A Long and Rainy Night
Prompto couldn’t sleep. That wasn’t particularly an unusual situation for him. He’d had trouble sleeping for years and years now. The whole issue about Insomnia having fallen, had seemed to only compound the situation.
A whole lot had ‘compounded the situation’ recently. Insomnia, the whole Titan thing, the Regalia. Most recently however was Gladio’s decision to just nope out of their little traveling party without telling anyone where he was going or for how long.
That had pissed Noct off, Prompto had read it in the way he held his shoulders and clenched his jaw. Ignis even, had been displeased if the way his eyes had hardened was any indication.
None of their current situation, in any real way, helped with his insomnia. Especially knowing they’d have to venture deep into another creepy cave but this time without their tank.
Bundled down in his sleeping-bag, unzipped because they were on the edge of a swamp for fuck’s sake and it was way to muggy for that nonsense, Prompto failed to sleep.
He’d tried. He’d been trying for hours. His body ached with how long he’d been trying, and his head throbbed dully.
It was too quiet, he thought, as he stared at the far wall of the tent. Even with the drum of rain on top of the tent, it was too quiet. Prompto had tried to let the sound of rain lull him to sleep. He’d twisted and turned, flipped and flopped. He’d tried everything in the book he could think of that normally worked in helping him get to sleep. Nothing did the trick though, and Prompto was about ready to go hide in the Regalia and spend his night on his phone, waiting for the sun to rise.
It wouldn’t have been the first time he’d done it.
Prompto blamed Gladio. Not even ironically, he legitimately blamed the Shield. He’d fucked off to Gods-knew-where for reasons he’d been disinclined to tell Noctis, who’d made some smart-ass quip about the guy getting laid when asked. It hadn’t settled well with any of them, to be missing the bigger man in their party.
Prompto flopped onto his side yet again, with a long sigh, and ran a hand over his face as if that could chase away his exhaustion and inability to sleep. He wanted to hit something in frustration or maybe just suffocate himself into unconsciousness. That one had to work, right?
’ Not with my luck,’ he thought petulantly and buried his face half into his too-thin pillow.
Ignis and Noctis lay next to each other, and Prompto had himself on Ignis’ free side. Normally, he was on Gladio’s far side, and maybe it was the feeling of warmth and solidness that he missed and made it hard to settle. For a moment, he stared at the pair next to him.
It made him indescribably jealous for reasons he didn’t want to think about to watch them sleep. They had just nodded off like it was nothing, and with Noctis it wasn’t that impressive, but Ignis had gone out like a light too. It was like their missing companion was a common-day occurrence, which it was totally not.
Prompto didn’t get it, not even slightly.
He did have to admit though, that Ignis was just as handsome in his sleep as he was during his waking hours. Lax, soft, and Prompto thought he looked younger when he slept. Like he was actually the twenty-three-year-old that the gunman knew him to be.
It was indescribably unfair how attractive his friends were. Then there was him, plain old Prompto with his freckles and easily burned skin. Not gross but certainly not on par with the other three. Which was why he’d probably stayed in his ‘own lane’ when it came to anything outside of friendship.
Not that the offer had been made blatantly, but there were enough hints that if he’d wanted to, Prompto could have picked up and hinted right back at them.
He groaned softly, and buried his face into the pillow. It wasn’t the time to be thinking about ‘what-if’s and ‘maybe’s. He needed to try and get some sleep before Noctis proudly charged them through the swamp to whatever rat-hole they were going to go into tomorrow. The whole situation sucked. No Gladio, no sleep, and it didn’t seem like there was a relief for either problem on the horizon.
He sighed, and wondered if he’d ever sleep again. ‘Probably’ said his logic, but ‘never’ cried the louder paranoia.
Prompto wiggled again, sought to pry himself out of his sleeping bag and just make for the Regalia until the sun rose, or even just stare at their camp-fire until it burned out completely. Even if he’d get soaked in the rain, which sounded like it was slowly letting up.
An arm thrown over him, however, dashed those plans like a wooden ship on a sharp, rocky shore. Prompto froze in outright surprise, breath caught in his throat. It didn’t take much in the way of guessing to figure out who’s arm curled over his ribs, or who’s nose bumped against the back of his neck in not-quite a nuzzle.
He shivered, as the soft, sleep-heavy puffs of air brushed over his skin.
Ignis was cuddling him. Cuddling him. Him! the thought echoed around in his skull, pinging and ponging even faster and Prompto felt as if the thick layers of the sleeping bag was far more than just ‘too much’. His heart pounded, high and speedy in his throat as Ignis only held him tighter with a soft, sleepy noise.
He waited, for a long moment, not daring to breathe too deeply or make any movements. Waited for Ignis to say something or to roll away from him again and grab onto Noctis.
‘That’s probably what he thinks he’s doing, genius,’ his mind supplied for him a little sharply. He clenched his eyes tightly against the thought, like that could ward it off long enough to enjoy the moment. It wasn’t that easy, it never was, and Prompto swallowed and to him it seemed very loudly.
Ignis sighed softly, nuzzled into the back of his neck and squeezed him a little tighter against him with a soft sound. The rain drummed down, and slowly Prompto let himself relax warily. Half of him expected Ignis to wake and the confusion to blow up into something worse.
Prompto was glad. In the dark, the blush he could feel staining his cheeks couldn’t be seen but even so it wasn’t something he could play off with a laugh without some forethought. He buried his face half-way into the pillow, and listened to Ignis and Noctis breathe. It was nice, to be held for once.
He didn’t notice when he eventually slid into sleep.
Boom, Rattle, Shake
It was too much effort, to be honest. They’d all showered, eaten, and fallen into bed with communication reaching as simple as a word or two crossed with vague grunts and hand-flapping gesturing.
It wasn’t light out when he woke up. It wasn’t even more than three hours after he’d fallen asleep, he realized as he squinted at the alarm-clock that sat on the side-table between the two beds in the room. His face scrunched as he tried to work out the red numbers and almost failed to bite back a groan.
3:23 A.M. glared at him from the clock’s face in glowing red numbers.
He closed his eyes and tried to find that inner-happy place that had let him drift off in the first place that evening. All he could feel was the way his eyes felt too big for their sockets and a tiredness that left him wanting to whine in frustration.
It was only after a few minutes later when he heard the thunder roll over-head. Deep and powerful, like the storm was sitting on top of them with brutal indiscretion of who it bothered. Which was weird, because normally storms didn’t wake him up. They didn’t even bother him, normally, or they hadn’t in the past.
There’d been a few times after their first run-in’s with thunder-bombs that he’d woken up or jerked around with gun in hand when it’d surprised him. Even so, he’d hoped that he’d gotten over that but apparently no. He sighed and buried his face against the too-hot pillow and weighed the odds of waking Ignis up if he rolled over to try and get more comfortable.
That was when he felt it, as thunder growled again over the sound of rain slapping down outside the room. A twitch, more of a violent flinch from the other man. Hard enough that the bed jolted just slightly. Prompto stared at the far wall for a few seconds in sheer surprise.
Ignis had never, never ever implied that he was less than okay with thunderstorms and all they’d entailed. Hells, he’d once gone on the hotel roof to watch Prompto take pictures of a storm as it started to roll in, which had been a huge culmination of awesome, stupid, and beautiful. He’d gotten some great shots.
Maybe he was dreaming though, Prompto thought to himself, people twitched when they dreamed. Hell, Prompto’d been bitched at by his friends for his mumbling in his sleep or outright sleep-talking to them in full conversations he’d woken them up for.
A fork of lightning split the sky outside and Prompto counted out ten seconds before the thunder shook the glass of the window.
The bed jerked again. So. Not a dream then? Prompto rolled over gently and slowly to look at Ignis, not having to squint being so close to the adviser. He looked younger without his glasses, Prompto thought, more their age than anything else and a hell of a lot more relaxed normally.
The guilt that nipped at him that he knew what the other man looked like ‘normally’ as he slept was almost enough to make him roll back the other way and pretend that he’d never woken up in the first place, even if it meant just laying there until dawn broke over the whole of their little corner of the world.
Because really, he shouldn’t have been gawking at the other man in the first place, at least outside of the photographs he took. He shouldn’t even do that, he knew. Resolutely, he closed his eyes again and tried to ignore everything else from before.
Then, either the best or worst thing possible happened. Ignis moved closer, like he was seeking some sort of refuge from his dreams. It was more like he just rolled right into him. Prompto held his breath reflexively, wondering if this would be the thing that woke the other man up.
He both hoped it would and wouldn’t. Stupidly.
It took a moment and Prompto could only lay there as an arm was thrown over him, a leg hooking over one calf to tangle their legs as Ignis pressed his face against the flat of Prompto’s chest. Holding onto him, clinging, snugging, whatever anyone wanted to call it.
In contrast to Prompto’s lack of breathing, Ignis sighed long and low and seemed to fall into a deeper sleep. Prompto kind of wanted to scream or curl his arms around the other man in turn. That, however, felt too intimate. It was bad enough that a low curl of delight built in his chest, that he got to feel the other man curl his arms around him at all.
“ Iggy?” he asked quietly, barely breathed the word.
Prompto held his breath and waited, but there was no response. Just the sound of rain pounding down outside and another low, threatening snarl of thunder to go with it. Prompto swallowed around the tightness that had become his throat as he settled his head back onto the pillow. He should have rolled over and tried to go back to sleep and call it a night.
Yet he couldn’t move, didn’t dare to.
Too afraid he’d get a response and no idea what he’d do if he did. Probably die of something between disappointment and humiliation when the older man inevitably apologized and that would be the end of anything ever between them.
Which included the not-quite hard-won friendship that Prompto had come to savor. The sharp come-backs and puns and the way Ignis’ eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled in delight and fierce pride. Prompto cut himself off their, away from that line of thought.
There was no way he was going to wax poetically about his crush that shouldn’t exist while said man clung to him like a barnacle on a rock.
So he bit his lips and closed his eyes and listened to the sound of rain falling. Felt the soft puffs of air against his skin and savored the feeling of the other man seeking him out for something like comfort. He resolutely ignored the guilt and selfish delight that fought each other just behind his sternum.
He didn’t notice that Ignis didn’t flinch again when the thunder rolled over them. It was almost too warm between them. It took him another few hours to slip back into sleep but, in all honesty, Noctis wasn’t the only one who could sleep in a moving car if he had to.
In the Cold of the Night
Like, terribly, horribly un-funny jokes. He got it, he did, hell if it were him he’d be making the same jokes at the expense of one of them in a heart-beat. It was just that it’d been something like six hours and Gladio and Noctis were not as funny as they liked to think they were.
So he’d resorted to doing the mature thing and ignored them. Which was going about as well as expected, because Prompto was reduced to his boxers and his red, sleeveless shirt with only the hope that his clothes would be dry by morning.
A guy gets blasted by a blizzard spell one time and it was jokes on him until someone else fucked up.
At least Ignis had made chili that night, hotter than what he knew either of the two traitorous men preferred. It was probably one reason why the pair of them were giving him shit instead of eating their food or at least taking their sweet time.
Prompto hoped they went to bed hungry and with burning mouths, it’d serve them right.
“ You cooling your heels over there Prompto? You got a little heated earlier. “
There was a snort of laughter that wasn’t even covered by a cough from Gladio at the smug question. Prompto levied the Prince a short, flat glare and flipped him the bird just to make sure that he got the entire sentiment of the entire evening.
“ Nah, he’s just chillin’ over there ‘cause he knows Iggy will give him seconds if he gives him those big puppy-eyes.” Gladio argued with a grin on his face that would have looked more appropriate on something that crawled out of the swamp.
Something big and gross, with snaggled teeth and little brain. The thought was less comforting than he’d hoped.
“ That’s quite enough from the peanut gallery this evening I think.” Ignis’ smooth voice cut in neatly, as he joined them in the one remaining folding chair around the fire. Prompto stared into his chili and resolutely didn’t watch the other man cross one long leg over the other and settle in.
“ Aw c’mon Specs, you have to admit it was a little funny. “
Ignis made a thoughtful noise and Prompto glanced at the steward only to find the other man looking at him rather than at the resident royal of their group. Prompto chalked up the heat he felt bloom on his cheeks to the spice of the food he shoveled into his mouth and the fire.
With the sun down, there was no way anyone could see anything like a blush on his cheeks in the shadows cast by the flames.
“ Almost as amusing as that time you were startled into falling into that pond near the Vesperpool by the ozmone hare, perhaps.”
Prompto didn’t even try to stifle his bark of laughter at the memory of his friend falling into the slimy water while a curious little hare sniffled where he’d stood. Noctis had reeked after that, like pond water and mud, and Ignis had driven with the roof down on the Regalia.
Noctis flushed at the memory, sinking in his seat just a little like a turtle seeking to avoid being harassed. Prompto had to admit it was at least a little satisfying.
Even Gladio snickered at the memory, and Ignis turned his gaze on him next. The Shield held up on pacifying hand, like that was going to do any good at warding off whatever it was that Ignis was going to say. They both knew it was in vain and was nothing more than going through the motions.
“ And wasn’t it you Gladio,” Ignis smiled, a small, wicked little thing that meant only regret in the future of the person he turned it on, “ who made quite the handsome frog for the three days it took us to scrounge up the cure?”
The Shield didn’t reply, instead took a large gulp of his water and averted his eyes. Ignis glanced at Prompto, and the gunman could only feel the blush on his cheeks grow darker when the adviser merely winked at him. It was an action so brief that Prompto wasn’t sure he imagined it in the first place.
“ Don’t they have dirt on you?” Prompto asked around a mouthful of chili.
“ Oh, undoubtedly,” Ignis agreed, “but wise men do not play that card against their cook, now do they?”
Prompto ducked his head with a grin and a nod of his head. He couldn’t argue with that logic, because he had to admit he wouldn’t. He could have known the best gossip on the other man and he’d have kept it locked away to avoid whatever punishment Ignis could have come up with.
Probably forcing that nasty tofu thing he’d made once and then never again down their throats.
The rest of the night devolved into more civil conversation between the four of them with ease of familiarity. The cold that clung to him since being hit with a blizzard spell earlier that day hadn’t quite worn off by time he crawled into his sleeping-bag but, it was better than it was before.
Magic he’d learned, was harder to get out of the system than anything else. The thought crossed his mind, just briefly, that maybe he could steal a jacket or two from where they were stored. He discarded the idea more to the fact that at least two of his three friends woke before him and he’d rather not answer any questions.
He knew that if the others woke up, there would be a lot more questions. Prompto turned his face into his pillow and sighed something that was just short of a frustrated groan. He was cold. It was a fact, though he wasn’t positive that was all that was keeping him awake.
To his left was Noctis, to his right was Ignis, and it wasn’t even his doing. Ignis had chosen the spot long after Prompto had taken his customary position. Maybe it was some sort of weird ‘you-were-a-dick’ move on Ignis’ behalf towards their favorite Prince.
Or he was just way, way over-thinking the entire thing.
Another shiver raced up his spine and Prompto shuddered through it, before he gave up. Gladio would have been the ideal answer but there was no way in all the Hells that he was going to climb over Noct and as Gladio to snuggle him. To be fair, he wasn’t going to ask anyone to snuggle him.
Because they all needed their sleep, he rationalized as he stared in a vague sort of terrified determination at the motionless lump that was Ignis sleeping. He bit both lips, curling them inward and gently chewing in mounting anxiety. All he had to do was just wiggle like, six inches. Not even a foot. He could always play it off as he had done it in his sleep and no-one would be the wiser.
Finally, so slowly he wasn’t sure it wasn’t centimeter by centimeter, he inched his bag and himself closer. Closer and closer until he could hear Ignis’ breathing slow and steady loud and clear and comforting. Prompto rolled a little closer in his sleeping-bag,close enough that could feel the solidness of Ignis next to him and forced himself to close his eyes.
Maybe it was psychological, but he slowly did feel warmer. He told himself firmly that it was absolutely not the kind of warm that he got right before he popped a stiffy because that would be the last thing he needed.
So he curled. Brought his knees up, hands between his thighs and chin tucked against his own chest, he curled as best he could and savored the solid presence of the other man. It was creepy and he’d never live it down if anyone knew he did it on purpose, but for the moment it was fine.
Prompto didn’t get much, if any, sleep that night. The others did, and he kept his eyes closed as they began to stir towards dawn, or at least Ignis did. He forced his face into slack-sleepy appearance when he heard Ignis’ breathing change.
There was a shuffle, a soft sigh and then the other man went still as he noticed Prompto snuggled against him. There was a sharp exhale, and when Ignis pet a hand over limp hair and over his cheek, his eyes nearly snapped open in surprise.
Then it was over, Ignis moving away to get up and start preparing their day. Prompto rolled over slowly, and only then did he let his eyes ease open.
Only this time he found Noctis’ eyes slitted open, and a smug little smirk on his face. Prompto could feel the blood drain out of his face and he could only lay there and wonder when the Prince merely winked at him, mouth what might have been ‘you’re welcome’ or gibberish before closing his eyes and drifting off minutes later.
Prompto could only lay there and wonder what that meant.
A Sip Here, a Slip There
Lestallum was hot, humid, and sticky and that was probably why they’d all dressed down when they’d left the Leville earlier that evening when the sun had just started to sink and turn the sky orange-pink.
A few hours later and a few beers more than recommended and they’d finally hauled themselves back out into the still-sticky evening air. Gladio was talking boisterously, Noct meandering down the sidewalk and Ignis, well, Ignis had stumbled and ended with his arm over Prompto’s shoulders.
Prompto had wanted to simultaneously die and laugh at the surprised stupor on the normally composed man’s face. More-so, he’d wanted his camera in his hands to immortalize the moment because it took a hell of a lot, he’d learned, to surprise Ignis in full.
Yet when he’d expected Ignis to pull away, to right himself, he didn’t. Like he was content to let himself be guided along by Prompto. Which was fine, it was cool, Prompto could do that.
Ignis was not a light man. He had the height and slim physique of a man who’d spent a great deal of his life getting into, literally, fighting shape. However, that didn’t make him light. It had been a nasty lesson for Prompto years ago to learn that muscle was heavier than fat and well, Ignis was mostly muscle.
Six feet of long, lean, handsome muscle with quick green eyes and a silver tongue.
Six feet of man that Prompto was desperately trying not to either drop or steer into a wall or something. Ignis’ arm around his shoulders was warm and heavy, and more familiar an action that Prompto thought the other man figured it was.
When Gladio had suggested they go for a few drinks, Prompto had expected Ignis to be the one object to the idea. Instead he’d jumped on the wagon and the next thing Prompto knew they were all just a bit drunker than what was probably wise.
Ignis leaned a little harder on him, feet drifting him close enough that it was more like Prompto was slotted under the man’s arm and against his side than Prompto keeping him on the side-walk instead of the rough street. The more his head buzzed and swam with the alcohol the more difficult it was getting to not imagine that the arm he’d slung around the steward’s waist was simple a return of affection.
“ Prompto,” Ignis slurred gently, “ Why does your hair smell like fruit?”
Prompto chuckled nervously, wondering why the hell he was the one helping the drunker man down the road instead of Gladio who was walking ahead of them and talking loudly. At least, Prompto was pretty sure the Shield was talking to them, he kept looking back and gesturing.
“ Um, what?” he asked, turning his head to look at the other man, and was startled to find green eyes watching him expectantly, much darker in the night of the Lestallum streets. Prompto was suddenly glad for the drinks he’d consumed earlier, it made the blush on his face almost completely unnoticeable.
He hoped. Gods, did he hope.
“ You hair,” Ignis repeated, slower, as if Prompto were the one drunk, “ it smells like fruit. Why?”
Prompto bit his tongue before he could shoot back a question about the way the other man smelled in the morning, all sharp and put together and a legitimate reason as to why he tried to grab the shower after Ignis when they hit up hotels.
Any wanking sessions that were done within the shower, well, Prompto wasn’t made out of stone and they were all guys, they all had needs.
“ Probably the gel and spray I used this morning,” he offered and sounded confused and amused to his own ears. Ignis hummed in thought, but turned his attention seemingly back to the other two who walked ahead of them, only slightly more stable under their own power.
“ I preferred the other scent, truthfully.”
The admission seemed to come out of nowhere and Prompto jerked to look in surprise at Ignis, who seemed just surprised himself that he’d admitted such a thing not only aloud, but aloud to Prompto himself.
Prompto might have gaped just a little, and the blush on his cheeks may have flared just a little brighter. He was torn right down the middle though, of if he wished Ignis would remember the moment tomorrow or hoping he’d forget it forever and never bring it up again.
Prompto tried to play it off, flashing him quick, teasing smile, “ You been sniffin’ my hair dude? Didn’t peg that to be your style.” Ignis scoffed, with a slight toss of his head that had them staggering a few steps further towards the buildings to their right.
“ It’s rather hard to ignore when I wake to your hair in my face more than once a week.” Ignis noted dryly, and again Prompto found himself silent in response, teeth finding his bottom lip to keep his mouth from running away without him.
Apology welled up behind his teeth, or excuse after excuse. He should have known better than to think that the other man hadn’t noticed. It was probably fricking hard to miss, after-all. Prompto could only stare uncertainly at the ground as they walked and Ignis offered him a gently squeeze on his far shoulder.
Prompto didn’t look up, wasn’t sure if it was because it’d be a good idea or a bad idea. Instead he walked a little quicker, trying to make up some space between them and the other two, instead of letting them fall further and further behind.
“ Prompto?” the query came gently as they walked, “ Did I say something wr-?”
“ Almost there!” He cut him off cheerfully and hoped the relief in his voice wasn’t too blatant as the Leville came into sight as they rounded the last corner, “ C’mon Iggy, let’s get back to the room yeah? Bed sounds good right about now.”
Though he doubted his ability to sleep. The sluggish warmth of the alcohol in his veins was fading fast as his heart pounded and he reminded himself why he didn’t drink all that often. For some people it helped them sleep, but for Prompto, he’d never found the appeal of getting drunk enough to just pass out.
Well, he hadn’t for a few years at least.
Regardless of his impending lack of sleep or what Ignis had been attempting to say, Prompto was just glad that they were back in one piece. Gladio held the door as Prompto urge the taller steward through the doors and then up the stairs.
It was a plan easier thought than done, given the way that Ignis’ legs seemed to be harder to operate with every step they managed up to the second-floor. By time they reached their room, Gladio had taken Ignis’ other side to help keep the two of them steady.
Prompto’s head was swimming, though he was sure not as badly as his companion’s.
“ What did they put in those things he was drinking?” He asked, as they managed to get into the room, stumbling in, “ I don’t think I’ve ever seen him like this.” He was concerned, worried, really, about the fact that it seemed like Ignis was so far past his usual limit.
Gladio merely grunted as they crossed the room, “ Get enough tequila into anyone and it’s gonna hit’m sooner or later,” he pointed out as they angled Ignis towards one of the beds, “and Iggy’s human, even if he don’t act like it all that often.”
“ Rude,” Ignis managed, blearily giving Gladio a look that was unfocused but clearly aiming for disdainful, “ tha’ was rude Gladio.” Gladio rolled his eyes and huffed in response, and Prompto wondered how often he’d been told that.
Prompto wanted, in a vague sort of way, to argue that Iggy acted just as human as the rest of them all the time, but whatever he was going to say was cut off into an unattractive squawk as Gladio promptly let go, and Ignis made an undignified yelp as he fell onto the bed without the Shield’s support and Prompto unexpecting.
The pair of them fell onto the bed in a tangle of limbs, Ignis clutching onto him in a remnant of his prior embrace, and Prompto sprawled against the taller man with his face mashed unattractively into the steward’s chest. It was uncomfortable and hard to breathe and Ignis smelled unattractively of alcohol.
“ Oh.” Ignis breathed curiously, “ Did we fall?”
That time, Prompto couldn’t help his own snort of exasperation that turned into a quiet laugh. He couldn’t quite bring himself to move, either, and he wondered if it was bad he was being selfish enough to lay where he was sprawled.
“ Yeah dude,” Prompto finally answered gently, “ we fell.” He angled his face up to look at Ignis, he was watching him with bright eyes that didn’t quite to seem to want to focus, “ At least it was into bed, though, instead of into the road.”
Ignis hummed in quiet agreement and stared at the old, slightly superficially-cracked ceiling instead, with a quiet frown on his face.
Prompto hummed and wiggled to try and get out of the iron-like grip he was caught in. Managed to do nothing more than get himself caught tighter as Ignis blinked slowly, the sort of blink that heralded oncoming sleep no matter how hard it was fought.
“ S’not how I’d have wanted to get you into bed.” Ignis muttered and Prompto could only stare at him in confusion and surprise, as Ignis seemed to finally sink into sleep as if he’d been pushed off a bridge; which was to say very quickly.
His grip didn’t loosen. They were both still wearing clothes that ought to have been changed or at least removed.
“ Guys?” he asked hopefully, “ a little help maybe?”
Noctis, who’d flopped on the other bed, done nothing more than wiggle free of his pants and shoes made a noise that might have been curiosity or annoyed acknowledgement. “ You’re fine,” Noctis muttered, “ He’s just..clingy?” he offered like that made it any sort of better with a flip-flap of his hand before he seemed to sink into his bed all the more, “Iggy gets clingy when he’s drunk.”
“ Gladio?” Prompto asked, voice pitching higher than he’d admit to, ever. The Shield glanced at them briefly, with the eyes of a man who knew how to make a Thing stop, but with very little motivation or desire to do the thing. Instead he was picking at his own shoes, like the laces weren’t holding quite steady enough for him to undo.
“ Give’m an hour,” the bigger man grumbled, “ he’ll roll over or somethin’, s’not like it’s the end of the world, Prom-pom.”
Prompto felt like there was a distinct lack of sympathy for his situation. Which, he thought, was fair because no one was supposed to know about feelings that should have been buried a hell of a lot deeper than where he’d shoved them. Out of sight and out of mind, he’d thought, but whoops he’d accepted his friend’s request to go on a road-trip from emotional hell.
It was probably fine. It’d would be. What were the chances Ignis would even remember that night when the sun rose in the morning?
Prompto prayed for ‘not high’.
As they settled in for the night, Prompto came to a few conclusions rather quickly.
One, Ignis was not going to simply let him go.
Two, sleep was going to evade him at the speed his rapid heart was trying to beat out of his chest.
Three, he was so very, very, fucked and in all the wrong ways.
By time dawn broke, he’d come to a fourth revelation that seemed like an old friend he always seemed to forget: He hated being right.
The Light of the Night
It could not be said that Ignis was an impatient man. Calm, calculating, devastatingly intelligent and well collected. A well-bred young man of nobility, people said. It had been a point of pride for his family, and if Ignis were honest with himself, a point of pride that he was rather unashamed of.
Mature for his age, they’d complimented him, for he was sure that was how they meant it.
‘So responsible!’ they’d exclaim, as if it were some great shock to them that he could manage to be as much.
‘Dignified’ he’d heard whispered approvingly, ‘a man of class’.
Ignis was not so humble as to dispute such compliments, nor would it do well to turn them away. It would be dreadfully impolite and there were social circles that even he dare not break away from all for the sake of retaining something as simple as popular opinion among his peers.
Now, those opinions were far from whispered or hushed.
Stuffy, prude, kiss-ass, brown-nosed, freak, he’d heard all the little, petty insults thrown his way through his years at school. Despite everything, he was not immune, and as far as Ignis could tell, that was not uncommon. Everyone had feelings that could be hurt one way or another.
It hadn’t mattered to him, he’d told himself angrily, what they thought. He knew who he was, what he was, and he would hold his pride as a shield before him and fend off their childish words with a head held high and a resolve to shame their attempts into hurting him.
Gladio had been the first to see the hurt the other children left, and the first to threaten them with a foot up their asses if they kept it up. Ignis could remember the fire in the Shield’s eyes as he’d put himself between Ignis and some other boy in their year, and the offense in his voice.
Ignis distinctly remembered that moment as he stared down in utter surprise and perhaps a little revulsion at the woman who had, uninvitedly, curled herself under his arm. Her big brown eyes were accentuated by the make-up she’d caked around them and to some she might have been dangerously attractive.
Yet, Ignis recalled, there had been a reason that when they’d left Insomnia he’d turned down the implications of marriage, of courting and all the fine ladies who sought more than a simple dance at the functions he’d been required to attend.
“ Sugar?” She asked in a drawling voice that Ignis was sure some might have found enticing, “ What’dya say, just you’n me?” She fluttered her ridiculous false eye-lashes at him as if that were supposed to entice him, and leaned a little more into his side, her arms twined around one of his.
“ I think not,” he replied coolly, and attempted to withdraw his arm from her clinging grasp, “ I’m quite entertained for the evening.” Red-painted nails dug into his arm gently as she refused to be dislodged so easily, an exaggerated pout sticking her bottom lip out.
“ C’mon Sugar, I can offer somethin’ better than some crappy music and foreign food and you’d enjoy it more t’boot.” She urged, pushing her chest out in an obnoxious attempt to draw his eye to her overly full chest that was all but tumbling out of her scantily designed costume for the event.
“ No.” He re-iterated, and wondered if there was a more simple way to say the word so she’d understand. He jerked his arm out of her clawed grip and ignored the glower the action earned him from her.
“ What are ya, some kinda freak?” she jeered, her ugly glower turning to a cruel sneer in record time, “ Naw,” she drawled on in an accent that was still yet devoid of any ‘r’s or proper enunciation, “ You’re a rude faggot ain’t ya? Travelin’ with them other guys, do they even know you probably wanna suck their-“
“ I think it’s time you back off, lady.”
Ignis startled at the sound of Prompto’s voice. Over the sound of the music of the live-band and the chatter of people he hadn’t heard the younger man approach them. He’d been completely unaware that he’d even seen them.
“ The fuck’re you to tell me shit?” she asked, and Prompto did something that very few people had done before. In fact, within their merry little band, it would now account for all three people who had come to his aid.
“ His friend, now fuck off.” Prompto snapped in uncharacteristic hostility, and Ignis noted the tight set to the younger man’s shoulders and the way the lights of the Assassin’s festival cast beautiful shadows over him. He mentally shook himself and watched as the woman’s brown eyes flicked between the pair of them.
The woman tossed her hair over her shoulder and stepped a little closer, “ Came to stake your claim on your faggot boyfriend? Fine, take’m, he’s probably shit in bed anyway. I can do better than a pity-fuck.” Prompto seemed to bristle as the woman turned and stomped away, furious at her own failure.
Ignis watched her disappear into the crowd for a long moment.
“Eos to Specs,” he heard from what felt like a distance, and Prompto gently bumping his shoulder with his fist, “ you okay, man? I think she had way too much to drink, but that doesn’t mean she should just throw words around like that.”
Ignis blinked, and shook his head slowly, “ I’m fine,” he assured, “ after-all I had my own personal hero, now didn’t I?” he asked and watched with a warm wash of delight at the way that Prompto blushed at the compliment.
The gunman ran his fingers through his hair nervously, and offered him a smile, “ A hero, huh? Seems like a bit much for that.”
The band left the stage and Ignis found the sudden quiet to be perhaps the perfect, if awkward timing. How many weeks ha Gladio urged him to just say something? Back in Insomnia his feelings had been ignorable if not excusable. Out here, beyond the walls and beyond the distance he could have hidden in, he had no choice but to face his feelings every day.
“ Nonsense,” Ignis found himself saying with a quiet quirk of his lips, “ I’ve long since known the truth hurts, but you would be surprised at how few people are willing to intervene.”
Prompto faltered, and Ignis wondered if he had known. If this had been a slip of his own tongue and damned himself to standing in the artificial lights of a town that was perpetual muggy an full of too many people. Facing down the man that he had no right to admire, let alone wake up to in his arms as often as he did.
“ The truth? “ Prompto asked and Ignis felt his smile go stiff and formal around the edges.
“ I do prefer men to women as bed-partners,” he admitted, “ though this was not as I had planned you to ever find out.”
Then, for some reason, the younger man laughed. It started as a bark of laughter that devolved into the sort of laugh that was both exhausted and amused, and fed on only itself and the inner thoughts. He watched the gunman place his hands on his knees as he laughed, and Ignis cocked his head curiously.
“ Oh-oh man,” Prompto finally managed, “ Iggy, I already knew. I guessed, really?”
Ignis froze and did the one thing that he rarely did; stared in surprise, as Prompto offered him a sheepish smile as he reigned in his tired amusement. There was something a little sad on the younger man’s face and Ignis wondered why it was there.
“ You knew? How?” He asked, it wasn’t as if he volunteered the information readily to anyone.
Prompto’s face erupted into the redness of a blush and he coughed to clear his throat, and gestured for Iggy to join him down a more private ally-way, out of the way of other festival-goers and out of the few eyes that were still trained on the pair of them curiously. The sound of music faded to a quiet hum of back-ground noise by time Prompto faced him again.
“ You remember last time we were here in Lestallum?” he asked, “When Noct got the great idea for a few victory drinks?”
Ignis nodded. He hadn’t had the energy to protest and a rather stiff drink or five had sounded remarkably like heaven after the series of hunts they’d been on in the days prior to their brief stay in the city. He remembered very little aside from the smell of oranges and citrus fruits in his nose and Prompto once again in his arms when he’d awoken.
“ You uh,” he mumbled, not quite meeting Ignis’ eyes, “ kind of mentioned when you were snuggling me like a stuffed animal, that that wasn’t how you’d planned on getting me into bed?” It came out in a mumbled rush and Ignis suddenly had a very strong desire for the stone beneath his feet to open and swallow him whole.
Lovely. He had hoped that it had been one of those things had would have remained in his head.
“ Did I?” he asked, feeling rather strangled. Prompto bobbed his head in a nod and bit at his lips in a nervous gesture that had never failed to make Ignis want to find out what those lips felt like against his own. Instead he swallowed and sought for focus on their conversation, clearing his throat.
“ Forgive me,” he offered as neutrally as he could, “ I never meant to cross any lines, I assure you that-“
Prompto shook his head with a tired laugh that trailed off into a groan. Ignis stalled, curious and worried mixed in an unpleasant tangle in his chest. It was almost laughable about how it sat heavy like a stone, sinking yet not quite leaving his heart.
“ Iggy you were drunk,” Prompto shrugged, as if it were all that simple, even as he ran his hands over his face, digging the pads of his thumbs into his eyes to relieve some pressure. He flapped one hand at Ignis, dropping his hands to shoot him a small, self-depreciating smile, “ if it had been Gladio who’d been holding onto you, you’d have probably cuddled him instead. I just happened to be the one you were clinging to.“
“ I wouldn’t.” The words came out in a terrible rush, and Ignis cut himself off abruptly as Prompto’s wide eyes seemed to grow all the sharper in his curiosity. Ignis found himself lost for words, for anything that could explain away what he’d just said.
Ignis opened his mouth and found no words fell to his lips. His breath caught in his throat, and panic sent anxiety spiraling through him, as sure and as sharp as a sword. “ I-“ he tried, and he could feel his shoulders sag gently, “ I find myself terribly fond on you, Prompto.”
He pushed his glasses up on his face, though he had no desire to see any way that Prompto’s face might twist in awkwardness or worry, or even disgust. Ignis had learned long ago that just because a person would be alright with some things, did not mean that they appreciated such affections turned directly on them.
The music of the festival seemed suddenly quieter, under the sound of his pulse in his ears and the tension that seemed to slow every second into an unbearable eternity. Prompto stared at him for a long moment, made that quiet sound that always heralded indecision but want of something none the less.
“ You know what,” the Gunman finally sighed, with a shake of his head and a click of his tongue, “ that was the worst whatever that was supposed to be I’ve ever heard.” His smile was teasing and kind all at the same time , a smile that Ignis found himself smitten with time after time.
“ Ah, I apologize again then,” he conceded and swallowed back any disappointment that might have been bubbling unpleasantly in his chest, “ I’ll have to try harder in the fu-“
“ I hope you don’t.”
Ignis jerked his gaze back up to blue eyes and could only stare in confusion as his brows furrowed in surprise as Prompto stepped closer, and Ignis tried not to let hurt well up where the younger man could see it. It’d be terribly inappropriate, but so was his absurd little affection for the gunman.
“ May I ask why?” he breathed.
Prompto licked his lips nervously and cerulean eyes glanced down to Ignis’ lips and back up. Ignis felt hope jolt through him like a most wonderfully confusing thundara spell. The gunman took another step closer, and this time, it was Ignis who could feel the breath of the other man fan across his face.
Across his lips.
“’ Cause I’m about to show you a short-cut,” he chirped smugly, “ and I’m about to show you what it looks like. Feels like?” His nose wrinkled just a little, a little hint of motion and a flash of teeth but it didn’t matter that it was out of focus, he could see it in his eyes.
The brush of lips against his was soft, gently, and the barest of pressure. Ignis exhaled sharply, grabbed onto the younger man’s ridiculous costume but the stupid leather belt that held up his pants and his wrist and tugged him against him.
Didn’t care for the way the metal of the ridiculous, revealing costume pressed into him, or the rough texture of the cloth, or the fact that Prompto seemed to be so fond of it.
It was alright though.
He loved the press of slightly chapped lips against his, the way that hands grabbed onto his shoulders and clung with just a hint of bite from nails pressing against him. Ignis sighed softly, and tilted his head, nibbled gently at warm lips.
The soft hum of delight made Ignis’ stomach swoop in a way that he could get entirely accustomed too far too quickly for rationality. Yet he couldn’t pull away, could only lick into a hot, wet mouth and groan loudly. He pulled away after a moment, panting against one another and excitement coursing through his veins.
“ What,” Ignis murmured, voice thick with approval, “ a fine example.”
Prompto huffed a quiet laugh and let his head press against Ignis’ shoulder, with a quiet shake of his head. Ignis curled his arms around the younger man, as he’d woken to have been doing for the passing weeks, with no memory of curling about the younger man.
“ Thanks Iggy.” He noted, hands resting on Ignis’ hips as they leaned in the ally with the sound of the festival reaching them, the smell of the food and the people’s shrieks and laughs of joy and delight and for once that night Ignis thought them rather appropriate.
“ Well, well, well, Mr. Hypocrite, what do we have here?”
The familiar drawl made Ignis jerk sharply to find Gladio leaning against the stone wall with a smug grin on his face and something like approval along the edges of his expression. Noctis seemed idly-smug as he bit off another bite of the meat-skewer held in his hand.
Prompto made an indignant noise and made to move only for Ignis to tighten his grip on the younger man.
“ Was there something you two ingrate-vultures wanted?” Ignis asked dryly, only serving to prompt a quiet chuckle from Gladio and a hint of a smirk from Noctis.
“ Nope,” Noctis told him around a mouthful of ka-bob, “ just wanted to see if you two are as obnoxious cuddling consciously as you are when you’re passed out.” Prompto blushed and Noctis’ smirk turned into an outright grin, “ You are, I was right.”
“ Lovely, now do buzz-off, would you? Both of you. I’m sure there’s a children’s area for you two to entertain yourselves in, hm?” It was rather satisfying to throw Gladio’s own words back into his teeth, even if it only made the bigger man snort and shake his head. It was the quiet approval in his expression though, that made Ignis watch him saunter away with ease.
Noctis finished off his skewer and flipped his hand in a wave, “ Like I said before, ‘You’re welcome’,” and Ignis could only wonder at the way Prompto flushed brightly at the words.
“ Do I want to know?” He asked curiously.
“ Nah,” Prompto replied and looked at him shyly, “ I think we got a few more interesting things to talk about?” he sounded both helpful and shy all at once, which made Ignis want nothing more than to simply kiss the doubt away until nothing but pliant delight remained.
“ The night is young,” Ignis argued, “ some things can wait until morning can’t they?”
Prompto blinked at him in surprise before he shook his head and daringly stole another kiss from Ignis and was gone before he could think to respond.
“ Only if I end up getting your arms around me with you awake this time.”
Ignis ducked his head to press his forehead against the young gunman’s, “ On that,” he muttered softly, “you have my word.”
There was another kiss, this one softer and everything that ridiculous romance novel Gladio had once made him read on the grounds of a bet. Warm, soft and maybe, just maybe something a little hopeful. It was hard to ignore the warmth of it the way it burned behind his sternum and Ignis decided that he rather liked the way it burned.
A surprise, but a pleasant one none the less. Prompto had felt right in his arms, and there was something all the better about having them wrapped around him in turn.