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Operant Conditioning

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operant conditioning: involving the modification of behavior by the reinforcing or inhibiting effect of its own consequences

* * * * *

“I wanna get Iggy laid.”

Prompto nearly choked on his water. “What?!” he yelped, hastily setting the glass back on the table. “Dude, you can’t just say shit like that!”

Gladio shot him a look. “Why not?” he demanded.

“Because I could have choked!”

“Yeah, well, you didn’t.”

“Still! I could have!”

“Like you’ve never choked on something in your mouth before.”

“I’m not sure what you’re implying, big guy, but I’ll have you know that I don’t choke on-”

Gladio held up a hand. “Let’s stop there,” he interjected. “I don’t need to hear the end of that sentence.”

“You started it!”

“Yeah, and now I’m ending it.”

Noctis, who had been eyeing his friends’ exchange in silence, saw his chance to speak up and took it. “Are we not gonna talk about what Gladio just said? Because I have a few questions.”

“What’s there to talk about?” Gladio crossed his arms over his chest. “I wanna help Iggy get laid.”

“Gee, I don’t know, maybe why?”

“Yeah, dude, why?”

“He’s my friend,” Gladio replied, as if this was answer enough to their questions.

It wasn’t. It really wasn’t.

“Okay, so I know you and Specs are close,” Noctis said hesitantly, “like really close, but this is bordering on weird, Gladio, even for you two.”

“What, you don’t talk about your sex life with Prompto?”

“Prompto is my sex life.”

“Exactly. So you talk to him about it.”

“Well, yeah. But it’s not the same.”

“Really not seeing how, Noct.”

“Okay, okay, but, like why?” Prompto asked, trying to steer them back towards Noctis’ original question. “Do you help all your friends get laid?”

“‘Course not,” Gladio replied. “But Iggy’s… different.”

Noctis’ eyes narrowed. “Different how?” he asked.

“You know.”

Prompto blinked. “No, we really don’t,” he deadpanned.

“Yeah, you’re gonna have to explain that one.”

Gladio rolled his eyes. “Fine.” He held up a finger, pointing to Noctis and then to Prompto. “You two have each other. No need to help either of you get laid.” He held up a second finger. “I can get laid whenever I want.”

“Gee, arrogant much?” Noct teased.

“Want me to prove it?” Gladio shot back. “Because there is a brunette up there by the bar who is lookin’ pretty damn fine from where I’m sitting-”

“Oh, no. You’re not getting out of this.”

“Just so long as you know what’s up.” Gladio held up a third finger. “As for the rest of my friends, they’re all in the Crownsguard, or the Kingsglaive. And honestly? They mostly fuck each other.”

“They are all pretty hot,” Prompto mused. He frowned, looking over to Noctis. “Hey, that isn’t a requirement, is it? Like, the people around the King all have to be ridiculously good looking?”

Noctis shot him a scandalized look. “Hell no,” he replied, chuckling a bit. “They just gotta be good at fighting shit. We’re not that vain, Prompt.”

“Just asking!”

“It’s convenience, mostly,” Gladio added, “And necessity. You get out on field jobs, you don’t always have the time to be picky.”

Noctis shot him a sly look. “Say, Gladio - you ever fucked one of the glaive? You’re awful friendly with some of them.”

“Me? Nah.”

“Not even Nyx Ulric? You seem his type.”

Gladio snorted. “Nyx Ulric is Nyx Ulric’s type.” He raised up a fourth finger then. “Back to what I was saying - Iggy’s different. Far as I know, he doesn’t go out looking for casual sex, and I can’t even remember the last time he was dating anybody. But let’s be honest - if anybody could use a good fuck, it’s Iggy. He’s so tense all the time, so stressed out doing your work for you.” He gave Noctis a pointed look and sat back in his chair. “So I gotta help a guy out.”

“By getting him laid,” Noctis said flatly, ignoring Gladio’s jibe.

“Dude, you just said he didn’t do hook-ups,” Prompto added. “How are you gonna get him laid?”

Gladio shrugged. “I got ways,” he replied.

“You’re not just gonna, like, get him drunk and take him out, are you?” Noctis asked, scrunching up his nose. “Because, uh, Specs isn’t really a flirty drunk. He’s more of a… get really sarcastic and then fall asleep halfway through the conversation drunk.”

“I know that,” Gladio retorted. “Who do you think carries his ass home most of the time?”

“Just saying,” Noctis said, shrugging.

“Are you gonna try to set him up with somebody then?” Prompto asked. “Like a date?”

“Nah, he’ll just say he doesn’t have time for that.”

Prompto frowned at him. “Don’t really see what you’re goin’ for then, bud.”

Gladio smirked. “You’ll see.”

The blonde made a frustrated noise. “You are being so evasive right now,” he pouted. Gladio didn’t reply to that, and so he changed tactics. “Do you even know Iggy’s type?”

“Eh.” Gladio shrugged. “Can’t be too hard to figure out.”

“But what if he only likes really smart girls?”

“Then I’ll take him to a library.”

“Or really athletic girls?"

“A gym.”

“Or-”

“Or what if he’s not even into girls?” Noct interjected.

Gladio rolled his eyes. “Then I’ll just take him to a gay bar,” he said flatly, as if this were the most obvious thing in the world. “Shit, guys, have a little faith in me here. He’s my best friend! I think I can get him laid.”

Noctis stared at him for a minute, studying him. “This sounds like a bad idea,” he commented.  A moment later, a huge grin stretched across his face, eyes sparkling with anticipation. “A really bad idea. Can I watch?”

“No.”

“Aw, come on. Please?”

“No.”

“You’re so mean.”

“Yep. Besides,” Gladio added, “I think the results will speak for themselves.”

“Cocky son of a bitch,” Noct muttered, pouting a little as he reached for his abandoned fries.

“What was that?” Gladio asked, grinning. “Didn’t hear you over all the salt.”

“Oh, fuck you.”

“You wish, Highness. You wish.”

* * * * *

“Iggy, come on, ” Gladio whined, pulling on Ignis’ arm to try and get him to move a little faster.

Ignis jerked his arm away. “Just a moment, Gladio,” he replied, typing in a last minute message on his phone. “I have to reply to this email.”

“Can it wait?”

It really couldn’t. It was the seamstress who had been charged with crafting Noctis’ birthday regalia - she was frantic, having lost the prince’s measurements amidst all of the orders she had gotten in the past few days. She was desperate for the numbers; at first, she’d tried to get Ignis to bring Noctis back to her shop so that she could measure him again, but Ignis had quickly pointed out that the prince was quite busy and hadn’t the time. He’d neglected to mention that Noctis also couldn’t be bothered with something as mundane as formalwear, even if it was for a state function.

He didn’t think it prudent to tell an irritated woman the prince thought her task superfluous.

He’d then told her that he would take the measurements himself and email them to her. She had protested at this, claiming that he didn’t know the proper procedure for that sort of thing, to which he’d testily replied that he did, thank you very much. His icy reply seemed to have mollified her, for she’d capitulated to his suggestion and asked that he send over the numbers as quickly as he could. Sadly, that had turned out to be not very quickly at all. He had had to track Noctis all over Insomnia, eventually finding him holed up in Prompto’s apartment. Most unfortunately, he stumbled across the two of them in the midst of decidedly… pleasurable pursuits, and he’d had to wait for Noctis to put his pants back on in order to tell him what he needed.

That had been an unpleasant conversation.

Still, he’d gotten the measurements, and he was in now in the process of sending them to the seamstress and being done with the matter once and for all. Nothing Gladio could do or say was going to stop him.

A few more taps of his fingers across the keypad of his phone, and he was finished. Satisfied, he pocketed the device and looked up to find Gladio staring at him not-quite-patiently.

“Done?” the larger man asked.

“Yes. Thank you for waiting.”

“Didn’t give me much choice.”

“It couldn’t be helped.” Ignis stepped forward, matching his stride to that of his taller friend. “Where did you say we were going again?”

“New bar I found,” Gladio replied, pointing down a side street. Ignis turned obediently. “Wanted to take you out for a bit, let you have a break.”

Ignis suppressed a sigh. Gladio did this occasionally - attempted to get him to “loosen up” by forcing him to some drinking establishment or another. It happened perhaps once a month. By now, they had developed a schedule of sorts, an unspoken itinerary for the evening. One of them would order their drinks - bourbon or scotch, most nights - while Gladio flirted with the bartender. They’d head off to a corner table somewhere and spend an hour or so discussing their lives, catching up on events and palace gossip. Depending upon the establishment, there might be dancing or singing. That was mostly Gladio - Ignis generally received several requests to dance, but he always politely declined. Now had Gladio asked him to dance…

Well, that would’ve been an altogether different story.

At the end of these nights, they would go their separate ways. Ignis would return to his apartment, sometimes with a bit of assistance if he’d had a little too much to drink, and Gladio would return to his - sometimes with a companion.

It was a pleasant enough way to spend time, Ignis supposed, and he didn’t mind that he was spending it with Gladio. Quite the opposite, actually. But it was the fact that Gladio felt a need to take care of him that somewhat irked Ignis. He was perfectly capable of taking care of himself. Nor, he thought, had Gladio any right to feel so protective of him. Deep down, he knew that Gladio meant well, that he was only trying to help Ignis relieve the tension of a very stressful schedule. That was probably why Ignis kept allowing it to happen.

But it was unnecessary, entirely so.

Still… it was also not wholly unwelcome - slightly drunk, laughing easily, smiling Gladio was quite the sight to behold.

“Here we are.”

Ignis drew to a stop in front of a corner building. A brightly lit neon sign depicting a martini glass hung above the door, and the faint throbbing of a heavily amplified bass was pounding in the still night air. This was more than just a bar, then - this was a club. He raised an eyebrow at the long line of people waiting to get inside; the brow quirked higher still when he saw Gladio head straight for the front of the line to talk to the bouncer guarding the door.

“Got a friend inside, should have a table reserved,” he said lowly, ignoring the angry groans and protests of the people in the line.

“Name?” the bouncer asked, his tone suggesting extreme boredom.

“Ulric. Nyx Ulric.”

“Yeah, he’s in there. Recognized him. Go on in.”

“Thanks.” Gladio turned around to Ignis, grinning. “Never hurts to know the right people.”

Ignis smirked. “Indeed.”

As soon as Gladio opened the door, Ignis realized why Nyx Ulric would be frequenting this establishment. His initial assessment had been in error. This was not simply a club.

This was a strip club.

There were half-naked women everywhere - dancing on top of the bar, carrying bottles of alcohol to private tables, gyrating atop a stage that wound its way throughout the room… oh yes, this was certainly to Nyx’s tastes. And Gladio’s, if the other’s suddenly vacant stare was any indication. Ignis cleared his throat, pointing to a VIP section in the far corner. “I believe that’s where we’ll find your friend,” he said loudly.

“Probably,” Gladio replied, equally as loudly. He turned to Ignis. “Want something from the bar? My treat.”

“Scotch, please, neat.”

“Meet you back there.”

Ignis nodded and began to push his way through the mass of people in varying states of intoxication. It was quite difficult - he didn’t wish to step on anyone’s feet, nor did he want to just shove his way through, but it soon proved his only option. He had to forcefully weave through the crowd, testing every bit of his patience as slowly progressed to the back of the room.

Sure enough, Nyx Ulric and a few other members of the Kingsglaive were seated at the back table. They raised a cry in greeting upon noticing Ignis, beckoning him up to their slightly quieter and less messy section.

Nyx was sitting in a chair at the head of a low table strewn with bottles and glasses. A woman Ignis had never seen before was sitting on his lap, fingers toying with his dark hair.

“Ignis!” he said, grinning. “Gladio said you two might join us!” He frowned then, as if just now noticing Gladio wasn’t there. “Where is Gladio?”

“Getting us drinks,” Ignis replied, taking a seat next to a female glaive he recognized. She nodded at him, and he returned the greeting.

“Nice place, huh?” she said, tipping her glass at the club.

“Not my favorite sort of establishment, but it’s certainly something,” Ignis admitted.

“No?”

“A little loud,” he explained. “Too many people.”

“I like it,” she replied, grinning. “Just enough people for me - ‘specially all the naked ones.”

“Ah, I see. Enjoying the view?”

“More than you are,” she guessed, turning to face him.

He shrugged helplessly, and she laughed.

“You get dragged here by a friend?” she asked.

“Indeed.”

“A very straight friend?” She patted his hand in sympathy, not waiting for his answer - not that he had one to give, really. He’d never asked Gladio what his sexual orientation was. He scarcely felt that he’d needed to, what with the bad pornography magazines hidden throughout the other's apartment. “Well, at least the booze is good.”

“Thank the Six for that.”

“That your friend?”

Ignis looked up to see that Gladio had finally found them, two glasses in his hands. He was currently greeting Nyx, a wide grin on his handsome face.

“Yes, that’s him,” Ignis replied.

“I’ve seen him before - Clarus’ son, right?” Ignis nodded. “Nice face.” Her eyes drifted south. “Nice ass.”

“You have no idea,” Ignis muttered.

“Ooh, seen it naked?”

“Mmm.” A little thrill of arousal shot through him at the image of those tanned, firm gluteal muscles that was etched into his memory. Ignis forced the thought away, banished it to a dark corner of his mind. It was too risky to think of that in public. “It’s very nice.”

“I can only imagine.”

“Iggy!”

Gladio had spotted him. The big man came over to him, handing him a glass of scotch and settling into the empty space beside him. “Sorry it took so long,” he said. “Damn place is packed.”

“Quite alright,” Ignis replied, taking a sip. He let it sit on his tongue for a bit before swallowing, relishing the slight burn as it slid down his throat. He looked down at the glass. “This is good,” he said approvingly. “Expensive?”

“Don’t worry about it,” Gladio said. “S’on me, tonight.”

“Gladio-”

“Seriously.”

“If you insist.”

“I do. Besides, even if the booze ain’t cheap, this place has other benefits.” Gladio grinned at him then, fisting a hand into a pocket and drawing out several slips of paper. “Look at this, Iggy.”

“What are those?”

“Phone numbers,” Gladio said gleefully.

“Four people? Already?” Ignis shook his head fondly. “Did they mistake you for one of the strippers, clad in all that leather?”

“Ass,” Gladio shot back. “And it would be rude not to take them.”

“Are you going to call any of them?”

“...probably not.”

“And that isn’t rude?”

“What, you sayin’ you call ‘em all back?”

“I don’t call any of them,” Ignis said, “because I don’t take their numbers in the first place.”

“Now who’s rude?”

Ignis rolled his eyes, taking another sip of scotch.

As was their tradition, they soon fell into easy conversation, discussing everything and nothing as their glasses slowly emptied. They kept the topics light, preferring humorous, amusing anecdotes to anything more serious or heavy. All the while, Gladio kept his attention split between Ignis and the dancers on the stage. Ignis would have found it irritating if he weren’t teasing his friend about it mercilessly.

All too soon, their glasses were empty. One of the group - the woman Ignis had been speaking to earlier - had bought a bottle of bourbon for the entire table though, and she quickly pushed it towards Ignis when she noticed his lack of liquor. She leaned forward, putting a hand on his thigh and whispering, “Drink up,” in his ear, grinning.

“Gladly,” Ignis shot back over his shoulder.

“Friend of yours?” Gladio asked, grinning. It was more of a leer really, entirely suggestive.

“I don’t even know her name,” Ignis replied, pouring the both of them a healthy serving of bourbon.

“We can fix that.” He reached out and tapped the woman on the shoulder. “Hey!” She turned towards them, giving Ignis a smirk before shifting her attention to Gladio. “What’s your name?”

“Placidia,” she replied. “My friends call me Cid.”

“Gladiolus. My friends call my Gladio.”

Placidia’s smirk deepened, and she looked towards Ignis. “And you?”

“Ignis,” he offered. “My friends call me Ignis.” Placidia snorted at the joke.

“Don’t listen to him,” Gladio added. “His friends call him Iggy.”

You call me Iggy,” Ignis said flatly.

“You in the glaive?” Gladio asked Placidia, ignoring Ignis.

“Hence why I’m here,” she replied, gesturing to the men and women around her. “Well, that and the view, of course.” She half-turned away from them, reaching for the alcohol to pour herself another drink.  

Gladio leaned in quick, pressing his mouth to Ignis’ ear in a way that sent another little thrill of arousal through the younger man. The movement was a little sloppy, Gladio’s lips pressed a tad too hard against Ignis’ skin - the alcohol at work, no doubt. Again, Ignis suppressed it, focusing instead on what his friend was saying. “Iggy, I think she likes you,” he whispered.

“What are you going on about?”

“Placidia - Cid. Go for it.”

Ah.

Ignis snorted derisively, watching covertly as Placidia’s eyes drifted appreciatively back down to the dancers on the stage.

Turning back to Gladio, he murmured, “I don’t think I’m her type.”

Gladio looked over to Cid, no doubt noticing the object of her attention just as Ignis had. He shrugged, taking another sip. “Maybe she goes both ways,” he said. “I mean, her hand’s still on your thigh.”

That it was, though Ignis judged that more likely to be due to the fact that someone else had pressed onto the bench on her other side, leaving her with less room to herself.

“I think I’ll pass.”

“Iggy-”

“No, Gladio.”

Gladio huffed out a breath, eyes roving about the room. “Okay, well, what about her?” he asked, pointing to a dark-haired woman making eyes at them from the bar. “She looks interested.”

Ignis blinked. “Do I have to pick someone?” he asked blandly.

“That’s the goal.”

“Goal? What goal?”

“To get you laid, of course!”

Ignis stared at him for a moment, an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. “Come again?” he said finally, after he’d managed to process the other’s words.

“Okay, look, that came out wrong,” Gladio said quickly.

“You’re trying to get me laid?” Ignis repeated. “Is that correct?”

“Do you not want to?”

“Is that a serious question?” Ignis asked scornfully.

“Well… yeah?”

Ignis shot his friend a dark look as he drained the last of his bourbon, wincing at the heat of the liquor, and turned towards Placidia. She raised an eyebrow at the sudden movement, but he smiled. “Thank you for the drink,” he said politely. “But I think I must be going.”

Cid’s eyes flicked back to Gladio, narrowing. “You okay?” she asked.

“It’s fine,” he murmured, shaking his head. His pleasant evening had only just been ruined by his hapless friend, but what of it?

She didn’t look as if she believed him, but she let him rise to his feet just the same. “See you around, Ignis,” she said. He returned the farewell, not even sparing Gladio a glance as he headed for the door. He heard his friend call out his name several times as he danced through the crowd, but he didn’t turn back.

Honestly.

Of all the stupid, harebrained, utterly idiotic things Gladio had done in his life, Ignis thought that this took the cake. Trying to get Ignis laid? At a strip club?

Was he mad?

Beyond the irritation, Ignis was mildly insulted. He was perfectly capable of getting dates and having sex. If he wanted to do so, he could find any number of men who would be willing to take him home and let him have his way with them, or vice versa. Of course, he didn’t particularly care for casual sex, but that was beside the point. He could get some, if he wanted it. He simply chose not to - for one thing, he hadn’t the time to invest in a proper relationship. For another, it would have been unfair to do so when he had… certain feelings for someone else.

So he had abstained. It wasn’t all that difficult.

He did have two very capable hands and the internet at his disposal, facts which Gladio seemed to have forgotten.

The night air had turned cold while they were inside the club, and Ignis pulled his coat around himself a little tighter as he set off down the street towards a busier intersection. He would take a cab back to the Citadel, he supposed. He hoped he had enough cash on him; he hadn’t brought very much, and wouldn’t that just be the cherry on top of this entire embarrassing situation if he didn’t have enough to meet the fare?

“Iggy!”

He sighed at the sound of Gladio’s heavy footfalls on the pavement. “What is it, Gladio?” he asked, not bothering to turn around.

“Iggy, wait.”

Ignis stopped when Gladio caught up to him, ducking between two buildings to get out of the wind. Gladio followed him, panting a little from the exertion. It was a good look on him, Ignis thought, cheeks red and hair mussed. He scolded himself a moment later - he was supposed to be annoyed at Gladio, not standing here appreciating his infuriatingly good looks.

“I’m sorry,” Gladio said quickly. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

“No, you shouldn’t have,” Ignis agreed.

“I was just tryin’ to help-”

“To help me with what?” Ignis demanded.

Gladio winced. “C’mon, Iggy, I just thought-”

“You thought wrong.” He shook his head, crossing his arms over his chest in another attempt to keep warm. “Honestly, Gladio, what were you thinking?”

“Look, I was already gonna ask you to go with me when Nyx sent me the invite,” Gladio replied. “The other idea was… an afterthought.”

“I’m perfectly capable of getting sex, thank you very much.”

“Yeah?” Gladio retorted. “You don’t seem like you get very much of it.”

“And what does that mean?”

“Just that if you were havin’ great sex all the time, I’d think you’d be a bit more relaxed!”

Well. Ignis supposed that were true.

He sighed, his irritation beginning to fade away at the open, honest expression on Gladio’s face. He couldn’t help it - it was simply too difficult to stay annoyed with his friend for very long, especially when the other meant well. Even if he had failed spectacularly in the execution of those good intentions.

“Perhaps,” he allowed. “But that’s beside the point. No one in there was going to draw my attention.”

Except for you.

He didn’t give voice to that insouciant thought.

“What about Placidia?” Gladio asked, eager now that he had apparently been forgiven.

Ignis sighed. “As I said, Gladio, I don’t think I was her type-”

“The girl at the bar then?”

“And she wasn’t my type.”

“What about-”

“Gladio.”

“Iggy, there were hundreds of girls in there. There’s gotta to be one you would’ve liked!”

“No.”

“No?”

“Not at all, I’m afraid.”

Gladio frowned at him. “Man, you can’t be that picky.”

Ignis frowned. Was the other being purposefully obtuse? Surely Gladio understood what he was intimating. He had never explicitly told Gladio that he preferred men, but he had thought… well, he had thought it was rather obvious. And he’d never exactly hidden it. Gladio had to know; they were friends, close friends. Friends knew that sort of thing about each other.

He deliberately ignored the little voice in his head that reminded him that he had never asked Gladio what his preferences were.

“It has nothing to do with being picky,” he said flatly.

“So what’s your type, then? Athletic? Curvy?”

“Gladio…”

“I’m trying here, Iggy, really. You like something else in a girl?”

He frowned. “Do you really not know?”

“Know what?”

“You don’t, do you?”

“Iggy, c’mon… you gotta help me out here.”

“Gladio…”

Ignis wasn’t sure what exactly drove him to do it. Maybe it was the alcohol, and maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was the adorably confused look on Gladio’s handsome face. Or maybe he just wanted to do something so perfectly, clearly obvious that it would leave no doubt in the other’s mind. He didn’t know which it was. It could have been a mix of all three.

With a rather dramatic sigh, he stepped forward, pressing into Gladio’s personal space and snaking a hand up to yank the other’s head down. Leaning in, he swiftly pressed his lips to Gladio’s, tongue darting out to lick into Gladio’s mouth at the other’s startled intake of breath.

It was divine, better than Ignis had ever thought it would be.

Gladio’s lips were soft and full, and he tasted of whiskey and something minty - chewing gum, perhaps, or a piece of hard candy. At first, his lips were slack, too surprised to move. But then he was instinctively pressing back against Ignis, returning the kiss even as he stepped forward, hands reaching out to grab Ignis by the arms.

Ignis held the kiss for a moment longer before backing away, taking a little pride in the dazed expression adorning Gladio’s face as he extricated himself from the other’s grip.

Gladio frowned at him. “I - what…” he trailed off, seemingly uncertain of what else to say.

Ignis couldn’t help but smirk. “I hope that was a sufficiently obvious explanation as to what my ‘type’ is,” he drawled.

“Yeah,” Gladio muttered weakly, still staring at Ignis.

His lips, Ignis noticed. Gladio was staring at his lips.

His smirk morphed into a genuine smile at that little observation, a faint glimmer of hope sparking within him like a flame coming to life. Dare he hope something good might come of this?

He turned to leave, hands moving down to his pockets. “Good night, Gladio,” he said.

A hand shot out and grabbed his arm. “You’re leaving?” the other asked, twirling Ignis around until they were facing each other. “After that?”

“Why? Were you planning on doing something about it?” Ignis retorted, lifting an eyebrow.

“I…”

“Mmm. I thought so.”

“You can’t just leave. Not after…”

“I kissed you, Gladio. You can say it. Kissed. It’s a simple thing, really.”

“Like hell it is.”

“I apologize if I upset you. There, is that better?”

“I don’t want an apology!”

“Then what do you want?” When Gladio didn’t answer, he asked a second question. “Did you like it?”

Again, Gladio was silent, continuing to stare at Ignis as if he were something incomprehensible. Just when Ignis was about to pull away and excuse himself, the other nodded. It was an almost imperceptible movement, the slightest tilt of his head.

But it was enough.

“I - yeah. I did. I think I did.”

“You think you did?” Ignis shifted on his feet. “I’m not sure whether I should be insulted or not.”

Gladio huffed out a breath that almost passed for a laugh. “No, that isn’t what I meant. I just - you know - I…”

“Think on it,” Ignis advised him. “And when you have an answer…”

“I’ll let you know,” Gladio finished, relinquishing his hold on Ignis.

“Good.”

Ignis bid his friend farewell for a second time, resuming his quest to find a cab. This time, Gladio didn’t try to come after him. A discreet glance over his shoulder revealed the other man was standing still, in precisely the same location where Ignis had left him. He had brought a hand up to his lips, touching the spot where their mouths had connected.

Ignis’ lips curved up into a delighted smirk.

Well.

Perhaps the evening hadn’t been an entire waste of his time, after all.