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That Isn't Me

Chapter Text

      You Lose

     Noctis frowned at the game over screen. He blamed the bad wifi for his defeat. He was currently sitting in a small cafe located in Lestallum, chowing down on a muffin. He was playing a new game called King’s Knight on his recently purchased phone. His phone was not all that great compared to his previous one, but as long as he could still play games, it’ll have to do. He had gotten this one as a present for himself on his 19th birthday. 

     It had taken him a while to save enough gil to buy a new phone since he had to ditch his previous one to avoid getting tracked. While hunts usually paid a decent amount, most of the money went towards food and motel rooms. It probably hadn’t been a good idea to go on these hunts alone, but he had desperately needed the money, especially since he no longer had access to his bank account. After some time, he had gained enough skill where he could take on a pack of coeurls by himself. Besides, he had only gained a few scars. No big deal.

     Someone walked past his table, and Noctis casually pulled his hood further over his head to hide his face. He had run away about four years ago. His dad had informed him that he had been arranged to marry Lady Lunafreya when he turned 20. Noctis had not been happy about that at all. He had argued with his dad for hours. His dad had stated that it would help improve relations with Niflheim; that there was no other way. 

     “Is there really no other option, or is that what those assholes on the Council said because they were too lazy to think of something else?”

     His dad had told him that it was the best for Lucis and its people, but Noctis had only stormed out of the room. It hadn’t been that he hated his friend Luna, but he had only been 15 for Astrals’ sake. He had also wanted to, at least, be free to choose who he married. Not to mention, he was into guys. Besides, Noctis couldn’t see how a marriage with Luna was supposed to stop the fighting. Sure, the Niffs had control over the Oracle, but it wasn’t like she was related to their emperor or anything. So, what difference would it make? Surely, the Council, or even his father, would have seen that?

     Thinking about his father caused Noctis to put his phone down. He had honestly meant to return to Insomnia after a couple of months. However, the guilt of running away prevented him from returning. The longer he spent in hiding, the worse he felt. How could he face his dad after causing him so much heartbreak? He let out a sigh before finishing his muffin. He put his phone in his pocket and left the cafe.

     There was a nice breeze blowing on this sunny day in Lestallum. It was noon, and the weather was a little too warm for Noctis’s liking. He debated what he should do for the day. He was still tired from the previous day’s hunt. Perhaps, he should visit Galdin Quay. If he can get some new fishing line, then he could spend some time fishing. He wondered if he had enough money to get some food there too. He had managed to save enough gil to buy a meal once, and it had been delicious. Though, it hadn’t been as good as Ignis’s food.

     Noctis found himself missing Ignis at times. The first couple of years had been the roughest, and he could have used his advisor’s guidance. It had been then when Noctis had realized he had never fully appreciated Ignis. And, despite their rough start, Noctis regretted leaving Gladio behind. His shield probably could have helped him out with hunts and would have joked that Noctis had become a man when he had gotten his scars. Noctis wished they were there with him.

     He strolled through the town down to the outlook. After popping a gil into the slot, he peered into one of those tourist binoculars. His view landed on the Disc of Cauthess. Now there was a place he had yet to visit. He should go down there to check out the place where the Titan was still holding up the meteor. Noctis had no idea how his arms weren’t tired after all this time. Holding a giant rock for centuries sounded like too much work. Surely, there wouldn’t be any harm in putting it down for a minute or two.

     Noctis gave a little shrug. Maybe he could get a nice picture or two using his phone. He backed away from the binoculars and walked away. He was debating whether he should rent another chocobo when he went past a stand that contained newspapers. Normally, he did not bother with the news. Most of the newspapers talked about mundane things that no one really cared about. Oh, a celebrity had given birth? Wow, like no one had ever done that before.

     Occasionally he would look them over whenever something big was happening with Lucis and Niflheim. Sometimes, there would be speculation about his whereabouts and what it would mean for the peace treaty. Naturally, his dad was determined to find him. Noctis had lost count of how many times he had come across members of the kingsglaive. There had been a few times where he had almost been discovered.

     However, the headline of today’s newspaper caught his eye. It was another piece about him, but this time it was different. The picture was of him hugging his dad at the Citadel in Insomnia. This puzzled Noctis. It had been prohibited to take photos of the prince while he was under the age of 18. So, this was not an old photo. In fact, he looked to be about his current age, but he had never been anywhere near the city recently. He looked at the headline again. It had to be some sort of mistake.

The Lost Prince Has Finally Returned!

Chapter Text

     Noctis was re-reading the newspaper for a third time. Apparently, the prince had returned to Insomnia on his own. There had been no official comment made about why he had decided to come back all of a sudden, nor any comments made about why he had left in the first place. Many believed it had been because of his betrothal to Luna since he had disappeared around the same time the news had broken out.

     He didn’t know what to do. The rational part of his brain told him to go home and sort this mess out. However, that would mean facing everyone. A small part of him desired to stay away. After all, this could benefit everyone. Lucis got the heir they need back, and Noctis was allowed to continue living freely. No one to tell him to get up in the mornings or who he should marry. But the rational part of his brain knew he couldn’t do do nothing about this situation. Who knew what this person masquerading around as him wanted. Would this person hurt his dad? He ran his fingers through his hair. There were so many thoughts running through his head. 

     He was too distracted to pay attention to what was in front of him as he walked. He didn’t notice the stranger until he crashed into the person. Noctis looked down at the man who had fallen onto the ground. The guy had short blonde hair that had a part of it swooped upward. Weird. He also had a camera hanging around his neck. Noctis held out his hand to help the man up.

     “Sorry!”

     The guy only stared at him, which kind of made him feel a little uncomfortable. Eventually, the stranger took hold of his hand. When the guy was back on his feet, Noctis noticed his bright blue eyes that had a hint of violet. He also had a bunch of freckles sprinkled across his cheeks. He looked familiar. In any other situation, Noctis would be taking the time to admire the person’s beauty. However, he was too busy mentally freaking out about the recent turn of events.

     “Thanks,” the guy said. He continued to stare at Noctis like he was trying to figure something out.

     “Well, uh, sorry again. See ya.”

     Noctis was about to leave, but the guy stopped him.

     “Prince Noctis, is that you?”

     “What? No.”

     Noctis pulled his hood further over his head before quickly walking away. However, the blonde kept up with his pace.

     “It is! Sorry, we went to the same school, so I sorta recognized you.”

     “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

     “Yeah, you probably don’t remember me. We didn’t really talk much. I mean, we sorta did once. I tripped, and you tried to help me up.”

     The guy was rubbing the back of his head. A memory of a boy around his age wearing glasses came to Noctis’s mind. What was his name again?

     “That was you?”

     “So, you do remember me?”

     “A little, um…”

     “Oh, Prompto! So, what are you doing here, your highness? Aren’t you supposed to Insom—”

     Noctis quickly covered his mouth.

     “Keep it down, will you? It’s difficult to explain, okay?”

     Prompto removed Noctis’s hand from his face. “Well, now I’m really curious. What’s going on?”

     Noctis sighed. “Fine. Do you have a hotel room or something so we can talk privately? And drop the whole ‘your highness’ thing.”

     Prompto nodded and led Noctis to a small hotel. They went up to his room on the third floor. Inside the room was a single bed, a couple of chairs, and a TV. It was about as big as some of the motels he had stayed in. This room was cleaner, though. Prompto grabbed the newspaper from Noctis’s hands.

     “So, how did you get all the way from Insomnia to out here in a day?”

     “I didn’t actually. I haven’t been anywhere near the city in four years.”

     Prompto pointed to the photo. “Well, this dude looks a lot like you.”

     “Yeah, that’s what I don’t get. Whatever is going on, there’s someone pretending to be me.”

     “Who do you think it is?”

     “I don’t know.”

     “What are you going to do?”

     “I don’t know.”

     “Are you going to go back?”

     “I don’t know!”

     Noctis flopped onto the bed and tightly gripped his hair. The mere thought of going back to the Citadel filled him with anxiety. He wondered what the fake Noctis was currently doing. Did he even know how to act as the real prince? Wouldn’t the others have noticed that he was acting strange? Then again, they might chalk it up to him having been gone for a few years. The bed shifted, and a hand gently touched his shoulder.

     “Hey, it’s going to be okay. Tell you what, we’re going to march down to Insomnia, and we’re going to sort this out. Maybe even kick this imposter’s ass if we need to.”

     “You make it sound so easy. Maybe, I don’t want to go back."

     "But you gotta! You're the prince!"

     "So? Who says that I have to? Everyone's been doing just fine without me."

     Noctis knew he was being ridiculous, but he was too hesitant to return to the city, to his dad.

     "Maybe, they won’t want me back. Who knows, he might be a better me than me. My dad might be better off with this guy as a son.”

     Noctis’s face was suddenly grabbed and turned towards Prompto, who squished his cheeks together.

     “Repeat after me. I am a guppy, and guppies don’t smile.”

     “I don’t see how this has anything to do—”

     Prompto only repeated the sentence louder. Noctis sighed.

     “I am a guppy, and guppies don’t smile.”

     “But I do!”

     “But I do.”

     Noctis felt as ridiculous as he sounded. Prompto let go of his face and started to giggle. He had the brightest smile that Noctis had ever seen. It was like looking at the sun; it didn’t help that he had blonde hair. Not to mention, his laugh was a bit contagious. Noctis tried to keep a straight face, but he couldn’t help but let out a small chuckle. He lightly pushed Prompto.

     “This is serious.”

     “Listen, I know that I don’t know anything about your dad, but I imagine that he would want his real son back.”

     Noctis only shrugged his shoulders. Prompto stood up and pulled him to his feet.

     “Come on, let’s go.”

     “You mean the both of us? Aren’t you, like, busy with anything?”

     “Nah. I’m only here to take pictures to help build my portfolio. Though, I occasionally do some work for Vyv. I don’t really mind helping out.”

     “I... can't. I'm sorry."

     Noctis stormed out of the room, and, to his surprise, Prompto didn't come after him. He spent the rest of the day hiding out. He planned to leave the following morning. Where? he did not know. He just needed to get away from here. He sort of felt bad for leaving Prompto, but he hadn't wanted to be around his former classmate long enough to see the look of disappointment that would have appeared on his face. Noctis was already disappointed with himself.

     That night, he had a decent dream. He was traveling around the continent with Ignis and Gladio. One moment they were running through the fields on a hunt, the next, the two disappeared, leaving Noctis alone. Suddenly, he was back in the Citadel. Specifically, he was in the throne room. In front of him, his dad was standing with his back facing Noctis. Near his dad was another Noctis. The real Noctis tried to call out to his dad, but it was as if his dad couldn't hear him. The other Noctis pulled out a weapon to strike his dad. Noctis tried running to his dad, but it was like he couldn't get near him. He woke up before the blade sliced his dad.

     Checking his phone, he saw that it was around 10 a.m. Way too earlier to be awake. Sighing, he got out of bed and went to the bathroom. He splashed some water on his face and looked at his reflection. There were some bags forming under his eyes, and a yawn came out of his mouth. Leaving the bathroom, he dug through a bag on the table to find some leftover food. There were half a hamburger and several fries. The breakfast of champions. Afterward, he left his motel room. He tried to sneak his way out of Lestallum without bumping into Prompto again. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

     A hand landed on his shoulder and forced him to turn around. It was none other than Prompto, who was frowning at him.

     "We're going back to Insomnia, and I don't want to hear any 'buts.' Got it?"

     "But—"

     Prompto interrupted him and would not let him speak until he agreed to go. This guy was being annoyingly persistent. Maybe, Noctis could warp as far away as he could from Prompto. But that would mean giving away his identity to any onlookers. Fuck, why was he in Lestallum again?  Reluctantly, he agreed, and Prompto thrust his fist into the air in victory.

     “It's a long way to Insomnia. Do you have a car?” Noctis asked.

     “Nah, dude, I don’t even have my license.”

     “You never got your license?”

     “Did you?”

     Noctis opened his mouth to retort but closed it again. Heat rose to his cheeks, and he turned away.

     “Hey, it’s fine. I rented a chocobo and still have about a day left with her. She can be our way of getting there.”

     “Okay, but we should stop by Wiz’s outpost, so I can get my own bird to ride.”

     They walked over to a stall that housed rented chocobos. Prompto led his own out and petted her neck. He looked really excited to be around the chocobo, and Noctis went around Prompto and mounted the large bird. 

     “Hey! This is my chocobo; I get to be in front.”

     He gave a little pout, which Noctis couldn’t help but think it looked adorable.

     “You snooze, you lose.”

     Prompto gave a huff before climbing up and sitting behind Noctis. Noctis, on the other hand, chose to ignore the butterflies in his stomach when Prompto’s arms wrapped around his waist. He got the chocobo moving to the direction of the farm. Things were quiet between them on the ride, but it wasn’t an uncomfortable kind of silence. It was quiet until Prompto started to hum the chocobo song for five minutes.

     “So, what have you been up to all this time?”

     “Nothing much. Just fishing and going on hunts.”

     “All by yourself? Wow. You must be really good at fighting.”

     Noctis smirked at the comment. It did help that he had someone like Gladio train him for a while.

     “How come you ran away?” Prompto asked. Noctis should have suspected that he was going to be asked that question. He was dreading having to explain it. The reasoning did seem a little ridiculous when looking back on it. His hands tightened their grip on the reigns. “Oh, sorry, you don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.”

     “It’s fine. Besides, it was kind of dumb anyway.”

     “I’m sure it can’t be that bad if it made you stay away for so long.”

     Noctis shrugged, and the two continued on their way to Wiz’s outpost. When they got there, Prompto dismounted first. Noctis got down after him. The chocobo rested her head on his shoulder, and he hugged her neck. He heard a click and turned to see Prompto standing near him with a camera pointed at him. Prompto lowered the camera as he rubbed the back of his head. Noctis stared wide-eyed at him.

     “Sorry, I can’t help it. Sometimes, I see a really good shot, and I just have to take it. Great moments wait for no one.”

     “It’s fine.”

     Noctis was kind of curious about his photos, but before he could ask to see them, Wiz approached them. They rented another chocobo, and Prompto extended the rental period for his one. They left soon afterward. Both of them traveled for a couple of hours before coming across a gas station. Prompto suggested they take a break and get something to eat at the Crow’s Nest. Noctis’s stomach growled at the mention of food. They got off their chocobos and entered the restaurant. 

     They both ordered the same thing, a burger, fries, and a soda. They sat at a booth to eat their meals. Prompto made a comment about Noctis taking out the lettuce and tomato, but Noctis rolled his eyes.

     “So how long have you been taking pictures?” Noctis asked.

     “Ever since I was in middle school. I would take pictures of the local animals.”

     “That’s cool. Can I see some?”

     Prompto was hesitant to give Noctis his camera, but when Noctis took it, he took his time looking at each photo. They were actually pretty good. Some were of crowded places, and others were of animals. There were even some photos of the sky. One was a nice shot of the sunset. He had seen the sunset plenty of times, but something about how this image was taken made the sunset seem magnificent.

     “You really are a professional, huh?”

     “Nah, I’m pretty much still an amateur with this stuff.”

     “Dude, these are very good. Seriously. I’m gonna try to convince my dad to hire you as our royal photographer or something.”

     “R-really?”

     Noctis smiled and nodded, and Prompto went back to eating. His cheeks turned bright red, which Noctis wanted to see more of. He kind of liked the idea of making his former classmate blush. The two of them finished up their food and left the building. They made sure their chocobos were okay to continue traveling before setting off again. They talked a little more about themselves. Noctis told Prompto about some of the stuff he had done. He mentioned his more proud hunts while not bringing up the embarrassing ones. Prompto didn’t need to know about his battle with some cactuars. He had been plucking out needles for hours, and they had been everywhere.

     They were approaching Hammerhead, and anxiety started to fill Noctis. He knew that Cid knew his father, and there was a high chance that the mechanic would contact his dad if he saw him. Granted, Noctis was heading back anyways, but he needed the element of surprise. There was a possibility that the guy was only pretending to be him for the royal benefits. However, if this imposter was there for malicious reasons, then Noctis did not want to give the guy a chance to prepare a counterattack.

     Not to mention, Cid would probably smack him with a wrench as a form of lecture for his foolishness. Yeah, Noctis did not feel like dealing with the old man anytime soon. He was willing to set up camp for the night, but it looked like it was going to rain. He was not in the mood to camp in the rain. So, a motel it was.

Chapter Text

4 years ago

~~~

     Noctis thanked the driver before stepping out of the truck. One of the buildings had a sign that read “Hammerhead.” He noticed that there was a restaurant next to it, and his stomach growled. He went inside and tried to order a burger. However, he was quick to learn that every place outside Insomnia used a currency called gil. He also learned that he could earn gil by completing hunts. He had to beg the man to let him take one on. Eventually, the man gave him the easiest one he had available.

     It was a simple hunt. He just had to kill a small pack of animals. Luckily, he only came out with several scratches. He got paid and decided to see what the rest of Hammerhead had to offer. He didn’t get to explore long enough before an older man stopped him. From the look of his clothes, it seemed that he might be working at the garage. 

     “You seem familiar.”

     “I-I do?”

     “Yeah, I see it now. You must be Reggie’s boy. You look as if someone kicked the dignity right outta him.”

     Noctis was not sure how to respond to that. He felt a little insulted.

     “How do you know he’s my dad?”

     “‘Cause I ain’t stupid. What are you doing out here without any guards? Not even your shield is with you. I know Reggie ain't crazy enough to let his boy wonder around by himself.”

     “You sound like you know him.”

     “We go way back. You still didn’t answer my question.”

     Noctis felt like he was backed into a corner. What were the odds that some guy living in the middle of nowhere knew his dad? This wasn’t good. It wouldn’t be long until the place was surrounded by glaives. He had to get out of there. Taking out a weapon, he quickly kept warping away until he got tired. Even then, he forced himself to keep going.

 

Present Day

~~~

Noctis stared at the small town with apprehension.

     “Hey, is it okay if we hang out outside of Hammerhead until night time before we get a motel room? There’s someone I kind of want to avoid.”

     “Um, sure?”

     The two of them waited a couple of hours until it got dark. Using the cover of darkness and avoiding the demons that started to spawn, they quickly rented a room. By the time they entered their room, they were soaking wet from the rain. Noctis mentioned something about changing out of his wet clothes, and Prompto concluded that he should too. Noctis looked at the bathroom and then to Prompto, who was looking back at him. 

     Noctis summoned a dagger behind his back and immediately threw it towards the bathroom when Prompto took off. He warped in front of the door and quickly closed it. He locked it, and there was banging on the door.

     “Hey, no fair! You cheated!”

     Noctis smirked as he ignored Prompto’s complaints. He removed his clothes and decided to take a warm bath. Afterward, he took out some dry clothes from the armiger and got dressed. He left the bathroom to see Prompto lying on one of the beds. He was wearing a different set of clothes, which consisted of shorts and a tank top. Noctis had to pry his eyes away from Prompto’s exposed legs. He sat down on the other bed and pulled out his phone. He gazed at Prompto again.

     “Hey, you don’t happen to play King’s Knight, do you?”

     “Only all the time.”

     “Want to play together?”

     “Sure!”

     Noctis sent Prompto an invite code, and the two campaigned together until they got too tired. The lights were turned off, and they fell asleep.

     The next morning, Noctis sat up, not recognizing where he was. Then, he remembered the events of the previous day. He groaned and fell back down onto the bed. He wished that it had all been a dream, but that would have been asking for too much. He looked over to the other bed only to see that it was missing a certain blonde. The bathroom door was open with the lights off, so he wasn’t there. 

     Just then, the door opened, and Prompto came into the room. He was carrying a bag of food. His cheeks were red, and his face looked sweaty.

     “Oh, hey, you’re up!”

     “Unfortunately.”

     Noctis rested an arm over his eyes. He felt something land beside him. Looking over, he saw that it was the bag of food from the Crow’s Nest across the street. He opened it up to see that inside were some pancakes and a small packet of syrup.

     “You got breakfast?”

     Prompto hummed in response.

     “What about you?”

     “I already ate after my run.”

     “You run? By choice?”

     Prompto gave a slight laugh. “I started doing in middle school, and it just became a habit. I kinda enjoy doing it actually.”

     Noctis scrunched his face. He didn’t understand how anyone could like running for fun. He took the container of pancakes out of the bag and opened it up. He poured syrup over the pancakes and cut a piece, placing it into his mouth. Nothing like breakfast from a greasy burger joint to start the day. He heard a click sound and turned to see that it was Prompto holding his camera again.

     “Are you going to keep taking pictures of me the whole time?”

     “Not the whole time. Just the times when you’re in bed, shoveling food into your mouth while your hair is all messed up. You look like a gremlin.”

     “Delete that right now.”

     “Mmmm, nope.”

     “Prompto,” Noctis warned.

     “Make me.”

     Noctis carefully placed the container to the side then launched himself towards Prompto, who tried to get away. He tackled him onto Prompto’s bed, pinning him down. Prompto tried to hold the camera away from him, but he tried reaching for it. Prompto wrapped an arm around his torso in an attempt to hold him down.

     “No, don’t touch my baby!”

     Noctis was pressed against Prompto’s chest. He soon noticed how close his face was to Prompto’s and felt the heat rise to his cheeks. His eyes drifted down to Prompto’s lips. They were a nice shade of pink, and they were mere inches away from his own. He briefly wondered what it would be like to kiss them. Noctis had to get rid of the thoughts from his head. He had no idea why he was thinking about kissing Prompto.

     Noctis was interrupted from his thoughts when Prompto suddenly blew air into one of his eyes. He was released and immediately stood up.

     “Hey, unfair!” Noctis asserted, rubbing his eye. Prompto stuck his tongue out.

     “Not as unfair as you teleporting.”

     Noctis rolled his eyes. He went back to his bed and finished his food. Meanwhile, Prompto went to the bathroom to take a shower. Noctis remembered that it was now daytime, so there was a chance that he would run into Cid. It was likely that he would spend most of his time inside the garage while his granddaughter went outside to greet customers. Still, they would need to make a swift exit. Prompto exited the bathroom as he dried his hair with a towel.

     “So, how long ‘til we reach the city?”

     “Probably less than a day.”

     “Right, so we should leave as soon as possible.”

     Noctis nodded in response. They got ready to leave and checked out of the motel. He pulled his hood over his head.

     “Man, you really do not want to run into this person, huh?”

     “Cid knew my dad from forever ago. That last thing I need is him contacting my dad or giving me a headache.”

     “Oh, okay. Though, if he does see you, then at least we would be driven to the city in style.”

     Noctis rolled his eyes.

     “Let’s just go.”

     They got onto their chocobos and rode out of Hammerhead. It wasn’t long until they had an unfortunate encounter with some sabertusks. Noctis wanted to ride past them, but Prompto was worried that the creatures would chase them and hurt the chocobos. Looking at approaching sabertusks, Noctis got off his large bird and summoned his weapon. He told Prompto to stay back before warping towards the beasts.

     He brought the blade down on one, reveling in the way the weapon sliced its back. He always enjoyed the adrenaline these fights would give him. Normally, he would have no problem fighting the sabertusks, but he now had someone else to worry about. One tried to lash at him from the side, but he managed to dodge in time. Unfortunately, another one managed to jump onto Noctis, pinning him down.

     As suddenly as the creature was on top of him, it was gone. Noctis looked to see that Prompto had tackled the sabertusk.

     “Prompto, what are you doing!?”

     “Uh, helping you–gah!”

     The sabertusk shoved Prompto off of it. Noctis warped over and killed it.

     “Stay back! It’s not safe!”

     “I’m not letting you fight these things by yourself!”

     “I’ll be fine!”

     There were two remaining sabertusks left, and Prompto refused to leave Noctis’s side.

     “Do you know how to fight?”

     “Not really.”

     Noctis pulled a pistol out of the armiger and handed it to Prompto. He didn’t want him here, but it was better if Prompto had something to defend himself with.

     “Do you know how to use a gun, at least?”

     “Uh, just point and shoot, like a camera, right?”

     Good enough. Noctis turned back to the approaching sabertusks. He warped behind one and struck it. A few shots rang out, and one of them hit the other creature in the leg. The sabertusk decided to run towards Prompto. Before Noctis could do anything, the one in front of him went to attack him. He needed to take this one down and then help Prompto. He heard several gunshots as he repeatedly slashed at it until it died.

     He turned back around to help out Prompto but froze when he saw him on the ground. Prompto was underneath the sabertusk, and Noctis feared for the worst. He warped over to them and pushed the sabertusk off. He noticed that it was dead. Prompto, on the other hand, had his eyes squeezed shut with his pistol pressed to his chest. There was a gash on his shoulder.

     “Am I dead?”

     “No, not yet.”

     Prompto sat up and clutched his shoulder. Noctis took out a potion and gave it to him. The wound healed, and Prompto moved his shoulder around. 

     “Man, I hope this doesn’t leave a scar.”

     “Scars aren’t that bad.”

     “Sure, when they look cool. I just know this one’s gonna be terrible.”

     “Eh, I’ve had worse.”

     Prompto got up, and Noctis smacked him on his back, telling him not to be so reckless. The two of them went back to their chocobos that were still safe. They continued to travel until it was a couple of hours before dark. Noctis directed them to a nearby haven, where he set up camp. It wasn’t much of a campsite. It was just a pile of firewood and a small tent that was meant mainly for one person.

     Noctis decided to spend the rest of the daylight hours fishing for their dinner. It didn’t matter how many times he did it. Noctis would always like fishing. It was calm and helped him clear his head of noisy thoughts. Not everyone liked the hobby because of how boring it seemed. Maybe that’s why he liked it so much. No one would be willing to stick around to watch him fish. That meant no judgment or annoying chatter.

     Prompto came to watch, but he must have gotten bored since he went to do something else ten minutes later. Noctis managed to catch three fish before he had to wrap it up. He prepared the fish while he instructed Prompto on how to build a fire. The fish got cooked afterward. He wished that he had spices or something to flavor it so it wouldn’t taste so bland. Prompto wasn’t complaining, so he didn’t feel too embarrassed.

     The two began talking about random things. Mainly about their favorite games. Noctis brought up the fact that he loved Assassin's Creed . Prompto talked about how they released a new game the previous year, and he had just gotten around to play it. Noctis was envious even though he knew that he had no room to be. The more they talked, the more fun Prompto proved to be. Things became silent between them, and Noctis looked at Prompto. He was mesmerized by the glow of the fire on his face.

     “How come we never became friends?”

     “Hm?”

     “It’s just that I would see you hanging around, but you never talked to me. I could have used a real friend. I probably wouldn’t have done something so stupid.”

     Prompto bit his lip as he remained silent for a moment before replying.

     “I wanted to, but I never felt like I was good enough to hang out with you.”

     “What the hell does that mean?”

     “I was the overweight Niff kid, and you were the prince. I just didn’t feel worthy enough to be around you. So, I kept trying to lose weight until I could approach you. Of course, when I could, that’s when you decided to disappear.”

     “I don’t care about that. I would’ve been happy to be your friend.”

     “Yeah, but after what you said, I got all insecure.”

     “Wait, what did I say?”

     Prompto rubbed the back of his neck. He looked hesitant to answer. Noctis began to get worried. He didn’t remember much of what had happened then. But knowing how dumb he had been, he probably had said something stupid. Oh astrals, what did he tell Prompto?”

     “You said I was heavy when you were helping me up.”

     Noctis felt the color drain from his face. Had he really said that? He couldn’t believe it. If he could go back in time, he would slap his younger self. He just kept messing up and hurting those around him. Clenching his fist, he looked Prompto dead in the eyes.

     “Prompto, I am so sorry.”

     “Hey, it’s fine. It was a long time ago.”

     “It really isn’t fine. I shouldn’t have said what I said. You seemed like a cool guy even back then.”

     Noctis tried to stop his eyes from becoming misty. This was not the time to feel sorry for himself. Another minute passed before Prompto said anything.

     “I, uh, have always looked on myself. I don’t hate you or anything, but I’m going to need a while to process this if that’s okay?”

     “Yeah.”

     Prompto wiped his eyes and tried to lighten the mood. That was one thing Noctis could appreciate about him. He really wished he hadn’t been an ass so they could have been friends. They could have spent many nights playing games. Maybe he could have sneakily given Prompto his vegetables.

     The two of them decided to call it an evening and crammed inside the small tent. They lied down, and Noctis tried not to think about how close they were. He was really confused as to why he was getting so flustered around Prompto. He had never reacted this way around anyone else before. Then again, he had spent the majority of the time by himself. Maybe that was it? He was not used to being so close to someone for so long.

     He tried to fall asleep but was having a difficult time doing so. He looked over at Prompto, who was out cold already. He was wondering why he was helping him out. Noctis felt that he didn’t deserve his kindness. Sighing, he turned to his side and tried to fall asleep.