meet with you and jam with us. He’ll give the band an honest try. But if he beats your time then you have to join the academy and the track team. I told him you’re on.”

“What?” Prompto and Gladio asked at the same time.

“You can’t make that decision for him,” Gladio said.

“There’s no way my parents will let me join the academy,” Prompto said, his panic increasing.

“That doesn’t matter,” Iris said dismissively. “You’re going to beat his time, right?”

Nyx laughed. “I like you, Iris. You’re persistent. Listen, if you beat his time, Prompto, then I’ll refer a good guitarist to round out the band for you.”

“Well shit,” Prompto said as he scratched the back of his head. “I guess I have to really try and win this.”

The announcer for the race started announcements to call racers to the starting line. Prompto thanked them all for coming and made his way over to the starting line, putting his music on to let his headphones drown out everything else but his desire to run and his music. He noticed Ravus next to him, his white hair pulled back for the race. Prompto thought it somehow suited him since he usually saw Ravus keep his hair down. He was far too beautiful a man for Prompto, and he always knew he was way out of his league. Not that he was looking. But without Noctis around, he might as well keep his options open.

Ravus nodded to him when their eyes met, indicating that he wouldn’t be holding back on this race just for Prompto’s benefit. Prompto nodded back to him, indicating the same. When the buzzer sounded and the race started, Prompto and Ravus both took off, running past the other racers there. It was clear that they were two of the fastest, but they also had to ensure they paced themselves for the entire race. Prompto usually did 5 or 10ks and he was used to his course. But now there was something on the line. It was win or explain to his parents why he had to join the academy.

Prompto didn’t worry about the stakes, though. He was only focused on being the fastest he could, letting the pulsing beat of the angry music propel him forward. He kept his breath even, making sure he kept it steady so that he didn’t end up panting. Gravity did its work as he ran downhill, enabling him to save the extra energy to push him forward on the upward slopes.

Prompto didn’t keep track of where Ravus was. The only thing he worried about was making it to the finish line. The second mile was always the hardest for him, but he kept his music beating, and he only pushed harder. When he turned the last corner and saw the finish line in sight, he let the last burst of energy course through him, his pace quickening until he felt like he was lightning running wild in a storm.

In the distance he could see Gladio, Iris, and Nyx cheering him on. They were waving to him excitedly, and Iris was jumping up and down. From the looks of it, Ravus was just behind him and getting his second wind as well. Prompto didn’t let it worry him. He pushed even harder, his legs screaming at him for a break, running as fast as he thought was safe to do. He expected Ravus to pass him, for it not to be enough, but before he knew it, he was across the finish line, the cheers of his friends on the other end louder than his music.

Slowing to a halt, he turned his music off while he breathed heavily, exhilarated by the endorphins rushing through his veins. It was always an amazing feeling when he was done running, like his entire body was electrified and came alive. There was a reason he enjoyed doing this as a pastime and a reason why he didn’t want to join the academy track team, even if he did end up going. He just wanted to run for the sheer joy of it.

“I think you were the fastest,” Gladio said as he clapped him on the back. “Congrats man.”

“Yes! That was awesome Prompto!” Iris said cheerfully. “Now Ravus has to pay up!”

“Prompto is it?” Ravus said behind them. Prompto turned and looked at him. His cheeks were flushed red slightly from the run, but it only seemed to make him look more beautiful. Prompto was a bit envious about how pretty he was. “It’s both a shame you won and not. You clearly have talent as a runner. By winning you only showed how well you’d do on the track team, but it also meant my loss.”

“You almost had me though,” Prompto offered with a smile. “According to Iris you have to give this band thing a try.”

Ravus made a face at Iris, but he didn’t make the same scowl at Prompto. “I never wanted to play the bass as a career. Consider this temporary until you find someone to fill my shoes.”

“I got it,” Prompto replied with a smile. “It’s the same with my running. I just do it for fun and to stay in shape.”

Ravus sighed. “So when is this first meeting?”

“Why don’t you meet for lunch after the awards?” Nyx offered. “I’ll be happy to play chaperone so you know how serious Prompto is about his music.”

Ravus looked at Nyx, his expression puzzled. “So you really do know him?”

“Yeah he’s my progeny,” Nyx said with a laugh. “Or like a brother to me, I’d say.”

“Alright. Let me clear my schedule. My sister wanted me to meet with her after her date with Noctis, but she’ll have to deal. I’ll meet up with you once all of this is over with.” Ravus walked away, clearly not seeing the pained expression on Prompto’s face as he felt his heart breaking.

“So that’s how it is,” Prompto said quietly as he felt his knees wobble a bit. He couldn’t tell if it was because of his exhaustion from running or the pain of so casually finding out that he was on a date with someone else. So he had moved on already. Of course he had. They were never dating in the first place.

“Now that has got to be a mistake,” Iris said as Gladio was already making a phone call.

“What’s going on?” Nyx asked her as Prompto walked over to the street curb and sat down. He wanted to ignore the pain in his chest, but tears gathered at the corner of his eyes anyway.

“Prompto hasn’t talked to Noctis in a week cause he got mad for not telling him about you first,” Iris said. “Obviously a stupid reason to get mad, but Noctis is the jealous sort. And how he’s apparently on a date with Ravus’s sister, Lunafreya. Which, frankly, no one really believes, but he said it so casually it’s hard not to think it’s true.”

“Tell me right now,” Gladio said angrily into the phone. “Is Noctis on a date with some chick? It’s a simple question, Ignis. I just need a yes or no, no explanations. Alright. Thanks.”

He hung up the phone and gave Iris and Nyx a knowing look. Prompto didn’t need to see it or hear it. He knew what the truth was already. Nevertheless, Gladio walked over to him and sat down next to him. Comfortingly, he put his hand on Prompto’s shoulder.

“Sorry, man,” Gladio said. “It’s fucked up, for sure. But maybe it’s better that it happened sooner rather than later.”

Prompto nodded and wiped the tears away from his eyes. “Yeah. I think it just makes everything pretty obvious now.” He smiled at Gladio through his tears. “You sure did warn me, huh?”

“Aw man.” Gladio gave him a hug despite Prompto’s sweaty appearance. “It’ll be fine. Iris is still single if you’re interested.”

They both laughed as Gladio released him. Prompto didn’t want to let the news effect his day. He knew that this was a possibility, or rather an inevitability. Noctis had stopped talking to him, and now he was on a date. Gladio was right. He had been right all along. It was better for it have happened earlier before they even started dating than later when he would’ve been really hurt.

“It’s kind of fucked up if you ask me,” Gladio mused after they had changed the conversation while waiting for the race to end. The announcer was preparing to announce the winners. “You have all this shit going on, and Noctis just decides to get mad at you for some stupid reason then stop talking to you and date someone else? Kind of the worse timing to do something like that.”

Prompto nodded. “It’s alright. We never even really dated.” Gladio looked at him and he shrugged with a slight blush. “I mean, we just made out a bit. I don’t think he considers that dating.”

Gladio thought about it a moment then nodded in agreement. “You’re probably right.”

Prompto won the award for fastest overall time, fastest in the men’s group, and fastest in his age range, with Ravus getting second in the same categories. He ended up with a new running jacket for the upcoming colder months, a blanket, a mug, and the traditional medal that all racers got for completing the 5k. It wasn’t too much for him to carry, but Nyx took it from him nevertheless, save for the jacket, which Prompto decided to wear in celebration.

His heart was heavy and he was tired, but Ravus was true to his word and he couldn’t pass up the opportunity. They all decided to go to a café just down the road for lunch. Nyx had offered to treat them to the lunch as a celebration for Prompto and Ravus both doing well in the race. Prompto felt awkward walking next to Ravus down the street, thinking him far too pretty to be able to look at him directly, but Iris seemed to have no such qualms. She filled the conversational space for them, talking to Nyx excitedly about drumming techniques that she had learned from studying Libertus.

“Don’t look,” Gladio said when they approached the café. Prompto didn’t listen. His eyes involuntarily fixed on what Gladio was telling him not to look at, as if compelled once Gladio had told him not to do it. In the window of the café was Noctis and a pretty blond who must have been Ravus’s sister, Lunafreya. He couldn’t help but think that Noctis had a type, liking blonds with blue eyes.

He hadn’t anticipated seeing Noctis on a date, but he knew he had to deal with it now. It would only be a matter of time before he left her too. Prompto was about to tell them that it didn’t matter, that they could sit outside now that the sunlight was warming the city, but then Lunafreya leaned across the café table and kissed Noctis.

“I think we should go somewhere else,” Prompto suggested as he immediately turned around and walked away. There was another café just a block over, and he began to walk towards that instead.
“I’m out of the loop,” Ravus said, but followed Prompto nevertheless.

Iris whispered to him the gist of the situation, and Prompto suddenly felt embarrassed by the situation as a whole. He was such a fool to think anything differently than what people had warned him. Ravus would likely think him such an idiot for even considering Noctis seriously.

“It’ll be okay,” Nyx said as he put his arm around his shoulders comfortingly. “I think Ravus has been looking at you a bit. You might want to think about dating him instead.”

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto said with a sad smile. “I have other things to worry about anyway. I shouldn’t be so focused on Noctis.”

“That asshole,” Ravus snapped when Iris finished.

They approached the other café down the block, a smaller and more intimate setting. The large party was seated right away, the hostess staring at Nyx seductively. When she realized it wasn’t going to work she tried Ravus instead. He was too focused on the conversation to really pay her any attention. As they sat in the outdoor seating at a large round table, Ravus sat next to Prompto on one side and Nyx was on Prompto’s other side.

“I’ve always had an issue with him because of the shit he pulls,” Ravus explained to Prompto. “But to involve my sister… Sorry, I don’t really know you Prompto, but my sister is everything to me.”

“It’s alright,” Prompto replied. “I understand.”

Nyx could tell Prompto was uncomfortable with the conversation and changed the subject. They talked about their music instead, and Prompto was able to listen to Ravus talk about his musical training. He had been classically trained on the upright bass but switched to bass guitar when he was in middle school. Prompto was already imagining the songs they could perform with both instruments. It would be a waste not to utilize both, and when he had expressed as much, they all had agreed.

Ravus was a reluctant musician, though. He was set to inherit his family’s business, and going into the music industry was not something he was planning on. Prompto was upfront with them and told him he didn’t know which route he wanted to go on either. But for him, music was an option. They all came to an agreement that they would be willing to take their music as far as possible until it came time to decide their futures. Unless they were slated to become the next big thing in the rock world, they would all go their separate ways. Everyone seemed to think Prompto would be the one to make it out of all of them, but Prompto wasn’t so sure. There were too many things to consider.

Their lunch passed in relative ease after that. Prompto’s heart was still broken and throbbing through the lunch, but he hit it off surprisingly well with Ravus. He had heard that Ravus was notoriously difficult to work with, but he didn’t give him any such impressions. If anything, he was as friendly as Noctis had been when they first met.

“Prompto?” a familiar voice called out to them when they were almost done their lunch, making Prompt’s already aching heart feel like it was shattering even more. Everyone looked at Noctis as he was passing by the café. He was alone, Lunafreya nowhere in sight.

“What do you want?” Gladio demanded.

“I didn’t realize you guys were meeting for lunch,” Noctis said. He looked pained, and Prompto couldn’t understand why. He was the one who had been hurt. “Prompto, can we talk for a second?”

“No you can’t,” Nyx was the one to respond for him. Noctis eyed him, his face wavering between awe and concern. “Prompto’s my brother, and I think you’ve hurt him enough.”

“What? I know I should have reached out, but that’s why-”

“Reached out?” Gladio snapped. “Really? So you think he’s upset because you didn’t reach out or respond to his text that he sent you three days ago?”

“He sent me a text?” Noctis pulled out his phone and looked down at it. “I didn’t get a text.”

Prompto’s heart was racing as Gladio and Nyx spoke for him, but they were saying everything that he was afraid of saying. The things that he wanted to say but knew he would start crying if he tried to speak. He looked away from Noctis, wiping the tears from his eyes.

“You really think you can go on a date with someone else and kiss them then act like it didn’t happen?” Gladio continued.

Noctis looked shocked. “You saw that? Listen I can explain. It’s not like that.”

“Then what is it?” Ravus snapped. “You just want to fuck both of them? It’s okay to date both of them as long as they don’t find out about each other?”

“No. I’m not interested in Luna-” Noctis seemed desperate to get a word in, and Prompto wanted to let him speak, but the rest of the table seemed pretty adamant on not letting him get a word in.

“That’s kind of worse, don’t you think?” Iris asked. “Ignis picked up for you and everything. Said it was different this time around, but in reality it’s just the same. I’d be fine with you messing around with whoever you want if it wasn’t Gladio’s friend and the singer and guitarist for our band.”

“The timing really couldn’t be worse too,” Nyx commented. “I mean, you just collapsed the other day, Prompto. It’s no wonder.”

“What? You collapsed? Are you okay?” Noctis took a step towards them, but Gladio stood up, blocking his path.

“Like you care. Just go, Noctis. You’ve done enough damage already. All you rich boys are the same, no offense Ravus. All you care about is what you can take from us without worrying about what gets left in your wake.”

Prompto dared to glance at Noctis, but his vision was blurred from the tears in his eyes. He wiped the tears away and saw Noctis staring at him with a pained longing that made his heart break all over again. It was worse when he looked at him. It almost made it seem like Noctis cared about him.

“I’ll… I’ll call you later,” Noctis said in defeat. “I really hope you’re okay, Prompto.” He glared at Gladio before he walked away slowly.

“You mean to tell me you won the 5k overall after collapsing a few days ago?” Ravus asked him. He leaned over as Noctis turned around and looked back at him. “I would love to learn about the other talents you have.”

Prompto knew what he was doing. He was letting Noctis know that he was moving in so he could make his move. It was a petty thing to do, but he had to be doing it for Prompto’s benefit, to show Noctis to move on and forget him. That was the last thing Prompto wanted Noctis to do, but it was better to get it done and over with now rather than later. Nevertheless, Prompto blushed as Ravus’s too-pretty face got close to his.

“Alright,” Nyx said as Noctis turned back around and walked away quickly. “Break it up. I don’t want to see you guys making out here, and Prompto’s not in the mood.”

“Thanks guys,” Prompto said as Ravus leaned back with a satisfied smile on his face. “I’m sorry I’m such a mess.”

“You’re fine,” Iris said consolingly. “Just put it into your music and move on forward.”

Prompto nodded. “You didn’t have to do that, Ravus.”

“I didn’t do it for Noctis to see,” Ravus said, making Prompto blush more. “But I’m glad he saw.”

The lunch ended after that, Nyx indicating that he had to take Prompto home to get changed for rehearsal with Kingsglaive. Prompto exchanged numbers with Ravus, and they had agreed, along with Iris, that they would meet up next weekend due to Prompto’s busy schedule. Nyx conceded that if they needed more time to practice that he would free up Prompto’s rehearsal schedule some. Both Ravus and Iris had declined the offer, and Iris said that Nyx could make it up to them by giving them tickets to the concert. Nyx laughed and agreed.

Prompto felt thoroughly miserable by the time he got home and jumped in the shower. He wanted to reach out to Noctis and to talk to him, but he resisted the urge. It was clear that he had moved on very quickly, so quickly in fact that Prompto didn’t even realize there was anything to move on from. Maybe they could find a way to repair their friendship, but he knew he would have a difficult time with it. He liked Noctis, and that wasn’t going to just go away because he had hurt him. Even if they patched up their friendship then what? He would just go on suffering in silence because he liked his friend while his friend was dating someone else, or multiple others. He couldn’t handle Noctis kissing him like he had in the past while he was with someone else.

When he got out of the shower his phone went off. He half wanted it to be Noctis, but it ended up being Gladio. Sighing, he picked it up and answered the phone. Gladio had been such a good friend, but he didn’t know if he wanted to talk to him right now. He just wanted to rehearse with the band and leave everything behind him.

“Hey Prompto,” Gladio said. “Listen, I didn’t get a chance to talk to you about this, but I spoke to my dad yesterday about Minister Besithia. I don’t know if you want to hear about this now with everything going on…”

“No it’s fine,” Prompto replied. His own heartache over Noctis didn’t erase the fact that he had stumbled upon something he had to see through. He had done as much research on Minister Besithia as possible, but it was all what the textbooks said. The internet was much the same. It didn’t really tell him about who Besithia was as a person, just that he was devoted to Niflheim and ultimately keeping the peace with Lucis.

“Well my dad wouldn’t tell me much,” Gladio said. “He just said that the Minister was the guy who ultimately agreed to officially end the war behind closed doors. He didn’t know too much about it, just that Cor was involved. And… Well and Noctis’s dad was involved too. Apparently he used to be in the military before he became dean of the academy. I convinced him to get in touch with Cor about it. He said he’s going to see if he’s willing to meet with you. That’s all I know for now.”

Prompto’s heart was racing, the thought of getting answers and being able meet this mysterious Cor filling him with nervous anticipation. Since he had overheard Nyx talking on the phone he suspected that Mr. Caelum was involved, but now it just confirmed it. How did every adult in his life seem to know what was going on? That’s when it hit him. Whatever was going on, the adults in his life have been placed there as a measure to keep him quiet. Of course they knew. They knew and didn’t want him to find out, so they were all working together to keep it quiet.

“Gladio,” Prompto whispered quietly, knowing that Nyx was downstairs waiting for him. He had always been able to trust Nyx, but what if he really couldn’t trust anyone? “Thanks. I’m not going to lie and say I’m not scared. Everyone seems to know what’s going on except for me.”

“I know. I’m worried too, Prompto. But we’ll get to the bottom of this. Together. Sorry everything’s kind of happening at once.” Gladio apologetic tone only made Prompto want to cry. “Just make sure you’re careful. I know you trust Nyx, but I don’t think there’s any adults that you can trust right now.”

“I agree. I’ll call you if anything changes.” Prompto wiped his tears away. “I have to go to practice now. I’ll see you later.”

The call ended, and Prompto stood in stunned silence for a while, feeling numb. He really didn’t know what to think or how to feel, but he knew he had to be cautious going forward. They were on the verge of uncovering something huge, but it could also be risky and dangerous. Maybe Noctis was right to get out when he had the chance.

As he walked downstairs his phone went off, and he was surprised to see it was a text from Ignis. Ignis was really Noctis’s best friend, and he wasn’t particularly in touch with him on a regular basis like Gladio was. Prompto wanted to be in touch with him more, to become good friends with him, but that seemed unlikely now that Noctis was no longer in his life. He wondered why Ignis was reaching out to him.

Can we talk later?
I need to explain something.
Noctis doesn’t know, but it’s important.
Please.

Prompto sighed as he looked at the text. Was Ignis really going to provide excuse after excuse for his friend? He didn’t want to hear the excuses or the lies. Noctis’s reputation proceeded him, something that Prompto had ignored, and he had to learn the hard way. He couldn’t just like his friend, kiss him, and not get hurt.

I have some time tomorrow before practice.
I’ll be available at noon. Does that work?

He sent the text against his better judgement. He just wanted to let things go. He had enough to worry about. But he still liked Noctis, and he found himself willing to hear Ignis out against everyone’s advice. He received the confirmation text from Ignis along with the address of a local coffee shop they would meet at.

“Ready?” Nyx asked. He looked at Prompto with a worried expression. Prompto found it hard to believe that Nyx was someone he couldn’t trust, but then again he didn’t think he could really trust his own judgment in people overall since he had never really had friends to begin with. Still, Nyx had said he was like his brother.

“Yeah. Thanks.” Prompto followed Nyx out of the house. As they got on his bike, heading to the recording studio, Prompto had the feeling that he was leaving something behind him. Something that he wanted to look forward to instead of leave in his past. His heart was aching as he thought about it, but it was better to just let things go for now. It was better for him to just try and focus on what was ahead of him instead.

As they sped down the streets of Insomnia, Prompto was struck by the lights streaking past them. The vibrancy struck him, and he suddenly felt off kilter, like he was on the verge of remembering something that was better left forgotten. He had to clutch onto Nyx tightly and close his eyes, worried that he would fall off if he tried to focus on the edge of his memories.

He breathed deeply, feeling overwhelmed by everything. Once this was all over with, he committed to sleeping for an entire week. That was, if this ever did end. Prompto was worried that things would only get worse from here.

Chapter Text

Prompto didn’t really feel like meeting with Ignis. He just wanted to sleep in, do his homework, and let his sore legs recover from the race the day before. He wanted to forget Noctis since it was so evident that he hadn’t even really considered him in the first place. He wanted answers from the adults in his life that were hiding things from him. And he wanted the nightmares to stop.

The nightmares had been escalating, and Prompto couldn’t be certain they were just dreams anymore. They felt more like memories now. Last night he had dreamt that he lived in a large house that was almost like a palace. He didn’t want to consider that maybe he had lived there before he had been adopted in Lucis, or that he had gone from a lift of extreme wealth to poverty. It didn’t make sense to him. Why would someone who was so wealthy willingly give him up? Was he a mistake and that’s why he was passed onto his parents?

There was so much to consider, and Prompto didn’t really know where he should start considering it. He supposed the first step would be meeting with Ignis so then he could tell him once and for all that Noctis didn’t like him like that and that he had to move on. There was no other reason why Ignis would want to meet with him. He just wants to be friends. You shouldn’t be so offended. Prompto was anticipating having to tell Ignis that he couldn’t just be friends with Noctis. He had a crush on him, one that wouldn’t go away the more he spent time with him.

Despite his reluctance, Prompto showed up at the coffee shop fifteen minutes before he was supposed to meet with Ignis. He grabbed an iced coffee, the noontime weather still too warm even though the mornings and evenings were cooler. Prompto sat at the table and pulled out some of his homework, trying to complete as much as possible in the short time he had. After meeting with Ignis he would have about an hour before he had to wander around and capture some photos for his photography course then make his way over to the recording studio for rehearsal.

The band had been very considerate of Prompto’s schedule, and they had even been willing to talk to him about his life. All of them seemed interested in getting to know him, about who he was as a person, and he had also talked to them about their lives. He was surprised to learn they had all been military together. That was how they met. But they didn’t say much beyond that. It wasn’t necessarily odd. They were all refugees and decided to fight in the war to put a stop to Niflheim’s insistence on Imperialism. They all sounded bitter about it, though, like what they were promised when they enlisted was not what they were given.

Prompto did some of his homework while he was waiting to rehearse his music with the band, but most of the time he ended up focused on learning techniques from them. It left little time for him to do his homework, though, and he had stayed up late most nights to be able to finish it. He kept telling himself that it was worth it, but between the nightmares and the late nights he was depending on caffeine more and more. He was thankful that Ignis had suggested a coffee shop so he could drink several cups. Nyx had been kind enough to spot him the cash to do it.

“Hello Prompto,” Ignis said as he walked over to him. He was dressed well, as always, and the bruising on his face had gone from blue and purple to a sickly green. It would likely be there for a week more at the very least. He wasn’t moving like he was in pain anymore though. Prompto had to admit that he was an attractive guy, even with the bruising. He felt a lurch in his stomach when he thought of Noctis kissing Ignis the way he had been kissed. How could Ignis deal with something like that while he was dating someone else if they did kiss so casually?

“Hi Ignis,” Prompto said as he quickly put his homework away and back into his bag.

“I’ll be right back,” Ignis said. “I’m going to get a drink.”

Prompto nodded as Ignis walked over to the counter. He ordered from the barista then pulled out his phone and began to type something. Prompto tried to ignore the wild beating of his heart when he thought about Ignis texting Noctis. He was so close but so out of reach. It had been Noctis’s decision, and that made the hurt even worse.

“That’s better,” Ignis said as he sat down with a cappuccino in his hands. “How are you Prompto? You look tired.”

“I haven’t been sleeping well,” Prompto admitted. “And I’m sore from my run yesterday.”

“Gladio did mention that,” he replied with a nod. Prompto wasn’t aware that he was still talking to Gladio. He wasn’t hurt by it, just surprised. “I heard the race went well.”

“Yeah,” Prompto replied. “You look like you’re feeling better.”

“I am, thank you,” Ignis said before he took a drink of his cappuccino. “I’ve considered taking up some self defense courses in my spare time.”

“What’s that?” Prompto asked. They both laughed.

“Listen, Prompto,” Ignis said, broaching the reason they had met. “I want to be the first to apologize to you. I was the one who insisted that Noctis go on a date with Lunafreya.”

“What? Why?” Prompto asked.

“Well, Luna has always liked Noctis. To the point she was insistent on dating him,” Ignis explained. “She had proposed that if she goes on a date with Noctis and there’s nothing there between them then she would give up. I insisted Noctis go on the date since it was obvious he’s not into her.”

“But they kissed,” Prompto said.

“I have the sneaking suspicion that she saw you out the window and took advantage of the situation. Noctis wouldn’t do that to you.”

“He wasn’t talking to me,” Prompto pointed out, his eyes downcast. Even if all that was true, there was still the fact remained that he had stopped talking to him and didn’t even respond to his text.
Ignis sighed. “I can’t explain his pigheadedness other than he was jealous and acted like a selfish brat as a result. It never lasts, though. And, on my life, he never received a text from you.”

Prompto pulled out his phone and pulled up the text he sent to Noctis. It had gone through. He had made sure of that. He showed the text to Ignis, who adjusted his glasses and frowned. The concern on his face made Prompto waver. What if he was telling the truth? But that didn’t change the fact that they were just friends, and he didn’t know if he could maintain that with how much he was attracted to Noctis.

“I need to verify something,” Ignis said. He took out his phone and called Noctis. “I want you to do something, Noct. I’m going to send you a text from Prompto’s phone. Let me know if you get it.”

Prompto waited as Ignis sent a text from his phone. There was a moment of silence that only got longer as they waited. So Noctis wasn’t getting his texts? What had happened? Did he block him?

“You didn’t get it, did you?” Ignis asked.

“Son of a bitch!” Noctis screamed on the other end of the phone loud enough for Prompto to hear. “I bumped into Luna in the hall and dropped my phone! She picked it up. I bet she blocked his number! That bitch! I’m going to kill her!”

“I’ll let you know when we’re done talking about it,” Ignis said as he hung up the phone. He handed Prompto his phone. “It looks like Lunafreya had been sneaky and blocked you on his phone.”

“Yeah, I heard,” Prompto said. His heart was beating erratically, but he wasn’t panicking anymore. “So… I don’t know what you want from me. Should I just move on and be friends with Noctis again?”

Ignis frowned. “I’m just asking that you talk to Noctis. He’s serious about you, you know. I’m sorry he’s an idiot and doesn’t know how to handle his jealousy. I’m not asking you to just move on like nothing happened. Please.”

Prompto wavered. Of course he wavered. He scolded himself for wavering, but he couldn’t stop when he thought about Noctis’s lips pressed against his, his stormy eyes seemingly beckoning him into his arms. “Okay. I’ll talk to him.”

“Thank you,” Ignis said. “He really has been quite insufferable without you around. And yesterday he was inconsolable. He swore if he got a chance again he would make it up to you. He was afraid that you wouldn’t meet with him if he came here today instead of me.”

“You’re a good friend,” Prompto said. He probably would have ended up seeing Noctis if he asked him to meet him instead of Ignis, but he didn’t want to admit it. They chatted from there on out about Ignis, who was just mainly devoted to his volunteer work, his role as class president, and his homework.

When Prompto asked Ignis about if he had any time with Gladio, Ignis looked a bit conflicted. He looked both happy and concerned for his relationship with Gladio, a friendship blossoming between them that caused him considerable consternation. He had spent time with Gladio alone, and each time it seemed better for them, like they were becoming closer. So Prompto couldn’t figure out why Ignis seemed so upset at the same time.

After about an hour, they decided to go their separate ways. Prompto had to catch up on his homework, and Ignis had to prepare his lunches for the school week. Ignis had promised that Noctis would reach out to him to see when it would be okay to meet up and talk it out. Prompto felt nervous about it, and he didn’t know if he should really meet with him. Wasn’t he just setting himself up for more heartbreak?

Prompto spent the better part of the afternoon walking around Insomnia, scoping out different spots that he opted to photograph. The theme of the week was solitude. That was an easy one for Prompto, unfortunately. He had been so used to being alone that he was just tempted to take a selfie at this point. The effect would be the same.

When he made his way to the studio, he took several photos during the rehearsal. Prompto found the music he was playing easier, and he was delving into a new song that the band had thought was perfect for them to perform as his first piece. It was vibrant enough to captivate others while raw enough to keep people emotionally moved. The band had suggested that since he was staring his own band that they should come over to the recording studio after school one day. Prompto texted Iris and Ravus both to see if they were up for it in a group chat. He was surprised when Ravus got back to him immediately, only privately.

I’m interested.
Dinner after?
My treat.

Prompto didn’t understand why he had to send that in a private text. Did that mean Iris wasn’t invited? Either way, he knew it was a good opportunity to get to know Ravus and possibly become friends with him beyond just having him play bass. He didn’t see the harm in it.

Sure.
When are you available?

He received an excited text from Iris in the group chat, suggesting she could be there next weekend easily. Ravus only replied to that text instead, indicating that also worked for him. Apparently dinner was only something for him and Prompto to enjoy together. He had an odd feeling of discomfort, like he had been asked out on a date. That was impossible. Ravus was too pretty, too talented according to Iris, and too rich. Prompto was plain, poor, and well… He couldn’t deny he was talented. Nyx had indicated as such. But that’s all he really had going for him.

When rehearsal had ended, he told Nyx that Ravus and Iris would be stopping by tomorrow. Nyx let him know that he would be bringing in the mysterious guitarist that would round out their group. Prompto was excited, nervous, and looking forward to tomorrow as a result. It was the first glimmer of hope after having a rough weekend. Nyx had offered to take him home from the studio, and Prompto had gladly accepted. It was a bit of a ride home on the subway, but on the bike it was quick.

As they pulled up to his house, Prompto hesitated. Noctis was waiting on the steps leading up to the front door, looking like the shadow of moonlight, both beautiful and dangerous. Nyx looked at him, his expression grim and worried. Prompto got off the bike and sighed. He hadn’t anticipated seeing Noctis so soon, especially since he didn’t receive a text or call from him, but then again he knew it was going to happen sooner or later. He just hoped it didn’t go as bad as he expected it to.

“You okay?” Nyx asked. “I can stay if you want me to.”

“No it’s okay,” Prompto said. “We’re going to talk it out.”

“Let me know if you need me,” Nyx offered. “I’ll come right over.”

“Thanks.” Prompto walked over to Noctis, trying not to look at him directly. If he did then he would have a difficult time not kissing him and staying angry at him. It was difficult to even think about him without his heart beating rapidly or painfully or both.

“Hey,” Noctis said.

“Hi,” Prompto replied. “Have you been waiting long?”

“Not really,” Noctis said. “Can I come in?”

“Sure,” Prompto said. He was trying to be nonchalant, but it was difficult when he felt himself blushing. He was supposed to be mad at Noctis, but all he thought about was him touching his body. Then he remembered seeing Luna and Noctis kiss and felt hurt all over again. He awkwardly unlocked his front door and stepped inside, closing it behind them once Noctis was in. The both removed their shoes and Prompto resolved to getting up earlier in the morning to skip his morning run and do his homework.

Once they were in his room, Prompto locked the door behind them to give them privacy in the event that his parents came home while they were talking. His phone went off and he pulled it out of his pocket, surprised that Ravus had texted him again privately.

Iris doesn’t know that we’re going to dinner.
Let’s keep it that way. ;)

Prompto stared at the text, getting the vague feeling that Ravus was being flirtatious. That couldn’t be the truth. He ignored the text for now and set his phone on his desk before he sat on the bed and looked up at Noctis.

“Who was that?” Noctis asked. “You looked confused.”

“Ravus,” Prompto replied. “He’s going to be the bassist for the band. He and Iris are going to the recording studio tomorrow. Nyx invited them.”

“So everyone knew about it but me,” Noctis said defensively.

“No one knew about it except for Gladio and Iris,” Prompto said with a sigh. “And it was an accident.”

“I looked for you every day after school,” Noctis said. “I couldn’t find you.”

“I had to go to rehearsal after,” Prompto explained. “I wanted to tell you, but you got mad and never texted me back, so I figured you were done with me. Then Ravus said you were on a date with Lunafreya and… Well, that happened.”

“Luna and I got into it today,” Noctis said angrily. “She blocked your number on my phone so you couldn’t text me. And then when she kissed me.” He made a disgusted face. “I told her flat out I was only there so she could leave me alone after. I told her I was serious about dating you, and she wasn’t happy about that. She did all this on purpose to try and separate us while I was already being an ass, and it worked.”

“She knew what she was doing,” Prompto said then felt his heart stutter. “Wait. Dating?”

“Yeah,” Noctis said incredulously. He scratched the back of his head. “Man, Iris said you were clueless, but I didn’t think it was that bad. Prompto, I wouldn’t kiss someone I wasn’t interested in. Did you really think I would touch you if I didn’t want to date you?”

Prompto blushed a deep red color. “I don’t know… Maybe?”

Noctis laughed, and Prompto suddenly felt too embarrassed to say anything. He just wanted to hide and disappear as he thought about Noctis’s hand between his thighs, caressing him. He put his face in his hands and back away from Noctis, still sitting on the bed, pulling his knees to his chest.

“Prompto,” Noctis said as he came over to him, grabbing his wrists to pull his hands away from his face. Prompto looked up at him, his face red in embarrassment. He was suddenly straddling Prompto, making it impossible for Prompto’s legs to be so close to his chest, and it only made him more self-conscious. “I’m sorry. I’m not making fun of you. I think it’s really cute. Let me tell you the truth so we can clear any confusion. I am obsessed with you, Prompto. Hopelessly and utterly obsessed with you. I get jealous easily when I think of others hanging out with you, and I want to be part of every part of your life. I don’t know if it’s love at first sight, but I only desire you. No one else.”

Prompto was forced to stare into Noctis’s eyes as he said it. He was holding his wrists to keep his hands away from his face, his face hovering dangerously close as he looked up at him. If he just leaned forward a little they would be kissing. He was very much aware that Noctis’s hips were right there as Noctis straddled him while remaining on his knees. His waist was within kissing distance, save for Noctis bending over slightly so their faces were so close.

“I like you too,” Prompto replied finally. It was hard to say the words when he felt so exposed. “I like everything about you, Noctis. I just don’t want you to hurt me.”

“I won’t. I promise.” Noctis pressed his lips against Prompto’s, igniting a fire in him that he couldn’t ignore or deny. Noctis had a way of making him lose all resolve just at a gentle touch. He pressed his lips against Noctis’s harder, leaning forward into the kiss. Noctis still had hold of his wrists, and he felt like he had given into Noctis taking control. He wanted him to take control, he realized.

Noctis’s tongue greeted Prompto’s eagerly, the taste of his saliva only serving to make his desire stronger. He wanted Noctis, and he couldn’t deny that he wanted every ounce of him. He wanted to touch him, to caress him, and to be caressed by him. Noctis released his wrists and Prompto immediately placed his hands on his hips, his hands caressing him as his hands reached down to his groin.

Before Prompto could touch him, Noctis pressed on his shoulders lightly, and Prompto followed the direction and laid down on the bed. Noctis pulled away from the kiss and looked at him with eyes that begged to devour him. “I’m the one who fucked up. Let me make up for it.”

Prompto felt embarrassed, unsure of himself, but he was sure of his need for Noctis. How quickly he could forget the pain, the heartache, under his touch. There was something about the way Noctis spoke to him that made him forget all his fears, that made him think that he was sincere. Maybe he was setting himself up for more heartache later on down the road, but right now he just wanted to feel secure in his arms.

Noctis helped Prompto remove his shirt and pants, leaving him exposed on the bed. They were both blushing, but Noctis took the lead. He kissed Prompto, his lips generating an electricity between them as his lips trailed down his neck and to his chest. Prompto shivered in delight as his hands caressed his thighs, teasing his hard cock by doing anything but touch it.

There was no moment of hesitation. Noctis knew what he was doing. He had experience that Prompto didn’t have, something that made him feel self-conscious. What if Noctis decided he wasn’t experienced enough to want to be with him? He lost all thoughts and worries when Noctis wrapped his mouth around his cock, making him gasp and moan in pure bliss.

Prompto felt his nerves radiate in electric energy as Noctis moved his mouth expertly. Each time he touched the base of his cock his mind went blank. His hands moved on their own, entangling in Noctis’s hair, clutching onto him while his moans matched Noctis’s desperate pace to please him. He could feel the need for more building, his hips twitching as his frayed nerves cascaded wave upon wave of ecstasy spreading from his loins outward.

Noctis only pulled away briefly one. He saw a bottle of lotion on Prompto’s desk, something Prompto didn’t want to admit he had been using for rather intimate moments where he had imagined Noctis pleasuring him. But now he was, and after reaching over to it, Noctis went back to sucking his cock, the delay in pleasure bringing him pure gratification.

Prompto gasped when he felt Noctis insert a finger into him. The sensation was strange, slightly uncomfortable, but not entirely unpleasant. As Noctis moved his mouth, his finger matched his pace, moving in and out of him delicately, careful not to hurt him. At one point Prompto wondered briefly if Noctis’s jaw was going to get tired, and he seemed to be right on point, almost making him laugh. He would have if Noctis hadn’t gripped his cock with one hand and inserted another finger into him with his other hand.

As he moved in and out of him, he pressed deeper, hitting a spot within Prompto that made him cry out unexpectedly in sweet pleasure. He didn’t know such a pleasure could exist, and the only thing he knew was that he wanted more. Noctis stroked his cock harder and faster, his fingers matching his pace as he pressed deep within him, hitting the same spot over and over that made him thrust his hips involuntarily and grip the sheets to steady himself.

“Nngh, Noctis…” Prompto said, losing his train of thought as quickly as he grasped it. There was only one thought in his mind, and that was his need for Noctis. “More.”

Noctis took his cue and pumped harder, thrusted his fingers in him deeper. Prompto’s back arched as he felt himself climaxing, the sweet delight of his climax rolling down his spine as Noctis’s hand was covered with his fluid. He was panting, his desire ebbing, feeling like he had just run a marathon. His nerves were shot, but this time it was in a way that made him want to experience it again instead of run away from his problems.

There was a moment of silence while Noctis excused himself to the bathroom to wash his hands, and Prompto followed behind him to clean up. He was standing in the bathroom, naked, blushing, and couldn’t help but notice that Noctis’s cock was straining inside his pants. All was quiet in the house, save for their own breathless excitement.

“Can I…?” Prompto indicated to Noctis’s groin with a shy glance.

“It’s fine,” Noctis replied. “I wanted to pleasure you.”

“Can’t I want the same for you?” Prompto asked as he closed the space between them, making sure the bathroom door was closed and locked. Prompto nervously unbuckled Noctis’s pants, and he shimmied out of them so his huge cock was exposed, throbbing and beckoning Prompto for release. Prompto knelt on the floor, Noctis giving him a hungry look, one hand playing with Prompto’s hair.

Prompto had obviously never done something like this before, and he was worried he would be terrible at it. But when he began to suck on Noctis’s cock, he heard Noctis gasp and moan in pleasure, and continued what he was doing. He traced his tongue along his hard member, moving his head back and forth, taking all of Noctis in his mouth little by little.

“Fuck,” Noctis moaned as he gripped the bathroom sink with one hand and put his hand on the back of Prompto’s head, begging him to go harder and faster. He found a joy in hearing Noctis’s moans, knowing that he was pleasing him in ways that he had just been pleasured. Complying with Noctis’s request, he held onto his thighs while he worked his mouth faster, and Noctis nearly doubled over from the pleasure.

“Prompto,” Noctis moaned. “Don’t stop.” Prompto obeyed, even though he knew what that meant. He took his cock in his mouth, ignoring the aching of his jaw as he worked tirelessly to bring Noctis to the point of no return. It didn’t take long, and Prompto was left to wonder if he was pent up. Noctis came, and Prompto resisted the urge to gag. He had anticipated him climaxing, just not to that extent.

“Shit, Prompto,” Noctis said as Prompto pulled away. “I’m sorry.” Prompto swallowed before he could stop himself. “Fucking Six, Prompto. I can’t even express how fucking sexy you look right now.”

Noctis grabbed a washcloth and wetted it then wiped the corner of Prompto’s mouth. Prompto stood up and felt his embarrassment rushing back to him. He had only ever imagined doing that before. It seemed that Noctis would be his first time for a lot of things. There was a brief moment of silence between them as they were practical about the cleanup, then Prompto froze when he heard the sound of the door downstairs opening and closing.

“Shit,” Prompto said. “Um… I need to put clothes on.”

Noctis smiled. “I mean… Technically you just need to make it back to your room without being seen.”

Prompto laughed and shoved him playfully, then ran out of the bathroom as quietly as possible, hoping that his parents wouldn’t call him downstairs out of the blue. He made it to his bedroom successfully and pulled on a pair of sweatpants and a shirt in a hurry, trying not to look now that it was, he felt a rush of joy. It could very well be the endorphins, but when Noctis entered the room again, dressed and looking quite pleased with himself, he felt like maybe they were able to put this whole misunderstanding behind them.

Noctis walked up behind Prompto and wrapped his arms around him, making Prompto blush once more. “I’m sorry I fucked up,” Noctis said. “And I’m sorry I hurt you. I hope it’s okay that I consider you my boyfriend.”

“Yeah,” Prompto breathed as he held onto Noctis’s arms. “I think it is.”

“Good.” Noctis kissed the back of Prompto’s neck then released him and laid on his bed. “What do you want to do now?”

“I have homework to do,” Prompto said. He wanted to sleep, but his homework had to get done.

“That sounds boring,” Noctis said. “I’m going to flip through your photos then.” It wasn’t the first time Noctis had done it. He liked to see the photos Prompto took, and usually he kept the best ones uploaded on his phone as well. He grabbed Prompto’s phone to scroll through his social media. “What the fuck is this?” He held up the text from Ravus. It had been on the screen since Prompto had ignored it.

“Oh,” Prompto said. “Ravus wants to get dinner with me? I don’t know. I guess he just wants to be friends or something.”

Noctis sighed then laughed. “I’m going to have to be careful, I see. Prompto, you really have no clue when people are flirting. Ravus wants to bang you. He’s inviting you to a dinner for a date.”

“What? That’s impossible,” Prompto tried to argue, but Noctis was typing a reply for him. “What are you saying?”

“Oh nothing. Just that we’ve made up and you’d really like to bring me along too.” Noctis flashed a grin at him.

“You really are the jealous type, aren’t you?” Prompto asked.

Noctis shrugged. “Maybe. You’re the first person I’ve dated seriously. Plus if you can’t figure out when someone is flirting I might have to intervene.”

“You have a point, although I don’t think he’s flirting.” Prompto walked over to his desk and sat down, taking out his homework. They left the conversation at that until his parents knocked on the door gently and opened it. They were surprised when they saw Noctis laying on the bed, flipping through Prompto’s photos like he lived there.

“Oh,” his mother said in surprise. “I didn’t realize you had company.”

“Yeah,” Prompto said. “He’s just hanging out while I do my homework.”

“Well get to bed soon,” his father advised. “It’s a school night.”

“Don’t worry,” Noctis said cheerfully. “I brought my car so I can take him to school tomorrow.”

“Well, yes. Okay then. Goodnight, son,” his mother said. Prompto called out to them to say goodnight as they closed the door.

“Pretty sure your parents hate me,” Noctis said as he turned on the television.

“I could say the same about your father,” Prompto pointed out. He paused. “Noctis… When I’m done my homework I have to tell you something. It’s about what my parents are hiding.”

“They told you?”

“No. But there’s something else. Just… Let me finish my work and then we’ll talk.” Prompto had to tell him what he saw, what he heard, and that his father was somehow involved in it.

“Alright. But no matter what, I’m not leaving you.”

“Same here, Noctis.” Prompto felt reassured by Noctis, knowing that there had been a misunderstanding that had nearly ended their relationship.

Boyfriend. The word filled Prompto with a glee that he tried to ignore so he could focus on his studies. It was difficult, but he had to get used to it if it meant dating Noctis. Maybe now that this had been sorted out, now that they were together officially as a couple, it also meant that the other stuff would sort itself out naturally. Somehow he didn’t hold out much hope that that would be the case.

Chapter Text

Ignis was happy for Noctis and Prompto, but he seemed to be the only one. Then again, he was the only one who knew that Noctis wouldn’t date Lunafreya in a million years, let alone betray Prompto in such a way. He was the only one who knew just how miserably insufferable Noctis was being when he wasn’t talking to Prompto. And he was the only one who saw just how happy he was when they reconciled. Either way, Noctis was insufferable. It was either him being happy or miserable, and Ignis preferred the former.

He had texted Gladio Sunday night, informing him that he suspected they had made up, but hadn’t received a response. They had spent time at the shelter together, and Gladio had insisted that he come home with him for dinner each night, siting that Ignis should have a taste of his family life since his parents were so absent from his. He had began to see Gladio as his friend, even though everyone at the high school and academy was certain Gladio had beat him up.

That frustrated him. No matter how many times he told people that Gladio hadn’t hit him they wouldn’t believe it. They had seen the confrontation just a short while ago and had assumed that Gladio had gotten tired of fighting with him and had just hit him. Gladio had done little to dismiss the rumors, and when Ignis had asked about it, he had just shrugged and said he had his own reputation that was hard to dispel. He had even gone so far as to make sure they met off the schools’ campuses, which annoying Ignis. He didn’t want people to continue believing that Gladio was some awful person who would beat him up.

Ignis had a feeling that Gladio was mad at him. He was usually quick to respond to his texts. But he hadn’t responded that night or by the next morning. It annoyed Ignis. He didn’t the pettiness of what happened with Noctis’s jealousy to mimic itself with Gladio not responding to him. This was why he didn’t bother with having too many friends, or Six forbid, a crush. He didn’t date, and there was a reason for it.

Dating? Ignis dismissed the thought entirely. Since he had spent time with Gladio he had willfully ignored that he was attracted to the man. Once he got past his tough exterior, which was clearly a façade, Ignis was able to see him for what he truly was. He was kind, passionate, and clearly the type of person to care about friends and family with little regard for his own wellbeing. It didn’t hurt that he was physically attracted to him as well.

He made sure that every time Gladio reached out to clap him on the back, or do so much as graze his shoulder, he avoided his touch. Ignis had been careful to be nonchalant about it so that Gladio didn’t take it the wrong way. He initially thought that he could tolerate Gladio’s touch, but it quickly became apparent that he couldn’t. He always thought of how he had been held when he woke up that morning, and it caused his heart to stutter and his mind to go blank. This was not what he wanted or needed right now. He wasn’t Noctis or Prompto. He couldn’t just let his mind turn to much because of a crush, so much so that he refused to even admit he liked Gladio like that.

Ignis told himself that Gladio not responding was for the best. If he wanted to be petty, then Ignis would give him his space. So he went to school on his own, Noctis texting him ahead of time to let him know that he had spent the night with Prompto. He had wondered just what Noctis and Prompto had done the night before, but he didn’t particularly think that Prompto had it in him to just immediately have sex with someone. Noctis had told him that he was a particularly innocent guy, so the notion of them having sex so early was particularly ridiculous.

By the time Ignis had gotten to his homeroom classroom and met up with Noctis, he knew that things were much better between him and Prompto. He was smiling and looked like he had slept particularly well. On Saturday he had gone to Ignis’s house after the confrontation with Gladio and the others, and it was the first time Ignis had seen him cry over anyone like that. It was when he knew that Noctis was serious about the relationship, and he regretted insisting that Noctis go on this forced date with Lunafreya just to make it clear that there was nothing between them. There would be other ways to make it obvious, and Ignis should have not insisted on giving into what was clearly a setup. He should’ve seen the obvious truth at the time.

“Thanks Ignis,” Noctis said when they sat down at their desks. “If you hadn’t talked to Prompto I don’t know what I would’ve done.”

“It was my fault to begin with,” Ignis replied. “I was the one who insisted you go with Luna.”

Last week Luna had asked him again if Noctis had considered going on the date, and Ignis truly didn’t see the harm in it. That was his first mistake. Noctis was already being a jealous ass regarding Prompto, but Ignis was considering that he would quickly get over it and reach out to Prompto. His petulance never lasted long, after all. When he had spoken to Noctis about it, he was still adamantly against it, but Ignis had told him that this was the best way to get her off his back once and for all. Ultimately he had reluctantly agreed so then Luna would give up on him.

That wasn’t what happened unfortunately. Luna had planned the entire setup. She had texted Ravus and suggested the café for them to go to once she had found out that he was joining Prompto’s group. As soon as she saw him outside the café, she kissed Noctis and insisted there was something there. According to Noctis, he had never left a situation so quick in his life. But he was unaware that Prompto had seen until he ran into him just a block down the road, looking heartbroken and dejected.

When he showed up at Ignis’s doorstep, Ignis had known something had changed for the worse. Noctis had broken down, crying into Ignis’s arms, saying that he messed up to the point where Prompto never wanted to see him again. He knew in that moment that it was a setup but later confirmed their suspicions when they discovered Prompto’s number had been mysteriously blocked on his phone. Noctis had immediately unblocked him, of course, but there was damage repair that was necessary. Ignis was glad that they were able to repair their relationship and felt guilty for interfering in the first place.

“Nah you were just trying to get the quickest result to get her to stop being so persistent,” Noctis said. He sighed. “I don’t think it worked though. She’s convinced that I’m destined to be with her. You think if I tell her that Prompto was the best I’ve ever had she’ll stop?” He was grinning, and Ignis felt compelled to smack him.

“You better not,” Ignis scolded him. “You don’t want to cause any sort of vicious rumors that could hurt him.”

“Yeah I know,” Noctis said with another sigh. “I’m just glad he and I are back together. I don’t want to lose him.”

“Careful now. You might sound like you’re in love.”

“I think I am.” Noctis looked out the window and to the high school across the street. “I’m worried for him, Ignis.” His voice got really low, just barely a whisper, when he spoke to Ignis, leaning towards him so no one else could hear. “He thinks he’s Minister Besithia’s son.”

“What?” Ignis asked. He tried to remember what the Minister looked like, but the image wouldn’t automatically come to him.

“He showed me a picture. They look almost identical. And he overheard Nyx on the phone. He mentioned my dad. I think there’s a lot of people who know what’s up with Prompto’s history and whatever his parents are hiding, but no one is saying anything. I asked my dad about it, but he just snapped and said I shouldn’t be spending time with him anyway.”

“We must tread with caution then. If that is the case, the truth may be a matter of national security. There could be a reason why it’s been kept a secret from him. It could be dangerous for him. What if his father is a horrible person?”

“And what if he’s the opposite? What if Prompto has a family waiting for him? What if his family thinks he died?” Noctis looked concerned, and Ignis realized that he must have been ruminating on these questions since he spoke with Prompto.

“If that’s the case, what would you do if Prompto decided to go back to Niflheim?” Ignis felt concerned for Noctis, who looked at him in surprise. He clearly hadn’t thought of that. “Would you support him or would you end it so it’ll be easier for him?”

“I would do whatever he wanted,” Noctis said certainly. “I wouldn’t want to put him through any extra pain. If he wanted to go back to Niflheim, I would support him.”

“I do believe that you have matured,” Ignis pointed out.

“Hey,” Iris said as she approached them, interrupting their conversation. Her hands were on her hips and she looked defensive. “Gladio told me that you and Prompto made up. I’m only going to say this once because if Gladio says it he’ll end up causing a scene. He thinks Prompto’s making a mistake by being with you, but he’ll support him. He also said that if you break Prompto’s heart again he’ll break something of yours. Take it for what it is, but Gladio doesn’t play around with his friends.”

“I got it,” Noctis replied. “Feel free to tell Gladio that I don’t ever want to hurt Prompto again. He has nothing to worry about.”

“We’ll see,” Iris said. “But at least this keeps things uncomplicated with the band. Ravus would’ve taken your spot easily, and we don’t need that type of drama.”

“Isn’t Prompto a bit too oblivious to be able to tell that Ravus would’ve made a move?” Ignis pointed out. Noctis had told him that Prompto had been clueless that he even liked him until he said something.

“Yeah I made it clear to him,” Noctis said. “Which is why I won’t leave him alone. Otherwise someone will take advantage.”

“Good,” Iris considered. “Just don’t hurt him again, Noctis. I don’t need all that drama on top of trying to put together a band.”

She walked away after that, leaving them to consider Gladio’s threat. Ignis didn’t doubt that he would do something if Noctis broke Prompto’s heart again, but he didn’t think it was his place to do such a thing. Then again, technically it wasn’t Ignis’s place to try and repair things between them. Regardless, he wondered just how violent Gladio would get if necessary. He didn’t seem like the type to be so hardened after he got to know him, but perhaps there was more to his tough exterior and his reputation than Ignis knew.

Class started shortly after that, leaving Ignis to contemplate these problems on his own. He didn’t think that Gladio would reach out to him anymore after hearing a threat like that. After all, Ignis was Noctis’s friend first. Gladio had clearly taken the side that Prompto shouldn’t be with Noctis and would avoid them at all costs. Their relationship shouldn’t have a bearing on how Gladio and Ignis interacted, but he doubted that would sway Gladio from not talking to him anyway.

After another long and relatively uneventful school day, Ignis prepared for his volunteer work as he always did. This time he dressed down a bit more, opting to wear jeans and a plain black shirt. He didn’t want to be the target for another mugging because his parents insisted on him wearing name brand clothing. On his way out from class, Noctis indicated that he would be going with Prompto to his rehearsal with special permission from the band. Ignis thought it was kind of Prompto to want to include him in such things, especially since he didn’t owe him that.

Ignis made his way to the subway just down the road, absentmindedly ignoring the rush of students around him as they headed home as well. The high schoolers and academy students mingled together, some getting along rather well while others were heckling each other. He thought he saw Iris ahead of him at one point, but her petite frame disappeared into the crowd before he could be certain.
“Hey,” Gladio said behind him as he waited for the next subway, startling him. He turned around and looked at him, his eyes hardened in his anger.

“Hello,” Ignis said. “I would have thought you didn’t want to speak to me anymore.”

“Why? Cause Prompto and Noctis decided to be idiots? Nah. I was just angry and didn’t want to text you or talk to you until I calmed down.” Gladio looked at him, his gaze softening a little. “It’s not your fault they’re back together, regardless of if you picked up for Noctis.”

“It truly was my fault that he went to that café with Luna,” Ignis pointed out. “I insisted so she would leave him alone.”

“Did it work?” Gladio asked.

“Not according to Noctis.” Ignis sighed. “Honestly, it’s exhausting trying to keep up with those two.”

Gladio laughed. “You’re not wrong. So is it the same volunteering today?”

“Yeah. What about you?”

“I’ll come with you. Then afterwards I’ll bring you home for dinner. My mom said she’ll be cooking extra for you. I think she expects it now.” Gladio smiled as the subway arrived and everyone crammed themselves on.

Ignis still hated this part. He hated even more that he was forced to be so close to Gladio. His back was leaning against the door after it closed, with Gladio just a mere few inches away from him. If he focused on it too much he would be too aware that they were nearly touching. He would be too aware of the body heat radiating off Gladio, who somehow ran warmer than most people.

The train started moving, and everyone lurched a bit once it took off. Students chatted happily amongst themselves while adults tried everything to conserve what little energy they had left after a long workday. Ignis was decidedly quiet, trying to ignore Gladio’s presence as he looked out the windows at the city whirling past them. The ride was just like any other, another normal day, save for Ignis trying not to think about what it would be like to be held by Gladio.

Suddenly the train lurched violently, the brakes squealing as it came to a sudden stop. Ignis felt like he was about to go flying forward like many had who weren’t holding on tightly enough, but Gladio grabbed his arm and steadied him as he pressed his other hand against the door to stop himself from flying forward. Those around them had jostled around them, and Gladio had closed the gap between them in an attempt to steady himself. There was no longer any space between them, and Ignis could feel his legs pressed against his. He needed to move, to get away from the situation, but there was no space for them to move.

“Attention passengers,” an announcer said on the intercom. “We appreciate your patience while we get back up and running. It should only be a few minutes.”

“Great,” Gladio grumbled. “It’s not the first time this has happened. They need to put more funding towards the subway lines. You okay, Ignis?”

Ignis was blushing, trying not to look at Gladio, trying not to be aware that they were now touching. He resisted the desire to reach up and hold onto Gladio, ignoring the fact that his mind and his heart were both telling him that he had a crush on the guy. Why? It didn’t make any sense. Was it because he was the first close friend that was single? That wasn’t reason enough for him to like the guy like that.

“I’m fine,” Ignis said, refusing to look at Gladio. “I wish there was more space on this train though.”

“Yeah it’s pretty cramped.” Gladio was looking at him, but he couldn’t meet his gaze. Ignis thought he was going to try and take a step back, but he only pressed against Ignis more. Ignis could swear he felt something else pressing against him in that moment. “Nothing to be done for it, I guess.”

Ignis tried to not focus on Gladio’s body pressed against his, on his warmth. He felt like his heart was about to jump out of his chest, and he tried to focus on anything other than the thought of Gladio taking him in his arms and caressing every inch of his body. Now was not the time to appreciate Gladio’s toned body, his beautiful eyes, his devious smile. Now was not the time for any of that, but with Ignis pressed against him, he couldn’t help but think of it. The last thing he needed was to get hard, and that was exactly what was going to happen if Gladio remained this way.

The train started moving and the crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief, but through the jostling and movement, Gladio was forced to remain pressed against him. Ignis felt Gladio’s girth between his legs, stiff and enticing. It was likely just a natural reaction to the feel of a body pressed against him, nothing more. But Ignis felt himself get hard and wished he was anywhere but there right now. He couldn’t wait for the doors to open and to run away.

“I’ve got you,” Gladio said as the train lurched to pick up its speed, causing Ignis to rock forward.

Gladio’s hand was on the small of his back now, his other hand still bracing the door to keep them steady. Ignis felt his desire for him growing, his hand on his back making him feel like there was a fiery imprint leftover from where he was holding him. It felt like Gladio was intentionally holding him like this, intentionally grinding against him without so much as a breath of movement. It had to be his imagination.

“Ignis,” Gladio breathed as the train began to slow. “Would it be so wrong to miss one day of volunteering?”

“Of course it would,” Ignis managed to utter, feeling thoroughly undone by Gladio. “I can’t just not show up.”

“Sure you can,” Gladio murmured. His lips were so close to Ignis’s. “But I’ll go with you anyway.”

“You don’t have to.” The train was coming to a stop, and there were two things on Ignis’s mind. The first was to get away from Gladio as fast as possible. The second was how he wanted nothing more than for Gladio to take him in his arms and have his way with him. He cursed his young blood and teenage virility. He shouldn’t think of a friend like this.

“I know,” Gladio said as the train doors opened. He smiled, both a devious and an excited smile. Ignis immediately walked off the train, trying to hide his hard cock as much as possible. He noticed Gladio wasn’t looking at him, so he adjusted himself before he could get caught being in such a compromising situation.

“Well if you’re coming with me, then let’s go,” Ignis said as he started to regain his composure. He was ashamed to say that after his time volunteering and eating dinner with Gladio’s family, Ignis was going home to think of Gladio doing all sorts of things to him while he pleasured himself. It was something that he had done recently, and he knew he should have resisted the temptation. He was a terrible person for thinking of Gladio in such a way while knowing that it would just make his desire for him greater even though he refused to admit that he had a crush on him. He was really just being willfully stubborn.

“Yeah, yeah,” Gladio said as he followed him to the shelter.

Gladio and Ignis went their separate ways for the first part of his shift since Ignis had to spend a lot of time in the grant-writing room. It was a small office specifically designed for those who were applying for additional funding. During the latter part of Ignis’s shift, Gladio joined him to socialize with the residents, stick closer to him than usual.

Ignis was uncomfortable, feeling the need to flee, especially since Gladio seemed to be teasing him. He didn’t say anything that was off. Instead he would purposely touch Ignis’s waist, his hand, the back of his neck. He would come up behind Ignis and stand too close, and Ignis would have to step away each time to try and avoid him. He didn’t think Gladio was the type to rub it in his face if he had noticed he was hard, but now he wasn’t so sure.

At the end of his time there, Ignis grabbed his bag and was just ready to go home. There was no such luck. Gladio was ready and waiting for him as well. He looked too good for it to be legal, but Ignis kept his head down, trying not to look at his friend. Gladio only happily put his arm around his shoulders as he always did, keeping him close. Ignis couldn’t get away and he couldn’t refuse without Gladio knowing that something was up.

“You’ve been awfully quiet,” Gladio mentioned as they walked through the front door of his house. His family was already home, getting ready to serve dinner. The table had already been set.

“I’m just tired,” Ignis lied.

Gladio gave him a look that Ignis blatantly looked away from. He didn’t want him to see the lie in his eyes, the desire he carried for him, the way that he thought of his friend in such a sexual way. Gladio would surely hate him if he did. A man as masculine as he was would be repulsed by his thoughts about him that he tried to stop but only caved into.

“Hey, we’re going to skip dinner,” Gladio announced to his family. “Ignis is tired, so I’m going to have him lay down and make sure he gets some sleep.”

“Okay dear,” his mother said as Gladio grabbed Ignis’s hand and began to pull him upstairs. “Make sure you both get some dinner soon.”

“We will.” Gladio was already halfway up the steps, and Ignis had no choice but to follow. He felt like he was about to be tortured, his surprise palpable. He was rushed into Gladio’s room, the door closing behind him. Gladio released him and Ignis stared at the room as the door locked behind him.

Ignis whirled around and looked at Gladio. “What was that about?”

“You mind telling me?” Gladio asked. “Is this because of what happened on the train?”

Ignis blushed, unable to feign his ignorance any longer. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m not.” Gladio smiled and crossed his arms over his chest. “I was hard too. How long has it been since you started thinking about me that way? Or is the first?”

“Since the first night here,” Ignis said. He didn’t want to admit it to himself, let alone Gladio, but he didn’t have a choice now. The truth was out there for both of them to know.

“Do you touch yourself and think of me?” Gladio asked.

Ignis looked at him in shock, trying to think about what Gladio was trying to get out of it. He was bullying him. That had to be it. There was no desire there for him outside of what he got from teasing him. Otherwise he wouldn’t be asking such an intimate question. “What?”

“I think I have the right to know.” Gladio was blocking the door.

“I have,” Ignis said in defiance. He didn’t want to admit it, but the only thing he could hold onto right now was his pride. “Does that disgust you?”

Gladio walked over to him until he was standing only inches apart. He put one hand on the small of Ignis’s back, just as he had on the train, pulling him close so that they were touching. Ignis looked at him in surprise, feeling Gladio’s cock straining against his clothes, hard. His heart was beating erratically as he felt his own heat, his own penis growing hard once more.

“Does this feel disgusted?” Gladio asked as he began to grind his hips against Ignis, making him instinctively clutch onto Gladio’s arms for support as he felt a pulsating desire in his loins.

“Nnn,” Ignis moaned as Gladio’s hand slid down to Ignis’s ass, nearly massaging it.

“Fuck Ignis,” Gladio said. “Do you have any idea how much I want you?” He leaned in and kissed Ignis, his tongue hungrily licking Ignis’s lips until they parted. Their tongues eagerly met each other as they gave into their desires.

Gladio pushed Ignis onto the bed, losing all sense of propriety, if he ever had any, as he took off Ignis’s pants, leaving him exposed from the waist down. Ignis finished undressing himself as Gladio took off his own clothes, ready to abandon all thought of anything but being taken by Gladio. Ignis let out a small moan as Gladio climbed on top of him, rubbing his hips against Ignis’s, their cocks rubbing together as they kissed each other vivaciously.

“Hold on.” Gladio pulled away and got up.

He grabbed something out of the top drawer of his dresser and walked back over to him. Ignis recognized it was lubricant as Gladio put it on his fingers. He inserted his fingers in Ignis, making him shiver in delight. It was the first time Ignis had been touched in such a way by someone else, but he had imagined Gladio doing this to him while he had touched himself. The feeling of Gladio’s fingers moving in and out of him was all the sweeter by knowing that his desires were being fulfilled.

“I can only take so much,” Gladio breathed as he pulled his fingers out of Ignis and applied lubricant to his cock then positioned himself. “Turn around.”

Ignis complied, the only thing on his mind was being devoured and devouring Gladio. Gladio grabbed his hips as he inserted himself into him slowly, making him gasp from the pain and pleasure. It was both uncomfortable and wonderful, and Gladio didn’t move for a time to let him get used to it. Slowly, Gladio began to move in and out of him, and he gripped the sheets tightly, moaning into the pillow so that no one would be able to hear downstairs. His hips moved on their own, matching Gladio’s pace as he thrusted in and out of him, the pulsating waves of pleasure overtaking every aspect of his mind and body.

“Nngh,” Ignis moaned as Gladio began to thrust harder. He hit a spot deep within him, making his back arch, his senses losing him. “Gladio. More, Gladio.”

Gladio thrust into him as hard as he could, and Ignis could only beg for more. He only wanted to feel more of Gladio in him, his desire and pleasure mingling together to form a sweet ecstasy he had never experienced before. Gladio was moaning too, only driving him to the brink of losing himself. He felt himself being lost in Gladio’s thrusts as he put his hand on his back to steady himself through the voracious thrusts. Ignis came, the intensity of his thrusts only serving to fill the desire within him, and a moment later Gladio pulled out and came on Ignis’s back.

They were both panting, sweaty, and fulfilled. Gladio got up quickly and grabbed a towel that had been carelessly thrown on top of his dresser. Ignis remained still as Gladio helped him, wiping off his own seminal fluids on his back. Ignis was grateful that he was kind enough to do that but realized he had just ruined his sheets.

“You okay?” Gladio asked as he helped Ignis up and handed him the towel to finish his cleanup. “I went kind of hard.”

“Yeah,” Ignis replied. His legs were a bit shaky, but he couldn’t tell if that was from Gladio’s thrusts or his own shot nerves. “So… I assume this means you’re attracted to me?”

Gladio laughed. “That’s a word for it. I don’t know if you’re interested, but I’d like to formally date you. Like take you on dates and the whole nine yards?”

“I wouldn’t have sex with someone I wasn’t interested in dating,” Ignis replied. He pulled his clothes back on as Gladio changed into sweats and nothing else. “But I’m not about to have our relationship be a secret. Either here or at school.”

“That’s fine with me,” Gladio smiled. “The guys are school will be more surprised that I got the great Ignis Scientia to submit to my will.” He laughed. “Plus my parents already know I’m gay.”

“You’re gay? I would’ve at least expected you to be bisexual.” Ignis was a bit startled. Gladio seemed like the type to play around. Then again, Noctis was usually up for that role on everyone’s behalf.

“Nope. Just full blown gay. Always have been.”

“Well that makes two of us.” He paused. “You know, your parents think I’m sleeping.”

“Well I guess we better change the sheets and get in bed.”

Ignis couldn’t help but laugh. He helped Gladio clean up, changing the sheets on his bed quickly. Gladio collapsed on the bed with an unceremonious bounce, pulling Ignis down with him and into his arms. He struggled at first, then gave up when Gladio pressed his lips against his.

“Will you stay the night?” Gladio asked him as his hand traced over Ignis’s thigh, resting on his ass.

Ignis flushed, knowing he should say no. “Only if you stay at my place tomorrow.”

Gladio laughed. “I think I can do that.” He kissed Ignis again. “I think I can get used to this.”

“I can too.” They continued to kill late into the night, holding each other until they were both too exhausted to continue. Ignis fell asleep in Gladio’s arms, knowing that he shouldn’t be as happy as he was. This wouldn’t necessarily throw of his life plan, just alter it instead. He had been denying this part of himself for so long, it only made sense that Gladio would be the one to bring it out of him since he had never felt such desire for anyone before. For the first time in his life, he felt particularly eager about waking up, just so he could see Gladio holding him in his arms.

Chapter Text

Ignis had never taken the train to school in the morning. He never had a reason to. When he had gotten up in the morning, Gladio had already gotten out of bed and was downstairs making breakfast for his family. Ignis got dressed in his uniform and made his way downstairs, knowing that he would be coming to school more disheveled than ever before. Gladio greeted him with a smile and handed him a cup of coffee before kissing him on the forehead. The rest of his family was upstairs still, so they didn’t see Ignis blush before he thanked Gladio and took a long drink of the hot brew.

There was a bliss at waking up in the morning and having someone there for him to care and greet him. Maybe he was starved for attention since his family was never around, but he was certainly grateful for Gladio’s presence. The mornings at the Amicitia household were full of noise as the family tried to rush out of the house on their way to work. Gladio seemed to be the only one who was awake on time, save for Ignis, and he had Ignis sit down with him to enjoy breakfast as the rest of the family rushed upstairs.

“How did you sleep?” Gladio asked, knowing full well that Ignis slept peacefully as soon as he stopped touching every inch of his body.

“I feel like you enjoy teasing me,” Ignis pointed out as he took a drink of his coffee then began to eat the eggs Gladio had made.

“Maybe I do.” Gladio grinned. “Is that such a problem?”

“Depends on when or where the teasing takes place.” Ignis smiled nevertheless. The family rushed downstairs, grabbing the toast and eggs that Gladio prepared while downing coffee as quickly as they could.

“Glad to see you got some rest, dear,” Mrs. Amicitia said as she put a comforting hand on Ignis’s shoulder and kissed her son’s forehead in greeting. “The academy pushes these students far too hard. You might want to consider switching to the high school if the pressure becomes too much.”

Ignis had never heard an adult suggest that he switch to the high school. It was always the other way around or to do something at the academy to make it work. The academy was the golden standard of success for most in Insomnia and Lucis. To have an adult suggest the opposite was new to him, but it was also clear that the Amicitias valued their children’s mental and physical wellbeing over their academic success.

“Thank you,” Ignis replied. “Unfortunately I’m sure my parents wouldn’t allow me to switch schools.”

Gladio’s mother made a noise of disapproval but didn’t say anything else. Mr. Amicitia came downstairs and sat down at the kitchen table, dressed in his military uniform as Gladio grabbed him coffee and breakfast. He looked at Ignis’s disheveled appearance and over to Gladio, his eyebrows raised. Ignis took a long drink of his coffee, trying to hide his guilt.

“How long has this been going on?” his father asked them as his wife made her way into the kitchen to make her lunch for the day. Gladio made to deny it, but his father shook his head. “You think I can’t tell when my son is making eyes at someone from across the table?”

Gladio smiled. “Well I’ve liked him since we first met. But I think he finally gets it.”

His father looked from Gladio to Ignis. “You guys have a long, hard road ahead of you. Not because you’re gay. That’s something that will sort itself out. Things aren’t like they used to be with that. You’ll have a hard time because you’re a Scientia and you have no clout to your name.”

“We’ll work it out.” Gladio shrugged. “If anything maybe it’ll get those stuffy guys to calm down a bit now.”

His father didn’t look too reassured. “Sir,” Ignis said. “I don’t anticipate following in my parents’ footsteps in many respects, this being one of them. I hope you can give us your support.”

“You have mine,” he replied with a smile. “Maybe that upbringing of yours and your smooth way of talking will pave the way for you two.”

“So dad,” Gladio said, changing the subject. “Have you heard anything from Cor? Is he willing to meet with Prompto?”

His father sighed as he took a drink of his coffee. “Cor said he won’t meet with Prompto until he turns eighteen. When I pressed the issue he pulled rank. The chances are this is the end of the line. I won’t say that something doesn’t seem right from what you’ve told me, but I think it’s better if we just leave this issue alone.”

Ignis didn’t think that was very likely, but if members of the military were being adamant about maintaining the secret then it must be something that they shouldn’t dig too deep into. It was unfortunate for Prompto, though, since he deserved to know the truth about what his family was hiding and if he was related to Minister Besithia.

“Would you do that?” Gladio asked.

“Not really. I will say this, though. I did some digging and I think you all are onto something. I can’t find much on it, and what I can find on it is redacted. There’s no trace of Prompto’s adoption records either. Please be careful as you’re looking into this. I’m worried that you could get hurt.”

“We’ll be cautious,” Gladio confirmed.

Iris rushed down the steps, changing the conversation once again. She didn’t need to be involved in this. She just needed to worry about school. They greeted her when she sat at the table, quickly downing what breakfast she could. She looked from Gladio to Ignis and waggled her eyebrows at them, which Ignis did his best to avoid.

“It’s about time, Gladio,” Iris said with a smile. “I was tired of listening to you talk about Ignis like a love-sick pre-teen.”

“Love-sick pre-teen?” Ignis asked with a skeptical smile. Gladio blushed, and he couldn’t help but feel a rush of joy.

“Yeah he wouldn’t shut up about you,” Iris replied. “Every day it was Ignis this, Ignis that.”

“It was a bit excessive,” his father commented.

“Alright, alright. We get it.” Gladio stood up. “Come on, Ignis. We should get ready for school.”

Ignis didn’t think Gladio had it in him to be embarrassed, but he smiled involuntarily because of it. They left the house shortly after that, Iris in tow, taking the train back to their respective schools. Ignis couldn’t help but be amused by Gladio’s sudden shyness from the gentle teasing from his family. Iris was happily chatting with friends she ran into on the train, leaving Ignis and Gladio to be in their own world.

“So you wouldn’t shut up about me?” Ignis asked with a smile.

“They exaggerate,” Gladio replied dismissively, but he was smiling too. “You know, I wonder what people at school are going to say about this.”

“They’re going to wonder what dirt you have on me to blackmail me into submission,” Ignis said with a laugh.

“I wonder what sort of skeletons you do have in your closet,” Gladio said with a devious smile. He took a step towards Ignis, gently touching his chin to tilt his head up towards him. “I’d like to see them.”

“Prepare to be disappointed,” Ignis replied in a hushed tone. It didn’t matter that they had spent the night together. The thought of Gladio kissing him made his pulse race. “I think you’re the only spot on my otherwise perfect record.”

“Sure I’m not perfecting it even more?” Gladio laughed before he pressed his lips against Ignis’s.

Ignis knew he should care about the other students on the train clearly looking at them as they kissed, that he should worry about the image he was putting forward. But he just didn’t care. He knew who Gladio was as a person far more than they ever would, and the gentle yearning in his kiss only made it taste all the sweeter. He only unfolded his arms and grabbed Gladio’s leather jacket gently to keep him steady, unsure if he was thrown off balance by the movement of the train or by Gladio’s touch.

“You know people are staring already,” Gladio said when he pulled away from the kiss.

“Maybe they’re impressed,” Ignis said. “It’s not every day someone like you can be tamed.”

“Who says I’m going to be tamed?” Gladio smiled and kissed Ignis again as the train began to come to a stop. “Maybe it’s all an elaborate plan to make you wilder.”

“Good luck with that,” Ignis replied. The doors opened and they disembarked. Gladio grabbed Ignis’s hand, clearly making it known to any and all around them that they were now dating.

Gladio was right. Students were staring at them as they walked past, and Ignis wondered what was more shocking. Was it that they were students in rival schools, two teenage boys dating, or that it was the high school’s bad boy and the academy’s model student dating? Rumors were certainly going to run rampant, and Ignis knew he should care more than he actually did. If they knew Gladio like he did, then they would know that they worked well together and it wasn’t so odd.

When the time came, Gladio and Ignis went their respective ways, and Ignis was immediately bombarded by several students he barely knew asking him questions about his relationship with Gladio. He ignored them all, dismissing it as none of their business. Noctis caught up with him shortly after that, shooing away any onlookers who wanted details so they could spread as much gossip as possible.

“So what’s with all the rumors going around?” Noctis asked. “I just got to school and they’re already saying some weird stuff.” He listed them on his fingers. “You joined a gang, you’re being blackmailed, you were coerced, you had a drunken night that you regret.”

“I wasn’t drunk, and I don’t regret anything,” Ignis replied as they made their way through the academy’s hallways. “Gladio and I are dating, and I spent the night at his place.”

Noctis looked at him in shock at first, then he started smiling. “So you finally took the plunge, huh? Good. You didn’t have to say anything, but I could tell that you like him. So what should I tell everyone here? You tamed a savage beast and now he can only lust after you?”

Noctis laughed uncontrollably at that, and Ignis wondered if he was sleeping well enough or if he was spending too much time with Prompto at night. “You should know better than to spread rumors like that. The simple truth is that we’re both dating each other because we mutually like each other.”

“Yeah, and how many people will believe that?” Noctis was grinning as they walked into the classroom. Several students stopped talking suddenly, and Ignis could only be impressed by how fast news traveled.

“It doesn’t matter if they believe it or not,” Ignis pointed out. “It is simply the truth.”

The teacher came into the classroom earlier than usual, looking relatively disheveled and worried, as if an urgent matter had come up that had caused him to rush to school. “Everyone take your seats quickly.”

The students all obliged, even the ones hanging out in the hall because the bell hadn’t yet rung. The other teachers were doing the same thing, calling students into their respective classrooms urgently. Ignis’s phone vibrated in his pocket, and he took it out briefly to see what was such an urgent matter that someone would interrupt his course schedule.

My dad is being called for active duty.
He said there’s been an attack.
I’m waiting outside school for you.
Come out asap.

Ignis stared at it, his heart pounding. An attack? What kind of attack could there have been? They had only been at peace for such a short amount of time. Did that mean that Niflheim was moving in and trying to restart the war? He looked up at the teacher, who hadn’t pulled out any notes for the morning announcements as usual.

“There’s been an attack on the outskirts of Lucis,” the teacher announced, causing a dark silence to erupt around them. “It happened just moments ago. Niflheim is blaming Lucis for it and Lucis is blaming Niflheim for it. We are being asked to send you all home immediately and await further instructions. The military is mobilizing and they have declared a state of emergency. You will alert your parents you are on your way home. Do not stop anywhere else. The government is declaring that we must all return home.”

Noctis and Ignis shared a worried glance as the teacher dismissed them. They left the classroom as other students were filing out. Ignis was wondering just what had happened, but the chances were the teachers knew just about as much as they had been told. With a start, Ignis realized that he hadn’t seen his parents last night since he was at Gladio’s. He had texted them, but they never responded.

“Hey,” Ignis said as he called his mother. “Are you safe?”

“Where are you?” His mother demanded. “You never came home last night.”

“I texted you both. I was staying with a… friend. We’re all being dismissed from school.”

“Come home right away. Noctis’s father called and he wants him to come home with you since he will be at the school for a while longer.”

“Okay. I’ll be there soon. Will you be there?”

“We’re leaving now. See you soon, son.” His mother hung up the phone and Ignis looked at Noctis.

“Your dad wants you to come home with me,” Ignis said as they left the building. There was a huge crowd of student gathering outside both the high school and the academy, and several parents were already picking up students on either side. It must have been a serious attack, and the lack of information only made it worse.

“Prompto!” Noctis called as he caught Prompto running towards them, looking flushed with worry. Gladio was behind him, and Ignis caught his serious gaze. It must have been worse for him because his father was military. It was likely that he would be sent to where the attack had started.

“Hey Noct,” Prompto said as he hugged him. “What’s going on?”

“The info you have is what I have,” Gladio said. “My parents want me to look after Iris since my mom is at work and my dad is being shipped out to the attack.”

“I have to take Noctis with me to my place,” Ignis said. “If you all don’t really have anywhere else to be and your family is okay with it, why don’t you come with us?”

“My parents won’t be home anytime soon,” Prompto said. “They’ll probably feel better if I’m with someone.”

“I’ll get Iris,” Gladio said. He walked away, looking for Iris in the crowd while simultaneously calling her on his phone.

“Great. We’ll take my car.” Noctis handed the keys to Ignis since they all knew well now that he was a terrible driver.

Iris rushed over to Gladio and they hugged each other tightly, both of them worried about what this meant for their family and their father. He was being called back to active duty and shipped out to the sight of the attack. It was already a dangerous situation, and if an attack happened already then war was likely. They were rightfully worried about whether or not their father would make it home to them.

“It’ll be okay,” Prompto said, but his eyes darted back and forth as if he were looking for imminent danger. He seemed more on edge than normal, and Ignis wondered if this had something to do with his birth in Niflheim. If he was adopted late enough then he might have some memories of the war before it had ended, especially since it was still ongoing without the Lucian citizens even knowing. Did Niflheim lie to their citizens as well?

“Let’s go,” Ignis said. They made their way to the car. Gladio, Iris, and Prompto piled into the backseat while Noctis sat up front next to Ignis. As soon as Ignis started the car, he turned on the radio to listen to the news. They all sat in silence as Ignis inched the car out of the parking lot, listening with wide eyed fear.

“The attack on the outskirts of Lucis commenced at four minutes past eight this morning,” the radio host said. “Few details are known other than it is believed to be a display of power from Niflheim with a new weapon never before seen being utilized on the Lucian military at a checkpoint along the border. Niflheim is claiming that they were responding to an attack made upon their citizens trying to cross into Lucis, but Lucis is maintaining that the attack began due to Niflheim’s measures to display their military prowess. All we know for sure is that this is in direct violation of the peace treaty set forth by both governments.”

There was a long silence between them all as Ignis sped off towards his house. The radio droned on about the attack, but it was all speculation at this point. Until there was official word about what happened then the only thing they could do is wait. Ignis didn’t know if they should trust the government at this point. What if Lucis did plan the attack? To what end would it benefit them? Niflheim had always been after taking over Lucis, so why wouldn’t this be any different?

When they pulled into the driveway Ignis noticed that his parents’ vehicle was parked in the garage. Usually it was empty until late at night. They all piled out of the car, each of them nervous and worried about whether or not the country would be headed back to war.

Graduation would mean something different for them, especially if there was a mandatory draft. In Niflheim it was required that all high school graduates serve in the military two years before they could go to college or join the general workforce. In Lucis, a draft meant those selected would have to serve for at least four years.

“Ignis!” his mother called when they stepped through the door. She approached him, looking worried, and hugged him tightly as she ignored the others behind him. Noctis was expected, and they probably thought that Noctis had dragged this ragtag team along with them.

“I’m okay, mother,” Ignis replied. “I brought some people with me since their parents will be out for a while.”

She looked at them, her kind expression mixed with exhaustion. She had hair that was the same color as Ignis’s, but her eyes were a deep brown color. He got his eyes from his father. She looked at Prompto and Gladio, not in academy uniforms, and furrowed her brow.

“You brought strangers?” she asked in confusion.

“No,” Ignis replied. “Prompto is a friend, and Gladio is my boyfriend. They both go to the high school across the street. Iris, here, is Gladio’s sister.”

“Boyfriend?” she asked in shock. “When did this happen?”

“It’s recent ma’am,” Gladio replied. “He wanted to tell you in person.”

“I see,” she replied, her tone shifting when she spoke to Gladio. Ignis knew the tone well. It was the same one she used when she looked upon the poor with derision. “Well, please come in everyone. I’ll have the maid put on some tea.”

“Thank you,” Ignis said. “We’ll be upstairs in my room.”

“I’ll let your father know,” she replied as they followed Ignis up the steps and to his room.

“Well that went well,” Noctis said sarcastically once they were in his room. Gladio had helped Ignis throw a series of blankets and pillows on the floor in a nice spread that made it easy for them all to relax. They all sat there, awkward and unsure of what to do, waiting for any hint of news that might indicate what the fate of Lucis would be.

“She’s a peach,” Ignis replied. “She’ll get over it. They’ll never approve of it, but they’ll get over it.”

“Well you are her only son,” Noctis pointed out. “I’m sure she was hoping you’d end up with someone like Iris instead.”

“She’s likely only hoping it’s a high school fling,” Gladio pointed out. He was right, despite just having met her.

“Not likely,” Ignis commented casually, even though the comment was anything but casual. Gladio wrapped one arm around Ignis’s waist and pulled him close. Noctis had done the same with Prompto, except Prompto was sitting in his lap, his arms around his shoulders. Iris was the only one who wasn’t connected to someone.

“Ugh I should’ve just gone home,” Iris said. “I don’t want to see you all loving on each other. It’s gross.”

“What’s so gross about it?” Noctis asked as he teasingly kissed Prompto, making the blond blush.

“Not you two. Gladio. I don’t need to see my brother getting all cute with his boyfriend.” Iris rolled her eyes.

The maid entered the room after knocking softly and brought them a tray of tea and sandwiches. Ignis didn’t have a television, which was probably for the best. The last thing they needed was to feed their fear while the rest of the adults tried to figure out what was going on. The news would likely only serve to make Gladio and Iris more nervous and worried for their father.

“Who do you think is at fault?” Prompto asked nervously as they ate the sandwiches in a tense silence.

“Does it matter?” Gladio asked. “We’re going to war. There’s no way around it. Lucis won’t stand for it, even if they started it. They’re going to draft us all when we graduate.”

“Drafts are usually done on a lottery system,” Noctis pointed out. “It’s not to say we will be selected.”

“You won’t,” Gladio said harshly. There was a bitterness in his voice that made Ignis lean into him in support. “You go to the academy, and you’re the dean’s son. Even you, Ignis, likely won’t get drafted. Prompto and I are done for.”

Prompto froze at that. “Maybe they won’t do the draft.”

“They’re going to, and we all know it,” Iris agreed quietly. “Dad told us that if we ever went back to war with Niflheim then the men would be drafted. He prepared Gladio for to go and for me to say goodbye to him.”

There was a tense silence as Ignis and Noctis contemplated their own privilege. They had never had to consider the notion of being drafted to the military or being unable to achieve their particular dreams for their life. They hadn’t had to prepare for the possibility that they would one day die in a war. Ignis didn’t think Prompto had particularly been prepared, but then again, it was likely that his situation was a bit more complex than that.

“Even if we are drafted, we won’t die,” Prompto asserted. They all looked at him, his fierce expression. “We won’t.”

“We’ll do our damnedest at least,” Gladio said.

“No use in worrying about this for now,” Ignis said. “For all we know, it’ll be like Niflheim and we’ll all be forced to fight. For all we know they won’t have to do the draft.”

No one really believed that, but it was a nice thought. Ignis got up and grabbed several different card and board games in one of the hall closets so they could settle in for a day of trying not to worry about the state of the country at this point. Gladio and Iris kept checking their phones in anticipation, and at one point Gladio got up to receive an update from his mother. Their father had been sent out to the site of the attack and would be back as soon as possible. She mentioned that he was with Cor, which meant he was likely going to stay safe. Likely was better odds than most in these cases.

Towards the end of the day it was clear that Prompto’s parents weren’t going to be reaching out. He texted them and even tried to call at one point, but there was no answer. Noctis looked worried for him, especially since his father had even reached out at one point for him. They were all wondering why they weren’t reaching out, until Nyx called Prompto. He made sure Prompto was okay, then he told him that his parents had requested he stay with him for the time being. Prompto let him know he was at a friend’s and would eventually go and grab some clothing items before he went to stay with Nyx. There was no indication how long it would last.

“Your parents are in business, right?” Ignis asked after he got done with his conversation on the phone with Nyx. “What kind of business are they in?”

“They’ve never said,” Prompto said with a frown. “Maybe weapons manufacturing?”

“War is good for business,” Gladio considered.

“I’m not buying it,” Noctis said. “We already know they’re hiding something. Why would they want Prompto to stay with Nyx right now? Everyone else’s parents are worried.”

Prompto looked sad as he sat in Noctis’s lap, staring down at his hands. “Maybe it’s because they never really wanted me?”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” Iris said. She was the only one blissfully unaware of the question of Prompto’s origin and what secrets were being kept, and they wanted to keep it that way. “Your parents love you, Prompto.”

“I don’t doubt that,” Ignis said. “But Noctis is right. I highly doubt they’re just involved in some sort of easy business in the very least.”

“The more we ask these questions, the less I know for sure,” Prompto said with a sigh. “I’d like to get to the bottom of it.”

“Do you think Nyx knows anything?” Ignis asked.

“Yeah. I think he knows a lot.” Prompto glanced at Noctis. “I’m just afraid of asking.”

“What’s the worst he could say?” Gladio asked.

“That’s I’m a clone or something,” Prompto replied with a laugh. They all laughed at that. The technology was not nearly that advanced in with Lucis or Niflheim. Prompto stopped laughing, suddenly serious. “I think I know what the truth is, but I’m just afraid of hearing it or the reason why.”

“Alright, I’m heading home.” Iris stood up as she stretched. “Gladio I’ll see you there.”

“Mom will have a fit if you go home alone,” Gladio said.

“Then take me home,” Iris said.

“I promised Ignis I would stay the night,” Gladio argued.

“The situation has changed. It’s not like you made that promise after all this happened. I’m sure Ignis will understand.” Iris put her hands on her hips in defiance.

“It’s okay,” Ignis said to Gladio. “We can reschedule.”

“I need to take Prompto home and to Nyx’s,” Noctis said. “I’m going to house crash with you. Dad won’t be home late most likely.”

“Will he be okay with it?” Prompto asked as he got up and helped Noctis to his feet.

“Does it matter?” Noctis shrugged. “You think you’ll be okay, Ignis?”

“I’ll be fine,” Ignis said dismissively. “My parents are home.”

Ignis showed them all to the door. Prompto and Noctis left first, and Iris stood on the porch to give him and Gladio some privacy. The sun was on the verge of setting already since they had spent the day worrying. Maybe it would’ve been better for them to stay in school. The need to pull them out was more for the adults’ need to be reassured that their children were safe.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay?” Gladio asked as he wrapped his arms around Ignis and pulled him close so their bodies were touching.

“There’s nothing to do but wait,” Ignis said. “Just let me know when you make it home safely.”

“I will.” Gladio leaned over and kissed Ignis softly on the lips, sending a shiver up his spine. He doubted he would ever be used to Gladio’s touch, or at least he hoped he would never get used to it. “Take care, Ignis. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“You too, Gladio.” Ignis paused. “I will offer up my prayers to the Six for your father.”

“Thanks. Maybe we can go to a temple together this weekend.” Gladio looked serious, worried, like he was trying to be strong for his sister.

“That’s a good idea.” Ignis wrapped his arms around Gladio and hugged him tightly. “If you ever feel like you’re not strong enough, it’s okay. I’m here for you.”

Gladio kissed him again, this time more passionately than before, his tongue tracing Ignis’s lips like he was savoring the taste. “You know, you still owe us a meal.”

“Then I’ll make something when your father comes back to celebrate.” He smiled. “I’ll plan something elaborate.”

“And I’ll help.” Gladio kissed him one more time, and Iris coughed loudly enough that they could hear her through the door. “I better go. Iris is getting cranky. See you tomorrow, Iggy.”

“See you.” Ignis watched them leave down the street, walking to the subway station from there. It was a short walk, and Gladio had insisted that it wasn’t necessary for them to be escorted to the station.

“You two seem serious,” his father said behind him. How long had he been standing there?

“We are,” Ignis replied as he turned around. “Gladio is a good guy. He does a lot to take care of his family.”

“I see,” his father replied. “What is his last name?”

“Amicitia,” he replied. “His father is military and his mother is a nurse.”

“Not a particularly bad pedigree,” his father said. He was being kind. Ignis could tell that he was unhappy about the situation. “Could be better. You could do better.”

“I really couldn’t,” Ignis said decisively. “There are things beyond pedigree that make the difference. Gladio is a better man than most.”

His father looked surprised by the admission, but it was Ignis’s turn to be surprised when he smiled. “Glad to see you can look beyond what others insist on. Your mother won’t be happy about it, but she’ll get over it. Don’t let a guy like that go then.”

“I won’t.” Ignis followed his father into the dining room, the table being set for the three of them.

“I’m surprised your boyfriend didn’t say,” his mother said accusingly as they all sat down for the meal.

“He had to take care of his sister,” Ignis replied.

“Seems like they’re close,” his mother commented stiffly.

“They are,” Ignis said with a soft smile. “He is a good person, mother. When you get to know him you will see that.”

“Is it a relationship where I should get to know him?” his mother asked as they were served their dinner from the staff they had hired.

“Yes,” Ignis replied matter-of-factly.

“How do you know he’s not taking advantage of your status? Your wealth?”

“Well mostly because he hates the income disparity between the rich and the poor. He values hard work over wealth and status. And he is more interested in knowing a person than knowing their pedigree.”

His mother eyed him, trying to determine just who this man was that had worked his way into her son’s heart. “If that is the truth, then I’ll support the relationship. But he has to prove it to us first.”

“Understandable,” Ignis replied. “You don’t have anything to worry about, I assure you. Save for maybe if a draft occurs.”

“If that happens, then we all have something to worry about,” his father said. He frowned as he took a sip of his wine. “We should all hope that this attack is not what they’re saying it is. Otherwise Lucis will be at war again.”

“Do you know who started it?” Ignis asked.

“They say it’s Niflheim, but with the rising tensions, we’re likely to be just as guilty. Either way, it doesn’t bode well for your future. If you really are serious about the world of politics, I would suggest getting involved sooner rather than later.” His father had a point. Ignis needed to be more proactive and branch out of his normal routine.

“Perhaps I should look for volunteer opportunities in parliament,” Ignis conceded.

“I’ll look into it,” his mother added. His parents were academics, but they had connections in various industries. It would surprise Ignis if they knew someone in the political world too. “I know you mentioned wanting to learn self-defense. With everything going on, I think that would be wise. We will set you up with a teacher soon.”

“Thank you.” Ignis considered something. “It might be beneficial for my friends and boyfriend to take self-defense courses as well. Perhaps we should all join a class.”

“I doubt your boyfriend could afford it,” his mother dismissed the idea.

“We could pick up the bill.” His parents looked at him as he said it. “Why shouldn’t he learn how to fight if he’s going to end up fighting in the military? Shouldn’t he get the chance too?”
“Dear, he has a point.”

“Fine. But if you keep coming to us asking to pay for his things then I’m going to get suspicious.”

“Understood.”

Dinner passed in relative ease as they conceded that Ignis wasn’t likely to end his relationship with Gladio because they weren’t interested in him dating someone who they approved of. Ignis didn’t have any doubt that they were hoping this was a passing fancy for him, and while he didn’t think it was, he was aware that he was just a teenager and relationships at this age could often end horribly. He knew he would do anything in his power to make the relationship work, but so many his age also said the same thing about their relationships that had failed.

After dinner, Ignis made his way back to his room, trying not to worry too much about Gladio. He hadn’t received a text from Gladio saying that he made it home safely and was beginning to worry. Then again, Ignis had forgotten to text him at some point, so maybe he had simply gotten busy. He was considering calling Gladio when the doorbell rang, interrupting his worry. He made his way downstairs in time to see the maid opening the door. Gladio was on the other side.

“My mom is home,” Gladio said smoothly as Ignis approached him, taking over for the maid. He looked like he had just freshly showered and was carrying a backpack over one shoulder. “So I got some stuff and decided to keep the promise to stay over. Will your parents mind?”

“Not if you come up now before they can stop us,” Ignis replied rebelliously. Gladio smiled as Ignis took his hand and took him upstairs before they could get caught. He had always been a well behaved child for his parents. He didn’t see why he couldn’t have a little fun despite their rules or wishes. Right now they were too worried about what was going on in Lucis anyway, and Ignis and Gladio were far too young to be able to do anything about it.

When they reached his room, Ignis shut the door behind them and locked it so they wouldn’t easily be disturbed. Gladio immediately took him into his arms and kissed him as he held him tightly. Ignis felt his knees going weak as he held onto Gladio’s jacket, clutching onto his back. He inhaled Gladio’s freshly showered scent, Gladio’s hands sliding down his back and groping his ass, his fingers toying with him seductively. Ignis shivered and felt himself go hard. He wondered if every night would be like this with Gladio. Somehow, he felt like he was okay with it.

“I’m kind of interested,” Gladio said as he looked into Ignis’s eyes. “Will you indulge me in something?”

“That depends on what it is,” Ignis said. “It can never be something good when you ask for permission before saying what it is.”

Gladio laughed. “It’s not bad. Just a bit devious.” He grinned. “Have you thought of me while you’ve touched yourself?”

Ignis blushed and looked away from Gladio. “And what if I have?”

“I’ve thought of you too.” Gladio kissed his neck. “I wonder if you’ll indulge me. I want to see you while you touch yourself.”

“What?” Ignis asked. “Are you a pervert?”

“Only with you.” He placed a hand on Ignis’s throat and traced it down to his shirt, unbuttoning the top button, then another, slow and deliberate. “I want to see you go crazy at the thought of me.”

“So you’re self-absorbed,” Ignis commented, although his body was alight with his desire.

Gladio only pulled him over to the bed, his hands on his hips, smiling the entire time. He kissed Ignis gently, his lips moving from his lips to his neck, his tongue caressing him. “Maybe I am. Or maybe I just go crazy at the thought of watching you be all messed up, begging for me.”

“Okay, I’ll try. But you better not laugh.” Ignis felt nervous about this. He hadn’t particularly had many sexual experiences, and he had a feeling that Gladio was likely to push his boundaries. It didn’t bother him, just made him nervous for what would come next.

Gladio helped him take off his clothes, both of them hard at the idea of being able to touch each other once more. When Ignis was naked, exposed only for him to see, he gently lowered him on the bed, licking his lips like he wanted to devour Ignis instead of watching him. He felt awkward, too aware of Gladio’s eyes on his body, looking from his chest to his abs to his hips.

Ignis began to stroke his own cock, Gladio’s eyes staring at his hand as it moved up and down slowly. He closed his eyes as he imagined Gladio doing it to him, aware that his eyes were watching him all the while. Knowing that Gladio was watching him no longer felt awkward. It only served to entice him even more, and he found himself moaning as he felt the pleasure increase.

“Is that the only place you touch yourself?” Gladio asked.

“No,” Ignis said with a shudder. The sound of Gladio’s voice only stirred him up even more. Gladio grabbed his free hand and put something cold on it. It was lubricant. Gladio had come prepared, leaving Ignis to wonder if he had planned this the entire time.

“Go ahead,” Gladio commanded with a hunger in his voice that made Ignis want to oblige him.

Ignis inserted his fingers into himself, letting out a moan as he pumped his cock while he moved inside himself. He had done this before on more than one occasion, thinking about Gladio doing it to him. Now Gladio was watching him do it, and it just made his desire for him even greater. He wanted Gladio to be the one doing this, to insert his cock into him and thrusting in and out of him. He wanted every ounce of Gladio.

“Mmm,” Ignis moaned. “Gladio…. Nnngh.”

“Do you want me?” Gladio whispered in his ear.

“Nnn, yes,” Ignis gasped. His hand was pumping harder, his fingers thrusting faster, imagining Gladio doing it to him instead of himself, his voice in his ear making him nearly climax. “Gladio, please.”

“Since you asked so nicely.” Gladio grabbed his wrists and stopped him from finishing himself off. He kissed Ignis, their tongues mingling, as Gladio pulled Ignis towards him. Gladio positioned Ignis so he was straddling him, just over his throbbing cock. Ignis wondered when Gladio took off his clothes, but then again he had been too involved in his own pleasure to really pay attention to that.

Gladio gently guided Ignis down on top of him, and Ignis felt his back arching against him as he felt his cock enter into him. Gladio placed his hand on the small of Ignis’s back, holding him tightly to keep him steady. Ignis placed his hands on Gladio’s shoulders and remained still for a while. He wasn’t in pain. His problem was that he was so lost in his desire and the waves of electricity coursing through him that he would climax if he even moved.

“Gladio,” Ignis moaned as he moved on top of him, his body beckoning him to give into each movement to fulfill him. Gladio moaned into his shoulder, biting into him to keep his moans quieter. Ignis moved faster on top of him, and Gladio grabbed his cock and began to stroke it, making him gasp and thrust harder.

“Nngh,” Ignis moaned. “Gladio… Ah…. I need you more.”

“Fuck… Ignis.” Gladio wound his arms under Ignis’s, his hands resting on his shoulders. He thrust underneath Ignis, making Ignis clutch onto Gladio as he cried out in the ecstasy of Gladio driving himself into him deeper and deeper. “Mmmnnn… Yes…”

Ignis came as Gladio hit a spot deep within him that drove him to the brink. Gladio must have climaxed as well as he stopped moving, his chest heaving, sweat roiling down their backs. Ignis was panting, and Gladio reached up to smooth his hair out of his eyes, kissing him at the same time. Ignis didn’t realize just how intense the sex with Gladio could be, but he doubted that anyone else would have been able to satisfy him like he could.

“You think your parents heard us?” Gladio asked with a grin as Ignis got off him and made his way to the bathroom.

“This is a big house,” Ignis replied as he started the water in the bathtub. He needed a long soak after what they did. “If they did hear then it’s probably because they were prying.”

“That wouldn’t be particularly good.” Gladio followed him into the bathroom. “Why do you have a giant tub in here? That’s not fair.”

“It’s so I can bathe with you.” Ignis smiled as he lowered his slightly sore body in the hot water. “I doubt they’re prying anyway. They said they’d give you a chance.”

“Really?” Gladio beamed. “Well I guess I should try and be a respectable boyfriend for you.”

“After that? There’s no possible way. You get too much pleasure out of teasing me.” Ignis laid his head back against the cold tiled walls and closed his eyes. Gladio joined him in the bath and relaxed with him.

“This is nice,” Gladio said. “I hope this lasts. You and I.”

“Where is this coming from?” Ignis asked, his eyes opening.

“With everything changing in Lucis, I’m worried that everything will be different.” He sighed. “I don’t want to lose you just as I got you.”

“You won’t lose me. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. I won’t willingly give you up.”

Gladio smiled. “Keep it up and I might think you love me.”

“Keep it up and I might actually love you.” Ignis got up and straddled Gladio. “You up for round two?”

Gladio kissed him, his hand on the back of Ignis’s neck. “With you? Always.”

Chapter Text

Lucis at war. That was the headline for the rest of the week and would likely extend beyond that. Everyone was nervous, and no one was particularly sure what it meant for the future. If the war raged for over twenty years last time and so much of it was kept a secret, what would this war look like? They still hadn’t announced whether or not there would be a draft, but as tensions kept rising in Lucis, it seemed like an almost guaranteed certainty.

The military occupation at the site of the attack had gone from taking any and every military power they could to ensuring that there was fodder for the fight if needed. The special ops teams that had been called in were no longer necessary there and were being called back to Insomnia to review military strategy with their superiors, and Gladio’s father was no exception. Gladio had told Ignis that he was going to be home by the weekend, giving them a much needed sigh of relief.

Ignis was planning on holding up his end of the bargain with Gladio. He had made to ask Gladio what meal he would like, but he didn’t get the chance. Somehow his parents had found the Amicitia’s home phone number and made a call to invite them to dinner. They wanted to meet his boyfriend’s parents and really get a feel for the family. Gladio’s mother had agreed that Sunday would be the best time since his father would be too tired to be much company on Saturday. Ignis was mortified and worried they would just make them feel like they weren’t good enough to be around them.

Gladio didn’t seem to mind so much and reassured Ignis that it would be fine. Nevertheless, Ignis couldn’t help but feel like something was going to go wrong. School had resumed once the initial panic was over, so Ignis opted to bury himself in his studies during school hours and his volunteer work after. His parents had set up self-defense courses for him to start next week and was told to inform his friends to see who would want to partake. They would be private lessons with an instructor hired to come to his house.

He had informed the shelter that they would additionally be having him start as an intern in parliament in two weeks. They were sad to see him go, but the residents there were particularly supportive. Ignis hadn’t told Gladio yet as part of him was worried about what Gladio would say when he found out. Would he be supportive as he promised to be? Or would he be angry that he wasn’t going to be working at the shelter anymore?

Ignis realized that he and Gladio were still getting to know each other, which meant that beyond their time at the homeless shelter together, Ignis was trying to learn more about him and who he was as a person. He felt like his original assessment of how great a person Gladio was wasn’t inaccurate, but there would be difficult times ahead as in any relationship. He worried about how they would be able to handle something that came in their way.

The sex with Gladio had been an ongoing intense experience for Ignis. He was quickly realizing that they both were sexual beings in their time together, and it wasn’t something that Ignis particularly hated. He had to make sure that it didn’t impact his studies, but so far he had been able to manage his time reasonably well. Gladio had also respected the time he needed to complete his homework and would often watch television in his room as Ignis sprawled his textbooks on Gladio’s bed.

On Saturday Ignis had woken late in his room. Gladio had to go home straight from school the day before since his father was coming home, and they both had agreed that it was a better option for Ignis to give them their space. There were some things that were better left to the family, and even if Ignis was dating Gladio, he was not a part of their family. They were still high school students after all, and dating someone as a teenager was not a guarantee of success. In fact, very few high schoolers ended up with their high school sweethearts. He was acutely aware of that fact and hoped that it wouldn’t be the case with them, as it was with all teenage couples hoping for the same.

When Ignis got up he noticed that Gladio had already reached out to him. He kept his phone muted when he slept, which Gladio was aware of and was happy that he did so. As an academy student sleep was a precious commodity, and he had to take it where he could. It was why he always woke up late in the morning on weekends.

Dad’s home and safe.
Said the war will be bad this time.
If you’re going to be a politician you better end this.

Ignis looked at the text and knew Gladio wasn’t being accusatory. He was worried. It didn’t take long for Ignis to realize that he expressed his worry, his pain, his negative emotions as anger. Growing up in the boroughs, being the tough protector he had to be, it made sense. If he showed any sign of weakness then he would only be taken advantage of or attacked for it. Ignis even wondered if dating someone, especially a man, would make Gladio a target of the street gangs in the boroughs.

I will do what I can.
I’m looking for intern opportunities
in parliament right now.
I’m glad your dad is safe.

There was a prolonged silence as Ignis got up and ready for the day. He got dressed and opted to keep his hair casual for the day. Gladio had told him that he thought it was sexy when he didn’t do his hair like he usually did all the time, but he wasn’t doing it for him. He doubted that he would actually see him today since he would be with his family. He was just being lazy.

Does that mean you won’t be working
at the shelter? Damn. I was enjoying
it with you. But we’ll just have to find
other time together. ;)

Ignis smiled when he read the text. He was glad that Gladio wasn’t particularly upset about it, or at least if he was then he wouldn’t take it out on him. There was a sense of urgency regarding the future of Lucis because it would ultimately impact their future. If they graduated in the middle of a war, then it would impact their career choices. If there would be a draft then it would be worse. Ignis had to admit to himself, no matter ho much it hurt his heart, that Gladio living in the boroughs meant that he was almost guaranteed to get drafted. The military would send the poor first and congratulate themselves on it the entire time.

I suppose we will.
Make sure you take care of yourself today.

Since he was on his own for the day, he took the time to do his homework for the week. He needed to make sure it was finished since tomorrow he would be worrying too much about his family interacting with Gladio’s. It really wasn’t the time with Gladio’s father busy with his work as a military man, but his parents seemed fairly oblivious to that fact. They sometimes had difficulty looking beyond their own world.

Ignis didn’t know how long he was going to be working on his homework, so he made sure he got his coffee and a brunch before he buckled down and got to work. School was still a top priority to him, and that wasn’t going to change now that he had a boyfriend. His parents were satisfied knowing that he was focused on his schoolwork, but it was apparent that Gladio didn’t focus on his courses as much as he should. No doubt that would be a topic of conversation tomorrow at dinner.

Late into the day he considered taking a break and pulled out his phone to see if Gladio would be interested in at least having a conversation over the phone, but it seemed he had beat him to the punch. He had texted Ignis to see if he was available, then apparently was too frustrated to wait and stated he was on his way over. He wondered if something happened at home.

It wasn’t long before Gladio was over his house. The maid had gotten used to Gladio’s presence since they would take turns going over each other’s house, and he was knocking on Ignis’s door before he could finish putting his homework to the side. Ignis let him in and he could see the concern on his face.

“Is everything okay?” Ignis asked as he closed and locked the door behind him.

“My parents are overreacting,” Gladio grumbled as he walked over to Ignis’s window and sat down. “They’re talking about leaving Lucis.”

“What?” Ignis asked incredulously. “Where would you go?”

“Altissia apparently,” Gladio said. “My dad wouldn’t be able to go since he’s a military man, but they’ve been secretly saving for something like this. He wants my mom to get out of here with me and my sister since Altissia is a sovereign state and won’t be involved in the war. They don’t want me to be drafted.”

“It makes sense,” Ignis said. Gladio looked at him in anger. “I don’t want you to go, but if it helps you avoid being drafted then I would be behind it.”

“You’d be willing to let me go?” Gladio asked, looking considerably pained.

“I wouldn’t let you go anywhere,” Ignis said as he approached him. Gladio put his hands on his hips and pulled him close as he remained seated. “We would still be together, and I would come and visit you as much as possible. But I would prefer you to be safe in Altissia than fighting in Lucis.”

Gladio sighed. “I know you’re right. But I can’t just go to Altissia and leave you behind here. I know we just started dating, but I really like you Ignis. I don’t want us to be apart and then we end up breaking up because of the distance.”

Ignis frowned. “It is a worry that I have too. But it won’t do us any good if you get shipped out to war and end up dying all because you didn’t want to leave me. I will commit to being with you whether you’re here or in Altissia. I need you to commit to not dying on me or doing anything to jeopardize your health and wellbeing for me.”

“I was hoping you’d say my parents are overreacting and that it was ridiculous,” Gladio said as he reached up and pressed his hand against Ignis’s face. “Instead you’re only making me see that they’re right. If I move to Altissia then once the draft announcements are done and I’ve avoided it, then I’ll come back and join you.”

“I know you will. When did your parents want you to move?” Ignis knew he was telling Gladio to do the practical thing, but the truth was that he didn’t want Gladio to leave anymore than Gladio didn’t want to go. His heart was breaking at the thought, but if he truly cared about Gladio then he had to ignore his own feelings about the matter.

“After winter break,” Gladio said. “Mom is looking for nursing jobs in Altissia now and my dad is looking for a place to live. One way or another, the spring term will be in Altissia.”

“I’ll just have to monopolize you for now,” Ignis replied. It was so soon. Just a couple of months and he would be gone. But Ignis knew his parents would love the opportunity and excuse to vacation in Altissia at any given moment. They would make it work. If Gladio had to go then he had to only make it easier for him. He wasn’t going to be selfish and force him to stay if it meant him going to war.

“As will I.” Gladio unbuckled Ignis’s pants, his eyes both sad and full of desire. They would have to get used to a long-distance relationship, but for now they would just take advantage of every moment they had together. Ignis let out a gasp and then a moan as Gladio took his cock in his mouth, sucking it expertly. He knew he they shouldn’t be doing this in front of the window, but the shock of pleasure coursing through his body made him lose sight of all his worries.

“Gladio,” Ignis moaned as he sucked harder, moving his mouth and tongue down to the base of his cock and back. Gladio’s hands pulled Ignis’s pants off. He inserted his fingers into Ignis, making him moan into Gladio’s shoulder so anyone passing by his room wouldn’t hear. He was sure eventually they wouldn’t be so sexually active, especially since Gladio would be moving, but for now he was going to enjoy their heightened libidos.

“I love it when I hear you moan my name,” Gladio said, his eyes alight with his own passion. He moved his fingers in and out of Ignis while he unzipped his pants and pulled out his hard cock. “Come here.”

Ignis obliged and straddled Gladio, shuddering in sweet delight as his cock entered him slowly. He didn’t have a chance to move. Gladio began thrusting under him, his movements driving Ignis wild. He always knew how to reach deep within him and make him forget something so simple as his name, only knowing the sweet joy of having Gladio in him. It wasn’t long before they both climaxed, and Ignis could only hope that no one happened to be passing by outside and saw them going at it.

“Are you staying the night?” Ignis asked after they had cleaned up and made themselves presentable again.

“I probably shouldn’t,” Gladio said with a sigh. “I got angry at my parents and decided to come here. They’ll be worried until I come home.”

“Gladio,” Ignis said sternly. “You shouldn’t worry your parents. They’re doing everything they can to make sure you’re safe.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know. They’ll be happy to know you set me straight.” Gladio grinned. “Well that’s a poor choice of words.”

Ignis laughed. “Oh, my parents will be having me take a self-defense class with a private trainer. You are invited to take it with me if you’d like. Noctis and Prompto too.”

“Really?” Gladio smiled. “Well I can’t say no to that. It would be interesting to see if you can overpower me.” He winked at Ignis.

“You really are a pervert, aren’t you?” Ignis teased. “Come on. I’ll show you to the door.”

Ignis and Gladio walked out hand in hand and said their goodbyes on the front porch. They would see each other tomorrow, but Ignis did want to spend more time with him since it meant the family would be moving to Altissia for the time being. When Ignis made his way back to his room, he felt a sadness overwhelming him at the thought of Gladio leaving Lucis.

There was no good solution for it. Lucis was at war and they couldn’t just ignore the fact that a draft was inevitable. His best chance would be to go to Altissia until he was no longer draft eligible, which wouldn’t happen until he was twenty five. That was almost ten years of them being in a long-distance relationship. Ignis had dreams of becoming a politician and wasn’t about to sacrifice his dreams to move. Gladio wasn’t asking either. If anything, the faster he became a politician and made the impact he wanted, the faster Gladio would be able to come home.

They would have to make it work if they wanted the relationship to last. Maybe this was a sign that it wasn’t going to work out, but Ignis wasn’t one for letting superstitions or signs deter him from what he wanted. And he wanted Gladio. So Ignis only cried once Gladio was gone, hiding his sorrow away from him so he could be strong for his boyfriend.

That night Ignis had a series of dreams that were particularly nasty. One was of Gladio being drafted, of him fighting in the war, of Ignis having to identify his body with his sister and parents. He woke in a cold sweat, panting and worried that the dream was a reality. When he went back to sleep he dreamt that Gladio was leaving him, going to Altissia and ending their relationship. By the time he woke from that dream, just as terrified as he was from the first one, the sun was beginning to peak over the horizon. He knew he needed sleep, but if his dreams were going to be as terrible as the previous ones, then staying awake would be a better option.

His parents were home for the day, ordering the chefs around to make preparations for dinner. Ignis usually got the kitchen on Sundays, but this was a special occasion. He would likely just bring the inevitable leftovers to school the next day. His parents always went above and beyond what was entirely necessary when they had guests over, and they had ignored his insistence that dinner didn’t have to be anything fancy. His mother clearly looked like she wanted to show off her vast wealth. His father was more jovial about it. He wanted to make sure that the Amicitias received the same treatment as everyone else, if not better treatment.

“After all, I am meeting the parents of the boy my son is dating,” he had told Ignis that morning over coffee.

“Don’t judge them harshly,” Ignis said. “They work very hard and are good people.” He didn’t mention that most of their assets were stored away to prepare for their inevitable move to Altissia.

“Try not to worry so much Ignis,” his father replied. “You’ve always been a good judge of character. Why wouldn’t we trust you?”

The day passed by with agonizing slowness, yet somehow it moved rather quickly. By the time dinner preparations were being finished, Ignis was ordered to dress for the occasion, even though he had been to the Amicitia’s house and had dinner with them several times. He obeyed his parents, dressing in one of the preapproved suits they made him wear and made his way downstairs just as the doorbell rang.

The Amicitia’s were well dressed for the occasion as well, which Ignis was relieved to see. He didn’t want his parents scrutinizing their attire just because Gladio refused to wear anything but his leather jacket. Today, though, he dressed in a suit, even though he refused a tie and the top button of his shirt was unbuttoned. His father was wearing his military formalwear, a black suit with gold lapels and buttons. His mother was wearing a nice black dress and beautiful diamond earrings. She was holding a bottle of rather expensive looking wine. Ignis hoped they hadn’t gone out of their way to bring some to his parents. It was entirely unnecessary, but his parents would greatly appreciate the gesture.

“Good evening Ignis,” Mrs. Amicitia said as he greeted them at the door. “I apologize if we’re late. Gladio had a bit of an issue with his tie.”

“I would be more shocked if he wore one in the first place,” Ignis said with a smile. They hugged him in greeting, save for Gladio, who kissed him on the lips lightly. Ignis’s parents were standing behind him, very much aware of the familiarity between Ignis and Gladio’s family. “Mr. and Mrs. Amicitia, this is my mother and father.”

“It’s wonderful to meet you,” Mrs. Amiticia said in greeting to them both. They exchanged pleasantries and introduced themselves to each other, and Ignis’s father graciously accepted the wine they brought.

“What a wonderful vintage,” he said. “We must have it with dinner. I do believe Ignis said you have a daughter as well?”

“Iris is over at their friend’s house,” Mr. Amicitia replied. “She is a talented musician and is taking it upon herself to start a band with their friend, Prompto. Apparently they’ve even caught the attention of a famous musician.”

“Off to a great start then,” Ignis’s father commented. “I believe the table has been set.”

They followed Ignis’s parents into the stuffy dining room, Gladio holding Ignis’s hands the entire time. Since it was a smaller party, the dining room table had been resized to accommodate, a smaller round table in place of the large oblong one so that they could all face each other. The table had already been set and one of the butler’s grabbed the bottle of wine to open it and pour them each a glass. Gladio and Ignis received one as well, with their parents’ permission of course. Gladio and Ignis sat next to each other, both of them feeling awkward, as their parents took their seats next to their respective husband or wife.

“Ignis has told me that you were sent out to the site of the attack,” his father began as the butlers brought out the first course, a delicious hot soup that had an explosion of flavors to enjoy. “We are very relieved you made it back safely.”

“Thank you,” Mr. Amicitia replied. It was a tense topic for anyone to talk about, but for him it was likely worse. “There was a lot of information that was incorrectly reported to the media.”

“Such as?” his mother asked. Ignis groaned internally and Gladio held his hand tightly. They didn’t need to dig for information right now, especially not about something like that.

“Niflheim didn’t start this,” he replied. The room went silent. “I don’t have much details on it, but I was assured that there is a very specific reason why Niflheim wouldn’t go back to war. Not at least for another year or so.”

“That is alarming,” his father commented. “To think that we will be knowingly sending our sons and daughters off to war for something such as this is so unfortunate.”

“Gladio won’t be going to war,” Mrs. Amicitia replied. “We’ve prepared for this eventuality, unfortunately. We’re going to be moving to Altissia to protect our children.”

“That is a smart move,” his mother said, surprising him. “Ignis, how do you feel about that?”

“As much as I want Gladio to stay here, I would prefer him safe,” Ignis said. He recited this line in his room before they had arrived. “If we’re supposed to make it in our relationship then it being a long-distance one will have no impact.”

“Your son is very smart,” Mr. Amicitia said. “And I’m sure we could make arrangements so that Ignis and Gladio could see each other during breaks and holidays.”

“Of course,” his father agreed. The conversation lulled at that point, and the parents spoke to each other about their line of work, their hobbies, and other conversational topics that were not as tense as the family moving or the war that Lucis started. Ignis wondered why Lucis would even go back to war with Niflheim in the first place. Hadn’t they been trying to end it for years?

“Ignis has told me that your son is a rather kind hearted individual,” Ignis’s mother said once the main course had been served. “I am rather happy to hear that since we always had concerns about who Ignis brought home with him.”

“The feeling is mutual,” Mrs. Amicitia replied. “Gladio may look tough, but he is a good-natured child, and we wouldn’t want to see him hurt. He would be a man fit to date a king, if he so chose. I think Ignis easily sees his worth.”

“I do,” Ignis replied, trying to break the tension that had built up once again. He knew what the families were doing. One was afraid of being taken advantage of because they were rich. The other was afraid of being used up and left for nothing because they were poor. There was nothing for either of them to worry about. Gladio and Ignis simply liked each other because they were attracted to each other and enjoyed their personalities. It really was as simple as that.

“I don’t plan on ever letting Ignis go,” Gladio said seriously as he gave Ignis’s hand another squeeze. “Whether or not we live in separate countries.”

“And I don’t foresee giving up Gladio at any point,” Ignis replied. They looked at each other and smiled.

“Ah to be young and in love,” Ignis’s father said. “It reminds me of when I met you, my dear. You were so beautiful and full of life.”

“What happened?” his mother chided him with a laugh.

“Oh no, on the contrary. Your beauty and life have only filled me up more and more each day.” He looked back to Ignis and Gladio after kissing his wife on the lips, a rare public display of intimacy. “I hope that is what is in store for you two. And I can say, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy before, Ignis.”

“I agree,” Mrs. Amicitia said. “Gladio seems calmer and happier now that he’s with you, Ignis.” She looked at her husband with a smile. “It reminds me of when Regis introduced us.”

“You know Regis Caelum?” Ignis’s mother asked in surprise.

“We used to serve together,” Mr. Amicitia replied. “I was his right-hand man for a time. But we eventually went our separate ways to continue on in our own careers. Occasionally we will meet up at a bar and have a drink like old times.”

“I never had the opportunity to serve myself,” Ignis’s father said. “But I understand that serving with your fellow man is like creating a new brotherhood.”

“It is.” He nodded solemnly. “It is important to be able to trust your comrade with your life. Otherwise you’re as good as dead.”

“An understandable conclusion to reach. It was likely that I would have served in the Niflheim army had we not fled Tenebrae when we did. We didn’t want Ignis growing up in a country where he would be forced to serve in the military, regardless of our wishes for his future.” He sighed and took a drink of the wine.

“That is the same reason we’re leaving to Altissia,” Gladio’s mother replied. “They are speaking of initiating a draft, in which case all of our sons will be up for the lottery system.”

“The chances of Ignis being drafted are slim,” Gladio said. It was an uncomfortable truth. There was a clear line drawn between the families, and it all had to do with how much money they made in a year and where they lived as a result.

“Even so, perhaps we should consider moving as well,” Ignis’s father replied.

“Ignis needs to stay here in Lucis if he plans on having a career in politics, dear,” his mother reminded him. She smiled at Gladio. “What would you like to do in the future, dear?”

“I’m thinking of joining the police force,” Gladio replied. “There’s a lot of good I could do there.”

“How noble a cause.” His mother said it in a way that clearly indicated that she hoped for more from the person her son was dating.

“Not all of us can be doctors or politicians,” he replied with a smile. “My sister is the genius in the family. She’ll be going places. The only thing I can try and do is make life better for those around me.” He smiled at Ignis. “Besides, if we make this work, maybe I’ll end up being the prime minister’s husband.”

Ignis blushed at that but enjoyed the thought of being both prime minister for Lucis and being married to Gladio in the future. “I’ll make you part of my security team, then.”

“I like that idea.” Gladio’s smile brightened.

The dinner passed with ease then as they had a dessert of chocolate cake and coffee. Both families seemed to be at least partially reassured that their sons weren’t taking advantage of each other, but Ignis had a feeling that his mother would be the hardest one to win over. She had always been particularly protective of him growing up, at least until he was old enough to care for himself. When dinner ended, they spent some time chatting conversationally so as not to appear rude and leave right after dinner. The time ultimately came for the Amicitias to return home, Gladio included.

Ignis and Gladio said their goodbyes, enjoying a private moment while their parents said their pleasantries and thank yous. Ignis followed Gladio off the porch and to the side of the house where they wouldn’t easily be spotted. There, he pinned Ignis between him and the house, kissing him deeply, clearly having spent the entire evening pent up and being unable to hold his boyfriend. Ignis was a bit taken aback by it, but then again, it didn’t surprise him in the least if he really thought about it.

“Gladio,” Ignis warned when he pulled away from the kiss. “That should be enough for tonight.”

“It should be, but it’s not.” Gladio pressed his body against Ignis’s, his stiff member rubbing against Ignis’s through their clothes. “What can I say? You look ridiculously sexy in that suit.”

“You just have an overactive libido,” Ignis scolded him, trying to ignore the pleasure he felt as Gladio rubbed Ignis’s member with his hand over his clothes. “And you can’t spend the night either. My parents won’t allow it after such a formal dinner.”

“Then maybe I should just leave you frustrated until tomorrow.” Gladio kissed Ignis as he continued to rub his hand outside his suit. When he finally released him, Ignis felt thoroughly frustrated at Gladio. He knew what he was doing. “Don’t do anything tonight. I want tomorrow to be good.”

“Same to you then,” Ignis said as he playfully shoved him. Gladio grabbed his hands and kissed him as he did.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Iggy,” Gladio breathed. He kissed him one more time then walked away, leaving Ignis thoroughly uncomposed. He took a moment to calm himself before he walked back to the house and back inside. His parents were waiting for him as the Amicitias had just left.

“They seem like a nice family,” his father commented. “I think you picked well, Ignis.”

“I don’t,” his mother replied. “They’re just ready to leave to Altissia with little regard to leaving my son behind?”

“They’re doing it to protect Gladio,” Ignis pointed out. “Gladio and I talked about it. He was ready to fight them on it, but I convinced him to go.”

“Really?” his father asked.

“It would be selfish of me not to. If I really love him then I’ll make it work while he’s in Altissia.”

“Love?” his father asked, eyebrows raised. Ignis blushed. He hadn’t meant to say that, especially since he hadn’t really considered whether or not it was love. “You love him that much?”

“Yeah, I guess I do,” Ignis replied with a smile. “Maybe it was love at first sight.”

“Well if he hurts you then there will be hell to pay,” his mother said. “Go get ready for bed, dear. You have school tomorrow.”

Ignis went upstairs and prepared for school tomorrow, still smiling as he thought about loving Gladio. He wondered when would be a good time to tell Gladio that he loved him. It was still early in the relationship and he didn’t want to jeopardize it. Perhaps he would tell him before the family left for Altissia. It filled him with a sweet joy to know that he had found someone to love, and yet he felt a hollow ache in knowing that he would have to say goodbye to him in a few months’ time. They would make it work. They had to. After all, Ignis had never loved someone before, let alone the way he loved Gladio.

Chapter Text

Prompto found out that Iris and Gladio were moving to Altissia halfway through one of Kingsglaive’s rehearsals. It was Saturday and they had agreed to all go to the recording studio together. Ravus, Iris, and the other guitarist that Nyx had introduced named Cindy, all enjoying the sounds of Kingsglaive. When Prompto played the song he had been working on with the band, Ravus had been the first to tell him that maybe there was something to the band if he was their leader. That’s when Iris broke the news.

“It’s because they’re trying to make sure Gladio doesn’t get drafted,” Iris said apologetically. “I don’t want to go, but we have to protect him.”

“They haven’t announced a draft,” Ravus argued.

“Yeah but we all know it’s coming,” Nyx was the one to interrupt them. “And the chances of those who live in the boroughs getting drafted are higher than say a Caelum or a Nox Fleuret getting drafted.”

“I’m trying to convince them to let me stay with dad here in Insomnia,” Iris said. “Then at least I can finish my education at the academy and keep the band going. It’s not like I’ll be drafted since I’m a girl.”

“Well I don’t plan on joining a band that doesn’t have a drummer,” Cindy said in a thick accent. She was really pretty with curly blond hair and blue eyes. She dressed in short shorts and a crop top, flaunting her body with curves in all the right places. Prompto couldn’t help but flush red when he first saw her, but he was singularly devoted to Noctis. Ravus had to deal with that fact too.

“I don’t see a reason for a band to keep going if the drummer leaves before the band can even get started,” Ravus pointed out.

“We’ll figure something out,” Iris insisted. “Right Prompto?”

“Worst case, we’ll have to find another drummer,” Prompto replied. “Sorry, Iris. But they have a point.”

Iris crossed her arms, pouting. “It was my idea in the first place to get a band together.”

“It doesn’t matter whose idea it was,” Nyx commented. “It’s about practicality. You can’t have band members all across Eos and hope that it’ll work. And what are the odds of your dad saying yes to having you stay in Insomnia?”

“Slim to none,” Iris said with a sigh. “Fine. I’ll try and find a drummer that can take my place until I come back.”

“I actually have a recommendation,” Cindy said after a moment of consideration. “He’s a kind of shady guy, but that’s just how he comes across.”

“You’re not thinking Dino are you?” Nyx asked.

“That’s exactly who I’m thinking of. He’s cute enough as long as he doesn’t open his mouth, and he’s a decent drummer. I’ll see if he’s interested in a semi-permanent position in this unnamed band.” Cindy took out her phone and looked at them for the approval.

“Do it,” Iris said sullenly. Cindy got on her phone, chatting with whoever this Dino was on the other end.

“We haven’t even practiced together,” Ravus said. “I don’t see how it’s going to cause such a disruption if you don’t play with us.”

“Good point,” Nyx said. “I consider Prompto my progeny, for lack of better words. If you all want to be in his band, then we’re going to take some time to get to know your worth. It’s not an automatic in just because you think you’re talented.”

Iris and Ravus looked shocked, and Prompto only felt embarrassed. Nyx was particular about his music as it had to be perfection each and every time they performed. It only made his need for Prompto’s band to be perfect as well. It went beyond if someone sounded good. Nyx was going to check and see how well they worked with him too. He was making sure the band revolved around him, not the other way around.

“What’s wrong, pretty boy?” Cindy asked Ravus with a smile. “This the first time someone tell you that you weren’t automatically accepted? Nyx is serious about making sure Prompto is successful in whatever he wants to do. He won’t let a shitty bassist get in the way.”

Nyx had explained to Prompto before he introduced her that they had been friends for a while, especially since her grandfather had been one of the enlisted who had trained him when he first joined the military. He was retired now and owned a gas station outside of Insomnia with Cindy, but Cindy was willing to come into the city if the band was decent enough. She was older than all of them, in her early twenties, but she scoffed at the idea of age being a factor. As long as they were talented enough, that’s all she cared about.

“Let’s set you up with some instruments,” Nyx said as he ignored Cindy’s jab in Ravus’s direction. “We’re going to pair you up so you can learn your part of Prompto’s song.”

“Which currently has no name, by the way,” Ravus pointed out.

“Have you thought of a name for it, Prompto?” Nyx asked.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied. “Soar.”

“Good choice,” Nyx said. “Alright. We’re going to work on Soar.”

They all spent a long time with the band members of Kingsglaive, learning their part for the song that Prompto had written. Nyx observed them along with Prompto, but Nyx was making evaluations whereas Prompto was just trusting them to be talented enough. Maybe he was naïve, but he didn’t think someone like Ravus would be able to do something poorly. Nyx was not so sure, so Prompto let him take control of the evaluative process.

After about an hour the door opened and Noctis stepped inside. He had decided to crash at Nyx’s place as long as Prompto was staying there, and so far his parents hadn’t given him any indication that it was okay to come home. Nyx was fine with it as long as Noctis’s father was okay with it. Prompto doubted that he was, but Noctis had said that when he told him he had just made a face and told him to do what he wanted. By now he must have learned that Noctis was going to do whatever he wanted to.

Part of the reason why Noctis was coming to the rehearsals was Prompto’s promise to keep him more involved. The other part was because of Ravus. Prompto had caught Ravus staring at him a couple of times, but Noctis had made it clear that they were dating. Iris also put her foot down and said it was better for them not to get romantically involved or for any love triangles to form. Prompto had agreed readily enough, and ultimately Ravus realized that Noctis wasn’t going anywhere.

Nyx wasn’t the happiest that Prompto and Noctis had reconciled. He had told Prompto as much in private, letting him know that he was worried Noctis would just repeat the same mistakes and have some other excuse this time that he would ultimately forgive. Prompto made a promise to Nyx and to himself that if Noctis did something like that to him again then he would end it for good. That seemed to appease Nyx for the time being, although he looked at Noctis with suspicion still.

Prompto was a bit frustrated by it. They had cleared up the misunderstanding and were happy together. He knew they were dating, that Noctis liked him the way he liked Noctis. While he appreciated everyone’s support, he didn’t need them butting into his love life if they weren’t going to trust his own decision making. He knew that he didn’t have much experience with friends, let alone lovers, but he felt like he could get a good read on people and that should be enough for them.

The only benefit to their suspicions was Noctis being overly lovey towards him, clearly trying to prove to others that he wasn’t going anywhere and that he was devoted to Prompto. Prompto had to admit that he was selfishly happy at the notion of Noctis being there by his side, ready to do what he asked if needed. He wasn’t taking advantage of it, but he definitely enjoying being able to sneak a kiss from Noctis in random intervals or hold his hand openly.

“Alright, I want to hear how it all sounds together,” Nyx said finally. Iris looked tired and Ravus was sweating. Cindy was the only one who didn’t look to phased by it. “It’s just as important that you all can work together as a band as it is that you play well.”

Prompto grabbed his guitar and took his spot in front of the young band, the members of Kingsglaive giving them the room to play. He looked to Iris, who marked the beat, and they started. The music seemed to radiate outwards from them, all of them trying to prove their worth to Nyx. It wasn’t a particularly hard song to play, Prompto thought, but it was something he emotionally connected with on a deeper level than just being able to play something that required a lot of technique work. He put his heart into it, letting his music carry his soul across to those who were listening.

When I get up
I’m not coming down
Waited too long with my feet on the ground
I’ll get so high
No one can take my wings

Ravus provided the backup vocals for him, their voices mingling together rather well. When the song ended the band members looked pleased, but Nyx was still considering. Noctis was watching him with a giant smile on his face, making him blush. Ravus and Iris looked at Prompto then to Nyx expectantly, hoping they would hear some good news.

“You have some work to do, but if you work hard then I think you’ll be decent,” Nyx said finally. “We’ll have to hear how you sound with Dino, but I suggest you all start rehearsing together daily. We’ll make time for you to rehearse here before we get started with our own rehearsals. Then when you’re good enough we can take a look at setting up a live for you.”

“I didn’t realize you’d be so militant,” Ravus said.

“I demand perfection,” Nyx replied. “And if you want to be part of Prompto’s band, I’ll be involved, especially if you all want to end up famous. Now, you all need to come up with a band name. Think about it, get to know each other, work on it.”

They didn’t stay much longer after that, but all of them agreed on Nyx’s plan. Ravus seemed a bit forlorn about it at first, but he had lost a bet and had to at least try. Prompto left with Noctis and Ravus. Cindy opted to stay and talk to Nyx, and Iris wanted to talk to Cindy about the replacement drummer while she was living in Altissia. Chances were that if she really did have to move then that would be the end of her time as a drummer in the band. Prompto could foresee them touring long before she ever came back. It was a sad thought, but the more he worked on his music the more he thought about taking it seriously as a career.

“You know,” Ravus said as they walked down the street. “I get that you both are dating and I’m happy for you, but you might want to consider a threesome sometime.”

“What?” Noctis asked as he stopped in his tracks.

“I’m not looking to fuck you, Noctis,” Ravus said with a smile. “Prompto is my target. He’s cute, and I imagine he’d be cuter on top of me.”

“What makes you think I’ll ever agree to something like that?” Noctis asked. Prompto was blushing a deep red color, especially with Ravus put two hands on his waist and pulled him close.

“I really think we could go together well,” Ravus said, his smile becoming more devious as he leaned into kiss Prompto’s neck. Noctis pulled him away before he could, and he held up his hands in mock surrender. “Part of the reason I agreed to the bet was because Prompto here looks cute enough to devour. I’m not going to give up just because you’re with Noctis, especially since we all know how fickle you can be.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Noctis said through gritted teeth. Prompto felt like he was being taken away on a whirlwind and didn’t quite know what to think. Hadn’t Iris made it clear that relationships in the band were a terrible idea?

“We’ll see,” Ravus said with a laugh. “My sister isn’t giving up on you either, Noctis. Think about it. She gets you, I get Prompto. Not a bad deal.”

“Except you’re forgetting the fact that I’m not leaving Noctis,” Prompto said.

“Hence the threesome.” Ravus turned around and walked away, leaving them alone on the street. “Think about it, Prompto. You can do better.”

“What the actual fuck?” Noctis asked once Ravus was out of earshot. They resumed their walk to the subway station to go back to Nyx’s place. “Why is he even in your band?”

“I didn’t pick him,” Prompto pointed out. “But he does have talent. At least I know I have an option if we ever break up.”

“What?” Noctis asked incredulously.

Prompto laughed. “I’m kidding, Noctis. I don’t plan on leaving you. And I hope you don’t plan on leaving me.”

“Never,” Noctis replied. “It’s both Ravus and Luna. They do this shit all the time, and Luna still doesn’t get that it’s never going to happen between us. I mean, will it take me marrying you or something for her to get it?”

“We’re a bit too young for marriage,” Prompto pointed out as they reached the subway station. Nevertheless he was blushing at the thought that Noctis was thinking about being with him long enough to get married. “But we can take a look at it in a few years.”

Noctis smiled and gripped his hand tightly. “So no threesomes with Ravus?”

“Well, I didn’t say that.” Prompto laughed at Noctis’s shocked expression. If he was honest with himself, he was attracted to Ravus, but he wasn’t going to just cheat on Noctis because he thought another guy was pretty. He didn’t want to be guilty of what everyone thought Noctis was guilty of.

“If you want to, we can,” Noctis said quietly as the subway arrived.

“I’m just kidding,” Prompto said. They got on the subway and he wrapped his arms around Noctis’s waist, holding him close as they stood, making room for the families and elderly who needed to sit. “We haven’t even had sex yet. Why would I think about having a threesome?”

“True.” Noctis was still sulking a bit while the train left the station, and Prompto took the opportunity to kiss his boyfriend gently on the lips. He ignored the people staring at them, and Noctis did the same. He seemed to finally get over the teasing as he reached a hand up towards Prompto’s neck, his fingers caressing it lightly as they continued to kiss.

“We should take this slow,” Noctis said as he pulled away from the kiss. “I really want to cherish you.”

“Will having sex with me make you cherish me less?” Prompto asked with a frown. “Is that what happened with all the other people you’ve been with?”

“I never felt like this about anyone before you,” Noctis explained. “And I’m worried that I’ll just end up taking advantage of you.”

“It sounds like you’re worried about losing interest in me or getting bored with me if we have sex,” Prompto pointed out. He didn’t think he needed to explain to Noctis how much that hurt him. “If I’m only interesting because of the anticipation of having sex, then it doesn’t sound like you are interested in me at all anyway.”

“That’s not it at all,” Noctis said. The train was already coming to a stop, the ride from the studio to Nyx’s place fairly short. “Well, maybe it is, but I definitely think you’re an interesting person and someone I want to know completely. I think I’m just worried about my own hang ups. I’m worried about ruining you.”

“Dude, you can’t ruin me,” Prompto said as they got off the subway. “I’m an adopted kid from Niflheim whose real father could be the Minister. I have anxiety and my parents keep everything from me. If that didn’t ruin me, then I don’t think you can. Besides, your dick can’t be that powerful.”

Noctis couldn’t help but laugh at that. “You’re right. I guess I’m just serious about you and I don’t want to do anything to fuck it up.”

“Then we need to let our relationship have its natural flow,” Prompto said. They were close to Nyx’s place now, and he was hoping that Noctis wasn’t so adamant against having sex for a while. He liked Noctis a lot and they had touched each other almost every time they were together. “You really want to let Ignis and Gladio have all the fun?”

“I’m still pissed they’ve already had sex,” Noctis said, still laughing. They arrived at Nyx’s place. Prompto used the spare key he was given to open the door and step inside. It was dark inside, so Prompto turned a few lights on in order to give it a welcoming feel. To his surprise, he felt like Nyx’s place was a lot more inviting than his parents and would be sad when his parents wanted him to come home.

“How did you even find out?” Prompto asked. They made their way casually up the stairs and to the spare room that Prompto and Noctis had decided to occupy. Nyx was fine with them sharing a room together and gave them a lot more freedoms than any guardian should. But he had told Prompto from the start that he trusted him to make the good decisions since he had never made terrible ones from the start.

“He came into school looking like he had just won the lottery,” Noctis said. “He never looks that smug or happy. And from what I can tell, they’re going at it like it’s their job.”

“It’s not like it’s a competition,” Prompto commented. “But if it was, we would definitely be losing.”

“Fine, fine,” Noctis conceded as Prompto set his belongings down and collapsed on the bed that was twice as large as his bed at home. It didn’t have the decorations that Prompto had, but the room was fairly roomy and comfortable.

“So you agree we should just take it at a natural pace and not force it or intentionally delay it?” Prompto asked with a yawn. He definitely wanted to have sex with Noctis, but tonight wasn’t likely the night. He was worn out and needed sleep.

“Yeah. So you in the mood for it tonight?” Noctis smiled at him but caught Prompto’s yawn and proceeded to yawn in exhaustion. He laughed. “Guess we’re both tired.”

“Let’s see what tomorrow brings.” Prompto took his shirt off and tossed it lazily into the laundry hamper.

“Well now, that’s not nice.” Noctis walked over to him and kissed his chest. Prompto threw his head back with a sigh in delight as Noctis’s tongue traced over his neck, his chest, teasing his nipples. Prompto let out a light moan as he felt a jolt of pleasure roll over him. Noctis moved his lips lower, his desire growing despite his exhaustion, and thought maybe this would be a good time to try something more.

“I’m home,” Nyx called downstairs as the door opened and closed loudly. “If you’re naked, I suggest putting some clothes on!”

Noctis pulled away from Prompto, anguish in his eyes at being interrupted. Prompto sighed in sadness as he got up and pulled on a tank top for bed. He grabbed his sweatpants and changed into them, ignoring Noctis staring at him or the fact that his member was hard as he remembered Noctis licking his chest. He wanted more but it didn’t look like it would happen tonight.

“You guys decent?” Nyx asked outside the door.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied.

Nyx opened the door and looked at them both, trying to decide if they had been up to anything sordid before he got home. Of course they were, but not to the extent they could have been. “Your parents called,” Nyx said as he looked to Prompto. “They said that you can come back home tomorrow.”

“Oh,” Prompto replied. He felt strangely disappointed. It was nice to come home and have Nyx there with dinner and to be able to spend the time with his boyfriend without his parents giving him trouble. It almost felt like how a home should feel, which he never realized he hadn’t really had that, despite how much he thought he had a loving family growing up.

“You’re welcome here anytime,” Nyx said. “If anything happens at home and you need to get away, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto replied. “Thanks for having us.”

“Anytime. Well, Noctis you have a house to live in. Your dad probably misses you.”

“Eh.” Noctis shrugged and smiled at him. “Thanks for having me, though.”

“Get some sleep, you two. And I do mean sleep.” Nyx closed the door behind him, leaving them alone and the mood thoroughly spoiled.

“Well I’m beat,” Noctis said. He climbed into bed and beckoned for Prompto to join him. “Maybe tomorrow we’ll have better success.”

“I’m not worried about it now that we’re on the same page.” Prompto got in bed and was immediately pulled into Noctis’s arms. He fell asleep pretty quickly, feeling safe and comforted in Noctis’s arms.

Halfway through the night, though, he woke with a start. He had gotten into a routine of having nightmares, constantly on the verge of something that hadn’t quite surfaced to his memories. It frustrated him as he wanted to just remember it so he could finally get some sleep. It also concerned him because it meant that something was being repressed. What if it was too traumatic for him and that’s why it had been repressed?

He looked over at Noctis, sleeping soundly next to him, his face beautiful and peaceful in his sleep. Prompto leaned over and kissed him lightly on the lips, and Noctis immediately reached over and pulled him into his arms. He felt safe in his arms, like he would be okay as long as he was with him. Prompto snuggled close into him, his eyes heavy with sleepiness.

“Mmmm I love you,” Noctis murmured in his sleep. Prompto didn’t think he was awake enough to know what he was saying, but his heart was racing nevertheless. He only hoped that he was dreaming of him and not someone else.

Prompto drifted off to sleep, feeling calmer knowing that he had Noctis beside him.

Chapter Text

Prompto had to admit that he didn’t want to go home. He didn’t want to deal with the tension of knowing that his parents were hiding something from him and wouldn’t tell him until he was eighteen. More and more home was beginning to feel false, like a family that was forcefully constructed for whatever means to an end. It wasn’t like Nyx’s house, where he knew he was welcome. Nyx was hiding something from him too, but he didn’t approach it in a way where it was tense or made him feel unwelcomed. He almost felt like Nyx wanted to tell him but couldn’t.

Noctis had volunteered to go home with Prompto, but Nyx had said that it would be better if it was just him and Prompto. It was no secret that his parents didn’t want him seeing Noctis, and Prompto had a feeling that Nyx conveniently forgot to mention that he was staying with him at Nyx’s place. Noctis wasn’t particularly eager to leave Prompto alone, but he resolved to come over to his place later in the day when things had settled down.

Nyx gave them plenty of time for their farewells, but it wasn’t like they weren’t ever going to see each other again. They stood outside Nyx’s house in the chilly air, all of them wearing jackets to prepare for the fall weather. Even still, Noctis was hugging Prompto like this was the last time they would ever be together. Prompto didn’t understand the sense of urgency, but then again, Noctis was likely just trying to make up for hurting him still.

“What’s wrong, Noct?” Prompto asked him as he wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly.

“Nothing,” Noctis replied with a sigh. “I just had a bad dream last night is all.”

When Noctis pulled away from their embrace, their arms still holding each other, Prompto noticed that his eyes did look a bit red and tired. For a guy who valued his sleep so much, the nightmare must have really been disturbing to wake him up and keep him up at night. Apparently Prompto wasn’t the only one who ended up having nightmares last night.

“Well I’m not going anywhere,” Prompto said with a tired smile. His nightmares were persistent last night, even after falling back to sleep in Noctis’s arms. “It was only a bad dream.”

“Yeah,” Noctis said, but he didn’t sound convinced. “I just had a dream that you decided to go back to Niflheim and break it off with me.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” Prompto said immediately. Noctis was frowning still, so Prompto took the opportunity to kiss him until Noctis succumbed to the kiss and he felt his worries slipping away. He always felt a rush of desire that he doubted would go away anytime he touched or kissed Noctis. But right now he was focused on taking away Noctis’s worries.

“Alright, alright,” Noctis said finally, a smile breaking out on his face. “I get it. Let me know as soon as it’s okay for me to sneak into the house.”

“I will.” Prompto kissed him on the lips one more time before Nyx finally got tired of it and coughed loudly. “Sorry Nyx.”

“I guess I should go home and enjoy my own bed for once,” Noctis conceded. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Ready?” Nyx asked Prompto. It was a short ride to his house, the small townhouse looking far more empty and unwelcoming than it should have. Prompto felt far more apprehensive about seeing his parents again and couldn’t quite say why. He knew they were keeping things from him, but he still shouldn’t have felt this worried. This scared.

“Yeah,” Prompto breathed. He took the spare key out of his pocket that Nyx had given him and tried to give it back to him.

“You keep it,” Nyx said. “You’re family, Prompto. If anything comes up, you can stay with me. Even if I’m touring, you’re welcome to stay at my place.”

“Thank you.” Prompto felt like he was going to cry from the admission. Nyx gave him a hug before they walked into the house. His parents were sitting in the kitchen, his father reading a newspaper and his mother making coffee, as if they hadn’t just been out of town doing something they refused to mention.

“Prompto,” his father said with a smile. “It’s so good to see you.”

He stood up and hugged Prompto then shook Nyx’s hand in gratitude. His mother did the same thing, and Prompto was reminded that he really did care for his parents. They were still his parents, they still raised him since he was adopted. Surely they felt some sort of love for him that wasn’t going to disappear just by the secrets that they kept. Their hugs were warm and welcoming, and that was something that couldn’t be faked.

“You look well,” his mother said as she pressed one hand against his face in motherly warmth. “Nyx has done a great job taking care of you. Thank you, Nyx, for watching after our son.”

“He’s a good kid,” Nyx replied. “You might want to give his boyfriend a chance too. He really cares about Prompto.”

They both frowned, clearly concerned that Nyx had let Noctis be around Prompto and that the relationship had advanced to dating. Prompto hadn’t particularly wanted to tell his parents about their relationship, especially since they clearly hated the Caelums for whatever reason, but they would have to get used to it. Prompto wasn’t going to just stop dating Noctis because his parents didn’t like it.

“Hmm, maybe so,” his father said. “We’ll discuss it later. For now, we’re just happy you’re home.”

“Where did you guys go anyway?” Prompto asked, changing the subject back to the reason why he had to stay with Nyx in the first place.

“Work took us out of town and we didn’t want you staying on your own,” his father replied as they all moved the conversation into the kitchen.

“So it had nothing to do with the attack?” Prompto asked outright. His parents looked at him, a deafening silence filling the house. Nyx remained standing behind Prompto, his arms folded across his chest, while Prompto sat at the table with his parents. He felt like Nyx was acting as his backup in an already difficult conversation.

“Why would you think that, dear?” his mother asked.

“The timing seemed strange,” Prompto replied. “There was an attack then suddenly you get called away for a business trip? Wouldn’t the trips be canceled after something like that?”

His parents shifted uncomfortably, like they had been caught in a lie and they didn’t have a way out. “Well it was already planned,” his father said hesitantly.

“What kind of business are you in?” Prompto asked them. “You’ve never told me. You only just say that you work in business.”

They looked from Prompto to Nyx, who shrugged. “He’s had these questions for a while now. I think it’s fair that he gets some answers. He’ll be seventeen in a couple of weeks.”

“We… We work in the defense department,” his mother said after a long look at his father. “We can’t give more than that. I’m sorry, Prompto. It’s a matter of national security.”

“So you’re military?” Prompto asked. He had a feeling this all related to the other secrets they were keeping from him, the secrets of where he came from, the secrets of his adoption. “You guys are really hiding everything from me, aren’t you? Did you guys even want me?”

“Of course we did!” his mother nearly shouted. “Prompto, honey, you’re our son. We’ve had to keep certain things from you due to the nature of our work, nothing more. We love you, Prompto.”

She got up and hugged Prompto tightly, holding him to try and get the point across that Prompto was very much wanted. He still didn’t know if he could trust it. For all he knew, she was hugging him to cover up her own guilt of hiding the truth. And there were still more secrets that they were hiding from him. As much as he wanted to trust them, he knew that he couldn’t. If they were hiding something as simple as what they did for a living, there had to be more that they were hiding.

“I can’t trust you,” Prompto whispered as his mom pulled away from the hug. His parents looked at him in shock and surprise. “You won’t tell me anything, you want to us to move to Lestallum but won’t say why, and then you say I can’t be around Noctis but won’t give me a good reason for it. How am I supposed to trust you when you can’t tell me anything that’s going on? I know you’re my parents, but that’s not reason enough to just keep everything from me.”

“Son,” his father said sternly. “We would tell you everything if we could. We have promised to tell you everything when you turn eighteen. Until then, you have to be patient and wait. As for Noctis, his is bad news, and we all know it. You will end up getting hurt by him, and we will be left to pick up the pieces.”

“I think it should be my decision whether or not I want to take that risk,” Prompto said angrily. “You’re my parents. You’re supposed to be there for me whether or not I’m happy or heartbroken. I’m not dating someone who is a drug addict, a gangster, or anything that would set off alarm bells. And he is genuine in the way he cares for me. He doesn’t hide things from me.”

Prompto stood up, angry that his parents would keep everything from him and then demand that he stop seeing Noctis. He didn’t want or need to mention the misunderstanding that he had with Noctis recently. It wasn’t as if they were around to know or case. They just wanted him to be isolated, alone, and kept in the dark.

“Son,” his mother began, reaching up to him. Prompto pulled away from her, angry and overwhelmed by the fact that he wasn’t going to convince them that Noctis was worth whatever risks of danger or heartache he might suffer. He didn’t care if it was an eventuality that everyone had warned him about. He liked Noctis, and it should be his mistake to make if that was the case.

“I’m not leaving Noctis,” Prompto said. “You heard Nyx. He said that he’s a good guy. If you can’t trust your son, then maybe you can trust him. Noctis is going to be a part of my life, and you just have to get used to it.”

Prompto walked away after that, too angry to stay around his parents anymore. He was worried this would happen, but at least he had been prepared for it. He heard his parents sigh as he walked away, leaving Nyx alone with them.

“When did we end up with such a rebellious son?” his father asked with another sigh.

“When you decided to keep the truth from him,” Nyx pointed out.

“It’s not like we had a choice,” his mother said. Prompto hesitated at the top of the steps, trying to see if they would divulge any truths that they refused to tell him.

“You always have a choice,” Nyx said. “It’s not like me. I’ll be killed if I tell him the truth. You chose not to tell him, and now he’s confused and lost. The only person he feels safe with, as a result, is Noctis. And he really cares for Prompto, probably more than even he knows.”

Prompto felt his heart stop. What could be so bad that Nyx would be killed if Prompto was told the truth? What gave his parents the authority to tell him but not Nyx? He knew deep down that this all had to do with Minister Besithia and his adoption, but somehow it was all tied together. He was adopted into a web of lies where he was the fly and the adults placed in his life were the spiders. The more he tried to get out, the more he was stuck.

“He’s Regis’s son,” his father said. “We can’t have him involved with Prompto for that very fact.”

“He seems unaware of everything as well,” Nyx said. “I don’t think there’s anything to worry about with Noctis other than the usual relationship issues.”

“Regardless, it’s too dangerous. We’ve been commanded to put him into hiding soon anyway,” his mother replied. “Sorry, Nyx. I know how much you care about Prompto and how much you want him to have a successful career as a musician. It’s not going to happen.”

Nyx sighed. “He’s already far enough into hiding that no one from Niflheim will be able to find him, no matter how hard they try. It’s just cruel to take him away from his friends now that he finally has some.”

“Orders are orders,” his mother insisted. “We’ll be moving to Lestallum in a couple of weeks.”

“At least wait until after his birthday,” Nyx pleaded. “He’s never had a birthday with friends before. Just give him that.”

There was a moment of hesitation. “We’ll consider it. But if the order comes that we have to move tomorrow, then we have no choice.”

Prompto felt himself panicking. He didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to be part of some sort of conspiracy that would take him away from his friends, his boyfriend, his future. He didn’t want Nyx to die just because he wanted to know the truth. The worst part was that he didn’t need to hear the truth to know it. He was Minister Besithia’s son, and somehow they had taken him from him and put him into hiding. There was no guarantee that his parents even wanted him in the first place. They were likely just following orders.

He didn’t know if he wanted to hear anymore. Prompto quietly went to his room and closed the door, panic racing through his body. He needed to calm down, to find his center and relax. It was difficult. Even his music wasn’t enough to calm him. He considered reaching out to his friends or Noctis, but he could barely breathe, let alone make a phone call. Prompto sat on the floor, leaning against his closet door, trying to calm his breathing, his head in his hands.

When his breathing was calm enough, he shakily pulled out his phone and dialed Noctis’s number. The phone rang a few times then went to voicemail. Noctis was likely asleep, tired from getting up early in the morning and having a nightmare. He didn’t leave a voicemail. He didn’t want to worry Noctis. Instead, he got up and climbed into bed, trying to calm his thoughts enough to fall asleep and let the time pass by.

He fell into a lucid sort of dreaming, the sound of gunshots startling him awake as loud flashes went off. Prompto opened his eyes, his panic returning, and felt his tears gathering at the corners of his eyes. His heart was breaking because he knew that he was trapped in this life, unable to escape until he was of age. Nyx said he would be able to go to his place whenever he wanted to or needed to. Maybe he could convince him to take him in for the time being to avoid going to Lestallum. But if it was an order from his parents’ superiors then it didn’t seem like he would likely have a choice. Nothing in his life was his to decide, save for his relationship with Noctis, and they would do what they could to put an end to that. They even said that he wouldn’t be able to have a music career if he wanted to.

There was a soft knock on his door that Prompto wanted to ignore. Sighing, he got up and opened it, wiping his tears so whoever was on the other side wouldn’t be able to see that he had been crying. His mother was waiting for him, looking concerned, although Prompto couldn’t really say what her concern was for. He couldn’t trust that she was concerned for him.

“Prompto,” she said softly. “I’m sorry all this is going on. I wish I could tell you everything, I truly do. But trust me when I say that we love you and we want to protect you at all costs.”

“Then please don’t make me end things with Noctis,” Prompto said tearfully. “I really like him, mom. I don’t care about anything else but that.”

His mother frowned, considering. “It’s not safe for you to be with him. But we have been unreasonable lately. I can’t guarantee that we won’t ever make unreasonable demands of you, but one day you will understand. For now, we’ll let this go. The first sign we see Noctis going to hurt you, we will put an end to it.”

“Thank you,” Prompto replied. He wiped his tears away. There were other questions he wanted to ask, other things he wanted to know, but for now he couldn’t ask his parents. They wouldn’t give him any answers anyway. “Noctis is a good guy. He can’t help it who his father is.”

“I know, dear,” his mother said with a gentleness that sounded like she was his mother and not someone who was likely holding him hostage. “We will have to move to Lestallum soon. It may be temporary, but please don’t fight us on it. This is for your safety, dear.”

“Okay,” Prompto only said, his heart breaking. “But you have to let Noctis visit me whenever he wants to. I’m not going to just disappear off the face of Eos and stop talking to him.” He didn’t think it was for his own safety, but he knew that fighting her was no use. Instead, he had to bargain.

“As long as he can be discreet, we will allow it,” his mother replied.

“And Nyx is having me perform at one of his shows,” Prompto said. “I’m coming back for that too.”

His mother frowned. “I don’t know if we can allow that. But we will see.”

“When are we leaving?” Prompto asked.

“Next weekend. Nyx wanted it to be after your birthday, but we can’t wait that long. I’m sorry dear. Perhaps your friends will come and visit you instead.”

Prompto didn’t like how soon that was. He was going to have to switch schools, get used to a new town, and tell his friends and boyfriend that he was leaving. He thought of the band that they were putting together and how it was ending before it could even begin. If he was really Minister Besithia’s son then there was no way he could do something like music or photography for a career. He was being held hostage most likely, and that meant being a pawn in a political game without having a say in the matter.

“What’s another birthday alone? Doesn’t matter. I just wish you told me sooner that having dreams for the future was pointless,” Prompto said with a sigh. “I was starting to dream that I had the hope of becoming a great musician. We had even started putting a band together. That’s not going to happen now.”

“I didn’t realize that you were doing that,” his mother said. “We have been absent from your life for too long, and I’m sorry for that. Having dreams isn’t pointless. We just may have to put them on hold for a while.”

“Okay.” Prompto was dejected, heartbroken, and resigned that his life wasn’t going to be what he wanted it to be. “I’m going to invite Noctis over later.”

His mother looked like she wanted to protest, but instead she only nodded. “Take as much time as you want with him, dear.” She paused. “When we move to Lestallum you’re going to have to be homeschooled.”

Prompto sighed. “Okay. Whatever you say. I guess I should get started packing.” His mother looked like she wanted to say something else, but instead she just nodded and walked away. Prompto closed the door to his room and grabbed his phone, his tears flowing freely now.

Hey Noct. Let me know
when you can come over. We
need to talk.

He knew he sounded cryptic, but he didn’t want to tell him over the phone that he was going to have to move by the end of the week. Prompto didn’t even care that he was moving before his birthday towards the end of October. He had spent every birthday since he could remember with just his parents, or in most recent years alone. It would just be like another one to add to the books.

What really upset him was that everything that he wanted in his life was being taken from him. His music, his photography, his friends, his boyfriend. While Lestallum wasn’t as far as Gladio’s move to Altissia, it was far enough away to ensure that he wouldn’t be able to see them regularly anymore. And once Gladio went to Altissia he imagined that they would ultimately lose touch with the distance. He had only just made friends, and now his parents were tearing him away from it.

I’m on my way.

Noctis’s brief response was full of worry, but Prompto himself was worried. There was a knock on his door. This time it was his father. He was holding moving boxes, still unfolded and compact for Prompto to set up and use.

“Here,” his father said. “Your mother said that you are going to start packing. We’ll have movers come in and help with the rest while you’re in school.”

“What’s the point of going to school right now?” Prompto asked. “I’m going to be homeschooled in Lestallum and we’re moving at the end of the week anyway. I should just stay home and help pack.”

“Maybe. I’ll consider it.” His father paused. “I’m sorry, Prompto.”

“Everyone keeps apologizing to me, but if you were really sorry then you wouldn’t do this.” He took the boxes from his father. “I think I have a right to be upset right now.”

“You do have the right to be upset. But it’s for your own good. Let us know if you need any help.” His father walked away, leaving Prompto frustrated once more.

Prompto kept his door shut as he looked at the boxes and sighed heavily. He didn’t want to move, he didn’t want to go anywhere, but he didn’t really have a choice at this point. So he resigned to start packing things that he wouldn’t need for the week, mostly clothes from his closet that he hadn’t really used in a while.

When Noctis arrived he was about halfway through his closet. Noctis didn’t bother knocking on his bedroom door. He opened it, saw the moving boxes, and closed it behind him, looking startled and scared. If Prompto could take the worry from him he would, but he was just as worried and scared. Chances were that if his parents had their way, he would never see Noctis again. He would do everything in his power to prevent that from happening.

“What’s going on?” Noctis asked as Prompto stood up. He had been on the floor, folding clothes and putting them in a box until it was full. He didn’t have much, but he was being deliberately slow about it.

“My parents are forcing me to move to Lestallum with them at the end of the week,” Prompto said. “They would have wanted me to break up with you too, but I refused. I’m sorry, Noctis. I swear I’ll find a way for us to be together. But if you don’t want to, then I understand.”

“What the fuck?” Noctis said. “First Gladio and now you? I should have known my nightmare wasn’t just a dream.”

Prompto was crying, Noctis’s sudden anger concerning him. All it would take would be for Noctis to say the words, to tell him he couldn’t deal with a long distance relationship, and it would be over. He couldn’t even blame him. Who would want to continue to date someone who lived cities away, was being kept under lock and key, and had so much baggage to deal with he didn’t even know where to start.

“I’m sorry,” Prompto said as he sat on the bed. He put his head in his hands and cried as he waited for the inevitable breakup that Noctis would put him through. It was too much to hope for anything other than being alone like he was before he met Noctis.

“I’m not mad at you,” Noctis said as he walked over to him and put his arms around him. “I’m mad at your parents. Of course I’ll come see you as often as I can. It’s not like you’re going to Altissia. I’m sure I can swing weekends with you.”

Prompto looked up at him through his tears. “You don’t want to leave me?”

“I told you I never will,” Noctis said. “I meant it. But as soon as we turn eighteen, let’s get out own place together. They won’t be able to say anything about it then.”

“I… I love you, Noctis,” Prompto said. He knew it was probably too early to say it, but he felt like if he didn’t then he would never get the chance. Noctis looked at him in surprise, and he wondered if he would end up regretting it ultimately.

Instead of rejecting his words, Noctis leaned over and kissed him on the lips, soft and delicate. “I love you, Prompto,” Noctis whispered. He kissed him harder, his tongue exploring his mouth, and Prompto’s eyes closed as he took in Noctis’s sweet and smoky taste. He left himself be taken away by his desire for Noctis, trying not to worry about anything else but what was in front of him.

Noctis pressed him back onto the bed, continuing to kiss him, ignoring that his parents were downstairs. It didn’t matter, and even if it did, they didn’t care. Everyone was trying to control Prompto’s life. The least he could do was enjoy the brief moments he had where it was just joy and passion. Prompto reached up as Noctis straddled him, caressing Noctis’s member through his clothes. Noctis greedily took his shirt off and unbuttoned his pants, and Prompto took his shirt off quickly and reached to pull his pants off.

As Noctis continued to kiss him, he helped Prompto wriggle out of his pants. They were both hard, and Prompto took the opportunity to reach his hand over to Noctis’s naked body, sinfully beautiful in front of him, and began to stroke his hard cock. Noctis shuddered on top of him, unable to focus on anything but Prompto’s hand caressing him. He used his other hand to reach up and wrap his arm around his shoulder, his hand on his back, as he held him close while stroking him.

“Nngh,” Noctis moaned into his shoulder, his lips pressed into him. He put his hands on Prompto’s chest, caressing him between what little space was left between them. Before Prompto could finish him off, Noctis push him away so he was laying back on the bed. He looked at Prompto, eyes full of a deeper desire than Prompto had yet to see, and grabbed the lubricant off the desk that he had conveniently left at Prompto’s since they had reconciled.

He used the lube to wet his fingers then inserted them into Prompto, making him gasp. It didn’t matter if they had recently explored every inch of each other. Each time Noctis’s fingers moved in and out of him, slowly at first, then deeper and faster, he felt like his body was being overwhelmed by a hunger in him that only demanded more. It awakened something primal in him that only Noctis could satisfy.

“Noctis,” Prompto begged as he felt his hips twitching from each jolt of pleasure as Noctis hit a spot deep within him. “More… Please.”

Noctis complied. He pulled his fingers out of Prompto and positioned himself, using more lubricant on his throbbing cock as he looked down at Prompto. “Are you sure?”

Prompto nodded and pulled Noctis’s lips towards him, kissing him as their tongues collided in desperate passion. He slowly inserted his cock into Prompto, making him shudder. Noctis had spent so much time on working his fingers in him that it didn’t hurt him the way he thought it would. Instead, as he inched his cock in deeper and deeper, Prompto’s back arched and he felt a pleasure he never knew existed, his mind going blank. There was only Noctis and the ecstasy that he brought him.

He instinctively reached up, and Noctis caught the small of his back, on his knees as Prompto straddled him. Prompto pressed his lips into Noctis’s shoulder, letting out a muffled moan of pleasure as he moved on top of Noctis, his body moving on with its own need to be filled from within. Noctis kept one hand on his back and the other behind him on the bed to steady them both, both of them grunting and moaning as he thrust into Prompto deeper and deeper.

“Fucking Six, Prompto,” Noctis moaned as he began to lose control. He held onto Prompto tightly as he toppled him forward so that Prompto was laying on his back and Noctis was once again on top of him. He thrust in and out of him as fast as he could, Prompto clutching onto his back, his nails digging into his skin as he cried out in pleasure. Noctis hit something deeper and deeper within him, his back arching as he felt himself climaxing, his fluids covering his chest.

Noctis came a short time later, both of them panting and exhausted, but thoroughly pleased with the experience. Prompto knew that having sex with Noctis would be a great experience, but he just didn’t know it would be that great. He felt like there was a new desire opening within him now that he had a taste of just how wonderful it was. His only worry was whether or not Noctis would be able to keep up if it was as bad as he thought it would be.

“Fuck Prompto,” Noctis said as he pulled out and got up. “That was… Fucking Six.”

“I’m glad we agree,” Prompto said with a grin. Noctis grabbed a towel that Prompto had thrown on his dresser and forgotten about and handed it to him. “I’m sorry, Noctis, but it’s going to be a while before I get tired of that.”

“Well I’m glad we agree on that too,” Noctis said with a grin. “You might want to consider taking a bath.”

“Only if you join me,” Prompto said. “Although I don’t know if the tub will fit us both.”

“You’ll just have to sit on top of me then.” Noctis laughed. He grabbed Prompto’s hand and pulled him up, helping him to steady himself. He opened the door slightly to make sure no one else was upstairs, and they both ran to the bathroom, naked and giggling.

Prompto shut the door quickly behind them as Noctis started the bath, a blush rising to his cheeks as he noticed the scratch marks on his back, then his eyes trailed down to Noctis’s bare ass and how perfect it looked. The bathtub was small, definitely smaller than what Noctis was used to in his hulking mansion, but Noctis only climbed into it and beckoned Prompto to join him.

With another blush, Prompto joined him in the bath, lowering himself on top of Noctis straddling him while he faced him. They were both spent, but Noctis gently ran his hand through Prompto’s hair and pulled him into a kiss. Prompto ran his hands over Noctis’s smooth arms and chest as his tongue caressed Noctis’s. If they kept this up, Prompto would be ready to go for another round of passionate sex.

“I won’t let them take you from me,” Noctis said after a moment of kissing and caressing their bodies. He looked at Prompto with serious eyes and held his face between both of his hands. Prompto put his hands on Noctis’s wrists, his heart aching. “We’ll stay together, forever. I swear it.”

“I believe you,” Prompto replied. “I’ll do everything I can to come back to you. I promise.”

Prompto was unsure of what his future would look like, but he knew that Noctis would be in it. He didn’t doubt that people would think that this was just a passing fling since they were both young, but it was different for him, even if it turned out to be a fling for Noctis. He loved Noctis, likely loved him from first sight, and wasn’t going to just let that go easily. If there was one thing he was going to fight for in his life, it would be to fight for his relationship with Noctis.

Everything else in his life was uncertain, full of lies and pain that he couldn’t even comprehend at this point. But he felt like things might be okay in the future as long as he held onto his love for Noctis. The pain of the truths being kept from him wouldn’t tarnish his relationship with Noctis. As he held Noctis and Noctis, in turn, held him, he surrendered his heart over to him and prayed to the Six that this would give them a sign that everything would be alright.

Chapter Text

Prompto heard gunfire in the distance and sat up in bed, his heart beating erratically. Father had warned him about this. He knew in that moment that he had to hide, to make himself as small as possible. Quickly, he got out of his oversized bed and ran to the large walk-in closet as father had told him. It would be difficult to find him there. He just had to hide behind his numerous coats, kept in the very back of the closet for the warm summer months ahead. He wedged himself between two coats and brought his knees to his chest, rocking back and forth as he barely dared to breathe.

The gunfire continued, and there was shouting outside his bedroom in the corridor. He covered his ears with his hands, trying to block out the sound to the best of his ability. Rapid gunfire was hard to block out, and he felt his ears ringing before the shots stopped. When they did there was an echoing across the estate before everything when quiet. Prompto was breathing loudly, panting in his panic. He needed to be quiet, but the tears in his eyes were making it difficult for him to keep calm.

He kept trying to think about what his father had taught him. Stay quiet, keep calm, and hide. Those were his instructions. If he followed them then he had a chance at survival. If not the Lucians would get him. He would die if he was caught. Father had told him that he would die if he didn’t hide.

Footsteps echoed on the marble floor outside his room before the door opened with a loud bang. Prompto jumped, his tears flowing down his cheeks, as he tried to make himself smaller. He needed to stop breathing so heavily. Someone would find him if he wasn’t careful. Father had warned him not to get caught. He had to do everything in his power to stay with his father.

The footsteps got closer to the closet, and Prompto covered his mouth with his hands, trying to stop his panicked breathing through his tears, the silk of his pajamas wet from his crying. He thought whoever was on the other side was going to walk away, but then the closet door opened. Prompto let out an involuntary whimper, and the man stepped into the closet and turned on the light. He was covered by the coats, but it was no use. The man had heard him.

Prompto let out a shriek as he stared down the barrel of an automatic rifle, and he closed his eyes in panic. This was what his father had warned him about. This was why he needed to be quiet. But the shot never came. Crying, whimpering, he looked up at the man behind the barrel of the gun, his stern blue eyes piercing into him.

There was a long moment of hesitation, but ultimately the man lowered his weapon. “You’re his son,” the man said as he looked down at Prompto’s panic stricken face.

Prompto nodded, wiping the tears from his eyes with his silk sleeve. “Where is father?” His voice came out croaky, shaking, and desperate.

“Come with me,” the man said as he held out his hand. “I’ll take you to him.”

Prompto grabbed his hand, knowing he had to get back to his father. This man would take him to father. This man would keep him safe.

Prompto opened his eyes, his body drenched in a cold sweat as the moonlight filtered into his room through the window, the noise of Insomnia subdued in the witching hour. He felt the panic he had felt in his dream, his eyes filled with tears. No, it didn’t feel like a dream. It had felt more like a memory. That man had been in it. Cor had been in it. He was the one who was pointing the barrel of the gun in his face.

His breath was shallow as Prompto pulled his knees to his chest like in the dream, holding his legs tightly to try and calm his thoughts. His life felt like a lie. His parents had always been so secretive about the nature of his adoption, and now it felt like he was remembering aspects of his past that his parents had tried hard to make him forget. They had openly admitted to lying to him about something, he had heard them openly discussing it with Nyx, and this was it. How could he forget something so important as where he came from?

With a shaking hand, Prompto reached out and grabbed his phone. He looked at it, considering who he should reach out to and if there was anyone he could really trust right now. It was just past three in the morning, a time when everyone would be sound asleep. Noctis would be fast asleep right now, and he doubted he would answer his phone at this hour. He had already put Gladio through enough stress, and he was likely stressed enough knowing that he had to move to Altissia. Ignis wasn’t an option since he was likely too worried about Gladio.

Prompto dialed the only other number he felt safe calling. He didn’t know if he could trust it, but ultimately there was no one else he could speak to. His parents were the last people he could trust right now, and they had only made it clearer yesterday. The phone rang, and he thought no one was going to pick up. Just as he had pulled the phone away from his ear, ready to give up entirely, someone answered.

“Hello?” Nyx answered groggily on the other side.

“Nyx,” Prompto said, his voice choked up from his tears.

“Prompto?” Nyx’s voice sounded much more awake now. “What’s wrong?”

“I… I don’t know,” Prompto replied tearfully. “I’m remembering things that can’t be true. I mean… How can they be true?”

“Are you home?” Nyx asked. “I’m coming to you. Can you get out of the house?”

“Yeah.” Prompto wiped the tears off his face like he had in the dream. “I think I can.”

“I’ll be there soon. Get dressed and grab some stuff to take over my place. You can stay there.”

“Thanks Nyx.” Prompto hung up the phone, ignoring the nagging sensation in the pit of his stomach that Nyx was oddly prepared for this moment. He recalled the phone conversation from the other week and the conversation he had with his parents that he overheard. Of course he was prepared. He knew what was going on somehow.

Quickly, he pulled on a pair of sweats and a tank top, then grabbed a change of clothes. He looked over at his guitars and decided to take his electric guitar with him and his camera, stuffing it in his bag with his cell phone charger. His room was half packed already, feeling like he was being pushed out of his house quickly. Quietly, he crept down the hall and grabbed his toothbrush and hairbrush. He knew Noctis would be fast asleep, so he sent him a quick text telling him he was over at Nyx’s and to check in with him tomorrow if he didn’t do so first. It was another worrying text, but then again, Prompto was worried all over again.

Prompto didn’t have to wait long for Nyx to show up. When he crept downstairs he pulled on his sneakers and wrote his parents a quick note that he was going to school straight from running around the track. It was a small lie, but he couldn’t just easily explain why he was going out in the middle of the night. They would definitely try and stop him if he told them the reason anyway. When he stepped out into the crisp night air he was grateful he grabbed his jacket along the way.

Nyx was waiting at the bottom of the steps outside his house, the collar on his leather jacket turned up to protect him from the hint of fall. Fall had arrived, and they were looking to have another crisp day ahead of them. He looked tired, like he had just woken up, and his long hair was disheveled. He had immediately rushed over to get Prompto, who was more grateful than suspicious of his friend and mentor for now.

“You okay?” Nyx asked quietly as Prompto descended the steps. When Prompto nodded, Nyx sighed and grabbed his guitar case from him. “Let’s go.”

Prompto sat behind Nyx as they drove down the street and towards his place, both of them now familiar with riding Nyx’s motorcycle back and forth. They were quiet, neither of them willing to talk while they were exposed in the night air. Prompto kept shifting his eyes nervously, expecting to be ambushed at any moment. He didn’t know why he was so jumpy right now, but he could only attribute it to his dream. Nevertheless, he kept clutched Nyx’s jacket until they were at his house.

Nyx turned on several lights to make the otherwise quiet house brighter and more welcoming. Prompto didn’t feel at ease, though. In fact, it was the opposite. Everything felt menacing, like he didn’t belong and the very house itself was telling him that. His eyes felt tired, but it was the tired that kept him awake instead of beckoning him back to bed. Nyx brought him into the kitchen and had him sit at the table while he made a pot of coffee.

“Here,” Nyx said as he put a hot mug in front of him and laid cream and sugar on the table. Prompto helped himself, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that he had remembered something dangerous. Maybe Ignis was right. Maybe they shouldn’t have pressed the issue. But once he saw a photo of Minister Besithia in his textbook, once he overheard his parents talking to Nyx, once he knew for certain that he was likely being held hostage, he knew he couldn’t just leave it alone.

“Thanks,” Prompto muttered before taking a taste of the hot liquid.

“So what happened?” Nyx asked. “Tell me what you remember.”

Prompto took a deep breath and told him his dream. He could describe everything down to the feel of the fabric and the smell of blood in the air. Nyx’s face only furrowed deeper into a frown as he told him about the dream, the exact opposite of what Prompto had wanted. He wanted Nyx to scoff at him, to tell him he was just having a nightmare. That didn’t seem to be the case.

“Do you remember anything else?” Nyx asked. Prompto thought he heard another meaning behind his words. Do you recall anymore memories?

Prompto shook his head. “Is what I’m dreaming actually a memory?” Prompto asked quietly. “Is that why I feel so scared?”

Nyx sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Maybe I should keep it a secret, but I think you have the right to know. I always have thought so, but the powers that be were adamant on you remaining unaware until you turned eighteen.” He paused as he took a long drink of his coffee, and Prompto suspected that there was something stronger in his mug than just coffee. “I used to be military. Special ops. The people of Lucis believed the war had ended long before it actually had, and our unit was tasked with ending it for good, no matter the cost.

“Our commanding officer was Regis Caelum, and our unit leader was Cor Leonis. They had accepted a mission that would do that. We would raid the house of Minister Besithia of Niflheim, subdue him, and do what we had to in order to end the war. He was adamant on keeping it going, according to our intel, and while the war needed to end and Niflheim needed to be stopped, there were some lines that none of us were prepared to cross. But to Regis and Cor it didn’t matter what it took, just as long as we got the job done. Operation Kingsglaive it was called.”

Nyx laughed miserably as if the title of the operation was a joke. Prompto was shocked by the name. Had Nyx gotten the name of his band from the operation? Why would he call his band something so secretive when it was clear that it wasn’t meant to get out? Maybe that was the point.

“At first, the operation was going according to plan. We infiltrated his estate, got in with minimal casualties. Libertus and I had tracked down the Minister and had him surrounded, cuffed and on his knees. He was saying that he would never surrender, that he was fighting for Niflheim’s future. Nothing we could do would cause him to lose faith in his country. Typical Niflheim nutjob.

“But then Cor came back with a kid in tow. He looked just like the Minister. He said that we could use him as a bargaining chip for the Minister’s surrender. I fought them on it. I was even court martialed and discharged for it. All of us on the team were, save for Cor and Regis. That’s how all us band members met. We all agreed this was something we weren’t willing to do, and we were kicked out of the military for it. The was no reason to involve a kid in this madness. It didn’t matter if you were Besithia’s son.”

You. He had clearly said you, not he. Prompto stared at him in shock, his entire body going numb from the sheer terror of it. He had suspected it was the truth, but only now had it been confirmed. He had a father out there, someone who had wanted him, and he had been taken from that. He didn’t belong in Insomnia as he always suspected. He had been forcibly taken from his father… And Cor was responsible for it. Regis, Noctis’s own father, was responsible for it. The entirety of the band that he loved so much was responsible for it. The one person he thought he could trust, the person he considered his brother, was responsible for it.

“You have to believe me, Prompto. I did everything I could to get them not to take you. But once Cor saw how Besithia was begging for you not to be hurt, for you to be kept safe, his mind was made up. Besithia surrendered, the war ended, peace treaties were signed, and all under the condition that you would be kept a ward of Lucis until you turned eighteen.

“It was decided that you would go to members of Lucian Intelligence to be raised under lock and key. The Argentums were tasked with raising you since they were already a married couple. They were told to keep a low profile, keep you out of the spotlight so no one came looking for you. So they decided to live as relatively poor parents and ensure you didn’t have any friends so no one would come looking for you. They even changed your name.

“But I couldn’t forget the look of terror on your face when you were taken from your father. I refused to forget it, even after I started the band Kingsglaive with the others. Once I figured out where you were, I ingratiated myself in your life, taught you music, kept you close. I vowed to one day tell you the truth and to take you back to your father if you so choose. I’m sorry, Prompto. I can’t express enough how sorry I am.”

There was a deafening silence that filled the space between them. Nyx had known all this time that Prompto was essentially being held captive by Lucis until he was old enough to leave and never look back. But they had ensured that he never knew about his father, let alone where he came from. They had robbed him of his identity so when he was eighteen he wouldn’t even know where to start looking to go back.

His parents, no the Argentums, had raised him with love and compassion, but they had intentionally kept him hidden from the world, kept him a secret so that his father wouldn’t be able to track him down. The house had felt empty lately, and now he knew why. And as soon as he fell in love with someone, it was a person who was the child of the man who gave the order for him to be taken from his father. He had fallen in love with someone whose father was okay with taking a child from his father.

Prompto had been raised to believe that the leaders and elite of Niflheim were evil, but now he wasn’t sure everything was so black and white. It was true that slavery, the cause for the war, those who had their homes destroyed, all of that was terrible and the war definitely needed to end. But it scared Prompto to think that Lucis was willing to go so far as to kidnap a child to end it. What other atrocities were they also guilty of in the name of their country?

“You’ve known all this time and didn’t tell me,” Prompto whispered. “Because you would be killed if you said anything.”

“Yes,” Nyx said quietly. “I know that this changed your life and you had a right to know all this time. But the Lucian government is good at covering up their misdeeds. We were all given the same threat. If we so much as tried to talk about the real reason why the war ended, we would be killed. But you remembered the truth on the own. I’m only filling in the blanks.”

Prompto nodded, but it didn’t make him feel any better. “My entire life has been a lie. I shouldn’t even be in Lucis. I should be in Niflheim, living as the Minister’s son.” He put his head in his hands, his elbows propped up on the table. “I don’t even know where to begin. Should I look for my father? Will he even care that I’m alive still? Does he even know I’m alive still?”

Nyx got up from the table and walked into the other room. A moment later he came in with a stack of envelopes, all of them carefully handled as if they were a treasure. “Before Cor and Regis ordered me to leave, I was able to slip your father my address. I promised him I would save anything he wrote to you and give it to you when the time came. I wasn’t ever able to respond, but he kept the letters coming. There’s more than this. It’s just the first stack.”

He set the stack of letters in front of Prompto. With shaking hands, Prompto picked up the letter on top. It was addressed to Crowley Besithia. The name sounded strange and familiar all at once. Was that what his father had named him? Prompto opened the letter and looked it over, tears stinging his eyes.

My son,

How are you? Are you being treated well? Each day I think about how I fought so hard to have you, and now I cannot hold you in my arms. One day we will be reunited, and we will be able to move on from all this pain. I hope you are doing well. I continue to search for you, but I assume they have changed your name and have tucked you away in some part of Eos where I cannot reach you. Every day I am filled with the regret of knowing that I let them take you from me. Knowing what I know now, I would have preferred they kill me. I’m sorry, my son. Please come home to me when you can. I have your room waiting for you still. I’ll always be waiting for you to return to me.

With all my love,
Verstael Besithia, your father

Underneath his signature was his phone number. Prompto wiped away the tears, his heart aching at the thought of his father writing to him all these years, trying to find him and reach out to him. He had been forcibly removed from the life he knew, young enough that his memory would degrade with time. Everyone, each and every adult in his life, had been carefully planted to ensure that he was kept from his father. His parents had been ordered to raise him, and he doubted that they even wanted children to begin with. Even Nyx knew, the person who he trusted more than anyone in his life.

There was no safe place for him to go, he realized. Gladio’s father was military. He would tell someone about it, and that would inevitably get back to whoever was in charge now. Maybe it would get back to Cor. He doubted it was Regis since he was the dean of the academy now, a man destined for academia and insistent on putting distance between him and Prompto. Despite having so many more people in his life, he had never been more alone than he was now.

“If you want to meet him, I’ll take you,” Nyx said. “I’ve been trying to find ways to make up for what we did to you all this time. Nothing will make up for it. But I will do what I can to reconnect you with your father.”

“Do I have a mother?” Prompto asked Nyx.

Nyx shook his head. “Besithia always kept his life private, but our intel indicated that you were born from a surrogate. He’s never married or had other children.”

“I can’t trust anyone,” Prompto breathed. “Everyone I know has been in on this to some capacity, haven’t they? I should go back to Niflheim. I should go back to my real father and live with him.”

“It’s your right to do so,” Nyx agreed. “But the Lucian government won’t let you until you turn eighteen. You’re still considered a ward, a bargaining chip to keep Besithia in line.”

“But the attack that happened,” Prompto said, confused. “Lucis is blaming Nilfheim.”

“There’s no way that Besithia would have ordered an attack,” Nyx replied. “Honestly, it’s probably the reason you’re still alive. Lucis had to be the ones to provoke it first. They’re probably going to use your existence as a bargaining chip to win the war.”

“Why even go back to war?” Prompto asked. “What purpose does it serve?”

“The greed of men is hard to explain,” Nyx said with a sigh. “Honestly, they’re probably just trying to get back territories that were lost and trying to line their own pockets.”

“It’ll be hard to meet my father if we’re at war,” Prompto considered.

“I agree. The band and I have been planning this for a while. We’re prepared to run interference so you can at least meet your father. If you want to meet him, we’ll arrange a trip and take you. I’m sure your father will agree.” Nyx looked at him with such sincerity that Prompto felt like maybe there was one person he could trust. “We’re all prepared to do whatever we can to make up for your pain.”

Prompto nodded and looked down at the number on the letter. He pulled out his phone, his hands trembling, his breath shaky. He slowly dialed the number, his heart racing as he considered what he was about to do. Was this really the best decision? What if his father was the horrible person that the Lucian media made him out to be? It didn’t matter. He had to find out himself.

The phone rang once, twice. There was an answer on the other end, a man’s voice. “This is Verstael,” the voice said on the other end, clearly anticipating a business call. Prompto supposed as a Minister he was expected to answer his phone at all hours of the day.

“Um… You don’t know me, but my name is Prompto Argentum,” Prompto said into the phone. There was a silence on the other end as he waited for Prompto to get to the point. “I’m… I’m your son.”

This silence was different. It was longer, more tangible. Prompto found himself holding his breath until the man who was his real father spoke. “Your name is Prompto now?” he asked.

“Yes,” Prompto replied. “I remembered… And Nyx told me the truth.”

“My son,” Verstael said on the other line, his voice choking in his throat the same way it did for Prompto. “You’re alive.”

“I’m sorry,” Prompto said quietly.

“You have nothing to be sorry for. It is entirely my fault. Hold on. Is this your cell phone? Do you have video capabilities? I want to see your face.”

“Yeah I do.”

“Okay. Give me a moment.”

The line disconnected and a moment later his video chat tone was ringing. Prompto was nearly panicking as he frantically answered it. The man that appeared on his screen looked just like him, only older like he had seen in his textbook. His features were sharper, but he was still a beautiful man, and Prompto once again had the sensation that he was staring into a mirror that aged him beautifully by twenty years. Verstael Besithia looked at him with tears in his eyes, his hair disheveled like Prompto had woken him from sleep.

“My son,” Verstael said as he looked at the screen. “It’s really you. Where are you now?”

Nyx shook his head, indicating that it was not a good idea to tell the Minister where his son was being held hostage. Prompto was still a ward of Lucis, and indicating his location to his real father could ultimately cause more problems than it solved. He wondered just how much he could get away with until he turned eighteen.

“I’m with Nyx right now,” Prompto replied vaguely and Nyx nodded his approval.

“Have you been treated well? Have you been kept safe?”

“Yes, sir,” Prompto replied politely. His heart was racing, his mind reeling. He felt like there were so many questions he wanted to ask, but he didn’t have any ability to formulate a complete coherent thought.

“I’ve never stopped looking for you,” his father was saying. “I’ve never stopped wanting to bring you home. I’ll be able to do so soon. Lucis has attacked us and thought it a good idea. It nullifies the peace treaty, and that means you are to come home to me. I will be negotiating your return. Just hang on, and we’ll be together again soon.”

Prompto didn’t know what to think about that. He wanted to be with his father, he wanted to meet him and have him in his life, but he also had a life here in Insomnia. He had Noctis still. Would it be the same as moving to Lestallum or would it be worse? Would he never get to see Noctis again?

“If I may,” Nyx said as he stood up behind him and leaned over so he was within the video’s lens. “Prompto has a good life here right now. He had a boyfriend that he cares about greatly, and he is likely worried about not having him in his life if he moves to Niflheim.”

“Of course he would be welcome there as well,” the Minister said. “Anyone who has shown my son such caring is welcome. How have you been living?”

“My adopted parents have a small townhouse,” Prompto said. He recalled the estate from his dreams. It was definitely smaller than the mansion that was likely even bigger than the Caelum estate. “It’s comfortable.”

“My son living in a townhouse?” He scoffed at the idea. “How dare they treat you like some common pauper?”

“Prompto is interested in meeting you,” Nyx said. “I don’t think there is a way to easily sneak him out of Lucis since all eyes are on him right now. Do you think you could find your way here?”

“I believe I can,” Minister Besithia said after a moment of consideration. “The Chancellor and I will likely be attempting to resolve this matter of the attack at a summit. We can find a way to arrive early and meet with you.”

“I must urge caution,” Nyx said. “I know you want to take your son home with you, just as I’m sure that Prompto wants to go home with you. But if you take him away then there will be no hope for peace between countries.”

“Peace was only ever temporary,” Besithia seethed. “They stole my son from me and held him hostage. I cannot forgive that.”

“Forgive or not, war is not the answer,” Nyx argued. “There’s already been so much bloodshed.”

“My friends are talking about leaving Lucis to avoid a draft,” Prompto said with tears in his eyes. “I don’t want them to die because of me. Please, sir. If there is any way to bring peace back to both territories, shouldn’t that be a priority?”

“I see you have been raised to be a compassionate young man,” Besithia said, his voice softening. “I will do my best to return the lands to peace. But I am warning you, my son, the country you live in now is not one to go back to peace at this point. They are seeking profit, and nothing is better for profit than war. We have made great strides to resolve many of the issues in Niflheim, but Lucis has done little to resolve theirs. I cannot guarantee they will seek peace, and I do not plan on letting my son suffer as a result.”

“Thank you,” Prompto replied. He was still trembling, the image of his father on the screen making his hands shake. “I’m so sorry that I didn’t hide well enough. If I hid better then none of this would have happened.”

“My son, it is not your fault,” he replied as tears welled in his eyes. “You are my child, and nothing will change that. Once I have you home safe with me, we can make up for lost time. You and your boyfriend can move here if you so choose. But now that I know how to reach you, I won’t let this go. I will have you back in my world.”

Prompto felt overwhelmed by such an admission. He felt his tears cascading down his face, and Nyx took the phone from him as he began to sob, overwhelmed that he had a father who actually wanted him in his life. He was a hostage, held as a bargaining chip for Lucis’s political schemes, as he had suspected recently. But now that his father was telling him that he wanted him back, that he had a home to go to, he felt like everything was going to change.

“He’s feeling overwhelmed,” Nyx was saying to the Minister as Prompto covered his and since the attack his adoptive parents have been trying to close his world off.”

“It’s understandable that he would be overwhelmed,” his father replied. “Tell me. Has he been abused in any capacity? I don’t want him to be kept in an unsafe location.”

“No he has been well cared for,” Nyx said. “He’s been lonely until recently. His adoptive parents have kept his pretty closed-off, but he’s recently managed to make friends and get a boyfriend. He’s a very smart and talented kid. You’d be proud.”

“It’s because he’s a Besithia,” his father said with pride in his voice. “Make sure whoever is raising him don’t close him off to the world again.”

“I’ll do everything in my power. I’m going to take care of him now. He’ll call you later.” Nyx put one hand on Prompto’s back as he continued to cry.

“Text me first as I have many duties to take care of. But I will make time to ensure I am available to talk to him. Chancellor Ardyn will be able to pick up the extra slack for now. Prompto…” Prompto looked up as Nyx put the camera in from of him so that he could see his father. “I will come for you. I won’t let you suffer at the hands of Lucis. I love you, my son.”

Prompto thought back to a vague memory that came back to him suddenly. He was running through a giant lawn, laughing and smiling. He couldn’t have been over five years old. But he wasn’t running away from anything. He was running towards his father, towards his real father. His father took him in his arms and twirled him around in the air happily, holding him close. A man with long hair, the Chancellor, came up behind them and smiled at them both. Was the reason why he was born of a surrogate because of the Chancellor?

“I love you too, father,” Prompto replied. It felt strange to say it, but oddly comforting. He had a father who cared about him, not out of obligation or commands, but because he genuinely cared.

“Text me, call me. Just keep in touch. I promise I’ll respond.” Verstael ended the call after that, leaving Nyx to hold onto Prompto tightly as he cried into his arms. It would be a long time before he stopped crying as so many thoughts and emotions coursed through him.

“Do you know what kind of man he is?” Prompto asked after he was calm enough to speak. Nyx sat across from him, and he pulled out a bottle of whisky and poured some in Prompto’s coffee.

“This will calm your nerves,” Nyx said. Prompto took a sip and cringed at the strong burning sensation of the whisky. “When you were taken, you were five years old. At that time, Besithia was a man with a singular mindset. Triumph over Lucis. Since the war has ended, the band has toured to Niflheim a few times. From what I can tell, the people love him there. He’s changed a lot. The rumors in Lucis about slaves still existing there aren’t true. He’s put an end to a lot of injustices there and has really done a lot to improve the country. It’s honestly a better place to live in than Lucis right now.”

That surprised Prompto. Growing up they had always learned that Lucis was the shining beacon of Eos, that all those who were looking for an opportunity should come to the country and seek out better opportunities. Anyone who was a refugee or a former slave should come to Lucis and find a better life than what they had in Niflheim. But if that all was false, if the Minister had really done so much to change Niflheim, then Lucis had been lying to their citizens for a long time.

“I’m glad my father is a good man,” Prompto said. “How do I even face my adoptive parents after knowing this?”

“You can stay here until you find a way to,” Nyx said. “I would say just to move in, but they will grow suspicious. I don’t doubt that they care for you, Prompto. Please don’t forget that.”

“Did they even want me when I was first taken hostage?” Prompto asked.

“I don’t know,” Nyx answered honestly. “But I can say that they do love you now. They won’t disobey direct orders though.”

Prompto looked at his coffee mixed with whisky and took a large, long drink. He was too young and didn’t drink enough for it to be wise to drink it so quickly, but right now he needed something to get him out of his thoughts. It was all the truth that he had been looking for, but he wasn’t sure he could handle it. He had no choice though. He had to be able to handle it.

“I’ll have to go back and face them,” Prompto said solemnly. “It doesn’t matter if they love me now. I was stolen from my father all for a political ploy and given to people who could monitor me and keep me from the truth. One day he would be able to return to his real father, but that would also mean that he might have to decide to give up everything he knew in Lucis.

“Take some time here,” Nyx said. “Don’t go to school. I’ll tell your parents that you are too upset about the move to come home right now. Do you want me to ready the guest room or do you want to spread out on the couch?”

“The couch,” Prompto said immediately. His mind was swirling a bit, likely an effect of the whisky. But it had calmed his mind considerably. “Everything feels so confining right now.”

“Okay.” Nyx stood up and grabbed the back of his head, pulling him into a brotherly hug before he kissed the top of his head. “I recommend caution with who you tell about this and what you say. It could be dangerous.”

“I understand.” Prompto wondered if he could discreetly tell Noctis the truth. His stomach churned knowing that Noctis’s father was the one who gave the order to have him taken from his home. It just made things harder on them and their relationship, but he vowed then and there that he wouldn’t let it impact how he felt about Noctis.

Nyx grabbed several blankets and pillows and laid them out on the couch for Prompto. He turned on the television and brought Prompto over to the couch, sitting next to him with his arm around him consolingly. They watched the television absentmindedly until Prompto fell asleep with a blanket over his lap and his head on Nyx’s shoulder.

His dreams were scattered, flitting memories, the floodgates of his mind opened to everything that had been repressed by the trauma of being stolen from his home. He remembered his father and Chancellor Ardyn caring for him, of him running around joyfully from room to room, of being safe in both his and Ardyn’s arms. He remembered his father begging for mercy, his arms bound while he was on his knees, trying to convince Cor not to take Prompto away. He remembered crying for his father while he was put in the backseat of an unmarked black car. He remembered being introduced to the Argentums and them taking a photo, his eyes teary and scared. He remembered Regis looking at him as he said that he was the reason why the war would end.

When Prompto awoke, he was laying on the couch, covered with several blankets, his eyes teary still. He was remembering everything now, and his heart was yearning to go back to his real home. He remembered now that his father and Ardyn were in an intimate relationship and had chosen to have him through a surrogate as an option to have their own child. His fathers had told him that he was conceived that way because they loved him desperately and wanted him in his life. They told him that he was a wanted more than anything in the world and would do anything to give him the happiness Eos offered.

“Prompto?” Noctis called from the front door.

“In here,” Prompto called as he heard the front door close behind him. Noctis rushed in and saw him on the couch, sleepy and tearful as he sat up, rubbing his eyes. He sat next to Prompto and hugged him tightly.

“Nyx reached out to me,” Noctis said. “He said there was something that happened?”

“I remember,” Prompto whispered. Noctis’s eyes looked at him with wide eyes. “I remember everything. Verstael Besithia is my father. Well… Him and Ardyn Izunia.”

“What?” Noctis asked in disbelief.

“They’ve kept it a secret apparently. I remember them saying not to mention it in public when I was a kid. But Besithia and Ardyn are in a relationship. They had me through a surrogate and decided that Besithia would be the one to reproduce. They wanted me, Noctis. They loved me. And I was stolen from them.” He hesitated when he considered what he was going to say next.

“What happened then? Why were you adopted and taken to Lucis?” Noctis looked upset for him, worried as he held his hands tightly.

“I don’t know if I should tell you the truth,” Prompto said. “Nyx said it’s dangerous. And… it might change how you view certain people in your life.”

“Come on, Prompto,” Noctis said. “I’m here for you. You shouldn’t have to carry this burden on your own.”

Prompto sighed. “Alright. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

He told Noctis everything. He started with his dream that made him remember, what Nyx told him, how he had spoken to his real father, how they were planning on arranging a secret meeting. He told him about the dreams that he had that opened the floodgates, making him remember everything from his childhood that had been repressed. He told him about how his father was involved.

“I don’t… I don’t want you to hate me for telling you the truth,” Prompto said. “But I remember your father telling the Argentums and Cor that I would bring peace to Niflheim and Lucis both, as long as I remained in Lucis.”

“If anything, you should hate me right now,” Noctis said in a hushed tone. He was crying, and Prompto reached up and wiped his tears away. “I’m sorry, Prompto. I didn’t know. If I had… I don’t know what I should do to make it right.”

“It’s not your fault,” Prompto insisted. “I love you, Noctis. I don’t blame you for what your father did.”

“Let me know how I can help,” Noctis said. “Please. If I have to help hide you away, I will. Do you… Do you think you’ll move back to Niflheim?”

“I don’t know.” Prompto sighed. “I want to get to know my father, but I don’t want to leave you. Maybe I’ll live somewhere in between when I graduate.”

“If you have to go back to Niflheim, will you stay with me?” Noctis asked.

“Of course. I promised I would always come back to you. I meant it when I said it.” Prompto kissed him lightly, and Noctis pressed deeper into the kiss. “Just promise me you won’t say anything to your father. If this gets out then I won’t be able to meet my father.”

“I won’t say anything. Does Gladio know?”

“No. I don’t want to cause him more stress with him preparing for his move.” Prompto shook his head. “You’re the only person I’ve told.” He sighed. “I’m going to have to go back home and move to Lestallum knowing that I’m just a hostage.”

“We just have to get through it together. I’ll tell my dad that I’m going to help you move. I’ll visit every weekend, and I’ll make sure you’re not left alone. I swear, I’ll be there to help you.”

Prompto hugged him tightly, feeling safe and secure in Noctis’s arms. It was already past noon. Prompto had slept soundly on the couch longer than he thought he would. They spent the rest of the day on the couch, watching television while they both tried to absorb the truth. At one point Prompto pulled out his phone and sent a text to his father, asking if he was available to talk. He wanted to spend as much time as he could getting to know his father and wondered if he would be able to know his other father, his secret father, Ardyn.

There was no response for a while until his phone went off, the video chat ringtone pinging. Prompto looked to Noctis, who nodded that it was okay for him to answer it. He answered the call and was surprised to see it was both Minister Besithia and Chancellor Ardyn. They were both smiling, their cheeks pressed together to fit the video frame, looking at Prompto with eager anticipation.

“My son!” Ardyn nearly shouted joyfully. “It really is you! You’re the spitting image of your father.”

“Hi… dad,” Prompto said with a tearful smile. “I’m starting to remember more and more.”

“That’s good,” Verstael replied happily. “We have been in touch with Nyx while you were sleeping. He said this has been an overwhelming experience for you, but he’s prepared to arrange a meeting for us in Lestallum on your birthday.”

“Really?” Prompto smiled through his tears, grateful to Nyx for being so willing to help him. “Oh, this is my boyfriend, Noctis. He came over as soon as he heard.”

“Hi,” Noctis said as he leaned in next to Prompto like Ardyn and Verstael were. “It’s nice to meet you two. I’m sorry all this happened and Prompto was taken from you. But I’m glad I got a chance to meet him.”

“Thank the Six for these blessings,” Verstael replied. Ardyn made a face that concerned Prompto. “When Prompto comes to Niflheim, we would love to have you with us.”

“Thank you, sir,” Noctis said. “I would love to join him in Niflheim.”

“Tell your father we send our regards,” Ardyn said. Prompto and Noctis looked at each other, startled. “We don’t blame you, Noctis, but I can tell who your father is since you look so much like him. Please handle our son with care.”

“I swear on the Six that I won’t hurt him,” Noctis said. “I will do what I can to make up for my father’s sins.”

“Time will tell,” Verstael replied, but they were both back to smiling.

There was a knock on Nyx’s front door, followed by it opening slowly. “Prompto?” It was the Argentums. He didn’t know if he should even call them mom or dad anymore. “Prompto it’s us, dear. We’ve come to check on you.”

“I got it,” Noctis said. “They hate me already. Just be quiet.”

Prompto watched in worry as Noctis got up and walked over to the front door.

“Who is that?” Ardyn whispered on the phone.

“My adoptive parents,” Prompto replied in an equally hushed tone.

“Prompto’s sleeping,” Noctis said loudly. “I’ll let him know you stopped by.”

“We just want to make sure our son is okay,” his adoptive father said. “We’re worried about him.”

“He’s fine,” Noctis replied defiantly. “He’s upset that you’re making him move to Lestallum, but other than that, yeah he’s great.”

“He needs to be in school,” his adoptive mother added. “You should be too.”

“Let my dad worry about me,” Noctis added. “And aren’t you going to be homeschooling him? Does it really matter if he takes a week off school because he’s upset that you’re trying to take everything from him?”

“I understand,” his adoptive father said. “Just tell Prompto that we love him very much and miss him.”

“You’re never home anyway,” Noctis said. “But I’ll let him know.”

They left after that, leaving Prompto and Noctis alone with his real parents on the video chat, staring at him in concern. Prompto felt a surge of guilt go through him, remembering that Nyx had told him that they did love him even if they were bound to follow orders. But his real parents were in front of him right now, and he felt himself being drawn to them more than anything. He had been in a happy family until it had all been disrupted.

“They’re moving you to Lestallum?” Ardyn asked him.

“Y-yeah,” Prompto replied, knowing that the knowledge of his move shouldn’t have been communicated to them. There couldn’t be any temptation for them to take him away and jeopardize the future of Eos, even though it was already uncertain with the war reignited.

“Meeting there may not be so difficult,” Verstael considered. “It would be easier than meeting in Insomnia.”

“You… You know I live in Insomnia?” Prompto asked, startled.

“We run Niflheim,” Ardyn said with a laugh. “Now that we know you’re alive and your first name, it wasn’t hard to figure it out. Although we’re not too pleased with the house they decided to put you in. You deserve to be spoiled.”

Prompto felt a bit uneasy. “Isn’t it dangerous to know these things?”

“Perhaps, but you’re our son,” Verstael said. “We’re not going to let you go so easily now that we know you’re alive and well. Any parent would do the same.”

“They’ve got a point,” Noctis said. “Your adoptive parents haven’t really been there like real parents since you were in middle school, right? Even my dad and Ignis’s parents are more in sync with our lives.”

Ardyn and Verstael both looked concerned. “Prompto,” Verstael said hesitantly. “How often do you see your adoptive parents?”

Prompto hesitated, trying to think of his normal routine and how frequently he truly got to see them. “I see them in the morning sometimes. Usually they’re busy working.” He thought about how his adoptive parents were actually Lucian Intelligence, and it suddenly made sense. They were never around because they were working for the military, and he was just a hostage anyway.

“How many times in a month?” Ardyn asked. His concern was turning to anger.

“Um… Maybe three times?” Prompto was guessing, but it was likely close to the truth. He had seen them more frequently because of everything that was going on, but then again, they also had Nyx take care of him while they were out of town.

“What?” Ardyn nearly shouted.

“Calm down, Ardyn,” Verstael said soothingly, but he looked just as upset. “We’ll get him back. You know we will.”

“They take our son from us, Verstael, then they don’t even have the decency to be around to raise him?” Ardyn looked distraught, his anger towards the situation spilling over.

“Prompto, we’re going to go. I need to calm Ardyn down. I’ll text you. I promise.” Verstael smiled reassuringly, but Ardyn was in the background cursing everyone in Eos. “We’re looking forward to being together again.”

“Same here,” Prompto replied. The call ended after that, and Prompto looked at Noctis in concern. “Any thoughts?”

“Well now I know where you get your gay from,” Noctis joked with a smile. “But they really seem nice. When you go back to Niflheim, I’m sure they’ll take really good care of you.”

“I’m not going back if it means I can’t be with you,” Prompto declared. “But you heard them. You’re welcome too.”

“True. And things can changed based off of where you get accepted to college.” Noctis seemed a bit more relieved by Prompto’s declaration. “They’re really great Prompto. I’m sorry you didn’t get a chance to be raised by them.”

“Me too. But I am glad that I got to meet you as a result of all this.” Prompto smiled as he echoed Noctis’s words back to him. “Thank you.”

“It’ll be okay.” Noctis kissed him reassuringly, and Prompto felt himself melting into his arms.

Prompto felt uneasy as they resumed their relaxation, flipping through the channels to anything but the news. He felt like they had just started a new chain of events that couldn’t be undone, things that would inevitably change his life permanently. He didn’t know if it would be for the better, but he felt like if he clung tightly enough onto Noctis then he would be okay. They were both worried that this meant eventually Prompto would be taken from Lucis, never to return, but they would do everything in their power to stay together through it all.

Chapter Text

Ignis and Gladio met with Prompto and Noctis at Nyx’s house on Thursday. Prompto had been waffling over telling them the truth, not wanting to involve them in anything dangerous, but ultimately decided he should give them the option. Of course they wanted to know what was really going on, which Noctis said they would. Noctis hadn’t been to school along with Prompto, and Prompto was worried that his dad would be angry, but Noctis was far angrier at his dad than he could ever be at him for skipping school. Nyx seemed resigned to have the group at his place and didn’t so much as make a complaint about it.

Prompto spent a lot of his time video chatting with his real parents. Ardyn seemed calmer now that Verstael had calmed him down, and they were both taking the time to ask Prompto about his life, his hobbies, his hopes and dreams for the future. They seemed surprised when Prompto told them he was interested in music and photography, but Ardyn had insisted that they find a way to come to his performances when he played with his new band. Verstael had informed him that they looked at his social media profile and at the photography he put up there, even though they couldn’t just follow him with their official government media presences online.

It made him uncomfortable at first, since his adoptive parents had never really been interested in his life to begin with. Despite how busy they were trying to run Niflheim’s government, they always took time to speak with them. Prompto made sure to ask about them about their lives. He wanted to know who they were as people, whether they could be trusted or not, especially since Prompto couldn’t just easily trust the adults in his life. They were patient and understanding, and they made sure to answer every question he had about them.

Prompto discovered that they had met in college, where they both had the desire to work in government and politics. Both of them had been raised in wealthy families, and they had started a relationship in secret as it would have tarnished their political aspirations. After college, Verstael and Ardyn both quickly rose through the political ranks, and it wasn’t long before they became the youngest Minister and Chancellor Niflheim had ever seen. They maintained their relationship in private, especially since they inherited a war-torn country. Their goal was simple: make Niflheim a better place to live in.

But that wasn’t so easy with the way politics already were in Niflheim. Those stuck in tradition were used to having slaves, of trying to take over other countries, of suppressing others. Verstael and Ardyn wanted to change that. They wanted to get rid of all of that, but they were not only trying to end a war with Lucis, but they were trying to make Niflheim a better place by ending all of the injustices that had been brought upon the country. The other politicians didn’t want to end the war, though, insistent on taking over all of Eos in the name of Niflheim.

Throughout all this fighting and desire to change Niflheim, they had found a way to cultivate a slice of happiness amid the struggle. They had decided to have a child, and Verstael was picked for a surrogate. Ardyn struggled with depression and anxiety that was passed down in his family, and he didn’t want Prompto to have the genetic loading for it. Verstael didn’t struggle with such issues and was in peak physical health, so they chose a viable surrogate who would carry Prompto to term.

When Prompto was born, they said it was the happiest day of their lives. Verstael and Ardyn both were overjoyed, knowing that they had a son who they would work hard to make a better Niflheim for. Ardyn lived on the same estate as Verstael, which was well concealed by their need to work together at odd hours. Prompto was spoiled and loved, and they felt that they were on track to cultivating a happy life for five years while doing their best to change the tides in Niflheim.

That happiness changed when Prompto was taken. The politicians wanted to retaliate by attacking Lucis, but Verstael lost it. Their son had been taken because the war was still ongoing, and he wasn’t going to let anything jeopardize their son’s life. He ended it, signed the peace treaty, and took control of Niflheim once and for all. Initially the politicians fought it, but Ardyn and Verstael were both ruthless where they hadn’t been previously. As a result, they were able to cultivate a different Niflheim from what Lucis reported.

Niflheim was a joyous place for people to live now. They had ended slavery, made reparations that were still ongoing to those who had been harmed as a result of it, and were still in the process of reconciliation efforts to bring families back together. The lands that had been destroyed by battle upon battle had been restored, the refugees had received their homes back. There were government assistance programs and no longer the income disparity that had once existed. While it wasn’t perfect, things were far better than they used to be, and they were working to continue improvements in Niflheim.

Prompto had openly admitted to them that Lucis reported something entirely different on the news. They didn’t seem surprised. Apparently Lucis had a corrupt government for so long that nothing particularly shocked them anymore. The recent attack was proof of that. Lucis had been the ones to attack first, and Verstael and Ardyn both had made it clear that they would never do anything to jeopardize their son’s life.

They spent the better part of Prompto’s life searching for any sign that Prompto was alive, but since his name had been changed and he had been hidden really well it was nearly impossible. Ardyn was too distraught to write to him like Verstael had, but they never gave up hope that he would return to them. Verstael had written to him every week, updating him on their lives at times, and just hoping for his return and safety at others. Nyx kept all of them for Prompto, and he was slowly going through them all, even though he was frequently moved to tears. They never gave up on Prompto, and knowing that he was safe and sound was all they could ever ask for at this point. There was a clear pain in their eyes at knowing they missed out on Prompto growing up.

Through their conversation Prompto was beginning to understand what a happy family looked like. There was a lot that they wouldn’t be able to make up for, but Versteal and Ardyn were both willing to try. Prompto was beginning to think that going to Niflheim wasn’t such a bad idea. He knew that nothing would be perfect, that there would be ups and downs that he wouldn’t be able to anticipate, but he was looking forward to trying.

When Ignis and Gladio arrived at Nyx’s, Prompto was talking to his real parents with Noctis, who had curled up with him on the couch. They both seemed wary that Regis’s son was dating Prompto, but Noctis had only been supportive through each conversation they had, and everyone seemed relaxed enough that it was no longer awkward. Ignis and Gladio both looked flustered and worried, so Prompto handed his phone to Noctis while he got up and spoke to the two. He briefly explained what was going on, but Ignis and Gladio only seemed more anxious and worried.

“Ignis, Gladio,” Prompto said as he took the phone back from Noctis. Ignis and Gladio leaned over to couch so that they could fit into the video frame. “This is Ardyn and Verstael. They’re my real parents.”
“It’s nice to meet you,” Ignis said, but his brow was furrowed.

“Same here,” Gladio said. “Prompto’s a good friend. We don’t want to see him hurt.”

Ardyn and Verstael looked at each other in surprise, but then smiled as if reassured. “We’re relieved to see that he has friends who care about him so much,” Verstael said. “We were worried that his world was closed off and he only had Nyx and Noctis to rely on.”

“Given the chance, Prompto would be pretty popular,” Gladio said. “He’s a nice guy and pretty cute, after all.” He looked down at Noctis and smiled. “And Noctis, at least you know he’s going to age well if his dad is any indication.”

“Shut it Gladio,” Noctis grumbled, but he was smiling and Prompto was blushing. Gladio did have a point. Prompto clearly took after his father, Verstael, over whoever their surrogate was. Despite the hard life of politics, Verstael had aged very well. His features were still smooth, and he looked probably ten years younger than he usually looked.

“Greetings aside,” Ignis said, still concerned. “To hear that Prompto is a ward of Lucis is worrying, let alone the inherent dangers that come with getting in touch with his birth parents before the agreed upon date according to the peace treaty. I’m a bit worried for his safety by maintaining contact with you.”

Prompto looked at Ignis incredulously. “What do you mean? They’re my parents. I can’t just ignore that.”

“You have a valid point,” Ardyn said. They all looked back to the phone, their faces framed tightly together, a picture perfect couple. “We are working diligently on bringing peace back to Niflheim and Lucis. It is apparent that none of the people in our country are looking forward to another war, but Lucis is remaining stubborn. We have superior technology to them, but the chances of Lucis calling for peace are slim to none right now.”

It was not the news they were looking for. Prompto felt his stomach drop out, and he looked to his friends, his boyfriend, and back to his real parents. He had been hoping that they would put an end to things before Gladio had to move to Altissia, before he had to move to Lestallum permanently. But the political landscape was something he didn’t really understand, and it was something that was too complex to just be settled in just a few days.

“If that is the case then a draft will be inevitable here,” Ignis surmised. He looked to Gladio in worry, who wrapped his arm around him and pulled him close. “Do you know why Lucis is adamant on going back to war with Niflheim?”

“They’re too haughty and full of themselves,” Ardyn snapped angrily, but Verstael gave him a look that told him to calm down.

“Lucis is where we were before we could take control of the government here and make a better society for Niflheim and its territories,” Verstael said. He glanced at Ardyn’s angry features then looked back into the camera. “They are hungry, greedy, and trying to establish power and dominance in Eos. They’ll do anything for just an inch of land regained but will do little to take care of its citizens and refugees.”

“It seems like a poor reason to go to war,” Ignis pointed out.

“Hasn’t that been how every war has been fought?” Ardyn pointed out. “The assholes of Niflheim started a war to take over Eos. Before that, when the world was younger, wars were raged between all countries to establish their territories. It’s always just a power grab. And with the corruption in Lucis right now, even if there’s someone there who speaks for the citizens, any sort of movement towards peace is nigh impossible right now.”

“But you still have a mandatory military sentence in Niflheim,” Gladio pointed out. “Niflheim isn’t perfect either.”

“We do,” Verstael confirmed. “It wasn’t something that we wanted to keep, but those rooted in tradition insisted we keep it. Even Prompto will have to serve when he comes home. We just received the blessing of knowing that maybe we can have our son back one day. If we can avoid war, we will. We don’t want any of our citizens to have to fight over someone else’s greed.”

“You can always send him to Altissia,” Noctis pointed out. “I mean, if Prompto does want to go back to Niflheim, just send him there until the war passes. They won’t get involved.”

“We cannot do that,” Ardyn said. “We are the leaders of Niflheim, and we must lead by example. If we set the expectation that the government can abuse its powers, even to try and protect our own son, it will give them the room to create other injustices. As much as we would love to avoid Prompto going to war, we also have to ensure that we are setting the stage for a morally just government.”

“It unfortunately makes sense,” Ignis considered. “If you allow one exception then the rest in your government will seek it out as well.”

“The chances of that happening are slim though,” Verstael said sadly. “Our son is still a ward of Lucis, a hostage to try and keep us from moving to rashly. Even if this war reignites, I doubt they will just let Prompto return home, especially if it is still ongoing when he comes of age. I’m sorry, Prompto, but things may end up more dangerous for you before they get better.”

Prompto didn’t like that thought. He didn’t want to be used as a political pawn in the war, a reason for Verstael and Ardyn to be unable to act just to protect him. “If it comes down to it,” Prompto said, his hands shaking at the thought. “If it’s my life or the safety of the citizens of Niflheim and Lucis, then I want you to make the choice to protect the citizens.”

“Prompto!” nearly everyone exclaimed in concern. His parents looked tearful, worried that he would have to make such a statement at such a young age.

“I don’t want to be used as a pawn so that people get hurt,” Prompto said sadly. “It’s the right thing to do.”

“It may be the right thing, but we’re not going to give you up now that we have a chance of getting you back,” Ardyn insisted. “We will do everything in our power to avoid having to make that decision.”

“I agree with Ardyn,” Verstael said. “You’re our son, and we will do what we can to get you back.”

They shared a look that Prompto couldn’t quite read, as if they were having a silent conversation through their facial expressions alone. When they turned back to the camera, there seemed to be a decision that was reached since they both looked determined but more at ease.

“I guess you have to get into politics sooner rather than later, Iggy,” Gladio said. “The sooner you get into it, the sooner you can help put an end to the corruption in Lucis and end this useless war.”

Ignis nodded. “I will do what I can.”

“We will be happy to provide any guidance we can,” Verstael said. “We have navigated and straightened out a corrupt government before. It can be done, but it will take a team of people you can trust and a lot of hard work.”

“Well I guess I’ll be joining you then,” Noctis said to everyone’s surprise. “What? I get good grades. Besides, as grateful as I am that I met Prompto, he should’ve never been taken from you guys in the first place. I suppose Ignis and I will just have to straighten things out here to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

“It is such a relief to see you surrounded by friends who are so caring,” Ardyn said, with a visible sigh in relief. “And I am glad to see your boyfriend seems nothing like his father.”

“It’s a shame that any of you could be drafted should Lucis choose to initiate a draft,” Verstael said in concern. The group of friends looked at each other.

“My family is moving to Altissia since it’s almost guaranteed I’ll be drafted,” Gladio said. “The always aim for the poor first here. Ignis and Noctis likely won’t be drafted. And I doubt Prompto will be drafted since the government needs him for other reasons.”

“That is worrisome,” Verstael said. “But I’m sure Altissia will welcome you. You would have to stay until you’re twenty five, if I’m not mistaken?”

“Yeah.” Gladio looked at Ignis, both of their expressions blossoming in concern. Any male in Lucis was considered of age to be drafted if they were between eighteen and twenty five. After that, they became ineligible. Gladio pulled Ignis close and kissed his temple. “Unless Iggy can put an end to the draft before then.”

“Hey don’t forget me,” Noctis said.

Ardyn’s phone went off, and he answered it quickly, clearly matters of state. He looked at Verstael and made an indication that the call had to end. Work was calling, and if they had any way to end the war, Prompto wasn’t going to keep them waiting.

“We’ll talk to you later, Prompto,” Verstael said. “I’m so very happy to meet your friends. Please take care. Text us at any time. We love you.”

“Love you too,” Prompto replied. It still felt awkward to say it, but that was only because they had so much time apart. It was like trying to get to know a long lost relative, not his parents. The call ended and Prompto looked at his friends, trying to gauge their reactions.

“I’m glad you found answers,” Ignis said. “But I am worried that they may be planning on some way to get you back that could inevitably be dangerous for you.”

“They wouldn’t do something to endanger me,” Prompto said. “You heard them.”

“It’s hard to say,” Gladio said diplomatically. “But I think Ignis is right to a certain extent. You should be cautious so that you don’t get hurt. I don’t think they’re bad people, but I’m worried that they’ll do something drastic to try and get you back.”

Prompto wanted to be angry at their advice. He wanted to get up and yell at them and tell them that they were wrong. But he couldn’t easily trust the adults in his life, and as much as he just wanted to trust his real parents blindly, he knew he couldn’t. The thought of his parents whisking him away and taking him to Niflheim was a wonderful and terrible thought. If they did then the chances of him seeing his friends again, of seeing Noctis again, we slim to none. Either way, he had little hope for the future he wanted.

“I know,” Prompto said. “I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.”

“You’re leaving for Lestallum on Saturday, right?” Gladio asked, changing the subject. “My parents are okay with me coming to help. Ignis’s too. We’ll come and visit every time Noctis does too, if you want. At least until the move to Altissia happens.”

“Thanks,” Prompto said. “I don’t like how we’re all being torn apart. I mean, how are we all going to stay in touch if I’m in Lestallum and you’re in Altissia?”

“Simple,” Ignis said. “We put in the effort. Gladio and I have already resolved to continue our relationship despite his move. It would work the same with friendships. We have to try.”

“Ignis is right,” Noctis replied. “Or should I say Iggy?”

Ignis flushed in embarrassment at the nickname Gladio gave him. “Well, I don’t know about you, but I would like to enjoy the time we have together until the move happens.”

“What should we do then?” Noctis asked as he glanced at Prompto salaciously, making him blush.

“Well none of that,” Ignis scolded Noctis. “I was thinking that Noctis and I could treat you all to a nice meal.”

“You don’t have to do that,” Prompto insisted and Gladio nodded in agreement.

“Consider it tapping into my dad’s money for what he did to you,” Noctis said with a devious grin. “He owes you at least that much.”

“That doesn’t seem really ethical, but alright,” Prompto conceded. “Where are we going to eat then?”

“I already made reservations.” Ignis smiled then looked at Prompto seriously. “I’m sorry that your life is pulling you in so many directions, Prompto. There are so many people who have hurt you in your life. I can’t help but imagine what kind of life you would’ve had if you hadn’t been stolen away from your family.”

“It’s not your fault, Ignis,” Prompto replied. “But at least I made some really good friends along the way.”

The conversation shifted from there. Prompto had been lazy the past few days at Nyx’s, so he took the opportunity to dress well and look like he was a functioning teen in society, although he stuck to his classic black. The four of them went out to a rather nice restaurant that Prompto could never afford on his own, but Noctis and Ignis were both insistent on spoiling them. As they ate, laughed, and talked, Prompto almost felt like he had a normal life with a normal boyfriend and normal friends. It felt like they were just on a standard double date where none of them would be moving because they were hostages of the Lucian government or because their parents didn’t want them to get drafted. It didn’t feel like their lives were being turned upside down so drastically. He even was able to get a photo of the four of them together that he would treasure forever.

At the end of the meal they decided to make their way back to Nyx’s house to relax before they had to go their separate ways. Prompto had missed his photography class, too upset to really go anywhere or do anything. This was the first time they had pulled him out of the house, and it was something that he desperately needed. Nyx had put a hold on his rehearsal schedule, especially since the band had began making plans for Prompto to meet his parents. He hadn’t told Gladio or Ignis about that, worried that they would panic and tell them that it was a bad idea.

When they got back, they spent time just enjoying each other’s company, probably the last time they would be able to do so in Insomnia for a while. There was a tinge of sadness, but also determination, in the air. They would be separated, but they were all ultimately determined to get back together. Prompto would insist on it, no matter what happened.

Later in the night Nyx returned home, unphased that his house had become lively with the laughter of four teenage boys. He looked at them with a sad smile on his face, his guilt palpable. Prompto didn’t blame him. He couldn’t blame him when Nyx had done everything he could to fight him being taken to the point where if he said anything he would have been killed. He couldn’t blame him when he kept every letter his father wrote him so he could read them and treasure them. He couldn’t blame him when he was adamant on reuniting him with his family.

“The Argentums are asking about you,” Nyx announced. “They’re worried. I told them that you’re trying to spend time with your friends before the move.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied. He hadn’t been in touch with them since he discovered the truth. It was something that caused him a lot of worry. He didn’t know how he was going to face them. “I guess I should go back tomorrow.”

“I’ll go with you,” Nyx said. He looked at Ignis and Gladio, deciding just how much he was able to say. “Preparations are underway.”

Prompto felt startled by that admission. His real parents hadn’t told him anything about it, but Nyx had said that the less he knew the better. If he knew then his own excitement and anticipation might give it away. Even Noctis was being purposely kept in the dark so that they wouldn’t accidentally say anything to give anything away.

“Thanks,” Prompto replied.

“We all will,” Gladio declared. “It’s going to be rough for you, Prompto. We just have to make it easier.”

“Thanks guys.” Prompto felt overwhelmed by the people in his life who genuinely cared for him, but he was grateful for it.

“We should get going,” Ignis said to Gladio. “We have school tomorrow. Prompto, just let us know when you’re returning home. If we have to miss school for it, we will.”

“Thank you,” Prompto said again. He showed them to the door and thanked them for all their help and kindness. He hugged each of them, his hug with Gladio lasting a bit longer than the one with Ignis. He had been one of Prompto’s first friends. He was grateful to have had him in his life at least for this short amount of time.

“See you tomorrow,” Gladio said before he took Ignis’s hand in his and left.

“Thanks for letting me stay here Nyx,” Prompto said after they had left. “My dads are really grateful for the time we get to talk too. They wanted to tell you thank you as well.”

“I shouldn’t be thanked at all,” Nyx said. “I’m only trying to assuage my own guilty conscience.”

“Don’t beat yourself up Nyx,” Noctis said as they moved the conversation to the living room where Noctis was lounging. “Just make Prompto a super famous musician so when I become prime minister I can gloat that my husband is a rockstar.”

Nyx broke into a smile at that while Prompto blushed. “Good to see that you’re taking your relationship seriously. You two better get ready for bed. I imagine you’ll have an exhausting and emotional day tomorrow.”

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto said as Noctis stood up.

“Thanks dad,” Noctis joked but he gave Nyx a friendly hug. “Come on Prompto.”

Prompto was taken upstairs to the guest room, being led by Noctis as he held his hand tightly. They had spent their nights making love, and while Prompto wasn’t complaining, Noctis had said it was because he wasn’t going to easily get the chance to after he was moved to Lestallum. It was another unfortunate side effect of the move taking place. Prompto wondered if the move would still take place if he told the Argentums that his real parents knew where he was being carted off to, but he thought better of it since they would likely pick someplace that was even further removed from society.

When they walked into the guest room that was rapidly becoming Prompto’s room at this rate, Noctis shut the door and locked it and immediately began to kiss Prompto, his hands resting at the base of his neck. It didn’t matter how frequently Noctis touched Prompto. Every time he did, there was a lingering sensation of fire and electricity from his touch, as if he was full of an ancient magic that awakened his deepest desires.

Noctis had him pinned against the door, his hands wandering to his shoulders, caressing his arms, reaching down to his hips as he pressed his hips against Prompto. Prompto shuddered at the feel of Noctis’s hard cock pressed against his through their clothes, and he found himself grinding against Noctis as they continued to kiss eagerly. He reached for Noctis’s shirt and took it off, his hands caressing every inch of his smooth skin, making Noctis shudder in delight.

They made fast work of removing the rest of their clothes, and Noctis grabbed at the lubricant that he seemingly always had on hand. Then again, Prompto wasn’t going to complain about him being prepared. If he always had it on him for these occasions then he was just thankful that his boyfriend was so thoughtful. He supposed he should leave it to his expert boyfriend to be prepared.

“Turn around,” Noctis commanded, and Prompto obeyed. They wasted little time, and Noctis inserted himself into Prompto, reaching deep within him. Prompto braced himself against the door, trying to stifle a moan that inevitably escaped his lips, as Noctis gripped his hips tightly as he thrust in him.

Prompto felt an ecstasy within him as Noctis penetrated him deep within him, thrusting in and out, barely able to control himself while he moaned Prompto’s name. Hearing his name on Noctis’s lips only excited him more, and he felt his hips move on their own, begging for more from Noctis. Noctis abandoned his control and began to thrust as deep into Prompto as he could go, his movements fast and erratic. He reached around and pumped Prompto’s cock with one hand, and Prompto climaxed quickly as he was hit with a satiating pleasure from both sides.

“Well that was a fun position,” Prompto said after Noctis climaxed as well, leaving them both standing in shaky nudity, their bodies full of the satisfied happiness that only came with them being able to touch each other. “Definitely a new one for me at least.”

Prompto tried not to worry about Noctis’s previous exploits with men and women alike. He didn’t like imagining Noctis holding someone else, but from time to time he felt the pangs of jealousy coursing through him. It didn’t much matter, he kept telling himself. Noctis was serious about him, and he was the only person that Noctis had been serious about. That had to be enough for him, and he made it his goal to make Noctis only desire him for the rest of his life. He wanted to monopolize his time, to have him only crave his touch.

“Prompto,” Noctis said seriously after they were refreshed, dressed, and at least a bit more presentable, although they both gave up in wearing sweats to bed since they usually ended up on the floor and settled for their briefs only. “I know you haven’t been with anyone else before me. But I just want you to know that I fully intend on you being the last person I am ever with. And if you must know, you’re the best I’ve ever had. No one can even compare to you.”

Prompto blushed at that. “Well that’s good to know.” He didn’t want to admit how much it thrilled him to hear that, though. He had felt insecure about whether or not Noctis truly enjoyed being with him sexually or if he was just wrapped up in the moment, but it seemed to confirm it for him. There was a lot of uncertainty in being in his first relationship, but he liked the idea of it being his only relationship. Why would he want to search around for something that he already had in front of him?

“Come on,” Noctis said with a smile as he laid down on the bed and beckoned for Prompto to join him. “Come here my cute boyfriend.”

Prompto blushed as he laid on the bed and collapsed into Noctis’s arms. They held each other, likely one of the last times they would be able to before the move to Lestallum. Prompto eventually found himself falling asleep, but it wasn’t before Noctis caressed every inch of his body once more, penetrating deep within him to temporarily fulfill a desire within them before it came creeping back, an inevitability as they only fell deeper in love with each passing moment.

Chapter Text

Prompto said goodbye to Insomnia and hello to Lestallum on Saturday, just as the Argentums had planned. They had been worried as Nyx had said when Prompto returned back to the townhouse the day before. He had waited until Ignis and Gladio were done with school, not wanting to take them out of their classes. Noctis still hadn’t bothered to go back to school until Prompto had been moved to Lestallum, but Ignis had brought him all the work that he had missed. Prompto worried that he was missing too much school on his account, but Noctis seemed unworried. There were certain perks at having the dean as his father, after all.

When he went home with his friends as his support, he didn’t know how he was going to face the Argentums or how they would respond. They were essentially his captors, or at the very least working for his captors, and it was a fact they all knew, although the Argentums didn’t know that he knew. They had tearfully hugged him, apologizing for putting him through so much pain, but firm in their resolve to move. They were moving him because of the war, and because he needed to be hidden from his real parents as a bargaining chip, and Prompto felt himself steeling his heart to remember why they were moving.

It was hard. They had raised him, and Nyx had told him that they loved him, which he didn’t doubt right now. But they still had to follow orders, to hide him away from the world now that the fighting had resumed and at Lucis’s hand. If the fighting had started then it meant the peace treaty was over, then his real parents had a right to demand him back. He was being moved because Lucis wanted to keep him and use him as a bargaining chip, a powerplay to get their way, whatever that meant.

Prompto did his best to make it seem like he was just upset that they were moving to Lestallum, and he had told the Argentums that his friends would be helping with the move. They initially looked like they were going to argue but must have thought better of it. They were already demanding that Prompto be homeschooled, to be isolated and alone. The least they could do would be to allow his friends to come to Lestallum for the initial move and to visit. Gladio’s giant muscles and intimidating presence certainly helped quell any arguments.

The last moments he had in Insomnia were bittersweet. Part of him was looking forward to meeting his real parents, which meant having to go to Lestallum where Nyx would be arranging a meeting. But mostly he was just sad. He knew that he would only get to see Noctis on weekends, and Ignis and Gladio probably less frequently. His birthday was coming up in just two short weeks, but he hadn’t even had a chance to tell Noctis about it, let alone Gladio or Ignis. It’s not like he would be able to do anything with them anyway. Plus Nyx was arranging the meeting with his real parents on his birthday.

The Argentums drove with Nyx in their vehicle, following behind the moving truck that they had hired movers to take care of. Prompto sat in the backseat of the Reglia with Noctis while Ignis drove and Gladio sat up front. None of them spoke much at first, all of them too somber for the occasion to really be conversational. But it was a decent drive from Insomnia to Lestallum, to the point where Prompto couldn’t foresee Noctis really making the drive out to see him as frequently as he said he would. The drive would take about four hours one way, and that meant taking time that Noctis didn’t have to see him. If they were lucky, Prompto might get to see him once a month. He wondered how long it would take before Noctis got tired of the drive.

“It’s a good thing this drive is pretty scenic,” Noctis said as he stared out the window. “Otherwise this drive would be pretty tiring for me to do alone.”

“You don’t have to,” Prompto said quietly as he looked at his hands. He couldn’t face Noctis as he said it. “I would understand if it becomes too much to do the drive.”

“We’ll see how it goes,” Noctis said with a shrug. “I’m not worried about it. Maybe we could find a halfway point to meet too.”

Prompto only nodded, knowing that the likelihood of that was slim. His adoptive parents were going to be keeping a close eye on him, Nyx had warned. Going outside of Lestallum wasn’t an option right now. His phone went off, and he pulled it out of his pocket, surprised by the text he received.

Lucky you, it looks like you’ll
have a friend in Lestallum after all.
My parents decided to move me there
due to the war. Tell Noctis he better be
careful I don’t steal you from him.

“Who’s that?” Noctis asked, leaning over to read the text curiously.

“Ravus,” Prompto replied. “His parents are moving him to Lestallum too.”

“No shit,” Noctis said through gritted teeth. He read the text and clenched his fists. “Tell him to fuck off. I’m not letting him take shit from me.”

Since Ravus had proposed having a threesome, Noctis had been overly wary of anytime Ravus texted him. Then again, anytime Prompto did text Ravus, he usually got a flirtatious response from him. They had put a halt on all band activities, but if Ravus was moving to Lestallum and Cindy and this Dino guy were willing to travel, they may actually have a chance to keep the band together. While Prompto did think that Ravus was too pretty for his own good, he was happy with Noctis, and the only temptation he felt was the temptation to touch Noctis.

I’m glad I’ll have a friend there.
But Noctis doesn’t have anything to
worry about. Plus he’ll visit every
weekend.

“Those two have it out for you both,” Ignis commented. “I wouldn’t be surprised if Luna put Ravus up to him trying to steal Prompto from you.”

“That would make sense if it wasn’t for the fact that Ravus was hitting on Prompto from the get-go,” Gladio countered. “Prompto be careful around him. The Nox Fleuret’s are notorious for getting their way, probably as much as Noctis is notorious for being a whore.”

“I prefer reformed whore,” Noctis said with a grin. His grin faltered. “If Ravus is going to be living in Lestallum then he’s going to try and make a go of things with you.”

“He won’t be successful,” Prompto replied. He grabbed Noctis’s hand and squeezed it reassuringly with a smile. “I’m too addicted to you.”

“You two are grossly cute,” Gladio said.

“We’re about to get a whole bunch grosser,” Noctis said as he leaned over and kissed Prompto on the lips, their tongues dancing around in their mouths. Ignis took the opportunity to turn the music up in the car, letting the sound of Kingsglaive wash over them as they intentionally ignored the impromptu make out session in the backseat.

“We’re going to make a pitstop,” Ignis announced, making Noctis pull away from the kiss. They pulled into a gas station, and all of them got out of the car, stretching now that they were about halfway though the trip. The Argentums and Nyx had also taken the opportunity to stop, and they offered to buy lunch for everyone. Prompto doubted they were actually poor now that he knew the truth, and he accepted the offer on behalf of everyone.

They spent the time in the diner at the gas station, eating food that was likely too fattening for Prompto to ignore. He made a mental note to figure out the best running routes in Lestallum as soon as he got there. He hadn’t been running recently and needed to get back into the habit. Since his world had been turned upside down he had put a lot of things on hold. He hadn’t even been practicing his music or his photography that much. He made a silent vow to change that now that things were in motion that he couldn’t stop.

Prompto’s phone pinged again while they were in the middle of lunch, and he looked at it, trying to suppress a groan. Ravus just wouldn’t stop.

Are weekends really enough?
Noctis will grow tired of it soon enough.
You know I’m right. He’ll eventually
find someone to occupy his time until he
can see you. Then when he does he’ll stop
coming. Mark my words.

The text didn’t seem so much a threat as a warning. Noctis still struggled with his reputation at school, even though it had gotten out that he was dating someone seriously. Most of the gossipers were just trying to determine how long it would be before Prompto had his heart broken. Prompto was sure that Ravus and Luna were perpetuating the rumors.

“You know,” Prompto said quietly as he looked at the text. “Do you think Ravus’s parents have anything to do with this whole kidnapping thing? They are close with your dad right?”

“Maybe,” Noctis guessed. “But they own a bunch of successful restaurants and nightclubs so I think it’s different? Who knows? Maybe it’s just a cover for their shady doings.”

“If so then it would make sense that they would pull Ravus out of the academy and send him to Lestallum to keep an eye on Prompto,” Ignis pointed out. “Even if he doesn’t realize that’s why they’re doing it.”

“Don’t they own a really nice restaurant that turns into a nightclub on weekends here?” Gladio asked. “You think we could get in?”

“Only if you’re prepared to run into Ravus,” Noctis said.

All of them made a face saying they weren’t, except for Prompto. If Prompto looked past all the flirtations and goading, Ravus was actually pretty nice to him. At least he was talented enough as a bassist to try and be amicable towards him. Prompto considered telling Noctis about the text Ravus sent but decided against it since it would just cause more anger that they didn’t need right now. Ravus was just trying to get him to second guess Noctis, and that wasn’t likely to happen.

A moment later he received another text from Ravus. This time it was a snapshot of a piece of paper from a notebook with a list of names on it. Most of them were the name of girls, a few of which he had heard in passing at school. At the bottom of the list was his name. The handwriting looked feminine, and he had a feeling that Luna had created the list.

That’s a list of all the people Noctis has
been with. Luna’s keeping a running tally.
I’m just sending this so you can see that
his reputation is there for a reason. Be
careful, Prompto. I’m not saying this because
I want you, although I do. I’m saying this
because you deserve to know.

Prompto stared at the list and the texts that Ravus had sent. What was he supposed to do with that? There were so many people on the list, so many people that came before him. All of them were short lived and not serious, not the way Noctis said he was serious about Prompto. Or at least that’s what Noctis reported to him. But how could he not be upset seeing such a long list of people he had slept with? He doubted it hadn’t been since middle school, meaning that he had slept with all these people since he was a freshman. That was only a few short years.

Worry coursed through him as he stared at it, and he felt like Ravus’s plan had worked. Would he even be enough for someone who was so sexually active? If he lived so far away from him now, surely it would only be a matter of time before Noctis grew tired of having to make the commute. It was easy to make these promises when things were easy, when Noctis was sexually satisfied, but what about when things got tough? What would happen then?

“Excuse me,” Prompto said as he got up from the table, feeling the tears come to his eyes. The three looked at him in surprise, and the Argentums and Nyx, sitting at another table, looked up in concern. He walked over to the Regalia and crouched down on the other side of it, feeling his tears streaming down his cheeks as he thought about how eventually Noctis would get tired of him. That was the point of it. The point of Ravus sending those texts was to tell him just how naïve he was. But Noctis had sworn that he would be with him forever. But just how many people did he promise the same thing?

Dad. How do you know someone
loves you? Like, how did you know
it’s real?

He sent the text to Verstael, hoping that he would get a quick response. He knew that his parents were busy running a country, so he didn’t particularly anticipate a reply right away. When he got a response almost instantly, he was surprised but also happy. The Argentums were never like that.

When I met you father we
had some obstacles to overcome.
But the willingness to work through
it made our love even stronger. What’s
going on?

Prompto stared at the text, feeling both heartbroken and overjoyed that his father was willing to reach out to him so quickly. He imagined how life would have been different if he had been raised by both Verstael and Ardyn. They would have had a loving relationship, supported him in all his endeavors. They would have held him through his first heartbreak and encouraged him to get out and experience love again. They wouldn’t have kept him closed off from the world, insistent that he not have any friends, let alone a lover.

Noctis has a bit of a reputation.
But he swears what we have is different.
How do I know he’s telling the truth?

He expected his father to tell him to end it with Noctis, just as everyone else had told him to. Gladio had been nice enough to drop the issue when he and Noctis made up, but Prompto had a feeling that he still wasn’t overjoyed with the idea of them dating. They had all been getting along better lately, so Prompto hoped that maybe one day Gladio would be convinced. But was he himself even convinced?

You need to listen to your heart.
People love to butt into other’s
relationships. Don’t let it get to you.
If your heart tells you what you’re
doing is the right thing, then that’s all
that matters. If not, then make a change.

His father was right and was the first person not to tell him immediately what to do. Prompto stared at the text, then closed his eyes, leaning his head against the smooth metal of the Regalia. He ignored Ravus’s texts, Gladio admonishments, the Argentums’ caution. The only thing he listened to what his own heart, his own thoughts. And his thoughts told him that he was in love with Noctis, that he was willing to make it work, and that the concerns and remarks from others were wrong. Noctis cared about him, and his heart was telling him that.

Thanks dad. I think I know what
I need to do now. :) I just wish other
people would shut up sometimes.

He was so glad to know that he was in touch with his real parents, to hear their warmth, and to know that he could reach out to them. He heard footsteps behind him as whoever it was approached the Regalia. Wiping the tears from his eyes, he stood up and smiled, suspecting it was Noctis coming after him. He was right.

Anytime son. People will do
anything to ruin another’s
happiness.

He looked at the text and knew that his father was right. If he just trusted his own heart then he would be okay. Noctis looked at him in worry, his expression soft and reaching for him. Prompto hugged him suddenly, and Noctis wrapped his arms around him as he held him tightly.

“Is everything okay?” Noctis asked.

“Yeah,” Prompto replied. “Ravus just said something that got to me, and I needed a moment. My dad helped me though.”

Noctis pulled away from the hug and looked at Prompto’s smiling face, his expression still concerned. He reached over and brushed a strand of hair out of Prompto’s eyes, then leaned over and kissed him lightly. “Don’t let that jerk get to you. I have you, and you have me.”

“I know. I won’t let him get to me anymore.” Prompto kissed Noctis more intensely, letting his desire for him take him wherever they decided to end up. Noctis put his hands on the small of Prompto’s back before he slid them over his ass, caressing it like he wanted to do more than just kiss him. They were in public, though, and the only spot that they wouldn’t get spotted was inside Regalia, it’s tinted windows dark enough to hide even the shadiest of happenings.

Noctis seemed to have the same thought as Prompto and opened the back passenger door, pulling Prompto in with him ungraciously. They closed the door behind him, and Noctis resumed kissing him, his hands wandering to his jeans. Prompto wanted nothing more than to be touched by his boyfriend, but he also knew that they could get caught at any time.
“We shouldn’t,” Prompto said as Noctis unzipped Prompto’s jeans and pulled out his cock. He did the same with his own and looked at Prompto with hungry eyes.

“We won’t go all the way,” Noctis said. He reached into the center console and pulled out a stack of napkins, which Prompto suspected Ignis put there for food-related messes, not sex related messes. He was going to give into him anyway, so he just merely sighed and continued kissing him.

Noctis grabbed both of their cocks with his hands so that they were touching, making Prompto moan into the kiss. It felt good to have Noctis’s hands on him while their members rubbed up against each other, the pumping up and down spreading a fire within him that begged for release.

“Let me,” Prompto said as he took over. Noctis shuddered and gripped him tightly as Prompto moved his hands with a dexterity that Noctis had told him was more than pleasurable. Their cocks continued to rub against each other and he pumped his hand quickly, knowing that they could get caught at any moment. The friction between them made them both moan for more, and they climaxed together, their fluids ending up on Prompto’s hand.

“Hurry up and clean up,” Prompto said as he looked away from Noctis. It looked like the others in the diner were almost done with their food, stretching lazily through the diner window. They rushed to clean themselves, both of them more excited than embarrassed that they took the time to do that in the backseat of the car. Prompto wondered if they could try other things in the backseat at a later time.

“Feel better?” Noctis grinned as he asked it and winked at Prompto. They got out of the car, both of them looking flushed and guilty, but they would blame it on the sunlight on their cheeks. He doubted it would fool anybody.

“Yes,” Prompto replied with a sheepish grin. He took out his phone and showed him the texts Ravus had sent. “This is why I was upset.”

Noctis looked at the texts, his eyes widening in surprise and anger as he looked at the list of names. “I’m going to kill him. That’s all there is to it. I’m going to kill him. Who the fuck would keep a list like that?”

“It's Luna’s list,” Prompto replied as he highlighted the text that indicated as such. “It doesn’t matter if I’m not your first. As long as I’m your last.”

“Yeah but no wonder you were upset,” Noctis replied. He looked ashamed, as if his past was catching up to him in a way he didn’t like. “I’m sorry, Prompto. I know that you’re going to have to fight a lot of shit like this by being with me. But I’m not going anywhere. I’ll prove it to you again and again.”

“I know. My dad was helpful. He said to listen to my heart, and I did. It told me that it doesn’t matter what everyone else says. If you say you love me, then that’s the truth.” Prompto smiled, trying not to think of the other doubts that he had. It didn’t matter if he slept with one or one hundred people. Prompto would likely have those doubts anyway, which was a problem he had to deal with. He just had to get over his own insecurities.

“Damn it’s a shame you didn’t get to be raised by your real parents,” Noctis commented as the others walked out of the diner.

“Everything okay?” Ignis asked.

“Yeah, just Ravus being an ass,” Noctis replied. “Ready to hit the road?”

They all left at the same time, and Prompto felt more at ease in his relationship with Noctis, although he was still troubled. He and Noctis sat side by side, leaning against each other at the landscape shifted gradually. Noctis fell asleep at one point, and Prompto let him sleep. As they neared Lestallum, Ignis indicated that it might be a good chance to wake up Noctis.
Prompto deviously trailed his fingers along his leg until he caressed his cock, careful that Ignis and Gladio didn’t see. Noctis’s eyes flew open with a look of wide-eyed desire, making Prompto laugh.

“We’re here,” Prompto said as he kissed Noctis lightly on the lips.

“You better prepare yourself then,” Noctis grumbled, clearly turned on by Prompto’s teasing.

When they arrived, the Argentums led him to their new house, a much larger townhome sandwiched between a row of others. It was located in the center of the small city, so they had park their cars in a designated area that overlooked a beautifully scenic view. They walked to the new townhome, ornate and beautiful, and Prompto was immediately suspicious of who chose the place. According to his parents, they couldn’t afford a place like this. Chances were the military or Lucian Intelligence or whoever had set them up in their new home.

“Nice place,” Noctis murmured as they stepped inside. There was a lot of movement as the movers had already arrived and were in the process of moving boxes into the house and putting things where they belonged.

The townhome was painted darker colors inside, the walls an emerald green on top with a black and gold patterned wallpaper on the bottom. The front of the townhome had a large staircase along the right wall that led up to the second floor and a hallway with an ornate rug running the length of it next to it. There was a large dining room, far larger than Prompto expected, immediately to the left, and towards the back was a large kitchen.

Prompto made his way upstairs and saw that there were three bedrooms, two of which had their own separate bathroom, and a stand alone bathroom in the hall. The banisters running the stairwell and at the top of the steps were a dark wood, and the walls were painted similarly upstairs. The largest room was clearly designated to be the Argentums’, while they had indicated that the one without the bathroom adjoining it would be his. He wondered if the third bedroom with the attached bathroom was a guest room.

“Check it out,” Noctis said as they walked into his bedroom, which was almost set up entirely already. His guitars were already on their stands, and he had a new desk that matched the dark wood of the banisters in the hall. His closet was large enough to walk in, no longer necessitating a dresser. He had his television set up and, to his surprise, a brand new gaming console complete with a set of video games. He kept his camera on him, but his laptop was on the desk already, his clothes neatly put away, and his albums and records stacked in a brand new shelf along the wall. There was a large window overlooking an alleyway. While it wasn’t much of a view, it was better than complete darkness.

“I see you’ve found your new room,” a gruff voice said behind them. Prompto froze. He had heard the voice before, but where? Turning, he felt like screaming when he saw who was standing behind him. It was Cor. He was dressed casually, in jeans, a grey shirt, and a leather jacket. But he had the same stern gaze, his piercing blue eyes seeming to reach into Prompto’s soul, and his dark hair still in the same crewcut.

“Who are you?” Noctis asked defiantly, although they already knew the answer.

Ignis had sat on Prompto’s new bed, but now he stood up, holding Gladio’s hand. Whether it was for reassurance or to stop Gladio from attacking him, Prompto couldn’t say. All he knew was that he felt like he was the same scared kid he used to be, clearly remembering the barrel of a gun staring down at him as he hid in a closet.

“My name is Cor Leonis,” he said, staring at Prompto. “I work with your parents. It was recommended that we all live together for the time being while Lucis sorts out this war with Niflheim. I will have the other room down the hall. You must be Prompto. It’s nice to meet you.”

Cor held out his hand, rough and calloused, for Prompto to shake. Prompto knew he had to shake it. If he didn’t then he would know something was up. Slowly, he took the hand in his and shook it. Cor being here meant only one thing. They were keeping careful watch of him right now, making sure that his every move was being monitored to prevent his real parents from finding him. Would Nyx know what to do to make sure that he could get to his parents? Or was Cor’s very presence enough to disrupt it?

“Nice to meet you too,” Prompto lied with a faint smile. Cor shook his hand longer than necessary, but finally released it. “This is my boyfriend, Noctis, and my friends Ignis and Gladio.”

“Nice to meet you all,” Cor said as he nodded to them.

“Prompto and I are sexually active,” Noctis said, making Prompto blush. “I hope that doesn’t bother you.”

“I’ll invest in a sound machine,” Cor said nonchalantly. “I imagine, at your age, having a school fling would be typical.”

“It’s more than just a fling,” Gladio picked up for them. That surprised him. He expected Gladio to be the last person to stick up for them. “Better get used to us all being here.”

“I’m sure we can accommodate,” Cor said. “The Argentums are good people.”

“Have you worked with them long?” Prompto asked, probingly.

“For about twelve years,” Cor commented. Since the time Prompto was taken from his home. It didn’t take a lot of guesswork to figure out the math.

“Well we’re glad that you’re here to help look after Prompto,” Ignis pointed out. “Whether you’re here for work or not, I’m sure that the Argentums will be grateful for your help in raising him until he comes of age.”

“I am happy to share the same space,” Cor said. “I’m sure you all must be tired from the journey. Here.” He handed Prompto a large amount of gil. “Your parents wanted to provide you with some spending money so they had me hold onto it. Go out and enjoy a nice dinner on us.”

Prompto took the money awkwardly. “Noctis can pay for it. His father, Regis, is quite wealthy.”

Cor gave him a stern look that betrayed no hint of emotion of acknowledgement. “Then save this for another time. Have fun. I heard there are some good nightclubs around.”

“Umm… Thanks,” Prompto said.

Cor left them alone then to go downstairs and spend his time helping the Argentums order the movers around. Prompto felt himself sigh, deflating as if he had been holding his breath the entire time. He looked at his friends and boyfriend, who looked at him in concern. They were feeling the same things that Prompto was. Concern, fear, anxiety. His entire life from here on out was going to be monitored.

Prompto went to say something but Ignis silenced him, putting a finger to his own lips to indicate that they needed to be quiet. He closed the bedroom door wordlessly then began to search through his room, checking every nook and hidden spot. Prompto began to wonder what he was doing until he pulled out a small recording device that had been expertly hidden in his overhead light. His eyes widened in shock, his pulse racing in fear, and they all began to help Ignis look for any other bugging devices.

They found five in total, but they were still uncertain if that was all of them. Prompto was going to have to be careful in what he said in his room. He wouldn’t be able to talk to his real parents, his friends about anything they knew, or anything that could be considered compromising. He didn’t think they had bugged his room back in Insomnia since they didn’t seem to have a clue about what he knew. Prompto flushed red knowing that if Noctis and him decided to be intimate in his room then it was likely to be caught on one of the devices. He had no privacy anymore.

Gladio crushed all of the bugging devices while they looked around for any others that they may have missed. Prompto couldn’t find any, luckily, and Ignis seemed satisfied that they had found them all. They all breathed a heavy sigh, all of them looking more concerned now that they had discovered them. Prompto sat on his bed, head in hands, wondering if he would ever be free.

“What the fuck?” Gladio whispered. “Not only is Cor here, but they’re bugging your room now? Shit.”

“Well I know what I’m going to do about it,” Noctis said. “If they insist on bugging the place then I’m going to make sure that they regret it.” He smiled at Prompto, but Prompto wasn’t smiling back.

“How am I going to reach out to them?” Prompto asked. “I’ll have to make sure I’m alone and out of my room, and that’s risky. They’re making it impossible for me to contact them.”

There was a knock on the door, making them all jump. Nyx walked in and looked at them, concern on his face that echoed theirs. He closed the door behind him and locked it. When he saw the bugging devices, crushed in Gladio’s hands, he didn’t look surprised, although he did look more concerned than before.

“Did you get them all?” Nyx asked.

“We think so,” Ignis said. “But we can’t be sure.”

“Come on.” Nyx opened the door and they all followed him out and down the stairs and into the cool air.

It was late afternoon, the fall air chilling them as they pulled their jackets close to them, and Noctis looped his arm in Prompto’s. They were silent until they were seated at a café, and Nyx was satisfied that they weren’t being followed. They were quiet as they all ordered something to drink, trying to maintain their composure. Nyx kept glancing around, but finally sighed and relaxed.

“Cor being here complicates things,” Nyx said as he ran his hand through his hair. “And the place has been bugged. Prompto, you should only reach out to your parents outside the home. I’m worried that even texting is dangerous.”

“But… We can still…” Prompto glanced at Ignis and Gladio uncertainly, knowing that they didn’t know that Nyx was trying to arrange a meeting between him and his parents.

“Try not to worry,” Nyx assured him. “I’ll make it happen.”

“Make what happen?” Ignis asked.

“Yeah you two have been oddly shifty about something,” Gladio pointed out.

“We haven’t told you for your safety and protection,” Nyx said. “The fewer the people who know, the better.”

“There are bugging devices in Prompto’s room,” Ignis pointed out. “I think we’re beyond that point.”

Prompto sighed. “Nyx is arranging a meeting between me and my parents.”

“What?” Ignis asked incredulously. He looked at Nyx. “That is too dangerous, Nyx. Surely you must know that.”

“I promised Prompto I would do everything in my power to make sure he got to meet his parents. I’ve been working with them to arrange something discreet.” Nyx looked at Ignis fiercely. “You would want the same if it were you.”

“What I would want and what would be best for me are two different things,” Ignis shot back. “I wouldn’t want my parents to jeopardize their own safety for me.”

Prompto hadn’t considered that. Verstael and Ardyn were the leaders of Niflheim, and that meant that they had certain duties they had to uphold. If they were caught trying to sneak into Lucis to see their son then they could easily be captured and killed. He hadn’t thought just how dangerous it would be for them. He only thought about his desire to meet them, to see them for the first time since he was a small child.

“I… I never thought about that,” Prompto admitted. “It would be dangerous for them, wouldn’t it Nyx?”

“There would be inherent risks they would have to take,” Nyx conceded. “They’re willing to, though.”

“I’m…” Prompto paused, his heart heavy with the decision he had to make. “I’m not willing for them to get hurt on my behalf. It would be selfish of me to jeopardize their lives and the future of Niflheim just to meet them.”

Nyx looked at Ignis angrily, then at Prompto with a softer expression. “Prompto. We wouldn’t do anything too risky. I would do everything to safeguard against them getting caught.”

“But even still, you can’t promise that they won’t get hurt.” Prompto felt himself crying again, wondering if he would ever just have a day where he wasn’t heartbroken to the point of tears. “I want to be able to meet them someday. If that means not being able to see them for a long time, then I have to do it. Excuse me.”

Prompto stood up and walked away as he heard Gladio say, “Good going Ignis.”

It wasn’t Ignis’s fault. He was only pointing out what everyone else was afraid to say. There was too much risk involved if they ended up getting caught. It was better for him to live in silence and isolation until he was eighteen. Then he could go off to Niflheim and be with his family. But until then he would have to just wait to be with his family again. He contemplated all this as he stared at the Lucian skyline, the scenic backdrop welcoming him to a new, small city that would be his prison until he was old enough to leave. He just hoped that by that time, the Lucian government wouldn’t find a new way to keep him trapped and unable to get to his family.

Chapter Text

Gladio was mad at Ignis. He didn’t have to vocalize it for Ignis to get that he was mad. After Ignis pointed out how dangerous it was for Prompto’s real family to meet with him, he got visibly upset, stalked off, then came back later in the night without saying a word. Prompto and Noctis were spending the night alone together, and the Argentums had taken Gladio and Ignis to the basement for them to sleep. The basement was well furnished as a guest suite, complete with its own shower, bed, and kitchenette. There was no way they could afford that place with the supposed amount of money that they said they made. It was obvious that a lot had been hidden from Prompto.

As they got ready for bed, Ignis tried to talk to Gladio, to talk to him about the logical aspect of the danger that Prompto needed to consider. Gladio only said he didn’t want to talk about it and needed to get some rest. The next day, they spent the drive back from Lestallum in near silence. Ignis attempted again to talk to Gladio, but he wasn’t very communicative. When he spoke to Noctis, he had only said that Prompto was really upset about it, but he didn’t blame Ignis. He hoped that would be enough to satisfy Gladio, but it wasn’t.

When they got home, Gladio took off before Ignis could offer to drop him off with the Regalia. He said he would be in touch with them, but Ignis doubted it would be anytime soon. He attempted to talk to Noctis about it, but Noctis only said that he was too tired to really talk about it. It frustrated Ignis that they weren’t even willing to talk to him, especially since he had only pointed out the obvious.

Ignis didn’t feel like he was in the wrong. He had pointed out what Prompto hadn’t considered, and ultimately Prompto made the decision not to meet his real parents because he had to protect them. Wouldn’t it be better for Prompto to have parents to go to when he came of age instead of running the risk of them being captured or dying because they wanted to meet before then. It was the smart decision, the logical decision, and the one that Ignis would have chosen had he been in the same situation. Prompto even texted him indicating that he wasn’t mad at him and told Gladio and the others as such.

When Monday arrived, Ignis attempted to reach out to Gladio. He called him but the phone rang until it went to voicemail. He knew Gladio was awake at this point and likely just ignoring his call. So he texted him, asking if they could talk, but didn’t expect to hear a response back from him. Frustrated, he got up and got dressed, readying himself for another long day of school. Noctis texted him, letting him know that he was welcome to drive with him to school, but even through the text Ignis could tell he was sullen. He couldn’t tell if it was because of Prompto living in Lestallum now or if it was because he was upset at Ignis still.

Regardless, Ignis showed up at Noctis’s place, and when Noctis answered the door it was clear he had been crying. Ignis wasn’t used to seeing Noctis upset to the point that he would cry, but he had to admit that he and Prompto were deeply connected. He thought he was just as connected with Gladio, but with Gladio not talking to him, he wasn’t so sure anymore. Gladio had vowed that they would make the relationship work, but it seemed more likely at this point that one disagreement would end it for them.

“You okay?” Ignis asked him as they got in the Regalia and left for the day.

“Yeah,” Noctis replied. “Just missing Prompto, is all. We’ve been video chatting and all, so that helps, but it’s still hard.”

“You’ll get used to it,” Ignis attempted to console him. “Before you know it, it’ll be the weekend and you’ll be with him again.”

“Yeah,” Noctis said, this time his voice sounded brighter, like he had something to look forward to. “I’m sorry I was upset with you. I mean, you were right about the danger of it all, but it seemed kind of obvious that they were all willing to take the risk. Then again, I don’t think Prompto really considered the dangers behind it.”

“I’m sorry,” Ignis said as well. “I know it must be difficult for him, but wouldn’t it be better for them all to be safe and meet each other when it’s safe to do so?”

“You’re right, of course,” Noctis said. “But I don’t think any of us can understand how difficult it is for them. I mean, how would you react if you discovered you were a hostage of the Lucian government and your real parents had been trying to find you for years?”

Ignis paused. He hadn’t considered the emotional aspect of it. He knew that things must have been tough on Prompto, but he hadn’t ever really considered how difficult they were. Then again, Noctis had a point. Could any of them really understand just how difficult it was on them, to know that their family was out there, waiting for them to be reunited one day? Maybe it was worth the risks that were inherent with it, but Prompto didn’t seem willing to put the Minister or the Chancellor in danger.

“I guess there’s no way to tell until it happens to you,” Ignis conceded. “I guess it wasn’t my place to say anything about it. But Prompto did need to know about the risks.”

“There’s no good answer for it,” Noctis added. “But I hope Nyx ignores him and still makes it happen. You can’t imagine how happy Prompto is when he gets to talk to them. Makes me appreciate what I have even more.”

“We’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Do you think Gladio will eventually talk to me again?”

They had been doing so well up until this past weekend. Ignis was starting an internship in parliament, and his parents had managed to get him all the way to the prime minister. He was hoping that the effect would be two-fold. He wanted to gain the experience he needed to start a political career before he ever got to college as well as see if there was anyway to end this war or get information they needed to end it. Gladio had supported him on this venture and had even been excited for him to begin.

Their relationship had been urgent but passionate as well. Every moment they had free was spent together, alternating between Gladio’s place and Ignis’s. Their parents were on board with their relationship, and Ignis’s parents had even began to plan trips to Altissia for the inevitable move. The sex was incredible, and they were both supporting each other in whatever they wanted to do in their lives.

But now that seemed to be all done and over with. All it took was one disagreement where Ignis didn’t even have a chance to talk to Gladio about it. It seemed to end it all just so quickly. Ignis hoped he was wrong, but he couldn’t ignore the aching in his chest telling him that Gladio was through with the relationship. He wished he could just get in touch with Gladio and clear the air. If Prompto and Noctis were no longer mad at him, then should Gladio be okay with it too?

“Of course he will,” Noctis said, but he sounded unsure. “He just needs to calm down. I’ll let Prompto know to reach out to him and tell him to cool it.”

“Thanks,” Ignis said. They arrived to the school and parked as they always did, falling into a familiar rhythm they used to have before Prompto and Gladio came into their lives. Only it felt different somehow. Emptier. Because there was no going back to how things were before their boyfriends entered their life. If this was how it was going to be when Gladio moved to Altissia then he understood why Noctis was crying.

Ignis looked across the street to see if he could find Gladio, but there was no sign of the large, muscular student. He wondered if he was already in the school at that point and suppressed a heaving sigh as he made his way into the school and back to the same routine. He saw Luna in the hallway, looking wistfully at Noctis, but there was no sign of Ravus. Ignis was left to wonder if he had already moved to Lestallum. Despite Noctis insisting that he wasn’t worried about Prompto with Ravus and that he trusted him, Ignis wasn’t so sure. He was likely more concerned that Ravus would pounce before Prompto even knew what was going on.

“Is Luna ever going to give up?” Noctis complained as he walked into the classroom. Ignis paused when he saw Iris walking down the hall.

“Doubtful,” Ignis replied absentmindedly. “I’ll be right back.” He ran after Iris, trying to catch up with her quickly. “Iris!”

Iris turned, trying to locate who called to her, and frowned when she saw it was Ignis. She put her hands on her hips in defiance as she always did. “What do you want?”

“Is Gladio okay?” Ignis asked, his heart racing.

“Why don’t you ask him yourself?” Iris shot back, but her eyes wavered. “He stayed home today, saying he wasn’t feeling well, but I feel like he just didn’t want to see you.”

Ignis waffled. He knew he should just go to class, to get through the day and deal with it when he was done school, but his heart was compelling him to do something different. “I’m going to go see him. Don’t tell him. I want to be able to talk to him.”

“Good,” Iris said. “He said something about not being the one to take risks for those you love, so I’m sure he’ll be surprised you’re skipping school.”

That shocked Ignis. Was he not upset because of what he said to Prompto? Did he read into it in a way that indicated he wouldn’t be there for Gladio should things get intense or dangerous? Of course he would be there for him. But Gladio needed to know that, and right now he didn’t.

Ignis made his way back down the hall, texting Noctis that he would be back later and not to worry, but stopped when he nearly collided with the dean. Dean Caelum stared at him, looking a bit more haggard and grey than usual, a stern expression on his face. Ignis was heading towards the exit, the opposite direction of the classroom, and certainly in the wrong direction that a class president should be heading in.

“Ignis,” the dean said with a professional smile. “Just the man that I have been looking for. Come with me.”

Ignis awkwardly followed the dean to his office, wondering why he had taken the time to leave his office and come all this way to get him. Usually the dean spent his time with teachers, the administration, and occasionally troublesome students who needed a firm hand. For him to come all this way indicated a serious issue. What could be so serious concerning Ignis that made him come for him? Or was he worried about Noctis?

“Take a seat,” the dean said shortly as they entered his office. He did not sound pleased, so Ignis remained standing, preparing himself for something less than savory. The dean looked at him, realized he wasn’t going to be sitting down anytime soon, and sat at his desk in the large leather chair anyway. “I’ve heard some rumors going around the school about you, Ignis.”

“Rumors are not particularly reliable, sir,” Ignis said, his heart pounding.

“I’ve heard rumors that you are dating a man who attends the high school across the street,” the dean said. “I heard that this young man is not only a delinquent, but he is the delinquent among delinquents.”

“I am dating a male student from the high school,” Ignis said. “He is a kind and compassionate man and an adept student.”

“But his name is Gladiolus Amicitia,” the dean surmised.

“He goes by Gladio,” Ignis said. “My parents approve of him.”

“They shouldn’t,” the dean insisted. Ignis felt his anger flare. Who was this man to say anything about his relationship with Gladio? He may have grown up with his son, but if his parents approved of their relationship then where did he get the right to lecture him on his relationships?

“Sir, I don’t believe it is your place to dictate who I can date,” Ignis said. “That choice lies primarily with me and my parents.”

“Being with a delinquent from across the street reflects poorly upon the academy and upon your position as class president,” the dean continued. “It may ultimately effect your prospects for employment in whatever field you choose.”

“Gladio is not a delinquent,” Ignis insisted. “The opposite in fact. He wants to be a police officer when he graduates.”

“A man like that aims too low for a person of your stature,” the dean continued as if Ignis hadn’t even spoken. “It may be too late for my son and his future, but you are set on a good path towards success, Ignis. I don’t want to see you fail because of one student, no matter how attracted to him you may be.”

“I’m sorry to shatter your illusions, sir, but Gladio is the reason why I am aiming so high in my future,” Ignis said. “If the reputation of the academy is far more important to you than my happiness, then I will be glad to resign as class president.”

“Perhaps that would be for the best,” the dean said. “I will consider your resignation and let you know if I accept it.”

“Whether or not you accept it, I will not stop dating him,” Ignis said. “Ultimately it is my decision, and my decision stands.”

“Very well,” the dean dismissed him. “Head back to class now. I expect to see you there, not skipping class as it looked like you were about to. If I catch you skipping then I will see to it that Gladio is expelled.”

“Sir?” Ignis asked in disbelief.

“I don’t think you are particularly worried about your future, but Gladio’s on the other hand… That’s a different story. Have a good class, Ignis.”

Ignis reached the door, his heart beating rapidly in anger. “By the way, sir. Cor sends his regards.” He turned only briefly to see Regis flinch in shock and fear, satisfied that he could affect him so deeply. He opened the door and made his way back to the classroom just before the bell was about to ring.

“I thought you were leaving?” Iris asked as she passed him to head to her own classroom.

“If I do the dean will see that Gladio is expelled,” Ignis said hotly. “He’ll have to wait.”

Iris looked at him in surprise, her feet slowing. “I’ll reach out to Gladio and explain it to him.”

Ignis shook his head. “I doubt he’ll listen. I’ll have to try and find a way to apologize.” The bell rang and he sighed. “Thanks anyway.”

Ignis walked into the classroom, the other students looking at him in suspicious surprise. He was always early, never pulled to the dean’s office, and always far more composed than he was right now. He sat next to Noctis, who looked at him in confused surprise, but he was feeling far too petty and angry to really care about what others thought. He wanted to reach out to Gladio, to apologize, to tell him that he wanted to be there for him, but at this point Gladio wasn’t likely to answer any texts or calls. His internship didn’t start until after Wednesday and would be for a much more limited in his timeframe than the time at the shelter. Perhaps he would have time to see him after school and even after his internship.

During their lunch hour, Ignis’s mood hadn’t much improved, but both Ignis and Noctis went on high alert when Luna joined them for lunch. She looked at Noctis with a happiness that concerned them both. It was clear that Noctis was dating Prompto, so she shouldn’t have looked so happy at him at this point.

“Hello Noctis,” Luna said as she sat down next to them in the classroom. She took out her prepared lunch and placed it on the desk delicately, as if everything she did was with a great flourish. “How was Lestallum?”

“Great,” Noctis said. “Lots of intimate time with Prompto. I’m looking forward to more time with him next weekend.”

“I doubt that will continue for long,” Luna said with a devious smile. “Would you like to know why?”

“Sure Luna,” Noctis said incredulously. “Why not? You’re going to tell me anyway, right?”

“Certainly,” Luna said as her smile continued. It was disconcerting, even for Ignis. “Ravus is living in Lestallum now, and he’s going to make a move on Prompto sometime this week. I doubt he’ll resist.”
“You really don’t know Prompto then,” Noctis said.

“Oh I know enough,” Luna replied. “And let’s just say we have the ability to make sure that Prompto wants nothing to do with you anymore.”

“What are you talking about?” Noctis demanded. “Do you really think I’ll date you if you do something like this?”

“No, I don’t. But if you don’t date me, then I don’t see why anyone else can have you.” Luna laughed brightly, a laugh that would otherwise be pleasant if it didn’t sound so menacing. “I really shouldn’t give away the grand surprise. It would ruin my plan entirely.”

“Don’t you dare hurt Prompto,” Noctis snapped.

“I won’t,” Luna said. “You will.”

“Come on Ignis,” Noctis said standing. He was already taking out his phone and dialing Prompto’s number. “We don’t have to listen to this.”

“There’s only so much we can tolerate,” Ignis said to Luna. “The more you try this, the worse it will be for you.”

“One can only hope. Have fun.” Luna waved at them as they walked out of the classroom.

“Prompto,” Noctis said on the phone, ignoring the teachers telling him that phone calls were not permitted on campus. “Where are you? Are you okay?” He paused and breathed a sigh of relief. “Nothing. It’s just that… Luna and Ravus are planning something, okay? Well I think it’s mainly Luna. Just be careful. Don’t be alone with Ravus. And if they say anything about me, don’t believe it for a second.”

Ignis let him finish the phone call, but it was brief after that. If Noctis stayed on the phone much longer he would have had his phone confiscated. He looked worried when the phone call ended, but he didn’t seem as worried as before. Ignis didn’t put it past Luna to try something to come between them, but he honestly thought Ravus was acting more with his dick than with his head. If it meant getting his way then he would likely just ignore whatever his sister did as long as it worked in his favor.

“I don’t know what they’re planning,” Noctis said after the call ended. “But I’m not doing anything to jeopardize this relationship. I know that I don’t have anymore chances after last time.”

“Prompto won’t easily fall for it now that he knows that Luna is up to something,” Ignis considered. “They really have terrible timing too.”

“That’s probably why they’re doing it,” Noctis stated. “They know he’s vulnerable now.”

“His sister seems to be the mastermind behind it, though,” Ignis pointed out. “We should probably be more worried about what she’ll do here first.”

Noctis nodded. “I won’t let them separate us.”

“I know. And Prompto knows that too.” Ignis wondered how Prompto was going to deal with all of this on top of essentially being imprisoned in Lestallum, but when he looked at Noctis’s determined expression, he knew. Noctis was too stubborn and too in love with Prompto to let anything happen to him because of Luna’s interference. It made his heart hurt to think that Gladio wouldn’t think that Ignis was as determined as Noctis was in their relationship.

The rest of the day passed agonizingly slow. As soon as school was over, Ignis indicated to Noctis that he had to go and immediately took off to head to Gladio’s house. He hadn’t anticipated going there this morning and didn’t bring a change of clothes to disguise his enrollment in the academy, but he figured that if he wore his uniform one time in the boroughs it wouldn’t have that great of an impact. When he was on the subway he noticed a few people give him a bad look, but he remained close to the subway door, ready to get off the train at any moment.

Halfway through the ride he received a text from Noctis that made him chuckle. Despite his heavy heart regarding Gladio, he couldn’t help but feel just a bit better about Noctis and Prompto.

Prompto lost it on Ravus when they
met up. Ravus apparently was shocked.
He promised Prompto that it was only
his sister planning something. She’s
losing it a bit now that Ravus has moved.
But can you imagine the shock on Ravus’s
face when Prompto freaked. I love him.

Ignis could imagine the look of shock on Ravus’s face. Prompto was already dealing with enough. He didn’t need someone coming in and trying to ruin one of the few good things he had in his life. Considering everything that Prompto had been through, Ignis wondered if Noctis would mind the company back to Lestallum over the weekend. He would have to talk to him about it when he wasn’t so focused on making things right with Gladio.

As Ignis got off the train, he felt someone following him. He did his best to ignore it since it was a busy time of day. There were many students and adults trying to make their way back home after another long Monday. But he couldn’t ignore the fact any longer as he made his way to Gladio’s house, acutely aware that he was wearing the pristine white uniform of the academy. Just when he thought that he was going to escape whoever was following him closely, he felt a strong arm grab him as a hand covered his mouth and prevented him from screaming.

Ignis had started training in self-defense with Gladio this past week, but it didn’t mean he knew any techniques to get out of this situation. If anything, he was just as helpless as he had been when he had been a victim of a mugging. Was this a second attempt at one since he was wearing his uniform? He tried to stay calm, but he felt like his mind was reeling from being caught once again. This time, Gladio wouldn’t be there to save him.

“If it isn’t the academy’s favorite pretty boy,” Loqi sneered as Ignis was dragged down an alley and pinned against a wall, reminding him of when he had been mugged. Only those who were grabbing him were familiar to him. He had seen them between the academy and the high school, dealing drugs to students by whatever means necessary. Loqi was the ringleader, the one who made all the decisions regarding who was dealt the drugs and who collected the money. The hulking giants of muscle that had grabbed him, three high school students who were clearly trying to emulate Gladio’s stature, were just his lackeys.

“What do you want?” Ignis snapped, knowing that he didn’t have any leverage right now. There was no way to escape this, even if he was trained in self-defense.

“We heard a rumor that you’re Gladio’s fuck toy,” Loqi said with a cackle. “You’re just what we need to get him to give in and let us funnel drugs into the high school. I wonder what he’ll think when you suddenly disappear and a ransom note takes your place.”

Ignis’s eyes went wide in shock and despair. Gladio was mad at him right now. There was no way he would even know that he had disappeared, other than by the mercy of the Six. If he was taken away and a ransom note took his place then would Gladio try and rescue him? He had been so sure just a few days ago, but now he didn’t know. If he was mad enough then chances were he wouldn’t even care to come after him.

“You couldn’t have picked the worse timing,” Ignis said with a mock laughter and confidence that he didn’t really feel. “Gladio broke up with me.”

“You really think we’re going to fall for that?” Loqi snapped as one of his lackeys struck Ignis across the face. That was going to bruise. “Take him.”

“Stop!” Ignis screamed as his lackeys bound his hands behind him, using some sort of rope that they had on hand. They had to have planned this. They were too prepared. The only thing Ignis could do was yell and scream for help, to try and alert anyone to the fact that he was being taken. It didn’t last long. One of the lackeys struck him in the back of the head, and he felt his vision blur until everything went dark.

***

When Ignis came to everything was dark and cold. The back of his head hurt where he had been struck, and his body was sore from being bound by his hands and feet. He was lying on a cold, hard ground that felt like he was haphazardly thrown into a warehouse or some other storage facility. He tried to move, but his body was too stiff, like he had been unconscious for hours. He opened his eyes and saw the moonlight filtering in from windowpanes from high up. There were boxes stacked all around him, rows upon rows in a warehouse that he had been taken to by his captors. He hoped that Noctis had the wherewithal to understand that he had gone missing and wasn’t with Gladio.

“Are you fools?” he heard a familiar voice echoing near a door that led to an exit and to freedom. There was a larger hangar door that remained closed so trucks could come in and load and unload their cargo. “What were you thinking bringing Ignis Scientia here?”

“Yeah, boss, but you said to get Gladio to comply at all costs,” Loqi replied. There was desperation in his voice. “Wouldn’t this be two birds, one stone?”

There was a silence, and Ignis tried to figure out where he had heard the voice before. “Perhaps. This may work in our favor. But the Scientias are a reputable family. If he isn’t ransomed to Gladio soon then it will be hell to pay for us all. Take care of it.”

If Ignis didn’t know any better, he would say that whoever Loqi’s boss was sounded like Regis. There was no way it could be him, though, right? He was an academic, Noctis’s father, and someone who Ignis had grown up with. But he was also the one who orchestrated and approved Prompto’s kidnapping. If he was capable of that, what else was he capable of?

“Yes, sir,” Loqi replied. There was the sound of someone walking away. Ignis felt his heart go cold as he recognized it to be the sound of a man limping and using a cane for support. It had to be Regis. There was no other way around it. Did Regis have a hand in the drug trade that was going on at the schools? It sounded like he was the ringleader and orchestrator of it, if anything.

Ignis let out an involuntary grunt as he tried to shift his weight, the ropes binding his arms and legs making his hands and feet go numb. He tried to shift his weight enough to bring circulation back to his body, but he was stiff and sore and was likely tossed around like a ragdoll when he was unconscious. There was the sound of footsteps heading in his direction, and there was nothing he could do to make himself smaller or to hide successfully.

“Good,” Loqi sneered as he stared down at Ignis. “You’re awake.”

“Let me go,” Ignis said, his voice hoarse. “My parents will be looking for me.”

“Rumor has it that you’re often at Gladio’s place for a fuck session,” Loqi said, clearly enjoying the power he had over Ignis. “I doubt they’ll start looking for you for a while.”

While he wouldn’t call it a fuck session, Loqie wasn’t exactly wrong. He often went over to Gladio’s place and spent the night. It wouldn’t be odd for him not to come home one or two nights in a row. But there had to be someone who missed him, who noticed he was gone, right? But with Gladio mad and everyone thinking that he was with Gladio, no one would be coming for a while.

There was the loud bang of a metal door opening and closing, and Loqi smiled. His three lackeys came out of the shadows and surrounded Ignis, preparing for a fight. “Looks like your boyfriend got the invitation,” Loqi said. “That was fast. Guess your ass is too sweet for him to leave alone.” He turned around to address Gladio, somewhere in the warehouse. “We’re over here!”

“Just go!” Ignis called out. “It’s a trap! Just- oof.” Ignis was punched in his side, and he felt one of his ribs cracking. Pain exploded in his chest as he felt his breath leave him, and he struggled to catch his breath.

“Let him go,” Gladio said as he found his way over to the group. Ignis looked up at him, begging him just to walk away. He didn’t want him to get hurt on his behalf. Gladio was wearing his leather jacket without a shirt and his jeans. Despite his stern attitude, his glare that could easily frighten anyone, Ignis could tell that he left in a hurry.

“Oh we won’t be letting him go without discussing terms first,” Loqi said with a smile. “We want access to the high school. You can grant that.”

“It won’t happen,” Gladio said as he crossed his arms over his chest.

One of the lackeys grabbed Ignis by the hair and pulled him up painfully, making him wince and hiss from the pain. Loqi smiled at Gladio, and Ignis stared at him in worry as a knife was held to his throat. He felt tears gathering at the corner of his eyes, whether it was from the pain or the fear, he couldn’t say. This was different from being mugged. This was far more serious.

“Do you really want to lose your precious toy?” Loqi said, his anger seeping out from him in a wave of malice. “Does he really mean that little to you?”

Gladio’s eyes flickered to Ignis’s briefly, still hard and unwavering. Ignis felt his heart breaking in two, his disbelief palpable. He was still mad, and he no longer wanted to be with him. He could see it in the coldness of his eyes, his unwavering approach. Ignis didn’t want Gladio to give into Loqi, but he had anticipated some kindness, some fear for his safety. He couldn’t see any of it there.

“Just let me go,” Ignis wheezed as the lackey held the knife against his skin, drawing blood. He winced as he tried to manage the pain between his clearly broken rib and the cold metal against his neck. Tears were streaming down his face now, his powerlessness and heartbreak overwhelming him. “It’s okay. Just let me go.”

“You heard him,” Gladio said, sealing his fate. “It’s as you said. He’s just a toy. I don’t care what happens to him.”

Loqi laughed, a shrill and menacing laugh that sounded like nails on a chalkboard. “I never anticipated you to be this heartless. The boss was right to be worried. You heard him. Dispose of this trash.”

Ignis closed his eyes, anticipating the knife digging into his skin. Instead he heard a loud thump and a shriek in pain. Opening his eyes, he saw that Loqi was being subdued by Gladio. He was lying on his stomach, his arm twisted painfully behind him as Gladio pressed his foot into his back. He looked at Loqi’s lackeys angrily, his face menacing. Ignis could sense their hesitation, their uncertainty. The knife at Ignis’s throat wavered, giving him the room to slam his head back. He ignored the pain of his head driving into the face of the lackey holding him and immediately tried to pull away from him as the knife clattered to the ground.

“You really think I wouldn’t get the upper hand,” Gladio was growling at Loqi. “You really think you’d win this fight?”

Painfully, Ignis tried to get away, but his hands and feet were still bound. The lackey he had hit was holding his nose, grimacing in pain, but another picked up the knife and made to drive it into Ignis’s back. He let out a scream, but Gladio was on him faster than he thought possible for someone his size. He wrestled with the large man, barely stopping the knife from driving into his shoulder. Ignis took the opportunity to do what he could and tripped the man that Gladio was struggling with. He toppled over, giving Gladio the upper hand, and lost control of the knife. Gladio took it from his hands and immediately punched him, knocking him out with a single hit.

The last lackey looked at Gladio in fear, clearly afraid that he would suffer a similar fate. Loqi called to him to do something, but the lackey was only thinking of his own safety. He immediately bolted, running out of the warehouse before Gladio had a chance to so much as take a step towards him. Ignis looked at Loqi, who was sneering in anger as he recovered him. He pulled something out of his jacket, and Ignis immediately recognized that it was a gun.

“Gladio!” Ignis screamed. He tried to maneuver himself quickly enough. Just as the gun went off he was able to struggle barely enough to knock Gladio out of the way. The bullet missed them by inches. He collapsed onto the floor, the ground jarring him painfully, leaving him gasping for air and hoping that it was enough for Gladio to escape. He just had to run away, to go and leave him. He didn’t have to deal with Loqi’s gun as long as he got away.

Gladio didn’t leave, though. Instead he tackled Loqi before he could get another shot off. Loqi stretched his hand out, trying to get the gun as far away from Gladio’s grasp while maintaining control of it. Gladio was stronger. They wrestled for it, the gun going off a few times erratically, and Ignis felt something painful in his arm. He looked down and saw blood seeping through where the bullet had grazed his arm. It was superficial, shallow, but enough to require stitches and enough to be painful.

Seeing the blood seeping from his arm, Ignis felt a surge of shock go through him. He had been shot by someone who was acting under Regis’s command. Gladio saw the blood seeping through his now dirty white uniform and savagely grabbed for the gun in Loqi’s hand. Unwilling to surrender it, fearful for what would happen if he did, Loqi threw it out of reach for them both. Gladio took the opportunity to punch Loqi hard across the face. Once. Twice. By the third time, Ignis was screaming for him to stop. Gladio seemed to come to his senses and let go of Loqi, who fell into an unconscious but breathing heap onto the floor.

“Ignis,” Gladio called for him as he ran over to him. He looked at the blood, Ignis bound by his wrists and ankles, and stared at him numbly, unmoving.

“Get the knife,” Ignis commanded him. “Cut me loose.”

Gladio acted quickly as sirens sounded in the distance. The gunshots must have alerted someone to dial for the police. If they didn’t get out of there soon enough then there would be a line of questioning that neither of them were prepared to answer. Luckily they were in the boroughs, where unfortunately crimes like these seldom went reported, let alone investigated. They would likely see an ardent drug dealer, check him for drugs, and arrest him if they found any on him. They wouldn’t look too much into it beyond that.

Ignis felt his muscles sigh in relief as Gladio cut the rope around his wrists and ankles. Gladio pulled him to his feet, but the pain in his chest from the broken rib and his arm was making it hard to breathe, let alone walk. Gladio picked him up, carrying him in his arms like a knight in shining armor. Ignis would have protested if he wasn’t too sore and in pain to walk. Instead, he wrapped his unwounded arm around Gladio’s neck, burying his face into his chest ungraciously, just thankful that Gladio had come to his rescue. He made a vow in that moment to take his self-defense courses far more seriously than before.

“We’ve got to get you stitched up,” Gladio said. “We got to get you to the hospital. You could have punctured a lung.”

“I’m sorry,” Ignis said, suddenly exhausted as Gladio hurriedly took him out of the warehouse and away from the sound of the sirens approaching. The hospital where Gladio’s mother worked must have been close by, because he took off quickly, nearly jogging to get him there. “I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry for what?” Gladio asked as he hurried on the street. They were in a more populated area now, the people they passed by looking at them curiously. Once they saw the blood, though, they stopped looking. It was best practice in the boroughs not to ask questions.

“You’re mad at me,” Ignis said. “I’m sorry.”

“We can worry about that later,” Gladio said vaguely.

Ignis winced, his heart hurting in concern for what that meant. Gladio was the type of person who would save a stranger, let alone someone he cared about. Of course he was there. It wasn’t any indication that he wasn’t mad at him or that he didn’t want to end it with him. Ignis felt tears coming to his eyes, his heart aching, hoping that he was wrong. He didn’t think so.

He wanted to apologize and make up with him, but Gladio wasn’t focused on that right now. He was looking ahead at the hospital as it came into view, his eyes fierce and determined. Ignis felt the glow of the fluorescent lights radiating from the hospital before they stepped foot inside the emergency room. There was the typical commotion that came with an emergency room, the typical crying children and people waiting to see a doctor.

“Help,” Gladio said as he stepped inside. Ignis looked up and saw several nurses staring, wide eyed, before they started to rush towards them.

“What happened?” a nurse asked. It was a familiar voice. Ignis, eyes blurred in exhaustion, looked over and noticed it was Gladio’s mother.

“He’s been shot in the arm,” Gladio said. “Probably other injuries too.”

“My ribs,” Ignis said. He looked at Gladio as his mother started ordering for others to move, grabbing a stretcher for Ignis to lay on. As Gladio lowered him down, Ignis looked up at him, trying to hold onto him for as long as he could. He felt like if he let go then he wouldn’t get the chance to touch him again. “Don’t go.”

“I’ll wait,” Gladio said. He looked at him with a familiar inscrutable expression that Ignis hadn’t seen since Gladio admitted that he liked him. It was the expression he made when he was hiding something.

“Ignis,” Gladio’s mother was saying. “We have to get the bleeding to stop. We have to make sure that you haven’t punctured a lung too. Gladio will have to wait out here until we’re done.”

“Don’t go,” Ignis said to Gladio. He was being taken away by a team of nurses and a doctor, all of them fussing over him and trying to take their assessments. He could only stare at Gladio, hoping he would still be there, waiting for him.

“We’ll take care of him,” Gladio’s mother said to her son as she helped wheel Ignis back to assess the damage. Gladio only stared at them as Ignis was taken into another room quickly.

Everything passed by in a blur. He was being hooked up to an IV, the doctor was barking orders while having his clothes removed. They focused on stopping the bleeding first, stitching his wound quickly. At one point they took him to get an x-ray done, to confirm that he had two broken ribs, but none of them had punctured his lung. They didn’t ask too many questions about what had happened, but Gladio’s mother looked at him in concern as they bandaged his torso and arm, giving him pain medication once it was safe to do so.

Ultimately they decided to keep him overnight for observation, which meant alerting his parents that he was being hospitalized. He asked for Gladio a few times, but no one seemed to be listening, save for Gladio’s mother. By the time he was moved to a general wing of the hospital for observation, Ignis was feeling exhausted, worn down, and pretty loopy from the pain medication. He hoped Gladio would be there to end it with him because at least the pain medication would numb his heartbreak.

Ignis was eventually left alone in the room until his parents arrived, and he stared out the window at the Insomnian skyline, feeling far too numb from the pain medication to worry about much. His heart would be hurting otherwise, and right now that was something he would rather avoid. He felt it unnecessary to be in the hospital overnight, but then again he was high on pain medication right now, so his judgment was impaired to say the least.

“Ignis,” Gladio called from the sliding glass door that was propped open. Ignis turned his head slowly, too sore and too medicated to turn it faster than that. Gladio walked towards him, his expression fixed into a concerned frown.

“Hi Gladio,” Ignis slurred, smiling at the sight of his beautiful boyfriend. He didn’t think he would show. While he felt like Gladio was about to end it with him, he was too loopy to think of anything other than how Gladio wasn’t hurt. “Are you okay?”

“I should be asking you that,” Gladio said. He stood by the bed, and Ignis instinctively reached out to grab his hand. He hesitated when he saw Gladio’s expression and refrained from touching him. “I’m fine.”

“I’m sorry, Gladio,” Ignis said. “I’m sorry I butted into Prompto’s life and upset you as a result. Iris said you were upset about not taking risks.”

“You got shot because of me, Ignis,” Gladio said. “I’m not worried about whatever stupid reason I was mad at you before.”

“Then why do I get the feeling that you’re about to break up with me?” Ignis asked. He felt a tinge of pain in his heart, hoping he was wrong.

“Because you got shot,” Gladio said. “They kidnapped you to get to me. How am I supposed to be with you knowing that at any moment you could get killed just because we’re dating?”

Ignis frowned, trying to think of a decent response that would be adequate to put Gladio’s fears to rest. “You’re moving to Altissia,” he considered. “When you’re there it won’t matter anymore.”

“When I’m there all the others will come out of the woodwork and attack you,” Gladio argued. “You’ll be killed for sure.”

“I’ll move with you,” Ignis said desperately. He knew that wouldn’t happen, but he didn’t want Gladio to end it with him. “I could stand it if you stopped loving me. Well, maybe not, but I could understand it then. But I can’t stand it if you break up with me while you still love me.”

“And what if I said I don’t love you anymore?” Gladio asked, the same inscrutable look on his face again.

“I’d say you’re lying,” Ignis said. “I know you love me, Gladio.”

“If keeping you safe means not loving you, then I’ll do it,” Gladio said.

“Don’t,” Ignis begged. He was crying. No amount of pain medication could mask the pain in his heart. “You don’t know what I heard. Regis is involved, Gladio. I can’t go back to the academy knowing that he was okay with putting my life in jeopardy. It’s not just about you.”

Gladio hesitated, looking at him in deep consideration. “I don’t know, Ignis. I don’t know if this should continue if it means you getting hurt.”

“Gladio.” Ignis grabbed his hand and held it tightly, ignoring the pain in his arm as he did so. There was a fire left from where they touched, and he willed Gladio to feel the same. “Please. If you feel the way I do, don’t do this.”

Gladio wavered. He could see him wavering. He willed him to waver. As Gladio leaned towards him, their faces almost touching, Ignis willed him to feel the pain and desire in his heart, to know that he loved him so desperately that being with him was worth any risk that came along with it. He used his free hand to reach up and pull Gladio’s face towards him, their lips touching gently, as if Gladio were afraid that he would hurt Ignis at his touch. Ignis felt his passion for him burn brightly, begging for more despite his injuries.

When Gladio pulled away there were tears in his eyes, and Ignis felt like he was going to hear something he didn’t want to. “I’m sorry, Ignis.”

“No, Gladio,” Ignis said as Gladio pulled away from him. He tried to grip onto his hand, tried to hold onto him tightly, but he had no strength left. He felt Gladio’s hand slip away from him as he took a step back. “Please. Don’t.”

Gladio walked away as his parents entered the room, looking at him in tearful anxiety. They crowded him in that moment, and what they were saying, Ignis couldn’t tell. His eyes were transfixed on Gladio as he left the hospital room, his back turned to him. There was nothing in all of Eos, nothing that the Six Astrals could do to make his pain any less extreme than it was. His heart felt like it was shattering, being turned into dust and fading into the darkness of oblivion. As he cried, his parents thought it was due to his injuries and the trauma he had been through. He couldn’t vocalize that the reason he was so upset was that he had just watched Gladio walk out of his life for good.

Chapter Text

Ignis was released from the hospital the next day, as promised by the doctor. He was given a series of instructions to care for his injuries, as well as medications to help prevent infection and for his pain. They said it would at least six weeks before the pain started to subside and even longer than that for it to disappear entirely. Ignis didn’t really care about any of that. He was too heartbroken to care.

He reached out to Gladio several times once he had his phone on him, but there was never any response. When he tried to call him it went straight to voicemail, meaning Gladio had either turned his phone off or blocked his number entirely. He reached out to Noctis to see if he was able to get in touch with Gladio. Noctis had said that Gladio had only responded by simply saying that it was over and to tell Ignis to move on. How could he just move on like that?

When Ignis got home, he was slow to move to his room, his body too sore to move the way it was supposed to. His parents made him take his pain medication after he refused at first, and by the time he was propped up in his bed, it had worked its magic. The pain was gone, but his heartbreak lingered. His parents were worried for him, worried that someone would try and attack him again, but he didn’t care about if he was attacked or not. He felt like all the life had gone out of him when Gladio had left him.

“Should we have Gladio come and keep you company, dear?” his mother asked as she hovered by his bed. Ignis had put on an unbutton, breezy cotton shirt, his bandaged chest exposed. Although wearing sweatpants was superfluous at this point since he was going to be in bed for the rest of the week at least, his internship now on hold, but he wore them anyway.

Tears came to Ignis’s eyes, and she looked on at him in concern. “It’s over,” he whispered, his chest aching from the pain of his heartbreak. He didn’t think there was any heart left to hurt, but every time he thought of Gladio a fresh pain started again. “He broke up with me.”

“Oh honey,” his mother said as she gently hugged him so as not to cause any further pain. “I’m so sorry dear. I was worried he might do something like this. You’ll find someone who loves you and won’t hurt you, dear.”

“He didn’t do this,” Ignis said through his tears.

“But it was because of him that you were hurt,” his mother pointed out, apparently thinking the same thing Gladio was. “It’s better that you don’t keep getting hurt just to be with him.”

“I love him,” Ignis whispered. “I don’t think I’ll ever get over him.”

“Everyone thinks that about their first love,” she said. She meant it to be soothing, words of solace, but it only came out as someone older talking down to someone who didn’t understand life because they were too young. “You’ll find someone who loves you better than he does.”

“Thanks,” Ignis said, too tired to argue. He looked at her, wiping his tears away. “I can’t go back to the academy.”

She frowned, unsure. “The academy is the best school you can go to.”

Ignis shook his head, insistent. There was no way he could return to the academy knowing that Regis was orchestrating drug deals and was comfortable with putting him into harm’s way. He was used to going to see Noctis at their estate, and now he would have to avoid his place as well. He was quickly learning that there was far more corruption in Lucis than he had anticipated, even after learning the truth of Prompto’s abduction.

“I can’t go back,” he said. “I’d rather move across Eos than go back.”

“Does the person who did this to you go to the academy?” she asked, worried.

“The one who orchestrated it does,” Ignis said vaguely. “There are some excellent homeschooling programs that I’ve looked into for Prompto. Any one of those would do.”

“We can talk about this when you’re feeling better,” she tried, but the look in his face must have indicated that he wasn’t going to give this up. “I’ll talk to your father about it.”

There was a soft knock at his bedroom door then it opened slowly. Noctis peeked into the room, looking just as concerned as everyone else. “Is it okay if I come in?”

“We’re just finishing up dear,” his mother said as she fluffed Ignis’s pillow. She kissed Ignis on the forehead and held his face in her small hand gently with a tenderness that only a mother could have. He didn’t remember the last time she had been so gentle with him. “We’ll talk later, love.”

She left as Noctis entered, and he didn’t bother to be gentle as he rushed to Ignis’s side. “Dude,” he said in shock. “What the hell happened?”

Ignis told him everything from start to finish. He didn’t bother to leave out the part where he overheard his father in the warehouse, the one really barking the orders. Noctis let out a slew of curse words when he found out, then immediately apologized for his father’s behavior. Ignis dismissed the apology. It wasn’t his fault, and he had a feeling that if he kept apologizing for his father’s actions then he would never stop.

Then he got to the part about Gladio saving him, about the struggle with Loqi, about Gladio’s desperation to get him to the hospital. His voice choked, and Noctis held his hand in support, as he told Noctis that Gladio had ended it with him. He looked shocked when Ignis told him, but he listened as Ignis managed to finish his story, finishing with how he had been left heartbroken and abandoned by the one person he loved more than anything.

“He can’t be serious,” Noctis said as he let Ignis cry. “There’s no way Gladio would leave you. He loves you.”

“He’s doing everything he can to cut me out of his life,” Ignis said. “I can’t get in touch with him. He won’t answer my texts, and my calls go straight to voicemail.”

“It explains his response to my text too,” Noctis said. He pulled out his phone and rapidly started texting. “I’m going to reach out to Prompto.” His phone began ringing a moment later before he could finish composing his message. “Hey Prompto. I was just about to text you.”

He got up and walked towards the window as he spoke to his boyfriend. “Yeah I’m with Ignis right now. He’s doing alright. Listen, have you heard anything from Gladio about him breaking up with Ignis?” He was quiet for a long time, listening to what Prompto had to say.

Ignis hoped that Prompto was saying how Gladio was regretting breaking up with him, how he just wanted him back and didn’t mean what he said. But he knew that wasn’t going to happen. If he truly felt that way then he would have already reached out to him. He would have been there already, holding him in his arms, telling him that things would be okay.

“Yeah,” Noctis was saying with a heavy sigh, interrupting Ignis’s muddled thoughts. “Just… If you get a chance to talk to him, tell him I said to get his head out of his ass. He can’t be asking Ignis to take risks for those he cares about then breaking up with him when he actually does. I know, I know. I love you too. Oh hey, has Ravus backed off? Really? Great. Love you. See you soon.”

He hung up the phone and walked back over to Ignis, sitting on the bed next to him in a relaxed fashion that he always maintained. His facial expression showed he was worried, however. Ignis knew it wasn’t good news.

“So the good news is that Ravus has backed off with Prompto,” Noctis said. “Now that his sister isn’t controlling him, he seems to have let any sort of crush go. Looks like she’s been the one pulling the strings. The bad news is that Gladio is really stubborn, and not even Prompto can convince him to get back with you.”

Ignis nodded, trying and failing not to be so hurt all over again. “He says that he’s doing this because he wants to protect me, but he doesn’t get that this is hurting me more than any danger that would come my way.”

“I’ll try and wear him down,” Noctis said, determined. “Prompto and I both will.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Ignis replied. “I’m not going back to the academy. I’ve decided to be homeschooled from here on out. I can’t go back there with your father in charge. And then when I’m not there near Gladio it’ll be easier to move on. I don’t want to, but I can’t force him to stay with me.”

“Are you sure about this?” Noctis asked. “I mean… You really love the guy, Ignis. I can tell every time you so much as think about him.”

Ignis nodded, his determination seeping through his heartache. “It doesn’t matter how much I love him. It doesn’t matter that I’ll end up loving him and wanting him for the rest of my life. If he stays with me out of obligation, all it will do is create more pain in the future.”

Noctis sighed. “Alright. But I’m not giving up on you guys. You didn’t let me give up when Luna tried to pull that shit she pulled.”

“Thanks, Noct,” Ignis said. He appreciated his effort, but it was different than what Luna tried to do to separate Noctis and Prompto. He had been put in physical danger. That wasn’t something that Gladio would ignore.

“So now that you’re single and not quite ready to mingle, you want to go to Lestallum with me on the weekends?” Noctis smiled, trying to lighten the mood.

“I don’t think I’ll be able to travel this weekend,” Ignis said with a melancholy smile. “But I would like to come up for Prompto’s birthday the next weekend.”

“I’ll let him know,” Noctis said with a more genuine smile. “Nyx and his band announced a surprise concert in Lestallum for Prompto’s birthday weekend. They’re going to have him perform on stage.”

“What does Cor think about it?” Ignis asked.

“I think they’re keeping it a secret so by the time Prompto’s on stage it’ll be too late. Best part is we all have backstage VIP passes to go.” His smile wavered, and Ignis knew that meant Gladio too. Of course Prompto would want Gladio there. He was one of his best and few friends he had. It would be selfish of Ignis not to attend or to ask Gladio not to attend because of their breakup.

“That sounds like a lot of fun.” Ignis didn’t know how he was going to deal with broken ribs and a gunshot wound while being at a rock show, but he figured that he would worry about it when the time came.

“He said Ravus is going to be playing too.” Noctis made a face that said he wanted anything but Ravus to be close to Prompto. “You know, Ravus has always liked you. You should distract him from Prompto now that you’re single.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ignis asked. “Ravus has always hated me.”

Noctis laughed. “I overheard him talking to Luna one time about how hot he thought you were. I’m pretty sure he acts that way towards you cause he wants to bang you.”

“That has to be a joke,” Ignis said, breaking into a smile at the ridiculousness of the idea.

“I’m just saying, if you want a rebound, Prompto and I would be happy for you to take him off our hands. Make it easy for us.” Noctis laughed.

The conversation devolved from there as they fell into a familiar rhythm they once had before Gladio and Prompto came into their lives. Ignis was happy for Noctis to have someone he loved so dearly in his life, and he genuinely wished that his mother was right and that he would be able to move on one day. If he was able to do that then it meant healing and finding love again. But right now he couldn’t see a way out of his pain. It was too fresh and too new.

Maybe Noctis was right too. Maybe he should take a page out of his book, fool around a little, find a way to move on that way. He doubted it. That would mean having the personality to be able to go out and find another man that he wanted to sleep with. He couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. That was likely the point. Sleep with whoever until the pain was gone. Ignis didn’t want that either.

Noctis stayed with him all night, even after they had long since passed out from exhaustion. Ignis woke up several times in the night, his heart racing from the pain in his chest and the physical pain in his body. Noctis was laying next to him each time, looking like he was sleeping peacefully as ever. At one point he murmured Prompto’s name and turned over, his dreams full of his lover. It made a fresh pain blossom in Ignis’s heart, thankful that the medication he had made his sleep dark and blank.

The next morning his parents were gracious enough to wake Noctis in time for school. They checked on Ignis in concern, but he insisted that they both go to work. There would be staff on hand to help him with anything he might need. Uncertain, they looked upon him with worry before heading out for the day. Noctis also offered to stay there with him, but he insisted that he go to school. He had already missed enough school due to Prompto. The last thing he needed was his friend to be held back because of worrying about everyone else.

About halfway through the day, Ignis felt himself growing listless and bored, even though he usually felt occupied and entranced by the multitude of books he had waiting to be read. But his mind kept drifting back to Gladio, and he found himself scrolling through his phone, looking at photos of him and Gladio together, torturing himself. He was crying again when he stopped on a photo of him smiling into the camera, Gladio kissing him on the cheek. They had taken that after they had just gotten together, and now it was only a sad reminder of what would never be.

There was a knock at the door, and Ignis absentmindedly called whoever was on the other side to come in, wiping the tears from his eyes quickly. He expected it to be the chef, the maid, the butler. Anyone but who stepped through the door. He heard the sound of footsteps, limping, accompanied by a cane for support. His mind froze as he looked to the door and saw Dean Caelum walking towards him.

“Ignis,” Regis said warmly with concern on his face. The concern couldn’t mask the cold, hard look in his eyes. “I heard what happened. I am truly sorry to see you suffering.”

“All wounds heal in time,” Ignis said. He looked down to the dean’s injured leg. “I never did ask. How did you receive that injury, sir?”

“Horrific car crash,” Regis replied as he sat at the edge of the bed, staring at Ignis as if he were looking at his own son. It made Ignis’s skin crawl. “The same one that unfortunately took my wife away from me. Sometimes I wonder who got off easy.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Ignis said. He remembered when Noctis lost his mother. It had been a car accident on the outskirts of Insomnia. Regis had been involved in the crash too, but the details were hazy. He wondered if there was something more to it. Anytime details were sparse or vague, there was typically something else going on, Ignis was discovering.

“As I am sorry to learn you were attacked,” Regis replied, bringing the topic back to him. “I was worried something like this might happen.”

Ignis clenched his fists, trying to hide his anger at Regis for being the one to influence Loqi to abducting him for Gladio’s compliance in the first place. “I just hope that they were able to catch the person who did this to me.”

“You mean that brutish student at the high school wasn’t responsible for this?” Regis asked. If Ignis didn’t know any better, he would say that Regis was genuinely surprised. It was a good thing that he knew better. “I just assumed that Gladio was responsible.”

“No he wasn’t.” Ignis shook his head, trying to keep his rage contained. He was in too much pain to try and fight. He had to be smart about how he interacted with the man, anyway. It was obvious that Regis was used to getting away with manipulating the conversation. “I thought that you were friends with his father. I think Clarus is his first name.”

Regis paused, either not having made the connection between father and son or not wanting to get caught having some sort of relationship with the family. “We were friends during our military service. We lost touch eventually. Such is the nature of the rich and the poor. Eventually they will either leave us or hurt us, sometimes both. Like father, like son, I suppose.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Ignis conceded, knowing that he wouldn’t get much more information from him.

“Tell me, when will you be ready to return to school?” Regis smiled although it didn’t quite reach his eyes.

“I won’t be.” Regis looked surprised as he said it. “I’m opting to be homeschooled. You understand. It’s too dangerous for me right now.”

“Yes,” Regis said slowly, calculatingly. “Your parents are okay with this?”

“It doesn’t matter. I won’t be going back. I did a lot of research for my good friend, Prompto, since he will be homeschooled. I believe I have the solid basis to pick the best course of action so I can be successful without going back to the academy.”

Regis definitely winced at the sound of Prompto’s name. Before Prompto had moved to Lestallum he had only been to the Caelum estate once since Regis had been so adamant against Noctis dating him. It was worse than the Argentums from what Noctis had said, but both of them refused to separate. Eventually Regis had conceded that there was nothing he could do to get his son to listen to him, but he still refused to have Prompto in his house. Ignis supposed that he didn’t want the reminder of what he had done in his own house.

“It sounds like you have it figured out then. I do hope you will return to the academy eventually, but you are a well rounded young man. I don’t doubt you’ll be able to carve your own path.” He stood up and looked down at Ignis. “I hope that you recover quickly.”

“Thank you, sir. And thank you for visiting. I will be sure to tell Noctis that it was much appreciated.”

“Give my regards to your family.” Regis made his way out of his room, leaving Ignis to sigh painfully and lean back onto his pillow. Before he left he paused, his hand hovering on the doorknob. “I hope, for your sake, they’re able to track down whoever did this to you.”

Ignis felt a chill go through him as Regis left the room. His words were not so much a wish. Rather they were a warning. He wanted to run, to hide, to get as far away from Insomnia as possible, but his body was too sore and too tired to go anywhere. The worst part was that Gladio thought that being away from him put him in danger. If for one second Regis thought that he knew he was behind it, then he was sure his life was forfeit. He was willing to go so far as to just to be able to introduce drugs into the high school. Why wouldn’t he do something worse if his involvement were uncovered?

Decisively, Ignis called for one of the butlers on staff through a call system they had provided to him while he was injured. The butler entered, looking at him with reserved compassion, ready to help him where it was needed. Ignis knew that if he wasn’t careful then anyone could just walk into his room while he was vulnerable and alone. They could feasibly hurt him without much difficulty and get away with it.

“If someone comes to visit, please check with me first before you send them up,” Ignis said. “There are some people who are automatically okay to send up, but the others I would like you to check with first.”

“Yes, sir,” the butler replied. “May I ask who the ones who are acceptable to send up are?”

“Noctis. Prompto, although I doubt he’ll come back to Insomnia,” Ignis said. “And… Gladio. If he ever visits.”

“What about Noctis’s father?” the butler asked.

Ignis shook his head. “No. He only wants to know when I’m going back to school. I don’t want to deal with that stress while recovering.”

“Understandable sir.” The butler paused before leaving the room. “I will make sure that you are safe, sir.”

“Thank you,” Ignis replied. The butler had been one of the ones on staff since he was a child. He appreciated his candor and his concern for him, and it was clear that he knew how to reach between the lines.

“Might I suggest a television?” the butler added. “Otherwise you are liable to get bored.”

“That’s a good idea. Thank you.”

It seemed that the warning did the trick. A few people, including Lunafreya, came to see him, but the butler quickly checked with Ignis. He turned them all away. He didn’t want to have anyone coming to gloat or to pity him. After school Noctis came over, and by then there was a television set up in his room. Noctis enjoyed the addition to his room, and even Ignis had to admit it was helpful to pass the time.

The rest of the week was spent like this. Ignis was grateful to Prompto, who decided to video chat him when Noctis was there and when he was alone, giving him someone to talk to. It filled up the space, and it gave him a chance to know Prompto a bit better. He apologized to Prompto again for his actions, but Prompto had dismissed it and told him that it was all things he needed to hear. Prompto apologized for Gladio ending the relationship, but Ignis quickly changed the subject. If he was going to get over Gladio, he didn’t need to think about him every moment of the day.

Prompto was generous enough to do a video tour of Lestallum for him, pointing out the restaurant that turned into a nightclub at night that Ravus’s family owned. Ignis was surprised when Ravus joined him halfway through the video tour. He seemed friendlier now that he wasn’t around Luna, smiling and treating Prompto like a friend instead of a target. Prompto even seemed relaxed around Ravus, and he was grateful that the blond was able to make a friend to help him while he was in his gilded cage.

“How are you feeling?” Ravus asked him when Prompto had seen an ice cream cart and decided he was going to abandon his phone to Ravus and grab one for himself. Prompto was slightly impulsive like that, and it was surprisingly charming. Ignis understood why Noctis thought he was a cute guy.

“Sore,” Ignis replied honestly. “Thanks for asking. How are you?”

“Lestallum is so much smaller than Insomnia,” Ravus replied with a disgusted look. “The only good thing is that Prompto’s here. I feel free when I’m not around my sister, if I’m honest. Prompto’s been helping me figure out who I am because of it.”

“That’s great to hear,” Ignis replied, although he wasn’t quite sure why Ravus was telling him. He thought back to what Noctis had said about Ravus liking him and immediately dismissed the idea. Prompto had once described Ravus as too-pretty for any of them, and Ignis had to agree. He looked like he belonged in the hall of the Six Astrals, not in Eos with mere mortals.

“I want to apologize for treating you so harshly when I was in Insomnia,” Ravus continued. “You didn’t deserve that.”

“It’s alright,” Ignis dismissed. “There are bigger things to worry about than how we’ve acted as children.”

“You’re right.” Ravus smiled a bit, his multicolored eyes reflecting the camera lens back at him. “We should hang out when you come to Lestallum. I heard that you and your boyfriend broke up. He’ll be here for Prompto’s birthday too. I’d like to take you out to get you away from him when it gets overwhelming.”

“That’s a very kind gesture,” Ignis said. “Thank you. I thought you were interested in Prompto?”

Ravus laughed. “No. I mean he’s cute and all, but my sister was really trying to drive a wedge between him and Noctis. And I can’t ever imagine having a threesome with him and Noctis like Luna told me to say.” He shuddered as if the thought seriously grossed him out. “That would be a nightmare.”

“I’m back!” Prompto said happily, carrying two ice creams instead of one. “I got one for you too, Ravus.”

“Thank you, Prompto,” Ravus said as he took it. Ignis had never heard Ravus be so polite before. Maybe he had been removed from Insomnia because of the toxic relationship with his sister instead. He looked back at the camera with a gentle smile. “Just let me know if you want me to run interference when you come here. I’m happy to help.”

“I will,” Ignis said. Prompto took the phone back and happily resumed the tour. Ignis enjoyed the company until they had to go. Ravus’s homeschooling was pulling him back to study, and Prompto was being summoned back to his new residence by Cor. He made a face when he got the summons and indicated to Ignis it was just an attempt to keep control of him.

When they ended the call and Ignis was left to himself, the same sadness crept back into his life. As grateful as he was to Ravus’s sudden shift in attitude, he was still painfully aware of the absence of Gladio in his life. He would give anything to have him back, but at the same time he didn’t know if he could deal with that pain. He had promised that he would go to Lestallum for Prompto’s birthday and had even gotten him a present, but the thought of having to be around Gladio when the wounds were so fresh was painful in itself. He was glad Ravus had offered to run interference.

Ignis wasn’t ready to move on from Gladio, but he had no choice. He had tried to reach out to him throughout the course of the rest of the week, but it was proving to be a fruitless pursuit. He likely blocked his phone number. At one point he wanted to reach out to Iris and see if she could provide any insight, but he stopped himself from reaching that level of desperation. It was clear that Gladio wanted nothing to do with him now, whether he loved him or not. The only thing Ignis was doing was delaying the inevitable.

By the end of the week, Ignis received a text from a number he didn’t recognize. It was Ravus. Prompto must have given him his number, and part of him was upset about it, but another part of him told him to just go with the flow and use it as an opportunity to move on from Gladio. He highly doubted that Ravus was interested in him like Noctis had said, but having a friend when he was alone wasn’t such a bad thought.

Hey Ignis. It’s Ravus.
Thanks for talking earlier this
week. I hope it’s okay to text you.
Let’s get to know each other.

Ignis considered not responding to the text for a while, but ultimately decided to respond to it. After all, what harm could it do?

Hey Ravus. Thanks for the
text. I have nothing to do while
I’m recovering. Some conversation
would be nice.

He hoped that if people like Noctis, Prompto, and Ravus were reaching out to him then he would be able to move on from Gladio sooner rather than later. He doubted that was the case, but if Gladio was so adamant on no longer being in touch with him, then he would try.

Chapter Text

Ignis was surprised how quickly time could go with a broken heart. His parents had been quick and decisive once they realized that he wasn’t going to change his mind about being homeschooled. Noctis had told him that they asked him to convince him otherwise, but he refused as well. Once Ignis told him of what his father had said, he had resolved that he would do anything to keep his friends safe. It was clear that his father wasn’t going to have an easy time getting to his friends. Since neither of them would budge, his parents had his schooling switched over to the top homeschooling program by the end of the week.

Since it would be some time before he healed enough to be fully mobile, he was thankful that he began his schooling at home. The coursework was just as rigorous, if not more so since it was at his own pace, but all of it was done from the comfort of his room. He frequently got up to walk around the lawn, usually with a butler in tow in case he was too sore to continue, trying to make sure his body didn’t grow weak and his muscles stiff. If he planned on being in Lestallum by the following weekend he had to show his parents that he was capable of the trip.

Prompto had assured him that he would be accommodated at the show, that there would be a place for him to sit while he viewed the concert from the side of the stage. He was grateful for the accommodation but was primarily worried about how he would be interacting with Gladio. There wasn’t enough space in Prompto’s new house for Gladio and him not to share a room, but Ravus had been gracious enough to offer the spare room in his apartment to stay. Ignis had immediately taken him up on the offer.

The switch from the academy to homeschooling didn’t take as much adjustment as Ignis thought it would. He supposed that his heart was ready for the change so that he didn’t have to see Gladio in passing as they both went to their respective schools. Staying home had served two purposes. It kept him safe from Regis, and he stayed away from Gladio to give his heart a chance to heal. That would likely take longer than the physical healing process, but if Gladio was insistent on them not being together then he had no choice but to move on. Ignis was tempted to ask Noctis if he had spoken to Gladio, but he refrained from doing so.

It wasn’t until they were in the car on the way to Lestallum with Noctis behind the wheel for once that they dared to bring up the topic of Gladio. Ignis hadn’t really wanted to broach the topic, but he had to prepare himself to face his now ex-boyfriend so soon after he had left him in the hospital. He wasn’t sure how he was going to do it, but he knew that Noctis was going to support him. Still surprised by the complete change Ravus seemed to be making, he was grateful that he also had his support.

“So you’re going to be staying with Ravus this weekend?” Noctis asked once they were well on their way. “It’s still weird to think about.”

“It really is,” Ignis agreed. “But he’s been talking to me ever since he moved to Lestallum, and he’s surprisingly a pleasant person to talk to. I think it’s clear that Luna was pulling his strings.”

“But can you really trust it?” Noctis asked. “I mean… If Luna shows up, do you think he’ll just revert back to how he was?”

“Maybe,” Ignis considered. “But I can always crash in Prompto’s room then.” He smiled at Noctis’s flushed face.

It was true that it was odd and worrisome that Ravus had seemed to make a change, but right now Ignis could use all the support in the world. Ravus had taken the permission Ignis gave him to talk to him seriously. They texted frequently, and Ignis found him to be a pleasant person to talk to. Since Ravus had taken up going on morning runs with Prompto, he often sent him pics of the two together, and Ignis had to admit seeing Ravus with his hair pulled back in his running gear was a pretty attractive look for him.

Ignis attributed his sudden attraction towards Ravus to a few things, the first being that he was genuinely an attractive person. He also chalked it up to him just being lonely and having Noctis’s comment on his mind that he was attracted to him. Ignis still didn’t quite believe that, but he kept it on his mind. He also attributed it to trying to get over Gladio, but he was cautious not to make any sudden movements to turn Ravus into a rebound.

“Come on,” Noctis said with a grin. “It’s his birthday weekend. You don’t want to spoil the surprises I have for him.”

“Six help us, I can only imagine,” Ignis replied with a chuckle. He paused, unsure of if he should mention it. “Gladio is coming, right?”

“Yeah,” Noctis replied. “I’ve been in touch with him. Oddly enough, we’ve become friends enough thanks to Prompto. I’m still on your side with this, of course.”

“It’s fine,” Ignis said. He felt a hollow ache in his chest, but it was more to the fact that Gladio was responsive to everyone but him. “How is he?”

“Sullen,” Noctis admitted. “He hasn’t asked about you, but you can tell he wants to know how you’re holding up. I’ve mentioned you in passing since it’s like he is always looking for you.”

Ignis was conflicted. On one hand he wanted to hear that Gladio wanted him just as much as he did, that he was having difficulty just as much as he was. But with that came fresh pain that he wasn’t prepared to deal with. Knowing that Gladio still cared about him would only make it ultimately harder to move on. Because of that, he wanted to just have Gladio reject him completely, to move on from him, to already be with someone new. But the thought of Gladio dating someone else also brought him so much pain that he couldn’t decide what was worse.

“Have you told him I’m no longer at the academy?” Ignis asked, his heart racing just at the thought of Gladio asking for him.

“Yeah,” Noctis said. “I think he looks for you unconsciously though. I keep telling him that he’s an idiot for leaving you, but he’s too stubborn to change his mind. I’ve also talked to Iris, but she said that there’s no changing his mind once it’s made up.”

“It’s okay,” Ignis said, even though he didn’t feel like it was at all. “I appreciate the effort though.”

“You can’t believe the rumors though,” Noctis added. “I feel bad for Gladio a bit. It must be hard for him with all the rumors flying. I think my dad is kind of influencing them.”

Ignis didn’t doubt it. He didn’t know what had happened between Gladio’s father and Regis, but there seemed to be bad blood between them now. “I hope the rumors aren’t too wild.”

“Mostly that you were forced into a relationship by Gladio, and once you tried to get out of it he beat you up to the point that you dropped out of the academy,” Noctis said. He avoided Ignis’s gaze, knowing that a rumor like that would only hurt them both. “I keep telling people it’s not true, but everyone likes the more dramatic story than the truth. Iris is combating the rumors too, but it’s not working.”

“Then what are they saying about you talking to Gladio still?” Ignis asked in concern. He knew Gladio had a tough reputation, but this was likely causing him considerably more stress, and he couldn’t help but worry about him. After all, he was still in love with him. That wasn’t going away just because they ended their relationship. Well, because Gladio ended their relationship.

“I’m being blackmailed into giving him info about your or something like that,” Noctis said. “They’re saying that Gladio’s doing the same to me now and using it as blackmail to keep me giving him info on you so Prompto doesn’t find out.”

“That is absolutely ridiculous,” Ignis said. He laughed in disbelief. “People can really let their imaginations run away with them.”

“Right? I told Prompto and his first reaction was the same thing. But he’s worried about Gladio too. I mean, we’re all worried about both of you.”

“Try not to worry about me, then. I’m fine.”

“Yeah I know that’s a lie, but I’ll drop it for now. Besides, it looks like Ravus will be a nice rebound for you.” Noctis smiled teasingly.

“I’m not looking for a rebound,” Ignis insisted.

“You might just find one anyway.” Noctis continued to tease him about his sudden friendship with Ravus. Ignis would have been annoyed if it wasn’t Noctis doing the teasing. They were like brothers and had grown up together, so he really was used to this type of game. It made his heart a bit lighter as well, and he found himself laughing, even though his ribs hurt to do so, at Noctis’s increasingly ridiculous jokes. Breathing with broken ribs hurt, much less laughing, but Ignis found himself finding joy through the pain.

The ride passed in a comfortable friendship that could only be cultivated through years of growing up together. Several times Ignis thought that Noctis was going to kill them with his horrific driving, but he just closed his eyes and prayed to the Six that they would arrive safely. Somehow they did, and Lestallum greeted them with the promise of fall turning to winter rapidly. When they parked Noctis helped Ignis walk to Prompto’s new residence, carrying their overnight bags. Gladio was likely to already be there, but Ravus had promised to be there to run interference and take him to his apartment.

Ignis was surprised to learn that Ravus was living on his own in Lestallum, his parents too busy with work in Insomnia to make the move. He wondered why he was sent out to Lestallum but had been afraid to ask due to the possibility that he was sent to keep watch on Prompto. But it was also equally likely that he moved there to get away from his sister. From the way he described her, she was far more controlling and demanding than they ever realized.

Prompto’s house was welcoming enough, but there was a tension there that had grown from him being in the same space as Cor and the Argentums. His adoptive parents were home much more frequently now, and whenever they weren’t Cor was. He had taken to leaving the house frequently, whether to go on a run or to just get away from the people, but inevitably they would come searching for him if he was out for too long. Ignis had spent the past week timing how long it took for them to search for him. The shortest was a half an hour. The longest was two hours. It was never enough time for him to truly be able to get into any trouble or to be found by his real parents.

“Noctis! Ignis!” Prompto cheered when they walked into the large townhouse. He was at the top of the staircase and bounded down the steps quickly, nearly jumping into Noctis’s arms when he got to the bottom of the steps. Ignis couldn’t help but smile at their pure and simple love. It made his heart hurt for his own situation, but he was happy for his friends. When he was done hugging and kissing his boyfriend, which took longer than was probably comfortable for Ignis but he ignored it anyway, Prompto gave him a gentle hug, aware of the pain in his ribs.

“It’s good to see you,” Ignis said with a simple smile. “How are you?”

“Not too bad,” he replied. “The city is much smaller, but there’s some good running routes. How are you?”

“Sore and bruise but otherwise alive,” Ignis said. He meant it to sound reassuring, but Prompto’s eyes flickered to Noctis in concern.

“So Gladio is upstairs with Ravus right now,” Prompto said hesitantly. “We’re just hanging out in my room, if you guys want to join us.”

“That sounds great, thank you,” Ignis lied. He didn’t want to see Gladio, and his heart was hammering in his chest as he thought about occupying the same space as him, but he couldn’t avoid him the entire weekend. It was better to get it done and over with, to deal with the pain head on instead of hiding from it.

“I can help with your bags,” Ravus said at the top of the steps.

He always dressed well, but it was the first time Ignis had seen him out of his uniform and not in white. He was wearing a light grey shirt and dark jeans, and even Ignis had to admit it was a good look for him, especially since his hair was pulled back into a loose, relaxed bun hanging at the base of his neck. He made his way down the stairs with more grace than Prompto attempted and smiled at the three warmly. It seemed out of place for him, but then again, Ignis didn’t really know him well enough to say what was typical for him.

“How are you feeling?” Ravus asked Ignis as he reached up and smoothed a strand of hair out of his eyes. Ignis was immediately reminded of the many times that Gladio had done the same, but he dismissed the thought entirely and smiled instead.

“The ride was a bit tiresome but my parents have insisted on me continuing my pain medication,” Ignis said. “I’ll likely take some now that we’re here.”

“Good,” Ravus said. He grabbed Ignis’s bag from Noctis and took Ignis’s hand in his free hand. “Come on. Prompto is beating Gladio at King’s Knight right now.”

Noctis flashed Ignis a suggestive look before he and Prompto went on ahead of them. Ignis had to take steps slowly so as not to jar his chest too much, and Ravus was patient in helping him up the steps. He kept his chest bandaged as the hospital suggested so that everything could stay compressed and help with the pressure, but everything would be slow going for a while.

“I’m going to have to change my bandages soon,” Ignis said as Ravus walked with him into Prompto’s room. He saw Gladio sitting on the floor, game controller in his hand, and felt his heart skip a beat then shatter. Gladio looked like perfection, but his eyes were hard and cold, and he knew it wasn’t a good idea to press the matter.

“I can help you with it,” Ravus offered as Prompto made sure his bed was available for him to sit down, propping a pillow up for him to lean back. “Is it overdue?”

“Probably,” Noctis commented. “We were on the road for a while. His stitches need to be kept clean too.”

“Then let’s just do it now,” Ravus said helpfully. Ignis’s eyes flashed to Gladio, who was decisively not looking at Ignis. “I can help you. I don’t think anyone has a problem with seeing Ignis’s exposed chest, am I right?”

Ignis felt like he had walked into a silent battle that was being raged before they ever arrived. Prompto and Noctis looked at Gladio uncertainly, but indicated they were fine with it. Gladio finally turned around, his eyes connecting with Ravus’s instead of Ignis’s, cold and unwavering.

“It’s fine with me,” Gladio said. “Hey Ignis.” He still didn’t look at him.

“Hi,” Ignis said softly, his throat tight. He wasn’t going to cry now. He had already resolved that things might be this way and it was better to just take a few deep breaths and move on.

“Great,” Ravus said as he thoroughly ignored Gladio’s hard stares. “Is the gauze in your bag?”

“I’ll get it,” Noctis offered as Prompto settled back in with Gladio to continue their game. He was rummaging through Ignis’s bag, careful to avoid the wrapped birthday present for Prompto so it wasn’t exposed.

“Maybe we should do this in the bathroom,” Ignis said uncomfortably as he unbuttoned his shirt. He was grateful that he dressed well on average, but now his shirts were looser, less form fitting than what he usually wore to allow space for the bandages.

“You shouldn’t be getting up and moving unnecessarily,” Ravus pointed out, and Ignis had to concede he was right. “Anyone who is uncomfortable with it can leave until we’re done.” Ignis knew what that meant. If Gladio didn’t want to see Ignis being undressed, even if it was to be helpful, by another man then he was welcome to leave the room. Ignis had to acknowledge that Ravus was still pretty devious like his sister, although he was much nicer than she was now.

“Here,” Noctis said as he handed Ravus the bandages and gauze for his chest and the stitches on his arm. Noctis only seemed ready to instigate a rebound between Ignis and Ravus, and Ignis suppressed an eye roll. “Let me know if you need anything else.”

“Thank you,” Ravus said. Ignis muttered a sarcastic thanks as Ravus helped him take off the bandages on his chest first, the gauze wrapped around his torso to hold everything in place. “Damn, Ignis, that looks really painful.”

The other three instinctively turned to Ignis, their propensity for curiosity outweighing his discomfort. His chest and torso were severely bruised on his right side where his ribs had been broken, starting as a dark blue and purple at the site of the internal wound and branching out into lighter, sickly greens. The worse part was that it was more painful than it looked. He noticed Gladio staring at him in shock and surprise, pain clearly mingled in his expression as he saw the damage Ignis suffered.

Ignis wanted to shout at Gladio to not look so concerned if he didn’t want to be with him, but Ravus distracted him before he could say anything impulsively. “Does your entire chest hurt?” Ravus asked as he looked down at the wound then to the decidedly unharmed side of his body. He touched the lower left side of his torso, and Ignis flushed involuntarily. Ravus definitely looked over to Gladio, but it was so brief that Ignis ended up second guessing his own vision.

“That side is fine,” Ignis said, trying not to be pulled into any unnecessary drama. “It’s mainly on the right side, but everything up top is tender.”

“Well let’s get the bandages changes,” Ravus said. He helped wrap the bandages and gauze to keep everything tight and compressed as Noctis gave him a pain pill for him to take. Wrapping his torso was always so painful and the best time to take his medication as a result.

“Thanks,” Ignis said to them both once they were done. Prompto was distracted, constantly looking back at him in worry, but Gladio had faced forward again, resuming his part in the multiplayer game.
“Let’s look at the stitches now,” Ravus said.

He moved to the other side of Ignis’s body to look at his upper left arm where the bullet at grazed him. As he moved across the bed, Ignis was very much aware that his face only hovered inches from him, his blue and purple eye staring at him seductively. He felt himself blush, and despite Gladio’s tense posture, he couldn’t help but admit that he was attracted to Ravus. Then again, so was Prompto and just about everyone else in Eos, save for Noctis most likely, so it wasn’t necessarily abnormal.

“That looks painful,” Prompto said as Ravus helped him change the bandages on his arm.

“It was worth it,” Ignis said. Gladio tensed at his words, but he didn’t turn around. “Well… Almost worth it.”

Ravus nodded, glancing down at Gladio then back to Ignis. “You’ll heal soon enough. There, all done.” Before Ignis could thank him, he leaned in and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek, like the procedure wasn’t done until he had sealed it with a kiss, and Ignis blushed a deeper red.

Prompto quickly turned around and began talking loudly about the game, but Noctis only looked back at them and winked. It didn’t matter if Gladio was friends with Noctis. Ignis was his best friend, and he would support him in any venture that helped him move on, even if he was pushing it a little harder than Ignis was. Well, much harder, but Ignis didn’t think Noctis particularly cared for those semantics.

“You can lean back now,” Ravus said as he settled into the pillow Prompto had propped up for Ignis. He put his hands on Ignis’s hips and helped him maneuver back until he was sitting next to Ravus, although he was forced to lean against him for support with how Ravus had positioned himself. They looked like they were a couple, something that was no doubt intentional.

“Thanks for your help,” Ignis said.

“I’m happy to help the guy I have a crush on,” Ravus admitted simply with a smile.

Gladio bristled at that. “I thought you liked Prompto,” he pointed out, although he still didn’t turn around.

“Luna had me hit on him to try and drive a wedge between him and Noctis,” Ravus explained. “He’s cute and all, but Ignis is more my type. We’ve already talked it out. We’re definitely better as friends. Ignis, on the other hand, I’ve known him for a while and have always thought he was attractive. I thought I lost my chance but… maybe not anymore.”

Ignis didn’t know if he should say anything. The tension in the room was palpable, and all Gladio had to do was turn around and see him sitting next to Ravus, practically in his arms, to have the situation blow up in their face. Ravus seemed to be good at provoking people, but he didn’t seem concerned like Ignis was. The last thing he wanted was Gladio hating him, even though they weren’t dating and Gladio had blocked his number. He still wanted to be with him, and if not, then be friends with him. It didn’t seem possible with the way Gladio was acting, though, and definitely not with the way Ravus was instigating things.

“Good luck being a rebound,” Gladio only said as he went back to the video game.

“That’s fine with me,” Ravus said with a simple smile. “If Ignis gives me a chance as a rebound then I’ll give him a reason for him to stay.”

“So the show tomorrow is going to be fun,” Prompto said, changing the subject very obviously as he looked at Ignis’s distressed expression. “And it’s going to be on my actual birthday, too. I’ve never had a birthday celebration before.”

“What did you used to do?” Noctis asked him. The conversation had sufficiently been set aside for the time being.

“Nothing really. Before I reached middle school they would get me a cupcake or something small every year, but after that we just didn’t do anything. The guitars and my camera were a gift that were just sprung on me randomly and after a lot of hints.” Prompto shrugged.

“Well I think since it’s a Friday night, we should all go to the nightclub my parents own,” Ravus declared. “You know, to really celebrate your birthday.”

“That sounds like a great idea,” Noctis said. He looked at Ignis. “Iggy, will you be okay with going?”

“I can sit and enjoy that way,” Ignis said. “As long as there’s a place for me to do that.”

“Great,” Ravus said. “Any objections from anyone?” He looked at Gladio specifically, but the silence was a resounding silence. “I’ll call and make VIP reservations.”

He got up, careful not to hurt Ignis further, and got off the bed. As he did so, he intentionally leaned towards Ignis. At first Ignis thought he was going to kiss him, but instead he leaned in to whisper in his ear. “I’ll make you happy, Ignis. Just give me a chance.” He smiled seductively as he pulled away then got off the bed, leaving the room to make a call.

“Damn Ignis,” Noctis said once he was gone. “I think Ravus would sell his own sister for a chance with you.”

“I know,” Prompto said. “It’s so different from how he was with me. You can really tell that Luna was forcing him to try and get with me.”

“And you’re okay with this?” Gladio snapped. He turned around and looked at Ignis for the first time. “You’re okay with just moving onto another guy so soon?”

“I don’t see how it’s your business,” Noctis said for Ignis. “You broke up with him. If you didn’t want him to date anyone else then you should’ve stayed with him.”

There was a resounding silence as Gladio glared at Noctis, then he turned his gaze back to Ignis. Ignis felt his heart racing at his stare, both upset and angry that Gladio would be so mad. He felt conflicting joy at the notion that Gladio still cared about him, but it was overshadowed by his heartache and anger. Gladio had no right to demand what he do and not do with his life. He made it clear that being with him was not an option, whether they loved each other or not, and had no say in the matter of who he spent his time with anymore. He was about to reject Ravus outright, about to explain to him that he was too heartbroken to date anyone new, but now his anger was making him want to jump in headfirst out of spite.

“Is that how you feel?” Gladio asked.

“Does it really matter?” Ignis asked, his fists clenched in anger. “I think it’s unfair that you interfere with my love life, especially since you blocked my phone and made it impossible for us to even be friends.”

Gladio looked like he was about to say something, but Prompto put a hand on his shoulder to comfort and calm him down. “Gladio,” Prompto said slowly. Ignis could tell he was choosing his words carefully. “I don’t think anyone is questioning whether or not you two love each other. But you did end it, and Ignis has tried to reach out but you won’t talk to him. It’s unfair of him to send him conflicting messages.”

There was another silence as everyone waited for what Gladio was going to say. Ignis hoped that he was going to take the time to tell him that he wanted to be with him, that he regretted breaking it off, that he was too jealous to let him be with another man. But that wasn’t likely to happen. Ignis knew it was just wishful thinking that would never come to fruition.

“You’re right,” Gladio said with a sigh. “Date whoever you want. I don’t care.”

“Well that’s bullshit, but okay,” Noctis murmured, but the matter was settled.

A fresh pain, like someone reopening a barely stitched wound, spread from his chest. Ignis didn’t know that heartbreak could be so difficult to deal with. He also didn’t know that Gladio could be so cruel, lashing out and closing himself off from him. It was the first time that Ignis hoped Gladio would move to Altissia so then he could start to heal without having to worry about running into him or suffering from his cruelty.

“Great news,” Ravus said when he came back into the room. He had to sense the tension, but it was apparent he was ignoring it. “We’ll have the VIP table to ourselves so we can take as long as we want to enjoy the dancefloor. We should all get ready. Come on Ignis, I’ll take you to my place so we can get changed for the fun.”

Gladio looked tense at the suggestion, but he didn’t say anything. Ravus walked over to the bed and helped Ignis up, taking one hand and gently guiding him out of the bed. It was a stark contrast to how Gladio was treating him, and he found the kindness to be welcoming. Although he wished it was Gladio being so gentle with him, he let Ravus’s kindness cool his anger. Ravus kept his hand around his waist as he grabbed Ignis’s overnight bag with his free hand.

“Everyone get ready for tonight,” Ravus said cheerfully enough, cutting through the tension that would likely carrying through the entire weekend. “Prompto we’ll have some accoutrements for you tonight to make sure everyone knows it’s your birthday.”

“Thanks Ravus,” Prompto said cheerfully enough.

“I’ll help you decide what to wear,” Noctis said to Prompto lustfully. “Something that I’ll want to take off.”

Ignis couldn’t help but smile as they left the room, taking the steps slowly again so that he wasn’t hurt. He didn’t know how he was going to maneuver in a nightclub, but as long as Ravus promised a place to sit then he would be alright. He just hoped that he didn’t have to see Gladio making out with anyone late at night. Having Ravus’s arm around his waist, gentle but his fingers dancing as if eager for more, he knew if Gladio did still care for him then it would be painful for him to see him with Ravus. But they had to have that clean break, so no matter how bad it hurt Ignis, if Gladio wanted to hook up with another person, he had to let it happen. After all, it’s what Gladio wanted.

“I’m sorry for making things awkward,” Ravus admitted once they were out of the house. The sun had long set after their drive to Lestallum right after school, but it was still early enough to enjoy the nightlife. “I’m working on it. But I also think Gladio’s a fool for letting you go, and now that I have a shot, I’m going to take it.”

Ignis blushed, thankful for the night’s darkness to cover it. He didn’t know what he could do at this point. He loved Gladio, but there was clearly a desire for Ravus. Why shouldn’t he have a rebound and just enjoy what his body called for? He was too injured for anything like sex, but he could at least enjoy Ravus’s company well enough.

“I’m just going with the flow,” Ignis decided aloud. “And whatever happens is what happens.”

“That’s all I ask,” Ravus replied with a smile. It wasn’t a far walk to his apartment, resting above a rather expensive looking café. Ignis suspected his parents owned that too.

“Why were you sent to Lestallum?” Ignis asked as they took a small flight up steps up to his apartment. It was large, with a spacious living room, a gorgeous kitchen, two bedrooms, and two bathrooms, one attached to the master bedroom.

“My parents wanted me to get away from my sister,” Ravus admitted as he took Ignis to the master bedroom. Ignis wondered if he was going to be using the master bedroom with Ravus, but he did decide to go with the flow so he didn’t say anything. “They took her to a psychiatrist and basically confirmed that she’s a budding sociopath. They sent me here to protect me.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” Ignis said, although he wasn’t very surprised. Ravus set his bag down in the corner then guided him to sit on the edge of the bed. “It must get lonely here.”

“I’ve become good friends with Prompto,” Ravus replied. “He’s easy for everyone to get along with. And I’ve started seeing a therapist here to heal from all the trauma that she caused.”

That startled Ignis. He didn’t anticipate Ravus to be seeing a therapist. “Was it that bad?”

Ravus hesitated as he walked over to his closet and opened it, looking the myriad of clothes in there before he took off his shirt. Ignis was surprised to see several thin scars on his back, like knives had been dragged across his skin. His pale skin, otherwise untainted, was beautiful, almost glowing in the soft bedroom light.

“My sister has done cruel things to me since she knew how,” Ravus said as Ignis got up slowly and walked towards him. He put his hand on his shoulder, startling him, then gently traced the scar lines with one finger. The hairs on Ravus’s arms stood on end, the simple touch causing a tingle down his spine. “My parents only recently discovered it after Nyx reached out to him. I don’t know how he knew, but I’m grateful that he said something.”

“I am too,” Ignis said, his brow furrowed in concern. “You’re a much stronger person than anyone ever gives you credit for.”

Ravus turned and smiled sadly. “I guess we’ve both been hurt by the ones we love, just in different ways.” He turned back to the closet and then looked at Ignis. “Now we’re going to put you in something that looks too good to be legal.”

“I have clothes,” Ignis said, but Ravus was already raiding his closet. He pulled out black leather pants that didn’t look like they would fit anyone and a black button up to go with it.

“Let me help,” Ravus said as he handed Ignis the clothes. Ignis set the clothes on the bed, unsure of what Ravus meant by ‘help’ exactly. His shirt was already unbuttoned from when they changed his bandages, and he hadn’t bothered to make himself look composed again.

But Ravus answered his question without saying anything. He helped Ignis out of his shirt, then unbuttoned his pants for him, standing too close for it to be construed as just being helpful. Ignis didn’t think it was quite fair that someone as beautiful as Ravus would be standing there without a shirt, slowly taking off his pants like he was willing Ignis’s imagination to run wild with him. And, if Ignis were honest with himself, his imagination was jumping through hoops, thinking of what Ravus was possibly going to do.

His anticipation was fruitless. Ravus helped him out of his pants then helped him into the leather pants he grabbed for him. They were skin tight, revealing in all the right places, with a belt looped around his upper thigh tightly, almost like a garter. Ravus then helped him into the shirt, loose enough to be comfortable for his injuries but tight enough to be enticing. Ignis offered to take care of the buttons himself, but Ravus insisted and slowly buttoned it up save for the top three buttons. Ignis wasn’t going to let him tuck in the shirt, and he rolled up the sleeves to his elbows as he usually did.

“I have some boots too to go with it,” Ravus said as he pulled out leather thigh high boots with buckles up the front.

“You’re really into a glam goth rock sort of feel,” Ignis said as he helped him into the boots.

“I can’t help it,” Ravus said. He stood up and smiled at him. “I’m gay, vain, and love rock. Give me a second and I’ll get dressed too.”

Ravus dressed quickly in plain white leather pants and a white faux fur sweater, giving the appearance that he was dressed for a runway shoot rather than a night at the clubs. He wore white dress shoes that seemed to complete his regal punk rock look. When he took his hair out of the tie it fell naturally at his shoulders, looking like it had been perfectly styled already. Ignis immediately thought it wasn’t fair that he looked so good so naturally, especially since he always put so much effort into styling his hair. Ravus walked over to him, distressing his hair for him slightly, so it gave a much more tousled look than one of the perfect styling Ignis usually wore.

“Let me call Prompto and see if they’re ready,” Ravus said as he pulled out his phone. A moment later he was talking on the phone excitedly, confirming that the others were ready to go. Ignis’s phone went off at the same time, and he looked down at it to see who had texted him. It was Noctis.

Just warning you, Gladio is
on the warpath. He’s clearly upset
that you seem to be moving on, but
that’s his fault. I told him to get his
head out of his ass cause it’s Prompto’s
birthday. We’ll see how long it lasts.

Ignis texted a quick thanks in response to the warning before Ravus hung up the phone and looked at him. “Alright, you’re too hot for me not to take a pic,” Ravus said. He walked up to him and put his arm around his waist, holding him close without hurting him. With a flash of the camera and a seductive smile from Ravus, they had a photo of the two together. “Now we can go.”

Ravus took him by the hand as they set out into the cool night air, looking like light and darkness walking hand in hand. Ignis knew that things were going to be tense with Gladio, but he did hope that no one ruined the weekend for Prompto’s birthday. Ignis had spent a lot of time picking out a birthday present for his friend, and he was excited to give it to him. He just hoped that nothing would go awry between now and then.

They met the others outside the club, a building embedded into a row of shops that had already closed down for the night, making the resonating strobe lights and pulse of the music echo from within the closed doors. Despite Lestallum being a smaller city, there was a long line of people to get into the club. Ignis could barely manage to look at Gladio as they met towards the large double doors with a bouncer waiting outside, ready to signal people in when it was time.

Gladio was dressed in his usual jeans and leather jacket with a black shirt underneath, clearly not bothering to do anything special for the evening. He didn’t need to. He was beautiful on his own. Noctis had opted to dress in tight black jeans and a tight button up white shirt with splashes of red and black on it, the sleeves shredded in a punch rock fashion. Prompto was dressed in tight white pants and a black shirt with similar paint splashes on his shirt. It was clear they had coordinated, but there was glitter on Prompto’s face and in his hair to make it just a bit more special.

“Looks like we’re all looking ready for the party,” Ravus said cheerfully. “Come on.”

Ravus was given immediate admission to the club, the others in line looking on at them, trying to see if they could figure out how important the group of guys being let into the club was. The bouncer indicated to a couple of the women waiting at the front that Ravus was the owner’s son, and they stared at the group lustfully as they all moved inside together.

The lights of the club pulsed with the rhythm of the music, a DJ in the back on a pedestal, neon green and purple lights illuminating the DJs stand. Three steps led down to the dance floor, which was crowded with bodies swaying to the beat, and Prompto and Noctis immediately looked on it excitedly. A bag check was to the right as soon as they walked in, and a bar was to the left. There was a secondary bar next to the dance floor on the right side. At the top of the steps that led to the dance floor was a black railing where bar tables were positioned for those who wanted drinks. Black leather booths lined the left wall, each separated by a partition that cultivated an air of superiority and privacy between each booth.

Ravus excused himself momentarily and went to the bag check. The hostess greeted Ravus warmly, hugging him as if she were hugging an old friend. Ravus said something, and she looked to Prompto with an excited smile. When he said something else, the music too loud for the others to hear, she looked at Ignis and then smiled and nodded in approval. Ignis looked away and adjusted his glasses self-consciously. She smiled at the group as she grabbed a bag from behind the bag check and took them to a VIP table along the wall in the center of the others, right where they could see everything happening on the dance floor.

The booth itself was large and spacious, and Ravus helped Ignis into it carefully before sitting next to him. There was no point in him blocking anyone else’s path, so Prompto and Noctis sat to his left and Gladio sat next to Ravus. The beat of the music changed to another pulsing beat as the hostess took out several decorative choices for Prompto’s birthday, including a crown that said Happy Birthday, a black boa that was put around his neck, and several noise makers for the table.

“Thank you!” Prompto called over the music to Ravus as the hostess walked away, heading towards the bar.

“If no one knew you were gay to begin with, they know now,” Noctis said with a laugh.

“Like we had to make it anymore obvious,” Prompto agreed, giggling.

The hostess came back with a bottle of champagne and poured them each a glass. Ignis declined his, knowing he shouldn’t be mixing his medication with alcohol. Ravus accepted it on his behalf, setting it next to them and handing him a glass of water instead, before offering a toast.

“To Prompto,” Ravus said cheerfully. “Happy birthday Prompto!”

They all cheered for Prompto’s birthday, and Ignis took a sip of the water as the others drank the champagne. “Should we really be drinking at all?” Ignis asked Ravus. Ravus leaned into him so he could hear, but it looked like they were whispering sweet nothings to each other. Gladio was looking away obviously, and Ignis flushed not for the first time.

“I’m the owner’s son,” Ravus said dismissively. “They don’t care as long as they get paid and I’m happy. Remember, they’ve dealt with my sister.”

“Ah,” Ignis said.

“Let’s go dance!” Prompto said, too excited to remain seated for long.

Noctis agreed stood up. He grabbed Prompto’s hand and took him to the dance floor, their bodies swaying together, hips touching, once they were mingling with the other dancers. Ignis felt compelled to say something to Gladio, but he knocked back the rest of the champagne in his glass and stood up and walked away, heading out to stalk whatever prey he had caught in the moment. Ignis tried not to feel wounded, but it was difficult. He was still waiting for Gladio to come back to him and tell him he was ready to end this and get back together.

“You should go and dance,” Ignis said to Ravus, trying not to think about anything but the music and lights that overwhelmed their senses. It stood in contrast to the black sheen of all the décor, creating an atmosphere like they had walked into a dungeon that had been retrofitted into a club.

“I prefer to spend it with you,” Ravus said as he turned to Ignis, one leg crossed over the other. He put his elbow on the back of the booth, his fist propping his head up as he looked at but his touch was like ice, spreading a chill through his body. His hand moved slightly, his fingers dipping in between Ignis’s thighs enticingly. Ignis felt the pants get tighter in his groin just slightly and cursed his libido.

“Excuse me,” a woman said as she and another woman approached the table. They were both dressed in tight, low cut, short dressed. She had long dark hair and bright eyes, her makeup done expertly, her dress red. Her friend was blond, her eyes dark, and her dress red. “You two look a bit lonely. We can join you if you want.”

“No thanks,” Ravus said kindly enough.

“Why not?” the blond asked, positioning herself so her chest was pointed towards them in an attempt at seduction. “We’d be happy to show you a good time.”

“My boyfriend and I will pass,” Ravus said as he kept one hand on Ignis’s thigh and the other wrapped around his shoulder.

“You’re gay?” the dark haired woman said. “You’re too cute to be gay.”

“Yeah,” the blond said. “And if you are, I’m sure we could change your mind.”

Ignis meant respond to that, but Ravus’s lips were on his in an instant, demonstrating that there was no changing a gay person straight. At first Ignis sat there, awkward and unsure, but as Ravus’s tongue traced his lips, he found himself melting into the touch, just yearning to feel something other than pain for once. The women took the hint and walked away, but Ravus continued to kiss Ignis, their tongues mingling together in a breathlessness that stirred a familiar desire within him. Where Gladio was fire, Ravus was ice, and his lips, his tongue, felt cool and delicious. It was welcoming nonetheless.

When Ravus finally pulled away, Ignis found himself panting, as if he had forgotten to breathe through the kiss. Ravus smiled at him, his lips hovering close to his, and Ignis had the sudden desire to reach out and kiss him again. He was reluctant to admit that there was an undeniable chemistry between them, but despite his own heartache, he couldn’t change the fact that his body was responding to Ravus’s touch. This was what Noctis meant by a rebound. Giving into pleasure without letting the heart get involved.

“I’m assuming you felt it too,” Ravus said into his ear. He kissed his neck, sending a shiver down Ignis’s spine. “Don’t worry so much about your emotions. Just give into temptation and enjoy your time with me. We’ll worry about the rest later.”

“Aren’t you worried about what that could mean for you?” Ignis asked in concern. He didn’t want Ravus to get hurt just because he was horny and physically attracted to him.

Ravus shrugged. “I’m figuring things out as I go along. I guess I just want to enjoy myself too and not worry so much about my emotions. Would it be so hard to do that and see where we end up?”

Ignis wavered. He wanted to look for Gladio in the crowd, to find him and beg him to take him back, but that wasn’t going to happen and he needed to let him go. But it was still so fresh and new that he didn’t know if it was even possible at this point. Then again, Ravus was sitting next to him, his hand caressing his inner thigh, beckoning him to just enjoy the moment and ignore the pain that Gladio brought with him.

“Hey,” Gladio said as he approached the table, interrupting their conversation. He looked at Ravus with evident hate and over to Ignis. “Can I talk to you for a moment? Alone?”

Ravus looked at Ignis uncertainly, but ultimately shrugged and stood up. He grabbed his glass of champagne and looked at Gladio. “Remember,” he said loudly enough for them both to hear over the music. “You’re the one who fucked up. Not him. Be kind.”

He walked away to join Prompto and Noctis on the dance floor, his eyes lingering on Ignis even as he started swaying his hips on the floor. Gladio stared at Ignis for a long moment, as if trying to decide if this was really a good idea, then sat down next to him. Ignis felt awkward, his desire for him obvious, so he looked straight ahead, trying not to guess at what Gladio was thinking. It was usually the opposite of what he wanted anyway.

“Are you really dating Ravus?” Gladio asked. He stopped himself, sighing, then tried again. “I’m having a hard time with this. I didn’t expect you to move on so quickly.”

“I haven’t moved on,” Ignis said, and Gladio looked at him in pain. “Everyone seems adamant on getting me to enjoy myself, and right now I’m numb to it all. I’m just going with the flow.”

“Ignis,” Gladio said. He reached a hand out as if he was going to touch him then stopped himself.

“Gladio,” Ignis said sternly. “You broke my heart. I was willing to take any risk to be with you. You not being with me doesn’t even get rid of the danger. Regis has been to my house and made some thinly veiled threats. If you asked me right here and now to forgive you and for us to get back together, I would do it. The Six know I would do it five, ten, even twenty years from now. But unless your next words are just that, then let me enjoy my life so maybe I have a shred of hope of moving on from you. I doubt I ever will, but I owe it to myself to try. And, to be honest, I love you too much not to give you the same chance if you really won’t be with me anymore.”

Gladio stared at him for a long moment, his expression pained, uncertain and heartbroken. Ignis wanted to slap him, to tell him that it was his fault for them both being so heartbroken. “You got hurt because of me.”

“No, I got hurt because Loqi decided that he was going to hurt me,” Ignis insisted. “Give it the weekend. I’m going to enjoy myself as I have been while trying to get over this horrendously broken heart of mine. If by Sunday you still don’t want to be with me, then I’ll let it go. And you have to as well. I love you, Gladio. But I will not let you stop my life from moving forward. I should not be the one to do the same to you.”

Another silence between them, the music pulsing all around them. Ignis felt like crying, a yearning filling his heart as he stared at the person he loved. It didn’t matter how much desire he felt for another person. Desire was physical. What he felt for Gladio was beyond that, and he had surrendered his whole heart to him as a result. The only problem was that Gladio had treated it with care until he broke it. If Gladio kept insisting on torturing him like this, of denying him but refusing him to move on, then he would have to take drastic measures to instigate his own healing.

“Alright,” Gladio conceded. “I’ll think on it. I don’t think I’ll change my mind, but I’ll seriously consider it.”

“I understand,” Ignis said. He didn’t know how many times Gladio had to break his heart before he walked away for good. “Then I won’t stop you if you decide to go have fun with someone else, even though it will nearly kill me to do it. You shouldn’t stop me either.”

“You look like you’re breaking up with him all over again,” Ravus interrupted, moving back to the table. “If you’re done, I’m going to take over. We’re supposed to be having fun, and you don’t need to keep rubbing salt into the wound.”

Gladio looked at Ignis with the same longing look Ignis gave him and finally got up from the table and looked at him. “I’m going for a walk. I need to think. Until Sunday.”

“Okay,” Ignis agreed. “I won’t be waiting though.”

“I don’t expect you to.” Gladio walked away after that, leaving Ravus to stare at him in worry.

“You okay?” Ravus asked as he sat next to Ignis. “That looked rough.”

“Yeah,” Ignis replied, even though he felt like Gladio really was just breaking up with him again. “I told him he had to make up his mind and not try and hold me back from enjoying myself.”

“So you’ve decided to enjoy your time with me?” Ravus asked, a smile brightening on his face.

“I suppose so.” Ignis looked at him as Ravus moved closer to him in the booth, only half sitting down. He clearly looked excited. “I’m tired of just feeling pain.”

“I can certainly help with that.” Ravus smiled. “Sometimes you just need to be pleasured to feel better.”

“Obviously I can’t have sex right now,” Ignis said as he indicated to his wounds. “That won’t happen for a while.”

“We can do other things. Let’s just enjoy the club tonight and see what happens after.” Ravus settled in next to him, pouring more champagne for himself and the others as they came back from the dance floor, breathless and excited. Some of the glitter Prompto was wearing ended up on Noctis, making it pretty obvious they had been making out.

“Where’s Gladio?” Prompto asked as he took a drink of the champagne rather quickly.

“He went to take a walk,” Ravus said. “I don’t think this is his scene.”

Prompto frowned but Noctis grabbed his hand and kissed his cheek. “If anything were wrong he would let us know. Just enjoy your birthday weekend. Don’t worry about anything else.”

They spent the rest of the night enjoying the club, and Ignis and Ravus found themselves locked in a close knit conversation, their faces close together to be able to hear each other over the music. Ignis couldn’t help but wonder if Gladio was okay, but each time he felt his mind wandering, Ravus seemed to notice it and would bring him back to the conversation with a gentle touch or a reminder that he needed to enjoy himself.

Ignis felt himself flushing several times as Ravus’s hands wandered, tracing from his shoulder down his uninjured arm, to his hip, down to his thighs. He wanted to tell him they should do this in a more private setting, but no one was paying them any attention, everyone either drinking at their own table or dancing on the floor. Ravus’s hand settled on Ignis’s cock at one point, and he wanted to both give into his desire and pull away. Stroking it through his pants lightly, Ravus leaned in and kissed him, both of them trying to hide their separate pains through their own physical desires.

“Let’s get out of here,” Ravus finally said in his ear, and he stood up. Ignis got up slowly, his body very sore, as Ravus ran to the dance floor to tell Prompto and Noctis they were calling it a night. They seemed okay with it from what Ignis could see, lost in their own world of dancing and celebrations. Ravus came back to him and wrapped his arm around his waist, his hands lingering close to his groin area. If Ignis wasn’t already ready to go and enjoy his time with Ravus he would be more embarrassed.

They stepped into the brisk night air, the late night feeling more like winter than fall now, and Ravus immediately kissed him on the lips, too excited to hold back. Ignis wasn’t going to deny his own carnal desires, and he greeted the iciness of his tongue mingling with Ravus’s, just happy to be feeling something other than heartache and physical pain. His hard member strained against his pants uncomfortably as Ravus gently pressed his pelvis against his, careful not to hurt his torso in the process.

They kissed the entire way back to the apartment, a short walk made much longer by their make out session. When they reached his apartment, both of them were ready to surrender to whatever pleasure they could give each other while Ignis was in his injured state. It wasn’t the first time Ignis wished it was Gladio who he was kissing, but Ravus seemed to understand that this wasn’t something that was necessarily going to last. It was just attraction for now, pure and simple.

Ravus took Ignis into the bedroom and looked at him with a hunger that seemed both dangerous and beautiful. He unbuttoned Ignis’s shirt, carefully removing it, then helped him out of his boots. When his hands lingered on his pants, he kissed Ignis again, their bodies both screaming, demanding for more. Ignis just wanted him to do whatever he was going to so they could both end the evening satiated, but Ravus was being slow, deliberate and careful to not hurt him. He was both grateful and frustrated by it.

Slowly, Ravus unbuttoned the top button of Ignis’s pants then slowly unzipped them. Ignis shuddered as he peeled the leather pants back, his throbbing cock already ready for something more. Ravus stared at him, naked and silently pleading, then grabbed his cock with his cold hand, making Ignis shudder in delight. He pumped it slowly, testing Ignis’s pain. It was true that any vigorous movement caused him pain, but the pleasure was so much more.

“Ravus,” Ignis moaned as he reached out to him, caressing Ravus’s cock through his pants.

“Come here,” Ravus said as he took Ignis to the bed. “Lay down.”

Ignis obeyed, laying on his back carefully, wanting to just have any sort of pleasure that Ravus was ready to give him. Ravus walked to his closet, shedding his clothes as he did so. He pulled out a couple of things from the closet, leaving Ignis to wonder what he held in his hands. One was lubricant and another looked like a string of beads. The last thing was a bottle that had small round pills in it.

“Do you want to only feel pleasure?” Ravus asked him.

“Yes,” Ignis replied, his heart pounding. What was he going to ask him to do?

“Take this,” Ravus said. He pulled out a pill and broke it in half. “It’s something new. You’ll never feel better than you have with this, even with your injuries.”

“I don’t want to become an addict,” Ignis protested.

“You won’t,” Ravus said. “I only use these for moments like this. Trust me. Everything pleasurable will only feel better, higher than what you’ve ever felt before.”

Ignis wasn’t sure, but Ravus put half of the pill in his mouth then held the other up to his lips. Uncertainly, he opened his mouth and took the pill. Ravus kissed him as he swallowed the pill, worried about exactly what he was getting into. This wasn’t something he ever would have considered doing in the past. But as he continued to kiss Ravus, his body started to feel removed from the pain, the kiss itself setting his body alight with pleasure he had never experienced. The pill was working and Ravus was right.

“You’re feeling it,” Ravus said, his eyes wild, his cock as hard as Ignis’s. “We can’t have sex, but I can please you in other ways.”

“Yes,” Ignis said. He felt like he was already on the verge of climaxing, his mind just wanting nothing but pleasure. All other thoughts were forgotten, all other people dismissed. The only thing that matter was Ravus pleasing him. “What is this drug?”

“Does it matter?” Ravus asked as he used the lubricant on the beads. “Have you ever used a toy before?”

“No,” Ignis replied. Ravus positioned the beads near his ass then began to insert them slowly into him. “Ungh… Six help me.”

The pleasure wracked his entire body, and Ravus only smiled as if the Ignis’s pleasure was also delighting him. He held Ignis’s one arm down to steady Ignis as he moaned until all the beads were inserted, his mind going black from the pleasure. He climaxed quickly, but it wasn’t enough. A moment later he was hard again.

“You’ll feel nothing but pleasure all night,” Ravus said as he positioned himself so he was straddling Ignis across his legs. “Try not to move too much or else you’ll be in more pain tomorrow.”

“Nngh.” Ignis could only respond with his moans of pleasure. He resisted the urge to sway his hips, the beads in him driving deep within him to hit all his pleasure spots. The drug heightened it, and he felt like his nerves were burning from a cold heat that the pleasure brought him. “Ravus, touch me.”

“Happy to.” Ravus stroked his cock, making him cry out from the ecstasy he felt, until it wasn’t enough for either of them. “Try not to move, Ignis so you’re not too sore tomorrow.”

Ravus put lubricant on Ignis’s cock then straddled him carefully, positioning himself ever so carefully to avoid Ignis’s torso. Ignis knew he would probably be in more pain tomorrow, but right now he didn’t care. The only thing he could feel was desire and pleasure. Ravus lowered himself on Ignis’s cock, and they both moaned as Ignis was inserted into him, the notion of not having sex out the window.

“Ahhh,” Ravus moaned as he braced his hands on Ignis’s thighs. “You feel so good. Better than I ever imagined.”

“Nngh,” Ignis moaned for more, feeling like he was being drawn deeper into Ravus. “Ravus you feel so amazing.”

“I’m going to move,” Ravus said. “Don’t move at all or you’ll just hurt yourself.”

“Just do it,” Ignis pleaded. Ravus moved on top of him, gently and caressingly so as to create as little impact as possible on Ignis’s injuries. Ignis didn’t know how he had so much control. He could only focus on getting more and more pleasure from him. Ravus let out cries of pleasure as Ignis’s cock moved deeper and deeper into him, the beads still in him, hitting him deep within. They came quickly, but both of them were still hard from the drug, only wanting to drive their pleasure to the brink.

They continued pleasuring each other late into the night, until they were both too tired and too spent to move. Ignis knew he should be worried about taking the drug, but once the pill had worn off and they both curled into bed, too tired to move anymore, he didn’t feel any further desire to take the medication. Instead, he thought about how he should never take it again. While the pleasure was immeasurable, constantly drawn to the edge of ecstasy and beyond, it still didn’t compare to the way Gladio had been able to satisfy him. It was because Gladio nourished his body and his soul.

He drifted off into a deep sleep as Ravus collapsed next to him, wondering if he would later come to regret the night’s experience. Gladio had made it clear that even though he wanted time to think, the chances of them getting back together were slim to none. Still, Ignis couldn’t help but hold out on the hope that he would one day change his mind. But he had made it clear that he was not going to put his life on hold. And there were worse choices than Ravus.

Chapter Text

Prompto was having a lot of fun. He had never had anyone to celebrate his birthday with him. A night of dancing with Noctis was more than he ever could have hoped for, and when they ended the night in a tangle of sheets and sweat, he felt so happy and fulfilled that he could almost forget about the other problems in his life. Noctis was insistent on making it a great weekend for him, and so far he was keeping him away from all the drama and pain going on around him.

But when he woke up the next day he couldn’t help but immediately start worrying about Ignis and Gladio. Yesterday had seemed so tense, and when Ignis had left with Ravus he couldn’t help but feel like he was making a huge mistake. Noctis had said to just let them go, to let Ignis just relax for once since he was always so uptight and overthinking things, but going in the opposite direction and throwing all caution to the wind was just as bad. He knew he had to prepare for the concert that day, that Nyx and the others would be in town getting ready to perform, but he had time in the morning to talk to him.

When Prompto got out of bed, he admired Noctis fast asleep, his soft dark hair covering his eyes. He covered his boyfriend with a blanket, and Noctis smiled in his sleep and rolled over, clearly too tired to get up in the morning. Prompto thought it was better this way. Sometimes having a difficult conversation was better with fewer people. He got dressed quickly, trying to style his hair and ultimately giving up, then brushed his teeth and made is was downstairs. He pulled out his phone, texting Ignis to see if he was awake, and collided with Cor.

“Careful,” Cor said as Prompto began to topple over. He caught his wrist and wrapped his arm around him, catching him with his hand on the small of his back. Prompto squirmed uncomfortably, but Cor didn’t let go. “You’re precious. We can’t have you getting hurt. Your parents would be distraught.”

Prompto thought he heard a threat behind those words, that he wasn’t talking about the Argentums. If he got hurt, then his real parents would be devastated. Cor was here to not only make sure that didn’t happen, but he would be the one to do it if Prompto did need to get hurt. His grip on him was firm, strong, and unyielding. He wanted to break free but he couldn’t, and that was the point. Cor was reminding him that Prompto belonged to Lucis now.

It had been like this since he moved to Lestallum. Cor had been keeping a careful eye on him, whether he was hanging out with Ravus or doing his homeschooling or playing his music. He kept an eye on him at all moments of the day, very much aware of anyone he interacted with. When Cor wasn’t around, the Argentums were. As regrettable as he felt to cancel the plans to meet his real parents, he was glad he did it. It was too dangerous when he was monitored so closely.

“Where are you off to?” Cor asked, his blue eyes piercing into his soul.

“Coffee,” Prompto replied, wanting to get out of his grasp as quickly as possible. His phone went off, and he looked at it as Cor finally released him. Ignis was up and willing to meet with him before anyone else woke up. “I have a packed weekend to enjoy my birthday.”

“Yes, that’s today.” Cor was not smiling. “Happy birthday, then. Go enjoy your day but be careful.”

“I will,” Prompto said, his heart racing as he left the house, fleeing to the café that Ignis said he would be waiting at. It was the one just below Ravus’s apartment, a place that would have been too fancy and expensive for him in Insomnia. He wasn’t even questioning the sudden influx of money the Argentums now had. It was clear that they had been lying about being poor from the beginning to make sure he stayed tucked away in Insomnia.

When he got to the café, Ignis was just making his way down from the stairs that led to the apartment. He looked tired, sore, like he had been up way too late. Prompto knew they were out late at the club, but Ignis and Ravus had gone back before Noctis and Prompto had. He had assumed Ignis was in pain and needed rest, but now he had a feeling that Ignis and Ravus had stayed up all night together.

“Good morning,” Ignis said as they sat down at the café. A waiter came over immediately and handed them menus. They ordered specialty drinks and a pastry to start, Prompto getting something sweet and Ignis getting something highly caffeinated. They chatted conversationally until they had their drinks and a sweet pastry to share. Prompto sighed, trying to think about where to start.

“I’m worried about you Ignis,” Prompto said finally. Ignis looked at him in surprise, but then his face changed to something that Prompto wasn’t expected. He was looking at him in shame. “I know you’re going through a hard time, but I don’t want you to do anything you’ll regret.”

“Too late,” Ignis said as he looked away and out at the small city beginning to be about the normal hustle for the day. There was a new energy beginning with fans from all over Lucis pouring into the city for the Kingsglaive concert being held as the concert hall towards the outskirts of the city.

“What happened with Ravus?” Prompto asked in concern.

“Well we hooked up, which I don’t regret,” Ignis replied. “But there are some other things that I shouldn’t have done. It won’t happen again.”

Prompto nodded. “I know Noctis is all for you having a rebound and letting loose and having fun. But I know you still love Gladio, and I don’t want you to be on a path of self-destruction because of it. Just like you didn’t want me to do anything rash with my stuff.”

Prompto kept the details about his situation intentionally vague in case anyone was listening in. There was no need for anyone to figure out what he was talking about. He was being so closely scrutinized by Cor and the Argentums that he had asked Nyx to tell his real parents not to contact him until he knew it was safe. They had listened, likely more worried for his safety than anything, but it hurt Prompto to do it. He wanted to talk to his real parents, to know more about them, but it was too dangerous, and they all knew it.

“You’re right, Prompto,” Ignis said. He looked tearful, and Prompto felt his heart ache for him. He always seemed like such a strong person. To see him breaking was difficult. “I think you’ve been the first voice of reason in all this. I have to be willing to set my own boundaries so I can make sure I heal.”

“Plus Ravus is going through a lot too,” Prompto pointed out. “Like if you guys want to date and all, that’s fine, but I’m just letting you know what you’re getting into. He’s got a lot of stuff to work through, and sometimes he can be a bit erratic because of it. I think he uses drugs too, but I don’t know how to talk to him about it.”

Ignis nodded, as if he was confirming to Prompto that he had seen that erratic, unhinged side of Ravus. Prompto noticed Gladio coming towards them, looking concerned and hesitant about if he should approach. Prompto made to beckon him over, but Ignis interrupted his thoughts before he could.

“I will talk to him about it then. Honestly, I’m still holding out hope that Gladio will come up to me, tell me that he’s sorry, and ask to get back together,” Ignis said with a heaving sigh that he winced from. He pulled out two pills, one for pain and one to prevent infection, and took them. “I know it’s a ridiculous thought, and I need to face reality. But I still love him, and that’s not going to go away anytime soon.”

Gladio stopped walking towards them, turning around and walking away suddenly. Prompto made to call out to him, to bring him back over, but there was something in his eyes that said to just leave it alone. It was obvious he had heard Ignis’s declaration of love and was conflicted over it. Prompto wished he could just slam their heads together and tell them to sort out their shit.

“I’m sorry Prompto,” Ignis said with a slight smile. “We’re here to celebrate your birthday, and here you are worrying about me.”

Ignis looked at his phone quickly, typing a quick reply to whoever texted him, changing his mood to reflect the celebration that they were supposed to be having today. Prompto knew that later in the day he would have to meet up with the band for their concert, but he doubted Nyx would just leave him alone up until their meeting time. Nyx had to go back to Insomnia after Prompto had moved in, but he talked to him constantly over the phone and had preplanned his trips to Lestallum to see him.

“Don’t worry about it,” Prompto said dismissively. “I haven’t had a chance to really ever celebrate my birthday. Just having you guys here, no matter how messy it gets, has really been a gift enough.”

“Well prepare for more,” Ravus said, suddenly behind him, making him jump in surprise.

He looked at him with a smile, cleanly showered and dressed in casual clothes, looking more like a god than a man. Prompto knew why Ignis wanted to stick with him if Gladio didn’t want to be together anymore. He was really attractive and Ignis could certainly do worse. But behind his smile was a lot of pain, and Prompto knew that there was a lot of healing that needed to take place before Ravus and Ignis were really ready to have a relationship. That was the point of a rebound, though, and they were both willing to give it a try, so Prompto couldn’t stop them.

“Hey Ravus,” Prompto said as his heart raced from the surprise.

“Here,” Ravus said as he handed Prompto two wrapped packages. “One’s from me, one’s from Ignis.”

“Happy birthday,” Ignis said as Ravus took a seat next to them, but not before giving Ignis a swift kiss on the lips. Ignis smiled at him, but there was also concern there. Whether it was for Ravus or because of Ravus, Prompto couldn’t say.

His attention was drawn to the finely wrapped presents in front of him, a smiling breaking on his face. He had never received a gift before for his birthday. The Argentums had always just given him his guitars and clothes at random intervals, without any particular thought or reason behind it. Carefully he opened each present, taking time to savor what it felt like to receive a gift from someone. Ravus had gotten him a really nice set of black punk rock clothes which looked like they were designer brand and too expensive for Prompto to ever afford. Ignis got him a new lens for his camera.

“Thanks guys!” Prompto said, genuinely ecstatic for his gifts. “I’ll wear these tonight!”

“That’s the goal,” Ravus said with a smile. He took Ignis’s hand and held it possessively.

“Hopefully the lens works with your camera,” Ignis offered. “I had Noctis steal a glance at your camera to make sure it would, but if not it can always be exchanged.”

“I’m sure it’ll work great,” Prompto replied honestly. “You’re meticulous about these things after all. Thank you guys for putting so much thought into it.”

“Of course,” Ravus said dismissively. “We want you to have a great weekend.”

Prompto smiled. “Nyx said the same thing. He said that he’s taking me somewhere tomorrow as a surprise. Noctis will be coming too, but they said it’s a surprise. Kind of like a monitored date or something? I don’t know. All I know is that Cor won’t be there.”

Ignis and Ravus both made a face of disgust at the name. “I don’t know what Cor is doing here,” Ravus said. “But my parents know him too. I think through Noctis’s dad or something. Ugh. He’s such a buzzkill.”

“You can say that again,” Ignis said vaguely, sharing at knowing look with Prompto.

Prompto hadn’t told Ravus about what was going on, partly because he didn’t know if Ravus was somehow involved in the monitoring process and partly because he didn’t want him to get hurt. It was already dangerous enough that someone other than him and Nyx knew that he was a hostage of Lucis, but to keep involving others was a risk he couldn’t take. Since Ignis had pointed out to him that there were inherent risks involved in even trying to connect with his real parents, Prompto had been cautious about who he reached out to and spoke with regarding the matters. He didn’t dare update them when he was at home, and usually he waited until he saw Noctis over the weekends and told him then.

“There you are,” Nyx said with a smile as he approached Prompto from behind, making him jump again. Prompto made a mental note to choose the seating arrangements better next time. “Happy birthday, Prompto.”

Nyx gave Prompto a hug as he stood up, holding onto him tightly like brothers could. He was still trying to do everything he could to make up for Prompto’s abduction, but at this point Prompto just wanted to have him in his life as a friend. It was too much to demand more and more from him, but Nyx felt like he owed it to him.

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto said with a smile. “When did you get in?”

“We got to the hotel last night,” Nyx said. “I called your house, but they said you were out celebrating your birthday. I’m surprised they let you go.”

“I am too,” Prompto admitted. “I basically told them before the weekend that I was going to do what I wanted and they couldn’t stop me. Apparently they accepted it. Do you know if they’re going to be at the show tonight?”

“Probably not,” Nyx replied. “If I’m there they won’t worry too much. Well, save for Cor, maybe. He might be there.”

“Great,” Ravus said with obvious disdain. He looked at Ignis. “We should relax until everyone is up, then we can go get breakfast together.”

“That’s a good idea,” Nyx said. “I think everyone in the band is up too. We can all have breakfast if you want.”

“That just leaves Noctis,” Prompto admitted. “I saw Gladio walking around a moment ago, but he didn’t come over.”

“He’s always been a sleeper,” Ignis considered, trying not to look pained. Ravus squeezed his hand tighter. Maybe Prompto was wrong and it was good they were having a fling. He didn’t think that was the case, but Ravus seemed like he cared about Ignis’s pain in the very least.

“I’ll go wake him up,” Prompto offered.

“Great. I’ll text you the breakfast spot. I’m sure the guys will be happy to see you too.” Nyx smiled as he took off, leaving Prompto with his friends once again.

“We can come with you,” Ignis offered.

“You look like you’re in a lot of pain,” Prompto said. “Why don’t you and Ravus relax here so I can find Gladio and wake up Noctis?”

They agreed and Prompto took off, Ravus insisting he would cover his coffee and the pastry. He carried his presents in one hand as he took out his phone and dialed Gladio’s number. It rang twice before he picked up. It sounded like he was outside still.

“Hey,” Prompto said. “I’m waking up Noctis and then we’re all going to catch breakfast with Kingsglaive.” A couple of people passing him stopped and stared at him in shock as he said the words, clearly fans there for the concert, trying to scope out where the band was.

“Sounds good,” Gladio said with a nonchalance Prompto knew he was faking.

“Want to meet me at my place and we’ll go together?” Prompto offered.

“I’ll be there soon,” Gladio replied.

“Hey Gladio,” Prompto said softly. “Did you hear what Ignis said?”

There was a hesitation. “Yeah.”

“I know you’re not asking for my opinion, but I think you should make up with him,” Prompto said as he approached the townhouse where Noctis was gently sleeping still. “You and he are much better suited for each other than alone or him with Ravus.”

“If he wants to be with Ravus, I can’t stop him,” Gladio said.

“You know he’s only considering dating him because he can’t stand being alone without you right now,” Prompto argued. “Just think about it. Ignis would wait ten years if you said you wanted to get back with him then.”

“Maybe I will then,” Gladio replied but he chuckled softly. “Thanks for looking out Prompto. I’ll see you soon.”

The call ended as Prompto stepped into his bedroom, Noctis still sleeping soundly in his bed. He smiled and set his new gifts on his desk then walked over to the bed and sat down at the edge of it. Shaking Noctis gently, he tried to wake him without much fuss. Sometimes Noctis could be a little more than cranky in the mornings, and they were up late last night.

“Noctis,” Prompto said softly. “It’s time to get up. We’re all getting breakfast with Kingsglaive soon.”

“Mmm,” Noctis said sleepily, barely stirring. Eventually his eyes fluttered open and he looked at Prompto with an innocent smile that made Prompto’s heart flutter. “Happy birthday, Prompto.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied. He went to get up, but Noctis grabbed him and pulled him down into the bed, the sheets tangling around them as they both giggled. Noctis pressed his lips against Prompto’s, his hand brushing Prompto’s cheek, sending a flurry of excitement from where he had caressed him.

“Noctis,” Prompto warned as he tried to pull away. Noctis kept his arms wrapped around him as he struggled on top of him in vain. He finally gave up and just settled in on top of Noctis for the moment, both of them lying there in comfort. “You should really get ready to go.”

“Or we could just spend all day in bed,” Noctis offered.

“We can do that for your birthday,” Prompto offered, making his eyes light up.

“You better not change your mind when the time comes.” Noctis kissed him again then released him, still smiling. Prompto encouraged him to get ready quickly, especially since Noctis moved so slowly when first waking up in the morning. He had discovered that first time he spent the weekend when they first moved. Before they left, Prompto grabbed his camera, his guitar, and the outfit Ravus had bought for him. It took a bit longer than it usually took Prompto to get ready, but Gladio was waiting for them outside by the time he was ready to go.

“Hey Gladio,” Noctis said welcoming enough when they stepped out into the brisk air. “You disappeared last night. Where’d you go?”

“I went for a walk,” Gladio replied. “Wanted to take some time to think.”

“Have you thought enough about it?” Noctis asked as Prompto took the lead. Nyx had texted him the restaurant they arranged for the large party. “You’re liable to start overthinking at this pace.”

“I probably have overthought it,” Gladio said honestly. “But I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s hard to reach a decision.”

“Well why don’t you decide on what your heart tells you?” Prompto offered. “Don’t think so much about it and do what feels right. If being without Ignis hurts, then there you go.”

“That’s a bit too simplistic,” Gladio said.

“Yeah but my dad is going to come after Ignis anyway if we’re not careful,” Noctis said in a low voice. “Wouldn’t you rather be there when the day comes?”

There was a long silence as they all thought about it uncomfortably. Prompto had never felt one way or another about Noctis’s father, but after finding out that he had issued the command for his abduction and then learning that he was the distributor of the drugs at both schools in Insomnia, it made a fresh hate blossom in his heart. Noctis hadn’t spoken to his father about it, deciding that it was too dangerous to do so. They all felt helpless to stop him, knowing that the police wouldn’t likely believe a bunch of high school boys.

Prompto didn’t understand Gladio’s hesitancy at this point. He had made it clear that while Ignis may have been attacked because he was dating Gladio, it was a means to an end, and Regis was behind it. With Regis behind it, if he knew Ignis had heard his voice, it wouldn’t matter if Gladio was involved with him or not. He would go after him without hesitancy.

“He’ll be fine without me,” Gladio said.

“No he won’t,” Prompto insisted fiercely. “I talked to him earlier. Guys I’m worried about him. I think he’s going to end up doing something he really regrets if he hasn’t already. He’s spiraling quickly.”

“Do you think it’s from the injury too?” Noctis asked.

“Probably.” Prompto nodded. “I think he’s hurt from that and from being left at the same time. Plus he’s been hanging with Ravus, and that’s not a good idea. He’s just going to instigate him to do things he shouldn’t. I already warned him, but I’m worried he’ll keep doing things because he feels pressured.”

“I thought you were friends with Ravus,” Gladio pointed out.

“I am, but I’m not going to sleep with him,” Prompto replied. “And when I went to his place one time to get some water after a bad run I saw drugs on his coffee table.”

Gladio tensed, and Prompto could see the same concern he felt for Ignis clearly on both his and Noct’s face. If Ravus was hanging with Ignis and they were both vulnerable, then it would be easy to convince Ignis to do drugs that would take him out of his body or make him feel far less pain at least. Even the pain medication was worrisome enough, liable to cause a dependency or an addiction. For a guy who was always so put together, it would be easy for people to miss the warning signs that he was going to self-destruct quickly.

“Ignis won’t do drugs,” Noctis said confidently. “He’s not the type.”

Prompto looked at Gladio in worry though, both of them less sure than Noctis was. Noctis knew him longer than they did, so maybe he was right, but Prompto remembered the look on Ignis’s face when he expressed his concern to him. He had a feeling that Ravus had already convinced him to do something he probably wouldn’t if he wasn’t feeling traumatized and heartbroken.

“It shouldn’t be up to me to fix him,” Gladio said. “If he’s going to be doing drugs and fucking around with other men, then I shouldn’t be around that.”

“I don’t think Ignis wants to be around that either,” Prompto insisted. “I think he’s trying to heal but he never had to try so hard before.” He shrugged as they reached the restaurant. “I don’t know. Talk to him about it.”

When they walked into the restaurant, Prompto decided to put aside his worries for a bit and just enjoy the weekend. The band along with Ravus and Ignis were already seated, taken to a private room due to the size of the party and the band’s fame. Nyx came out and greeted them, the bright white of the walls inviting them in. The restaurant was a designated a hotspot for breakfast and brunch, and the table already had several pitchers of mimosas on the table. Prompto assumed it was another restaurant that Ravus’s parents owned as no one stopped them from partaking.

“Happy birthday!” Everyone cheered as Prompto made his way into the private room. The long rectangular table had been set for the brunch, with three empty spots for him, Noctis and Gladio. Nyx directed him to the empty chair in the center of the table, and Noctis sat next to him. Gladio was relegated to sitting across from him next to Ravus and Crowe. He looked tense, but he was contemplative again and unlikely to start any trouble while they were all supposed to be celebrating.

Nyx sat on Prompto’s other side, and they all chatted happily about the weekend plans, the concert this evening, and the mystery plans that Nyx had for them. Noctis apparently knew nothing about what was in store, but every time Prompto asked he would smile deviously, and it was evident that he knew at least part of the plans. He felt so warm and loved to know that so many people wanted to be there to celebrate his birthday, but there was also a hollow ache knowing that his real parents were missing yet another one of his birthdays. He had a feeling they would have really gone all out to celebrate had he grown up with them.

“So Ravus,” Nyx said after they had ordered and he poured a mimosa for Prompto. Prompto wasn’t used to having alcohol, the bubbles immediately making him flush red. He wasn’t going to try and have much more than this if he wanted to be sober for the concert. “How do you feel about playing with Prompto tonight too? Just Soar, but we’d like to have you on stage if you’ll join us.”

Ravus perked up, smiling and looking excited. It was a far cry from how he used to be when he was in Insomnia, and Prompto realized he must have actually wanted to pursue his music more seriously than he was previously allowed. Whether it was due to his parents or to Luna, he couldn’t say, but Prompto was happy that he could at least try. While Lestallum was making life more difficult for Prompto, it seemed to be doing Ravus some good.

“Really?” Ravus asked excitedly. “Thank you. I won’t let you down.”

“Don’t let Prompto down,” Nyx said seriously.

Ravus nodded, both excited and serious, his smile leaking through his attempt to be stern. He never smiled like that in Insomnia. Instead he only looked like he was trying to fight the world. “I won’t,” he said. He turned to Ignis, grabbing his hand and holding it tightly. “Will you cheer for me?”

“I’ll cheer for you all,” Ignis said. Prompto knew he was being intentionally vague, hyper aware that Gladio was sitting just on the other side of Ravus.

“Good,” Ravus replied, satisfied by that answer apparently. Prompto wondered if Ignis had spoken to him about whatever was bothering him because they seemed to be on even footing, and Ignis didn’t look as burdened by being near him.

“We’re going to have to steal Prompto and Ravus away later then,” Nyx said. “We have rehearsals and sound checks and all that. Plus we need to make sure we coordinate so that no one stops Prompto from taking the stage.”

Prompto nodded. Ravus didn’t know the full situation of what was going on, but Prompto had just told him that his parents were against him playing and wanted to keep him from taking the stage. He took the answer readily enough, but Prompto felt bad that he had to lie. If Ravus was doing drugs, though, then his supplier may be Loqi or even Regis directly, and there was already enough risk there without involving him in the truth.

“I suppose I can let that happen,” Noctis teased with a smile. He kissed Prompto lightly on the lips, and the band immediately began making teasing noises, making them both blush in embarrassment.
“Just get a room already,” Libertus said as he laughed.

“We have one, you’re just in it,” Noctis said smoothly. They all laughed at that as the waitress and a few other servers brought in their food.

They all dined and talked happily, and Prompto made sure he brought Gladio into the conversation. By the time the brunch was over, they were all happy, stuffed, and even Gladio looked like he was beginning to enjoy himself. Kingsglaive’s manager walked into the private room and announced that they had to start getting ready for the show, meaning Prompto and Ravus were being taken away from their friends for the time being. Prompto hoped it would be the chance that Ignis and Gladio needed to reconcile, and he gave Noctis a knowing look that indicated as such.

“I’ll try,” Noctis whispered after they got up to go on their respective paths. He hugged Prompto tightly then kissed him deeply. Prompto felt himself becoming more entranced by Noctis’s lips with each kiss, and he knew that he could easily devote himself to the dark-haired beauty for his entire life. He knew some people were ones to experiment, to try new people before they settled down, but Prompto knew that he would be happy with Noctis forever. There was no need for him to look for something else.

“See you later,” Prompto said with a smile as he parted ways with his boyfriend and friends, following the band alongside Ravus. As they walked out of the restaurant and into the bright sunlight, the band was stopped a few times for pictures with fans walking around Lestallum. They all obliged until the manager would scold them for taking too long and have them carry on their way.

Chapter Text

The venue on the outside had the band’s name on the marquee in bold letters, and a few fans had already began lining up to make sure they got front row in the pit. When they saw Nyx and the others passing by they began to scream and cheer excitedly. Instead of just passing them by, the band took the time to thank each of them for coming out and waiting and took photos with each of them. While they did that, Ravus was kind enough to take a pic of Prompto underneath the marquee. They switched, then took a pic together.

“One more,” Prompto insisted. The manager took the photo of them with the band underneath the marquee, the fans wondering just who he and Ravus were because they were with the band. “Thanks guys. I just wanted to remember this day forever.”

“Of course,” Nyx replied with a smile. He turned to the fans. “Make sure you look out for these guys later.”

The fans cheered in excitement as they walked into the venue at that point. It was a sprawling theater with a general admission floor down below and a huge balcony with seats up top. The biggest fans, already in line, would clamor to get as close as possible to the band. In just a few short hours the entire hall would be packed for the sold out show. Prompto’s nerves felt on fire with anxiety at the thought. He hadn’t performed to a small crowd, much less a sold out venue for thousands.

“A lot of what you’re going to be doing is just waiting around for a while,” Nyx explained as they moved backstage, through a series of hallways with dressing rooms that were decked out for each band member. Prompto certainly felt like a rock star, a surreal feeling that almost felt like he was floating through a dream. Ravus looked calmer than he was, but he was still looking on excitedly as they navigated the otherwise plain hall.

“They’re going to start setting up,” Titus explained as roadies began moving equipment in and out from the back of the venue where the tour buses were waiting. “Once they’re ready to do a sound check we’ll start doing some rehearsals. Then we get hair and makeup done. By then it’s close to showtime.”

“I’ll take that,” a roadie wearing a medical face mask and baseball cap said to Prompto, indicating to his guitar. His voice sounded familiar, and Prompto wondered if he had met him before through Nyx. It was possible. He had gone to Nyx’s house in the past while others were there. “I’ll take good care of it.”

“Thanks,” Prompto said.

“I didn’t bring my bass,” Ravus said in dismay. “I didn’t anticipate playing.”

“That’s okay,” Nyx said. “We have several here. You can choose one that works, or if none do then you can go to your place and get yours.”

“Thanks,” Ravus commented. The roadie with the mask took Ravus away to see if there was a bass guitar that he liked more than the others. It wasn’t long before Ravus decided to run home and get his. Prompto wasn’t surprised. There was something about his guitars that he connected with, like they had been made specifically for him. Other guitars just didn’t cut it.

“Just relax for a while,” Nyx said as he showed him to a dressing room designated for him. He handed Prompto a VIP backstage pass. “Your friends will have their backstage passes waiting at the box office.”

“I’ll let them know. Thanks.” Prompto smiled as he sat down on the comfortable couch in the dressing room. There was a bathroom, complete with shower, and a large mirror with a long table connected to it for hair and makeup. Otherwise it was a fairly bare room.

“I have to go and check on something real quick,” Nyx said. “I’ll be right back.”

Nyx left Prompto alone. It was an odd sensation, being in a dressing room that rock stars and other famous performers had sat in. He quickly took several selfies, then texted Noctis about the tickets for them. It wasn’t long before the door opened and the same roadie with the mask opened the door, bringing in a tray of water and other snacks.

“Nyx said you might like some since you’re going to be waiting a while,” the roadie said as he made his way into the room. He set the tray on the table and looked at Prompto. “Is there anything else I can get you?”

“No thanks,” Prompto said.

The nagging sensation that he knew him was getting to him. Where had he seen him before? It was hard to tell since he was covered in the mask and the hat. His eyes looked so familiar, his voice something he had heard before. There was another knock on the door and another roadie walked in, wearing the same mask and hat that the other one was. They closed and locked the door, and Prompto immediately stood up, aware that something was going on. Had someone caught him in his plan to go on stage and perform? Had Cor sent them?

They took off their masks and hats, and Prompto felt his knees go weak. This wasn’t possible. How could this be? He had said for it not to happen, for them to stay away where they were safe. But he stared at Verstael and Ardyn as they smiled warmly at him, tears gathering in his eyes, and felt his heart crumbling to pieces, his joy and sadness overwhelming him far more than anything he had ever experienced in his life. They were there, in the flesh, looking at him with a parental warmth he had never felt before.

Just as his knees buckled, just as he felt himself collapsing from the weight of meeting his real parents for the first time since he had been stolen from them, they rushed over to him, pulling him into a tight embrace. There were no words that were said. It was only tears, sobs of joy at being reunited at least, tears of sadness at having been apart for twelve long years. Prompto held onto them, clutched them both as they held him in their arms, grabbing onto them for safety and security, never wanting to let them go again.

“Oh Prompto,” Verstael cried as they held him. He pulled back, still holding onto Prompto, using one hand to wipe the tears from one side of Prompto’s face. Ardyn did the same on the other side, and Prompto smiled into a sob as he looked upon his real parents, his heart bursting from a flurry of mixed emotions.

“It’s okay, son,” Ardyn said as he hugged him again. “You’re safe. We’ve got you.”

Prompto couldn’t stop crying, huge wracking sobs that rendered him speechless. They continued to hold him tightly, unable and unwilling to let him go. They had twelve years to make up for. Prompto knew in that moment that if they asked him to go with them, to flee to Niflheim before anyone caught on that he was missing, he would. He loved Noctis dearly, but these were his parents. Surely Noctis would understand.

“Look how tall you’ve gotten,” Verstael said as he held Prompto’s cheek in his hand. Prompto leaned into the touch, smiling and crying all at once. “You’re so handsome.”

“I used to be fat,” Prompto said with a laugh as he looked at them. “I gained a lot of weight when I first moved to Insomnia and then lost it when I got tired of it.”

“We don’t care about that,” Ardyn said joyfully. “Thought I’m glad you’re healthy now. You are healthy?”

“Yeah,” Prompto replied. “Why did you come? It’s not that I’m not overjoyed to see you all. I’m just worried. The risk is too great.”

“Nothing is too great a risk for our son,” Verstael insisted. “There’s no way we could miss our son’s debut on stage, let alone on his birthday.”

“Once we knew where you were, we weren’t about to just leave you. We had to come and see you,” Ardyn added. “And you have the entire day with us tomorrow.”

“Really?” Prompto beamed. “Where are we going?”

“That’s a surprise,” Ardyn chided him with a smile.

They moved to the couch, Prompto sitting in the middle of them, and began to talk excitedly about everything. His parents had a lot of questions for him, and he found himself throwing caution to the wind and answering anything and everything. Where was he living? How were the Argentums? How closely was he being monitored? Was he eating enough at home? Was Noctis treating him well? There were some questions that were innocuous enough, just simple questions to assess his overall wellbeing. Others, he knew, were probing questions to determine just how feasibly it was to whisk him away from Lucis.

After a long while, Prompto didn’t quite know how long, there was a knock at the door and they all paused, waiting for someone to announce themselves. “It’s me,” Nyx said on the other side. “I’m alone.”

They all breathed a collective sigh of relief as Prompto got up and answered the door, only cracking it a little just in case. Nyx had been telling the truth. He let him in, quickly closing the door behind him, very much aware of the danger to him and his parents if they were caught. Amid the hustle and bustle of everything going on backstage it was easy to get lost in the crowd, but Prompto didn’t want to take the risk. He had to keep them safe at all costs. Lucis was still at war with Niflheim, and they were talking about initiating a mandatory draft soon. If they were caught then who knew what would happen?

“I see you got one of your birthday surprises,” Nyx said with a joyful smile. “I would like to take the time to formally apologize for the pain that we have caused you.”

“Don’t,” Ardyn said with a smile. They both stood up and shook Nyx’s hand fervently. “You brought our son back to us. That is more than we could ever ask for. And we would not expect you to die for something like this. Otherwise, who would have been able to bring him back?”

“Your forgiveness is more than I can take,” Nyx admitted. “But today is a cause for celebration. We need Prompto for rehearsals now. Would you two be kind enough to part with your son? If you want to come and watch, please leave one at a time so as not to appear suspicious. Make sure there isn’t anyone watching in the halls.”

“Of course,” Verstael replied. They both grabbed their masks and hats, preparing to leave. “We know the protocol, but appreciate the reminder nonetheless. We won’t lose our chance to be with our son now that we finally have it.”

Nyx nodded seriously. “Let’s go Prompto.”

“We’ll be right behind,” Verstael told him as he stood up and looked at them uncertainly. Prompto’s heart surged with the fear that they would disappear if he left them out of their sight. “Go with Nyx.”

“It’s okay,” Ardyn commented. “You’re safe today.”

Today. There was no guarantee for tomorrow or the day after. Security measures were in place for them today, probably tomorrow too, but even then it was a shaky security, one where they couldn’t be too careful. If Ardyn and Verstael were so much as spotted there, then their lives would be in jeopardy. Prompto didn’t want them to take that risk, but now that they were here, he didn’t want them to go.
“Okay,” Prompto said. “Let’s go.”

Prompto followed Nyx down the hall and to the stage where the band was setting up. They looked at his puffy red eyes and were beaming, knowing that they were tears of joy. Of course they had been part of the arrangements to get his real parents here. Ravus seemed oblivious, but he was smiling nevertheless when he made his appearance on stage. Nyx handed him his guitar, already tuned and plugged in, ready to rehearse.

“We’ll your song first,” Nyx said. “Remember that you need to focus on this right now. Everything else should fall away. It doesn’t matter what’s going on. When you play, all there is is the music.”

“Got it,” Prompto said with a nod. He took his place at the microphone as they all separately warmed up. When they were all ready, they played his song Soar, and he felt his worries gradually slipping away. That was one thing he knew he could commit to when he played. There was nothing else there. Just the music.

“Ravus,” Crowe said forcefully once the rehearsal was done. “Tighten it up a bit and you’ll be ready.”

Ravus nodded seriously. “I’ll practice before we go on.”

“Good.” Crowe seemed satisfied with that answer.

By the time they moved onto Silvera and Global Warming, the two Kingsglaive’s songs that Prompto was taking over Nyx’s guitar part, his real parents were standing at the side of the stage, an eagerness in their eyes as they watched him perform. At first Prompto thought he wouldn’t be able to focus with them standing so close by. But as he performed, he felt like he had to do even better than before, wanting to impress his parents, and he focused on the music to make it the best he could. Nyx was smiling at the end of the rehearsal.

“Great,” Nyx said. “We’re going to run through the setlist quickly, just briefly touching on some points we want to focus on. When we’re done it’ll be time to get ready. Be on standby for your parts if we need you.”

Prompto stood to the side of the stage, standing in between his parents in their disguises, eagerly watching the band focus on certain measures in the music that weren’t up to Nyx’s standards. He was called out a couple of times to run through some parts with the band, but it was quick and relatively painless. When he was done, he resumed his spot with Verstael and Ardyn, Ravus looking at him skeptically but shrugging anyway.

“Let’s get you ready for the show,” Nyx said once the rehearsal was done. “We have to get dressed and do makeup. Crowe, I believe Ravus is with you.”

“Come on pretty boy,” Crowe said as she put an arm around Ravus’s shoulders. “Let’s make sure you get laid tonight.”

“That makes me feel a lot better,” Ravus said with a laugh. He winked at Prompto as he was steered in the opposite direction. “See you soon.”

“See you,” Prompto said as Nyx took him back to the dressing room. His parents did not follow. “Are they coming?”

“Eventually,” Nyx said quietly. “They have to make it look like they’re supposed to be there. Otherwise someone might get suspicious.”

Prompto nodded in understanding as they reached the dressing room. There were already hair and makeup artists waiting, as well as wardrobe. Prompto pulled out the outfit that Ravus had given him for his birthday and showed it to the wardrobe stylist.

“Is this okay to wear?” Prompto asked.

The wardrobe stylist looked it over, studying the material and inspecting it closely. “Whoever picked this out for you has good taste. This is just as good as anything I have. Go ahead and put it on.”

Prompto complied, shyly excusing himself to the bathroom to do so. He pulled on the tight black jeans, torn on one knee and on the opposite thigh decoratively, then the black tank top with a white cross pattern on it. It suited him well and fit him perfectly, making him wonder how Ravus had gotten his measurements. Most likely he reached out to Noctis to ask, just as Ignis had.

Noctis. He quickly realized that he hadn’t checked his phone in a while and pulled it out, wondering if Noctis had contacted him. There were a few texts, but most of them were encouraging. The first was from Noctis.

By now you got your first surprise.
Happy birthday, Prompto. I know
it's not what you expected, but I
hope it’s everything you dreamed of.
I love you. See you tonight. <3

The next one was from Ignis. It was a worried but grateful text, and Prompto couldn’t help but smile as he read it.

Thank you for reaching out to me.
It’s been rough, but you reminded
me of who I am. I will do better
going forward.

Gladio had texted him as well. In typical Gladio-fashion, the text was abrupt, blunt, and made Prompto laugh.

I just realized I never wished you
a happy birthday. I’m an idiot.
Sorry Prompto. Happy birthday.
I’ll see you later to wish you a
happy birthday properly.

The last was from a number he didn’t recognize. The person made himself known, though, and his heart sank as he read it. It was the last thing he wanted, let alone on his birthday.

This is Cor. Your parents would
like you to check in. If not I will
come find you. Call them as soon
as you get this message.

Prompto left the bathroom and the staff ooh’ed and ahh’ed at his attire, making him blush. He didn’t think it was anything special, but he uttered a word of thanks, noticing that his real parents were in the room once again. The last thing he wanted to do was call the Argentums, but if he didn’t the outcome would be worse. Quickly, he called his adoptive mother first, hoping she would pick up. Luckily, she did.

“Hello Prompto,” she said on the other line, sounding both relieved and worried. “How are you?”

“Good,” Prompto replied. “I’m just hanging out with Nyx before the show now. How are you?”

“Good, dear,” she replied. There was an awkward silence. “Happy birthday. We would love to come to the show too, but we want to respect your privacy. Cor even suggested going.”

“Don’t worry about it mom,” Prompto said as his anxiety spiked. At the mention that he was speaking to his adoptive parents, both of his real parents froze. They were still wearing their masks so the other staff didn’t notice or say anything. “We can celebrate later together.”

“That’s a good idea,” she said. “We trust Nyx. I’m sure he’s taking good care of you.”

“He is,” Prompto said, trying not to sound strained. He wanted to get out of the conversation as fast as possible. “I’m excited for my first concert.”

“Good.” She sounded relaxed now, like there was nothing to be suspicious of. “If anything comes up, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll be there in a heartbeat.”

“Thanks. I’m sure I’ll be fine, but I’ll keep you on standby just in case.” Prompto knew that if anything came up then it would be because of them. They were the last people he would go to right now. “Looks like Nyx needs me now. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Have a great birthday,” his mother said. “Send Nyx my love.”

“I will. Bye mom.” Prompto hung up the phone before the tension in the room could get any worse. He breathed a sigh of relief then looked at Nyx. “She says hi.”

Nyx nodded, looking to Verstael and Ardyn in concern. “It’s better you called her and let her know everything was okay before they sent anyone.”

Verstael was holding onto Ardyn’s shoulder, like he was about to snap and do something drastic. It must have been hard for them to listen to their son talk to someone on the phone, practically a stranger who abducted him, and call her mom. Prompto felt guilty for calling her, but Nyx was right. If he had waited or hadn’t called her, then they would have sent Cor, and Verstael and Ardyn would have been discovered.

“Let’s get your hair and makeup done now,” the makeup artist announced as they pulled up two fold out makeup chairs. Prompto and Nyx sat side by side as they were fussed over. Nyx got heavy eyeliner and black eye shadow treatment, making his face look more hollowed out and macabre for the show. His hair was styled, teased a bit to give it a rougher look.

Prompto’s makeup was done a bit the same, but with enough differences to give it a lighter, more model-like quality. His hair was styled in a way he could never manage at home, teased out so it gave a punk rock feel as it fell to one side. Looking in the mirror, he thought that he was better off in a magazine than on a stage, particularly with the glitter highlights on his face.

“I couldn’t help it,” the makeup artists said once she was done. “You’re too pretty not to.”

“That’s for sure,” Nyx said with a wink.

There was a knock on the door and the manager peaked his head in. “We’re getting ready. And I think your friends are here Prompto.”

“Thank you,” Prompto called. He heard the banging cacophonous music of the opening act on stage, knowing that their time was coming up rapidly. It was amazing how time could pass so quickly when he wanted it to pass so slow.

They thanked the artists for their help then made their way to the stage, his real parents following them out. It wasn’t odd that someone would be on standby for a band member, and Prompto hoped that was excuse enough for them to get away with it. When they reached the stage the opening act was finishing up. Noctis, Ignis, and Gladio were standing off to the side of the stage, applauding as the music ended. Prompto snuck up behind them and wrapped his arms around Noctis’s shoulders, pulling him close.

“Hey!” Noctis said cheerfully as the packed audience applauded and cheered for the opening act. They walked off the stage in the opposite direction, and the roadies immediately went on to change out their instruments for the main act. The audience applauded when they saw the effort, the sold out show swarming with bodies.

“Hey Noctis,” Prompto said as they all turned around.

“Damn, Prompto,” Noctis said. “You look hot.”

“Thanks,” Prompto replied with a blush. He looked back to his real parents, standing far enough back that they looked like they weren’t part of the group.

“Is that…?” Noctis didn’t finish the question, but Prompto nodded in response. “How was it?”

“Emotional,” Prompto replied. “I want to introduce you so badly, but I can’t just yet. You’re coming tomorrow, right?”

Noctis nodded, but Ignis was the one who spoke. “Introduce…? You can’t mean…? Prompto, I thought you weren’t going through with it.”

Noctis and Gladio both shushed him so he didn’t get too loud. “I wasn’t,” Prompto replied honestly. “Nyx arranged it. We can’t talk about it too much or else it’ll get dangerous.”

“I understand,” Ignis replied, but he looked worried.

There wasn’t much time to talk after that. The roadies were setting up and the band had gathered to do a pre-performance ritual. They all gathered together in a huddle, Ravus and Prompto included, and focused on what was ahead of them. Prompto found his mouth going dry and his heart racing at the thought of performing. He looked at the other musicians, all of them serious, as if they were devout followers of the Six getting ready to perform an intricate ritual.

“We’ve got this,” Nyx said as he looked at Prompto and Ravus. “Tonight will be the best performance of our lives.”

“Let’s do this,” Libertus said. “Let’s show them what we’re made of.”

The crowd was chanting, waiting for them to perform. The lights dimmed and the audience started going wild with anticipation. As the music began to introduce the band, they said a quick cheer then the band dispersed, intense and ready for the performance. Prompto and Ravus resumed their positions at the edge of the stage with their friends. Excitement was coursing through Prompto’s veins as the band began their performance.

His real parents stood close by, unable to stand next to him without it looking suspicious. His attention was split between them and the concert, and he kept glancing over at them instinctively to make sure they weren’t going anywhere. Noctis held his hand, squeezing it tightly to help him calm down. Smiling, he looked at his boyfriend thankfully, and kissed him lightly on the lips. Noctis made everything feel calmer, even if he was about to take the stage with a famous heavy metal band while his real parents, who he’d been separated from at five, watched on. If Noctis wasn’t there, it would be entirely too overwhelming.

Kingsglaive’s setlist was amazing, their driving music keeping Prompto’s nerves on edge in the best way. They were keeping the crowd entranced, the mosh pit only stopping as a song stopped then picking back up again as soon as another one started. The band new how to tease the crowd, beckoning them to call for more. Halfway through the setlist was when Prompto was going to be taking the stage, and he found himself doing stretches to try and calm himself.

“Today’s a special day,” Nyx said after one of their songs ended. The crowd cheered ecstatically, hanging onto every word to see what came next. “Today’s my little brother’s birthday. What a better way to celebrate by having him make his debut?”

Prompto knew that he was going to bring him on stage, but he didn’t anticipate such an introduction. My brother. Those words made Prompto happy. He knew that Nyx treated him like a sibling and even indicated as much from time to time, but for him to announce it to a sold out show made him feel like he was announcing it to the world. This is my brother. This is my family. Prompto didn’t know if Nyx would ever forgive himself for what had happened, for thinking he didn’t do enough, but he hoped that he could see that if they chose each other as family then forgiveness wasn’t necessary.

With a deep breath, Prompto was handed his guitar from a roadie, and he made his way on stage to the cheer of the fans. They were jumping, screaming in excitement, the show creating an energy in them that Prompto had never before witnessed. It was as if they had given into a mob mentality but in the best way. Instead of starting a riot and aiming for destruction, they were all calling to be bonded together through the music, their energy infecting those on stage as they fed off the band’s energy. Even the audience on the balcony was going wild, so much so as to be nearly hanging over it to call for even more.

Prompto held up his guitar in excitement before he put the strap around his shoulders, looking at the band in excited anticipation. They nodded and began playing Silvera just as they had practiced, but now the music was mingling with the crowd, and creating an electricity in the air that couldn’t be replicated in a rehearsal space. It wasn’t difficult to lose himself in the music as he played the guitar, moving around the stage and interacting with the fans and the band with a natural ease that Nyx had trained him for. At one point Nyx put his arm around Prompto’s shoulder as he sang and Prompto played, the crowd going wild at the interaction.

When the song ended they went straight into Global Warming, not even deigning to pause. It was just as they had practiced. Prompto played it perfectly, but more than that he played it passionately. Just like Crowe and Titus, he was headbanging as he performed the technically difficult song, no longer worried about if he would do well on stage or botch it. Nyx was right all along. He was a musician. Once all of the mess that was his life was settled, once he graduated high school, he would seriously look at starting a career in the field. Nyx would definitely support him, and he had a feeling his real parents would as well.

The crowd was cheering, chanting for more, when the song ended. Nyx took the microphone as Crowe switched with Ravus, the change up causing the crowd to excitedly call out to them. Ravus looked at Prompto with a smile, eager and ready to perform. Prompto only looked offstage once, worried that if he lost his focus he would mess up the song that he wrote. His friends, his boyfriend, and his real parents were staring at him in excitement. There was a look in his parents’ eyes that he could see from the stage. There was no faking the pride that was shimmering through their teary gaze. It made him smile at them, willing them to believe that this moment was only perfect because they were there.

“Are you all having fun?” Nyx said into the microphone, causing the crowd to erupt in another cheer. “This next song is called Soar and was written by my little brother. Give him a hand and don’t forget to lose your shit!”

The crowd obeyed, cheering for Prompto as Nyx clapped him on the shoulder and walked offstage. Prompto looked at Libertus, ready on the drums, and gave a nod. The music started and they began to play, their practice paying off. Ravus had listened to Crowe and perfected his part on the bass, and Prompto lost himself in his music, singing into the microphone as the crowd went wild from his unexpected talent.

Suffer, overcome, and recover
Soar over everything.

I’ve been upset
Lost count of the knives in my back
And I’ve been forced out
Because I wouldn’t follow the crowd.

The lyrics had been influenced by his life, by knowing that he couldn’t trust many people, save for the few relationships that he was careful to maintain. As he sang, he hoped that Ignis was paying attention as well. That was the point of the song. No matter how bad things got, no matter how much he suffered due to heartbreak and pain, he would overcome it and recover, moving onto something greater. He hoped that Ignis would listen to the lyrics and realize he could do the same.

As the song ended the crowd went wild, Nyx resuming his place on the stage. He wrapped his arm around Prompto’s shoulders, pulling him into a tight hug as he walked over to the microphone. The crowd wouldn’t calm down. Prompto didn’t think they could calm down.

“Give it up for my brother and his friend, Ravus!” Nyx cheered and the crowd cheered erratically. Prompto smiled as he and Ravus waved to the crowd. He smiled at Nyx as they hugged. “Great job Prompto,” Nyx whispered into his ear. “Enjoy the rest of the night.”

“Thanks Nyx,” Prompto replied. “For everything.”

Prompto and Ravus made their way off stage, cheering and high fiving each other, still high from the buzz of the crowd energizing them. He bounded off stage, nearly jumping into Noctis’s arms, his excitement mingled with desire at his touch. Noctis congratulated him, holding him tightly, their bodies pressed together as they both kissed each other deeply. Prompto was high off of his performance, and Noctis was high off watching his boyfriend performing on stage. Once the show was over and they were forced to make their way home, they would likely celebrate his birthday in a completely different way.

“You were great,” Ignis said to Ravus as they approached each other. Gladio wasn’t looking at him, his eyes focused on the band as they resumed their performance.

Ravus hugged Ignis tightly. “I’m so glad you enjoyed it,” Ravus replied. “Prompto stole the show, but that’s to be expected.”

“You honestly were amazing,” Ignis said with a genuine smile. Prompto thought he had been crying, but he didn’t want to press the issue. He just wanted to enjoy the evening.

“Is it over?” Ravus asked as he looked to Gladio briefly.

“Gladio gave me his answer,” Ignis affirmed with a nod. Ravus took Ignis’s face in his hands and kissed him, long and deep. Prompto was about to say something, but Gladio was obviously ignoring them, his strained face looking past Ignis and Ravus kissing each other. Noctis looked at Prompto and only shrugged, knowing that it was fruitless to try and argue. Gladio had made up his mind, and Ignis was free to do what he wanted.

“Can we go?” Prompto whispered as he glanced as his real parents. “I want to stay for the rest of the concert, but…”

“Yeah, let’s take off,” Noctis replied. “Nyx said the dressing room is the safest place for you to talk to them. I’ll let them know that’s where we’re going so it looks more casual.”

Prompto nodded and excitedly ran off, heading to the dressing room to wait for his family. He was worried about Ignis and Gladio, but he couldn’t force them to reconcile. It wasn’t Ignis who was being stubborn either. He was ready to accept Gladio back in a heartbeat. But right now Prompto was too happy to worry about it. He just wanted to enjoy his time with his parents and his boyfriend. It was his birthday and he deserved the time to just enjoy his life for once, especially since they obviously weren’t going to listen to him. He couldn’t force them to listen after all.

It wasn’t long before Noctis joined him in the dressing room, Ardyn in tow. Prompto was pacing in the room, too excited to sit down and sit still. When they closed the door behind him, Ardyn removed his disguise and immediately hugged Prompto. Noctis watched on, happy for him to be with his parents, sitting on the couch and smiling at them as they held each other. Verstael joined them a moment later, immediately holding Prompto with Ardyn, once again a family.

“You were so amazing,” Ardyn said. “He gets that from me, you know.”

They laughed at that, and Prompto felt a joy in his heart that only came with being reunited with his family. “You liked it?”

“Liked it?” Verstael said in disbelief. “You’re far more talented than we could ever be. I’m pretty sure our son is going to be a famous musician, Ardyn.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Ardyn replied. His smile wavered for a moment. “We’re going to have to go back to the hotel soon, dear. But we will be meeting with you bright and early tomorrow. Nyx and Noctis will be handling everything.”

“I don’t want you to go,” Prompto said. He looked at both of his parents, then at Noctis. Noctis was looking at them, a smile no longer on his face. “I want to stay with you.”

“You have a wonderful boyfriend,” Verstael said. “Great friends. Nyx is like a brother to you. They will ensure that we see you again tomorrow.”

“I’m glad you like me,” Noctis chimed in. “The Argentums pretty much hate me.”

“The deeds of your father are not your deeds,” Ardyn said as he clenched his fists tightly. “And you have worked hard with Nyx to make sure we can be reunited with our son. You’ve more than proven yourself.”

“That’s good,” Noctis said as he stood up and walked over to them. “Can you make me a promise then?” They looked at him, and Prompto’s heart began to race. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like what he was about to ask. “When you take him back to Niflheim, just promise that you will make sure we can be together. I don’t want to lose him in the process.”

“Take me back to Niflheim?” Prompto asked. “That’s not going to happen for a while.”

“We promise,” Verstael assured him instead. What were they planning exactly?

“We’re only here until tomorrow,” Ardyn said. “But when the time comes, we promise.”

Prompto breathed a sigh of relief. So they were just talking preemptively if the time came. He would happily run away with his real parents, taking off in an instant, but that did mean leaving Noctis behind, and he wasn’t sure if he was ready for that. It also meant mandatorily being in Niflheim’s military for two years, but he had a feeling that if he didn’t go with them eventually then he would have to fight for Lucis anyway. He just didn’t want to sacrifice Noctis for his parents and vise versa, but he felt like that was a selfish request as well. The way his life was going, it didn’t seem like he could have it all.

“Thanks,” Noctis said with a smile as he went to sit back down.

“Come here Noctis,” Verstael said as he took him into a group hug with the rest of them. “You’re family now too. Better get used to it, because we’re huggers.”

They all laughed at that, and Prompto looked at Noctis with a gratitude that he couldn’t ever express enough. He loved Noctis, and even in such a short time, Noctis was so adamant on making Prompto happy that he collaborated with Nyx to do what he could to bring Verstael and Ardyn to him. There was a love that they shared that would never be replaced by anything else. It almost made Prompto think that someday everything would work out okay.

“We should really go,” Verstael said, but he didn’t look like he wanted to go. “Our security team will be insisting on it soon, and if we’re not careful they will make a scene.”

Prompto nodded, tears coming to his eyes. “You promise we’ll be together tomorrow?”

“Of course my son.” Verstael kissed him gently on the forehead, his paternal instinct to comfort his son overwhelming him. Ardyn did the same. They hugged Prompto again, then thanked Noctis one more time and gave him a hug as well before donning their disguises and leaving the dressing room. When they opened the door it sounded like the music had died down, the crowd likely dispersing now that the concert had come to an end.

Prompto couldn’t help but be overwhelmed and cry as Noctis wrapped his arms around him and held him close, letting him collapse from the joy, the pain, the sadness. Something had stirred in Prompto now that he had been reconnected with Verstael and Ardyn, something that he couldn’t just ignore anymore. He wanted to remain in Lucis, to stay with Noctis forever, but he also wanted to go home and be with his parents again. One way or another, he would have to sacrifice something, and he didn’t want to.

“If you end up going back to Niflheim,” Noctis said as he held the sides of Prompto’s head so he was looking at him, firm but gentle. “I won’t stop you. I won’t be mad. I won’t leave you. You have every right to do so, Prompto. You deserve to be with them and have your family back in your life. If you ever have the choice to go back, to be with them, take it if that’s what you want. Do you understand me? I will still love you and we will make it work.”

Prompto felt a sob in his throat, his tears no doubt ruining his makeup from the show, as he nodded. “I love you Noctis. I don’t want to leave you. But I can’t just not try and be with them now.”

“I know,” Noctis said. He was smiling, trying to be comforting, but he looked a bit sad too. “Whenever it happens, we’ll be alright.”

“I’d like to live somewhere in the halfway point,” Prompto suggested. “Somewhere between you and them if possible.”

“Maybe we can both live there then,” Noctis offered.

The door to the dressing room opened and Nyx stepped inside, sweating but smiling. He looked like he was on the same high Prompto had been from the music. “You did great, Prompto,” Nyx said as he shut the door behind him.

The door almost closed, but a foot stopped it from closing completely. They all stopped and turned, wondering who was stopping the door from closing. All of them froze when they saw Cor step inside, his eyes piercing into Prompto’s soul. He looked from Prompto to Nyx, his sternness mixed with anger. Noctis grabbed Prompto’s hand, the only thing preventing him from freaking out. Nyx gave him a look that was both pained and angry, ready to protect Prompto at a moment’s notice.

“Nyx,” Cor said with a calm anger that seemed more menacing than overt shouting. “You had Prompto perform.”

“I did,” Nyx replied defiantly. “It’s his birthday.”

“That doesn’t mean he should be on a stage in front of thousands of people,” Cor said. He looked at Prompto. “You should know better.”

Prompto stood, staring in terror, the image of the gun in his face flashing in his mind. That was how he saw Cor every time he encountered him. The sternness, his cold eyes, and the barrel of his gun in his face. Maybe one day he wouldn’t be afraid of him, but for now he was terrified. What was Cor going to do because he was put on stage? His heart raced at the thought of Cor running into his real parents.

“You have no say in this,” Nyx said with a coldness in his tone that scared Prompto too. His menacing tone matched Cor’s, and Prompto was reminded that he was once special ops under Cor’s command. “You’re not his parents.”

“No, I’m not,” Cor admitted hesitantly. “But your parents sent me to keep an eye on you, Prompto. If this is what you have in store for him tomorrow, his parents will insist on canceling.”

“The plans tomorrow are nothing like this,” Nyx said. Prompto felt like he was going to have a full blown panic attack. If Cor tracked them tomorrow then it would be too dangerous for him to see his real parents. He would have to sever ties with them quickly to protect them.

“How can I trust it?” Cor demanded.

“Prompto, Noctis,” Nyx addressed them. “Go on home. I’ll see you tomorrow for your surprise.”

Prompto was going to object, but Nyx was so forceful and commanding that he didn’t dare disobey him. He only nodded and walked away with Noctis, holding his hand tightly. They were both tense, and Prompto thought he saw something in Nyx’s eyes that he couldn’t quite fathom. He wondered if Cor and Nyx were once friends before they became enemies.

“Do you think he saw?” Prompto asked Noctis, trying to be intentionally vague in case anyone else was listening in.

“If he did then we’d be having a different conversation,” Noctis said. “I hope Nyx can sort it all out though. I know what your surprise is, and I want to make sure you get to enjoy it.”

Prompto smiled uncertainly. “Thanks Noctis. I’m excited, even though I’m worried.”

“Same.” They reached the outside of the venue where fans were dispersed, talking amongst themselves happily. A few of them turned when they saw Prompto and started cheering. Noctis smiled as they asked him for a pic with them, and he obliged with a smile and a blush.

“I loved your song,” a cute teenage girl said to Prompto. She was dressed in a lowcut shirt and a skirt that almost revealed her ass, her long brown hair pulled back delicately. “How long have you been playing?”

Prompto blushed and shuffled his feet a bit. He had never had a fan before, and she was acting like a fan. “I’ve been playing for a long time,” Prompto said.

“Of course Nyx’s brother would be a great musician,” she said as she wrapped her arms around Prompto’s arm, pressing her breasts against him. “I would love to hear more of your music. I’m sure your girlfriend gets to hear it all the time.”

“Boyfriend actually,” Prompto said with a simple happiness as he looked at Noctis.

“Boyfriend?” she asked in shock, then smiled. “Well that’s okay too. We can all have some fun then.”

“No thanks,” Noctis said with a chuckle as he pulled Prompto away from her. He wrapped his arm around Prompto’s shoulder, making his heart flutter and race in excitement. He had spent the entire day between wanting to be devoured by Noctis and wanting to spend time with his real parents. “This guy is mine, and I’m the jealous type. I won’t share him with anyone.”

“You heard him,” Prompto said with a smile. “Thanks for the offer though.”

Prompto and Noctis took a pic together, under the marquee before walking away, and he posted it to his social media as they walked back. He had forgotten to get a pic of him and his family together, but he didn’t know if it would be safe for them to anyway. He would try and see if he could tomorrow, as long as Nyx made sure it was safe for them. As long as Cor wasn’t trying to keep tabs on him tomorrow.

“I’m glad you caught onto her flirting with you,” Noctis commented as they made their way to Prompto’s residence. It was a short walk, just like everything was in Lestallum.

“I honestly didn’t,” Prompto admitted with a blush. “I’m kind of oblivious to these things.”

“Yeah, I can tell.” Noctis laughed as his hand slid from Prompto’s shoulders, down his back, and to his ass. Prompto blushed even deeper as he felt Noctis’s hand lightly caressing it.

“We should wait,” Prompto warned him. It didn’t take much for him to get hard. As long as Noctis was making any attempt at being seductive, he would give into that temptation. “We’re almost home.”

“But wouldn’t it be fun to get caught?” Noctis asked as he suddenly stopped walking, pressing Prompto against the wall of a café that had long since closed for the night. Prompto let out an involuntary moan as Noctis pushed his body against his, their groins grinding against each other as they kissed each other, their tongues rushing to taste each other.

“Nngh Noct,” Prompto breathed as Noctis’s hand caressed his cock through his pants. “Come on. Ahhh… We should do this at home.”

“But you’re enjoying it,” Noctis pointed out as his other hand reached around and put his hand down Prompto’s pants, connecting with his ass and caressing it. “It is your birthday. You should enjoy what you want.”

“Ungh…” Prompto felt his breathing get shallower. He just wanted Noctis to devour every inch of him. There was a certain thrill about him being touched in the middle of an alleyway, late at night while everyone else was asleep.

“Should we continue here or in your bed?” Noctis asked with a languid smile. He unbuttoned Prompto’s pants then tugged at the zipper. “Or perhaps both?”

“Both,” Prompto gasped as Noctis grabbed his cock with his hand and began to stroke it, his warm hand sending shock after shock through him. “Noctis… Don’t stop.”

Prompto grabbed Noctis’s hair, pulling it slightly as he knelt down and put his mouth on his cock. He moaned, pulling at him, part of him wanting him to stop because of the public setting, the other part of him wanting to climax. Noctis moved his mouth up and down, licking him with his tongue, his hand gripping the base of his cock as he moved it in tandem with his mouth.

“Noctis,” Prompto moaned. “Stop. I’m going to…”

He couldn’t finish his sentence. He climaxed, and Noctis drank his fluids, smiling as he stood up straight. “That was fast,” Noctis said. “You sure you’ll be up for more later?”

“Six, yes,” Prompto said, his face flushed. He fixed his pants, zipping them back up, and looked at Noctis hungrily. “Come on.”

They raced back to his house, only vaguely remembering that the Argentums were fast asleep upstairs. Prompto pulled Noctis upstairs, his desire for him winning out against any worry he had previously. He couldn’t imagine a better way to end his birthday. Being in Noctis’s arms was the only thing that made his mind still.

Once in his room, he shut the door and locked it, then began kissing Noctis vigorously. Despite Noctis already pleasuring him, he was ready for more. They were both hard, excited, and ready to devour and be devoured. Noctis and Prompto were naked quickly, touching each other’s bodies, caressing each inch that they could reach. Prompto felt a shiver course through him as Noctis’s hands caressed his chest, toying with his nipples, as he was pushed to the bed.

Noctis didn’t miss a beat as Prompto lay on the bed, begging for more. He wet his fingers with a lubricant and inserted them in Prompto, making his back arch as he gripped onto Noctis and moaned, his nails digging into his shoulders. He felt a spasm as Noctis moved his fingers in and out, pressing deeper against all the right spots, using his other hand as he pressed their cocks together, massaging them both.

“Ahh,” Noctis moaned as he moved his fingers faster.

“Noctis,” Prompto begged. “I need you in me. Now.”

Noctis complied. He removed his fingers and wet his cock. “How do you want to do it?” Noctis asked. “It’s your birthday. Your choice.”

Prompto thought about it, about how he wanted to feel Noctis in him. He turned over, and Noctis grabbed his hips, positioning him so he was burying his face in the pillow. Noctis inserted himself in Prompto, and he immediately cried out in pleasure, biting the pillow to try and muffle his pleasure. Noctis moaned softly, staying still for a moment to keep himself from coming.

When he began to move, Prompto felt jolt after jolt of electric pleasure running through him, begging for more until he was spent. There were no words to describe how this pleasure felt. It was sweet, a deep fire burning in him, taking his breath away, making him gasp and crave more each and every time. Noctis was the only one who could bring this out of him, the only one who could fulfill his every need.

Noctis thrust into Prompto hard, driving into a spot that made Prompto moan. “Yes,” Prompto moaned as Noctis thrust into him faster, harder, with a wild abandon that made the moments between the pleasure nonexistent. “Yes, Six, yes.”

They didn’t stop, Noctis keeping control until they had both climaxed. Prompto was gripping the pillow, Noctis gripping his hips. He was exhausted from the day, ready to sleep almost instantly. They cleaned up, and Prompto collapsed into Noctis’s arms as they both laid down in the bed. He was ready to finally sleep, his worries taken away from Noctis’s comforting touch.

“I love you,” Noctis whispered as he kissed his forehead. “Happy birthday, Prompto.”

Prompto meant to respond, to tell him that he loved Noctis in return. But he was already drifting off into a deep sleep, dreaming of a life where he and Noctis could live happily with his real parents without the fear of any danger.

Chapter Text

Nyx glared at Cor in the dressing room, neither of them willing to budge. Nyx felt a mix of hatred, fear, pain, and something else he wouldn’t even mention. It had been twelve years since he was court marshalled, since he was dishonorably discharged from the military because he refused to go with Cor’s plan to abduct Prompto. It had been twelve years since Nyx realized he didn’t know Cor like he thought he did.

“You shouldn’t have brought him on stage,” Cor said as he glared at Nyx. “You know what that means now.”

“Just let it slide,” Nyx argued. “Let him enjoy what little of his youth he has left.”

“I can’t do that,” Cor said. “I have superiors I must report to. If Prompto’s location is made public then Niflheim will know where he is.”

“You’re the ones keeping him from his parents,” Nyx pointed out. “You’re the ones in the wrong.”

“It doesn’t matter if it’s right or wrong,” Cor stated. “What matters is that we follow orders. Those orders are to keep Prompto hidden away until he is eighteen.”

“And when he’s eighteen, what happens then?” Nyx asked. “You just let him go back to his parents and live a happy life that he never received?”

Cor paused, and Nyx knew the answer. They would never let Prompto go. He was too valuable as a pawn in their political game. The only leverage Lucis had against Ardyn and Verstael right now, the only reason why they were so confident in this war that they had started again. They had started to attack Niflheim more recently, and Nyx didn’t doubt that Cor was behind the covert attacks. Verstael and Ardyn had expressed worry, fear that if they moved then Prompto would be put in danger. But they couldn’t just ignore the fact that the country was under attack.

Eventually they would have to make a choice. They would have to either have to forfeit the war and let Lucis take control or they would have to take the risk and fight back. Nyx was planning to get Prompto out before they had to make that decision. But if Cor was going to be shadowing their every move, it would make it difficult to get Prompto out safely. Verstael and Ardyn were willing to take the risk, but Nyx wanted to do what he could to make sure he got Prompto back to Niflheim safely.

Prompto expected that when he was eighteen that he would be able to get out, go home to Niflheim, and be able to resume his career goals as a musician or a photographer. Nyx didn’t have the heart to tell him that Lucis would do anything they could to ensure Prompto remained a political pawn in their game. Once he was eighteen they would likely take him to parliament and keep him locked up as a prisoner in a nice room where he would spend his days, waiting for someone to rescue him. If he fought back too much, they would lock him up in a real jail cell. Nyx couldn’t let that happen. He refused.

“I will follow the orders I am given,” Cor replied finally.

“I follow no one’s orders,” Nyx said. “What we did back then was wrong. It doesn’t matter if they were orders. Right and wrong are more important.”

“Not when you’re military,” Cor said. “You should know that.”

Nyx sighed and shook his head. “Just leave us alone this weekend. You know where we’re going. There’s no risk of him being caught or put into the spotlight. None of that. Give the kid one good weekend before you decide to take it all away from him.”

Cor’s eyes softened briefly as he looked at Nyx with the same pain that Nyx was feeling. There was so much that Nyx had left when everything had changed. But this wasn’t something he was willing to compromise. Cor had insisted on doing something that was unforgiveable. Nyx had joined the Lucian military because he had thought he was doing the right thing. As soon as he was faced with the truth, he left and never looked back.

“You look well,” Cor said with a gentleness that Nyx didn’t want to hear from him. “Have you… moved on?”

Nyx knew what he meant by those words, but he didn’t want to face them. “Occasionally, but nothing’s lasted.”

Cor nodded. “Same here.” He gave Nyx a long look. “You’ve been the only one. You kept me good.”

“Not good enough apparently,” Nyx said.

He didn’t want to reminisce about the past. He didn’t want to remember that when he had joined the Lucian military he had met Cor, had been guided by him, had cultivated a deep bond with him. He didn’t want to remember that he and Cor had started living together, had started cultivating a loving relationship together. He didn’t want to remember the looking into his eyes when Cor had betrayed his trust and decided to abduct Prompto. He didn’t want to remember the day he left and never looked back.

“If I were to change, would you come back?” Cor asked him.

“Would you really change?” Nyx asked. “You’ve had all this time to change, to set things right. Would you let Prompto go and disobey direct orders?”

Cor hesitated, giving him all the answers he needed. He would never betray his commanding officers, his government, his military. It gave him the relief he needed, knowing he was only following orders, not having to think for himself. As long as his superior officers gave him the go ahead, he would listen to them.

“Just leave us alone tomorrow,” Nyx said. “Can you do that for me?”

Cor sighed. “If you pull something like what you did tonight again, we’re going to have to move Prompto somewhere else. You know that.”

“I understand,” Nyx said. It meant that if he was going to act, he had to do it soon. “Take care Cor.”

“Nyx,” Cor said as he was about to leave. “I… I’m sorry.”

“Then change it,” Nyx said. Cor paused then nodded and left.

Nyx sighed and collapsed on the couch, putting his head in his hands. He knew Cor would never change, that he would always have to carefully navigate to make sure Prompto was safe and kept out of harm’s way. He would have to act quickly if he wanted any hope of Prompto escaping his fate.

Chapter Text

Prompto woke up to early in the morning, too excited and worried for the day to be able to sleep much later. He and Noctis had both fallen asleep naked, and he looked over at Noctis, sleeping soundly, his smooth skin marked from where Prompto had gripped him tightly on his back. He smiled at him and caressed his arm and back gently, feeling the coolness of his skin against his hand. Noctis smiled in his sleep and wrapped his arms around Prompto, pulling him close.

“It’s too early to be awake right now,” Noctis murmured into Prompto’s chest as Prompto wrapped his arms around his boyfriend. “Go back to sleep.”

“I can’t,” Prompto said with a smile. “I’m too excited.”

“Mmm,” Noctis muttered. He fell back to sleep quickly, his breathing deep and even. Prompto continued to hold him for a while, hoping that he would fall back to sleep, but it didn’t look like it was going to happen.

Instead, he just resolved to enjoy the feel of his boyfriend in his arms, loving that everything was so much more beautiful with him in his life. Noctis eventually stirred again, and Prompto expected him to roll over onto his pillow and go back to sleep. Noctis began to kiss Prompto’s chest, making him laugh as Noctis kept his eyes closed, like he was still unwilling to wake up but unwilling to fall back asleep.

“Noctis,” Prompto said with a giggle as Noctis continued to kiss him. His laughs turned to sighs as Noctis’s tongue caressed his chest. His eyes fluttered open as Prompto let out a soft moan, looking at Prompto’s face flush with desire with a devious fire in his stormy eyes.

“It’s still your birthday weekend,” Noctis said as he kissed Prompt’s stomach and his hips, just above his now-hard cock, teasing him. “I need to make sure it’s pleasure from start to finish.”

“You don’t have to- ahh,” Prompto’s words turned into moans as Noctis began to lick his cock, from base to tip, his back arching gently. “Noct… You can stop if you want… Mmnn.”

Noctis inserted his fingers into Prompto as he sucked on Prompto’s cock. He moaned louder and grabbed at Noctis’s shoulders, moving his hips from the pleasure so early in the morning. Noctis pulled away and smiled at him, licking his lips like he had just been sucking on a lollipop.

“You ready?” Noctis asked. He made to position himself, but Prompto sat up and smiled at Noctis.

“Let me,” Prompto insisted. He pushed Noctis onto the bed and straddled him. Noctis smiled at him eagerly as he held onto his hips. Prompto lowered himself onto Noctis, letting on a low moan and closing his eyes as Noctis’s cock entered him, reaching out to brace his hands against Noctis’s chest from the pleasure of it. Noctis moaned deeply as Prompto moved on top of him, driving him deeper and deeper into him as he thrust on top of him harder.

“Fuck Prompto,” Noctis moaned as he clutched his waist. He thrust upward as Prompto thrust downward, their moans mingling together as their minds went blank with pleasure. Prompto came, his fluids on Noctis’s chest as Noctis drove into him until he, too, was spent.

“Consider it a thank you for making this a great birthday weekend,” Prompto said with a smile as he they got up and cleaned up. Noctis laid back in bed when he was done, but Prompto got dressed for the day.

“I hope you aren’t going to thank Nyx like that,” Noctis pointed out.

Prompto laughed. “No. I don’t think I’ll be doing that.” He sat on the edge of the bed as Noctis wrapped his arms around his waist, still naked. “You should get dressed. We can catch breakfast with the others if they’re awake.”

“Nope,” Noctis said. He grabbed his phone and looked at it. “We have to get going pretty soon actually. Nyx will be by to get us soon. Besides, Ignis and Gladio are sulking too much. You’ve had enough of that this weekend.”

“Good point,” Prompto said, although he didn’t want his friends to suffer. “So it’s really over between them?”

“For now, I guess.” Noctis sighed as he got up and got dressed into his typical black clothes. “They probably just need time apart so they can get their shit together.”

“I hope so,” Prompto said with a nod. “Ignis is moving on kind of quick.”

“Eh let him have some fun,” Noctis dismissed. “I’ll keep an eye on him to make sure he doesn’t do something dumb.”

“Good,” Prompto said. “I’ll try and do the same with Gladio. I don’t know how much help I’ll be in Lestallum though.”

“It’ll be fine. Let’s finish getting ready.”

They quickly brushed their teeth and their hair, leaving Prompto to wonder exactly what they were going to do for the day. Prompto grabbed his camera on the way out, careful to be quiet to try and avoid Cor and the Argentums. He wondered if things would be okay with how menacing Cor had been yesterday. It looked like they were still asleep, and Prompto was going to take advantage of that as much as possible.

Nyx was waiting for them outside, his collar turned up to the cold morning. Prompto and Noctis had both grabbed their jackets as well, the winter weather quickly approaching. He shivered into the cold and Noctis wrapped his arm around him to keep him warm. Noctis yawned, the mornings too early for him to be fully awake despite the sex they just had.

“Ready?” Nyx asked with a smile. “Today should be fun.”

“Yes!” Prompto said excitedly as they walked towards the parking lot. “I still have no clue what we’re doing, though!”

They laughed at his excitement and made their way to the Regalia. Noctis let Nyx drive, something that Prompto suspected Noctis’s father would have a huge problem with. The Regalia was a very expensive car, something that Noctis was supposed to care for instead of letting whoever drive it. Ignis always got special permission since he was, generally, more responsible than Noctis, although not lately. Nyx was by far the most responsible person they knew. He would treat the car well.

Noctis got in the backseat to relax and sleep on the car ride, but Prompto sat up front while Nyx drove, excitedly looking out at the window as they drove out of the city. He kept trying to guess where they were going, but Nyx only smiled and denied each guess. He doubted that he would tell him anyway. The city lights turned to forested area, only confusing Prompto as to where they were going. Noctis was snoozing gently in the back.

“We’re here,” Nyx said with a smile as he slowed down. They slowed down as they turned onto a dirt path surrounded by trees. In the distance the sound of birds alerted Prompto that they were close to a farm. Not just any farm.

“Chocobos!” Prompto said excitedly as he pressed his face against the passenger window. There were fences lining the farm with the large yellow birds chirping, walking around and pecking at the ground. He stared at the feathered creatures, their beautiful yellow complexion calling out to him. He had only mentioned in passing once to Noctis that he loved chocobos. Had he held onto that and told Nyx?

They turned the car onto a smaller dirt road that took them to an outpost building with a small diner with outdoor seating, a place to rent chocobos to ride, and a gift shop. The parking lot to the left had three sleek black cars with tinted windows, and there were several men in black suits standing at attention, looking for any sign of danger. Prompto’s pulse raced as Nyx pulled up to the parking lot and parked the car.

When they got out, Noctis rubbing his eyes sleepily, two men in black suits came up to them, looking at them cautiously. Prompto looked at Nyx in concern, but he assured him that it was okay as the men checked them for any weapons. Once they were cleared, they were allowed to head over to the outpost. Prompto held onto Noctis’s hand tightly as Nyx showed them the way. Sitting at the table, drinking coffee, were Prompto’s real parents, smiling and chatting happily.

“Dads!” Prompto said happily as they approached them. Both of his parents stood up and hugged him tightly, then hugged Noctis and Nyx as well. He didn’t know how he convinced Cor to leave them alone for the day, but he was so happy and excited for it.

“We have the entire farm to ourselves,” Ardyn said happily as they sat down. “The security here are our men from Niflheim. No one else is allowed here for the day. So we can be content to ride chocobos all day.”

One of their security team brought them all a cup of coffee, which Noctis took and drank like he was drinking liquid gold. Prompto felt a rush of excitement as he thought about how Noctis much really cared for him to sacrifice his sleep for his birthday weekend. He felt an overwhelming rush of fulfilled contentment and joy being surrounded by people who genuinely cared for him.

“How did you guys decide on this?” Prompto asked as he looked at them all gratefully.

“You always loved chocobos as a small child,” Verstael said. “And when Nyx mentioned that Noctis told him you still loved them, we all agreed this would be the best way to celebrate.”

Prompto didn’t know that he had liked chocobos as a child, even before he had been taken, but it had made sense. He always enjoyed the large birds that were big enough to ride. It was his dream to one day have a chocobo of his own, maybe even a rare black one.

“You all are really the best,” Prompto said with a tearful smile. “I’m so lucky I have you all in my life.”

“Shall we go chocobo riding?” Ardyn offered. That’s when Prompto took notice of what his parents were wearing. They had on riding gear, complete with knee high riding boots, like they had been riding chocobos for a long time.

“Yes!” Prompto said excitedly. “I’ve never been on one before.”

“You have, son,” Verstael said. “But you probably don’t remember since you were so young. We have chocobos on the estate and used to take you riding with us all the time.”

“Really?” Prompto asked. He didn’t remember that, but then again memory as a child was usually blurry at best for most people. “I haven’t been riding since I guess.”

“When you return to us, you can ride them all you want,” Ardyn said with a cheerful smile. “Let’s go. The chocobos are waiting.”

Prompto set aside his sadness for being taken from his parents for the time so they could enjoy their day. Nyx and Noctis both offered to hang back, to let them enjoy their time together as a family, but they all insisted on having the two join them. According to Verstael and Ardyn, both Nyx and Noctis were part of the family as well. Prompto was so happy to hear that they liked Noctis, especially since they had both been so wary about him being a Caelum. He was happy to see that they knew there was nothing to worry about.

The owner of the farm had farm hands bring out chocobos for each of them, and Prompto immediately lost all his thoughts when he got to pet the large yellow bird that was his for the day. His parents looked on warmly, helping him into the saddle before helping Noctis with the same. They all took the time to ride around the farm, chatting excitedly amongst each other, enjoying the time with the birds. He felt like he was a little kid with his pure enjoyment, but he was allowed to enjoy his time in whatever way he liked.

“Follow us,” Verstael said to Prompto and the others after several hours of riding had brought them further towards the center of the farm, far removed from anyone, including their security team. He wondered if that was safe, but then he noticed that two security team members were also behind them, keeping track of where they were as they walked at a reasonable distance behind them. Of course they would have to be watched carefully. They ran the entire country of Niflheim and were in enemy territory for the weekend.

Prompto broke into another huge smile as they came upon a large picnic that had already been arranged ahead of time, a spread on a large picnic blanket that looked far more delicious than anything Prompto had seen in a while. There was a large willow tree giving them shade as the sun had now peaked in the sky. They all got off their chocobos and let them roam freely, knowing that they would stay close by since they were well trained.

“We thought a nice picnic would be good for the day,” Ardyn said as they approached the picnic. “Let’s eat and enjoy.”

They all sat down, enjoying the meal of fresh fruits, vegetables, champagne, and sweet delicacies. Prompto blushed in embarrassment as they sang happy birthday to him, never having experienced it before. Nyx had apologized to him repeatedly for never celebrating his birthday, but he knew that the Argentums had always made it impossible for anyone to spend time with him on his birthday in the past. This more than made up for any birthday he didn’t have with his family or friends.

“Let’s take a walk Nyx,” Verstael said to him towards the end of the meal. He gave Ardyn a look, and they all stood up, save for Noctis and Prompto. “We’ll be right back.”

Prompto looked at them, wondering what was going on, then he saw Noctis staring at him nervously. What was he planning? Was everything okay? Prompto’s heart was racing as Noctis gave him a gentle, but nervous, smile.

“I asked them if I could have a moment alone with you today,” Noctis said as he took out a small birthday present, wrapped perfectly with a bow on top. “Happy birthday, Prompto.”

Prompto took the present, his hands shaking unexpectedly, and opened it carefully. It was a small black box, made of velvet with curved corners. He was surprised he was holding a jewelry box. He opened it and looked at the silver band in it with a small green peridot and opal embedded in it. He took it out and studied it, amazed at how beautiful it was.

“It’s a promise to you,” Noctis said. “No matter how things get, I’ll be there for you. Then one day I’ll replace it with an engagement ring, then a wedding band. The stones are our birthstones, peridot for me and opal for you. So you know I’ll be with you no matter where you are.”

Before Prompto could say anything, Noctis took the ring and put it on Prompto’s left ring finger, blushing while he did so. Prompto didn’t know what to say. He was blushing a deep red, wanting to tell Noctis that he was madly in love with the him, but there were no words that would quite do it. He looked at the ring, his heart fluttering erratically, wondering what he could do to express to Noctis just how much he loved him.

“Noctis,” Prompto whispered as he looked at him. “I love you. I can’t… Words don’t do it justice.”

“So I guess you’re okay with the plan to one day get married once all this stuff is sorted out,” Noctis said with a smile. “Good. I was really going out on a limb here and was pretty worried.”

“Worried?” Prompto asked in surprise. “I can’t imagine my life without you now that you’re in it. I’m never letting you go.”

Noctis wrapped his arms around Prompto suddenly, nearly knocking him over as they were sitting on the ground. He kissed Prompto passionately, and Prompto wrapped his arms around Noctis to hold him tightly. He felt his desire for Noctis growing, his need to be with him forever, to one day make it so they could get married, so much more overwhelming than anything he had ever felt before. He didn’t think it was possible to love Noctis anymore than he already did, but it was pretty clear that as time went on he only loved him more and more.

“I love you,” Noctis whispered as he pulled away from the kiss, still hugging Prompto tightly. “Forever.”

“I love you too.” They continued to kiss until they heard running behind them. Worried, they pulled away, looking around to determine what was still going on, still holding onto each other in a half hug. The two security guards were running past them, heading towards his real parents. What was going on?

A moment later Nyx, Ardyn, and Verstael were all rushing back to them. Prompto and Noctis immediately stood up, holding hands, wondering what had gone wrong. The worried on their faces had indicated that their time was over, they had to go, and if they didn’t leave soon they would be captured or worse. Prompto immediately thought back to Cor’s warning yesterday, worried that he had somehow discovered that he was meeting with his parents.

“We have to go,” Ardyn said as he helped Noctis on his chocobo while Verstael did the same with Prompto. They all got on the chocobos then took off at full speed. Prompto wasn’t quite comfortable leading riding his chocobo at such speeds, but right now there was an imminent danger that they couldn’t avoid. Whatever had happened warranted little time to talk and only time for action.

The ride to the front of the farm was faster at this speed, and Prompto glanced over at Noctis’s face with worry. Noctis was focused intensely on what was in front of them, riding hard to keep pace with everyone else. They all came to an abrupt halt at the front of the chocobo farm, the security on hand positioned with their guns drawn, all of them looking for a danger that hadn’t yet arrived.

“What’s going on?” Prompto asked as they all dismounted, breathless and scared.

“Cor’s coming,” Nyx confirmed his worst fear. “He has a team. He must have followed us here, saw the security, and figured out the rest. Prompto, I know this isn’t what you planned, but you have to make a choice now. If you stay, they will hide you away forever. If you go, you’ll have a chance at freedom again.”

Prompto looked at them all in shock, worry, and pain. He looked to Noctis and remembered that he had promised to be with him no matter what. If he went to Niflheim now, then they would be apart but would have a chance of a better life. If he stayed, he would be hidden away from Noctis, from Nyx, from the world, unable to make it to freedom at all. There was no choice. Niflheim was the only way.

“I’m sorry, Noctis,” Prompto said as tears gathered in his eyes. “I love you.”

“It’s okay,” Noctis replied. He hugged Prompto tightly then held his face and kissed him deeply. “We’ll be together again. I promise. As soon as I can come to you, I will.”

“I love you,” Prompto whispered as he kissed him again, not knowing when he would have a chance to in the future. This wasn’t how things were supposed to go. They were supposed to make it through the weekend without a hitch so he could see his parents and Noctis again soon.

“I love you,” Noctis said. He kissed him deeply as the security ran over to the group, indicating it was time to go. “We’ll be again soon. I promise.”

“Come on,” Verstael said as he grabbed Prompto’s hand and pulled him away gently. “Nyx, you’ll get his things to us?”

“I will,” Nyx confirmed. “Prompto, take care. I’ll make sure Noctis gets to see you soon.”

“Thank you,” Prompto said as he was being pulled away by his parents. He felt terror coursing through his veins, knowing that this could be the last time he would see either Nyx or Noctis, let alone Ignis and Gladio. “For everything, Nyx. Tell Ignis and Gladio-”

“We will,” Noctis called. He was crying as well. Nyx was holding onto Nyx’s shoulders, as if he was preventing him from going with them. If he did then it would create an international incident. His father would never allow it without declaring war. “I love you Prompto!”

“I love you Noctis!” Prompto said as security opened the back of one of the vehicles.

“Get in Prompto,” Verstael said. “We have to travel separately. It’ll be safer and we need to confuse them so they can’t find you.”

Prompto nodded and obeyed, getting in the back of the car while Verstael and Ardyn got in another one. The third one, a decoy, was kept empty save for the security drivers. Prompto felt his heart breaking at leaving Noctis behind, his tears flowing as he looked out of the window. The driver got behind the wheel and said something into the earpiece he was wearing, but Prompto wasn’t paying attention to that. He was looking at the Noctis and Nyx hurrying into the Regalia, preparing their own trip back to Lestallum, likely hoping to run interference.

Everything moved very quickly. They were on the road, the three cars headed in three separate directions, speeding along the backroads and highways. Prompto was told to keep his head down and phone off, so he kept his seatbelt fastened while he tried to keep low in the vehicle so anyone passing by wouldn’t be able to make out his outline in the back seat. The windows were tinted as well, but they couldn’t be cautious enough.

Prompto’s heart was beating rapidly, wanting to reach out to Noctis, but he had listened when they told him to turn his phone off. Instead he looked at the photos from the day he had taken with his boyfriend, his brother-by-choice, and his parents. They all looked so happy. This wasn’t likely to happen again in a long while. He tried to keep his tears from flowing, but it was difficult, and he found himself sniffling quietly.

“They’re good people,” the driver said in an attempt to be helpful. “When my wife got sick and I couldn’t afford the treatments, they paid for it out of pocket. Saved her life. It’ll be alright. You’re in good hands.”

“Thank you,” Prompto said. “I’m glad your wife is doing well.”

“Me too. Hold on, kid.”

He stepped on the gas as the sound of a motorcycle approaching alerted them to danger on the otherwise deserted road. Prompto’s tears stopped then, his panic overwhelming his pain, as the sound of gunshots went off. They missed the car narrowly. Prompto closed his eyes, praying to the Six that things would be okay, but they must have been absent today. The sound of another gunshot went off, this time hitting the car.

Prompto looked up and saw that the driver had been hit, blood pouring from an exit wound in his head. He didn’t have time to be sad for the driver or his wife waiting at home for him. The car began to swerve erratically, and Prompto noticed that instead of the car slowing, it was speeding up. They were heading towards a bend in the road, and on the other side of the bend was a wooded area. The car was going to crash, and there wasn’t enough time to stop it.

Bracing himself, Prompto wasn’t sure if this meant he was going to die. He closed his eyes, covering his head with his arms to protect himself, as the car crashed into a tree, hitting it awkwardly on the right side. Glass shattered, metal screeched, and the car began to tip suddenly. For a moment, Prompto thought the car was going to stay upright, but then it toppled over and came to a screeching halt. The car was still creaking, groaning like a metal giant trying to move, as it settled onto the edge of the road.

Prompto knew that he had broken something. He knew that he had some wounds that were bleeding. But as he was hanging upside down, still in his seatbelt, he was more worried about what was coming for him. Shakily, he reached for the seatbelt and unbuckled it, bracing himself as he fell the roof of the car, trying not to cry at the pain in his left leg. The windows were shattered, and he painfully pulled himself out of the vehicle, his panic and adrenaline giving him the strength he needed to keep going.

The sun was beating down on him, but there was still a chill in the air, and he stood up slowly, hobbling on his right leg. His left one had to be broken, blood was pouring down one side of his face, and his right arm hurt a lot. Looking around, he saw Cor walking towards him, gun in hand. He was dressed all in black, his motorcycle parked behind him, Prompto wanted to scream, wanted to run away, but he was too injured to move. Cor would win. He would take him back and hide him away from his family forever.

There was a screeching of a car behind them, and Prompto saw the Regalia coming towards them. Prompto didn’t want Noctis to be in danger. If they were coming towards him, to his rescue, then Noctis and Nyx could both die. Nyx was ex-military and had a chance at winning a fight, but if he lost then that spelled Noctis’s death. The Regalia stopped in the middle of the road, just behind Cor’s motorcycle, as Cor pointed his gun, complete with silencer, at Prompto.

“Let him go Cor,” Nyx shouted as he got out of the driver’s seat, running towards them. Cor looked back at him then at Prompto, his stern expression wavering. “This is your chance to change. Let him go.”

“I can’t,” Cor said. “I have orders.”

“Do what’s right,” Nyx pleaded. “This is your chance to do what’s right. Orders or not, Cor, letting him go is the right thing.”

Cor wavered, something Prompto never expected him to do. “If I let him go, I’ll be court marshaled. I might even be killed.”

“We can work it out,” Nyx said. “I will help you.”

“Prompto!” Noctis called from the Regalia.

“Stay back!” Nyx called to him. He looked back at Cor as he took a step closer. “Cor look at him. Look at Noctis. You really want to kill them just because the military wants you to? You really want to keep an innocent kid captive? His parents are good people. They’ve changed Niflheim for the better. You really want to say none of that matters?”

“Please,” Prompto begged as he looked at Cor. “Let me go. Haven’t I suffered enough?”

Cor looked at him intensely. Prompto was pretty sure he was going to shoot him, to drag him back, to kill Nyx and Noctis. But suddenly he lowered his gun and sighed, looking down at it as if he was making the decision to end his own life. Nyx indicated to Prompto to come over to him quickly, and he hobbled over to him painfully, each step making him feel like he was only breaking his leg worse. He passed by Cor quickly, afraid that if he stopped then Cor would change his mind.

“It’s okay,” Nyx said as he wrapped his arms around Prompto, his hand resting on the back of Prompto’s head. “He won’t do anything. Let’s go.”

“Prompto,” Noctis called in worry as he rushed over.

“Take him for a second,” Nyx said as he released him and walked over to Cor. “We’re taking your bike.”

Cor nodded and looked up at Nyx with a pain that seemed too familiar to Nyx to be coincidence. They had known each other, but looking at them now, Prompto couldn’t help but wonder how well they really knew each other. But Noctis was holding him, helping support his weight, and he didn’t know how much time he had with him again. He looked to him and put his arms around him, holding him close.

There was a loud thumping noise, the sound of someone being punched as he clung to Noctis, trying to ignore the ringing in his ears from the crash. He probably had a concussion, and the world was spinning on top of it. The only thing that he could od was focus on Noctis, but his vision was blurring a bit.

“Hang on there,” Nyx said as he came back over to them. “I need you to stay awake enough to ride the back of a bike. Do you think you can do it?”

“Yeah,” Prompto said, although he wasn’t certain. He didn’t have a choice. It was either make it there or suffer the consequences. He looked at Noctis again. “I wish you could come with me.”

“I will see you soon,” Noctis said, worrying etched in his expression. “Take care, Prompto. Call me whenever you’re safe.”

“I love you,” Prompto said. He kissed Noctis deeply one last time before Nyx pulled him away from him. He had to hold onto him for support and was careful to get on the back of the bike, clinging to Nyx for stay upright.

“I love you,” Noctis called just as the engine roared to life.

Prompto looked back at him as they drove off quickly, his beautiful boyfriend staring at him in despair as they parted for the last time. Prompto could never come back to Lucis, not while they were at war. He hoped that he could see Noctis again soon, but as they sped off, he knew that it would be a long time before they were reunited. Despite his pain, his dizziness, his exhaustion, he held onto Nyx tightly as they drove towards the meeting point, the weight of the ring on his finger feeling heavier than before.

He didn’t know how long they were driving. It was a while to get to the Niflheim border, but Prompto was injured and the chances of him making it there were slim to none in his current condition. The rendezvous point was closer than that, just until they were safe enough to relax for a moment. Only, instead of relaxing, it meant getting Prompto to a hospital to treat his injuries. But that was risky too. He was on the run from the military, from the government. Going to a hospital in Lucis meant questions, which meant reports. They would have to make the decision if his injuries could wait or if they were dire enough to require a trip to a Lucian hospital.

The agreed rendezvous point was a gas station about two hours away. It was two hours of hard riding, and Prompto found himself struggling to stay awake through it. Nyx glanced at him a few times in worry, but he didn’t stop. Prompto only gave him a grim nod and gripped him tighter, refusing to pass out from the pain or from hitting his head. They didn’t have the time to wait, to stop, or to rest. The team would be relying on their exhaustion and their pain so they could catch up to them. Nyx only revved the engine and went faster and harder, both of them knowing that Prompto was struggling to stay upright.

When the bike finally slowed, when they finally pulled into the gas station, Prompto found his vision blurring, the lights around him swirling as Nyx parked and shut off the engine. He was vaguely aware that the other two cars were already there, that the security team and his parents were running towards them, gun drawn in case anyone had been trailing them. The gas station had been blocked off by the security team, only allowing Nyx and Prompto through before reestablishing their perimeter.

Prompto felt woozy, the pain making him dizzy and almost giddy. He almost felt like laughing and recognized that wasn’t probably a good sign. He had hit his head pretty hard in the accident after all. Nyx wrapped his arm around his waist as he felt his strength leaving him, fighting to stay awake as Nyx picked him up.

“Look at that,” Prompto said with a giddy pain. “I still have my camera.”

“The driver was killed,” Nyx explained to the security team and his parents. “The car wrecked.”

“Take care of it,” Ardyn said sternly to one of the members on the team.

“Come with me,” the man addressed Nyx as he led them into the diner.

The cook and waitresses in the diner look on at them in concern and fear. They likely thought they were gangsters. He touched the intercom in his ear and began barking commands for the other security team to bring him items to address Prompto’s wounds. Nyx laid Prompto on one of the diner booth tables as commanded, and the security team instantly got to work.

He used a flashlight to assess Prompto’s pupil dilation, then moved on to address other aspects of his head injury. Other security members walked in, handing him items that he requested, as he addressed Prompto’s arm, his leg, and the other scrapes and scratches he hadn’t even noticed. Prompto could only stare at him, wincing in pain as he looked him over, and occasionally looked over to Nyx staring at him in concern and his parents looking at him in worry.

“We need to take care of his head first,” the security officer said. Prompto was beginning to think he was hired because he was medically trained. “Cauterize the wound so we can get the bleeding to stop. Then we need to set his arm and leg so it doesn’t heal wrong before we can get him to a hospital. This is going to hurt. A lot.”

“What do we need to do?” Verstael asked, his eyes hard, unwavering. His child’s life was at risk. Prompto knew that he would do whatever it took to make sure he was safe, but he didn’t like the sound of it hurting.

“You’re going to want to hold him down,” he replied as he grabbed something out of his pocket. It was a bottle of pills. “Prompto, look at me. Take two of these right now.”

Prompto looked at his parents, who nodded, then took the pills. Whatever they were, they worked right away. He felt like his body was floating, like he wasn’t feeling anything, let alone any pain. Regardless, his parents held him down, gentle pressing on his shoulders, while Nyx held his feat down. The guard was handed an electric razor and used it to shave the side of his head where he was bleeding. Once he was satisfied, he used a blowtorch to make the side of a butcher’s knife so hot that it was practically glowing.

“Ready?” he asked them all, save Prompto. Prompto didn’t doubt that he was going to feel pain, but right now he was too loopy from the medication and hitting his head to really worry about anything. Why were they running again?

Prompto let out a shriek in pain as the side of the searing hot knife pressed against his wound on the side of his head. No amount of medication would take away the pain, although he did admit that it was likely dulled a bit. His parents pressed down on his shoulders as he screamed, writhing in pain, doing anything he could to fight against the hot knife cauterizing his wound. They didn’t let him move. When the guard was satisfied, he pulled the knife away, and his parents and Nyx released him. He lay on the table, panting, tears streaming down his face from the pain.

The rest of it was far less painful than he anticipated, but then again, anything would dull in comparison to that. The guard set his arm and leg to keep it from beginning the healing process in a way that would only make things harder in the long run. Everything was makeshift, knowing that stopping at a Lucian hospital was not an option, but it was enough for them to make it to Niflheim quickly. They had driven into the country and would drive out as well. Flying would be too dangerous, too obvious.

“I’m tired,” Prompto said when they were done. “And thirsty.”

Verstael snapped his fingers and a security guard immediately got a drink for Prompto from the staff. They sat him up slowly, handing him the drink in a shaking hand, as the guard bandaged his head with the gauze they had on hand. Prompto took a long drink of the water, his throat scorched dry from his screams of pain. Ardyn was sitting at the table next to them, his head in his hands in concern, and Nyx walked over to him to tell him that Prompto was okay. Verstael kept his hand on Prompto’s unbroken leg, whether to comfort Prompto or to comfort himself, Prompto couldn’t say.

“You’re okay,” Verstael said soothingly, his voice shaking. “When we get back to Niflheim, we’ll get you to a hospital to properly get you taken care of.”

Prompto nodded. “We have to get going soon. They’ll catch up to us, right?”

“He’s right,” a security guard said. “We’ve spent too long here.”

“Ardyn,” Verstael called. “Help me with our son. He will need to be carried to the car.”

Ardyn got up, tears falling from his eyes, as he looked at Prompto. Prompto didn’t want his parents to be upset for him. He didn’t want his parents to cry or to worry about him. He just wanted them to be happy, to know that he was safe with them. But didn’t kids get hurt from time to time? Didn’t parents worry? Maybe not to this extent, but parents were meant to worry and kids were meant to try and reduce that worry.

“I’m alright,” Prompto said shakily to him. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” Ardyn said as he lifted Prompto off the table like he weighed nothing. Prompto wondered how much Ardyn worked out. “We are the ones who should be sorry. We never wanted you to get hurt.”

“As long as we make it to Niflheim safely, it’ll be worth it,” Prompto said, although his mind drifted to Noctis. “We’ll be okay.”

“Then let’s go,” Verstael said. They walked out of the diner, apologizing to the staff there for their sudden appearance and frightful actions, heading towards the cars quickly as the security continued to ensure they were not at risk.

“Nyx,” Prompto said as he was set in the backseat of one of the cars. “Thank you. I hope I can see you soon.”

“You know it,” Nyx said with a sad smile. “We’ll see you very soon. Noctis and I both will.”

“I would say give him a kiss for me, but I’ll get jealous,” Prompto said with a laugh. The medication was definitely making him loopy, losing any sort of mental filter as he spoke. “I’ll see you soon. Tell Noctis I love him. And I love you. But like a brother.”

“I get it,” Nyx said with a laugh. He leaned over into the car and gave him a kiss on the part of his forehead that wasn’t covered by the gauze wrap. “Take care of yourself. Call me when you get in safely.”

“I will,” Prompto said. “I don’t know how you stopped Cor but thank you.”

“I’ll explain later,” Nyx said grimly. “Be safe.”

“You too.” Prompto waited in the car while Verstael and Ardyn both said a quick thank you and goodbye to Nyx.

It wasn’t long before they got in the car with him, insistent that he stretch out and lay down to rest after getting the go ahead from the makeshift security medical expert. Prompto rested his head on Verstael’s lap and his legs on Ardyn’s, both of them resting their hands on him to hold him comfortingly. A security guard got in the driver’s seat and another in the front passenger’s seat.

“I’m sorry my driver died,” Prompto said. “He has a wife… I should tell her I’m sorry.”

“We’ll worry about that later,” Verstael said soothingly. Ardyn reached out for him, and Prompto’s parents held hands as they rested their other hand on him. “For now, rest.”

“I’m going to miss Noctis a lot,” Prompto added as they got out on the road, speeding off into the night. He was crying a little, but he smiled anyway. “But I’m really glad to be going home with you.”

“We’ll get him to come visit soon,” Ardyn promised him. “After all, he did get you a very pretty ring.”

“Yeah,” Prompto said as he held up his hand and looked at it with a smile. “I’m the luckiest.”

Ardyn and Verstael exchanged a look, but Prompto was drifting off to sleep very quickly. He was hoping that his parents would make things right. When he got to Niflheim he would be safe, they would find a way to get Noctis to him, and he would be free to live how he wanted. It wasn’t how he planned on ending his birthday weekend, bruised, battered, and taken from his friends and boyfriend, but he was going home with his real parents. Despite his physical and emotional pain, he could sleep with a smile knowing he was going home.

Chapter Text

Niflheim was different from what Prompto expected. He had seen all the dark aspects of the country on the news in Lucis, which he was beginning to think was old footage from a long time ago. The country was beautiful, its city welcoming and warm, its citizens embracing each other happily. Those who had been slaves, those who were refugees, were elevated to a status befitting their professions, and the poverty and homeless rate was at an all time low for any country ever. Prompto wanted to explore the country as much as possible, but right now it wasn’t necessarily possible. There was still a huge risk with him being there.

When they first arrived in Niflheim, they immediately went to the hospital. Prompto was admitted, requiring surgery on his leg, including having several pins in place so he had a chance of healing. His arm was also broken, and the wound on his head was properly tended to and sealed with surgical glue. He was in the hospital for about a week. His parents had to deal with the fallout of them stealing their son back from Lucis, so he understood that they couldn’t be there at all times.

It was scary and lonely to be in a country that was foreign to him, alone in a hospital with security monitoring him, but his parents were there whenever they could be. They had given him a new phone with a new number, and Prompto had immediately reached out to Noctis, Nyx, Ignis, and Gladio, telling them that he was safe and in the hospital. Noctis called him as soon as he received the text, and they had a tearful conversation for a while on the phone.

Ignis and Gladio had freaked out when they heard that Prompto had been taken to Niflheim, that he wasn’t going to be coming back anytime soon. Noctis had explained that when he got back, he immediately grabbed Prompto’s guitars and other belongings that he knew Prompto would want to hold onto, then woke Gladio and told him they had to leave. Gladio had come up separately from him and Ignis, but they were in such a hurry that they just grabbed Ignis and fled the city. Ignis and Gladio still weren’t getting back together, but right now none of them were worrying about that.

Noctis was most at risk since he had been there when everything happened, so the sooner they got away from the Argentums and others who may have been keeping an eye on Prompto. Cor was nowhere to be seen, but Noctis had explained that Nyx had knocked Cor out and left him on the side of the road. It would be a while before he became a problem again. For the time being, Noctis was going to be staying with Ignis and his family. They didn’t question it, since Noctis was over all the time anyway, but it did cause some considerable worry when Regis came looking for him.

Luckily he seemed willing to be oblivious to anything involving Cor and didn’t seem too focused on anything but what was in front of him. Ignis was still very wary of him, rightfully so, but Noctis felt like he could go home before he became more suspicious and found out that Noctis had been involved with Prompto’s escape from Lucis. Prompto breathed a sigh of relief knowing that they were safe and sound, away from any harm that may have come to them because of him.

Noctis spent as much time as he could on the phone, usually on video chat, with him. Prompto insisted that he go to school, that he stop neglecting his own future just to spend time talking to him. But during his breaks, before school, after school, even just when there was a break to switch classes, Noctis was on the phone with him, checking in on him to make sure he was okay. Prompto half-expected Noctis to get tired of it quickly, as much as he loved hearing from his boyfriend, but he didn’t seem bored or like he feel obligated every time they spoke.

Nyx had also gotten in touch with him several times, updating him on what was going on now that he was gone. He had said the Argentums were sad that he was gone, but they had quickly been called back to Lucian Intelligence after it had been uncovered that he had successfully escaped Lucis. Chances were they would be reassigned to something else, although what they would be assigned to would likely look vastly different from raising their enemy’s child. Prompto wondered if they would miss him, but he was afraid to ask. As much as he had wanted to escape from them, they still raised him, and he still had felt some sort of familial love for them at some point.

As his time in the hospital passed by, Prompto had expected when he turned on the news to see the typical goings on in Niflheim. He didn’t expect any report on his parents’ trip to Lucis, of their encounter, of their narrow escape from the country. But when he turned on the television in the hospital to try and pass the time, he was surprised to see a press announcement from his parents, surrounded by security while standing at the top of the steps of a government building. He watched in rapt attention, shocked at what he was hearing.

“Many citizens are aware that over twelve years ago, my son was abducted and held hostage by Lucis,” Verstael was saying on the television. “It is a fact that we have not hidden from you, just as we have not hidden that it precipitated the events that eventually ended the war.

“Lucis has decided to go back to war with us, for reasons we can only assume have been driven by greed. They are a lost country, one that has only let their citizens suffer instead of elevating them. As such, we dispersed a specials ops team to retrieve my son from Lucis. They were successful in their mission, although not without casualty. Currently, my son is safe in Niflheim, although injured and recovering in the hospital.

“During this time, we ask for your patience as we do everything in our power to end the war with Lucis. While we do not have all the answers, nor do we know if Lucis will agree to peace again, the Chancellor and I are doing everything in our power to reach terms in which we all will agree. Additionally, I ask for your patience as I spend time with my son, so that we may begin to recover from losing these past twelve years together. Thank you.”

The press clamored for questions, trying to get further details on what had happened, where Prompto was recovering, what the nature of his injuries were. Prompto stared in stunned silence, trying to understand what he had just watched. The country knew that Verstael had a son, even though they didn’t know that he was married to Ardyn. They knew Lucis had taken him. It was no secret that he was abducted and recovered, although the details were glossed over. Lucis prided itself on secrecy, whereas Niflheim seemed to pride itself on openness in the government.

“You’ll be a little bit of a celebrity here,” Ardyn said in the doorway of his hospital room, the two security guards standing outside it giving him space to step inside. “Once people discover who you are, you’ll have guys and girls clamoring to get to know you.”

“It’s a good thing Noctis gave me this ring then,” Prompto said with a smile as he flashed the ring on his left hand at him. He refused to take it off, and the staff in the hospital had only been understanding because his left hand hadn’t been injured. “How are things?”

“There’s going to be a lot of hard work in the future,” Ardyn said as he sat down on the edge of his hospital bed after kissing him on the forehead warmly. “We’ll both be busy for a while. I’m sorry. I know it’s not what you were expecting.”

“It’s okay,” Prompto answered honestly. “I bet I’ll still see you more than I ever saw the Argentums. Do I have to go by Crowley now? Wasn’t that my name before I was taken away?”

“What do you prefer?” Ardyn asked.

“I’ve gone by Prompto so long, being called Crowley just feels weird,” Prompto admitted after a long moment of consideration. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s alright,” Ardyn said with a worried smile. “Do you still want to go by Argentum then?”

Prompto shook his head. “I would like to go by my real last name. Was it Besithia? Or Izunia?”

“Besthia,” Ardyn replied. His smile was less worried now. “Our hope is to one day be able to tell the world we’re married. Then we can hyphenate. But for now, it’s Besithia.”

“I would be happy to be there when you announce it,” Prompto offered. “You know, Noctis said he wants to marry me eventually.”

“Did he now?” Ardyn’s expression looked amused. “And what do you think about that?”

“I like the idea,” Prompto said sheepishly, blushing brightly. “I didn’t know it was possible to fall in love like I fell for him.”

“That’s good. But remember you are young. It wouldn’t be atypical for you to gain some experience while you’re in Niflheim. Particularly since Noctis has plenty of experience as well.”

“How did you know?” Prompto asked.

“You think we’re not going to do a thorough investigation into the boy our son is dating?” Ardyn laughed. When he stopped laughing his eyes looked wild, almost dangerous. “Especially a Caelum. We couldn’t just accept that you were with him if it turned out to be someone dangerous. But luckily he was oblivious to his father’s actions until recently.”

“Thank you for giving him a chance,” Prompto said honestly. “I don’t know if I’ll ever look at someone else the way I look at him.”

“Well I hope you’ll let us be there when you start making wedding plans,” Ardyn said with another smile. “Just make sure you don’t rush into it. It takes about four years to get to know someone completely. The relationship is still pretty fresh and now you live in separate countries. Just make sure you make sure you know him completely before committing to something like marriage.”

“I will. What’s going to happen now that I’m back in Niflheim? Do you think Lucis will end the war?”

“No. The opposite actually. They consider your rescue an attack on Lucian soil. It’s really just an excuse for them to try and take over our country.” Ardyn sighed. “We’ll be heading to war. When you’re done with your schooling you’ll have to serve in the military for two years. All Niflheim citizens do. Even your father and I.”

Prompto nodded, his heart beating wildly. “That means that I’ll end up fighting my friends if they get drafted.”

“Possibly. We can’t guarantee you won’t be in the middle of a fight as long as we’re still at war. But I know Verstael will do what he can to ensure you are not in the middle of a fight.” Ardyn sighed. “It’s the one law we could never get changed.”

“Everyone in Niflheim seems really happy overall,” Prompto pointed out. “I know I haven’t seen much of the country, but what I’ve seen on TV is a lot different from what Lucis has shown. It seems like they would be happy to fight to protect the country.”

“They are,” Ardyn admitted. “A lot of citizens in fighting age have reenlisted in the military for the war. Many even end up staying in the military because we try to treat them well, even in difficult times.”

“You’ve done a lot for the country in such a short time. How could anyone look at what you’ve done and think you are the bad guys?” Prompto shook his head. “If anything, you’re the standard for how a government should be there for their citizens.”

“That means a lot coming from you.” Ardyn smiled at him. “We wanted to build a country for you that you could be proud and happy to live in when you came home. I hope you find that remains the case as you continue to live here.”

Prompto’s doctor came into the room, smiling at him warmly. He shook Ardyn’s hand and greeted him enthusiastically, thanking him for his excellent work as Chancellor. He looked at Prompto with an excited smile since he was the doctor who had earned the prestige of taking care of the Minister’s son. No doubt that once he was released from the hospital the doctor would be boasting of how he saved Prompto’s life.

“Good news,” the doctor said magnanimously. “You can go home today. You will have to do physical therapy for your leg once it heals enough. But for now, you can go home and start your life back here in Niflheim.”

“Thank you,” Prompto said with a smile.

“Some things to look out for,” the doctor said to Ardyn. He listed off a laundry list of physical symptoms to watch out for. “I would also look out for signs of stress or trauma as well. He has been through a lot, and while he seems relatively well cared for during his time in Lucis, he has been through something traumatic. Therapy may be a good idea.”

“Thank you for the suggestion,” Ardyn replied. “We will look out for the warning signs.”

“Will the Minister be by to take him home?” the doctor asked.

“I will be taking him home,” Ardyn affirmed. “The Minister will be waiting at the estate by the time we get there.”

The doctor looked like he was about to argue but must have thought better of it. “Of course. I’ll prepare the paperwork.”

“I must be hard,” Prompto said quietly after the doctor had left. “To not be recognized as my dad.”

“Verstael had legal rights to you first,” Ardyn said. “Since we decided we would have him be the one to do all the reproductive stuff. But as soon as you were born I legally adopted you as well. It’s hard to get that across while still keeping it a secret.”

“Can we just make it obvious then?” Prompto offered. “Well, maybe not now on top of all the other shit you have to deal with.”

“Language,” Ardyn scolded him, but he was smiling, like he was enjoying scolding his child. “But one day we will make it known.”

The nurses came in quickly to take out Prompto’s IVs, take off the heart monitors, and give him a list of instructions to take care of himself. It was amazing the elevated treatment Prompto received at being the Minister’s son. They were always so eager to help, so eager to provide, and even offered to do things above and beyond what nurses should do. They had cooed and coddled him when they found out that he was a relatively humble guy, not really wanting to be demanding or asking for extra things. Security usually got it for him too if he mentioned in passing that he needed something. He didn’t even think that Noctis received this type of treatment.

“You have been such a joy to have here,” the head nurse said as she helped Prompto into a wheelchair. “Such a kind child. The Minister is lucky to have such a wonderful son back.”

“Thank you, ma’am,” Prompto said with a slight blush. “I’m glad to be home.”

“I just can’t imagine how hard it must have been for you,” she said probingly. “Being in Lucis while waiting for your father to rescue you.”

Ardyn coughed, interrupting the conversation and indicating to Prompto to tread lightly. He didn’t need to be told. There were things that strangers didn’t need to know. “I’m only looking towards the future,” Prompto said brightly. “And riding chocobos more regularly now.”

Ardyn laughed at that as the nurse smiled in response. He took all of Prompto’s paperwork, including a slew of prescriptions he had been given to help with his injuries, the pain, and to prevent any infections. Prompto had seen the shaved side of his head and kind of liked the look. He was considering asking his dads if he could shave the other side and go for a mohawk. Now that he was in Niflheim would they be as kind and supportive of his self-expression as they were while trying to get him back? Or would they start to change? So far there didn’t seem to be any indication that they would treat him any differently, only that they were busier now.

“Good to see you’re doing better,” a security guard said as the nurse pushed Prompto’s wheelchair out of the hospital room.

“Thanks Ted,” Prompto replied with a smile. He had made a point to get to know the security team that his dads had insisted on keeping watch over him. He understood the need for them at all times, but he didn’t want them to be strangers. Ted had told him that his dads had done the same, telling him they were more alike than he realized. It surprised Prompto to know they were so similar while not being near each other for years.

“Making it a point to know everyone?” Ardyn asked as they all moved at the same time, heading towards the exit. Prompto didn’t doubt that he would always have a security team on him going forward since he was the Minister’s son, and he found himself oddly used to it. It was likely because he had been shadowed and observed by Cor and the Argentums for so long that being overtly protected seemed more natural and less frightening than he anticipated.

“Yeah I don’t want to be strangers with them,” Prompto replied. “If they’re going to be shadowing me wherever I go then I should at least know their names.”

“Good point,” Ardyn said with an amused smile. They made their way down the elevator and to the sleek black car waiting for them just outside the main entrance of the high tech hospital. The sun was shining outside, the hospital in the center of a city that looked far more advanced than Insomnia, clean, sleek, and welcoming. It was the opposite of what Prompto had been raised to believe Niflheim was like.

There were several media newscasters, reporters, and press waiting outside for them, their cameras and microphones at the ready. The security team assembled around Ardyn and Prompto both in order to protect them from the barrage of questions they were about to be faced with. While Prompto felt well enough to use crutches instead of a wheelchair, Ardyn and Verstael had both insisted that he use the wheelchair until he was healed enough, even outside of the hospital. They were worried that he would fall and injure himself further.

“You’re the most popular point of conversation right now,” Ardyn warned him once the security team gave them the all clear to head to the car. “Don’t answer any questions, though. Let us handle it.”

Prompto nodded as they began to exit the building. The media began clamoring for them immediately, the flashes of camera lights going off, questions flying at them all at once. Listening to his father, he remained quiet, keeping his eyes forward towards the car as the security team moved with them, giving them a wide radius to prevent the media from getting any closer. The back of the car door was already open, waiting for them with two security agents on either side to protect them.

The nurse assisted Prompto with getting out of the wheelchair, and one of the guards helped him get in the vehicle, hopping awkwardly so he could carefully sit in the backseat. He quickly slid over so Ardyn could get in beside him, and he started panting from the exertion of it. Have broken bones was exhausting. He didn’t know how Ignis managed to get all the way to Lestallum and back, even if Noctis had been the one to drive.

“Great job,” Ardyn said with a smile as the car door closed behind them. The security team moved quickly, two guards getting in the front seat of the car while the others got in the black cars ahead and behind them. Prompto watched as they drove off, the media still clamoring for whatever scoop they could. He would have to get used to having a motorcade and media attention.

“Will this all eventually die down?” Prompto asked.

“Eventually,” Ardyn said. “Although no matter where you go you’ll have the security team, and chances are the media will follow you in some respect. It’ll be important to maintain a certain responsible personality in public.”

“I understand,” Prompto replied, staring out the window as the city whirled past them.

With his new life ahead of him, he would have to present himself as the Minister’s son, ensuring that he stayed out of trouble in the spotlight. That meant presenting himself as a responsible young adult and not the super awkward, clumsy guy he always had been. Luckily they had explained that the estate was just on the outskirts of the city, making it close enough for them to travel with ease into the city but far enough away that they could easily find the privacy they needed. It would make it easier to stay out of the spotlight for a while at least.

“Will I be going to a school near here or will I be homeschooled?” Prompto asked as he looked at the cityscape.

“There is a private academy where we had originally looked at sending you,” Ardyn considered. “But for now there’s too much volatility with Lucis for you to be going to school. We’ll probably have to have private tutors for the rest of the school year at least.”

“That doesn’t sound too bad,” Prompto said. “I’m really awkward at school and everything anyway. It’ll give me time to get used to living here too.”

Ardyn nodded, but he looked concerned. “I’m sorry we’ve taken you from everyone and everything you’ve known. It wasn’t something we anticipated doing when we visited.”

“I know,” Prompto replied. “It’s okay. I can still talk to them on the phone, and then hopefully I can visit Gladio in Altissia once he’s moved in.”

“It would be a good opportunity to rendezvous with them,” Ardyn admitted. “Perhaps we could arrange you to stay there for the summer so you can spend some time with Noctis.”

“Really?” Prompto smiled, lighting up at the thought of spending an entire summer with Noctis in Altissia.

“As long as you stay out of trouble,” Ardyn warned with a laugh.

The car slowed as they rolled up to a large estate with a sprawling lawn, the structure of the estate located on a hilltop. Security was on standby at the gate, waving them through after identifying who was in the motorcade. Prompto stared in wonder as they drove up the long driveway, security members waiting for them at the garage where several luxury vehicles were parked. It was even larger than the garage that Noctis had at his house, and the estate was sprawling, far bigger than anything Prompto had seen in Lucis. He felt like he was in a fairytale where he was selected to be a prince.

“Welcome home sir,” a security guard said as he opened the door for Ardyn and Prompto. They had grabbed the wheelchair from the trunk of the car, already positioned for Prompto to sit in. He felt like it was unnecessary, but Ardyn wouldn’t hear any protests and had him sitting in the wheelchair before they moved any further. Once he was sitting down again, a security guard pushed him towards the entrance of the estate, and he was left to stare in wide eyed wonder at the huge house of white and black marble.

“Do you remember any of this place?” Ardyn asked as they entered the front door to the large foyer where staff were at the ready to assist in any way they could.

“Vaguely,” Prompto said honestly. “I guess because I was so young it’s all still hazy.”

“It will likely be like that for a while,” Ardyn commented.

He took the time to introduce Prompto to the staff, several butlers, maids, chefs, gardeners, and others who tended to the place and made sure the white walls were kept pristine, each portrait or painting hanging in its proper place. There was a large vase on a decorative table in the foyer containing a beautiful bouquet of various flowers, and behind that a sweeping staircase that Prompto had only seen in photos of castles.

“Don’t try to memorize where everything is,” Ardyn said. “The staff will be on hand to take you where you have to go. For now we should show you to your room.”

Instead of taking him to the steps, they wheeled him to a door off to the left of them. Prompto realized with a start that behind the door was a small elevator for those too weak or infirm to use the staircase. He wondered who had originally built this place and just how rich his parents were to be able to afford it and make such improvements. When the doors to the elevator opened to a long carpeted hallway with dark blue walls lined with portraits of the former residents, Prompto had a sudden feeling that he had been there before.

He had the sudden recollection that he was being carried down the hall by Cor, crying, wondering what was going on. He had just been taken from his father, who was screaming for them to bring his son back, confused why he wasn’t staying with him. When they reached the end of the hall, Nyx was telling Cor to stop, that if he didn’t then it would end whatever they had permanently. Cor kept going.

“Prompto?” Ardyn asked as he was wheeled down the hall, Ardyn walking next to him. “Are you okay?”

“I just… Remembered something unpleasant,” Prompto said as tears filled his eyes. “I’m sad that all I can really remember is that night.”

“We’ll create new memories,” Ardyn assured him. “Once you start feeling better, we can take you to the chocobos. Or even to the lake if fishing is your speed.”

“Fishing?” Prompto asked, perking up a bit. “I’m not big on it, but Noctis is.”

“That’s surprising, but then again it’s better than him being into something worse,” Ardyn said. “Here we are. This is your room.”

Prompto looked up at the large double doors, a strange nervousness fluttering in his stomach when he heard the words. He had a room with the Argentums, but if it was anything like he remembered, it was bigger than even Noctis’s room. Ardyn opened the doors and Prompto was wheeled in, staring at the large room that was far bigger than anything he had lived in before. No, it was the same room that he had lived in for the first five years of his life. It had always been his room, changing over the years to reflect his age until he could finally come home.

To the right, closest to the door was his bed, bigger than any bed he had ever been in, with a canopy bed frame, the dark curtains pulled back. He had a nightstand and a table at the base of the bed with a bouquet of roses on it. Further down the length of the wall was a door that opened to a bathroom that was no doubt larger than anything he had been used to. Across from the bed on the left side of the wall was a large walk in closet that Prompto had hid in to try and hide from Cor when he was a child. It was full of clothes that his parents had guessed he would like for his age.

Towards the back of the room was a couch with a television mounted on the wall, complete with surround sound stereo and every gaming console available. Across from that on the right side was a study area, with a large desk, several bookshelves against the wall, and leather chairs with a table in between them for any tea or other drinks and food. Along the back wall was a floor to ceiling window in the center with a la