Noctis had previously considered it an exaggeration, but there are experiences that can change a person forever. There are moments that one can never forget. Events that can crack someone’s soul.
Pitioss had been such an event for Noctis.
The prince felt tears in the corner of his eyes as he sat under the starry sky at the edge of the haven. He had never been afraid of the darkness before. He had liked to be out at night and hadn’t even the thought of fighting the daemons that had really scared him. Now the darkness only reminded him of how he had been locked up all alone for days in a dungeon where he had thought he was going to lose his mind. Noctis hadn't seen the sun for days , and he hadn't been able to speak to anyone. It was just him and the madness of this unreal world called Pitioss.
It was only understandable that at some point he had lost track of time. When he finally escaped from this hell, completely dirty and with a slight beard, Prompto had hugged him while he was crying. Gladio had said that it had been almost two weeks since he had set foot in the ruins.
Two weeks. Noctis could hardly believe it , and at the same time he had known that Gladio was speaking the truth. This strange place had ensured that Noctis was neither hungry nor needed to sleep. He had been struggling to stay sane for two weeks without a break.
And what for? For an item that didn't even seem to work properly. The Black Hood sounded so mysterious, so powerful , but Noctis had hardly noticed any difference in his last fight.
He had ruined his mental health for nothing.
A sob escaped Noctis' throat as he made himself as small as possible. He looked out into the darkness outside the haven and heard the sound of daemons. It was a cruel irony that even the sound of daemons soothed him. It showed him that there was other life besides himself. He would never be so alone again as he was in the ruins of Pitioss.
And yet Noctis could no longer sleep for fear of the dark. All of his friends tried so hard to help him. If they wanted to fall asleep together in the tent, Prompto held him close and gave him the real feeling that someone else was there. Gladio stayed up extra-long to guard them and to give Noctis the feeling of security . Ignis talked to him non-stop so that Noctis did not feel alone. Why couldn't all this effort help him?
Noctis could only sleep a few hours at once , and when he woke up his heart was beating like crazy. The anxiety and panic then had him completely under control , and when he only saw darkness around him again, Noctis could only scream and sob.
In the beginning the prince had always woken the other three with it, but now Noctis snuck out of the tent to be alone with his torment. None of the three deserved the prince to wake them up every night. Every night fear constricted his throat . I t felt as if an enormous monster was sitting on his chest and tearing his soul out of his body.
Would Noctis ever be able to sleep normally again? Could he ever stop dreaming of the unreal obstacles and death traps in Pitioss? Would he ever be able to forget what he had experienced?
When they had used an elevator in Lestallum, Noctis had screamed in panic because he suddenly saw the rotating rooms in his mind’s eye . The rotating rooms that let him fall to his death. At the same time, he had felt like he was back on the moving platforms that had led him toward the deadly stakes. The simple use of an elevator had ensured that Noctis couldn't stop screaming for minutes until Gladio was finally able to carry him outside because Noctis couldn't move in panic.
Every oh-so-small event that reminded him only remotely of his stay in the ruins caused Noctis to panic. He never wanted to go back, he never wanted to think about it again. And yet it felt like he'd never really left Pitioss.
Warm tears ran down Noctis cheeks , and the prince wished with all his soul that he could turn back the clock. He wished he could stop himself from ever stepping into these ruins.
When Prompto's soft voice rang out, worryingly asking for him, Noctis didn't even bother to wipe his tears. There was no point in hiding his pain.
Noctis sniffed and felt how Prompto sat down behind him. Prompto put his arms around him very gently and pulled Noctis close. He held him tightly and the prince felt his sobs grow louder again as he snuggled up against Prompto. The darkness terrified him so much , and at the same time it helped him so much that Prompto was there for him.
"... Noct, do you want to talk about it?"
Prompto's voice was soft and Noctis turned his tear-soaked face towards him. He looked in those beautiful blue eyes that gazed at him with concern and love, before he leaned over and kissed Prompto's lips gently. Their kiss was salty with tears.
Just a month before Noctis stepped into the ruins, he and Prompto had become a couple. Noctis had felt so newly in love. He had felt so happy and so strong, as if he could accomplish everything he wanted. That love had made him feel almighty and had given him the courage to step into Pitioss without hesitation. If Noctis had managed to ask Prompto if he wanted to be with him, then he'd have the courage to tackle some stupid dungeon, right?
Haha, no. I was so wrong . Noctis should have just enjoyed his love. He should have just enjoyed being with Prompto and not entering the ruins he had heard so many gruesome stories about.
Prompto's hand gently stroked Noctis cheek , and the prince looked painfully at his boyfriend before lying down and resting his head in Prompto's lap. Prompto’s warm fingers gently caressed Noctis' raven hair, giving him all the time in the world to find an answer.
“I've d-died so many times, Prom. You can't imagine it. I-I lived in a c-cruel fear of death for days. I have fallen to certain d-death again and again, been impaled on s-stakes or crushed by stone slabs. I've died so many t-times and I've felt every d-death. And I never knew if this would be my last d-death. What if I didn't open my e-eyes this time and stood at the b-beginning of the room again? What if I really s-stayed dead this time? What if I never see y-you again…?
Noctis’ own painful sobs interrupted his words. He didn't want to talk about it because it brought the experience back in front of his mind’s eye , and at the same time he wanted so badly for Prompto to underst an d him. That at least one person understood what he had been through.
Promptly warm fingers brushed his sweaty skin and gently caressed his ear.
"Noct, I'm so, so sorry for you that you experienced this."
His boyfriend's voice sounded so strange and full of hurt that Noctis turned his head up to look at Prompto. He was also crying. He wept softly and quietly.
Noctis spoke his words startled before he grabbed one of Prompto's hands and squeezed it gently.
"Oh Prom, I shouldn't have told you that."
He really shouldn’t. It was so unfair that he passed his pain onto Prompto. It was bad enough that he suffered alone , but Prompto shook his head and leaned forward to kiss Noctis’ forehead.
“Y-You need to talk about it, Noct. S-Since you came back out of P-Pitioss, I hardly recognize you anymore. I c-can see how much you suffer and how much the memories torment you. It feels so t-terrible that I can't help you."
Prompto's fingers trembled and his voice sounded sad and broken. Noctis wanted to comfort his boyfriend, and at the same time he couldn’t do it. He himself needed all the comfort in the world. Most of all, he knew that his boyfriend was just right. He really suffered.
“I-It was horrible, Prom. I didn't know if this was still r-reality or if I'd already died and ended up in h-hell. It was all so strange and a-against all laws of nature. And it was so dark and I was alone. So alone . I m-missed you so much. I was so scared that I w-would never see you again."
Noctis spoke his words of pain , and this time it was Prompto who squeezed his hand. They both cried in the darkness of the night . Prompto nodded slightly.
“I-I was scared too. When you didn't come back a-after days, I really freaked out. In addition, none of us could e-enter the ruins. We wanted to go look for you. I wanted to go look for you. B-But as long as you were inside, no one else could enter the ruins. I was s-so scared that I lost you forever after we j-just got together. "
Noctis looked almost surprised at Prompto's words before the guilt almost engulfed him. He had been so preoccupied with his own trauma that he hadn't thought for a second what it was like for Prompto. For two weeks his boyfriend hadn't even known whether Noctis was still alive or not . Of course that had been terrible for him too.
"I-I should never have left you, P-Prom. I thought I could do it, but in the end Pitioss f-finished me off."
Noctis’ words were a hoarse whisper and Prompto swallowed. As horrible as Noctis felt right now, no words could describe how happy he was to have Prompto back at his side.
“N-Noct, I think we m-maybe should get help. P-Professional help."
Prompto's voice was so quiet that Noctis could barely understand him . W hen the prince understood the content of those words, he first felt reluctance. He understood that Prompto meant a psychotherapist , and the idea of going there because he was unable to cope with his problems on his own did not appeal to him. But Noctis also understood that it wasn't going to get better on its own and that his behavior was causing pain not only to him but also to his friends. He just wanted to be happy with Prompto again and forget what he had experienced. Or at least he wanted to lead a normal life again.
"Y-Yeah, that is probably a good idea."
Noctis spoke his words just as quietly, whereupon a small, hopeful smile appeared on Prompto's lips. He lowered his head again and kissed Noctis on the mouth. It was a beautiful, gentle kiss before Prompto whispered gently against his lips, "I'm here for you. W-We can do it together."