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Operant Conditioning

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

To say that Gladio was confused would have been an understatement.

To say it would have been an understatement was an understatement.

What the fuck had just happened?

After Ignis had left, Gladio had wandered back into the strip club, somehow making his way to the table the glaive was occupying. Placidia had thrown him a dirty look, as if she thought he was to blame for Ignis leaving. And hell, he supposed that he was.

Shit, had that gone poorly.

He’d proceeded to then get drunk off his ass on the club’s too expensive liquor, trying to squash the thought of Ignis kissing him - kissing him, fucking hell - out of his mind. Chatting with Nyx and the other glaives didn’t cut it though; it just wasn’t enough to distract him from thoughts of a certain pair of lips. He’d gone to the bar then and started chatting up the dark-haired girl he’d noticed earlier, hoping that she, at least, would keep his attention. She was nice, he’d thought, pretty too. Her name was Livia. Or maybe it was Cordelia.

One of the two, for sure.

She’d wanted him to dance with her, and he had. It was fun, and Livia-slash-Cordelia’s ass had looked fan-fucking-tastic when she shook her hips to the beat of the club’s music. The dance floor had been hot and sweaty, and only minutes after they’d begun to dance, they were pressed completely together, bodies connected in one sinuous form. Her hair was a dark, shimmering mass, teasing against the bare skin his leather jacket revealed, and he could see the curve of her ass cheeks through the gap between her low-backed dress and her skin. Every now and then, she would look at him over her shoulder as they danced, throwing him a coy little smirk and drawing him in for heated, sloppy kisses.

Normally, her behavior would’ve really turned him on. He would’ve wanted to draw her ass backwards into him, kiss her a little harder, let her roll her hips back into his -

But not tonight. Nope. Definitely not. There had been nothing happening down south.

Not a damn thing.

He had made his excuses after that, pretending to be drunker than he really was. He’d barely had time to register the slight disappointment on her face before he’d stumbled outside to find his way home, forgetting to thank Nyx for getting him into the club. He would have to eventually; it really had been a generous invite. These types of clubs were pretty exclusive. Ah, he’d do it later - he’d see the glaive tomorrow, anyways, he was sure of it.

And who else would he see tomorrow?

Ignis.

He was scheduled to train with Noctis for several hours in the afternoon, and after that, he was supposed to spar with Ignis. There was no getting out of it either - it was a part of his job, after all, his responsibility to the Crown. He was the person in charge of keeping the prince, as well as his retainers, in peak physical condition. There was no one else who could fill in - or no one else who could fill in and do even half as good a job as him, he mused, editing his prior thought.

He had to think of something to say. He had to think of how to act around Ignis now, without making it obvious to anyone and everyone in sight that they had… that they had…

Fuck, they had kissed.

It wasn’t that Ignis was a guy, Gladio reckoned as he let himself into his apartment and sloppily locked the door. His confusion had nothing to do with the fact that he had kissed a guy, a male, someone with an X and a Y chromosome, someone with - well, yeah, all the hardware that entailed.

No, the turbulent stream of his thoughts had nothing to do with the fact that he had kissed a guy, and everything to do with the fact that he had kissed Ignis. Or Ignis had kissed him - he supposed that was closer to the truth. His best fucking friend had just up and kissed him, simultaneously letting him know that, news flash, he was gay, and Gladio might or might not be his type.

He paused at that thought, thinking on it. Had Iggy just meant he preferred guys? Or guys that looked like Gladio? ...maybe, he had literally just meant Gladio. That didn’t seem likely - surely Gladio would know if his friend had been harboring secret romantic feelings for him. It would’ve been totally obvious, right?

Then again, he’d never even noticed that his friend was into guys, so maybe he wasn’t the most observant person when it came to that sort of thing.

“Fuck,” Gladio muttered, kicking his shoes off and letting his jacket slide off his shoulders and onto the floor. He was too drunk to be thinking this hard right now. Nothing made sense, and his head was beginning to hurt from thinking too much - though maybe that was just the dehydration setting in - and maybe he just needed to fucking go to sleep and think about this all tomorrow, when he was sober.

Yeah, that sounded like a good idea.

He managed to tear his pants off and run a hand through his hair before collapsing onto his bed, only remembering after the fact that he’d left his phone in his pocket. With a groan, he sat back up, his head swimming from too much alcohol, and dove for the device, setting it on his nightstand with a little more force than was probably good for the thing. At the last second, he tilted the screen, looking to see if he’d gotten any messages or missed any calls while he was in the club.

There was one text from Noctis.

It took him two tries to open the message, and three attempts to read its contents. But he persisted, and he eventually, he managed to make the single sentence out.

2:21 a.m. < Noctis > soooooo… heard specs stormed out on you tonight?

Gladio groaned and shoved the phone away. Fucking Nyx - couldn't keep a secret to save his damn life.

He’d answer tomorrow - if he remembered. For now, he was too tired to come up with a witty retort.

Within moments, he was asleep.

* * * * *

If he had thought that the morning would bring clarity, Gladio was sorely mistaken.

His alarm went off at exactly eight o’clock. It was maybe five and a half hours after he’d fallen asleep, and he was feeling it. His whole body felt tired and sluggish, and his eyes hurt like he’d wiped them with sandpaper. Surprisingly, he didn’t have much of a hangover. When he looked over at his nightstand, he saw several empty water bottles and a bottle of painkillers. 

Had he gotten those?

He must not have been as drunk as he had thought he was, if he had managed to make himself drink a bunch of water and take some medicine before passing out. But then again, he didn’t remember making a trip to the refrigerator, or to the bathroom, so maybe he had been that drunk and had just gotten lucky this morning.

Whichever it was, he wasn’t complaining.

He stretched out on the bed, a couple vertebrae popping in protest, and then flipped over onto his back, staring up at the ceiling for a few minutes as he gained his bearings, tried to think of the last thing he remembered from the night before.

There had been a girl, and dancing, and before that, a lot of bourbon… Nyx had met a girl too, she’d been sitting in his lap all night… and before that…

Ignis.

Shit.

All at once, the memory of the kiss and the subsequent conversation came crashing back to him. The sensations were sharp as he recalled him, as if they had happened mere moments ago and not hours in the past. He could still feel the press of Ignis’ lips against his, softer than he’d thought they would be and yet still rougher than he was used to. He could still smell his friend’s dark, spicy cologne, how the scent of it had invaded his nostrils as he’d stepped in close, placing a slender, long-fingered hand on Gladio’s neck and pulling - no, yanking - his head down...

His cock twitched in his boxers then, and Gladio looked down in surprise.

Huh.

Well, guess that answered Iggy’s question of whether or not he’d liked the kiss.

He slid a hand down his torso then, palming himself through the fabric of his underwear. He groaned at the contact, allowing his hand to move a little more firmly against his cock. Unbidden, the memory of the smirk Ignis had worn when he’d torn his lips away from Gladio’s came to mind. It had done something to Gladio then, and shit, it did something to him now, his dick twitching in his hand.

“Fuck,” he muttered, using his other hand to push the band of his boxers down, freeing his cock from its confines. He stroked himself from base to tip, hard, twisting his length just the way he liked, and then repeated the motion, again and again. With his other, he reached down lower, cupping his balls, rolling them between his fingers.

All the while, he thought of nothing more than Ignis kissing him.

It was amazing, he thought, thumbing at the precome leaking from the tip of his dick. He’d never gotten so hard so fast in his life, especially not from thinking about something as simple as a kiss. What did that even fucking mean?

Gods, he was close now, heat pooling in his belly. He gripped himself a little harder, breathing gone ragged with want as he jerked himself off. He could hear Ignis’ voice in his mind’s ear now, whispering things in that ridiculously smooth accent of his, short, simple sentences Gladio had heard him utter a thousand times before - but never before in this context.

“Do you like that, Gladio?”

“How does that feel?”

Are you close?”

“Fuck yes,” he breathed, answering the unspoken question with a particularly firm yank on his cock. Ignis’ voice was so sexy, hitting all the right buttons, turning him on in just the right way. He didn’t pause to think about why that might be, why his friend's voice was sexy now when it hadn't ever been before, too far gone chasing his orgasm to ponder such things. “So close.”

Is that so?”

Yes, gods, yes,” he moaned, hips arching off the bed now as he thrust up sharply into his fist.

"Come, then.”

He did, his orgasm hitting him fast and hard, hot spend splashing over his hand and stomach, hand still working furiously to wring every ounce of pleasure from his cock. He was trembling, he noticed, fucking trembling from the force of his release. How long had it been since that had happened?

If he were completely honest… a good fucking while.

It wasn’t that he hadn’t had sex recently; there were girls, occasionally, people he’d meet at parties or bars and bring home, fool around with for a while. But he’d never felt any sort of spark with any of them, no real connection other than physical chemistry. And, hey, that was great, sexual attraction was a key factor in most relationships. It wasn’t everything, though, and all of those women had been missing something quintessential, lacking some key quality - or qualities - that Gladio wanted in a partner.

Nyx would accuse him of being too romantic. Maybe so, but Gladio thought that there were worse things he could be.

He pushed himself to his feet and headed for the shower, still thinking hard.

He had never been attracted to guys. Not once. All of the time he’d spent in adolescence, jacking off in his old bedroom in his dad’s house, it had been to pictures of beautiful women with big tits wearing tiny swimsuits. Every sex dream he’d ever had, it had been about him and someone definitively female. Every date he’d been on had been with a girl, and every serious relationship he’d been in had been with a girl.

This was… entirely new for him.

But maybe it wasn't that he was attracted to guys. He'd been in locker rooms all his life; there were really no barriers in the communal showers, and he'd certainly gotten eyefuls of dick and male ass before. Nothing he'd seen had turned him on in the slightest.

Maybe he was just... attracted to Ignis then? He’d never thought about his friend in that way before. He did so now, thinking hard as he stood under the hot water, letting it beat down upon his back as his mind wandered.

Ignis was, objectively, attractive. Gladio at least knew that. The guy got loads of attention from the women who worked in the Citadel, and some from the guys too. He had nice, classic facial features, he was in good physical condition, and he had a pair of seriously pretty eyes. Sometimes blue, sometimes more green depending upon the light, they were highly expressive, capable of sending out a myriad of emotions without so much as a word. Everyone he knew had ever crushed on Ignis had mentioned the guy's eyes, and even Gladio had noticed they were unusually enticing. He had nice lips too - prettily shaped, Gladio thought, soft for a guy's. Full, the bottom slightly plumper than the top, and extremely kissable -

Enough of that, he warned himself, steering away from such thoughts and back to the subject at hand. 

He'd answered his own question though. Clearly, if his mind was so prone to thinking about his friend's pretty eyes and lips, it was safe to say Gladio found him attractive. 

But did he think Ignis was handsome, or was he just aware of Ignis’ objective good looks?

And if it was the former, did he want to do something about it?

He had no fucking clue.

Maybe he was making too big of a deal about this, he thought as he reached for his shampoo. This wasn’t just any guy he’d just jerked off to - this was Ignis, his friend. A guy, yeah, but a guy who had also surprisingly kissed him just the night before. It was clearly on his mind, and his body had reacted. That wasn’t so weird, right? And it could be just a one-time thing, never to happen again. Something he just needed to get out of his system.

He snorted even as the thought occurred to him.

Yeah. Right.

He spent the rest of his time in the shower thinking hard on the matter, but when he stepped out onto his bathmat, toweling himself dry, he hadn’t come to any conclusions. He was every bit as confused as the night before. Only now, it was worse, because now he was sober and capable of expending more much thought on the topic.

He pulled on a fresh change of clothes as he walked back into the bedroom, checking the time on his clock. Eighty twenty-four; he had a couple of hours to spare before he was needed in the training rooms. Normally, he’d go and get something to eat or go for a morning jog around one of Insomnia’s parks. Neither seemed appealing to him this morning.

With a huff, he sat down on his rumpled bedsheets, grabbing for his phone. He’d gotten a few more messages since last night, one - his heartbeat speeding up a little as he read the name atop the text - from Ignis. He clicked on that message first, half-eager and half-scared to see what it said.

6:35 a.m. < Ignis > I hope that you made it home alright last night. You were looking rather dazed when I left you.

Dazed.

Well, yeah, he guessed that was one way to put it.

How to reply to the message? Did he try to make a joke about what had happened? Somehow, that didn’t seem right. Should he just pretend it… hadn’t, then? That didn’t seem like a good option, either.

He sat there staring at his phone for perhaps five minutes, and when he was ultimately unable to think of anything to say back, he sighed and pressed the back button, tapping on the next message in defeat. It was from Noctis, wanting to know if he could bring Prompto along to today’s training session. Now that was something Gladio could answer, and he quickly typed out an affirmative reply. Just a moment after he’d sent it, his phone pinged, signalling that he’d just received a new message.

Gladio navigated towards his messages and opened it.

It was a second text from Ignis.

8:31 a.m. < Ignis > His Highness informs me that Prompto will be joining him for his training session today. Would you like me to join the fray as well, make things two-on-two? Or would you prefer to take the both of them on yourself?

He was so… normal. He was acting like nothing had passed between them last night, as if nothing unusual had happened. Was he doing it on purpose, to give Gladio an easy out?

Gladio swiped a hand over his face, so frustrated he felt like he could scream.

He was going to have to talk to Ignis.

There was little else he could do. He couldn’t focus on his duties with this hovering over him, with this confusion roiling around in his brain. He needed to ask Ignis why he’d done it, ask him what it meant, if it meant anything at all. If he didn’t, he would drive himself mad obsessing over it. They needed to just discuss what had happened. What came after that… well, he’d just have to wait and see how the conversation went.

Maybe Ignis would tell Gladio that he had just been trying to make a point, in which case Gladio would respond hey, point taken. Maybe that would be the end of it, and they’d never discuss it again.

Or maybe…

Maybe they would kiss again. A little thrill went through him at the thought, which only served to confuse him more. It probably wasn’t a good idea.

What if Ignis didn’t want to kiss him again?

What if it had just been the alcohol?

And what if it wasn’t? a defiant little voice demanded of him. What if Ignis did want to kiss you, and it wasn’t because of the booze, huh? What then?

Gladio didn’t have an answer for the little voice. He also knew that he sure as hell wasn’t going to get one on his own.

Steeling himself, he punched in Ignis’ number, bringing the phone up to his ear before he could talk himself out of it and hang up.

It rang precisely twice before Ignis answered.

“Hello? Gladio?”

“We need to talk, Iggy.”

Chapter Text

Ignis wasn’t surprised when Gladio called him that morning. Nor was he surprised when his friend told him that he wanted to talk.

He was a little surprised at how quickly the other had contacted him. He had thought that Gladio might take a few days to think about what had happened - about the kiss. Ignis certainly would have, had the situation been reversed and Gladio kissed him on a dark street corner. Instead, Gladio had called him the very next morning, likely as soon as he’d awoken, sounding as agitated as Ignis had ever heard him.

In the end, he supposed that the timing of it mattered very little. It had been going to happen eventually.

So when Gladio called him, requesting that they meet up to talk things over, Ignis accepted, even going so far as to suggest that they meet at a little cafe a couple of blocks away from the Citadel. The food was good, and the coffee was better, and Ignis thought Gladio might like to have something to do with his hands as they spoke, some diversion onto which he could focus some of his attention.

It was what Ignis would have wanted.

He felt strangely calm as he walked out into the streets, no nerves to speak of as he made his way down the sidewalk. But then, why should he be nervous? Gladio had been asking questions, and Ignis had given him an answer - albeit in the form of a physical demonstration and not the verbal response his friend had likely expected. He smirked, remembering the stunned look on Gladio’s face as he’d pulled away from the kiss. Oh, what he’d give to see Gladio make that face again. Eyes a little glassy, lips parted and glistening, cheeks flushed red…

He swallowed to ease the sudden dryness in his throat.

Now, now. He shouldn't get ahead of himself. 

Gladio was waiting for him outside the cafe, leaning against the side of the building. He was tense, Ignis could tell - he could see it in the set of the other’s shoulders, in the hard line of his jaw. He resolved to do his best to ease that tension, whether through his words or his actions. This was his best friend, after all, and despite what he was guardedly hoping to get out of this conversation, their friendship remained of paramount importance to him. He would do nothing to jeopardize it.

Nothing.

Gladio straightened up when he saw Ignis approaching, pushing off the storefront and taking a few steps towards him. “Iggy,” he said. “Hey.”

Ignis nodded in greeting. “Hello.” He nodded a head towards the entrance. “Shall we go in?”

“What?” Gladio asked, blinking. “Oh, right. Yeah. Let’s go.” He turned, leading the way into the restaurant as Ignis followed.

A hostess led them to a small table at the very back of the room, a window to one side of the table and a potted plant on the other. It was perhaps the most secluded little spot on the entire premises, and for that, Ignis was grateful. He was sure Gladio was happy for it too, if the way his friend relaxed into the chair was any indication.

They placed their drink orders when their server arrived - a water for Gladio and a coffee for Ignis, black, no sugar or cream. Neither of them spoke until the man had returned, setting a steaming mug in front of Ignis and a cup of water in front of Gladio. His eyes darted between the two of them for a moment, uncertain, and he quickly withdrew, sensing that they weren’t quite ready to order anything else. Good intuition, Ignis thought; he hadn’t so much as opened the menu, though they’d been sitting there for a good five minutes now.

Instead, he’d been watching Gladio, trying to read his body language for clues as to what he was thinking. It was difficult; he was observant, and he had taken several classes on nonverbal communication skills while he had been at university. But Ignis had never been quite as good at reading people as he would have liked. It was a skill he had had to develop, not one that had come to him naturally. As an added difficulty, he wanted to be sure that he was remaining objective when observing his friend, and not merely seeing what he wanted to see. As a result, he'd not managed to glean much information from his brief period of study.

What was clear to him was that Gladio was uncomfortable. He was looking around the restaurant, eyes flicking from one table to the next, but he wasn’t really seeing anything. There was a glassiness to his eyes that, regrettably, had everything to do with him not paying attention to what he was perceiving and nothing to do with arousal. He kept folding and refolding his arms over his chest, too - it was something he did when he didn’t know what to do in a situation, Ignis had noticed. His father, Clarus, did the same thing. Any other time, and Ignis would have teased him, accused him of acting like the older Amicitia (a comparison Gladio hated, and a comparison that was also unfailingly true). But today, it would have been inappropriate.

Instead, he cleared his throat, and reached out for his coffee.

“You said that you wished to talk?” Ignis prompted. “Whatever about?”

Gladio blinked at him, an incredulous noise bubbling up from his chest. “C’mon, Iggy, you know what about,” he muttered.

“I merely want us both to be on the same page,” Ignis replied.

“The kiss.”

Well, at least he was capable of saying the word now, Ignis mused. He took another sip of coffee, allowing himself a chance to compose a reply. “I thought as much,” he said. “And what about it?”

“I… why did you do it? Did you want to, or were you just making a point?” The questions came out in a rush, as if once Gladio began to speak, he had been unable to stop them from pouring out of his mouth.

Ignis decided to answer them one by one.

“I kissed you-” And here, he deliberately used the word, taking a small amount of pleasure in the way Gladio swallowed at the mention of it, his tongue darting out to wet his lips. Oh yes, that was very nice indeed. “-in order to answer your question about what my type is,” he replied. “You kept going on and on about different types of women, as if you would eventually stumble across one that would pique my attention. If you will recall, I attempted to divert you, but you would not be denied.” He shrugged. “I thought that a physical demonstration would suffice, both as a response and as a means of quieting you.”

“Right,” Gladio said quietly. He reached out and took a drink of water, draining the glass in two large swallows.

Ignis had to fight to keep a smirk off his lips.

He wasn’t certain he was entirely successful.

“In answer to your second question,” he drawled, “I wouldn’t say that I wanted to kiss you, then and there, but nor will I say that I did not want to kiss you.”

“What kind of an answer is that?” Gladio shot back, frowning at him. “You did and you didn’t?”

“You’re an attractive man, Gladio,” Ignis replied. “You hardly need me to tell you that. Had the situation been reversed, and you been the one to kiss me, I would not have protested.” He cocked his head to the side a little. “Is that better?”

Gladio muttered something under his breath, and this time, there was no doubting that Ignis was smirking.

“As to your third question… I wasn’t just making a point, as you put it, but I believe I’ve gotten one across just the same. Don’t you?”  

“Like hell you have.” Gladio uncrossed his arms, bringing one hand up to cover his mouth.

Ignis took another sip of coffee. “Have you any other questions?” he asked.

Gladio stared at him; Ignis met the gaze head-on, unafraid of a little unabashed observation. Though his friend hadn’t wanted to meet him in the eyes earlier, he did so now, drinking in Ignis’ appearance. His golden brown eyes flicked from one feature to another - from his eyes down to his lips, then back up to his nose, and then the curve of his jaw… what was he looking for, Ignis wondered? What was he hoping to find?

“Your type.”

Ignis blinked. “Pardon?”

“After you kissed me,” Gladio clarified. “You said something about me being your type.”

“I don’t believe those were my exact words, but yes.”

“Did you… what’d you mean by that?”

“Was it not obvious?”

Gladio snorted. “If it was, would I be asking?”

“I suppose not.” Ignis paused to take another sip of coffee. “What I meant was that I prefer men to women. It was a bit of a blanket statement about my sexuality, if you will.”

“Oh.”

Was that… disappointment he detected in Gladio’s voice?

Ignis pushed down the little thread of excitement trying to worm its way up into his stomach. Don’t hear what you want to hear, he reminded himself sharply. Be objective.

But then… why had Gladio looked away, why had he sunk back into his chair? That wasn’t the body language of a man who’d received an answer he wanted.

“If I may be perfectly frank, though,” he said slowly, watching Gladio carefully as he spoke, “you do share certain… qualities with the men with whom I’ve had relations.”

Gladio was looking at him again, and this time, there was no doubting the curiosity burning in his eyes. “Yeah?” he asked. “Like what?”

“For one, you’re in very good physical condition. You have dark hair, a little on the long side, and a strong jaw. Your voice is pleasant to listen to as well, and you have a charming smile.” Ignis paused for a moment, considering. “Given all that, I suppose one could say that you are my type, specifically, as well as generally.”

“You think I’m hot?”

Ignis choked back a laugh. That was what Gladio had gotten out of his words? He shouldn’t have been surprised, not really. Gladio was nothing if not a little vain.

“Is that so surprising to you?” he retorted. “You assure me of your attractiveness on an almost daily basis, Gladio.”

Daily?” Gladio demanded, indignant.

“I was going to say hourly, but then I thought better of it. There are hours of the day where I don’t speak with you, after all, and I wouldn’t want to be inaccurate.”

“Oh, bite me.”

“If you want.”

Gladio stared at him, and for a moment, Ignis thought he had made a mistake in letting the quip leave his lips. But his friend didn’t say anything in response. He didn’t even look uncomfortable anymore. If anything he looked…

No. No, Ignis wasn’t going to contemplate that. Not yet. He needed more information first.

“Now that you have asked me several questions, might I ask one of you?”

Gladio nodded.

“What do you wish to do now?”

His friend frowned at him.

“Now that you know why I kissed you, and now that you know I am attracted to you, what do you want to do about this situation?” Ignis clarified. “Shall we forget it ever happened?”

He didn’t want any such thing, of course. Now that he knew what it was like to feel Gladio’s lips moving against his, to have the other’s hard, firm body flush with his, he didn’t think he ever could forget. But this was not about him. This was about Gladio - who he was almost certain was exclusively attracted to women - and their friendship. If he had to put the kiss behind him and never mention it again, he would. He would seal it away in his mind, put the memory into a nice, tiny box and never open it again.

If that was what Gladio wanted, of course. If he didn’t…

But Gladio made no move to respond, staring at him wordlessly.

Well, his silence was answer enough. Disappointed, but not entirely unsurprised, Ignis nodded and finally looked down at the menu, distracting himself by beginning the search to find an appealing breakfast. He hadn’t been very hungry when he had come into the restaurant, and now he was even less so, but he knew that he needed to eat something. If he didn’t, his appetite would get the better of him during the morning’s council meetings; they were tedious as it was. Throw hunger into the mix, and they were downright unbearable.

“No.”

Ignis looked up, surprised. “Come again?” he asked.

Gladio shook his head. “I… can’t forget it happened.”

He sounded almost pained, and Ignis wondered if he hadn’t permanently damaged their friendship with his reckless actions last night. That was the last thing that he had intended. “I’m sorry, Gladio,” he said quietly. “I never meant to make you uncomfortable-”

“Uncomfortable?” Gladio snorted. “No, you don’t understand.”

Ignis pursed his lips, trying to think of something to say.

“I can’t forget it happened because I can’t stop thinking about it. About you. About-” He broke off, making a frustrated noise. “You don’t get it.”

It was the second time he’d said as much in the span of just a few moments. That had to mean something. “What don’t I understand?” he asked slowly.

“This morning, I-”

“Yes?”

“I - oh, fuck it.” Gladio drew a deep breath. “This morning when I woke up, I was hard. Shit, you’re a guy, you know how it is.”

Taken aback by his friend’s forthrightness, Ignis nodded. “Go on.”

“And you know how I got off, Iggy? By thinking of you, kissing me.” He snorted, as if he’d said something funny. “Just you kissing me. I didn’t even have to think of anything else.”

Ignis wanted nothing more in that moment than to reach across the table, grab Gladio by the shirt and kiss him senseless. He wanted to lick, and suck, and bite his way into the other’s mouth, shove his tongue down his throat while he threaded his fingers through long, dark hair, pulling hard enough to make his friend groan at the pleasurable pain of it.

He didn’t, of course.

They were in public.

“I liked the kiss, Iggy. I fucking liked it a lot. And I don’t know what the fuck that means. But I do know that I ain’t forgettin’ it any time soon.”

“I see.” Ignis tried to instill as much calm into his voice as he could, though his mind was a turbulent mess of excitement and heat. He needed to think right now, needed to make his way through the rest of this conversation without devolving into a happy, incoherent mess - even if the latter was a closer approximation to his current mental state. “Then you do want to do it again?”

Gladio slowly nodded. “Yeah,” he said. His voice was firm, sure - much more so than it had been last night. “I - can we?”

“We can - if you’re sure this is something you want, of course.”

“I want to... I wanna try it, at least,” Gladio wasn’t looking at his eyes anymore, Ignis noted - they were fixed upon his lips, watching them intently. “Do you?”

He could feel it now, the familiar heat of desire building up in his gut. He had been half-hard since Gladio had admitted that he’d pleasured himself while thinking of Ignis, and the looks his friend was sending him wasn’t helping.

“Very much so.”

Gladio leaned forward then, perhaps unconsciously so, and Ignis held up a hand, amused despite himself.

“Well, not here,” he said. “We’re supposed to be having breakfast.”

Gladio blinked, jerking himself back. “Right, food,” he muttered. He looked down at the table, fingering the menu as if he’d just now noticed it was there. “‘M starving.”

“You’re always starving.”

Gladio shrugged. “Side effect of being so big.”

“And your other morning pursuits have no doubt left you famished,” Ignis added, unable to resist.

Gladio’s eyes flicked up at him over the top of the menu. It was unintentionally sultry, and a fresh wave of arousal flooded Ignis. Gods, they hadn’t even done anything yet. It had been one kiss, one small, relatively insignificant kiss. But there was something almost magnetic between them, some tension pulling at them that wouldn’t allow him to break eye contact as Gladio continued to stare at him.

Could Gladio sense it too?

“Maybe so,” he finally replied, and Ignis noted that his voice was low, lower even than usual, hitting a register that sent a fresh stab of heat straight to his groin. Gladio set the menu down then, never once tearing his gaze away from Ignis, and leaned in a little closer. “So, when can we…”

He left the sentence open-ended, and Ignis hoped it was because he wasn’t putting a limit on what the encounter might hold.

“Later,” he replied, once he had gathered his thoughts. “Come to my apartment later.”

* * * * *

Later couldn’t come quickly enough for Gladio.

All through the day, he was distracted. Unable to focus, he didn’t have a very good training session with Noctis and Prompto, and the prince could sense it. Even with Ignis fighting alongside him, he had made too many mistakes, given the two younger men too many openings.

“You okay, big guy?” Prompto asked as they were stretching out after the sparring was over. “You seem a little off your game.”

“‘M fine,” Gladio insisted, reaching out to grab his toes and pull his hamstrings tight.

“You do seem a little distracted,” Ignis said, staring at him knowingly. “Is something on your mind?”

Fucking tease.

The guy knew exactly what was on Gladio’s mind, and he wasn’t doing a damn thing to help. If anything, the pointed smirks and covert winks - fucking winks - he kept sending Gladio’s way were doing the opposite of helping him concentrate.

Of course, that was probably what Ignis had in mind. Once they'd talked things over this morning, things returning more or less to normal, Ignis had suddenly begun to flirt with him. He'd never done that before. Or at least, Gladio had never interpreted his words as flirtatious. But now? 

Oh, yeah. Definitely flirting.

He thought he liked it, but he wasn't certain.

He'd need it to happen more to be sure.

“Can’t believe I got you so many times,” Noctis mused, reaching over to poke a bruise forming on Gladio’s bicep.

Gladio grunted at the slight pain of it, slapping the prince’s hand away. “Don’t get used to it,” he snapped. “Won’t happen again.”

“Maybe you’re losing your touch,” the prince continued, smirking. “How old are you again? Twenty-five now? Ancient.

“Ancient, my ass. I could crush you any day of the week. Just name the time or place.”

“I would, but then you’d be out of a job,” Noctis shot back.

“Now, now, children, play nice,” Ignis drawled.

Gladio shifted onto his feet, leaning down to touch his toes. Beside him, Noctis and Prompto did the same, though Ignis remained where he was. He had a longer stretching routine than the rest of them, his acrobatic fighting style requiring more of a cooldown afterwards. Gladio found himself staring as Ignis contorted himself into what had to be an uncomfortable position - and what fucking muscles did that stretch, anyways?

The younger man noticed Gladio staring. “See something you like?” he asked.

Luckily, Gladio could blame his heated cheeks on the fact that his head was inverted. “What’s that even stretch?” he demanded.

“It elongates the abdominal muscles, while contracting the muscles of the leg,” Ignis replied, bringing his foot even closer towards his face, leg arched around his back. “Flexibility is a wonderful thing, Gladio. You should work on developing yours. It can help in… all sorts of situations.”

Fuck me.

“Yeah, I can barely touch my toes. My foot’s not getting anywhere close to my head,” he retorted.

“Hence why you would have to develop it.”

Gladio stood up, staring hard as Ignis effortlessly switched into another stretch, this time pushing his torso off the ground with his arms while his legs remained flat against the floor. “Maybe later,” he said. “For now, I gotta hit the showers.”

Ignis didn’t miss the stress he’d placed on the word, lifting an eyebrow at him. He said nothing though, merely watching as Gladio left for the locker rooms, Noctis and Prompto trailing behind him.

“So, hey,” Noctis said once they’d gathered up their sundries and headed into the communal showers, towels draped across their hips. “You never answered my text this morning.”

“So?” Gladio shot back.

“So, why’d Specs storm out on you?”

Gladio turned on the hot water, waiting until it was sufficiently warm before removing his towel and stepping into the spray.

“He didn’t ‘storm out on me,’” Gladio replied. “He left. There’s a difference.”

“But why’d he leave?” Prompto asked.

“Wasn’t his thing.”

Noctis snorted. “Told you this was a bad idea.”

“Gimme some time to work, kid,” Gladio shot back. “These things can be delicate.”

“What’s delicate?”

Gladio turned to see Ignis had caught up with them, towel slung low across his hips.

It was nothing Gladio hadn’t seen before - the flat, chiseled planes of Ignis’ chest, the lean muscle the man had developed through years of training. He knew what the guy looked like without a shirt on - hell, he’d seen him naked more times than he could count. But he’d never really looked before. There were certain boundaries in the locker rooms that you just didn’t cross.

But now…

Ignis chose the shower right next to his, just as Prompto had taken the stall next to Noctis’ on the opposite wall. He smirked at Gladio as he removed his towel and turned the water on, not bothering to wait for it to turn hot as Gladio had.

Don’t look, he ordered himself. Don’t you dare fucking look-

He looked.

It wasn’t anything new, and yet the sight of Ignis’ dick had Gladio staring. He wasn't sure what he should think about it, whether or not it was turning him on - it looked like any other dick he'd ever seen. Well, not like every other one; Ignis was longer than most, longer than him even, though not quite as thick around. He also wasn’t hard - or at least, he wasn’t fully hard, cock only at half mast between his thighs. A quick look down at himself told him that he was in a similar state.

Well. Guess there was something about it he liked.

“Hey, we’re gonna head out.”

Noctis’ sudden announcement had Gladio looking over his shoulder in surprise. The two younger men had already shut off their showers, towels replaced around their hips. The prince’s eyes were fixed entirely on Prompto as the blonde exited the room, and Gladio snorted, guessing why the two were leaving. At least they’d opted to get a room this time.

Last time, they’d just started making out in the showers while he was still there.

“Later,” Gladio replied.

The door swung shut.

He looked over at Ignis.

Ignis looked back at him.

“It would appear that we’re alone,” Ignis mused.

“Yeah.”

Anticipation was thrumming through his every nerve as Ignis took a step closer to him. “And though it isn’t what I had in mind, it is later.”

He stepped forward once more, and then again, until they were sharing the same shower head, hot water running down the both of them in rivulets. Gladio scarcely dared to breathe, Ignis was standing so close to him. His heart was thudding hard in his chest, practically hammering against his ribs. “Iggy-”

Ignis didn’t wait for permission.

He pushed Gladio back against the wall, grinned, and kissed him, hard.

It was nothing like the first time they’d kissed - that had been soft, gentle even, compared to the raw, desperate way Ignis was kissing him now. Then, Ignis had merely pressed their lips together, his tongue softly licking at Gladio’s lips. Now, it demanded entrance into his mouth, touching him, tasting him. It was aggressive, domineering, and Gladio had never felt anything like it before in his life.

He liked it.

He fucking loved it.

He pressed back against Ignis, leaning down a little to ease the disparity in their heights. It was only a few inches though, not the normal foot or so he was used to. Ignis’ hands came up to grip at his face then - strong, big hands, just as big as his own. Again, he was reminded that this was a man he was kissing, a guy - not a woman. It was different, he thought, all the textures and tastes slightly off. But it was a good sort of different, and he was unable to help the little moan that escaped him when Ignis bit down on his lower lip. A sort of different he could most definitely get used to. 

“Fuck,” he breathed. “That’s so-”

Ignis didn’t allow him to finish the sentence, tongue once again slipping inside Gladio’s mouth. This time, Gladio met it with his own, rewarded when Ignis made a pleasurable noise of his own. The surprised, breathy sound of it went straight to Gladio’s cock. He opened his eyes then, blinking away the water, and saw that Ignis had done the same.

The younger man drew back. The movement made his length press against Gladio’s thigh, and a surprising lance of want spiked through him. “What is it?” Ignis murmured, eyeing him through the spray of the shower.

“Nothing.”

“Then should I-”

“Yeah.”

Their lips met again, Ignis easing his mouth over Gladio’s more sensually this time. The desperate, frantic edge to the first kiss had eased a little now, the need of it a little less sharp but no less present. Gladio leaned forward into it, letting Ignis take the lead. He relaxed into the kiss as the minutes passed, bringing his hands up to rest on his friend’s hips. That movement earned him a little shudder, and he gripped a little tighter, feeling the sharp hipbones pressing against the palms of his hands. They were pointy, more so than a girl’s, the skin pulled taut across them. It made him wonder - what else would his hands discover was different about Ignis, if he only allowed them to explore?

His hand began to creep up Ignis’ side when the other jerked back. “Gladio,” he said warningly. “You mustn’t do that.”

“Why?” Gladio retorted. “Seemed like you liked it.”

“We may be alone, but we’re still in public-”

“So?” Gladio tried to kiss him, already wanting to feel Ignis’ lips against his again, but Ignis stepped back even farther, evading him completely.

“At any moment, someone could walk in on us-”

As if summoned by his words, the outer door to the locker rooms opened. Gladio jerked back, surprised. “Shit,” he breathed, turning the water from hot to cold in an instinctive attempt to kill his hard-on. Ignis yelped indignantly at the motion. “Sorry!” he said, gasping at the shock of the water. “Had to do it!”

And it had worked, he saw as he wrapped the towel around him. Neither he nor Ignis was now even the slightest bit hard.

They gathered up their things not a moment too soon.

Noctis pushed open the door to the showers, a frustrated look on his face. He paused when he saw Ignis and Gladio, wet and shivering in the middle of the room. “You guys are still here?” he asked, surprised.

“We were just discussing our plans for the evening,” Ignis supplied smoothly.

“...in the shower?” Noctis snorted and shook his head. “Never mind. Whatever. Prompto left his wristband in here. Do you see it anywhere?”

Gladio looked around, but he wasn’t exactly in the right state of mind to be looking for something as small as a fashion accessory. Luckily, Ignis seemed no worse for wear, for he quickly found the wristband and pointed it out to Noctis.

“Thanks,” the prince muttered. “He’s frantic without it.”

“Of course.”

“Later, Specs. Gladio.”

Noctis pushed out of the room, and again, they were alone.

Gladio took a deep breath. “Well, that was-”

“Close? Yes, it was.” Ignis turned back to him. “I should have waited until later. We should have waited.”

“Hey, I’m not complaining.”

Ignis eyed him for a moment. “No?”

“Hell no. That was…” He broke off, uncertain of how to phrase it without sounding like an idiot.

Ignis seemed to know what he was trying to say though. “You have no regrets?”

And he didn’t. Not a single one. Maybe it was the endorphins still pumping through his system from the kiss, or the adrenaline from almost being walked in on. But he didn’t feel a single bit of remorse for what they’d done. 

He had liked it. He wanted more. 

So he was going with it. 

“Not one. Promise." Ignis briefly studied him, and then nodded.

"Good." 

"Then... we still on for later?” Gladio knew how eager he sounded; he could hear it in his voice.

He didn't care.

It didn't seem as if Ignis cared either, for the look he sent Gladio's way was filled with heat.

“Absolutely.”

Chapter Text

Gladio had never been the type of guy to sit by his phone, waiting anxiously for a call.

It was dumb. If he wanted to talk to someone, he talked to them. If he wanted to see someone, he went and saw them. If they weren’t available or didn’t want to see him in return, then he left. It was as simple as that. No need to agonize over things, waiting for a message that might or might not come.

And yet, here he was, lying down on his couch, cell phone on his stomach as he attempted to read. It was completely useless; he couldn’t even pay attention to the characters’ names, let alone the plot. He would have to start the novel all over again if he wanted to actually remember the damn story. He probably should have set it aside for another night, but he had needed to do something to pass the time once he’d come back to his apartment after dinner. Otherwise, the waiting would have driven him insane.

It was nearly eleven, and Ignis still hadn’t contacted him.

There were a million possible reasons for why that was - a last minute council meeting, Noctis had needed something, someone had waylaid him in the hallway… anything could have happened. Gladio knew that, and he wasn’t worried. Ignis would call him when he had time, even if it was to tell him that they needed to postpone their… their…

What the hell was this anyways?

A date?

Gladio snorted, finally discarding the book and moving into a seated position. Hell no, it wasn’t a date. Dates involved flowers and dinner and plans and coordination and… well, he wasn’t sure what Ignis did when he went on dates, but Gladio was almost certain it wasn’t just vaguely inviting someone over to his apartment to make out. Ignis always had some kind of itinerary for that kind of thing.

So no, it wasn’t a date.

What was it then?

A booty call?

Gladio wasn’t sure how he felt about that. He’d been on the receiving end of such calls before, and he certainly didn’t have any problems with casual sex. But something about this particular situation was different. It didn’t feel the same. This was no casual encounter, but Ignis.

His best friend.

Who he apparently really liked kissing.

He didn’t have much time to ponder it, however, for his phone started going off.

He answered after one ring. “Yeah?”

“Is that any way to answer the phone?”

Gladio breathed a quiet sigh of relief when he recognized Ignis’ voice; he had been so eager, he hadn’t even looked at the screen before putting the phone up to his ear. “Iggy,” he said, ignoring the other’s slightly barbed question, “Hey.”

“I apologize for the late hour. I needed to brief Noctis on some reports for tomorrow’s annual session.”

“Couldn’t read ‘em himself?”

“Not without putting himself to sleep.”

Gladio snorted. “I’m surprised he didn’t fall asleep anyways.”

“He tried. I kicked.”

“Hah! Wish I’d been there to see that.”

“Had you been there, considerably less would likely have been achieved.” Ignis’ voice had lowered a bit as he’d said this last, his smooth, accented words flowing over Gladio like silk. “Well. Considerably less reading, I should say.”

“Yeah?” Gladio’s tongue darted out, wetting his dry lips. “What would have happened instead?”

“Mmmm.” Ignis paused to consider this question. “Perhaps I would have turned my tongue to… other pursuits.”

Gladio’s mind went completely blank at that, devoid of any thought or idea save for one thing. One gloriously delicious image - Ignis, kneeling between his thighs, lips wrapped around his dick, cheeks hollowed as he sucked him dry.

Fuck.

He liked that image - he liked it a lot. His cock did too, stiffening a bit in his sweatpants.

He didn’t quite manage to muffle the groan that rumbled up from somewhere deep within his chest as the image started moving, his mind imagining the way Ignis would move his head up and down, the way he would swirl his tongue around the head of Gladio’s dick, the way he would-

Ignis’ amused chuckle broke the spell, bringing him back to the present. “Was it something I said?” Ignis asked, playing innocent.

Gladio ignored the question, instead asking one of his own. “Your place or mine?”

“I’m on my way back to my apartment as we speak. Meet me there?”

Gladio pushed himself up off the couch, grabbing his keys and shoving his feet into a pair of shoes.

“Already gone.”

* * * * *

Ignis had barely had time to put his things away when there was a knock at the door.

So eager, he thought to himself, smirking. Not that he minded, of course. He would always prefer an enthusiastic partner to a lackadaisical one, an avid lover to an ambivalent one.

He paused. Gladio was not his lover, he reminded himself sharply. Gladio was his friend, and as of yet, nothing else. There might never be anything else. Much as he hated ambiguity, for now, it was where the two of them stood, somewhere in the middle of a continuum stretching from friends to lovers. Friends with benefits, some people called it. Perhaps that was what they were now, their relationship in flux. And at some point, things could shift even more wildly from one end of the spectrum to another. Who knew where this would take them?

He knew where he wanted things to go, of course. He had admired Gladio from afar for far too long for him to have any doubts about his own feelings. But that didn’t necessarily mean that Gladio felt the same way. For him, this might be nothing more than a passing fancy, a new curiosity to occupy his time and thoughts.

Ignis didn’t like the sound of that, of being someone’s whim, but he wasn’t going to dwell on it. For now, this was what he and Gladio both wanted, and so for now, he was going to compartmentalize that uncertainty, put it away for a date when it was a more pressing matter. Now wasn’t the time.

Not when there was another knock at his door, more insistent this time, and a very, very attractive man who wanted Ignis to kiss him standing upon the other side.

Gladio looked slightly sheepish, standing there with his hands in pockets. “Hey,” he said, shooting Ignis a tentative smile.

Ignis allowed his eyes to wander over his friend’s frame, taking in every detail of his appearance. He looked like he’d dressed in a rush, house slippers covering his feet and a leather jacket pulled on over a pair of sweats and a tank top. It was an utterly ridiculous outfit, and rather endearing.

He was also, Ignis noted, half-hard, the edge of his erection just visible through the fabric of his pants. He raised an eyebrow at that, his eyes slowly rising to meet Gladio’s. “Well, someone’s eager,” he said, smirking.

“After this afternoon?” Gladio shot back. “Hell yeah.” He shuffled around a bit, taking his hands out of his pockets. “Can I, uh, come in? Or you just gonna stand there and fuck me with your eyes all night?”

Ignis nearly choked on the laugh that bubbled out of his chest. “By all means,” he replied, opening the door a bit wider and allowing the other inside. He toed his shoes off, making for the couch, but Ignis caught his arm at the last second, tugging him back. “A moment, please.”

“Yeah?”

“I think we should talk, you and I.”

Gladio blinked. “About?”

“This,” Ignis said, moving a hand between the two of them.

“Oh.”

“I simply want to be sure that we’re both aware of what we want,” he continued, releasing Gladio’s arm.

Stepping further into the apartment, he took his suit jacket off and folded it across the back of one of his dining room chairs. The room had gotten ten degrees hotter once Gladio had stepped inside, or so it seemed. He was aching to pull the shirt from his torso, and Gladio’s from his, but for now, the removal of his jacket would suffice.

Plenty of time for that - later.

“You’ve never been with a man,” Ignis said. “Though I’m sure you know what all that entails.”

“Well, yeah. I watch porn.”

Ignis resisted the urge to roll his eyes. “Yes, because pornography is so accurate.”

Gladio blinked. “It’s not?”

“Never mind that,” Ignis said, shaking his head. “The point of this conversation is for you and I to discuss what you’re comfortable with doing.”

“Kissing is good.”

“It’s a start,” Ignis said slowly. “Is that all you wish of me?”

Gladio stared at him for a moment, considering. “What else are you offering?” he shot back.

Gods, the things Gladio said sometimes… and the way he sounded saying them.

It wasn’t fair that someone could be as effortlessly sexy as Gladiolus Amicitia. It wasn’t fair that he was tall, handsome, and always sounded like he’d just rolled out of bed. How did one human being end up with all the luck?

And yet, Gladio was standing here, in Ignis’ apartment, half-hard in his sweatpants, and Ignis thought that maybe he shouldn’t be complaining.

“What am I ‘offering’?” he repeated. He tilted his head down ever so slightly, allowing the corners of his lips to curve up into a smirk as he stared at Gladio over the rims of his glasses. It was a tactic he knew was most effective, a move he’d used to rile up his past lovers.

If Gladio’s sudden intake of breath was any indication, he wasn’t immune.

“Anything you want,” he said, finishing his thought.

Gladio made a noise that Ignis could only describe as a growl. “I like the sound of that,” he said, not waiting for permission as he stepped forward, catching Ignis’ lips in a hungry kiss.

He seemed more sure of himself this time, more confident in the way his hands gripped Ignis tight. Ignis allowed himself to be steered backwards until he was leaning against the wall, Gladio’s powerful form pressing into him, pinning his body in place. The differences in their heights was starker when they stood this close, Ignis having to crane his neck upwards in order to maintain the kiss. He didn’t mind in the slightest, snaking his arms around Gladio’s neck and pulling him in tight, responding to the kiss with a pleased little hum.

It was still a little unreal to him - that he was being allowed this. How was it that Gladio had come to be here, in Ignis’ arms, kissing him as if his very life depended upon it? Had it really only been a day since Ignis had kissed him outside the club, trying to make a point? If he had known that Gladio would respond to him so ardently, maybe he would’ve done it sooner.

Gladio’s tongue was poking at his lips, and Ignis opened his mouth, allowing his friend to deepen the kiss. He pressed even closer, if that were possible, rising up on the tips of his toes to ease the strain on his neck. His fingers curled in Gladio’s hair, pulling tight enough on the dark strands to draw a groan from the other’s throat.

Ignis loved the way Gladio sounded when he moaned. It was so deep, so raw and animalistic… nothing like the little, breathy noises that he knew he made when aroused. He pulled on Gladio’s hair again, trying to draw another noise out of the man. He succeeded, relishing the way he could feel the groan rumble through Gladio’s chest. If he sounded this lovely whilst they were merely kissing…

It was Ignis’ turn to take control of the kiss.

Pushing himself away from the wall, he slowly began to back Gladio up, leading him towards the sofa on the opposite side of the room. Gladio moved with him, hands drifting down to settle on Ignis’ hips. He didn’t break the kiss, trusting Ignis to safely steer them. On instinct, he sat when his knees hit the couch, looking up expectantly at Ignis to follow. But Ignis hesitated a moment, taking a chance to look down at his friend and take in his appearance.

Gladio’s hair and clothes were slightly disheveled, lips slightly swollen and glistening from their extended kissing, and he was sucking in air like a man who’d just finished running a race. His eyes were hooded, gone dark with want, and Ignis suppressed a shiver.

Utterly gorgeous, he thought with a groan. If only Gladio could see himself now… He almost snorted at the thought. No, better Gladio not know how alluring he was right now. It would go straight to his head.

“Iggy?”

Just like that, the moment was broken, Gladio’s silent question hanging in the air.

“My apologies,” Ignis said immediately, sinking down into Gladio’s lap in one fluid movement. “I was just admiring the view.”  

Gladio grinned into the kiss Ignis gave him. “You like how I look?” he asked, lips teasing.

Ignis nipped at his lower lip, drawing a surprised noise from the man beneath him. “Fishing for compliments, are you?” he drawled, taking the lip into his mouth and sucking on it. Gladio let out a strangled noise, the hand resting upon Ignis’ thigh squeezing hard in response, blunt fingernails digging deep enough that Ignis could feel them through the fabric of his pants. He worried the lip between his teeth, enjoying the little tremors wracking Gladio’s body and the way his hands would flex as he fought to keep himself still.

He was quickly learning what turned Gladio on, what to do, where to touch, what to say. It was remarkably enjoyable, the minutes passing by in what felt like seconds. What he wouldn’t give to do this, day in and day out...

One last nip, and he let go, pulling back to look at the other. The pink of Gladio’s lip had gone a darker red with the excessive attention, and there was a lovely flush to his cheeks. It gave him a wanton look, and Ignis, unable to resist, pressed one, two, three kisses to his mouth in quick succession, pressing closer and closer to Gladio with each kiss.

“Damn,” Gladio breathed, breaking away to catch his breath. His head fell backwards against the back of the couch, chest heaving. “You’re good at this.”

“I’m good at everything.”

As if for emphasis, Ignis leaned in, licking a trail up the exposed column of Gladio’s throat. His teeth latched onto the skin at the hollow behind his ear, and Gladio groaned, tilting his head back a little more to give Ignis more room to maneuver. He repeated the noise when Ignis bit down in earnest, sucking hard enough to leave a mark.  

A moment later, he released the skin from his teeth, laving it with his tongue. “You’re very vocal,” he murmured, moving down to lavish attention on the space just above Gladio’s clavicle. The skin there was smooth and supple, slightly salty to the taste.

It made him want to lick every bit of Gladio, to see if he tasted that way all over.

“That a problem?” Gladio retorted.

“Not at all,” Ignis replied, letting his teeth graze the skin over Gladio’s collarbone. “I like vocal.”

Slowly, so that Gladio could stop him if he wanted, he raised a hand and began to push the jacket off of Gladio’s shoulders, letting it slide down to the couch. Once that barrier was removed, he hooked a hand beneath the strap of Gladio’s tank top, allowing himself to feel the firm muscle beneath.

“When you’re vocal, it lets me know what you like.”

“I like that,” Gladio replied, eyes flicking down to Ignis’ hands, currently exploring the skin of his pectorals. “You, touching me.”

“Yes?” Ignis sat back a little, allowing Gladio some room. He twisted a finger in the fabric of the tank top. “Take this off then.”

Gladio obeyed, his eyes not leaving Ignis’ as he let the piece of clothing fall to the floor.

“Lie down.”

He did so, just barely managing to fit his body within the boundaries of the couch. Ignis twisted with him, keeping himself firmly locked into place above Gladio’s hips. He wanted nothing more than to grind down, to feel Gladio’s cock rubbing against his. Yet he managed to resist, instead bringing a hand up, trailing his fingers down Gladio’s torso.

This, Gladio had experienced before. Ignis was sure of it. One did not have sex with a man built like Gladio and not touch his body. He had put so much time and energy into developing his musculature, it would simply be a waste not to admire it.

He did so, removing his gloves and throwing them onto the coffee table so he could feel the warm skin with his bare hands. His fingers danced across Gladio’s chest, lingering in the valleys between his pectorals and various abdominal muscles. They flitted up Gladio’s side, appreciating the width of his ribcage and the way his breath caught at the gentle caresses there. Was he ticklish? Ignis filed that information away for another day in favor of thumbing a brown nipple.   

Gladio inhaled sharply. “That’s-”

“Good?” Ignis repeated the motion, slower this time.

“Yeah, that’s… that’s nice.”

Ignis smirked, rolling the nub between his fingers. Gladio squirmed underneath him, the motions seemingly involuntary. Every now and then, he would let out a soft curse, alerting Ignis that he had done something right. He paid attention to these little signals, keeping track of them in his mind so that he could more fully exploit them later.

He wondered… if Gladio was so sensitive simply from his fingers, what sort of reaction would his mouth elicit?

He leaned down, capturing Gladio’s other nipple with his lips even as his fingers continued working at the other.

“Fuck!”

Oh, now that was lovely - the way Gladio’s entire body arched up off the couch into him, the way his eyes screwed shut in pleasure.

Ignis withdrew, peering up at Gladio through his lashes. “Later, Gladio - have a little patience.”

Gladio let out a ragged groan. “Dammit, Iggy,” he huffed. “Warn a guy next time.”

“Oh? You want me to tell you that I’m going to suck on your nipples until they’re positively aching?”

“Fucking Six, Ignis-”

“Or perhaps you want me to tell you everything that I do, just before I do it,” Ignis mused, enjoying the heated, lustful gaze Gladio was directing at him. “Would you like that?” He scooted back a little so that he was perched just atop Gladio’s thighs, one of his hands settling over the waistband of Gladio’s pants. “Answer me, Gladio.”

“Yes.”

Ignis smirked. “I thought you might.” He shifted his hand lower, letting it rest upon the other’s erection.

Gladio licked his lips. “What’re you gonna do?”

Ignis squeezed him once, teasingly - it was a test, of sorts, to make sure that Gladio was comfortable proceeding. When his friend groaned, bucking his hips up a little, Ignis had all the answer that he needed.

He moved forward, so that he was perched above his friend’s lap. “I am going to make you feel very, very good,” he murmured.

“What d’you - fuck.” His words died in his throat when Ignis rolled his hips, pressing down into Gladio’s arousal, grinding their clothed cocks together.

Gladio watched him as he continued to roll his hips, eyes glued to the area where their bodies met. He seemed unable to look away, hands gripping at Ignis’ hips so hard he thought the skin likely bruised. Ignis didn’t mind, though; he liked it a little rough, and there was something sexy about little bits of physical evidence left over from an encounter - the mark of teeth upon a neck, tiny bruises on the hips, red, angry scratches clawing down a back…

The next time Ignis thrust his hips down, Gladio pushed back up, instinctively seeking more of the heady pleasure pooling between them. The feel of Gladio against him was divine - the drag of it as they made contact and then broke apart, only to connect moments later. He was harder than he’d been in months, the sight of his friend coming undone beneath him like a fantasy come to life.

Gods, he could come just like this.

The thought made him pause, his movements slowing despite every little voice in his head screaming at him to keep going, to continue, to find release -

But what if Gladio wasn’t ready for that?

He might be alright with kissing Ignis, maybe even letting Ignis touch him, but allowing Ignis to bring him to completion was a far more intimate matter.

“What s’matter?” Gladio asked, pushing himself onto his forearms. His voice was husky, gravelly almost; the sound of it went straight to Ignis’ core, heat spiking through him anew. Dammit, what this man did to him.

“There are a number of ways to proceed,” Ignis said lightly, trying to find the right way to convey his thoughts. “We could keep on like this-” He rolled his hips again, just enough to let Gladio know what he meant. “-or I could…” He paused, catching the subtle shift in Gladio’s eyes, recognizing the emergence of an idea when he saw it. “What is it?”

“I, uh, I have an idea.”

“Yes?”

Gladio said nothing, flushed cheeks darkening as Ignis watched him.

“Tell me,” Ignis coaxed.

“What you said earlier - about your tongue.”

Ignis smirked. “You want me to suck you off?” he guessed, a little thrill shooting through him.

Gladio nodded. “Yeah.”

“Then take these off,” Ignis commanded, pointing to Gladio’s pants.

Gladio unceremoniously pushed him backwards, yanking his sweats down with one hand and kicking them off. Then he was pulling Ignis back towards him, kissing him greedily.

It took Ignis several minutes to extricate himself from Gladio’s arms, mostly because he had no desire to leave. Still, the idea of sucking his friend off was appealing as well, and he sank down to his knees, nudging Gladio’s knees apart with a gentle hand in order to get to his cock, thick and hard between his thighs.

Ignis reached out a hand, gripping Gladio’s length, giving an experimental upward stroke. The motion caused a bead of liquid to seep out of the head, and he caught it with his thumb, bringing it up to his lips to taste.

Iggy,” Gladio groaned.

It was all that he said - just Ignis’ name, teased out of his lips in a rough, broken voice. Ignis had never heard anything like it, from Gladio or his past lovers alike.

He wanted to hear it again.

He leaned down, swiping his tongue across the head of Gladio’s cock and licking up the rest of the precome leaking from the tip before swallowing him whole, taking as much of his cock into his mouth as he could at once. Gladio bucked his hips up, nearly choking Ignis, and he put a hand out to hold the other’s movements steady, forcing him to stay still.

A hand fell into his hair, crunching into gelled strands and holding on tight. Normally, Ignis would have protested, but he was too busy licking and sucking on the cock in his mouth to care. Gladio was big, bigger than he was used to, his jaw beginning to ache from opening it so wide. Still, he kept on, the noises he was wringing from Gladio more than enough to compensate him for a little discomfort.

His own cock was achingly hard in his pants, pressed tight against the seam of his fly. Desperate for some kind of relief, Ignis snaked his free hand between his thighs, palming himself through the fabric. He worked the both of them in tandem, the moments of his hand and mouth synchronized. Gladio didn’t miss what his hand was doing, unable to tear his gaze away. Every so often, Ignis would meet his eyes, wanting to see the emotions crossing Gladio’s face.

He was never disappointed in what he saw.

Gladio’s breathing had gone erratic now, and Ignis was barely able to restrain his hips. He was forced to let go of his own cock, needing both hands to keep Gladio still.

“Sorry, I can’t-” Gladio panted, one of his hands gripping Ignis’ wrist. “‘M so close, Iggy, right there-”

Ignis responded by taking as much of Gladio’s cock into his mouth at once as he could; the back of it was brushing his throat, his gag reflex was screaming in protest, his jaw burned - but then Gladio was coming, releasing into his mouth with a strangled sort of noise, half-moan, half-shout.

He waited until the waves of Gladio’s orgasm had receded before he finally retreated, Gladio’s cock falling from his mouth with an obscene little popping noise. He wiped his mouth with the back of a hand, smirking at his friend’s utterly satiated expression, at his limp, boneless body.

“C’mere,” Gladio murmured, waving a hand at Ignis.

Ignis raised an eyebrow, moving back up to the couch. No sooner had he seated himself than Gladio pulled him forward into his lap, catching his lips in a lazy kiss. It lasted but a moment, and then Gladio was grinning at him.

“Shit, you weren’t lying,” he said. “I feel great.

“I make it a point to be proficient at everything I do,” Ignis informed him.

Gladio snorted. “You would say something like that right now.” He paused then, eyes flicking down where Ignis’ cock was, still pressing hard against his pants. “What about you? D’you want me to-"

“Yes,” Ignis said, nodding. “Yes, I do.”

A little more cognizant now, Gladio sat up, undoing the catch on Ignis’ belt and slipping it off. “I’ve never done this before,” he admitted. “So you gotta tell me if I do something wrong.”

“Do what you would do to yourself,” Ignis instructed, twisting around so that he could slip out of his pants. “Just use your hand - I fear it won’t take very much, at this point.”

“All worked up?” Gladio asked, grinning. “Just from gettin’ me off?”

Ignis rolled his eyes, biting back a groan as his cock was exposed to the open air. “Forgive me if the sight of you coming down my throat has me a little on edge,” he snapped. His ire was all but forgotten though when Gladio finally wrapped a hand around him, and he exhaled a shaky breath through his nose.

Gladio’s strokes were soft, not as firm as Ignis liked - perhaps he didn’t want to be too rough, unused to a cock that wasn’t his own. Ignis reached down, linking their hands, using his own palm to show Gladio what he preferred, exactly how quickly to move and how much pressure to use. Once his friend had it down, he let his own hand fall slack, his body melting back into the couch as he furiously chased his own orgasm.

As he had predicted, it didn’t take long - the combination of Gladio’s eyes on his face and hand on his dick was enough to send him over the edge in just minutes, spilling over Gladio’s palm and stomach. It hit him hard, left him trembling in the aftershocks, clutching at the hard body beneath him like a lifeline.

All the while, Gladio held him close, one large hand smoothing circles onto his back. It was an intensely intimate thing to do, and Ignis wasn't sure what the gesture meant - if Gladio was holding him out of habit, or because he truly wanted to do so. It made him a little uncomfortable, even as he pressed closer, kissing the side of Gladio's face one more time before he retreated. 

Capable of movement once more, he moved to the kitchen, grabbing a spare cloth and using it to clean himself up before offering it to Gladio. “Are you staying the night?” he asked.

Gladio blinked. “I… I dunno,” he said slowly. “Should I…?”

“It’s nothing you haven’t done before,” Ignis pointed out.

“Yeah, but it’s…” He couldn’t find the words, but Ignis knew what he meant anyways.

It was different now. This wasn’t a case of Gladio getting drunk and Ignis forcing him to stay over so he didn’t hurt himself walking back. This wasn’t a case of Gladio falling asleep during a movie and Ignis not having the heart to wake him up.

This was…

Complicated. It was complicated.

“Stay, if you want,” Ignis said finally. “Or leave, if you would prefer that. Whichever you’re most comfortable doing.”

“You just going to bed?”

“After a shower,” Ignis replied, moving towards the bathroom.

He meant it as an invitation for Gladio to join him, but his friend didn’t take it. Ignis was only slightly disappointed. He was likely too exhausted to do anything else anyways, and his shower was entirely too small for anything even remotely sexual to be comfortable. Besides, Gladio probably wanted to return to his own bed and get some sleep.

To his surprise, when he walked into his bedroom, the first thing that he noticed was Gladio was curled up on his bed. He had turned the television on, watching the late night news broadcast with a slightly disinterested expression on his face. He looked up when Ignis appeared. “You get really shit reception in here,” he remarked.

Ignis blinked. “You’re staying?”

“That okay?”

“I - yes,” Ignis said.

Of course, when he’d made the offer, he hadn’t expected Gladio to sleep in his bed with him. He’d thought his friend would take the couch, as he had whenever he had slept over previously.

Apparently, he had thought wrong.

He sank down onto the other side of the bed, slipping beneath the sheets.

“Night, Iggy,” Gladio said absently, continuing to watch the television.

“Good night,” Ignis said faintly, drawing the blankets around his frame. Though how he was going to manage to have a good night’s sleep with the object of his secret affections lying next to him, he wasn’t sure.

Good night, indeed.  

Chapter Text

Gladio couldn’t sleep.

It wasn’t for lack of trying; he’d been lying here for hours now, willing his body to find slumber. He’d tried changing positions, he’d tried adding more pillows. But it wasn’t a comfort issue - Ignis’ bed was perfect, just the right amount of give to the mattress, and his sheets were among the softest Gladio had ever slept upon. It was probably because he used fabric softener the way adults were supposed to, instead of just detergent the way that Gladio did.

No, this was an entirely different issue. His lack of rest had nothing to do with the bed he was sleeping in and everything to do with the bed’s owner.

Ignis.

His friend had fallen asleep within minutes of lying down, no doubt exhausted from a long day of meetings and reports. Turned onto his side, facing Gladio, his chest was rising and falling with his slow, even breaths. One arm was tucked up under his cheek, the other draped across his waist, fingers half-clutching the sheet that had pooled around his hips.

Gladio couldn’t stop looking at him.

Ignis normally looked very intense, very focused in all that he did, brows drawn down over his eyes. But now his face was completely relaxed, no worry lines marring the smooth skin of his forehead and full lips slightly parted, the muscles around his mouth completely relaxed. He looked younger like this, more vulnerable than he usually did.

Gladio shifted, rolling onto his stomach. The movement brought him a little closer to Ignis, their faces within a foot of each other, but his friend didn’t stir.

Ignis slept like the dead. It had been a bit of shock, finding that out. Iggy had a habit of teasing Noctis about his sleeping habits, so Gladio had assumed that he was a light sleeper. But one night, after three too many beers, he’d stayed over, waking around two in the morning with a pressing need to rehydrate. In his drunken stumbling into the kitchen, he’d tripped over Ignis, asleep in the chair beside his couch. Ignis hadn’t so much as twitched, even when Gladio had half-fallen into his lap.

Gladio took advantage of his friend’s deep sleeping habits now, mesmerized by the tiny movements of his eyes as he dreamt. He wondered what Ignis saw when he closed his eyes at night. Was it something pleasant, something relaxing? Something strange and unnerving? Or maybe he had sexy, delicious dreams that made him wake up hard and gasping, desperate for relief. Gladio thought he might like to witness that.

Not tonight though.

He was too wound up to enjoy it, too busy thinking hard about where things stood between them now.                    

Ignis had sucked his cock.

Ignis had sucked his fucking cock.

And it had been absolutely amazing. Maybe it was because Ignis was a guy and knew how it felt to be on the receiving end of a blowjob. He had a cock, he knew what it felt like to have someone sucking you off, to have someone swallowing you whole. Gladio didn’t want to bad talk the girls he’d been with before, but nothing he had experienced could compare to what Ignis had done with his tongue. Nothing.

He hadn’t orgasmed like that in weeks. Months. Maybe even longer. It had ripped through him forcefully, taking him at least a minute to completely regain his bearings, and even then he’d only been half-aware as he’d drawn Ignis up into his lap, kissing him hard. His lips had tasted like Gladio, slightly salty from sweat and come. Gladio had found that strangely hot, kissing Ignis until he could hardly breathe. And then Ignis had let, no, wanted, Gladio to touch him in return…

It had been odd at first, having another guy’s cock in his hand. It was familiar, the textures and size of it similar to his own, and yet not familiar at the same time. He had been too gentle at first, too hesitant. Ignis had had to correct him, his hand joining Gladio’s on his own cock, showing him what he liked. He preferred it a bit rougher than Gladio did, a little more pressure, but the mechanics were the same. Stroke, twist, squeeze. Next time, he’d know what to do. Next time, he would do better.

He blinked.

Next time? Was he already thinking of that?

Yeah. Yeah, he was. No sense in debating that with himself; it seemed pretty fucking obvious at this point. 

Instead of debating if it would happen, his mind soon turned to how things would unfold. Maybe they would reverse their roles next time, Ignis’ hands on Gladio’s cock while Gladio sucked Ignis off. An excited little thrill ran through him at the thought. Yeah, that sounded nice. Real fucking nice. He’d definitely have to look up some pointers on technique, though, seeing as how he'd never had a dick in his mouth. Was there a way to practice? Preferably without having to buy a dildo? He supposed he could ask Ignis, but then it would be obvious that he wanted to blow the guy. And to be honest, he kind of wanted it to be a surprise, a “Hey, look, I practiced how to do this so I can make you feel good” kind of thing. 

He'd just have to do some research, see what he could find on the net. Hell, maybe he’d even find some other useful tips while he was looking, discover other things they could do.

Like sex, for one.

He wasn't trying to push things forward, because things were going pretty fucking great, if you asked him, but that did seem to be the direction they were headed in, right? That would happen eventually, if he wanted it to? 

Gladio knew how it worked with two guys. He wasn’t an idiot. He knew that you needed lots of lube, and that there was some sort of preparation involved. He had also heard that it could feel amazingly, stupidly good, if your partner knew what they were doing.

Ignis was the type of guy who knew he was doing. Gladio wondered though - did Ignis prefer to be on the giving end, or the receiving? Maybe both. There wasn’t any reason why the roles couldn’t change, he supposed.

Another thought crossed his mind then, accompanied by a visual that he wouldn’t soon forget - Ignis, bending over him, Gladio’s legs wrapped around his hips, drawing him in tight…. He suppressed a groan, burying his face into the pillow to muffle the noise. Fuck. Despite his fatigue, he felt a familiar stirring in his groin, and he shifted uncomfortably, trying to find a position that wouldn’t further rile him up.

He wanted Ignis to fuck him.

He wanted Ignis to fuck him.

The more he thought about it, the more he liked the notion. Part of it, he had to admit, was curiosity. What would it feel like to have someone inside him? What would it feel like to be pinned down to the mattress, to have someone fucking him? Good, yeah? 

But it was also more than that.

He didn’t want just any guy to fuck him. If that was all he needed, he knew a number of glaives who had expressed interest in him before. He could easily fall into bed with one of them. No, he wanted Ignis to fuck him. He wanted Ignis to press him down into the mattress, he wanted Ignis inside him.

It had to be Ignis.

And he had no idea what that meant.

Ignis mumbled something then, shifting a little on the mattress. Gladio watched him for a moment, uncertain if his friend was going to wake. But then Ignis let out a pleased little sigh, nestling back down into the blankets, and Gladio knew he was still dead to the world.

A slight snort left his lips then, and he reached out a hand, fondly pushing Ignis’ bangs back from his face. Ignis’ hair was soft without all the gel, not quite as soft as a girl’s, but definitely silkier than his own coarse hair. Iris had told him once that he should consider using a conditioner, but he’d quickly nixed that idea - the liquid in the bottle she’d given him had smelled like straight-up cake. And while Gladio liked cake, he didn’t want to smell like one.

Though maybe Ignis would like it if he smelled that way. He liked to bake.

The thought was more amusing than it should have been, probably because he was so tired, and Gladio shook his head at himself.

Ridiculous, Amicitia. You are ridiculous.

* * * * *

When Gladio awoke the next morning, he was warm. Very warm. Almost uncomfortably so.

He wrenched his eyes open, trying to find the source of warm and dislodge it. When his eyes alit upon Ignis though, curled up alongside him like a cat, he paused. When had this happened? When he’d fallen asleep, they had definitely been apart, not touching at all. Now… well, Ignis had thrown a leg over Gladio’s thigh and an arm over his chest, his head was tucked down onto Gladio’s shoulder, and that was definitely a morning erection pressed up against his side.

“Dammit,” he muttered, rubbing a hand over his face.

What a way to wake up.

He couldn’t say he minded, despite the almost oppressive heat their combined bodies were generating. It was a gentle, all-encompassing kind of warmth, like the heat of the sun at the height of a summer day. It made him want to sink back into the blankets, relax, drift in and out of consciousness as he just basked in the glow of it…

It wasn’t to be. An alarm went off at that precise moment, and Ignis jolted awake. The movement made his cock press against Gladio a little more firmly, and Gladio couldn’t help the noise that he made.

Ignis wasn’t moving beside him. Gladio twisted his head, trying to look down into his face, but the angle was all wrong. He didn’t see anything other than lank, light brown hair and the tense line of Ignis’ back.

“Mornin’,” he said, deciding one of them had to break the silence.

“Good morning,” Ignis replied, his voice a little stiff.

In the background, the alarm continued to blare.

“You gonna turn that off?” Gladio muttered.

“Hmm? Oh, yes.” Ignis twisted, hitting a button on the clock and ending the infernal beeping. He hesitated then, as if unsure of whether to get out of bed or return to Gladio’s side. The indecision was clear on his face.

Gladio put a hand on his arm, gently tugging him closer. It was an easy grip, one Ignis could easily break if he wanted. But Ignis didn’t, instead lying back down at Gladio’s side. They weren’t quite as intimately connected as before, only their sides touching, but still.

This was nice too.

“Did we… sleep like that?”

Gladio turned to look at Ignis, but his friend was staring at the ceiling. “I don’t think so,” he said after a moment. “Just… woke up like this. Must’ve shifted during the night.”

“Ah.” Now Ignis did look at him. “I apologize if it made you uncomfortable.”

Gladio blinked in surprise. “Why would it make me uncomfortable?”

Ignis raised an eyebrow. “Do you normally wake up with one of your friends wrapped around you like a snake?” he asked wryly.

Gladio snorted. “Yeah, no. But I can’t say I minded.”

“No?”

“Nah. Kinda nice, actually. Warm.”

“Hmm.”

“And you probably get this a lot, but you smell nice.”

“It’s from Altissia,” Ignis said absently.

“What is?”

“My soap. Noctis bought it for me once, for my birthday. I liked it well enough. I’ve used it ever since.”

“Noct bought you soap for your birthday?” Gladio asked.

“He was much younger than he is now,” Ignis explained, “and I believe he asked Iris for help picking out a present.” He shot Gladio a rather dry smile. “It was her suggestion.”

“That sounds like Iris,” Gladio admitted, returning the smile as he thought of his sister’s… interesting taste in presents. “I ever tell you ‘bout the time she bought me a two hundred pound punching bag shaped like a chocobo?”

Ignis made a very undignified sound, the corners of his eyes crinkling with mirth. “I don’t believe you have,” he replied.

“It was when I was first starting hand-to-hand combat training,” Gladio continued. “Said she wanted to get me something I could practice on.” He shook his head. “Damn thing was impossible to hang up.”

“What did you do with it?”

“Eh, I just kept it in my room. Didn’t know what else to do with it, and I wasn’t gonna throw it out.”

“Gladiolus Amicitia, do you mean to tell me that you have a two-hundred pound stuffed chocobo sitting in your room like some sort of chair? And you never told me?”

“It’s also pink.”

Ignis chuckled. “I demand to see this magnificent beast,” he said. “So that I may preserve its memory in my head, for posterity.”

“No way,” Gladio shot back. “You’ll take pictures of it and blackmail me later.”

“I would do no such thing.”

“Uh-huh. Don’t bother, Iggy - I’ve got your number.”

“Extortion is beneath me,” Ignis sniffed.

“Whatever helps you sleep at night.”

“Mmm.” Ignis shifted then, sitting up and stretching. It gave Gladio a marvelous view of the muscles in his back, the way they rippled beneath the skin as he moved. “I need to get up.”

“So early?” Gladio asked.

“I have to be at Noctis’ apartment within the hour, or he’ll be late for the first meetings of the day.” Ignis threw him a half-amused, half-exasperated look over his shoulder. “You know how he is in the morning.”

Gladio snorted. “Yeah,” he muttered. “I dunno how you put up with it, Iggy.”

“Because it’s my job,” Ignis replied sternly. “Viewing it as a responsibility, and not something that I must ‘put up with’ also helps.”

“I guess.” Gladio moved, sitting up beside his friend. There was a slight crick in his neck from where Ignis had laid his head on it for the past few hours. It would be annoying to deal with all day, but he couldn't find it within himself to care. The cuddling - for that was the only word for it - had been worth it. “You all comin’ by the training rooms later?”

“Not today. The annual session is scheduled to last all day, and then we have a dinner meeting with the ambassadors from Altissia.”

Gladio tried his best not to show his disappointment.

He must not have done a very good job, for Ignis chuckled at him. “Try not to dwell too much on it,” he teased, rising to his feet. “You might injure yourself.”

“Very funny,” Gladio muttered, rolling his eyes.

“I certainly thought so.”

Gladio grabbed the bottle of water he’d left on the nightstand last night, taking a swig. “You know, sometimes you’re a dick.”

“Well, you know what they say, Gladio,” Ignis said, walking over to the bathroom door. He turned at the last second, shooting Gladio a wicked grin. “You are what you eat.”

Gladio choked.

* * * * *

“Ignis!”

Ignis looked up from his coffee, trying to identify the person who had just called out his name. The voice wasn’t familiar to him - it was feminine, lower pitched than average, with an accent suggesting the owner was from the northern side of Insomnia.

“Over here!”

He turned just in time to see a tall woman coming his way. She was clad in the dark uniform the Kingsglaive wore when they were off-duty, her blonde hair hanging in loose waves down her front. There was an easy grin on her face, the corners of her light brown eyes crinkling, and she waved a hand at him in friendly greeting.

Ah, yes, he remembered her now - Placidia, the glaive whom he had met at the strip club. The woman that Gladio had been convinced he should sleep with. He hid the smile that memory evoked by taking another drink of his coffee, returning Placidia’s wave.

She sank down into the chair across from him, grimacing at the various reports arrayed in front of him. “That does not like look fun,” she commented.

“It isn’t,” he agreed. “But someone has to read these reports.”

“Might as well be you?”

“Might as well.”

She leaned back in the chair, crossing her arms over her chest. “So how is life on the outside of the club?” she asked. "I haven't seen you since, or I'd have said hey."

“Decidedly quieter,” he replied with a smirk.

“That it is. Too bad you didn’t stay later. You missed Nyx making a fool out of himself.”

“Oh?”

“Uh-huh. Accidentally spilled a drink all over the girl he was hitting on. Tried to help her clean it up and ended up ripping it. Totally ruined the dress - her very, very expensive dress, from what I gathered.”

“I take it that it was humorous to watch?”

“Hilarious.”

“And how did Nyx take it?”

“‘Bout as well you’d expect. It’s okay though.” She grinned at him. “Nyx needs to have his ego deflated every now and then.”

The assessment reminded Ignis of someone else whose ego knew no bounds, and he snorted. “I know the type well.”

“Yeah? Your friend with the nice ass, I’m guessing?”

“Indeed.”

Placidia was silent for a moment, her grin fading a bit as she studied him. When she spoke again, her tone was hesitant, as if she were treading into uncertain territory. “Hey, so… he wasn’t doing anything… sketchy, was he? The other night? I mean, I’m not trying to pry, so feel free to tell me off if you want, but you left the club in a bit of a hurry.”

“It wasn’t anything untoward, I assure you,” Ignis said quickly, feeling a need to defend his friend even though he recognized Placidia was only speaking up out of concern. “Gladio was simply being… Gladio.”

“A moron?”

“Oblivious is more like it.”

“Huh. What was he, ah, trying to do? Again, just tell me to butt out if I’m overstepping.”

“Not at all. He was attempting to set me up. ‘Get me laid’ was the terminology he used, I believe.”

Placidia frowned. “In a strip club?” she asked, appalled.

“With you, actually,” Ignis added.

She laughed outright at that. “Aw, I’m flattered! But you don't have boobs, or a vagina, so it's a hard no from me.”

“And you have breasts and a vagina, so it's a hard no from me as well,” Ignis said, chuckling. 

“You’d probably prefer to climb that friend of yours instead, huh? All that muscle and rugged good looks?”

“Like a tree,” Ignis said.

Placidia laughed again. “Does he know that?”

“Yes.”

That seemed to startle her, as if she hadn’t considered that. “I didn’t think he knew you were gay,” she said slowly.

“He didn’t, until two nights ago,” Ignis explained. “And now he does.”

She raised an eyebrow at that, but didn’t ask any questions. It was one thing he liked about Placidia, Ignis decided. She wasn’t having this conversation because she was interested in the sordid details of his personal life; she was talking to him because she liked him, he hoped, and because she had wanted to make sure that things had ended well the other night. Her interest was born of consideration, not intrigue.

It made him want to get to know her a little better, perhaps even befriend her.

“Well, hey, so long as he knows right?” Placidia asked. “Took me ages to get around to telling all of my friends I like girls. I never knew how, to be honest, and then when I finally did get around to it… I think they’d guessed as much.” She snorted. “I mean, it was kinda obvious.”

“I presumed it was with me, as well.”

"Not as much as you'd think."

Ignis raised an eyebrow at that. "You seemed to figure me out rather quickly."

"Yeah, but I'm observant," Placidia replied. "I get paid to notice these things about people. Normal folks?" She rolled her eyes. "Honestly, they can be super oblivious."

Well, he wouldn't argue with her there. 

They chatted for a while longer, the conversation flowing easy between them. Placidia was quite amicable, Ignis noticed, and she had a sense of humor that matched quite well with his. When a clock chimed at two, signaling the end of the hour, Ignis found himself both surprised and disappointed at how quickly the hour since Placidia's arrival had passed. Still, business was business, and he couldn't be late to the meetings. He began gathering up his reports, shooting her an apologetic look. 

“I’m afraid I must be going,” he said, standing. “I have several more meetings to attend before the dinner with the Altissian embassy.”

“Better you than me,” she said, wincing in sympathy. “But hey - it was nice talking to you. We should do it again sometime, if you want.”

“I would like that,” Ignis admitted.

“Yeah? Here.” She bent at the waist, picking up the unused napkin Ignis’ coffee had been sitting upon and procuring a pen from one of her pockets. She scribbled out her phone number before handing Ignis the paper. “I’m always up. Text me whenever you want.”

“I may take you up on that.”

“I hope you do!” she said, grinning. “It’s nice, talking to someone who isn’t a meathead. I should try to find more people like you.”

Ignis returned the grin. “I’d offer to give you a list of names, but I’m afraid it would be woefully short.”

She laughed, already turning to leave. “See you around, Ignis.”

“Indeed.”

He waited until Placidia had begun to retreat, as was proper, before heading towards the main council room, arms full of half-read reports. His grin quickly faded as he fell in step with the other bureaucrats making their way into the hall, Placidia’s humor and quick smile a fastly fading memory. He would much preferred to have stayed with her for another hour or so, talking about nothing in particular. Instead, he was going to have to listen to the minister of the interior discuss several crumbling overpasses and freeways and what the Crown was going to have to do in order to fix them.

Delightful.

Just as he sat down in his usual chair, he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. After he’d set out his notepad and pens, priming himself for his usual notetaking, he allowed himself to discreetly check the screen, wondering who would be messaging him in the middle of the afternoon.

It was from Gladio.

2:01 p.m. < Gladio A. > Hey. Just wanted to say I had fun last night. Didn’t get to tell you this morning.

“Fun” wasn’t exactly the term Ignis would have used, but he supposed that it did suffice. He shook his head in fond amusement, going to type a response, when he received another message.

2:02 p.m. < Gladio A. > Next time, let me return the favor?

Next time.

That implied that Gladio wanted a repeat encounter. It hadn’t just been a one-time thing, a curiosity his friend had needed to have met. The thought made Ignis feel warm all over, and not just because of what the message was implying.

Gladio wanted to do this again. Gladio wanted to reciprocate.

That was…

A man stood up at the head of the hall, clearing his throat to get the room’s attention. Ignis hastily put his phone away after replying with a brief and imperative affirmation, letting Gladio know that in no uncertain terms, he was amenable.

Very amenable.

So amenable, in fact, that he thought of little else throughout the entire presentation on the crumbling roads in the southern provinces, his thoughts entirely consumed with the image of Gladio going down on him.

Six, but this man was going to be the death of him.

Chapter Text

A week passed before Gladio could make good on his offer.

Ignis was busy entertaining the political delegation from Accordo, the dinner with the Altissian ambassadors only the beginning of five long days filled with meetings and public ceremonies affirming the friendly relations between their country and Lucis. Gladio knew the functions were important, and he fully recognized that Ignis played an important role at Noct’s side during these discussions, offering him advice and suggestions when asked for them. But it also left Ignis with very little free time for himself, and as a result, very little time to spend with Gladio, and that was something Gladio didn't much care for.

Especially when all he could think about was getting Ignis all hot and bothered in his room. Nothing he could do with his hand could compare to the way Ignis touched him, the way Ignis made him feel.

And he would know, considering how often he'd touched himself the past week. 

So when Ignis called him one afternoon, just as he was contemplating finding something to eat for dinner, it was needless to say that Gladio was more than a little eager.

He brought the phone up to his ear. “What’s up, Iggy?” he asked, trying to keep the excitement from his voice.

“Gladio,” was Ignis’ smooth reply. “Have you any plans for the evening?”

Yeah, you. Hopefully.

“Nah, I was just ‘bout to go and get something to eat. But I can wait, if you wanted to do something.”

Dark, rich laughter rang in his ear. “So ready to give up your dinner for me,” Ignis mused. “I’m touched.”

“Can you blame me? I haven’t seen you in a week.”

“And? You’ve gone months without seeing me before.”

“Yeah, but…” Gladio broke off, unsure of where he was going with this. What was he even trying to say? He didn’t know, and so he chose a safe out. “Eh, I’m not that hungry anyways.”

“Mmm.” It didn’t sound convincing, and Gladio knew it, but Ignis didn’t question the excuse. “Well, as it is, I would very much like to do something.”

“Yeah?”

“But of course.” There was a moment of silence, followed by the sound of a door opening and closing. “I’m close to your apartment now - unless you’d prefer to come to mine?”

“No, c’mon over,” Gladio said, looking around his living room to make sure it was suitable for company. It wasn’t anywhere near as immaculate as Ignis’ quarters, but he was a reasonably neat individual. There were a few bits of clutter - mostly worn paperbacks, stacked in precarious piles around the furniture, or gym gear thrown carelessly to the floor - but there was a clear path from the door to the furniture. That was good enough, right? “I’ll unlock the door.”

“Alright. I’ll be there shortly.”

Gladio stood before Ignis even hung up the phone, going to make sure that the door was open before retreating into the bedroom. He quickly made the bed, fishing one of the pillows up from where it had fallen onto the floor during his sleep the previous night. He couldn’t say why he felt the need to do this. What was the likelihood they’d even make it to the bedroom? Could you have negative probabilities? He didn't think so. But he did it just the same, tugging the blankets around until they looked straight.

After that, he moved into the bathroom, running a brush through his hair and checking to make sure he didn’t smell too terribly bad. He’d just come up from the training rooms, and had been planning on showering later, after he’d eaten. But then Ignis had called, and his thoughts regarding “later” had drastically shifted.

Well, after a cursory inspection, he didn’t think he stank. And hey, maybe a little sweat was appealing. That turned some people on, yeah?

He could still freshen up a little bit though. Reaching a hand out, he turned on the faucet and splashed some cold water in his face. It stung a little, and some of the droplets hit his bare chest, leaving little rivulets in their wake. But it was also refreshing, and his head felt a bit clearer after he’d toweled it dry.

As he stood, he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. His eyes were a bit wider than usual, pupils starting to dilate, and there was a bit of a happy flush to his cheeks. Shit, he looked earnest. Like a fucking teenager who thought they were about to experience some below-the-waist touching for the first time. He shook his head at himself, stepping away.

Keep it together, Amicitia. You’re too old to be this eager.

A door opened then, accompanied by the sound of quiet footsteps on a hard surface.

Gladio had to force himself not to run into the living room, though his walk was still a little faster than was probably normal. Damn, he hoped this wasn’t a turn-off. He knew it was generally a good thing to look like you were into the person you were about to have sex with, but there was a line. Too eager, and it just got weird.

Ignis was still standing at the door when Gladio found him, removing the suit jacket from his shoulders and hanging it on the nearby coat rack. He raised an eyebrow at Gladio as he entered the room. It was only then that Gladio realized he wasn’t wearing anything other than a pair of gym shorts, hanging low on his hips.

Well. Too late to do anything about that now.

“Hey,” he said.

Ignis reached a hand behind him, effortlessly flipping the lock on the door. That, and the way Ignis was smirking at him was more than enough to make Gladio's mouth go dry with want. “Good evening,” Ignis replied. He began to loosen the cuffs of his shirt, giving Gladio an appraising look. “Tell me, were you going to wear that to go and find your dinner?”

“Why not?” Gladio challenged. Gym shorts weren't that bad, now, right?

“Well, I certainly wouldn’t complain, were I working at the restaurant you chose to frequent,” Ignis said, shrugging. “But I do believe most places have a ‘no shirt, no shoes, no service’ policy.”

“No shirt, huh?” Gladio flicked his eyes pointedly down to Ignis’ chest, eyeing the dark gray shirt and black vest the other was still wearing. “I like the sound of that.”

Ignis chuckled. “Don’t be hasty, Gladio,” he admonished, stepping forward until he had closed the distance between them. “We have all night.” He lifted a finger to Gladio's face, trailing it down the curve of his cheekbone. "Unless you were planning on kicking me out, of course."

"Hell no," Gladio replied, his voice coming out almost as a growl. One of his hands settled on the back of Ignis’ neck, tangling in the soft, little hairs and pulling him forward. "You're stayin' here."

And then he surged forward, capturing Ignis’ mouth with his own in a fierce, enthusiastic kiss. Ignis made a contented noise at that, pressing in close and putting his hands on Gladio’s bare chest. 

Fuck, but Gladio had missed this. It felt so right, he thought, Ignis' mouth moving against his. Each little movements of their joined mouths sent sparks of electricity racing all through his body, setting his skin afire. He had always liked kissing, considering a good slow, afternoon make-out session to be time well spent, but this was different. He could do this for days and never tire of it - the way those soft, pliant lips gave and parted underneath his, the way Ignis gave just as good as he got, pushing back against him as firmly as Gladio pressed forward, and the way he tasted…

Gladio groaned. “I've been wanting to do that all week,” he admitted.

Ignis chuckled, warm breath fanning across Gladio’s lips. “Have you, now?”

“Yeah,” Gladio admitted, pressing another quick kiss to Ignis’ mouth. "A lot." One more kiss. "Have you?" And another. 

“Perhaps.” Ignis drew back the next time Gladio swooped in, smirking at the annoyed look Gladio shot him. “A gentleman never tells.”

Gladio snorted. “That mean I'm not a gentleman?" he asked, ghosting his hands down Ignis' back and cupping his ass through his pants.  

Ignis inhaled sharply at that. "A gentleman would never grab my ass," he retorted. 

"You liked it."

"I did."

Gladio grinned, and did it again. 

“Incorrigible brute," Ignis snapped, batting his hands away. "If you've quite finished, there's something else I'd like to ask you."

Gladio obediently kept his hands above the waist. "Yeah?"

"What else did you miss, while I was busy?”

It was a surprisingly earnest question, Ignis' face a little more open than usual. It was cute, the way he was waiting for Gladio's response with bated breath. Gladio grinned. “Touching you,” he said truthfully, his free hand coming up and tugging at Ignis’ collar. “Talking to you. And, honestly? I missed getting to look at you.”

“You want to look at me?” Ignis sounded taken aback, surprise coloring his voice.

“You’re nice to look at."

“...I’ve never heard you say as much before.”

Shit.

Of course he hadn’t. Gladio had never really looked before, had never really studied Ignis’ good looks as if he intended to do something about them. Why would he have?

“Well, I’m noticing now,” he said quickly, trying to cover up his momentary pause.

For a moment, Ignis said nothing, staring back at him mutely. Gladio thought perhaps he had said the wrong thing, that he had reacted in the worst possible fashion, but just as he was about to draw back and regroup, Ignis relaxed, leaning forward and pressing a softer, more gentle kiss to Gladio’s lips.

“I’m glad you think so,” he murmured.

“Yeah?”

“Mmm.”

Ignis leaned in again, kissing Gladio a little more firmly this time, simultaneously steering them backwards towards a recliner. Gladio allowed himself to be pushed down into it, Ignis' hand like a brand on his bare chest. The chair was big enough for the two of them to sit comfortably together, and Ignis settled in on top of Gladio’s thighs, hands coming up to frame Gladio’s face as he deepened the kiss.

Though he wasn’t used to relinquishing the lead in these types of situations, Gladio had decided that he liked it when Ignis took control of things. He liked it when Ignis pressed their bodies closer together and let his tongue slip into Gladio’s mouth; he liked it when Ignis held him down and nipped at his lips with his teeth. Ignis was assertive, but not pushy, all of his movements careful and deliberate as he sought out pleasure.

It was hot.

Really fucking hot.

“Gladio.”

“Mmm?”

“Take my vest off,” Ignis ordered, barely breaking the kiss as he issued this command. Gladio was more than happy to oblige, working through the buttons as quickly as he dared and pushing the article of clothing from Ignis’ shoulders. “Now my shirt.”

Gladio didn’t need further instructions once Ignis’ chest was bare. His hands crept down, eager to touch the other’s naked chest, to discover what he liked and where his body was most sensitive. Unlike Gladio, Ignis’ nipples weren’t very responsive, his thumbs eliciting only the slightest reaction when he moved them over the dusky brown nubs. His sides, on the other hand, were a different story, Ignis’ breath hitching in his throat as Gladio ran his hands from his hips to his ribs.

Ignis made a pleased sigh when Gladio traced a fingernail over his hipbone, applying the barest pressure to the sharp, jutting bone. Mesmerized by the sound of it, Gladio repeated the movement, drawing back to see if there was a facial expression to match.

There was.

Ignis’ lips were slightly parted, cheeks flushed, his brows twitching as he tried to suppress the reaction.

“Don’t,” Gladio murmured. His hand moved to the other side of Ignis’ body, trailing across the flat plane of Ignis’ lower stomach, and Ignis shuddered, another breathy little noise escaping his lips. “I like hearing you.”

“Yes?” Ignis gasped.

“Hell yeah. It’s hot. You said you like vocal?” He accompanied his words with several lengthy strokes down Ignis’ back, enjoying the way the muscles felt under his skin. Though they were hard and taut, there was still some give to them, any indentations left by his hands gone in moments. “Well, so do I.”

Bringing his hands back around to the front, Gladio touched Ignis again, palming both of his hips this time, dragging blunt fingernails down the length of the bone. Ignis moaned, hands going slack on Gladio as he head fell back in bliss. “That feels… exquisite,” he breathed.

“That’s a big word for a guy who’s half-hard,” Gladio teased, eyeing the rapidly forming bulge in Ignis’ dark pants.

Ignis looked back at him, snorting in derision. “It was three syllables, Gladio,” he said. “I assure you, it takes much more than that to reduce my vocabulary.”

“Guess I’ll have to work harder then.”

In one fluid movement, he picked Ignis up and flipped them so that he was the one perched on the edge of the chair, Ignis pushed back against the brown leather cushions. “What-” Ignis’ question morphed in a sharp inhale when Gladio palmed his cock. His dick twitched against Gladio’s hands, hips bucking up a little at the sudden pressure.

“Like that?” Gladio asked.

“Yes,” Ignis said, nodding. “Yes, do it again.”

Gladio obliged, squeezing his hand before he began to move it up and down, making sure the seam rubbed against Ignis’ cock in just the right way. He kept his eyes fixed on Ignis’ face as he worked, watching as his eyes went dark and lidded, the way his mouth opened and closed with his unsteady breaths.

After a few minutes of this, Ignis reached out and grabbed his wrist, slowing him. “Stop this teasing,” he said, his voice rougher than Gladio was used to hearing.

“You want me to stop?” Gladio asked, surprised.

“That isn’t what I said,” Ignis replied. He took his free hand and brought it up to Gladio’s mouth, thumbing his bottom lip. “I said - stop teasing me. Put that pretty mouth of yours to use.”

Oh.

Oh.

Gladio backed away, kneeling down on the floor, one hand ripping Ignis' belt through the loops in record time and throwing it carelessly to the floor. When he turned back, he saw Ignis had already gotten the button of his pants undone and was pushing the waistband down his hips. “Impatient,” he said, grinning, knocking Ignis’ hands away and doing the rest himself.

“Very,” Ignis agreed.

He reached out and grabbed Gladio’s head, bringing it down to his cock, still trapped within his underwear. It twitched at his hot breath, tenting the fabric, and the ridge of the head was just visible through a wet spot in the center.

“Fuck,” Gladio breathed, his own cock throbbing in his pants at the sight - and shit , the smell - of it. Without even waiting to get Ignis out of his underwear, he leaned forward and licked a long stripe up the cloth.

Ignis keened, muscles flexing beneath the hands Gladio had put on his thighs. “More,” he ordered, one of his hands still clenched in Gladio’s hair. He was not gentle, using his grip to push Gladio down again and again and again. Gladio complied, moving a hand to grip Ignis and hold him steady while his mouth continued to lick and suck. He listened carefully as he worked, memorizing the actions that made Ignis groan in pleasure and forgetting the ones that evoked no response.

He thought he was doing pretty good, if the flush on Ignis’ pale chest and the clenching of his thighs were any indication. Still, it wasn’t good enough. He didn’t want to just mouth Ignis through his underwear; he wanted to touch him, taste him. In the flesh. Skin on skin.

“Iggy,” he said, “Can I-?”

“Yes, yes,” Ignis said, cutting him off before he even finished the question. He raised his hips again, and Gladio pulled the last remaining piece of fabric down past Ignis’ ankles, turning back to find Ignis’ dick bobbing in his face.

“Fuck, Iggy,” Gladio said, staring. He reached a hand out, wrapping his palm around the shaft, and twisted, using the amount of pressure he knew Ignis liked. “You’re fucking hot, you know that?”

This is what you do to me,” Ignis groaned, thrusting his hips up into Gladio’s hands as he stroked. He was biting his lower lip, glasses slipping down a little on his nose. Gladio reached up to take them off, but Ignis caught his hand, bringing it to his mouth instead. “Leave them,” he said, pressing open-mouthed kisses to Gladio’s fingers, “So I can see you better.”

“Iggy, they’re fallin’ off your face,” Gladio pointed out.

“Leave them,” Ignis repeated, more firmly this time. Gladio opened his mouth to protest again, but then Ignis was drawing his fingers into his mouth, and, fuck it, sucking on them, and all thought of coherent speech went out the proverbial window.

Ignis licked at the digits, tongue twining sinuously around Gladio’s fingers, emulating the actions he had performed on Gladio’s cock a week ago. And oh, he knew exactly what he was doing too, his eyes locked on Gladio’s the entire time.

Well, two could play at that game.

Tearing his eyes away, Gladio lowered his head and brought his mouth to Ignis’ dick.

He took too much into his mouth at first and gagged, hastily retreating. But the trick had worked - Ignis’ mouth had gone slack around his fingers, the rest of his body jerking violently at the first feeling of Gladio’s mouth on him. Emboldened, Gladio tried again, only taking a couple inches between his lips this time, using the flat of his tongue to lick up the bottom of the shaft. Ignis moaned above him, clutching Gladio’s hand tight as he writhed under Gladio’s tongue.

Gladio quickly grew more confident in his actions, and he decided to try moving, slowly beginning to bob his head up and down Ignis’ length. What he couldn’t reach with his mouth, he gripped with his hand, twisting up as he retreated, and stroking down as he pressed forward. It was easy to find a rhythm, licking and sucking at Ignis’ dick like it was his job, his sole focus on bringing his friend pleasure.

And gods, what a sight Ignis was to behold. He was completely wrecked, his composure shattered. Gladio had never seen Ignis like this before, and he couldn’t get enough of it. He wanted to burn the image onto his retinas, etch into his memory so that he wouldn’t forget it.

Ignis’ grip on his hand had gone slack, and Gladio took it back, running it down Ignis’ side and between his leg. Cautiously, he grabbed his balls, rolling them between his fingers once or twice before his fingers drifted lower still, rubbing the sensitive skin just beneath.

He was thoroughly unprepared for Ignis’ reaction.

Gladio.”

He jerked back, Ignis’ cock falling from his lips, shocked at the sheer longing in Ignis’ voice, the raw emotion lacing his name. Gods, had anyone ever said his name like that? He didn’t think so.

“Don’t stop,” Ignis pleaded. “Please, Gladio, don’t-”

“I’m not.” Gladio leaned forward, his momentary surprise fading, and renewed his efforts with vigor. He licked, he sucked, he stroked and squeezed, Ignis’ hand in his hair directing him to where he was needed.

Gods-”

It was all the warning he got, and then Ignis was coming, a long, drawn-out moan and Gladio’s own name slipping from his lips. It was the most goddamn erotic thing Gladio had ever heard, the sound going straight to his dick, and he palmed himself through his shorts even as he swallowed down the results of Ignis’ orgasm. It was salty, he found, and warm - odd, but not bad. Similar to what Gladio knew he himself tasted like. He thought it was something he could get used to, after a while.

It lasted just a few moments, and then Ignis went still. Gladio withdrew, licking his lips, staring up at his friend. Gods, Ignis was sexy like this - he was sprawled out in the chair, chest heaving and flushed, lips parted and eyes hooded. And the fact that it was Gladio who had done this to him…

Gladio liked the idea that Ignis looked like that because of him. He had done that to Ignis - him, and no one else.

It made him feel strangely possessive.

But he didn’t know what that meant, and now Ignis was leaning forward, bringing Gladio to his feet and shoving a hand down his shorts, and Gladio became incapable of further thought.

Ignis’ hand closed around his dick, jerking him off hard and fast. Gladio leaned forward, resting his upper half on the chair, a hand closing around Ignis’ shoulder. “Fuck, Iggy,” he panted.

Are you close?”

“So fucking close,” Gladio replied. “Those sounds you make, Iggy, fuck, they’re so hot, I can’t-” He was shaking now, fire coiling up in his belly, a band about to snap under pressure-

“Come, Gladio,” Ignis murmured. “Do it.”

Gladio groaned, muscles locking, hips snapping forward into Ignis’ grip. Yet still he resisted, holding himself back from the precipice. “I’ll come all over you,” he protested.

“I want you to,” Ignis snapped back.

Gladio’s mind went blank as he came, some incoherent phrase falling from his lips. He almost fell into Ignis’ lap, just barely catching himself on the top of the chair as he spilled over Ignis’ hand and chest. It was a monumental effort, muscles trembling from the effort, and as soon as he was finished, he collapsed down to his knees, cradling his head on Ignis’ lap. It was hot and sticky, sweat and spend mingling on Ignis’ cooling skin, but Gladio really couldn’t care less at the moment.

He had just had some of the best sex in his life.

Who cared if it was a little messy?

Ignis’ hand fell on his head, but this time his grip was gentle. He carded his fingers through Gladio’s sweat-damp hair, working through the tangles and snags as best as he could. Gladio hummed contently, melting into the touch. He had always been a sucker for people playing with his hair, and somehow, the fact that Ignis had guessed as much didn’t surprise him. No one knew him better, after all.

He might have drifted off to sleep right there, had Ignis not tapped him on the shoulder, urging him back to cognizance. “Are you capable of standing?” he asked.

“Think so,” Gladio muttered. He gave it a try, pushing back on his heels. His legs were a little shaky still, as if he’d just run a long distance as fast as he could, but they held. He reached a hand out to help Ignis up.

“I need to shower,” Ignis murmured, surveying his stomach with a bit of a grimace. His eyes flitted over to Gladio. “You do as well.”

“Yeah, probably.” Gladio padded across the room, heading towards his bathroom. When Ignis didn’t immediately follow him, he called back over his shoulder, “It’s big enough for two, you know.”

He heard a low chuckle from the other room, followed by the soft padding of Ignis’ footsteps on the floor. “Is that an invitation, or simply a statement of fact?”

“Just get your ass in here!”

* * * * *

It was by no means a quick shower, the two of them staying beneath the spray of hot water until said hot water ran out. Gladio insisted upon scrubbing Ignis to squeaky clean perfection, something that irritated (and also pleased) Ignis to no end. Kisses and sweet, gentle caresses were interspersed throughout the washing, Gladio smiling at him all the while.

Ignis did not mind that.

When they were finished, Gladio stepped out of the shower first, hopping across the cold bathroom tiles to fish clean towels out of a closet. Ignis remained in the shower, arms crossed across his chest for warmth.

“Got ‘em!” Gladio cried triumphantly, just a moment before something white and fluffy smacked Ignis in the face.

With a little huff of irritation, Ignis removed the towel from his head. “Did you have to throw it at me?” he demanded.

“I knew you’d catch it.”

Ignis rolled his eyes, stepping out onto the bathmat. Gladio had already finished toweling off, and was now using a smaller cloth to dry his hair. It was a mess of dark tangles and snarls around his face, somewhat resembling a patch of brambles. Ignis watched as he picked up a brush and began to attack it, ripping through the strands irritably.

Oh, no, no, that wasn’t right at all.

“What are you doing?” he asked sharply, taking a half-step forward.

Gladio turned to look at him. “Fixing my hair?” he said.

“You’re going to rip it out of your scalp if you keep brushing it like that,” Ignis snapped. He held out a hand for the brush, and Gladio, surprisingly, let it drop from his fingers. “Bend down, so I can reach the top of your head.”

Gladio knelt obediently, and Ignis began to work the brush through the tangles with a more practiced hand. He started at the bottom, working out the lower snarls before moving to the crown of Gladio’s head, and attacked the tresses in sections, never taking too much into his hands at one time. In just a few minutes, he was able to get Gladio’s hair into a semblance of order, slicked back towards his shoulders.

“There,” he said, setting the brush on the counter.

Gladio surveyed his appearance in the mirror for a moment, and then reached a hand up and ran it through the strands, mussing them so that they fell a bit more artfully around his face. “That’s better,” he said, turning around to face Ignis. “Thanks, Iggy.”

“You should really invest in some conditioner,” Ignis continued, running his fingers through his own hair and putting it in order. He hadn’t any gel, so he couldn’t style it as he normally did, but for now, this would suffice.

Gladio snorted. “That’s what Iris says,” he muttered.

“You should listen to her.”

“Yeah, but her hair products all smell like cookies and pancakes and shit,” Gladio explained. “I’m not walking around smellin’ like a buffet.”

Ignis gave him a flat look. “Has it ever occurred to you to buy some for yourself instead of asking your sister for her products?”

Gladio just shrugged and left the room.

Ignis followed him, towel slung low around his hips. Gladio busied himself with fishing a clean pair of cotton pants out of a drawer, pulling them up over his hips until they were settled upon his waist. He noticed Ignis watching him, and gave him a leer. “Like watchin’ me get dressed?” he teased.

“I’d rather see you getting undressed,” Ignis replied.

That drew a chuckle from his friend, accompanied by a wandering gaze that had Ignis’ breath hitching in his throat. “Yeah, the feeling’s mutual.” He hesitated then, shifting on the balls of his feet. “So hey, you, uh, staying around? I got a few new movies yesterday, if you wanted to watch ‘em. And we could get something to eat.” His stomach growled then, as if approving of this idea, and Ignis smirked.

“I thought you weren’t really hungry?” he asked.

“Shut up,” Gladio huffed. “I wanted to see you more.”

“Mmm.” The admission, however simple, made Ignis happy. He moved over to where Gladio stood, pressing a kiss to his lips. Gladio wasn’t expecting it, but leaned forward just the same, hand curling possessively around the back of Ignis’ neck. 

Ignis liked that. He liked that a lot.

“Counter offer,” he mused, pulling back enough to look Gladio in the eye. “I see what you have in your kitchen and cook something. You let me borrow something to wear for the evening. And then I pick which video we watch.”

Gladio blinked, a slow smile spreading across his face. “You wanna wear my clothes?” he asked.

“Unless you wish me to put all of my own attire back on,” Ignis replied. “But of course, that will make it much harder for me to get undressed again, should we-”

“Here.” Gladio reached down into the drawer, pulling out a loose, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of track shorts. “Be my guest.”

Ignis smirked as he let the towel drop from his hips, pulling on the shirt and shorts as slowly as he possibly could without driving Gladio mad. Gladio's eyes were glued to his body as he moved, drinking in the way the too-large vestments hung from his shoulders and hips. 

"How do I look?" he asked, cocking an eyebrow. 

He didn't need to ask. He could tell from the look in Gladio's eyes that his friend liked the sight of him in his own clothing. But he wanted to hear it just the same.

"So good I almost don't wanna see you take 'em off again."

Oh yes, the verbal confirmation was quite nice, little tendrils of warmth spreading through Ignis' body. "Later, Gladio," he said, though he smiled to soften the words. "At least let me make dinner first." He turned to head into the kitchen, quite pleased with the effect he'd managed to have.

Gladio caught his arm and pulled him back. Ignis opened his mouth to protest, but he couldn't speak, for Gladio covered his lips with his own. It was executed with enough skill to leave Ignis thoroughly dazed, blinking up at Gladio hazily. "What was that for?" he asked softly.

"Just felt like doing it," Gladio murmured. "Seein' you, wearin' my stuff like that..." He shrugged. "I dunno. I liked it. I really liked it."

Ignis understood. 

And so he didn't question it when Gladio pulled him in a second time, kissing him deep. Nor did he protest when they fell onto the bed in a tangled heap of limbs, mouths and hips connected once more. 

Dinner, it seemed, would have to wait.

Chapter Text

Don’t get attached, Ignis told himself firmly, looking down at Gladio’s sleeping form. He isn’t yours to keep.

And yet, it didn’t feel that way, not with Gladio’s head in his lap and his fingers absently carding through dark hair as he read over a stack of reports. It felt almost domestic, natural even, as if this was something they had done every day of their lives.

Much of the past several weeks had been like this, he mused. He and Gladio would go about their daily lives as if nothing had changed and they were still only the best of friends, exchanging pleasantries in the hallways, eating lunch together in one of the many Citadel cafeterias. It was only at night that things between them would change; only then would Gladio chance cornering Ignis in a dark hallway, stealing kisses behind large ornamental plants. Only then would Ignis feel safe in ghosting his hands over the other’s muscular frame in public, letting his fingers linger far longer than was appropriate. Only then would they would call the other to come over, desperate for the relief and comfort of physical contact.

It almost felt like sneaking around.

In a sense, they were. Ignis hadn’t told anyone of this newfound change in his relationship with Gladio. For one thing, it wasn’t anyone else’s business what he or Gladio did with their free time, or with whom they spent that time. For another, it wasn’t as if they were breaking any rules. So long as their responsibilities to Noctis and the Crown were met, there was no law suggesting that two royal retainers couldn’t date or… commingle.

He had checked.

Gladio shifted on his lap then, turning to lie on his side. One of his hands was resting on Ignis’ knee, loosely curled around the curve of the bone.

Ignis studied his friend for a moment, allowing himself to take the rare opportunity to stare unabashed at Gladio’s handsome features. Normally, it wasn’t something that he permitted himself to do - it might draw unwanted questions, both from Gladio and other people. Now, though, he did, eyes tracing over the sharp lines of his friend’s cheekbones, of the prominent bridge of his nose and the full bow of his lips.

Cautiously, for Gladio was somewhat of a light sleeper, Ignis ran the backs of his fingers across a rough, stubbled cheek. The skin was warm to the touch, almost feverishly so, and Ignis smiled.

Ever the human furnace.

His hand moved down, thumb catching Gladio’s lower lip, dragging across the slightly chapped surface. He liked these lips - he liked them very much, had liked them even before he knew what they felt like beneath his. They were expressive, prone to curving up into wolfish grins and jeering smirks alike, but also capable of great gentleness, of a warm, friendly smile.

They were also, he mused, capable of a great many other things.

Gladio was a quick learner. He had surprised Ignis with his eagerness to try new things, with how easily he would draw Ignis in for a kiss, how quickly he’d sink to his knees and take Ignis’ cock into his mouth. Gladio never hesitated, never showed the slightest bit of apprehension; if he was uncertain of how to do something, he asked, and then he did it. It was the same single-minded focus that he applied to everything in his life. Ignis supposed it was only natural that he would do the same when it came to sex.

And, oh, the sex.

Ignis might have guessed that Gladio was quite proficient in the bedroom; if the Citadel rumor mill was to be believed, women never left him unsatisfied. But it was one thing for a man to have sex with a woman and another to have sex with another man. Though much of the mechanics remained the same, there was, admittedly, a slightly different skill set involved. Gladio had not let that deter him, bringing a raw, animalistic passion to the sex that Ignis was rather unused to. Never had he had a lover quite so devoted, so dedicated to wringing pleasure from him.

It would be difficult to give up, once this was over.

For he had no doubts that it would one day end. Gladio had always dated women in the past, had always had relationships with women. And though Ignis no longer counted himself as an idle curiosity for his friend, he was also realistic.

Had Gladio wanted to make this into a relationship, he would have. That was how he operated - if he wanted something, then he sought it out. He had done no such thing with Ignis. And so Ignis could only assume that it was because he didn’t want to do so. Assuming anything else, and allowing himself to be hopeful, was…

Dangerous.

As a result, Ignis was intent upon getting as much happiness from this brief fling as he could. He took care to enjoy all of the time that they spent together, putting aside his doubts and fears until he was alone and could dare to contemplate them. They were memories that he would never forget, etched quite firmly into his mind. He would treasure them. And when Gladio decided to end this, to return to being just friends, he would do his best to pretend they didn’t exist.

Ignis started as a warm tongue poked his thumb, still caressing Gladio’s lower lip. He began to draw his hand back, slightly embarrassed at being caught, but a callused palm grabbed his fingers and held them tight.

“Mmmm,” Gladio hummed, making one of those drawn-out, grumbling noises that he was so prone to when he first awoke. It was a pleasant sound, Ignis thought, one he would have liked to hear more often. Preferably while lying abed at Gladio’s side. “What time is it?”

“Just after ten.”

“Shit. I fall asleep?”

Ignis smirked. “Obviously,” he drawled.

Gladio rolled his eyes. “Must’ve been more tired than I thought,” he muttered, rubbing at his eyes with his free hand. The other, Ignis noted, was still holding on tightly to his fingers, absently lacing them together and drawing them down over his chest.

“Long day?”

“Yeah. Had to get up at the ass-crack of dawn to run drills with the newbies.”

“What, pray tell, precise time is the ‘ass-crack of dawn’?”

“Y’know,” Gladio replied, waving a hand vaguely. “When you normally get up.”

“Ah.”

“We took ‘em on a six mile run through the park, and then did conditioning. Odd number of ‘em, so I worked with the guy who was left out. And then I had training with Noct in the afternoon, and a spar with Nyx.”

“Too much for you?”

“Hardly,” Gladio scoffed. “But I guess I needed a nap.” He shifted, moving onto his back so that he could stare straight up at Ignis. It was a bit disconcerting, Ignis thought, having Gladio so close - and not just to his face, he thought, the familiar pang of arousal blooming within him. “You been here this whole time?”

Ignis nodded. “You fell asleep on top of me,” he offered.

“Coulda moved me, made me get up.”

Ignis lifted an eyebrow at that. “You’re heavy, Gladio,” he said flatly. “Very heavy.”

“Too much for you?” Gladio shot back, grinning.

“Almost three hundred pounds of dead weight? It would certainly be a chore, and this shirt is silk. I decided to pass.”

Gladio snorted. “You just wanted me in your lap.”

Ignis neither confirmed nor denied this statement.

“So what did you do, this whole time I was asleep?”

“I mostly read over some reports,” Ignis replied, tapping one of the documents he’d set on the nearby end table. “I had them with me, so I thought I might as well get some work done.”

Gladio shook his head fondly. “You never stop.”

“Perhaps when I’m dead.”

“Nice. Morbid.”

“I do try.”

Gladio shifted then, sitting up and twisting around so that they were facing one another. Ignis mourned the loss of contact, but only for a moment, for then Gladio leaned forward, pressing a soft kiss to his lips. It was unhurried, gentle, one of Gladio’s large hands coming up to the side of Ignis’ face, thumb tracing patterns across a cheekbone.

Ignis allowed it, letting himself be slowly pressed farther back into the sofa, Gladio moving into his lap in earnest. Unlike most of the times they had gotten physical, this time their movements were sensual, the way their tongues tangled together almost languorous, as if -

As if they had woken up together, deciding to be lazy and remain in bed.

It frightened Ignis a little, how much he liked that idea, though he did his best not to let this fear show in the kiss. It scared him because of how real it felt, how absolutely, breathtakingly wonderful that mental image was. He shouldn’t be thinking those things, shouldn’t be picturing that scene.

It wasn’t his to have.

“Iggy.”

Ignis drew back to find Gladio’s amber eyes inches away from his own. At this distance, he could have counted each eyelash, could have named each of the various hues present in the other’s irises. “Yes?” he breathed.

“I want you.”

Gladio said it so simply, in such plain speech, that it nearly took Ignis’ breath away. As it was, it took him a moment to find an answer.

“How would you have me?”

“Don’t care.” Gladio’s hands tightened on him. “Just want you.”

A million and one possibilities sprang to Ignis’ mind, all of them equally salacious and delighting. It was hard to choose just one, he found, especially when Gladio began to pepper his throat with kisses, scraping his teeth over the curve of his Adam’s apple. He put a hand on the back of Gladio’s neck, squeezing just slightly.

“No marks,” he warned.

It was one of the few rules they had - not because Ignis didn’t like the idea of Gladio marking him, or vice versa, but because it would draw unnecessary attention. Ignis wasn’t about to let anyone leave bite marks on his throat, not even someone like Gladio, to whom he was incredibly, incredibly attracted.

“I know,” Gladio murmured, releasing his grip on Ignis’ skin and kissing it instead. He didn’t seem inclined to listen though, for a moment later, he bit down on another patch of skin a few inches south.

“Gladio,” Ignis warned, squeezing a little harder this time.

His friend drew back, grinning at him. “Can’t blame me for trying,” he said.

“I can and will blame you if I’m forced to borrow your sister’s concealer in order to hide a bruise.”

“Distract me, then.”

Ignis stared at him for a moment, noting the hint of a challenge in his friend’s voice. He wanted to be distracted, did he?

Well.

That was certainly something Ignis could do.

He reached up and removed the glasses from the bridge of his nose, folding them and neatly setting them to the side. At this length, it didn’t really cause any loss of vision - his eyesight was far too myopic for anything but the edges of his field of view to blur. But it did make Gladio’s breath hitch in his throat, the sight of Ignis without his glasses something of a rarity. 

And that was precisely was Ignis had been aiming for.

He put a hand on Gladio’s chest, gently pushing him backwards. His friend fell willingly, taking the opportunity to remove his shirt and let it slide to the floor. Ignis followed suit, undoing buttons as quickly as he dared before letting the silk slide from his shoulders. It fell like water around his torso, catching the light of the nearby lamp.

“What is this, a strip show?” Gladio asked. “‘Cause if it is… I’m not complainin’.”

“You, complaining?” Ignis retorted. “No, never.” He leaned forward, stretching his body out over top of Gladio’s, connecting their lips once more.

“Ass.”

Ignis chuckled into the kiss, running a hand up the side of Gladio’s body, evoking a shiver from the man beneath him. “I am a product of my environment,” he teased.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Mmm, nothing.”

Gladio’s hands were on his backside now, cupping his ass through his pants, kneading the muscle with his fingers. It felt heavenly, and Ignis bit back a groan, instead ghosting a hand over Gladio’s nipple in retaliation.

“Sounds like you’re sayin’ I’m the reason you are how you are.”

“Well, you did know me during my formative years,” Ignis replied. He pinched, taking the nipple between his thumb and index finger and twisting, just hard enough to make Gladio groan.

“Fuck.”

“Though I believe Noctis is to blame as much as you are.”

“Shit, don’t talk about Noct right now,” Gladio muttered, pressing his hips up into Ignis’, letting him feel his growing arousal. “That’s weird.”

Ignis obliged, returning his focus to kissing Gladio with abandon.

A slow heat began to build between them, urged on by questing fingers and gently rolling hips. It was a soft, teasing sort of friction, arousing but not quite as all-consuming as their encounters usually were. Ignis thought he liked the change, sitting up in order to find more leverage. Gladio’s hands fell to his hips as Ignis began to rock into him, his eyes entirely focused on Ignis’ face as he moved. 

Ignis smiled at that, and after a few minutes of delicious, sinful contact, hooked a finger into the waistband of Gladio’s pants, the barriers between them unsatisfactory.

“What say we remove these?” he asked.

Gladio simply raised his hips in response, pushing Ignis up with him in a show of raw strength that made Ignis’ mouth water.

He raised himself up just enough to pull the pants down, and then set to work on his own trousers while Gladio kicked his off. When it was done, and both of them were free of clothing at last, Ignis resettled atop Gladio, making sure to lean forward just enough that their cocks made contact.

Gladio groaned, immediately bucking up into him, but Ignis held out a hand, trying to pin him down. The friction was good, yes, but rather… dry.

He could rectify that.

“I have an idea,” he murmured, tracing the cut form of Gladio’s oblique abdominal muscles with a fingernail.

Gladio shuddered. “Yeah?”

“Have you any lubricant of some sort?”

“Shit, no,” Gladio muttered, swatting Ignis’ hand away from his hip. “Ran out. And quit that - that tickles.”

Ignis smirked. “That was the point,” he replied. Straightening, he turned his head over to the kitchen. “But if don’t have anything… oil, perhaps? Or lotion of some sort?”

“Lotion, yeah,” Gladio said. “Bathroom cabinet, top shelf.”

Ignis made to stand up, and Gladio made a mournful noise. “Leavin’ me?”

“I’ll be back in a moment,” Ignis replied, dancing away from the other’s searching hands.

“You better be.”

Ignis found the lotion easily enough - a small, plain bottle, of a brand he knew many of the Crown’s fighters used to moisturize their cracked, dry hands and feet. It was nothing fancy, no scent of which to speak. It was perfect for what he had in mind.

Gladio watched him like a hawk as he returned to the living room, popping the cap of the bottle and pouring a generous amount of the lotion into his palm. As the other looked on, he brought his hand down his body, trailing his fingers down his stomach until they settled upon his cock, a little frisson of excitement shooting through him at the touch. He stroked himself a few times, not stopping the breathy little sounds he made as he worked his hand up and down. All the while, Gladio stared, hungry eyes drinking in the sight of him.

With one last jerk, he sank down to his knees before Gladio, taking his friend’s cock in his lotion-slicked hands. He was torn between wanting to watch Gladio’s face and wanting to look at his cock, already hard and dripping in his palm. But then Gladio was kissing him, more passionately this time, not even bothering to close his eyes, and Ignis’ mind was made up.

There was no way he was going to look away from that gaze.

“Sit back,” Ignis murmured.

Gladio complied, and Ignis rose, once more sinking into Gladio’s lap in one fluid motion. This time, when their cocks met, the glide was smooth and instantaneous, and again, Ignis had to fight not to thrust forward, to rut against Gladio’s cock with wild abandon.

“Shit,” Gladio breathed, throwing his head back against the cushion.

“Give me your hand.”

Gladio raised his head, staring at Ignis heatedly. “What’re you gonna do with it?” he asked.

“You’ll like it - trust me.” Ignis held out his palm.

“I do - trust you, I mean.” Gladio put his hand in Ignis’, and Ignis let their fingers twine together before bringing their joined palms down to encircle both their lengths. The movement earned him a heady groan from Gladio, and Ignis leaned forward victoriously, capturing the other’s open lips with his own.

Neither of them lasted very long like this, the combination of their hands and the friction bringing the both of them to their peaks in mere minutes. For once, Ignis came first, spilling over their fists and slumping forward onto Gladio’s chest, a sharp exhale and a whispered sigh the only indication that he was finished. Gladio’s free arm came up to hold him tight then, fingers almost bruising in their strength, and Gladio found his own release, burying his face in Ignis’ neck.

For several moments they sat there, the sweat cooling on their bodies as they trembled in each other’s grips. Eventually, however, the need to wipe himself off got the better of Ignis, and he reluctantly left Gladio’s warmth, retrieving a washrag from the bathroom and cleaning the both of them.

Gladio caught his arm as he was about to retrieve his shirt, pulling him back towards the bedroom. “Stay with me,” he said. “It’s late.”

Ignis normally would have protested, would have given some excuse as to why he needed to go back to his rooms.

Ignis should have protested.

Instead, he let Gladio draw him down into the sheets, arms coming up to wrap tight around Ignis’ torso even as he buried his face in Ignis’ hair.

* * * * *

“Hey, Nyx.”

The glaive looked over at Gladio quizzically. “Yeah?”

“You ever fucked one of your friends?”

Nyx grinned at him. “All the time.”

Gladio rolled his eyes. “That’s not when I meant.”

“What’d you mean then? Fucking them over?

“Nah. I mean…” Gladio paused, taking a drink of water to buy himself some time to think up an answer. “Have you ever had sex with a really close friend of yours?"

“Oh. No. I prefer not to mix friendship and romance that way. Gets messy, fast.”

Gladio frowned down at the table between them. He had thought that might be Nyx’s answer. A bastard the guy might be, but he wasn’t a total jackass. He wouldn’t jeopardize his closest relationships, especially when his life often depended upon the ability - and will - of those friends to protect his back in battle.

Not the way Gladio was currently jeopardizing his friendship with Ignis.

“Have you?”

Gladio looked up at Nyx, blinking. “None of your business.”

“You have,” Nyx said, grinning. “You totally have.” He sat back in his chair, crossing his arms over his chest. “So, c’mon, spill. Who is it?”

“I told you, it’s none of your-”

“Invidia? Vesta?” Nyx’s grin deepened then. “Or is it a guy?”

“No.”

“Marcus? Gaius? Is it-” His eyes widened then. “Shit, is it Ignis?”

It had never bothered Gladio that he wasn’t any good at lying. He preferred the truth, anyways, honest to a fault. Now, however, with Nyx leering at him like the cat that caught the canary, he thought that maybe he should’ve practiced fibbing more.

Nyx whistled softly. “Shit, man. Ignis fucking Scientia. Wouldn’t have thought he was your type. But hey - nice. He’s a catch.”

Something in Nyx’s tone made Gladio inexplicably irritated. He didn’t like the way the guy was talking about Ignis, like he was a piece of meat. It was dumb, he knew; Ignis and Nyx were... well, if not friends, certainly respected acquaintances. They'd trained together a number of times. Nyx didn't think of Ignis that way, and Gladio knew it.

Didn't stop him from being ticked off at Nyx's words.

“I’m not fucking Ignis,” he snapped.

“But you want to,” Nyx guessed. He considered this for a second, and then winked at Gladio. “Or maybe you want him to fuck you?”

“We haven’t -” Gladio broke off, scowling.

“I know, I know, you haven’t actually done the deed. But you’re obviously thinking about it, if you’re here talking about it to me, of all people.”

Gladio had no answer to that.

“So, spit it out. What’s on your mind, Gladio?”

He could trust Nyx. There many names that the glaive could be called, and many of them were true - but a gossip wasn’t one of them. Troublemaker, sure. Prick, sure. But he didn’t flap his gums at every opportunity; the guy could keep a secret. He also didn’t really hang around Ignis very often, so there wasn’t much of a chance of this conversation getting back to him. That was one of the reasons Gladio had sought Nyx out, to be honest.

That, and the fact that he seemed the most likely person Gladio knew to have fucked his best friend.  

And so he talked. He told Nyx a condensed version of the events of the past few weeks, explaining how he’d found out that Ignis was gay, and then that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the kiss, and then… well, Nyx started to look a little too excited at that point, so Gladio cut it short. But the guy got the gist.

He then moved into a different topic, one he’d not yet broached with Ignis. One he was, if he admitted it to himself, a little scared to talk about.

“It’s just lately, it doesn’t seem like it’s… enough,” he explained, staring down at the melting chunks of ice in his water as he spoke. “I want… more, I think? I dunno.”

“You been out with anyone else since all this started?”

“Nah, not really. I went out with a couple guys to a bar last week, and there were some cute girls there. But nothing happened.”

“So… you’ve pretty much just been with Ignis the past month.”

“It’s not ‘being with’,” Gladio protested. “We’re not dating.”

Nyx raised an eyebrow. “Maybe not officially,” he said slowly, “but from all you’ve told me? That’s pretty much all shit that couples do, Gladio.”

“So, what, he’s my boyfriend?”

Nyx laughed. “Not unless you ask him to be,” he replied. “He gets the final say in the matter, I think.”

Gladio rolled his eyes.

“I’m serious, though! You want something more than what you have… you gotta ask.”

Did he want more? Did he want to be dating Ignis?

It was… kind of odd to think about. He and Ignis were so close, had been for years, sharing a bond that few others in the Citadel could boast of having. For a long time, that had been enough. But now, now that he knew what more could feel like…

The past few weeks really hadn’t been all that different, to be honest. There wasn't any residual awkwardness, no tension that carried over to the moments when they were public, or the times when they had work to do. And that was maybe the greatest part: beyond all the kissing and the touching and the - gods - the sex, they were still them - Gladio and Ignis. Friends. Nothing about their friendship had changed. If anything, doing this had brought them closer, allowing them to spend more time in each other’s company.

It was nice.

Gladio snorted, shaking his head. It was more than fucking nice, and he knew it well.

It was awesome.

“Yo, you still with me?” Gladio blinked, looking over at Nyx. The other man had a knowing smile on his face. “Look, if you don’t know, just give it some time. If you wanna think about it some more, just give it time. These things have a way of working themselves out, if they’re meant to happen. Just don’t, you know - ruin things.”

Gladio rolled his eyes. “Gee, what great advice, Nyx,” he retorted. “‘Don’t shit the bed.’ Nice.”

“It’s good advice!”

“Uh-huh.” Gladio rose to his feet, preparing to leave.

“I’m serious, Gladio.” Nyx followed his motions, walking with him to the door. “If you aren’t sure of where things stand, tell him. Ignis is a good guy. He won’t be a dick about it.”

As much as he hated to admit it, Gladio knew Nyx was right. This was something that only he and Ignis could figure out, and it was something that they needed to figure out together. When, though, was the question. Did he try and bring it up the next time they were together? Did he wait until he was certain of his own feelings?

Fuck if he knew. He’d never done this before.

Nyx clapped a hand to his back then. “Ah, young love.”

“Fuck off, Nyx,” Gladio snapped, slipping away from the other, ignoring the way his chest constricted at the word.

“Where you off to? Gonna tell Ignis?”

“You know where I’m going. It’s time to drill the recruits.”

Nyx’s face crumpled. “Aw, man, are you serious? That’s now?” He looked down at his watch. “Fuck. I was gonna go take a nap.”

“You don’t need a nap. You just woke up an hour ago.”

“I need my beauty sleep, Gladio.”

“Whatever, princess.”

Nyx sighed heavily and stalked off in the direction of the training rooms, not waiting for Gladio. 

Gladio didn't mind being left behind. It meant that he didn't have to talk. It did leave him alone with his thoughts, however, and that was almost as bad. 

He's a good guy.

Yeah, he was. Ignis was a great guy. Anyone would be lucky to have him. 

The thought made him pause, literally and figuratively. Ignis was a good guy. Other people were sure to notice. And if Gladio didn't make up mind about what he wanted and speak up...

Maybe Ignis would turn his attention elsewhere, if Gladio had even managed to capture it in the first place. 

Dammit, Gladio thought, running a hand over his face. 

This was much more complicated than he had first thought. 

He had reached the training rooms by now, standing in the doorway as he watched the new recruits file in, grabbing practice weapons as they passed the racks. You have to think about it, he told himself. You have to - you owe it to yourself, and to Iggy. Make up your mind, Amicitia.

And he would, he thought, striding forward and hefting a wooden great sword with one hand.

He would.

 

Chapter Text

Gladio had tried to talk to Ignis.

He really had.

As soon as he was finished with the recruits, he had called Ignis up, inviting him over for a late dinner and a movie. His friend had easily accepted the invitation, much to Gladio’s delight, and he’d run back to his apartment for a quick shower and some tidying up. But then the pizza guy had been running late, and Ignis had sauntered into his apartment ten minutes early with a swagger and a smirk, and he’d barely even started to kiss Gladio before he’d ripped his pants off and started sucking his cock, and then all thought of talk had disappeared.

Afterwards, it had seemed strange to bring it up, and so Gladio hadn’t. Instead, they’d eaten, watched the action flick - terrible, even by Gladio’s easy standards - and gone to bed. Now Ignis was dead to the world, having fallen asleep almost as soon as his head had touched the pillow, and Gladio lay awake, kicking himself for being so easily distracted.

Not that Ignis wasn’t a good distraction.

Ignis was the best sort of distraction.

Gladio sighed, shifting over onto his back and staring up at the ceiling. How had it come to this? If someone had told him a month ago that he would be here tonight, lying in bed with his best friend, attempting to come up with a way to tell him that he thought he wanted to be his boyfriend, he’d have shit himself laughing so hard.

Now it just seemed pathetic.

"I want to help Iggy get laid."

That was what he said, right? When he, Noctis, and Prompto had been eating lunch in that little cafe? It had been an offhand comment, something to break the silence. A conversation starter, something to get the ball rolling.

And hey, it wasn't like it had been Gladio's dumbest idea ever. But it probably hadn't been the greatest idea in the world, either. He'd had good intentions, yeah? Didn't that count for something? He'd just wanted to see his friend happy, help him erase some of the tension his busy life caused. He'd just wanted to help a guy out. That was the plan.

The plan was not ending up in Iggy's bed, having had one of the best blowjobs of his life, and feeling more than a little emotionally confused.

And yet... here he was.

He shifted, rolling over onto his side and staring out the window, shining dimly with the thousands of neon signs and streetlights that kept Insomnia bright at night. What was he going to do? What was he going to say?

Now that he thought about it, it was probably better that he hadn’t gotten a chance to speak to Ignis earlier. He hadn’t really planned out what he’d wanted to say. As soon as he’d made up his mind that they needed to talk, he’d called Ignis up, not bothering to come up with any sort of speech before he did so. That was his way, he guessed - charge straight at a problem, tackle it head-on. It was exactly the opposite of what Ignis would have done. Ignis would have stepped back, analyzed the situation, and then made a calculated move.

That would be the logical, smart thing to do.

But hey, he could do that too, right? He didn’t have to be as smart as Ignis was in order to do some rational thinking of his own. He could work his way through this to a solution.

Okay. First.

What, exactly, did he feel for Ignis?

Friendship, definitely. The bond they had was deep, unique, forged from many years of shared experience. He would die for Ignis, in a heartbeat, and he was sure Ignis would do the same for him - were their lives not already bound to Noctis. No one else knew him better, save for perhaps Iris, and even then, there were a lot of things that Iris just didn’t know, things Iris just didn’t understand. It was partly because she was so much younger than him, his ward as much as his sister. But it was also due to the shared responsibilities he and Ignis had as Noct’s retainers; no one else would understand what it was like to serve a prince, no one - certainly not Iris, even as empathetic as she was.

Ignis did understand, because he too had experienced it. He too had grown up knowing that his entire life would one day revolve around Noctis. There was a responsibility there that was difficult to grasp unless you lived it. It made Gladio have a lot of respect for Ignis, and over the years, that respect had developed into a mutual admiration, a fierce pride in his friend’s abilities.

So yes, there was definitely a strong platonic relationship there. And up until a month ago, he had been convinced that that was all that lay between the two of them. Now, though, things were a little more complicated. The line between friendship and romance had been muddled.  

For one, he was now aware of exactly how much he was attracted to Ignis - a whole fucking lot, it seemed. He had no idea how he’d never noticed it before. The way his friend walked, the slight drawl of his speech, the expressiveness of his eyes… how did the guy not have a constant line of suitors waiting at his door? Hell, maybe he did and just hadn’t mentioned it. It wasn’t like Ignis to brag about that sort of thing.

For another thing, Gladio wasn’t sure he ever wanted this to end. To be honest, he liked the changes that had occurred to their relationship over the past few weeks. And not just because he was being given some of the best orgasms of his life, either. He liked all of it - the sex, yeah, but also the sleeping together at night, the showers they took afterwards, the lazing about on the couch as they watched crappy movies or television shows, hands loosely intertwined… it all gave him a warm, fuzzy feeling inside.

He felt like the protagonist in one of the romance novels he liked to read, swept off his feet by some dashing scoundrel.

But Ignis was no scoundrel. An ass, sometimes, and a tease. But Iggy was a gentleman through and through, always taking care to respect Gladio’s boundaries and ensuring his permission before trying anything new.

Not that Gladio didn’t want to try new things - quite the opposite, in fact. He still hadn’t rid himself of the desire to have his friend fuck him into oblivion. And that, more than anything, was maybe telling of how he truly felt towards Ignis, for he didn’t want anyone else to do that to him. He didn’t trust anyone else to do that to him. Hell, he still wasn’t sure if he was even attracted to other guys enough to let them do that to him.

No, it had to be Ignis.

Gladio groaned, rolling over once more and burying his face into his pillow.

Well, he guessed that established that. At the very, very least, he had a crush on Ignis. What was more likely was that he was developing some feelings for the guy - strong feelings, the likes of which he could honestly say he’d never experienced before in his life. He’d dated, yeah, and he’d been through a couple of serious relationships. He thought he’d loved those girls, thought he’d wanted them in his life forever. But then they’d ended, and life had gone on, and he was no worse for the wear.

Ignis, though, was one thing that he could honestly not imagine his life without.

And that scared the shit out of him.

It also convinced him that he needed to tell Ignis this. It wasn’t fair to keep the guy in the dark, not when Gladio was developing actual, real, romantic feelings for him. Gladio would want to know, were their places reversed.

He wondered, then - was there any hope that Ignis returned his feelings? He had said that Gladio was his type. But that didn’t necessarily indicate anything other than basic, physical chemistry. And while Gladio liked to think they had more in common than that, he couldn’t be sure.

He hadn’t asked.

It all came back to that, didn’t it?

They hadn’t talked about this. Maybe it had been stupid of them, to just rush into physical intimacy without discussing it first. They’d never talked about their boundaries, or what this meant to the both of them. After determining it was something they both wanted, they had just jumped right in, moving from kissing to blowjobs in the space of a few hours. Not that Gladio had minded at the time. Of course not - you didn’t refuse when a guy like Ignis Scientia offered to suck your cock.

But maybe he should have said something.

Anything.

Literally anything.

A low murmur sounded behind his back, and Gladio looked over his shoulder just in time to see Ignis rolling towards him, reaching an arm out and snuggling up next to him. “Gladio,” he breathed, burying his face into the back of Gladio’s neck.

“Iggy? You awake?”

“No.”

Gladio chuckled despite his troubled thoughts. “Liar,” he teased, rolling over so he could see Ignis better.

Ignis took advantage of the change in position, pressing up against Gladio’s side. He was warm, still naked from the frantic handjob Gladio had given him right before they had fallen in bed. “I could hear your thoughts in my dreams,” he murmured, lips ghosting across Gladio’s skin.

Fuck. How did the guy just say things like that and not sound absolutely ridiculous? Gladio knew he would, if he tried to be half as poetic as Ignis naturally was.

“Sorry,” he replied, laying his arm over the the hand Ignis had thrown across his stomach. “I’ll try to be quieter.”

“Do you want to talk about it?”

“Yeah. Not now, though. It can wait until morning.”

“Mmm. I have a meeting tomorrow morning.”

Gladio sighed. “You always have a meeting.”

“Indeed. I wish I didn’t. I’d much rather stay here with you.”

“Yeah?” Gladio asked, unable to stop the pleased smile that crept up on him. “You would?”

“I could lay in bed with you for hours, and never grow bored of it,” Ignis admitted.

Gladio chuckled. “Didn’t know you were so romantic, Iggy,” he teased.

“I can be romantic,” Ignis huffed. There was no bite in the words, though; he hadn’t even bothered to open his eyes, and his voice was still thick was sleep. Perhaps he wasn’t entirely aware of what he was saying, Gladio realized, still in the awkward half-awake state of being that occurred when you woke up in the middle of the night. Still, he wasn’t complaining.

He liked this side of Ignis. Very much.

“I can be romantic,” Ignis said again. “When it’s someone I care about.”

“You care about me?”

“More than anything.”

Gladio’s heart lurched in his chest, a warmth that had nothing to do with Ignis’ closeness suffusing him all over. Was this a confession? Did it count if the guy was half-asleep? 

He looked down, trying to see if Ignis’ facial expression would give anything away, but to his dismay, he saw that his friend had drifted off again, breaths heavy and deep.

Dammit.

Still, he couldn’t bring himself to be entirely disappointed, not when Ignis had admitted that he had some sort of feelings for Gladio. It was a good sign, he hoped, a point in his favor. He would have to remember it when he and Ignis finally had a chance to talk about things.

Not that it was something he was ever likely to forget.

No, he thought, cuddling up next to Ignis and letting his eyes slip closed.

Never.

* * * * *

When Ignis awoke the next morning, it was to an empty bed.

He blinked the sleep away from his eyes, uncertain. Where was Gladio? It was unlike him to rise before Ignis, especially on days when he had early meetings. But perhaps he had gone out for a morning run, or maybe he had been called away on business. The list of possibilities was, admittedly, long.

Ignis pushed himself up, the cool air hitting his bare skin and making him shiver. He reached a hand out to the bedside table, grabbing for his phone to check the time. It was just past six-thirty, giving him a little more than an hour before his first appointment of the day. It was just enough time to go back to his apartment, change into a fresh pair of clothing, grab a cup of coffee and be on his way. Regrettably, there wasn't time for a full shower, but considering that he and Gladio had rinsed off last night after their... activities, his hygienic situation could have been worse.

Of course, Gladio had decided to rile him up again after the shower, somewhat defeating the purpose of bathing, but still. He remained relatively clean, and a few swipes with a washrag could do wonders.

He stood, beginning to pull his clothing on piece by piece. It took him several minutes to find everything, he mused, the vestments scattered all across the room. All thanks to Gladio's careless aim. Still, Ignis couldn't say he'd minded at the time. He'd been too busy focusing on the hand Gladio had had wrapped around his dick.

The sound of a key being fitted into a lock made him pause as he was lacing up his shoes. It was quickly followed by the sound of a door opening and closing, and so he straightened, taking a few steps towards the living room.

“Iggy? You up yet?”

Relieved, Ignis stepped forward. “I am,” he replied. “Though I was surprised to see that you had arisen as well.”

Gladio was standing near the door, shucking off his coat. There was something in his hands, Ignis noticed, and the faint smell of coffee was beginning to permeate the room. Had he… no, he wouldn’t have. That was…

No. It was most definitely a piping hot travel cup of Ebony’s best coffee.

Gladio held the cup out to Ignis, a sheepish grin on his face. “Ah, here,” he said. “Thought you might want some coffee before you headed out, but I, uh, I don’t really keep the stuff here.”

Ignis’ hands closed around the cup, too surprised to say anything. Gladio had gotten up at this hour just to go and get him coffee? That was… it was unexpected, and sweet.

“I hope it’s the right stuff,” Gladio continued, a hand coming up to rub at the back of his neck. “Dunno what you usually get.”

Ignis brought the cup to his lips, hesitantly taking a sip. It was plain, black coffee, no cream, no sugar, with a hint of hazelnut. “It’s perfect,” he admitted, taking another, larger sip.

Gladio beamed at him. “Yeah? Good.”

“I - thank you, Gladio,” he murmured, hands cradling the cup as if it were some invaluable treasure.

“It was nothing,” Gladio replied, waving a hand dismissively.

“It isn’t,” Ignis disagreed. “It isn’t nothing.”

Gladio said nothing to that, perhaps because they both knew he couldn’t refute the statement. But Ignis didn’t press the argument, instead stepping forward and pressing a soft kiss to Gladio’s cheek. Or at least, he attempted to - Gladio turned at the last second, making sure that the kiss hit his lips instead, what had been chaste turning into something a little more heated.

Ignis broke the kiss first, forcing himself to take a step back. “Much as I would love to continue this,” he murmured. “I do have to go.”

“Right,” Gladio muttered. “Your meeting.”

“I’ll see you later?” Ignis offered.

“Yeah,” Gladio agreed. “Later.” He looked up hopefully. “Later, tonight?”

Ignis chuckled. “So eager to see me again,” he said. “I’m touched, Gladio.”

Gladio took a step forward, putting a hand on Ignis’ hip. “Can you blame a guy?” he asked.

“I suppose not,” Ignis replied.

“Besides, I got something I wanna talk to you about.”

“Oh?”

“Mmm.” Gladio kissed him again, his lips warm and soft at Ignis’ temple.

“Is it serious?”

“Yeah, kinda,” Gladio admitted. Ignis drew back then, looking up at him sharply. “A good serious though. I think.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?”

Gladio shrugged. “I wanna talk about something serious, but I don’t think it’s anything bad.”

Ignis huffed impatiently. “Yes, I know that, but what do you-”

“Iggy, you’re gonna be late.”

Ignis scowled at him. “If I am, it is entirely your fault,” he snapped.

Gladio just grinned and kissed him again.

* * * * *

It was impossible for Ignis to concentrate the entire rest of the day, his thoughts souring quickly the more that he thought about what Gladio wished to discuss.

He did his best, of course, attempting to push their earlier conversation to the back of his mind. He tried to take notes as he listened to the speakers at each meeting, and when it came time for questions, he was sure to make pertinent, engaging inquiries so as to better pique his curiosity. But by midday, his attention span was shot, and when he met up for lunch with Noctis, he made a complete fool of himself at the restaurant they'd chosen to frequent, spilling water all over his trousers and mistakenly ordering a dish he hated.

To his surprise - and slight embarrassment - Noctis sent him home after they had finished eating, promptly telling him to go back to his apartment and get some rest. “I don’t know what’s on your mind, Specs,” he had said, “But it’s gotta be pretty serious if it’s got you so distracted that you’re spilling ice water all over yourself. Get some rest, yeah?”

The last thing Ignis would be getting today was rest, though. As if he could relax right now, with his thoughts racing a million miles per second. As if he could just turn his mind off, curl up on the bed, and get some sleep.

Gladio wanted to talk to him - about something serious. And there was really only one possible explanation.

This was it. The day had come.

Gladio was going to tell him that he was more comfortable just being friends. That despite the whirlwind of the past month and a half, he wasn’t interested in pursuing a romantic relationship.

Ignis sighed, removing his glasses and wiping at them with a clean bit of his shirt. They weren’t dirty, of course. He never wore dirty spectacles. But he needed something to do with his hands, something to stop them from shaking.

You knew this was going to happen eventually, he scolded himself. There’s no reason to get so upset about it.

But wasn’t there?

He loved Gladio. He always had.

He had loved him when they were fourteen and fifteen, when Gladio had told Ignis that he was the best friend that a guy could have. Ignis had done nothing more than help plan a surprise party for the other, providing the food, cake, and several gifts. Still, Gladio had slung an arm around Ignis’ shoulder, pulling him close and thanking him for all he’d done.

He had loved Gladio when they were seventeen and eighteen, when Ignis had finally managed to beat Gladio in a sparring session for the first time. He had expected Gladio to stalk off, angry at being besting. Instead, Gladio had wrapped him in a huge hug, clapping him on the back and telling him to make sure he did it again.

He had loved Gladio since they were twenty and twenty-one, when Gladio had insisted upon getting a freshly legal Ignis as drunk as possible in a seedy Insomnian bar. Gladio had gotten a good deal drunker than he had, naturally, and it had been Ignis who had dragged the both of them home, where they’d fallen asleep in a tangled mess of limbs and blankets on the floor of Gladio’s living room.  

Now here they were, twenty-four and twenty-five, and somehow, inexplicably, Ignis had been given far more than he had ever thought possible. He had kissed Gladio outside of a strip club, a silly, brazen thing in retrospect, and against the odds, Gladio had liked it. More than that - he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it. He’d come back to Ignis, asked him to do it again.

He had been given a taste of something he had never thought to receive. Something wondrous and beautiful, something infinitely precious to him.

The thought of losing it now made him ache.

Perhaps there was reason to be upset, he thought, returning his glasses to the bridge of his nose. Perhaps there was a cause for why his chest burned and how his throat had constricted, making it unthinkable to talk and near impossible to breathe.

Maybe there was due cause.

But was that any reason to give up hope?

Ignis was a rational man, and a realistic one. He knew the probable outcomes of the impending conversation, the odds of each potential scenario. It was entirely likely that Gladio was going to tell him that he wished to go back to being just friends, but there was also some evidence to the contrary. There was a chance, a slight chance, that he wanted something different. And while that chance existed, there was little sense in moping around and acting morose.

He stood, taking his phone out of his pocket and dialing Gladio’s number.

Don’t count yourself out just yet, he told himself as he brought the device to his ear, attempting to bolster his confidence. You have no idea what is going to happen.

He wasn’t expecting Gladio to answer, too busy with his duties to have the time to take call. He was expecting to be taken to the other’s voicemail, where he could leave a message.

He was wrong.

“Iggy?”

“Gladio, I - I wasn’t expecting you to answer, to be honest.”

“Yeah, one of the recruits had an accident,” Gladio replied. “It was pretty bad too - had to take him to the medics. Ended up cancelling the rest of the drills.”

“I see.”

“But hey, what about you? Why aren’t you in a meeting or something?”

Ignis snorted. “I seem to have been relieved of my duties for the rest of the afternoon,” he said wryly. “Noctis thinks I’m in need of a rest.”

Gladio chuckled. “Can’t argue with him there,” he said.

“Be that as it may, I find myself unable to sleep. You had mentioned earlier that you wished to speak with me. I thought now might be as good a time as any.”

“Oh, yeah. Sure. You at your apartment?”

“Yes.”

“Be there in a sec, then.”

In retrospect, Ignis should have prepared something to do while he waited for Gladio. Even if his friend moved at a quick pace, there was a good distance between the training rooms and Ignis’ apartment, and that was if he wasn’t stopped by passersby for a quick chat. With nothing better to occupy his mind, Ignis found himself pacing a thin line into his carpet, hands crossed over his chest so hard his muscles were starting to ache.

Just when he thought he could take it no longer, there was a knock at the door.

He leapt to answer it, throwing it wide and revealing Gladio’s tall, imposing frame.

He was still wearing his athletic gear, Ignis noticed, sweaty hair pushed back from his face. More sweat dotted his temples and glistened in the hollow at the base of his neck. He looked utterly delectable, and Ignis had to swallow back the sudden dryness in his throat. He ripped his eyes away, forcing himself to look elsewhere; now was not the time to be taken in by the other’s good looks.

“Can I come in?” Gladio asked, grinning at Ignis’ open admiration.

“Of course,” Ignis replied, his voice scratchier than he would have preferred. He stepped aside, allowing his friend entrance, and then closed the door, leaning back against it for support.

“You alright?” Gladio murmured, pausing a few steps away from him.

“I’m fine.”

“Yeah? You don’t look it.” Gladio took him by the arm, pulling him away from the door. Ignis allowed himself to be led, following his friend over to the couch and sinking down on the cushions. “You aren’t coming down with something, are you?”

Ignis scowled. “Why does everyone seem to think I’m sick?” he demanded. “First Noctis, now you-”

“Probably because you’re whiter than a sheet,” Gladio interjected, laying a rough hand on Ignis’ forehead. “No fever though.” He moved the hand down, cupping Ignis’ neck. “Shit, your pulse is racing.”

Ignis said nothing, willing his heart to slow.

Infuriatingly, that only made it beat faster.

“Iggy…”

Ignis batted Gladio’s hand away, slinking back into the cushions until they were no longer touching. It was a defense mechanism, and he knew it, a purposefully crafted empty space between them. “You said that you wished to talk,” he said, attempting to steer the conversation away from him. “So talk.”

Gladio stared at him for a moment, uncertainty in his eyes. There was something else, too… worry? Anxiety? Ignis couldn’t quite place it, but it gave him pause. Perhaps he was making a mess of this, misjudging the entire situation. But at the same time, he needed to get to the bottom of the matter, to hear from Gladio’s own lips what he wanted. He could not rest until he knew the answer to his questions, and so he bit his lip, forcing himself to keep quiet.

“Okay,” Gladio said finally, giving in to Ignis’ demand. “I’ll talk.”

He paused, as if he were gathering his thoughts. The silence lasted the span of perhaps five seconds, and yet it felt like an eternity to Ignis, sheer agony.

“I’ve thought a lot about this, about what I wanted to say, and how I wanted to say it. It’s… hard though, yeah?” Gladio shook his head, smiling softly. “I want to make sure it comes out just right. I want it to be… good. Perfect.” He shrugged. “Dunno if it will be, of course. Shit, I’ve probably already messed it up.”

“Gladio,” Ignis murmured.

“Right. Shit.” Gladio shifted closer to him then, something earnest in his eyes. “Listen, Iggy. Here’s the thing.”

Here it was, Ignis thought, steeling himself. The moment he had been dreading had finally come. He took a deep breath, schooling his face into a careful mask of neutrality.

He could do this.

It would be alright.

Life would go on.

“I don’t want to keep doing this anymore. You and me, sneaking around like we have the past month.”

One… two… three...

Ignis slowly counted to ten in his head, forcing himself to blink and breathe. He said nothing, made no indication that he’d heard Gladio at all. He couldn’t, lest he lost his carefully crafted control.  Instead he stared straight ahead, even as his heart plummeted down, landing somewhere in the vicinity of his feet. It left him feeling hollow and empty, like there was an actual, physical hole in his chest.

Was this what it felt like to have a broken heart?

He finally managed to make something of an acknowledgement, a terse, “Ah.”

He looked away then, unable to bear the other's gaze any longer. It shouldn’t have hurt as badly as it did, he thought. He had prepared for this, he had known it was the most likely outcome. And yet, was there really any way to prepare for something like this?

Maybe not. Maybe he’d been a fool to even attempt it.

Gladio reached out and took his hand, and Ignis jerked wildly. Gladio held him fast though, not allowing him to move. “Iggy-”

“It’s alright, Gladio.”

Somehow, he found his voice. Somehow, he managed to speak.

“I understand.”

“No,” Gladio said quickly. “No, you don’t.”

“You don’t have to explain it to me, Gladio, I assure you.”

“I do, though.” Gladio sighed.

“But what is there for you to clarify? It's obvious - you wish our friendship to return to the way it was before, to put to an end to things-”

“Stop putting words in my mouth. I said I wanted to stop sneaking around,” Gladio interjected. “I don’t want to end things.” He gripped Ignis’ hand a little more fiercely, winding their fingers a little closer together. “And I sure as hell don’t want to go back to the way things were before.”

Ignis froze, the rest of his hastily prepared conciliatory remarks dying in his throat. “No?”

Gladio shook his head. “No, not at all,” he breathed.

“Then… what-”

“Iggy, I think we should get together.”

Chapter Text

“Iggy, I think we should get together.”

Gladio had said the words expecting some kind of a reaction. Preferably happiness, but possibly also anger, disbelief, or confusion... something. Instead, Ignis was staring back at him, his face completely blank. His eyes were wide, and his jaw hung slack, lips barely parted as if he had been about to say something. It was a funny expression, and Gladio might have laughed, had he not been waiting for an answer with bated breath. After all, it wasn’t often that Ignis was caught unawares. Prompto had been trying to catch him in such a moment for years now, and he hadn’t managed it a single time.

Because Ignis was composed. Ignis was prepared. He was never caught off his guard.

Except for now, apparently.

Gladio grinned, trying to ease the tension a bit. “I, uh, should have led with that, huh?”

In hindsight, it was probably the worst thing he could have said.

Okay, maybe not the worst. But up there. At the top of the list of stupid things he’d said during big moments in his life.

Ignis was glaring at him, finally having managed to regain his composure. “You - you, Gladio, you utter ass,” he snapped. “Yes, you damn well should have led with that!” He jerked away, practically leaping off the couch, stalking away with his arms clenched into fists at his sides. “Of all the -”

Gladio didn’t catch the rest of the sentence. But judging from the thunderous expression on Ignis’ face, that was probably a good thing.

“Iggy, I’m sorry-”

Ignis whirled around. “You’re sorry?” he demanded.

“Look, I handled that badly, I know that, shit -”

“Badly? It could hardly have gone worse! I nearly had a fit, sitting there on that sofa, thinking that you were going to tell me you wanted nothing to do with me!”

“Aw, Iggy, c’mon-”

“I still might have one, if you don’t explain yourself right this instant!”

Gladio threw his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay, I got it,” he said quickly. “I’ll talk. Lemme just - can you sit, or something? You’re makin’ me nervous.”

Ignis’ eyes narrowed. He made no move to sit down. “I’m making you nervous?” he snapped.

Again, bad choice of words.

“Right.” Gladio swallowed, trying to gather up all of his thoughts. It was hard to concentrate, though, with Ignis standing over him like an angry bird, steely gaze and pursed lips set in stark disapproval. It reminded him of when he was a kid, and he’d done something that he knew his father wouldn’t have approved of - tracking mud in from the garden, or breaking a priceless antique, or playing too rough with a toy. He would stand there in the foyer, waiting for the axe to fall, hoping the punishment wasn’t too bad.

Only Ignis was ten times more intimidating than Clarus Amicitia.

And, Gladio was sure, he could think up much, much worse punishments.

“Like I said, I think we should get together.”

He decided to lead with that - a good, nice opening statement. That was what his high school debate class had taught him, any ways. You wanted to plainly say what your main point was going to be. No beating around the bush.

“We’re good, Iggy - you and me. This feels… hell, right. Natural. When we're together, everything just sort of falls into place. It's so easy, as easy as breathing, even. You can't tell me you don't feel it too.”

"I-" Ignis did sit then, though not on the couch. He sank down into one of his dining room chairs, turning it around so that he could lean his arms on the back of it, holding his face in his hands. "I feel it." He looked up, studying Gladio for a second, eyes unreadable, and then asked, “Why are you doing this, Gladio?”

His voice was quieter now, more subdued. Gladio wasn’t sure if that was a good sign or a bad one.

“If you are suggesting this simply because you think it will make me happy, then I can assure you, it’s unnecessary. I am an adult - I don’t need to be cosseted in order to be spared a little heartache.”

“No, no, no, that’s not it at all,” Gladio said quickly, shaking his head. “I wouldn’t do that, Iggy, you know that-”

“I didn’t think you’d ever want to kiss me, either. Clearly my judgment is not at it’s best when you’re involved, Gladio.”

“I wouldn’t do that to you,” Gladio said again, more firmly this time. “I wouldn’t even suggest this if I didn’t know that I wanted it.”

Ignis said nothing, but it didn’t look as if he believed what Gladio was saying. His expression - and hell, his posture too - was guarded, closed off. It was defensive almost, like he was preparing himself for the worst so he could lessen the damage.

Gladio was surprised at how much it hurt him to see Ignis like that.

“Look, I know I’ve never been with a guy before,” he said slowly. “And I know we didn’t exactly talk about things before we just kinda… started messin’ around. We should have, probably. Definitely.”

That got him a reaction at least - an eye roll, one of those spectacular ones that only Ignis could manage, one where his irises went all the way round the whites of his eyes. They were usually reserved for Noctis, sometimes Prompto. Gladio was hardly ever on the receiving end of them.

And honestly? He didn’t like it one bit.

Even if he did probably, most likely deserve it.

“Talking wouldn’t have done anything to change the current situation,” Ignis pointed out.

“No, but it would’ve helped,” Gladio pointed out. “Maybe. Ah, shit, Iggy, I dunno. I don’t have a fucking clue what I’m doing here. But... look, I do know what I feel. I know that this past month has seriously been one of the best of my entire fucking life.”

“Gladio-”

“No, please, Iggy, lemme get this out.” Ignis snapped his mouth shut. “I know that whenever I’m not with you lately, I’m thinkin’ about you. I know that I like sleeping next to you at night. And I sure as hell know that I like waking up next to you in the morning. I don’t know what to call this feeling, but it’s powerful, yeah? Strong?” He paused, taking a breath to steady himself. “So I’m not just gonna ignore it because you’re a guy and my best friend.”

Ignis considered this for a moment, staring at Gladio as he thought up an answer. Only, when he finally did speak, it wasn’t to reply but to ask a question of his own.

“What happens if you change your mind?”

Gladio blinked. “If I-”

“What happens if your feelings aren’t what you think they are, and you find that, three months down the road you no longer desire me? Do we go back as we were before? Do we pretend that it never happened at all? Can you promise me that that won’t happen?”

Gladio grimaced. “You know I can’t, Iggy.”

“It might change everything.”

“It might,” he agreed, nodding. “And it might not. But we won’t know unless we try.”

Ignis snorted and shook his head. “No,” he agreed. “I suppose that we won’t.”

“Do you wanna try?”

* * * * *

Ignis made an incredulous noise at Gladio’s inquiry. Did he want to try?

Of course he wanted to try.

He wanted to be able to call Gladio his own, he wanted to be able to touch him and kiss him and flirt with him in public (though whether he would do so was another matter entirely). He wanted to fall asleep next to Gladio and wake up at his side. He wanted to cook him meals and read books together. He wanted to -

Yes, gods, yes, he wanted to try.

But he was scared.

He was frightened, afraid of the possibility that something would go wrong. No one could predict the future, least of all him. Though he could calculate probabilities and odds until he was blue in the face, there was no telling what lay in store for them. If they set off upon this path, there would be no taking it back. The memories, the shared experiences… there would be no forgetting them, no easy way to erase them from his mind.

He, unlike Gladio, was certain of what his feelings were and how deep they ran. He was the one likely to be burned were they to attempt a relationship and have it fail.

He knew exactly how deep the cut of that rejection would be.

“Iggy?”

Ignis looked over at the other, a bittersweet smile on his face. Gladio was frowning, a worry line creasing his forehead. Ignis found himself wanting to smooth it away with his thumb. “Do I want to try?” he repeated. “Of course I do, Gladio.”

“Then what’s stopping us?” Gladio stood, taking a few, eager steps towards Ignis. “You don’t think I’m serious, is that it?”

“No,” Ignis replied, shaking his head.

“You think people won’t approve?”

“As if I gave a damn what the rumor mill thinks-”

“Then what?” Gladio demanded. “Why?” He let out a shaky laugh, running a hand through his hair. “What is there to stop us, Iggy? If it would make us both happy?”

“There’s plenty of reasons-”

“Oh, bullshit.”

“I’m frightened!”

Gladio froze, whatever he had been about to say dying on his lips at Ignis’ admittance. He blinked, staring back at Ignis in utter incomprehension, and so Ignis sighed, resting his forehead on his hands as he attempted to explain himself.

“I'm frightened," he murmured again. "I worry about what could happen. Do you think I could so easily return to only being your friend? I fear it would be hard enough now, after only a month's time together, and that not even official. If we were to continue on, and then something were to happen, could our friendship take it? I don’t know, Gladio, I don’t-” He broke off, willing away the lump that in his throat. It had left him at his anger a moment ago. Now, it had returned, twice as strong, threatening once more to render him incapable of speech.

A warm hand came down to rest upon his thigh, just as a tanned, muscular arm wrapped itself around his middle.

“I don’t think that I could handle losing you as a friend and as a lover,” Ignis said, forcing himself to finish the thought, lump in his throat be damned. “I don’t know what I would do. And I would rather not find out.”

Gladio’s free hand was rubbing his back in large, slow circles, and his face was pressed into Ignis’ side. It was surprisingly comforting, Ignis found, and though he didn’t say anything, he could tell that Gladio understood. The relief he felt at that was likely palpable, and he sagged down against the chair, suddenly exhausted.

The truth was out.

Gladio now knew one of his deepest fears. What, then, would he do with that information?

“Iggy.”

“Mm?”

“I can’t promise you that we’ll always be together. Hell, even if I wanted to, I don’t think I could. There's too much I don't know, too much I can't predict.”  

Ignis nodded.

“But I can promise you this - you will never lose me as a friend. Never. Not even if you tried your damnedest to piss me off. There is nothing - nothing - you could do to change that. You hear me?”

He might have guessed that Gladio would say something like that. It was so like him - a bold, provocative statement of loyalty, a promise that he would always stand at Ignis’ side. But it was also true, Ignis knew, something that Gladio meant with the greatest sincerity.

It brought a smile to his face, and he turned towards his friend, nudging his face up out of his side.

“Nothing?” he said. “That sounds almost like a challenge.”

Gladio gave him a weak grin. “Like I said, Iggy - nothing you can do. You’re stuck with me.”

“Even if I were to… say, sleep with your sister?”

Gladio blinked. “That… depends.”

“On what?”

“On whether or not she wanted you to sleep with her.”

Ignis chuckled. “I suppose that’s a fair point.”

“But, c’mon, let’s be realistic here. If you weren’t gonna hook up with Placidia, you aren’t hookin’ up with Iris.”

“Are you calling your sister unattractive?”

“What? No! Iris is- fuck, okay, I don’t want to have that conversation.” Ignis smiled as Gladio physically shook his head, as if to rid himself of the mental image. “I'm just saying. Besides," he added, shrugging, "it’s irrelevant.”

“What is?”

Gladio leaned forward, so that his chin was propped up on Ignis’ shoulder. “The only Amicitia that you’re allowed to fuck is me,” he breathed.

Ignis’ breath hitched, as much in surprise as arousal. “You want me to-”

“Yeah. I do.”

Ignis had to bite back a groan. “I hardly think now’s the time for that, Gladio,” he murmured.

“Probably not,” Gladio agreed.

They sat like that for several long moments, Ignis relaxing into the warmth of his friend’s body. He felt drained of all his energy, as if he’d just completed a set of strenuous exercises and not had a (admittedly) heated conversation. A headache was beginning to form behind his eyes as well, the result of a mind working far too hard on a problem with no easy solution. The nap Noctis had suggested to him earlier suddenly sounded wonderful, and he thought perhaps he might’ve drifted off then and there, had Gladio not nudged him.

“You okay?”

Ignis nodded, straightening. His back, having hunched over for several long minutes now, protested the movement, and Gladio’s hands left him, retreating as he sat back on his haunches. “I need to sleep,” he murmured, reaching up a hand to remove his glasses so he could rub at suddenly dry eyes. “I think I’ll lie down for an hour or two.”

Gladio rose to his feet, stepping away as Ignis rose to his feet. “Want me to go?” he asked.

Ignis considered this - did he want Gladio to leave? It would probably be wise, allowing him time to consider the other’s proposition. But no, he didn’t want Gladio to leave, not really.

He didn’t want to be alone.

And so he shook his head, taking the other by the hand and leading him into the bedroom, where they curled up together on the bed, Ignis’ face buried into the warm comfort of Gladio’s neck.

* * * * *

When he awoke, it was dark.

Dark and warm.

Ignis blinked, turning over onto his back so that he could see the clock on his bedside table. It was ten minutes to eight, his “brief” nap having lasted more than five hours. His headache was gone though, as was the dark, nebulous cloud of worry that had hung over him all day. He felt... calm, peaceful even. Maybe it was because of the man sleeping next to him, holding him warm and tight as he slept. Maybe it was his presence that had eased his troubled mind.

He breathed in deep, relishing the weight of Gladio at his back, at the press of him against his neck and thighs.

Were he to give this up, would he ever find a substitute, someone to take Gladio's place? 

An arm tightened around his middle, one large hand pulling him back, and Ignis thought that the answer was no. 

Gladiolus Amicitia was not someone that could be replaced.

“Gladio,” he murmured. “Are you awake?”

“No.”

Ignis smirked, poking him once, hard, in the arm. “Liar.”

Gladio opened his eyes then. “Think we’ve had this conversation before.”

“What comes next? Ah, yes - I could hear-” He broke off as a pair of soft, warm lips met his, effectively preventing him from saying anything else. It was a gentle, tentative kiss, the slightest pressure against his lips. Ignis could have turned away if he'd wanted, and that, he thought, was likely Gladio's intent. Instead, Ignis turned into it, body going pliant against Gladio, melting into him. He ran a hand up Gladio’s arm and curled it around his shoulder possessively, enjoying the give of the muscle beneath his fingers. Gladio deepened the kiss then, his tongue delving down into Ignis' mouth, and Ignis drank in the taste of him, the feel of him. No, he thought, barely suppressing a groan, no, there could be no other. 

Gladio broke away, butting his nose against Ignis’. “That’s what I was thinkin’ about, the other night,” he said. “You and me, I mean. I was trying to figure out how to tell you how I felt.”

“Oh?”

“Never really did, to be honest. Just kinda… decided to wing it, I guess." He snorted. "Not my best moment.”

“It could have gone worse,” Ignis allowed.

Gladio snorted. “Yeah, right,” he muttered.

“I could have said no.”

Gladio’s head shot up at that. “You-”

“Didn’t say yes either?” Ignis nodded. “I realize that.” He reached a hand up, pushing a stray strand of hair away from Gladio’s face, tucking it behind an ear. “I wasn’t in the proper state of mind to give you an answer.”

“My fault,” Gladio grunted, making a face.

“Yes,” Ignis agreed, though he softened it with a smile. “As I said, I thought you were going to tell me that you wanted nothing to do with me.”

“Never.” The firmness with which he said this warmed Ignis, from the tips of his toes to his chin.

“I’d prepared myself for that eventuality, or so I thought,” Ignis continued. “But thinking you’re ready for an event and then having that event occur are two entirely different things. I certainly didn’t help matters by refusing to fully hear you out.”

“You thought I was…”

“Rejecting me, yes. And so I attempted to forestall you, so I wouldn’t actually have to hear the words.” He shot Gladio a sardonic smirk then. “Of course, had you started with the suggestion that we start to date, officially, things might have gone a little smoother.”

“I’m an idiot.”

“You’ll find no arguments from me on that point.”

“And you are an ass.”

Ignis chuckled. “You like it,” he teased.

Gladio snorted, and pressed another kiss to the corner of Ignis’ mouth. “Yeah, I guess.” He sighed then, rolling onto his back. He took his warmth with him, and Ignis hastened to follow, pushing himself up on an elbow as he nestled in against Gladio’s side. “Hey, Iggy?”

“Yes?”

“I wanna be with you. Exclusively. Like your boyfriend.” He turned his head to the side, looking up at Ignis. “Sounds dumb, huh? ‘Boyfriend’.” He shuddered. “I’ve heard Iris talk about boyfriends so much I’m kinda sick of the word, honestly. But it’s true, I guess. That’s what I want. Nyx said to just give it time, and that these things have a way of-”

“Hold on a moment,” Ignis said, his sudden elation at Gladio’s words abruptly checked by the mention of the glaive. “Nyx said to give it time? When did you speak with Nyx?”

“Couple days ago,” Gladio replied.

“And what, precisely, did you talk to him about?”

“I needed advice.”

“And you went to Nyx Ulric?” Ignis sighed. “Gladio…”

“Well, it wasn’t like I could ask you!” Gladio retorted. “Y’know, the person I normally go to for help. And I couldn’t go to Iris, gods, she’d just have blabbed the first chance she got.”

“And instead, Nyx Ulric knows that we’ve been-”

“Yeah, he knows.” Gladio at least had the awareness to look contrite. “Sorry.”

Ignis sighed, rubbing a hand over his eyes. “I hope that you at least had the sense to leave out the more sordid details.”

Gladio said nothing, and it was all the answer Ignis needed. “Gladio,” he groaned.

“Shit, I said I’m sorry!” He sat up, combing his fingers through his unkempt hair. “Look, I’ll go see him tomorrow and tell him to keep it quiet. Hell, I’ll tell him it’s nothing, that nothing’s going on-”

“I fear it’s too late for that. He’ll never let us forget that he knows.”

“...Fuck.”

“Indeed.” Ignis eyed Gladio then, considering his next words carefully. “Perhaps, then, we should ensure he actually has something to talk about?”

Gladio whipped his head around, staring at Ignis. “You mean-”

“Yes,” Ignis interjected. “I can be your boyfriend. Loathe as you are to use the word.”

Gladio eyed him warily, as if he wasn’t sure whether or not to believe Ignis. “Are you- are you sure?” he asked.

“I am.”

“What about all that stuff you said earlier?”

“It remains true,” Ignis allowed. “My concerns still stand.” He sat up, moving so that he was just beside Gladio, allowing their fingers to meet between their bodies. “But before I fell asleep, I had a thought. What if all of my worries were unfounded? What if everything worked out between us? It's certainly a possibility, one I might bet money on, were I a gambling man. So I asked myself, was I so willing to give you up out of fear? Was I to allow my worries to rule me?” Gladio gripped his fingers, eyes still locked on Ignis’ face. “I told myself to sleep on it, to allow myself some peace of mind before coming up with an answer.”

“...And?”

“I woke up with you at my side,” Ignis replied. “And I thought to myself that there was nowhere else I would rather be.”

That was when Gladio kissed him, when he’d finally decided that he’d had enough and pulled Ignis to him, crashing their lips together. Ignis chuckled, the noise disappearing into the cavern of Gladio’s mouth, pressing himself closer to his fri- his lover, snaking his arms around his neck.

“Fuck me,” Gladio breathed, “I thought you were gonna say no.”

“I almost did,” Ignis admitted, darting in for another kiss. “But it would seem that I can’t resist you.”

“Dammit, the feeling’s mutual, Iggy.”

Sometime later, they broke apart, lips swollen and lungs burning, and someone suggested that they move into the shower. Ignis wasn’t sure which of them it was.

He supposed it really didn’t matter.

In a tangled mess of sheets and mussed clothes, they clambered from the bed, Gladio leading the way into the bathroom.

Ignis stood by the door as Gladio turned on the water, moving the dial all the way to the left so that the water was near scalding - just the way Ignis liked it, as Gladio well knew. It didn’t seem to be heating up quickly enough, however, for after a brief check with his hand, Gladio withdrew from the water, shaking the droplets from his skin and reaching for Ignis instead, peppering lazy, affectionate kisses all over Ignis’ face. He was so gentle, brushing the sweat-streaked hair back from Ignis’ face, taking his glasses off the bridge of his nose and setting them on the counter…

Many people thought that someone Gladio’s size was incapable of being tender. Ignis knew better. He had watched Gladio practically raise his younger sister, and then, when they were older, he had seen how his friend encouraged the new recruits who came to the Citadel to join the Crownsguard. The man had a soft streak that belied his giant frame. Not many people knew about it, for it wasn’t a side of himself that Gladio normally revealed. Only those that he trusted - or those who needed it, in the case of the recruits - got to see and experience it.

Ignis counted himself blessed that he was one of those people.

Now though, he felt entirely overwhelmed by Gladio’s affection, unused to having it bestowed upon him so freely. Each touch was like a lover’s caress, and he had to remind himself that he was allowed this, that this was alright, wanted even.

He let himself be led into the stall after Gladio had ensured it was warm enough, stepping under the heated spray in a bit of a daze. The water stung his eyes, making him splutter and blink, and he had to push his hair back from his face.

“You okay?”

Ignis blinked at Gladio through the mist. “Yes, of course,” he replied. “Why?”

“You look… kinda spacey,” Gladio replied. He reached behind him, picking up a bottle of something and squirting a white liquid into his palm. Shampoo, most likely. Ignis stepped back to give his friend room to work the lather through his hair, but to his surprise, Gladio reached out and slapped the soap on top of his head instead.

“What are you doing?” he demanded, even as a pleased groan began to bubble out of his chest at the way Gladio was working his fingers across his scalp.

“Washing your hair,” Gladio shot back. “What’s it look like I’m doing?”

“I can wash my own hair,” Ignis huffed, though he made no move to do so.

“No shit?”

“Gladio-”

“Iggy, we’ve been over this before. I wanna wash your hair. I’m almost done, anyways.”

Ignis pursed his lips, annoyed - but not entirely unhappy. And Gladio knew it, if the smirk on his face was any indication.

True to his word, Gladio removed his hands a few moments later, bringing them up to his own dark tresses. “There,” he said. “Done. That so bad?”

Ignis ignored him, stepping under the water and letting the spray rinse the suds from his hair. It was a step closer to Gladio, and though he kept his eyes closed, he could feel the other’s presence at his elbow. It was intimate, his presence warm and welcoming.

Ignis thought he could grow to like it very much.

They traded places then, Gladio stepping under the spray, and Ignis stepping back. It was cold against the tile, and he crossed his arms over his chest for warmth.

Gladio rinsed the suds from his hair quickly and turned, facing Ignis through the spray. “You look cold,” he said, noticing the goosebumps dotting Ignis’ skin. He held out his arms in open invitation. “C’mere.”

Ignis stepped forward, allowing Gladio to draw him in close and wrap his arms around his torso. Six, but Gladio was a large man, and never was it more apparent than when they were this close. Ignis was by no means small, but he still felt it, wrapped up in Gladio’s arms, surrounded by muscle and bulk and heat. He let himself bury his head in Gladio’s chest, if only for a moment, listening to the slow, steady beat of his heart beneath his ribs.

“I like this,” Gladio sighed happily. His arms tightening around Ignis, one hand cradling the back of his his head. “I like you.

Ignis chuckled, pressing a kiss to the skin beneath his lips, not bothering to open his eyes and see which part of the other's body it was.

“The feeling is entirely mutual, Gladio.”

Chapter Text

“You look happy.”

Ignis paused at the rack of practice weapons, hands going slack on the hilts of the daggers he was perusing. He shot Placidia a questioning look, raising an eyebrow. “Do I?” he asked.

“The picture of cheer,” she replied, grinning. “Something good happen?” She hefted a hand-and-a-half sword in her right hand, testing its balance. Satisfied with it, she nodded and moved to Ignis’ side, looking down at the same daggers he was studying.

“I suppose you could say that,” Ignis replied.

She didn’t press him for details, instead nudging him with her shoulder. “Whatever it is, you’re practically glowing,” she said.

Ignis absently raised a hand to his cheek, but his skin felt only faintly warm to the touch. She must have meant a metaphorical glow then, and not a physical one. Just as well, he thought; though his fair skin meant that he was prone to blushing in moments of embarrassment or extreme exertion, it wasn’t something that he necessarily took joy in.

He half-turned towards Placidia, who was still eyeing the weapons before her with a calculating gaze. “Have you ever been in love, Placidia?”

That got her attention, brown eyes snapping up to his face. “Love?” she repeated. She considered for a moment, and then shook her head. “Don’t think so. I’ve loved a lot of people, but I can’t say I was ever really in love with any of ‘em.” She grinned. “And you, Ignis? Have you ever been in love?”

“For nearly half my life,” he admitted. He finally reached down and selected a pair of daggers, the same ones that he always used during his training sessions. He had known that he would come back to them, their weight and heft just right, but he thought it wise to at least check the other selections each time he visited the weapons rack. The Crown was always acquiring new arms. He looked up just in time to see Placidia select a small, needle-thin dagger that would complement her sword well. “Though I scarcely had cause to celebrate my feelings until just a few days ago.”

“Got yourself a boyfriend, have you?”

“It’s a… recent development.”

She smiled, and it was genuine and warm. “That’s great to hear, Ignis,” she said. “Really. I’m happy for you.”

“Thank you, Placidia.”

“Doesn’t mean I’m gonna take it easy on you though,” she continued, turning and walking out onto the training floor. “Your ass is toast.”

He chuckled. “I would expect no less from a glaive.”

Their sparring begin as soon as Ignis stepped onto the training room floor. Placidia rushed him, darting in with her sword. Ignis blocked, barely getting his daggers up in time, and she followed up her first attack with a short thrust of her dagger, forcing him to drop to a knee and roll away. No sooner had he gotten to his feet than she was on him again, the blade in her hand whipping through the air with practiced, deadly efficiency.

Ignis blocked again, and then quickly pivoted to the side, managing a quick jab to her flank. She caught it, forcing his blade back, and he went back on the defensive, watching her like a hawk for an opening.

She gave none, of course.

It was one of the reasons Ignis had asked Placidia to begin sparring with him in the first place. It had started a few weeks back, after she had given him her phone number and told him to keep in touch. He had needed a new practice partner, feeling that his routine was becoming too stale, too unchallenged, and Placidia had been amenable to a few bouts. Their styles were similar, Ignis had found, though he preferred two daggers to Placidia’s one. The both of them relied on speed and agility over brute strength, their builds lithe and wiry instead of overtly muscular. But it was good to train against all types of opponents, Ignis believed, challenge making the body stronger. Placidia offered a welcome change from more straightforward fighters such as Gladio and Noctis.

She also presented him with far more of a tactical challenge than usual. In this type of fight, his usual advantages - speed, technical ability, and flexibility - were nullified, the playing field made equal. Whichever one of them won, it would be because they had seen an opportunity and seized it, not because either of them was outmatched.

Ignis leaped back as Placidia swung her sword in a wild arc, whipping through the air with a faint whooshing sound. She didn’t pause there, using the momentum from the swing to jerk her body forward, dagger raised.

He caught the blade in between his own at the last second and twisted, wrenching her arm. She scowled as she tried and failed to jerk the blade free, and Ignis felt a surge of triumph. He had put her into a tight spot, forcing her to either abandon the weapon or continue her attempts to wrest it free, wasting valuable strength in so doing. For in such close quarters, Ignis and his slightly superior upper body strength had the advantage, and Placidia well knew it. She took a moment’s pause, contemplating what to do. Her hesitation lasted only a second, however, and then she was free, the dagger clattering to the floor between them, forgotten.

“One down,” Ignis panted, smirking.

Placidia snorted. “You think this makes me any less dangerous?” she asked.

As if to prove her point, she lunged, sword gleaming as the tip sailed toward Ignis’ chest. He threw himself backwards, barely managing to flip away from her unscathed.

Or so he thought.

A sliver of fabric fell to the floor between them, neatly shorn from Ignis’ shirt. He didn’t need to look down to see it had come from his side, exposing a long stretch of torso to the air.

“Must you have done that?” he asked, sighing.

“One for one,” she retorted, motioning with her blade towards her fallen dagger.

Ignis pursed his lips. “I rather liked this shirt, and now it’s ruined.”

“Take it off then.”

Ignis froze; he recognized that voice - he would know it anywhere. He flicked his eyes over to the side of the room, and sure enough, there was Gladio, leaning against the wall, arms crossed over his chest. He was grinning at them, eyeing their sweating figures and battle-ready postures.

“Gladio,” Ignis murmured, daggers falling to his sides as he allowed his arms a momentary respite. “How long have you been standing there?”

“Long enough.” Gladio pushed himself off the wall, taking a few steps towards them.

“Like what you see, big guy?” Placidia asked, grinning.

Gladio’s eyes were firmly locked upon Ignis. “Hell yeah,” he said, grin deepening into something more akin to a leer.

“It’s impolite to stare,” Ignis said primly, though he felt no such coyness. He rather liked the way Gladio’s eyes were raking over him, taking in his sweat-streaked neck and hair, the way his chest rose and fell with each breath.

“Never said I was polite,” Gladio shot back. He took one last, long look at Ignis and then turned to Placidia, eyeing her sword and then the dagger on the floor. “Iggy get one up on you, huh?”

“Hardly,” she said, snorting. “I’m just as good with one weapon as I am with two. Better even.”

“I believe it,” Gladio said. “You move fast - faster’n Iggy even.”

“He’s no slouch,” Placidia said, shooting a glance in Ignis’ direction. “He keeps me on my toes.”

“Yeah?” Gladio moved to sit down on a nearby bench, eyes darting between the two of them. “Don’t stop on my account, then.”

Ignis snorted, turning back towards Placidia. “Well?” he asked. “Shall we?”

“Shouldn’t keep our audience waiting,” she replied, grinning.

With one easy motion, she slipped back into a fighting stance. Ignis followed her example, and not a moment too soon. She lunged forward, blade spinning in her hand, and he was forced to go on the defensive.

Thrust, block, slash, parry - everything became a blur as they moved together, their bodies falling into the natural rhythm of action and reaction. Placidia’s graceful attacks were poised and confident; she was feeling the victory of having made first contact. But Ignis wasn’t feeling pressured just yet, Gladio’s presence bolstering his spirits.

He didn’t shout or cry out encouragements, of course, merely sitting on the sidelines and watching. But Ignis could practically feel the other man’s pride from across the room; he could sense Gladio’s admiration for the prowess Ignis had developed over the past ten years, in no small part due to Gladio’s own tutelage. It gave him strength and made him want to perform his very best; he might even dare say that he wanted to show off for his lover, let him know exactly how skilled Ignis Scientia was.

It was probably unbecoming in him.

He hardly cared.

Sweat was beginning to drip down Ignis’ face, stinging in his eyes. It irritated him to no end as he continued to meet each of Placidia’s attacks. He wanted nothing more than to reach up and wipe it away, but to do so would be to give his opponent an opening. His only consolation was that Placidia seemed similarly affected, the long tail of her hair sticking to the sweat dripping down her neck as she moved.

She was growing fatigued, Ignis noticed, the slash of her blade through the air slower than before, her movements not quite so quick. But he too was tiring, his endurance nearing the end of its supply. He needed to end this soon, or he would end up on his back, Placidia’s sword pointed at his neck. She would be thinking the same thing, he thought, and indeed, her eyes were roving across his form, searching for any kind of opening.

She found none.

Ignis, however, was experiencing the same problem - Placidia was a warrior of the highest caliber. Even when exhausted, her form was nigh impeccable. She gave no quarter, just as Ignis gave her none. How then were they to end this?

He saw it in the blink of an eye, as Placidia launched yet another attack at him - a slash, followed by a refractory movement to the right. It left a small section of her flank vulnerable, just for a moment. If he could exploit that…

Ignis feinted, attempting to draw Placidia in. She frowned, sensing that something was off, and easily stepped aside, following up with a counterattack of her own. It wasn’t the slashing movement Ignis wished her to make, however, and he pursed his lips in annoyance.

He would have to get a little riskier - draw her in with a real attack, and then cut her to the quick. Not impossible, but difficult.

Very difficult.

His timing would have to be exact, or the flat side of her blade would smack right into his face. It would be a split-second maneuver, more instinct than controlled attack, and he would have no time to consider whether or not it would fail. He would just have to -

There!

Seizing his chance, Ignis ducked under her blade and rolled towards her, daggers coming up to her exposed side. He stopped just before he made contact with her skin, panting hard at the precision the movement required. It had been worth it though - the match was over, and he had won.

Then he looked up and saw the point of Placidia’s blade pointed straight at the junction of his neck and shoulder. Ignis frowned even as she grinned at him, attempting to figure out what had happened. “You saw my attack and adjusted your strike,” he guessed. “You feinted.”

“Gotcha,” she panted, giving him a roguish wink.

Ignis pushed himself up to his feet, letting his arms fall to his sides. “How did you manage to conceal your plan of attack?” he asked, genuinely intrigued. “I couldn’t read anything in your movements to suggest-”

“I only realized what you were doing as you were doing it,” she said, shrugging. “Luck more than anything, really. I barely managed to pull it off without losing my balance.”

“Impressive, still.”

“You aren’t too bad yourself. That move would probably have worked, out in the field.”

“Probably,” Ignis repeated, snorting. He reached up a hand to wipe the sweat from his brow. “I fear ‘probably’ isn’t quite good enough for my liking. But it was a good round, nonetheless. Shall we call it a draw then?” he suggested.

She sighed. “Another one. One of these days, Ignis, I’m gonna beat you.”

He chuckled, turning to walk towards Gladio. “Likewise, Placidia.”

Ignis was still smiling when he reached Gladio's side. His lover was grinning at him, eyes dancing with delight. “That was awesome, Iggy,” Gladio said, coming to his feet as Ignis approached. “The way you two were movin’, I was having trouble keepin’ track of you. You been training with her a lot recently?”

“A few times,” Ignis replied, shrugging. “She presents a unique challenge.”

“I bet. Never seen anyone make you move like that. Too bad it ended in a draw. I thought you had her there at the end.”

“So did I,” Ignis said wryly. He paused, looking down at his sweat-streaked - and ripped, in the case of his shirt - clothing. “I believe now, however, I’ll head to the showers and then return to my apartment for a change of clothing. The current state of my shirt demands it.”

Gladio raised his eyes suggestively. “A shower, huh? Mind if I-”

“Do give me at least five minutes before you follow me, so as to not be completely obvious,” Ignis interjected, smirking.

Gladio scowled. “You’re no fun.”

“Five minutes,” Ignis reminded him, walking off towards the locker rooms.

“I heard you the first time.”

“I’ll be counting, Gladio. Don’t cheat.”

“You’re a cruel man, Iggy.”

“You like it.”

* * * * *

Gladio had only counted out two minutes before Placidia approached him, hands on her hips.

“Gladiolus, right?” she asked.

“Right,” Gladio replied, eyeing her warily. What was this about? He had the distinct impression that he was being cornered, Placidia looming as large over him as her height would allow.

It was actually pretty intimidating, considering that she was almost a head and a half shorter than he was.

He tried to recall what he knew of her, who she was and what she was like. He remembered that she was a member of the Kingsglaive, a pretty recent addition, a few years older than he or Ignis. They had met in that strip club at Nyx’s party; he’d stupidly suggested Ignis try to hook up with her. It had seemed like the two of them were hitting it off, and hey, Gladio had just kind of… gone in for the nudge.

Hadn’t worked, of course. But he wasn’t exactly complaining about the alternative outcome, either.

He’d been right about one thing though - Placidia and Iggy clearly got along well, if they’d become friendly enough to start sparring together. Gladio wondered then how close they were, how often they talked. Ignis had mentioned her, now that he thought about it, spoken about her a few times. Complimented her, told Gladio funny stories Placidia had told him about the Glaive, mentioned they’d had lunch or coffee together a few times.

So yeah, they were friends. Relatively close friends, even.

“You’re close to Ignis,” Placidia remarked, pulling Gladio from his thoughts.

“Yeah, pretty close. He’s my best friend.”

She gave him a sly grin. “And maybe something… more?”

Gladio hesitated, unsure of what to say. It had only been a couple of days since Ignis had agreed to give a formal relationship a chance. They hadn’t really discussed whether or not they were going public with it. “I, uh-” he started.

“Don’t worry. He didn’t give me any specifics,” she interjected. “But he mentioned something. And I have eyes. I can see what’s right in front of my face.”

Oh. Oh. 

He had an idea where this was going now. He shifted, making sure to keep his voice neutral as he asked, “So then, this the part where you tell me not to hurt him, or else?”

She studied him for a moment, and Gladio was sure that she was going to say yes and threaten him within an inch of his life. He was already preparing his counter argument's in his head, his assurances that he was going to do his damnedest not to fuck this up. But then Placidia audibly exhaled, her posture relaxing, and Gladio hesitated.

“You know better than to do something like that,” she murmured. “You’re not stupid, Amicitia. No, I think you’ll be good for him.” Her eyes flicked over in the direction of the locker rooms, where Ignis had disappeared just moments before. “I’ve never seen him look this happy.” She snorted. “Not that I’ve known him for that long. But still. He’s normally reserved, kind of stoic, even…” Her eyes turned back to Gladio. “Don’t mess that up.”

Gladio might have taken offense at that, if it weren’t for the way her voice went soft and quiet. That more than anything let him know that she really cared about Ignis as a friend, and any irritation he was feeling shriveled away to nothing.

“I don’t plan to,” he said. “Iggy’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“Yeah? It’s good you think so. Still.” She smiled. “Be on your best boyfriend behavior, okay?”

Gladio snorted, cocking his head to the side. “Boyfriend,” he muttered. “Shit, that still sounds weird when you say it out loud.”

“What, you never had a girlfriend before?”

“No, I’ve had a couple. It’s… different with Iggy though.”

She raised an eyebrow at that. “How so?”

Well, for one thing, boyfriend sounded fucking dumb. He hadn't really liked the word, even when he'd been dating girls.

For another, it didn’t seem nearly strong enough to describe what he and Ignis were to each other. He liked Ignis - he really liked Ignis. This wasn’t just some passing thing to him, some whim or curiosity. Calling Ignis his boyfriend made their relationship sound like something fledgling, basic even, and not the deep bond that was beginning to grow out of an already deep friendship.

So, yeah, he didn’t really like the word. But he also didn’t really know how to voice his concerns.

Placidia seemed to realize this though, patting his arm sympathetically. “I get it,” she said. “I always hate using the word girlfriend, when I talk about my… well, girlfriends.”

“Yeah?”

“It’s even worse when you’re a girl,” she admitted. “Because almost all girls have girlfriends, but only some girls have girlfriends, yeah?”

Gladio blinked.

“You didn’t understand a word of that, did you?”

“Not a fucking one.”

She laughed. “Ah, don’t worry about it. It's not important.” She laid a hand on his arm, her face taking on a more serious quality. "What is important is that you take care of him, yeah?"

"I plan on it."

"Good."

The conversation lulled then, having run its natural course, and Placidia said her good-byes, claiming a need to get clean before a meeting with the rest of her comrades. Gladio was happy to let her go, his mind already turning back to Ignis, hopefully still scrubbing himself clean in the shower. Had it been five minutes yet? Surely it had.

He set off towards the locker rooms, his steps quick and eager. He knew the training facilities were mostly empty this time of day, everyone busy with their other responsibilities, and he planned on taking advantage of that. A grin worked its way onto his face as he shouldered into the changing area, eyes flitting around to ensure that he and Ignis were truly alone - they were. The faint tinkling of water hitting tile filled his ears, and he moved towards it, pulling his shirt off and letting it slide carelessly to the floor.

Ignis looked up as he entered the showers. He squinted a bit, trying to make Gladio’s form out without the use of his glasses, and then raised an eyebrow. “Took you long enough,” he drawled, half turning so that Gladio could get a full view of his naked form.

His naked, hard form.

“Shit,” Gladio breathed, shucking off his pants and practically leaping over the low half-wall that separated the shower stalls from the middle of the room. “You’re hard,” he said, letting his hand snake down Ignis’ chest to grasp at his cock.

Ignis inhaled sharply, eyes slipping closed at the touch. “Well, you did give me plenty of time to work myself up,” he retorted. “What were you doing out there, anyways?”

Gladio slowly began to stroke him, hand moving all the way from the base of Ignis’ cock to the tip, the water making the movement an easy glide. “Talkin’ to your friend,” he replied, letting his hand fall back down, thumb sliding along the vein that traveled the length of the underside of Ignis’ dick.

Ignis shuddered, a hand coming up to grip at Gladio’s shoulder. “Placidia?” he murmured.

“Mmhmm.” Up and down, back and forth, again, again. Gladio increased his pace, squeezing a little harder at the base and tugging a little more at the head. Ignis’ nails dug into the meat of his shoulder, leaving little angry red welts in their wake. They were sure to be there tomorrow, and it wasn’t an area of his body that he normally bothered to hide. Everyone would know he’d gotten some, and everyone would tease him about it.

But he really couldn’t fucking care less.

In fact, he kind of liked it - the idea that Ignis was marking him, etching some physical reminder into his body of their time spent together. Iggy might not like visible marks, a little too proper for that kind of thing, but honestly? It really got Gladio going, and so he gripped Ignis more firmly, moving his hand more quickly, hoping that Ignis would do it more.

He wasn’t disappointed.

Gladio groaned when Ignis’ hand started traveling down his bicep, nails teasing long, red trails of fire into his skin. The water made them sting, but Gladio didn’t mind. The slight pain made the pleasure all the more intense, and he leaned forward, desperately, trying to catch Ignis’ lips with his own.

“Gladio,” Ignis panted, speech slightly slurred as Gladio’s lips continued to press at his mouth. “We shouldn’t do this, not here.”

“You close?” Gladio shot back, letting his other hand slip down between them so he could grab Ignis’ balls, rolling the tight sack between his fingers. Ignis mewled, hips bucking forward into Gladio’s touch, answering Gladio’s question as well with his body as he could have with his mouth. Maybe better, if the wanton, lustful look in his eyes was any hint. “Come on, you’re almost there.”

“Gladio-”

Gladio kissed him hard then, thrusting his tongue deep into Ignis’ mouth, swallowing the moan that Ignis let out as he neared his release. He was so close, Gladio could almost feel it in the way Ignis was shuddering against him, in the way his hips bucked forward erratically into Gladio’s hand. It was hot, seeing Ignis come undone in like this, so hot, and Gladio didn’t think he’d ever get tired of watching it happen.

Ignis stiffened against him and came, hot come streaking Gladio’s hand as he worked Ignis through the release, not stopping until Ignis went limp against him, hot breaths fanning out on Gladio’s shoulder. He spoke again a moment later, voice huskier than normal. “Well, that was-”

“Great? Awesome? Fan-fucking-tastic?”

Ignis snorted. “I was going to say rather unexpected, but far be it from me to get in the way of stroking your ego,” he drawled. He took a shaky step back, pushing his wet hair back out of his face.

“I know something else you can stroke.”

Ignis lifted an eyebrow. “Yes?” His eyes flitted down Gladio’s torso, landing on his cock, jutting out hard and red between his thighs. “Would you like that?”

“Fucking Six, Ignis-”

“Or would you prefer we take this back to my apartment, where we’re free to engage in… other pursuits?” Ignis trailed his fingers down Gladio’s side until they were resting upon the curve of his backside. He squeezed lightly, and then let his hand drift further in, until he was tracing the cleft of Gladio’s ass with one long finger. “Rumor has it that you want me to do something to you - something you’ve never done before.”

Gladio groaned, cock twitching at the implication.

Yeah, it was safe to say he liked the sound of that. He liked the sound of it a lot.

“Hell yeah,” he breathed.

Ignis trailed his finger lower still, and Gladio felt like he could barely breathe, the anticipation running through him strong enough to render him completely silent. But here, Ignis stopped, just centimeters away from where Gladio wanted him to be, and Gladio groaned.

“Problem?” Ignis asked, chuckling.

“Touch me, Iggy, please.”

“Mmm.” Ignis tapped his finger teasingly against Gladio’s skin, but made no move to continue inching it south. “Much as I love to hear you beg, I think it better if we move to more private quarters first.” He removed his hand entirely then, reaching behind Gladio to shut the water off.

“Fucking tease,” Gladio growled.

Ignis threw a towel at him. “Hardly,” he retorted. “It’s not teasing if I have plans to make good on my intentions in mere moments.”

“Yeah? Well my dick thinks otherwise-”

“Your cock will suffer no lasting effects,” Ignis interjected. “And I daresay, it will be very, very pleased at what I am going to do to you as soon as I get you into my bedroom.”

“That a promise?”

Ignis’ eyes flashed. “Absolutely.”

* * * * *

Somehow, Ignis managed to get Gladio back into his clothing and up several flights of stairs to his apartment with no more than a few stolen kisses and groping touches. Luckily, they didn’t cross paths with any other people on their way, the route through the Citadel strangely quiet. Ignis might have questioned it, were he not so eager to get Gladio on his back. As it was, he had a plan, and he was single-mindedly focused upon bringing it to fruition.

He fumbled with his key at the door, in no small part due to Gladio’s hands sneaking beneath his jacket. He batted them away only half-heartedly, doing his best to get the both of them indoors and out of the view of prying eyes before he gave in to his lover’s caresses entirely.

He had always found Gladio rather irresistible, and that hadn’t changed over the past few weeks. If anything, it had gotten worse; his hands ached to reach out and touch the other man. He burned to kiss him, and stroke him, and taste him, and gods, now Gladio wanted him to fuck him. He would oblige all too willingly, of course. Just thinking about the way Gladio’s body would clench around him, the way the hot, velvety heat of him would feel on his cock, was enough to make him hard again already.

But that wasn’t necessarily a part of the plan. First, he had to ensure that Gladio really knew what it was that he was requesting. There was great pleasure to be found in the way two men had penetrative sex, yes, but there could also be discomfort and no small amount of pain. Ignis would do his best to ensure that Gladio experienced as much of the former and as little of the latter as possible while he showed him how things were done. And then, if he was still amenable, Ignis would fuck him senseless.

Ignis finally managed to open the door, and the two of them nearly fell across the threshold. Gladio caught them before they could go very far, though, one strong arm around Ignis’ middle and the other braced against the doorjamb.

“Get inside,” Ignis breathed, reluctantly stepping out of his lover’s embrace in order to toe his shoes off. “And lock the door.”

Gladio obliged, slamming the door with enough strength to make Ignis wince. “Was such force really required?” he demanded, slipping out of his jacket and folding it neatly across the back of a chair.

“Sorry,” Gladio said sheepishly. “Didn’t mean to do that.”

“You’re lucky I want you naked and in my bed this very instant, or I’d be tempted to make you wait.”

Gladio groaned. “Fuck, Iggy,” he said, stripping out of his clothes as fast as he could. “You have any idea how sexy you are when you say things like that?”

Ignis smirked at the way Gladio’s eyes had gone dark with desire, at the way his still-hard cock bobbed in the air as soon as he divested himself of his pants and underwear. “I may have some idea,” he admitted. He lifted a hand, pointing to the hallway. “Bedroom. Now.”

Gladio practically ran to obey, tugging Ignis along behind him.

He flopped down on the bed, situating himself so that he was lying on his back, one pillow propped under his head. His cock lay flat against his belly, liquid beading at the tip, smearing upon his stomach when he moved. Ignis wanted to lick it away, to bury his head deep between Gladio’s thighs and swallow him whole. But that wasn’t for tonight, he mused, reaching a hand down to cup himself through his pants as he drank in the sight of his lover, sprawled out on his bed.

No, tonight was for something slightly different.

Ignis allowed himself a few perfunctory strokes of his cock, just enough to satisfy the lust building anew in the pit of his stomach, and then stripped out of his clothing. Gladio watched him as he moved, his tongue darting out to wet his lips. He had no idea how enticing the motion was, Ignis thought, no idea how that slight movement, likely unconscious, made Ignis’ mouth go dry with want.

Or maybe he does, Ignis mused, smirking as he noticed Gladio repeat the motion.

“Do you like what you see?” he asked, stepping forward and crawling onto the bed between Gladio’s spread thighs.

“Hell yeah,” Gladio replied. “You know I do.”

“Mmm.” Ignis leaned forward, stretching his body out to reach into the drawer of his bedside table for the small bottle of lubricant he kept there. He purposefully made sure that his cock brushed Gladio’s as he did this, grinding down into his lover as his fingers scrambled to find the bottle. Gladio groaned, one hand coming up to hold Ignis in place as he bucked up, making the contact last as long as possible.

Ignis’ hands went slack for a moment, losing himself in the feel of Gladio rutting against him. But then his fingers landed upon the bottle and he drew back, his sense of purpose restored.

“Have you ever done this before?” he asked, laying the bottle off to the side so that it was within easy reach.

“You know I haven’t, Iggy, c’mon-”

“I meant with yourself - with your own hand.”

“Oh. No.” Gladio frowned. “Have you?”

“Of course,” Ignis replied. Gladio’s breath hitched at the admission, as if the thought of Ignis fucking himself with his fingers was some wondrous, beautiful thing. And maybe it was, he thought, not missing the way Gladio’s cock twitched against his stomach. Ignis leaned forward, looming large over Gladio. “Perhaps you should try it, Gladio. I think you’d like it.”

Gladio groaned. “Aw, fuck, Iggy.”

“I know I do.” Ignis paused, relishing the flush starting to creep down across Gladio’s neck and chest. “Do you know what I think about, when I fuck myself on my own hand?”

“Gods-”

“You,” Ignis breathed. “I think of you, fucking me. I like to be on my stomach, Gladio, and so I imagine you taking me from behind, hard, pressing me down into the mattress so I can barely breathe-”

“You have got to stop talkin’, Iggy, or I swear, I’m gonna fucking come right now,” Gladio interjected. “Shiva’s fucking tits.” He threw a hand over his face, as if he couldn’t bear the way Ignis was looking at him any longer.

And maybe he couldn’t.

Ignis chuckled at this thought, leaning back on his haunches. “If you insist,” he said. “Spread your legs a little wider for me, then.”

Gladio obliged, letting the hand fall from his face and slide down to rest on his torso. “Feels weird,” he admitted.

“Like you’re being exposed?” Ignis guessed. Gladio nodded, and Ignis gave him an encouraging smile. “It gets more natural, with time.” He reached for the tube of lubricant then, popping open the cap and letting some of the liquid spill onto his fingers. Gladio was watching him cautiously, the muscles of his thighs clenching a little against Ignis’ knees. “Relax,” Ignis murmured, letting his free hand fall onto Gladio’s hip. “If you want me to stop at any time, I will.”

“No,” Gladio replied, shaking his head. “I want this.”

Ignis reached his hand down between them, fingers questing until they found Gladio’s entrance, lightly circling the tight ring of muscle. He felt Gladio tense beneath him, and then relax, accompanied by a low, shaky exhale. “Good?” he asked.

“Yeah.”

Ignis continued like this for a while, watching Gladio’s face as he continued to circle his hole, waiting until his lover was groaning quietly in pleasure before finally sinking the tip of a finger inside.

Half-lidded eyes snapped open and Gladio tensed again at the intrusion. “Relax,” Ignis said again, withdrawing the digit and then slowly pressing it back in. “It gets easier.” He sank the finger in a little deeper this time, drawing a deep grunt from the man beneath him.

“Feels really fuckin’ weird.”

“Weird?” Ignis stilled, though he didn’t remove his hand. “Shall we stop then, do something else?”

Gladio considered this, and then shook his head. “No, keep going.”

Ignis did as he asked, working the finger in until it was buried to the first knuckle. He gave Gladio a moment to get used to the sensation, waiting for his muscles to relax around him. When Gladio had done so, he began to remove the finger, not stopping until it was almost completely free. All the while, he continued to observe Gladio, looking for the slightest sign of discomfort or unease. But when he began to thrust the finger in and out, Gladio quickly began to pant, free hand moving down to grip the sheets beneath him, and Ignis sensed that the discomfort was being replaced with pleasure.

He began to add another finger, and Gladio groaned. “Iggy-”

“Almost there,” Ignis said, sliding the digit the rest of the way inside Gladio until it joined the first. Then he twisted his hand, seeking out one certain spot he knew was there.

Gladio let out a wordless cry, back arching up off the bed as Ignis found his prostate, pressing against it with the pads of his fingers for several seconds before he pulled them back, resuming the slow path of easing them in and out of Gladio’s hole.

Gladio fell back to the bed, breaths ragged and harsh. “Iggy,” he breathed. “I can’t-”

He was so beautiful like this, Ignis thought, damp hair curling around his neck, eyes gone black with lust. The skin of his throat had gone red, flushed in wanton abandon, and Ignis leaned forward, kissing him, even as his fingers continued to work him open.

“I’m gonna - fuck, I can’t-” Gladio couldn’t even form proper sentences it seemed, his lips slack against Ignis’, and he moaned deep when Ignis pressed his fingers against his prostate again. “Gods, Iggy, I wanna come so bad, please -”

“I thought you wanted me to fuck you?” Ignis asked, bringing a third finger up to join the others, letting it push inside Gladio’s body with a slow, practiced motion.

“I do,” Gladio panted. “I do. But fuck-” He broke off with a groan, hand clenching tight around Ignis’ back, clutching their bodies together. “I don’t think I can-”

“Take yourself in hand,” Ignis murmured, nudging Gladio’s face to the side so he could have better access to his neck. He bit down on the skin there, sucking lightly, and Gladio cursed.

Ignis watched as Gladio grabbed his cock, jerking himself off fast and hard as Ignis continued to fuck him with his fingers. He twisted his hand again, thrusting deep into Gladio’s body, and Gladio cried out, shuddering violently.

“Fuck, please -”

Ignis obliged, hitting that spot again, and again, and again, and Gladio almost shouted with the sudden force of his release, arm tightening painfully around Ignis’ back. It made Ignis hiss, biting down a little harder than he intended, almost hard enough to break the delicate skin of Gladio’s throat. As it was, it would surely leave a bruise, hard physical evidence of what they had done.

He wondered if Gladio would mind.

Ignis leaned back as Gladio regained his composure, allowing his fingers to slide free of Gladio’s body with a lewd, wet noise. Had this not been Gladio’s first time, he would have slicked his cock up and thrust it deep inside Gladio. As it was, he thought it best that they wait for that, and so instead he used his hand to quickly bring himself to a second completion, the mental image of Gladio writhing beneath him more than enough to help him find his release.

Afterwards, they clung to one another, hot, sticky, and sweaty. They would need another shower, Ignis mused, and then perhaps a nap, fatigue pricking at the back of his senses. He thought he could even fall asleep right now, nestled deep into the warmth of Gladio’s embrace. But then he shifted, and the tackiness of the come coating his stomach made him grimace.

Perhaps not, then. A shower first.

“That was…”

Ignis looked up, waiting for Gladio to finish the thought.

“...dammit, I wished I could have lasted longer.”

Ignis chuckled, stretching upwards to press a kiss to Gladio’s cheek. “There’s plenty of time for that later,” he replied.

“You coulda just gone ahead and fucked me. Didn’t have to get yourself off.”

Ignis raised an eyebrow. “Gladio, when I fuck you for the first time, you are going to be fully aware and cognizant of what is happening,” he said sternly. “You are not going to be lying about in a post-coital stupor, with nary a care in the world.”

Gladio snorted. “Okay.”

“And the same goes for me, when you fuck me for the first time.”

Gladio shifted, propping himself up on his elbows so he could look down at Ignis. “You want me to?”

“Of course I do.”

Gladio’s eyes smoldered, and he leaned forward to kiss Ignis, his lips fervent and heated. Ignis was forced to break it after a few moments, unable to keep up with the other’s ardor.

“You’re insatiable,” he said lightly, eyeing the half-erect state of Gladio’s cock. “Do you know that?”

“Mmm.” Gladio dragged him down so that they were lying one on top of the other. “What can I say? You’re hot, and life’s short.” He kissed Ignis again, hands coming up to cup his jaw. “Besides - can’t blame me for trying when I’ve got such a fucking fantastic boyfriend.”

Warmth spread through Ignis at the admission, and he buried his face in Gladio’s neck so the other wouldn’t see the pleased flush that spread across the cheeks. It was such a simple sentence, nothing particularly monumental about the words Gladio had uttered. But Ignis still wasn’t used to hearing it said aloud, so openly, and he got a little thrill out of hearing it - Gladio was his boyfriend, his lover. His -

“Hey.” Gladio put a finger beneath his chin, lifting his head up. “You okay?”

Ignis smiled. “I’m happy,” he admitted.

Gladio grinned at him. “Yeah? Me too.”

“I’m... glad that I accepted your offer.”

“No kidding.” Gladio kissed him again, and this time it was soft and sweet. “This is… honestly? I don’t even know how to describe it. I’m just…”

“Happy,” Ignis supplied.

“Right.” Gladio snorted. “I feel like, between the two of us, we should be able to come up with a better word. We’re smart, we read books. Hell, you’re a fucking genius. But… I can’t. I’m just…”

“I know,” Ignis said.

“Yeah?”

“I feel the same way.”

“Good.” Gladio’s arms tightened around him. “Because I don’t ever want to let you go.”

Ignis pressed one last kiss to Gladio’s lips. “Don’t you dare.”

Chapter Text

“Dude.”

Gladio looked up from the book he was reading. Prompto was giggling, nudging Noctis and muttering something under his breath. Every now and then his eyes would flick over to Gladio, and then he’d erupt into a fresh fit of laughter, shoulders shaking. Not exactly unusual behavior for the kid, but Gladio wasn’t used to being the butt of one of his jokes.

Did he have something on his face? He scrunched his nose up, wriggling it around a bit, trying to see if he felt anything strange.

Nope, nothing there, that he could tell.

Figuring it was most likely nothing, Gladio went back to his book.

Look!” Prompto whispered then, the sound of it carrying despite his best attempts to keep quiet. “There, on his neck.”

Oh.

Shit.

Gladio cursed internally, barely suppressing the urge to slap a hand to his neck and cover the hickey - the fucking gigantic hickey - Ignis had left the night before last. Dammit. He’d meant to ask Iris if she had something he could use to cover it up, some concealer, or foundation, or whatever the stuff she put on her face in the morning was called. But he’d forgotten to set an alarm the night before, and then he’d woken up late, and then he’d just barely made it to the training hall before the recruits, and in the rush, he’d completely forgotten about the dark purple bruise on his neck.

Not that he really cared about it. Wasn’t the first hickey he’d gotten, and it sure as hell wouldn’t be the last, considering how much Ignis seemed to like kissing his throat.

But Noct and Prompto didn’t know that it was Ignis who had given it to him, as evidenced by their current conversation, and he wasn’t so sure that he wanted to tell them. Not without Ignis agreeing that it was the right time.

“How do you think he got it?”

“Dunno,” Prompto supplied. “Random hookup, maybe? He isn’t dating anyone, right? I mean, we’d know.”

“No, he’s single. I think.”

“Then who?”

“Ask him, if you’re so curious. Though I don’t think he’ll answer.”

“What?! No!” Prompto shoved Noctis. “You ask.”

“Why?” Noctis demanded. “You’re the one who wants to know so bad.”

“He’s your shield - if you ask, he has to tell you, right? It’s part of the retainer contract, right?”

“Prompt, there isn’t a contract-”

“Even better, just order him to tell you!”

“No.”

“Aw, c’mon, Noct, this is important stuff here-”

“I am not asking him who he’s dating. Or fucking. Or… whatever.”

“So mean,” Prompto whimpered.

Gladio felt it the moment Prompto’s gaze shifted back to him. He stared blankly down at his book, pretending that he was reading and that he hadn’t heard the entirety of their conversation. Though he was probably doing a terrible job - he never had been good at acting. It was too much like lying.

“Hey, big guy,” Prompto said, leaning forward.

Gladio tried to look as nonchalant as possible as he raised his eyes over the top of the book. Again, he wasn’t sure it worked, though this time it was for an entirely different reason. This had nothing to do with his acting ability (or lack thereof) - it was just hard to keep a straight face when Prompto had such a fucking funny expression on his face, blue eyes wide and seemingly innocent and lip drawn into his mouth in anticipation.

“What?” he asked.

“What’s that, there on your neck?”

Gladio clapped a hand to the side of his throat and frowned. “What, there a bug on me or something?” he asked, faking innocence.

Noctis snorted. “He means the giant hickey just below your ear,” he said.

Gladio’s hand fell away to land in his lap. “Oh, that.” He shrugged. “It’s nothing.”

“C’mon, dude, that’s so not nothing,” Prompto said.

Gladio shrugged. “Well, it is what it is,” he replied. “It’s a hickey.”

“Okay, yeah, but how did you get it?”

“Not tellin’,” Gladio shot back.

“Aw, c’mon!”

“Told you he wouldn’t say anything,” Noctis muttered.

“Not helping, Noct!”

“What isn’t Noctis helping you with, Prompto?”

Gladio turned just in time to see Ignis coming down the hallway towards Noct’s kitchen, his arms laden with various grocery bags. “Need any help, Iggy?” Gladio asked, letting his book slip closed and setting it to the side. Wasn’t like he was gonna get any reading done anyways, not with these two chattering on about him like a pair of old gossips. And besides - this gave him a reason to hover behind Ignis in the kitchen, maybe sneak in a few covert touches while he could.  

“No, thank you,” Ignis replied, hefting the bags up onto the counter. “Though if you wish, you may put a pot of water on to boil while I put these in the refrigerator.”

“Sure thing.”

Gladio stood and walked into the kitchen, giving Ignis a toothy grin as he walked past him, grabbing a pot from the cabinet he knew held all of Noctis’ cooking gear. It was stuffed to the brim, dishes stacked haphazardly on top of each other, and he had to catch a frying pan as it slid down the pile of metal, attempting to escape. “Shit, Noct, think you can get any more pans in here?” he asked, finding the pot he needed and setting it atop the counter. “I think you need to add a couple more.”

“Oh, bite me,” Noctis retorted. “Iggy keeps buying me more, and I have to put them somewhere.”

“I buy you more because your selection is woeful,” Ignis commented, stuffing a six-pack of Ebony onto a shelf. “As is your organizational scheme, apparently.”

“That’s because there is no organizational scheme,” Gladio grunted. “It’s just kinda… shoved in here.” He moved the pot to the sink, turning on the faucet to let it fill with water. “Honestly, I’m surprised the cabinet door even shuts.”

“You’re one to talk,” Noct huffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “I’ve seen your gym locker.”

“Yeah? One locker being messy is different from my entire fucking apartment being a sty.”

“What’s the point in cleaning? Even if I do tidy up, Specs just redoes everything.”

Gladio looked at Ignis, frowning as he put the now full pot onto the stove. “Are you serious?” he asked.

Ignis shrugged. “He does everything the wrong way,” he replied. “I fix it for him.”

Gladio snorted. “Enabler,” he muttered.

“Perhaps,” Ignis allowed, handing Gladio a box of pasta. “But in the past three years I’ve managed to get him to start washing his whites in a separate load of laundry and to clean the cutting board after he uses it. Small victories, Gladio, small victories.”

“Yeah, maybe one day he’ll even remember to take out the trash.”

“Let’s not be too hasty, Gladio. This is Noct we’re discussing.”

“I heard that.”

“You were meant to,” Gladio shot back. He picked up the box Ignis had given him, frowning. “Boxed pasta, Iggy? Seriously?”

“I know,” Ignis said mournfully. “I haven’t the time to make my own, though, not if Noctis and Prompto are to make the movie tonight.” He moved over to a fresh bag of groceries and started pulling out the ingredients for some kind of sauce - Gladio recognized garlic, cream, and tomatoes, but not the name on the label of the package of meat Ignis set off to the side. It looked - and smelled - like bacon, though, so it couldn’t be bad.

“Sure you guys don’t wanna join us?” Prompto offered. “It got four stars in the reviews!”

“No, I think not,” Ignis said. “Thank you for the offer though, Prompto.”

“Gladio?”

“What’s it about?”

Gladio only half-listened as Prompto launched into an enthusiastic description of the movie’s plot. He was much more interested in watching Ignis work on creating a sauce for the pasta. The way his long fingers gripped the knives with such precision, the way he added ingredients to the pan, no recipe necessary… it was like watching an artist work. Kinda mesmerizing. He could just sit there and stare all day, happily not even tasting the food.

Okay, maybe not happily. He had to admit, part of the entertainment was knowing that he eventually got to eat whatever Ignis happened to make.  

And how awesome was that? Having a boyfriend who could really, really fucking cook? There were few things in life that Gladio liked more than food, and knowing Ignis could - and would, if Gladio thought to ask nicely - make him anything he wanted, whenever he wanted, was honestly, pretty damn great. Not that Gladio was bad at cooking; he knew his way around a kitchen. But he was nowhere near as good at Ignis, and food always tasted better when someone else had made it. There was probably some psychological term for it, but he didn’t know it.

Ignis might.

“So? You coming?”

Gladio blinked. “Hmm?”

“To the movie,” Prompto clarified.

“Oh, no.”

“Did you even hear a word Prompto said?” Noctis asked, grinning.

Definitely not.

“‘Course I did,” Gladio grunted.

“Oh, yeah? Where’d the main character learn to be an assassin then?”

“Uh, his dad. Family business.”

Ignis made an amused noise, and Gladio guessed he’d gotten it wrong. His suspicions were confirmed a moment later, when Noctis said, “Dude, the main character’s a lawyer. Not an assassin.”

“So? Lawyer, assassin… same thing.”

“Though your likely unintentional metaphor is amusing, Gladio, I don’t think you can chalk that up to an honest mistake,” Ignis said wryly. He shot Gladio a knowing look, winking when he turned his back on the two younger men to grab the cream.

“You were totally out of it,” Prompto confirmed. “Staring at Iggy like he was-”

“Oh my god.”

Gladio shot Noctis a questioning look. “What?” he demanded.

“Oh my god.

Ignis was looking at the prince too, now, a concerned look on his face. “Is something the matter, Noct?” he asked.

Instead of answering, Noctis nudged Prompto in the shoulder and pointed to the two of them. Prompto blinked once, twice, trying to put two and two together. And then his jaw dropped, mouth falling open without making a sound.

Bewildered, Gladio turned to Ignis. “Any idea what’s wrong with them?”

“Not one,” Ignis admitted.

“It’s Ignis,” Noct breathed.

“I totally see it now,” Prompto added. “Dude…”

“How did we miss this?”

“Seriously!” Prompto turned to Noctis, frowning. “How long, d’you think?”

“Gods, who knows… could be ages.

“Care to tell us what you two are talkin’ about?” Gladio demanded. He crossed his arms over his chest, pushing himself off the counter to grab a glass of water. He filled it halfway, bringing to his lips and taking a drink as he waited for an answer.

“The hickey on your neck,” Noctis finally said, grinning. Beside him, Prompto let out another giggle. “Iggy gave it to you, didn’t he?”

Gladio choked, spraying water everywhere.

Ignis dropped his spoon, droplets of half-cooked sauce streaking the floor.

“Yeah, that pretty much confirms it!” Prompto said happily.

Still coughing, Gladio set the glass down. “We aren’t-”

“Oh, yeah?” Noct jeered. “Go on - just try to deny it. If you can say it with a straight face, I’ll believe you.”

Gladio tried.

He really did.

He looked over to Ignis, hoping he would have thought of some way to save the situation. But Ignis had flushed as red as the tomatoes he was dropping into the sauce, retrieving the spoon and setting it in the sink before fetching another, pointedly avoiding anything but the food on the stove. Nope, Gladio was on his own here. He would have to do this himself.

Fuck.

He turned back to Noctis and Prompto, the former grinning at him in devious delight and the latter nearly bouncing with anticipation in his chair. He opened his mouth, tried to say something. Nothing came out.

“What was that?” Noct asked, goading him on. “I didn’t hear you.”

“C’mon, Noct-”

“I’m waiting.

It was the sing-song voice that really annoyed Gladio. He scowled at Noct, though of course that only made the prince’s smile widen. “Little shit,” he muttered.

“Y’know, when you said you wanted to get Iggy laid, I didn’t think you were actually gonna do it yourself. But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?”

“Hold on a moment. This, again?” Ignis asked sharply, turning around for the first time since the truth had come out. He peered over at Gladio questioningly; the flush was fading from his face, replaced by an intense sort of disapproval.  “Exactly how many people knew you were trying to get me laid? And how long was this plan in motion?”

“Iggy, it’s nothing,” Gladio said quickly. “Just something stupid I said-”

“He said he wanted to get you laid!” Prompto helpfully supplied. “Because you were so stressed out and everything.”

Ignis pursed his lips, staring hard at Gladio. “And when was this?” he asked. 

“Uh… couple months ago now? Maybe? He mentioned it to us once; we almost made a bet on it, didn't we?” Prompto shrugged. “Dunno! We just assumed he’d failed. But uh, guess he didn’t after all!” He laughed and grinned at the both of them, feeling none of the tension in the air that had the rest of them on tenterhooks.

For a second, Gladio thought he was doomed.

Ignis was going to scold him, was going to call him a meddling idiot, was going to glare at him and tell him that he was perfectly capable of getting laid all on his own, thank you very much.

And he was, for sure. Gladio had no doubts about Ignis’ ability to get some tail - not when he’d experienced first hand the way the guy could kiss, the things he could do with his tongue, the way he - okay, so now probably wasn’t the best time to be thinking about any of that. The last thing he needed right now was a fucking boner. Not when Ignis looked like he was torn between ripping his own hair out and yelling at Gladio until he was blue in the face.

Shit.

Shit shit shit shit shit.

“Look, Iggy, I only really tried the one time,” he said quickly. “That one night, where we went to the club? I gave up after that, I swear. I-”

“Gladio.”

Gladio tensed, breathing catching in his throat. Ignis’ lips were pursed, his jaw tight, and that line in his forehead definitely hadn’t been there before today. “Yeah?” he asked, preparing himself for the worst.

“You… are an idiot.”

Was… was that it? No, it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t just let this go. There would be some form of punishment, he was sure, some repercussions for this.

Still. Couldn’t hurt to agree with Ignis, right? Maybe that would get him a few points.

“Yeah. I know.”

Ignis sighed heavily, rolling his eyes. “But now you’re my idiot, so do try and keep your tendency to meddle to yourself lest it reflect poorly on the both of us.” He pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose with a finger and flashed Gladio a look, a dark one that suggested they would talk more later. But for now, it seemed, he was willing to let the matter go, and Gladio shot him a grateful smile.

Ignis coolly ignored him, walking over to present two steaming bowls of pasta to Noctis and Prompto.

Gladio stifled a sigh.

Yep.

He was definitely in trouble later.

* * * * *

 

“Hey.”

Ignis looked up, surprised to see Noctis standing so close to him. He hadn’t heard the prince approach, a testament, perhaps, to the whirlwind of thoughts swirling through his mind. He took the empty plate from Noct’s fingers, setting in the sink with the others to soak. “Yes, Noct?”

“I’m happy for you guys. Really.”

Ignis glanced over to the sofa, where Prompto and Gladio were busy playing some sort of video game, totally engrossed in the killing of enemies. Prompto was winning, if Gladio’s scowl was any indication. As he watched, half of the screen darkened, a text box popping up to declare the player dead, and Gladio groaned.

“How did you not die there?” he demanded. “That explosion should’ve gotten everyone!”

“Dunno!” Prompto crowed, laughing at Gladio’s dismay. “But I made it, buddy!”

“Fucking jacked up, is what it is,” Gladio retorted.

“Aw, you mad, bro?”

“I’ll show you mad here in a minute.”

“Ooh, grumpy!”

Ignis turned back towards Noctis with a fond smile. “Thank you, Noct,” he murmured. “I appreciate that.”

“Gotta say though - wasn’t exactly expecting this.”

Ignis snored. “Neither was I, to be honest.”

Noctis shifted, leaning forward on his elbows. “I didn’t think Gladio liked guys that way.”

“He doesn’t,” Ignis said slowly. “Or at least, he’s not certain that he does.”

“Then, how does that…?”

“He likes me,” Ignis said, trying as best as he could to explain the situation. “That, he has made abundantly clear. Whether or not he is attracted to other men is something I believe he’s still figuring out.”

“Huh.” Noctis paused. “Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter, so long as you like him and he likes you.” He looked over at Ignis then, a knowing look in his eyes. “He know you’ve been crushing on him since you were twelve?”

Ignis pursed his lips. “I was not twelve -”

“Okay, thirteen.”

Ignis sighed. “He does not.”

“You gonna tell him, then?”

Ignis hesitated. “I should,” he said. “Though I don’t want to scare him off with the depth of my feelings for him.”

“I don’t think you would,” Noctis said thoughtfully.

“You think he would rather know the truth?”

“Mmm. Yeah. I think so.” Noctis shrugged. “It’s what I would want. Although,” he added, grinning up at Ignis, “I might be a little miffed at myself for not noticing it before.”

Ignis snorted. “Yes, well, there are many things Gladio doesn’t notice.”

“Plenty he does, though.”

“Indeed.” Ignis turned away, leaning his hip against the edge of the counter. “And what of you and Prompto?”

Noctis raised an eyebrow. “What about us?”

“What did Prompto say, when you told him that you were in love with him?” Ignis asked softly.

Their situations were almost comically alike, he mused. Prompto and Noctis had known each other for a long time, since they had gone to the same elementary school. It was only later, however, in high school, that they had become friends. After that, they had been nigh unseparable, one hardly seen without the other close behind.

And somewhere along the line, Noctis, despite his best attempts to hide it, had fallen in love.

Ignis had known, of course, almost as soon as Noctis did himself. Few could claim to know the prince better, after all, and certainly no one spent more time with him than did Ignis. He had noticed the lingering stares, the longing glint in his eyes, the way his voice would go all wistful whenever he spoke of his friend.

But he had hidden it, kept it a secret for years, too worried over what might go wrong, not allowing himself to hope that things could go right. Ignis had watched him hide his feelings, watched him suffer as Prompto went through several relationships, back to back to back. He had watched Noctis attempt to be happy for his friend, trying to put on a brave face and smile and get to know the men and women Prompto brought him to meet. Ignis had understood, had sympathized. He had recognized the fake, too bright smile Noctis had plastered upon his face.

For it was exactly the same smile that he had always worn, when Gladio had taken him to meet his past girlfriends. They were nice girls, surely - except for that one, Julia, Ignis absolutely detested her, but he felt justified in this considering that Iris and Clarus and Noctis, and well, everyone else, had hated her as well - but that had done nothing to ease the hollow ache he had been left with after meeting them.

But Noctis was lucky in a way that Ignis hadn’t been - Prompto had always been openly bisexual, liking the company of men and women alike. Eventually, he had admitted to Noctis that he had developed some feelings of his own, that he no longer considered the prince to be just his friend. On Ignis’ advice, the two had talked about it, discussing this potential shift in their relationship and whether or not their friendship was something they wanted to risk. They had ultimately decided that it was, of course, taking a chance on the idea of having something greater than mere friendship. And now they were happily together, and had been for nearly four years.

He was curious, then, what precisely had occurred between the two on that fateful day, what words had been said. He had never asked.

Noctis shrugged. “Nothing,” he replied. “He didn’t say anything.”

“Prompto said nothing,” Ignis said flatly. “Prompto  - said nothing?”

“I know,” Noctis said, grinning. “The only time I’ve ever dumbfounded him. But yeah - nothing. He just hugged me, real tight. Kinda looked like he was gonna cry, too. For a second, I thought he would. But he didn’t. Just held me. And then he kissed me.”

“Mmm.”  Gladio let out another loud yell of frustration, threatening to throw the controller through the television - though he would do no such thing, Ignis was sure, his threats idle - and Ignis sighed. “Somehow, I doubt Gladio would be so quiet about it.”

“Oh, he'll have something to say, for sure,” Noctis agreed.

Ignis snorted. “He always does.”

“It’ll be good though.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah.” Noctis’ grin shifted into a more genuine smile then, something warm and open and kind. “Because honestly, Specs? I have never seen Gladio look at anyone the way he just looked at you in the kitchen. Never.” He chuckled. "That's... kinda what gave it away, to be honest." 

Ignis smiled, pleased at this admission.

“Honestly, it was a little disgusting,” Noctis continued. “I feel a little dirty for watching it-”

“Alright,” Ignis interjected. “That’s enough from you.”

“What’s he done, now?”

It took Ignis a moment to realize Gladio had spoken to him, and when he did, he found Gladio had stood up, walking over to join them at the counter as Prompto turned off the console and stacked the controllers on the coffee table.

“It was nothing,” Ignis said, smiling. “I was just reminding Noct that he needs to leave now if he wishes to make it to the movie theater on time.”

“Shit,” Noctis said, standing up straight. “We gotta go.” He hurried over to the door, slipping his feet into a pair of shoes and shrugging on a coat. “C’mon, Prom, we’re gonna be late!”

“No, we won’t! We can run there!”

Noctis groaned. “I am not running to the theater.”

“You might have to,” Gladio muttered, looking down at his watch. “You only got twenty minutes.”

The prince groaned again, letting his head fall forward to rest against the wall. Prompto slung an arm over his shoulder, grinning. “C’mon, Noct, we can make it!” He threw open the door, giving Noct a push. “Just put one foot in front of the other!”

“I hate running.”

“It hates you too, buddy. Now, chop chop.”

Gladio grinned at Ignis as the door closed behind them. “Kids,” he said, shaking his head. “What’re you gonna do with ‘em?”

“Considerably less than I plan on doing with you later,” Ignis mused.

Gladio sucked in a sharp breath. “Yeah?” he asked, voice dropping half an octave.

“Indeed.” Ignis peered at him over the tops of his glasses, lips curving up into a smirk. “I still have to punish you for earlier.”

“Mmm.” Gladio licked his lips. “You make it sound like I'm gonna like it.” He reached out a hand for Ignis, trying to draw him in close, but Ignis batted his hand away, pointing towards the door.

“Maybe you will," Ignis allowed. "I have a few... ideas. Go back to your apartment while I finish cleaning up here. I’ll be but a moment.”

“Iggy-” Gladio groaned.

“Better yet - go back to your apartment and lie down on the bed. Naked, of course, I don’t want to deal with your clothing.” Ignis let his eyes drift down over Gladio’s body, enjoying the happy rumble the attention elicited. “Can you do that for me?”

“Yeah.”

“Touch yourself too - I want you ready for me when I get there.”

Gladio’s eyes darkened, and he swallowed. “I can do that.”

Ignis leaned forward, giving him the slightest kiss on the lips, a bare graze of one mouth against another. Gladio chased him hungrily, trying to catch him, but Ignis persisted, darting backwards.

“Later, Gladio.”

“Seriously, Iggy?”

Later.

* * * * *

Ignis was a sadist.

There was no other explanation, Gladio thought, huffing out another moan. There was no other godsdamned reason why Ignis would get him so fucking close to coming not once, not twice, but three times, only to withdraw right as the orgasm began to hit him, refusing to touch him until his erection had faded away to nothing. He was doing it again, his head buried between Gladio’s thighs, sucking at his cock slowly, like he had nothing better to do with his time. He would get Gladio right to the edge, right as his muscles started to lock and his knees started to shake.

And then he’d pull away, that fucking smirk on his face letting Gladio know he’d done it on purpose.

Again.

He supposed this was his punishment, for earlier. And honestly, as far as punishments went, it really wasn’t bad. This was certainly better than getting yelling at, or ignored, or… whatever else could have happened.

But this was getting a little ridiculous now, and he really, really fucking wanted to come, his dick almost painfully hard at this point.

“Iggy,” he panted, raising his head a little. “Please, you’re killin’ me here.”

Ignis hummed around the cock in his mouth, and Gladio had to bite his lip to stifle the embarrassing keening sound that threatened to spill from his mouth. As it was, an odd little whine escaped, and Ignis grinned, pulling back and letting Gladio’s cock slip from his mouth.

“Oh?” he asked, tilting his head to the side. It might have looked funny, considering how askew his glasses were, half-fogged up with heat, but Ignis managed to make it look sexy regardless. “You think you’ve been punished enough, then?” He traced a line down the length of Gladio’s cock with his finger. “You think it’s high time you earned a reward, instead?”

Gladio didn’t answer, sure this was a trick question.

Ignis chuckled at his silence. “I suppose I have let things go on long enough,” he mused. He sat back, gesturing for Gladio to roll over.

“How do you want me?” Gladio asked eagerly.

“Get on your hands and knees,” Ignis murmured. “With your rear facing me.”

Gladio did as he asked, though he wasn’t certain what Ignis was planning. He could feel the other moving behind him, removing clothing that he still, somehow, hadn’t managed to take off despite having been at this nearly a whole fucking hour. He looked over his shoulder and Ignis tsked at him, reaching a hand forward and twisting Gladio’s head back until he was facing the foot of the bed.

“No peeking,” he said sternly, running a hand up the curve of Gladio’s ass.

“What are you gonna do?” Gladio asked, anticipation making his voice breathier than normal.

“I want to try something,” Ignis replied, starting to knead the muscles beneath his palm. Gladio made a pleased noise, enjoying the way Ignis’ hand felt on him. It was callused, like his own, but the fingers were slimmer, more deft, as they worked their way across his ass. A second hand joined the first, pulling him, exposing him to the air, and he almost broke Ignis’ rule not to look.

The bed shifted then, as Ignis moved into a new position, legs swung around towards Gladio so that he was lying on his back. Gladio frowned, wondering what in the world the other was possibly doing - but then he felt something warm and wet and fucking fantastic pressed against him, and he quickly realized exactly what Ignis was doing.

“Fuck!” he cried out, falling down on his elbows as Ignis licked at him, tongue writhing sinuously at his entrance. He fucking felt it when Ignis chuckled at his response, when Ignis only buried his face deeper into Gladio’s ass in response, his mouth insistent, wet, and hot. Gods, it felt amazing; he buried his head in the crook of his elbow, breathing hard. He’d done this a few times, to a few girls who’d asked him to go a little farther down when he’d been eating them out. They’d all seemed to like it, but he’d always chalked that up to his technique, and not the fact that that area was apparently really fucking sensitive and shit, his skills were nothing compared to what Ignis’ tongue was currently doing.

He was shaking, literally shaking, on the bed. He didn’t know if it was because Ignis was just that great - likely - or because he was just so worked up from earlier - also likely - but he was fucking hard as a rock, heat pooling fast and hard between his legs.

He reached his free hand down and back, desperate for relief. He groaned at the first touch of his hand on his cock, thrusting up into his fist, thumb lingering at the slit. Gods, he was so fucking close, again, and yet, now that it was here, and he finally could come, he found he didn’t want to. He didn’t know whether to laugh or groan as he fought against the orgasm, torn between wanting to thrust his ass back into Ignis’ face and wanting to jerk his hips forward into his own, waiting palm.

Sweat was dripping down his face now, splashing onto the sheets below. His forehead was sliding against the skin of his forearm, making it hard to keep his position, and so he raised his head, throwing his head back even as Ignis pressed deeper with his tongue, managing to get the tip past the tight right of muscle and inside him.

That just about did him in, a rough, guttural sound leaving him as careened forward, hips snapping forward almost uncontrollably. Ignis withdrew his mouth then, abandoning his ass in favor of grabbing his cock, and Gladio nearly shouted, unable to hold it back any longer. He came hard over Ignis’ hand, a wordless shout torn from his throat. He nearly fell forward, muscles aching and spent, only catching himself at the very last moment.

But he recovered quickly, turning to Ignis to find him leisurely stroking his cock, licking come off his hand as he watched Gladio regain his composure. The sight of it awoke something in Gladio, something fierce and possessive, and he surged forward with a noise that sounded suspiciously like a growl, crushing their mouths together as his hand joined Ignis’, providing extra friction and heat and anything else Ignis needed as he chased his own release.

Ignis groaned, leaning back against the headboard, running his free hand down his chest and between his legs. Gladio watched, rapt, as he ran his fingers over his balls, toying with them, and then down further still, teasing the soft, sensitive skin he now knew lay there.

“Gladio,” Ignis breathed, breath coming in harsh gasps now, not nearly as unaffected as he’d seemed earlier.

“What d’you need, Iggy?” Gladio asked. “What do you want me to do?”

“Your mouth,” Ignis panted. “Please, your-” He sighed happily as Gladio obliged, scooting back just far enough that he could take Ignis’ cock into his mouth, letting his hand slide down to grip at the hard, tense muscles of his thighs.

Ignis hand came up to tangle in his hair, using the hold to guide him deeper and deeper, until Gladio thought he might choke. Still, Ignis held him there, fucking his face a few times until he let out one, long drawn-out groan, collapsing back against the pillows as his body went slack.

Gladio withdrew as soon as he was certain Ignis had finished, pulling his body toward him as he collapsed back onto the sheets.

Ignis turned into him, breathing hard. “That was-”

“Yeah,” Gladio breathed, grinning into the expanse of damp, sweat-streaked hair tucked beneath his chin.

“I shouldn’t have teased you so much,” Ignis admitted. “It was… difficult for me to concentrate, what with all the noises you make.”

Gladio snorted. “And here I was thinkin’ I should piss you off more often,” he teased. “Gotta say, Iggy, I liked the results.”

Ignis swatted at him. “You’re terrible.”

“You love me anyways.”

Gladio felt Ignis tense against him, and he cursed, recognizing his error. Gods, what was he thinking, saying something like that? It was much too soon for that kind of thing, for that word, and he knew better, and Ignis wasn’t saying anything, and that couldn’t be a good sign, and shit -

“I… I do, yes.”

...what?   

Chapter Text

The decision had been a calculated move on Ignis’ part.

Though he knew Gladio’s choice of words was likely incidental, spoken without much thought for the implications behind them, Ignis saw the opportunity presented to him and took it without hesitation. A risk, perhaps, but one taken in the hopes of a greater reward - namely, having Gladio realize the true depths of his feelings. He hadn’t liked hiding such things from his friend when they were younger, and now he liked the thought of secrecy even less. His conversation with Noctis had only made that all the more clear to him.

Hands slightly shaking, he reached up to correct his glasses, sitting askew on the bridge of his nose. It wasn’t necessary - he could see perfectly fine without them at this distance. But it gave him something to do with his hands, something to distract him from the way that his heart was pounding against his ribcage, thrumming through his veins. For though it had been a necessary risk, a strategical move, even, that knowledge did little to slow the racing of his pulse.

It was the uncertainty that was making him uneasy. He still wasn’t sure how Gladio would react. He didn’t look angry, or frightened, and Ignis supposed that that was a good sign. But neither was he saying anything, and that was more than little worrying.

Should he wait for the other man to speak first, allow him to formulate his own thoughts and give them voice? Or would it be better for him to more fully explain himself?

The decision was made for him when Gladio suddenly spoke.

“You… love me?”

“Yes.” Ignis laced his voice with as much confidence as possible, letting Gladio know without the shadow of a doubt that he was sure of his feelings. “I-”

“You love me? Or you’re in love with me?”

“The latter, Gladio.”

“And - you - this -” Gladio snapped his mouth shut, frustrated. “How long?” he asked instead.

“Longer than I should care to admit,” Ignis replied.

“How long?” Gladio repeated.

“Since we were teenagers."  Ignis spoke slowly, choosing each word carefully as he said it. It wouldn't do for him to get tongue-tied here, or for him to say the wrong thing. Gladio's eyes watched him all the while, his entire attention upon Ignis. "I… I thought it a hopeless crush at first, and so I said nothing, thinking my feelings would resolve themselves, go away. For months, years, even, I kept waiting for that to happen. But it didn’t.”

“Shit,” Gladio breathed.

Ignis wasn't normally one for cursing or profanity, but he had to admit - it was an accurate summation of his sudden revelation.

“Indeed.”

“But you never said anything.”

“And what would I have said, Gladio?” Ignis asked, lifting an eyebrow. “You never gave me any indication that my feelings would be reciprocated.”

“Well, no, but I wouldn’t have... I wouldn’t have… dammit.” Gladio ran a hand through his hair, brows drawn down over his eyes in thought. “I don’t have a clue what I would’ve done. Or said.”

“Nor did I.”

“Did anyone know?”

Ignis nodded, not quite able to meet Gladio in the eye as he revealed this truth. It felt like an omission, a secret, something he had purposefully hidden. Which, of course, it was, and for good reason. But it still made him feel slightly guilty to admit that though he had kept such a thing from Gladio - who kept nothing from him, so far as he knew - one other knew the truth. One other knew his secret.

“One person did,” he admitted. “Though it was speculation on their part - it wasn’t something that I told them.”

“Noct,” Gladio breathed.

“Mmm.”

“He guessed, you said?”

“It was when he first developed feelings for Prompto, I think. He asked me one day if we could talk. I agreed, naturally, though I presumed he wanted to discuss something more… well, school, perhaps, or his relationship with his father.”

“Noct, talking about school?” Gladio snorted.

“In retrospect, I was a little… optimistic,” Ignis agreed, lips drawing up into a faint smile.

“So what did he ask then, if it wasn’t about the King?”

Ignis’ smile faded, as quickly as it had appeared. “He asked what it was like to be in love with someone who didn’t return my feelings,” he said.

Gladio grimaced, his hand tightening where it lay on Ignis’ hip.

“I thought about denying it at first, pretending that I had no idea what he was talking about,” Ignis continued. “But something about the look on his face stopped me. It was… so sad, Gladio, so miserable. I hadn’t the heart to lie to him then.”

“What did you say?”

“Hmm?”

“To Noct,” Gladio clarified. “How did you answer?”

“I told him that it was difficult at the best of times,” Ignis admitted. “Tortuous at the worst.” He shifted, hating that Gladio had had to ask him this of all questions, and yet he would not lie to the man. He would not conceal the truth from him, no matter how much it hurt.

And that was the truth, harsh as it might have been - being near Gladio in those early years had been… hard, to say the least. To fall in love with a stranger was easy; they could be avoided and nothing would seem amiss. But to develop feelings for your best friend… had he simply stopped associating with Gladio, he had no doubt that Gladio would’ve demanded to know why, that he would want to know what was bothering Ignis. And Ignis wouldn’t have been able to lie. He would have had to speak the truth, Gladio’s eyes on him as potent as mythical truth serum, and then all would have been ruined. 

One friendship, destroyed in a mere moment.

That had been his greatest fear - and still was, even now -  even worse than the fear of Gladio never returning his feelings. He had dreaded the possibility that he would wreck everything they had developed, and all because he had had the audacity to fall in love with-

“I’m a fucking idiot.”

Ignis blinked, surprised enough to look up into Gladio’s face.

“It’s so fucking obvious to me now,” he continued. His eyes kept darting back and forth, visualizing memories and conversations long since passed. “Gods, Iggy, I must’ve been such a jackass, makin’ you meet all those girls, tryin’ to set you up on dates all the time-”

“I never thought as much.”

“C’mon-”

“I didn’t,” Ignis said truthfully. “You didn’t know. You couldn’t have known. I took great pains to keep my feelings to myself, Gladio, and I was very careful to hide them from you.”

“Still, I should’ve-”

“Gladio.”

With a groan, Gladio let his head fall onto Ignis’ shoulder, burying his face in the crook of his neck. For several long moments, he stayed like that, breathing in deep, as if the very scent of Ignis’ skin was a comfort to him. When he spoke again, his voice was quiet, soft. Resigned, almost.

“Yeah, I know,” he muttered, lips tickling where they moved against Ignis’ skin. “I just… fuck, I don’t know. I feel like I should apologize. All these years, you liked me, and I -” His head jerked up then, eyes boring into Ignis like drills. “Is that why you said you were frightened, the other day? Because - because you love me?”

Ignis nodded. “As I said then, I wouldn’t know how to go back to only being your friend,” he said, “not now that I know what this can feel like.” He brought a hand up to Gladio’s face, tentatively running his fingers along the lines of Gladio’s jaw, fingertips catching on the rough stubble.

“Ignis…”

“Don’t pity me,” Ignis warned, feeling the beginnings of the emotion lacing Gladio’s voice. “Don’t you dare.”

“I don’t.”

“I haven’t any need for your sympathy. That isn’t why I told you this.”

Gladio frowned. “Why did you tell me?”

“So that you would know the truth,” Ignis replied. “I don’t like hiding things from you, Gladio, I never have. And this… seems a rather large thing to hide.”

“Yeah.”

“I wanted you to know that, despite my initial misgivings about this relationship, I do care for you very much,” Ignis continued. He accentuated this with a kiss, leaning forward and pressing his lips to Gladio’s, trying to throw all of the adoration and love that he felt for this man into the gesture. “And it is because of those feelings that I was hesitant, reluctant to put myself in a position where I could get hurt.” He kissed Gladio again, taking heart in the way the other’s arms tightened around him, drawing him in close. “You deserve to know. You should know, even if you cannot reciprocate the feelings I have for you.”

To his surprise, Gladio chuckled. Ignis drew back, startled, only to find Gladio staring down at him, amber eyes gone very, very soft. “You sure I don’t?” he asked.

Ignis’ breath caught in his throat. “Gladio, don’t, not unless you-”

“I’m not saying anything just yet.” Gladio shrugged. “I don’t say shit like that unless I mean it. Unless I know it’s true, no doubts.”

“Then… why-”

Again, Gladio chuckled, lips curving up into a smile. “I’m falling for you, Iggy. Hard. Known it for a while now, too. It might not be enough to call it ‘love’ just yet, but there’s something there.” He snorted, shaking his head at himself. “I, uh, definitely like you. A lot. More than I’ve liked anyone in a long time.”

Ignis found that he was at a loss for words, too happy to speak.  

“And honestly? You tellin’ me that you love me, that you have for years? I feel like an idiot, yeah, and an ass. But I’m also really fucking happy.”

Noct was right, Ignis thought, keeping still as Gladio leaned in, nuzzling him with his nose. He isn’t angry at all. He’s…

Happy.

Gladio kissed him outright then, rolling them over so that he lay atop Ignis, pressing him down into the mattress, and all Ignis could think about was wrapping his arms around that strong back, about pulling Gladio down into him and letting his tongue ravish his mouth.

And so that was exactly what he did, worries falling to the side as Gladio worshipped him with his lips. They were soft, sweet kisses, not meant to arouse, but to show affection, and Ignis drank them up, desperate for his touch. 

He would never get enough of this, he thought. Never. Not even if he and Gladio stayed together for the rest of their lives, til they were old and grey. He was greedy, always wanting more. 

Gladio sighed against him, murmuring his name as his deepened the kiss, one hand cradling the back of Ignis' head. 

No, he would never be satiated. It would never be enough. 

But this - this moment, Gladio's kisses, his words, his affection - was a start. And for now, that would suffice. 

* * * * *

When Gladio came to the next morning, Ignis was already awake, thumbing through pages of emails on his phone. He hadn’t moved from Gladio’s side, however, their legs still lazily tangled together, and Gladio took that as an invitation to cuddle in closer, pressing his face to the side of Ignis’ hair.

“Good morning,” Ignis said.

“Mornin’,” Gladio replied. “Anything good in there?”

“Nothing terribly important. The usual - notifications of meetings and appointments, requests for the prince’s presence, advertisements for various services and stores…” He exited out of the application, lying the phone down on the other side of the bed.

“I’m half surprised you aren’t already up and ready to go. Not that I’m complaining,” Gladio added, running a hand up Ignis’ chest until he could wrap it around his ribcage.

“I considered it,” Ignis admitted. “But then I realized I could read through my emails in bed just as well as I could sitting at a table.” He turned, smiling, and the sight of it made something in Gladio’s chest twist happily. “Not to mention, the company here is much more pleasant.”

“Yeah?” Gladio leaned down, pressing a kiss to Ignis’ temple.

“Most definitely.”

Ignis leaned into him, lifting his face so that Gladio could kiss him properly, one hand coming up to tangle in Gladio’s unkempt hair.

It started slow, a gentle press of mouths, and perhaps it would have stayed as such, had either of them had any amount of self-control when it came to the other. And Gladio couldn’t really speak for Ignis, but he knew he sure as hell didn’t possess any measure of willpower when it came to kissing, or touching, or -

He shifted, the movement bringing their hips together, and a breathy little moan escaped Ignis’ lips. The sound of it went straight to Gladio’s groin, his cock half-hard between his thighs, and he deepened the kiss, not caring that it was morning and neither of them had brushed their teeth yet, not minding that they hadn’t really cleaned up after they’d had sex last night, or that, all things considered, he was probably in desperate need of some basic morning hygienics, because this was Ignis and he loved Gladio, and Gladio wanted him.

Now.

But then Ignis pulled away, pushing back at his chest, smiling apologetically. “Much as I would love to stay and continue this,” he murmured, “I need to leave.”

“No,” Gladio said, snaking a hand around Ignis’ back and grabbing him by the ass, pressing their bodies into contact once more. “Stay.”

Ignis moaned again, but he shook his head, persistent. “I can’t, ” he replied, grabbing Gladio’s arm by the wrist and forcing it away. “I have to be halfway across the Citadel by nine, and there are documents from my apartment that I must bring with me.”

“I’ll be quick.”

Ignis laughed. “Gladio, nothing with you is ever quick,” he teased.

Gladio scowled.

“You’ll have to do without me for one morning, I fear,” Ignis continued, sitting up and running a hand through his hair.

“Fine.”

“No need to sound so petulant.”

“Can you blame me? My hand isn’t as good as yours.”

“I suppose not.” Ignis paused, and then turned to look at Gladio, a mischievous look on his face. “But speaking of your hand… I have an idea.”

Gladio liked the way Ignis said that, the way his lips quirked up into a smirk. “Yeah?”

“You’re going to take a shower, yes?” Ignis asked. “Why don’t you… use your hand on yourself? The way that I suggested the other day.”

A hot spike of lust lanced through Gladio at the notion, his body flooding with heat at the thought. Ignis was suggesting that he fuck himself on his own fingers. Ignis wanted him to fucking practice opening himself up wide, to get his body used to the feelings of having something shoved up his ass.

Yeah, okay.

He could do that.

“Ah, wait,” he said, sitting up as Ignis moved to get off the bed.

“Yes?”

“I don’t have anything to use,” Gladio admitted.

“No?” Ignis chuckled, walking over to his bag. He bent down, giving Gladio a rather spectacular view of his ass in the process, searching for something in one of the pockets. He stood slowly, no doubt on purpose, letting Gladio watch all of the various muscles contract and lengthen as he straightened, and then turned, throwing something towards him.

Gladio caught it with one hand, looking down. He barked out a laugh when he saw that it was a small packet of lubricant.

“You had this in your bag?” he asked. “The one you take to meetings and shit?”

Ignis winked at him. “Luck favors the prepared, Gladio.”

Gladio stood, not bothering to hide his nakedness as he walked over to where Ignis stood, attempting to loop his belt through his pants. “You’re so fucking hot, do you know that?” he asked.

Ignis eyed him, gaze flicking from Gladio’s face and then down… down… and then lower still, settling on his cock. His smirk deepened, and he looked back up, raising an eyebrow. “I could say the same of you,” he replied.

Gladio kissed him again, lingering even though he knew he shouldn’t, hands moving over the planes of Ignis’ still bare chest. He could have stayed there all day, had Ignis not pushed him away.

“I have to go,” he repeated.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Heard you the first time.”

“Then leave me be, you handsy brute, and go take that shower.”

“Wanna watch?”

Ignis’ sharp intake of breath was more than enough of an answer for him.

It was a hell fucking yes and a gods, please all rolled into one.

Not that Ignis would ever say something like that. Not out loud, not when he was still in control of himself, fully dressed and composed.

No, he didn’t say anything. Instead, he stepped forwards, eyes blown black with desire, and pulled Gladio towards him, capturing his mouth hungrily, greedily even, sucking his lower lip into his mouth and biting down, hard.

Gladio groaned, snaking a hand down his torso to palm his cock as Ignis ravished his mouth. It felt so good when Ignis kissed him, so good, like it was the first time all over again. He was aggressive, dominant, and not very gentle, and it was everything Gladio wanted, all the time, tongue and teeth and heat.

All too soon, Ignis was pulling away, smiling at Gladio one last time before finally making good on his promise and leaving. The door opened and closed, the only sounds in the all too still apartment, and Gladio was left alone.

He had never gotten into the shower so quickly in his life. The water was still only lukewarm when he stepped underneath the spray, but that hardly mattered, his thoughts on one thing and one thing only, and that was getting himself the hell off.

With his hand.

Up his ass.

He leaned back against the tiled shower wall, giving his cock a few perfunctory strokes to warm up. He imagined it was Ignis’ hand on him, Ignis’ long, skilled fingers wrapped around his dick. He thought of the way Ignis would talk to him through the motions, the way his sexy voice would go rough and husky with lust, the way he would kiss at Gladio’s neck and chest as he worked at his cock.

With such vivid memories to guide him, it was only a few minutes before he was bucking forward into his palm, fingers sticky with the precome dripping from his cock, breath coming in harsh pants. Gladio had to force himself to stop, releasing his grip on his length and picking up the small packet of lube.

He tore into it with his teeth, letting it pour out onto the fingers of his right hand. He wasn’t sure how much to use, and so he just covered them completely, setting the packet down before bracing himself against the shower wall.

How to do this?

He should probably start slow. Yeah, that was what Ignis had done the other night.

He trailed his hand down his backside, hesitantly pressing one finger against his entrance. The slight pressure was just okay, nothing great, and so he pushed, forcing one tip inside. He tried to relax his muscles, tried not to clench down on the intruding digit, but he quickly found out it that was a lot harder to do when it was his hand and not Ignis’. Gritting his teeth, he forced the finger further in, only just allowing himself to get used to the sensation before he started thrusting it in and out.

Now that felt better, he thought, and his dick agreed, twitching as he managed to sink the finger in deeper and deeper with each pass.

He tried a second when he thought he could take it, easing it in alongside the first. He groaned, the stretch of it burning, and he had to still his hand for a moment, trembling against the shower wall. He brought his free hand up to his cock, wilted a little from the pain, stroking it a few times until he was rocking forward into his hand again, the fingers in his ass almost forgotten. Only then did he start moving the digits, twisting them the way Ignis had done, searching for that one spot that had felt so fucking fantastic when Ignis had rubbed his fingers against it.

It was hard work. His fingers were bigger than Ignis’, but not longer, and he didn’t know what he was looking for. Frustrated, he shoved his fingers in a little harder than he had before, a rough gasp torn from his lips at the feel of it.

“Gods,” he breathed, sagging against the tiles.

What would it feel like when Ignis finally fucked him? Would it be like that, rough, making him ache for more? Fuck, he hoped so.

He drew his fingers out and then slammed them back in, again, and again, and again. Harder, he thought to himself, and his hand rushed to obey.

Almost by accident, he brushed against his prostate, and he shouted, a white-hot flash of pleasure surging through him at the touch. It was the oddest sort of feeling he had ever experienced, a heavy, deep sort of pleasure that left him panting and near shaking under the spray of the water.

Again, he thought, more.

Now that he knew where to find it, hitting his prostate with each thrust of his fingers was easy. He added a third finger easily, the pleasure overriding everything else as he kept fucking himself on his hand. He was so hard now, precome literally dripping from his cock, and gods, he just wanted to come, so fucking bad.

He slammed his fingers in again, leaning hard against the wall, keeping them pressed against his prostate when he found it.

Gods, it was too much, he almost couldn’t take it.

He pulled his fingers out and then thrust them forward again, one more time, and then he was coming, his mind going completely blank as the orgasm took him, a low, wordless cry torn from his lips. It was more of a rasp, to be honest, his throat sore from his ragged breathing, and fuck, but now that he was done, his ass was aching too. He withdrew his hand, sinking down to his knees, arms and thighs quivering as they held up his weight.

Fuck, that had been hot.

He let out a weak laugh, closing his eyes as the water dripped into them. Ignis had been right - he had enjoyed it. It was freaking fantastic, and even though he thought he’d have some trouble sitting down today, considering how hard he’d been on himself, he already couldn’t wait to do it again.

Tentatively, he brought a hand around to his backside, feeling around. He was surprised to find his hole still stretched out, wide and gaping to have accommodated his fingers.

Yeah. That was definitely gonna be sore for a while.

He laughed again, imagining the limp he was likely to have as he walked into the training rooms.

Gods, Cor was going to give him such shit.

And he couldn’t even bring himself to care.

* * * * *

“I heard a rumor today, while I was accompanying Noctis to the training facilities to spar with Prompto,” Ignis offered, handing Gladio a steaming plate of food. “It concerned you.”

“Yeah?” Gladio took the plate eagerly, digging in with gusto.

Ignis sat down beside him, taking care to tuck his napkin into his shirt before picking up his knife and fork. “Mmm. It seems to have been noticed that you had a pronounced limp in your stride this morning.”

To his surprise, Gladio snorted, pausing to take a drink. “Couldn’t exactly hide it,” he replied. “I may have… uh, been a little rough on myself in the shower this morning.”

“Oh?” Ignis set his fork down, food momentarily forgotten. “Do tell.”

“What’s there to tell?” Gladio said, shrugging. “I was into it, that’s all.”

“Then you did as I suggested?”

Gladio nodded. “Don’t think it was as good as it would’ve been if you’d done it,” he admitted. “But I, uh, got the job done.”

“And you prefer it rough?”

“Seems like it.”

“I see.” Ignis chuckled. “I’ll have to remember that.”

“And you? How d’you like it, Iggy?”

Ignis raised an eyebrow. “Do you really want me to tell you, Gladio? Or would you prefer to find our yourself, through trial and error?” Gladio hesitated, thinking this through, and Ignis smirked.

“Fair point,” Gladio finally replied.

They finished their meal in silence, both of them too hungry for much conversation. It had been a long day for Ignis, nothing unusual, but busy enough that he’d had to skip lunch. He’d been greatly relieved when his appointment had finished early and he’d gotten to return to his apartment, pleasantly surprised to find Gladio already there, having let himself in with the spare key Ignis had given him years ago, napping quietly on the couch.

Ignis hadn’t had the heart to wake him, though the scent of cooking anak steak had done the job for him.

“Hey.”

Ignis looked up just in time to see Gladio set his empty plate aside. “Yes?” he asked.

“What do we tell people?”

“I’m uncertain what you mean, Gladio.”

Gladio shrugged. “If people are talkin’ about me already, doesn’t seem like we’re gonna be able to hide this much longer,” he replied, gesturing to himself and then Ignis to indicate that he meant their relationship. “So… what do we do?”

“I don’t think it’s anyone’s business what you or I do with our free time,” Ignis replied. He stood, gathering up Gladio’s dirty plate and walking to the kitchen.

Gladio followed him - albeit at a noticeably slower than usual pace, Ignis couldn’t help but notice, barely suppressing a grin.

“I agree,” Gladio said, leaning forward onto the counter. “But what if someone asks? Do we… lie? Tell ‘em the truth?”

“I would tell them the truth,” Ignis said slowly. “Though I think that will affect your reputation more than my own.”

Gladio blinked. “My reputation?” he repeated.

“Oh, come now, Gladio, you must know what people say about you behind your back,” Ignis replied, “what they say about your… sexual endeavors. If they suddenly learn that you’re dating me, you’ll no doubt be the target of many an unwanted question.”

“So?” Gladio challenged. “Let ‘em ask. I’m not ashamed of you.”

Ignis did smile then, a reflection of the warmth Gladio’s words sent coursing through him. “Nor I of you.”

“Then it’s settled. We’re dating. You’re my boyfriend. If anyone asks, that's what I tell 'em.”

“Yes.”

Gladio shifted, standing up straight, and winced, bringing a hand around to his lower back. “Fuck, you got any painkillers?” he asked. “My ass is killin’ me.”

Ignis made an amused sound, as tickled at Gladio’s words as at how easily he changed the subject from something serious to something small. Like it was nothing - and maybe it was nothing, to Gladio, a confirmation more than anything. The thought made him happy.

“Of course,” he said, moving towards the bathroom. “Lie down on the couch, I’ll get them for you.”

Gladio did as he asked, propping his head up on a throw pillow. He took the pills and glass of water Ignis gave him, smiling gratefully. “Thanks, Iggy.”

“You shouldn’t have been so rough on yourself,” Ignis admonished.

Gladio grunted. “Worth it, though,” he said.

“Would that I had been there,” Ignis mused.

Gladio caught his hand, bringing him in for a kiss. “Don’t you worry,” he said, grinning. “I’ll show you - anytime you like.” He shifted, and then winced. “Okay, not tonight though. Too fuckin’ sore for that.”

Ignis laughed. “Later, then,” he agreed, letting himself be drawn in for another kiss.

Gladio hummed happily against his lips.

“I like the sound of that.”

Chapter Text

“Mmm.”

“Do you like that?”

“Mmm!”

He couldn’t talk for some reason. His lips were forming the shapes of the words and his tongue was going through the motions of speech, but no sound was coming out. It was alright, though, Gladio thought. Nothing bad was going to happen, he could tell. This was a good silence, a warm, comforting kind of silence, like when you were nestled up in a bunch of blankets on a lazy morning, just lounging around in bed.

Well.

Not entirely like that.

Were he just lazing about, Ignis wouldn’t have been here with him, lying between his thighs and sucking lazily at his cock while his fingers circled around Gladio’s entrance, slipping inside every so often with a careful, shallow thrust.

Gladio sighed, the pleasure building with every little movement, pushing back against those fingers and trying to force them deeper. But Ignis was too smart for that, adjusting the positioning of his hand so that Gladio got nothing more than fingertips each and every time. Gladio groaned in frustration, using a leg to try and pin Ignis into place.

But again, Ignis evaded him, chuckling around Gladio’s cock in his mouth.

It wasn’t fair, Gladio thought, and the teasing had gone on long enough. He was fully erect now, the heat in his belly going white-hot when Ignis swallowed around his length. He licked a long stripe up Gladio’s cock, flicking the flat of his tongue around the head, and then swallowed him again, burying his nose in the dark hair at the apex of his thighs.

Gladio bucked up involuntarily, hips snapping forward into that wet, insistent heat. That earned him another chuckle, and then the fingers in his ass withdrew, a pair of hands pressing him back down into the mattress, holding him still.

He made a mournful noise at the loss, and tried to reach for Ignis.

“Gladio?”

Ignis drew away, the husky quality to his voice changed to sudden concern.

“Are you alright?”

Vexed, Gladio reached for him again, only to find there was nothing for him to grab onto. He opened his mouth to speak, intent on asking Ignis what he was doing, but still, he couldn’t speak, the noises dying on his lips, and he scowled, frustration-

“Gladio!”

Gladio jerked awake, the call of his name and a sudden, unexpected pressure on his thighs waking him from his dream.

He tensed, surprised to find someone in his bedroom when he knew he'd gone to bed alone, and then instinctively twisted, forcing whoever it was sitting atop his lap to the bed, pinned beneath his weight. His hands were his like vices on their arms, and his hips held theirs in a iron grip. 

“Gladio, let me go this instant!”

He blinked, instantly recognizing the voice. “Iggy?”

“Who did you think it was?”

“Shit.” Gladio sat back, relinquishing his hold on the other man’s forearms in favor of turning on a nearby lamp. The light enabled him to see Ignis glaring up at him, massaging one of his wrists with a gloved hand. One of his very red wrists, Gladio noted sheepishly. He must’ve used more force than he’d thought. “Sorry.”

Ignis huffed out a frustrated breath. “I suppose I should have attempted to wake you first, before I crawled into your lap at this hour,” he murmured. “I might have known you’d react this way.”

“Part of the training,” Gladio replied. “Attack first, think later - especially when it’s night and you wake up with someone over top of you.”

“As I said, my mistake.” Ignis snorted. “I suppose that’s what I get for attempting to be romantic.”

Romantic? Ignis had snuck in to see him, thinking to… 

Oh. 

Oh.

A lance of pure want surged through him. 

Shit. He’d really fucked this one up.

“Did I hurt you?” Gladio reached down, grabbing the wrist Ignis was favoring. Angry marks dotted the flesh, the imprints of fingertips still marked onto his pale skin, and Gladio grimaced.

“It’s nothing.”

“Bullshit, Iggy-”

“It’s nothing, Gladio,” Ignis repeated. “When your skin is as pale as mine, every little mark and indentation looks worse than it actually is. Now-” He paused, removing his arm from Gladio’s grasp and propping himself up on his elbows. “Are you going to get off me, or shall I push you?”

Gladio looked down at their bodies, at the way his legs framed Ignis’ hips and how his cock, still half-hard from his dream, pressed at Ignis’ groin. He wiggled around a little bit, pleased at Ignis’ sharp inhaled breath. “Dunno,” he said, testing the waters to see if Ignis was really as annoyed as he was putting on, “I kinda like it here.”

Ignis lifted his eyebrows. “Do you now?” One of his hands came up to Gladio’s hip, resting gently atop the skin.

So no, then. Not irritated at all. 

“Mmm.” Gladio rolled his hips again, more boldly this time, and Ignis matched the movement with one of his own, shifting just enough that their bodies were aligned. The press of his half-hard cock against Gladio’s was enough to make him groan, and Gladio leaned down, hands on either side of Ignis’ head. “Yeah. I do.”

“I like it as well,” Ignis murmured. “This angle is… particularly intriguing.”

“Yeah?”

“It makes me wonder.”

“What about?”

“What it would feel like, to have you there, riding me,” Ignis replied, smirking. “It would give me the perfect view of your face, you know. I would see every little change in your expression, every little movement-”

Gladio groaned. “Fuck, that’s hot.”

“Of course it’s not necessarily the most ideal position for your first time,” Ignis continued. The hand on Gladio’s hip was moving in small circles now, edging closer and closer to the waistband of his pants. Gladio wanted nothing more to than to grab it and shove between his thighs, but he resisted, still too hung up on Ignis’ words.

Suddenly, Ignis shifted, pushing Gladio away and forcing him into a new position on his hands and knees, facing away from Ignis. “What-”

Gladio’s question died in his throat when Ignis sidled up behind him, his still-clothed cock pressing at the curve of Gladio’s ass. He leaned forward, chest aligning with Gladio’s spine, his lips at Gladio’s ear. “I think this way might be better,” he murmured. He snaked a hand forward, gently pushing on Gladio’s shoulders until he was lying on his forearms, face pressed against the blankets. “Face down, ass up.”

Gladio shuddered. “Shit.”

“Not to your liking?”

“No, very much to my liking,” Gladio said, correcting him.

“Mmm.” Ignis straightened, looking down at Gladio. “Of course, I hardly think I would be able to restrain myself this way,” he murmured. “You’re so delectable like this. I wouldn’t want to hurt you.”

Gladio pushed himself back up onto his hands, looking back over his shoulder. “Don’t worry about that. You won’t.”

Ignis frowned. “Gladio-”

Gladio shook his head. “I’ve, ah... been practicing,” he admitted.

Ignis’ eyes went wide, and he darted his tongue out to wet his lips, catching the lower one with his teeth and dragging it back inside his mouth. Gods, but it was sexy, and Ignis’ next words had his cock literally twitching in his sweats.

“Show me.”

Gladio hesitated only a moment, and then he was scrambling away, grabbing for the lube he’d bought a few days ago. The bottle was already half-empty, and he would’ve been a little embarrassed about that had Ignis not noticed it and fucking leered at him in response. “My, my, you have been busy,” he teased.

“Shut up,” Gladio snapped, kicking off his pants and underwear and rolling onto his knees.

Ignis chuckled, removing his shirt, letting it fall to the floor with significantly more grace than had been given to Gladio’s pants. He started working at his belt next, one hand undoing the brass buckle and the other already working at the zipper.

Gladio popped the cap off the bottle, letting the liquid drip out onto his waiting fingers before he reached around behind his back. His arm was just long enough to do this comfortably, he’d found, and he used his other arm to spread the cheeks of his ass, giving him more room to work.

The first finger slid inside easily, only a slight grunt on his part to indicate he’d felt it at all. Ignis watched, rapt, his eyes fixed upon the sight of Gladio’s forefinger, slowly sinking deeper and deeper into his body. Ignis blindly groped for the bottle of lube, pouring some onto his own hand, and grabbed at his cock, beginning to stroke himself as Gladio slowly began thrusting his finger in and out of his ass.

“Can you go deeper?”

Ignis’ voice was rough, sultry, and Gladio hastened to comply, forcing the finger in until only the first knuckle remained outside his body. He kept it there for a minute, panting, and then drew it back, withdrawing it almost completely before easing it inside again.

On the second pass, Ignis reached a hand out to grab his attention. “Add another,” he ordered, edging towards Gladio on his knees, and fuck, but who was Gladio to disobey?

He let his middle finger join the first, gently easing it inside. Ignis snaked his free hand up, grabbing onto Gladio’s hair and yanking his head down, catching his lips in a heated, wet kiss. Gladio growled into it, fingers accidentally pushing in farther than he’d intended and brushing against his prostate. His dick throbbed, liquid freely seeping from the tip now, and Ignis caught it with his other hand, slicked fingers sliding along his length in a smooth, practiced grip.

The dual stimulation was enough to have Gladio gasping into Ignis’ mouth within minutes, incapable of doing much else with his lips. Ignis didn’t seem to mind though, licking and sucking with enough skill for the both of them. His grip on Gladio’s hair shifted, fingers moving down to trace featherlight patterns onto Gladio’s muscles and making him shiver despite the sweat beading on his skin. It was altogether different from the other heady sensations coursing along Gladio’s body, and he found the juxtaposition was hotter than anything.

He finally forced himself away, removing his fingers from his hole and pulling back, and Ignis fell forward a little before catching himself. “You’re killin’ me here,” Gladio groaned.

“Am I?” Ignis paused, drinking in the sight of Gladio.

“Dammit, Iggy, quit lookin’ at me like that and fuck me!”

Ignis nodded and made a circular gesture with his hand. “Turn round, then.”

And fuck, but Gladio did.

He heard Ignis moving behind him, accompanied by the sound of a foil wrapper tearing, and then he was behind him, nudging Gladio’s thighs farther apart with his knee. Gladio felt the tip of his cock at his entrance and he instinctively pushed back.

Ignis chuckled, catching him before he got very far, and Gladio shot an annoyed look over his shoulder. “Patience, Gladio,” Ignis murmured, for all the world looking completely unaffected.

“‘M tired of being patient,” Gladio snapped.

“It’s a virtue.”

“Says who?”

Ignis chuckled again. “Someone virtuous, probably,” he said, pressing forward so the head of his dick pressed into Gladio, and Gladio froze, breath catching in his throat at the sudden pressure. “No retort?” Ignis hummed, pushing inside a little farther, and Gladio fell down to his forearms, head resting against the sheets. “I’m disappointed, Gladio.”

“Gimme a second,” Gladio groaned, Ignis slipping forward another inch or two.

A warm hand fell on his back, comforting. “Can I-” Ignis’ voice was strained, breathing heavy.

Not so unaffected after all, Gladio thought triumphantly.

“Go for it,” he said, and Ignis complied, pushing the rest of the way in with one strong thrust. His chest was pressed to Gladio’s back, sweat making their bodies stick together. Gladio could feel Ignis trembling atop him, no doubt holding back until he thought Gladio could handle more movement. It was nice, a thoughtful gesture, and Gladio appreciated it. But it wasn’t what he wanted right now, the sweet ache of being so full eclipsed by a desire to have Ignis press him down, fuck him -

“Iggy, move.”

“What?” Ignis gasped, raising his head.

“I said - move.” Gladio emphasized the word with a clench of his muscles, and Ignis moaned, clutching at Gladio’s hips hard enough to leave marks.

Gladio didn’t care.

It was fucking hot.

Ignis took his command to heart, pulling out and then thrusting back in, his pace slow but quickly increasing in speed as he lost himself in the feel of Gladio all around him. Gladio groaned, trying to meet each of his thrusts, pressing back into him as Ignis pounded away at his ass. Gods, but it was so good, the pull, the drag, the heat. He’d never appreciated that Ignis had made him wait to do this, that he’d wanted Gladio to experiment with his own body first, but now, fuck, he knew what Ignis had been thinking, he knew that Ignis had wanted to be able to do this with him, and not be easy or gentle on him, and Gladio loved it.

“Fuck!”

Ignis reached down and grabbed his hair, pulling his head back and exposing the long line of his throat.

“I want to see your face,” he panted, fingers tangling in sweat-stroked strands.

“Yeah?” Gladio bit back a groan at a particularly deep thrust, the force of it slamming into his prostate. “Shit, Iggy, right there, do that again-”

Ignis obliged, this time keeping the tip of his cock buried deep within Gladio, pressing up against that one spot, rubbing it again, and again, and Gladio had to bury his face in his arms to keep from yelling.

Fuck, but he couldn’t do this much longer. It was too much, his body literally shaking.

He tried to articulate this to Ignis, waving a hand at him in some vague gesture, hoping Ignis got the message.

He did.

Gods, he did.

Ignis withdrew and then slammed forward once, twice, three more times, deep, and Gladio shattered, mind going completely blank as he fell forward onto his front, knees no longer capable of supporting his weight. Behind him, he was vaguely aware of Ignis’ thrusts going erratic, of his own broken moans and murmured praises as he sought his own release, finally collapsing atop Gladio a minute later.

He rolled away after catching his breath, cock sliding from Gladio’s ass with an obscene noise. It left him feeling strangely empty, and not liking it, Gladio turned, curling into Ignis’ warmth, ignoring the twinge of pain in his lower back.

“Fuck me,” he breathed, grinning.

“Again?” Ignis quipped. He raised a finger. “You’ll have to give me a moment, I’m afraid.”

Gladio chuckled, leaning forward and pressing a kiss to his mouth. “‘M I too much to handle?”

Ignis didn’t reply, even when his glasses slid backwards off his face, landing on the sheets above his head.

“What, no retort?” Gladio added. “I’m disappointed, Ignis.”

“Oh, be quiet,” Ignis snapped.

Gladio laughed outright at that, snuggling in close. Ignis allowed it, letting Gladio wrap an arm around his midsection. “Gotta say,” he said, “If that’s what I get for being woken up in the middle of the night… I wish it’d happen more often.”

Ignis snorted. “Don’t think I’m doing that again,” he replied. “You nearly broke my wrist.”

“On accident,” Gladio clarified.

“An accidental broken wrist is no less irksome than a purposefully broken one.”

“Why would anyone purposefully break their wrist?”

Ignis shot him a look, and Gladio grinned. “Sorry,” he said. “Just... make a little more noise next time, yeah? Lemme know you’re here before you get to the bedroom.”

“Duly noted. Although…”

“What is it?”

Ignis turned towards him, a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Perhaps next time you should be the one doing the waking,” he suggested.

Gladio barked out a laugh. “Fat chance,” he retorted. “You have any idea how hard it is to wake you up? You sleep like the dead, Iggy.”

“I know.” Ignis smirked. “I wonder how far you could get before you woke me.”

Gladio’s breath hitched, the familiar stirrings of arousal pooling in his belly at the suggestion. “That a challenge?”

Ignis winked at him.

“Certainly.”

* * * * *

“No.”

“Uh, yes?”

“No!” Iris brought her hands up to her face, barely hiding a smile. “No!

Gladio scowled. “Iris, what-”

“You’re dating?!” she asked. “Since when?!”

Ignis cleared his throat, offering Iris a tentative smile. “Officially? Perhaps two weeks,” he replied, shooting Gladio an amused look out of the corner of his eyes.

“Oh my gods, this is fantastic,” Iris gushed. She jumped off the couch, unable to hold her joy back any longer, and launched herself at Gladio, flinging her arms around his neck. He grunted at the impact, catching her before she managed to make the both of them fall backwards. “I’m so happy for you two!” A moment later, she pulled away, her smile replaced with a most serious expression. “Even if you have been hiding this from me, Gladdy.”

“Hey, I wanted to say something,” Gladio retorted. “But I had to make sure there was... you know, something to tell, first.”

“And so now there is, is that it?”

Gladio caught Ignis’ eyes above his sister’s head and smiled. “Yeah,” he murmured. “There is.”

Iris let out a little squeal of excitement. “Okay, spill,” she said happily, moving so that she was sitting between the two of them. “I want to know everything!”

It was Gladio who launched into an explanation, taking care to leave out the more explicit details of how their relationship had begun. Iris listened with rapt attention, alternating between noises of delight and frustrated exclamations - whichever was more appropriate for the given moment in the story. Ignis found that he wasn’t really listening as Gladio spoke, trusting Gladio to properly narrate the sequence of events; he was much more interested in the facial expressions Gladio made as he spoke, in the way his eyes had gone soft and the gentle cadence to his voice, the words themselves of almost no consequence.

Ignis smiled. He still couldn’t quite believe his good fortune.

“Ugh, that’s so romantic! It’s almost gross.” Iris sighed, and then turned to Ignis. “I gotta say, though, Iggy - what do you see in Gladdy?”

“Hey!”

“He’s loud and sweaty, and sure, he reads a lot, but surely you could do better?”

“I am sitting right here,” Gladio reminded her, scowling.

“I know,” she shot back over her shoulder. Turning back to Ignis, she asked, “Is it because he’s cute? Or big? Or that he has a lot of muscles? Because there are plenty of guys like that out there, you know! I know a bunch of them through Daddy! Want me to hook you up?”

“Iris-”

“I appreciate the offer, Iris,” Ignis said quickly, moving to circumvent the murderous intent in Gladio’s eyes. “But the truth is, I’ve liked your brother for a very long time. It simply took me some time to work up the courage to tell him that.”

Iris beamed at him.

Gladio, still glowering at his sister, poked Iris in the arm. “What’s the meaning of this, punk? Trying to pimp out my boyfriend before it’s even been a month?”

“Well, I had to ask!” Iris retorted. “I had to make sure you didn’t coerce him or anything!”

“What?!”

“Iggy normally has such good taste!”

“You sayin’ I’m not - hey, wait, you knew Iggy liked guys?”

Iris blinked. “Of course,” she said flatly.

Gladio frowned. “Since when?”

Iris rolled her eyes. “Since for-freaking-ever, Gladdy, gods,” she replied. A moment later, she froze, shooting Gladio an absolutely scandalized look. “Wait, did you not?!”

“Uh… no?”

“What? How?!” Iris shook her head. “Some best friend you are.”

“Shit, I never asked!” Gladio said defensively. “I thought that was implied when I told you how we got together!”

“Well, yeah, but I assumed you knew and had just never had it confirmed, not that like, you actually didn’t know.” She sighed, and then turned to Ignis. “I’m sorry about that, Iggy. Gladdy’s terrible when it comes to romance. Do you remember that one girl he dated when he was in high school, Minerva?”

“Ah, yes, Minnie,” Ignis said, recalling the girl’s face and name with ease.

“Remember how she had to kiss him in front of literally the whole school for him to get the picture?” Iris asked.  

“But of course.” Ignis grinned. “I had never seen Gladio turn quite that shade of red before. More of a claret, really.”

“Oh, fuck off,” Gladio snapped.

“And then there was Antonia-”

“You’re makin’ me sound like a total fucking idiot,” Gladio interjected.

“Oh, no,” Iris said, waving a hand. “You’re really smart, Gladdy! Just… not about girls, yeah? Or guys.” She shrugged. “Romance in general isn’t really your thing, I guess.”

Ignis stood, sensing the impending argument and figuring that he should at least make an attempt to deescalate the tension. “I’m feeling a little thirsty,” he said, “would anyone else care for a drink?”

He was ignored.

With a sigh, Ignis headed towards the kitchen, trying not to listen to the inane argument the Amicitia siblings were currently having. He should have put a stop to it, he really should have. But it was amusing, seeing Iris take down her older brother so efficiently, so effortlessly; she’d clearly done it before, many a time - about this same subject, no less, if her practiced, neutral tone were any indication.

Ignis supposed he really shouldn’t have been surprised.

Gladio may have had her in terms of brute strength, but Iris had always been the deadlier Amicitia.

The kitchen, he found, wasn’t empty when he arrived. Gladio’s father, Clarus, and the Marshal were sitting at a table, pouring over a stack of papers. Both men looked up when Ignis entered the room. Clarus nodded at him in acknowledgment, and then jerked his head towards the living room.

“What’re they arguing about now?”

“Whether or not Gladio is hopeless at romance,” Ignis replied.

The two men stared at him for a moment, and then turned to stare at one another. “What do you think, Cor?” Clarus asked. “Is my son a hopeless cause?”

“The worst,” Cor deadpanned.

Ignis tensed, wondering if Clarus would take offense to that. He needn’t have worried though, for the two men burst out laughing, as if the thought of Gladio and romance was so hilarious that they just couldn’t contain their mirth.

For a moment, Ignis just stood there, uncertain whether or not he should join in - or, he thought, whether he should feel insulted, considering that it was he whom Gladio was currently dating. But then Clarus kicked the chair across from him out from under the table, gesturing for Ignis to sit, and Ignis half relaxed, moving across the room to do so.

“Speaking of my son,” Clarus began, still grinning from his earlier laughter, “I was a bit surprised when he came to me the other day and told me that the two of you were dating. Don’t take this the wrong way, Ignis, but you, ah… don’t exactly seem like my son’s type.”

“You’re definitely lacking a few key components we thought were necessary to attract Gladio’s attention,” Cor added.

“Like tits.”

“And an ass.”

“Nonsense,” Clarus said. “Ignis has an ass.”

Cor thought about this and then nodded. “True,” he said, looking at Ignis “You do have an ass.”

Eager to turn the attention away from his rear end, Ignis cleared his throat. “I think the attraction surprised me most of all,” he admitted.

“It’s good, though,” Clarus interjected. He smacked Cor’s shoulder playfully. “Don’t you think it’s good, Cor?”

Cor nodded. “He needs someone to keep his head on straight,” he said.

“You’ve already been doing that for years, as his friend.” Clarus shrugged. “Seems only fitting to me that you take over the job permanently.”

Though it pleased him to know that he - tentatively - had the approval of Gladio’s father, Ignis was ever a realist, and he could not let the man’s words go unchecked. “I cannot say for certain whether this will be permanent, sir,” he said. “It’s only been two weeks.”

Clarus snorted. “Let me tell you something, lad,” he said, leaning forward conspiratorially. “When Gladiolus first told me the news, I’ll admit it - I was a bit shocked. He’s brought home countless women over the years - more than I care to remember, to be honest - but never a man. And never one who was also his best friend. I was concerned; maybe this was some sort of practical joke, or a game of truth or dare gone wrong. But the more he talked, the more convinced I became that he was telling me the truth, the more assured I was that he was serious about this. About you.”

“He’s got it bad,” Cor interjected.

Clarus shot him a look. “And how would you know? You weren’t there.”

“And who do you think he told after he told you?” Cor retorted.

“Oh? He told you?”

“Well. I dragged it out of him, more like. Noticed him limping during training the other day.”

Ignis flushed a delicate shade of pink as Clarus deeply cleared his throat, banging on his chest a few times to get whatever bit of phlegm he’d inhaled out of his lungs. “Enough of that,” he said darkly, once he’d regained his composure. “I’m happy for the boy, but there are some things a father just doesn’t need to know.”

Ignis very much agreed with this.

“As I was saying,” Clarus continued, “it quickly became apparent to me that Gladiolus cares for you a great deal, Ignis. He’s very serious about this.” He broke off, snorting. “More serious than I’ve ever seen him about a girl.”

“Even that one?” Cor asked, lifting an eyebrow. “What was her name…”

“Diana?”

“No, no, the short one.”

“Ah, Octavia?”

“The other short one.”

“Titiana!” Clarus considered this, and nodded. “Yes, more serious than about Titiana.”

Cor whistled, shooting Ignis a surprised look. “That’s serious.”

Ignis frowned. Though he hadn’t exactly put a great deal of effort into remembering Gladio’s past romances - for obvious reasons - he did have an excellent memory. Despite this, recollections of a girl named Titiana weren’t coming to mind. Though it wasn’t perhaps the wisest move, he found himself asking about her, curious as to how he had missed this period of Gladio’s life.

Surprisingly, it was Cor who answered.

“Oh, they never actually dated. She was older than him, you see, a member of the Crownsguard while the two of you were still in high school. I asked her to train with Gladio a few times, give him experience fighting someone who didn’t used a sword as their primary weapon.”

“I see.”

Now it was Clarus’ turn to pick up the story. “They hit it off rather well. Very similar, Gladiolus and Titiana - both headstrong, both proud, smart, both in the head and in the mouth, but capable of backing up their words with actions. And she was beautiful, of course. Very beautiful. Red hair, blue eyes...”

Ignis cleared his throat when the man fell silent.

“Mm? Oh, yes. Titiana. Well, it was easy to see how Gladiolus would have fallen for her. And oh ho, how he fell. But Titiana was a member of the Crownsguard, very focused upon her duties; she had always had her sights set on the top ranks, and she worked very hard to make sure that she was noticed. She had no interest in a boy who couldn’t help her get there.”

“At least she let him down gently,” Cor said thoughtfully. “Not like that Julia girl.”

Julia,” Clarus said darkly. He shuddered, shaking his head. “I hated that girl.” He looked over at Ignis. “Do you remember Julia?”

“I wish that I didn’t,” Ignis admitted.

“Dreadful girl.” Clarus sighed. “Anyways. The point of all of this, before we were sidetracked, was that I haven’t ever seen Gladiolus so serious about anyone that he’s brought home before - and given how many girls he’s brought home over the years, that’s saying quite a bit. He cares for you very much, Ignis - very much. I daresay he could grow to love you, if you let him.”

“If you let me what?”

All three of them turned as Gladio entered the kitchen, looking very much put out from his conversation with Iris.

“Nothing, son,” Clarus said, standing and heading over to the refrigerator to grab a drink. “Cor and I were simply asking Ignis if he knew what he was getting in for when he agreed to be your boyfriend.”

Gladio groaned. “Dad, c’mon…”

“If he’s going to date you, then he needs to know the facts,” Clarus insisted.

“The facts?”

“Bad habits, odd tendencies, sordid tidbits… that sort of thing,” Cor supplied.

“You cannot be serious.”

“Oh, completely. Say, Ignis, did you know that my son is deathly allergic to bee stings?”

As a matter of fact, Ignis did know that, but only because he had made a point to discover any and all allergens the people that he cooked for on a regular basis had, so as not to accidentally cause a case of anaphylactic shock during dinner.

“Know how we figured that out?” Clarus asked, grinning. “Well, when Gladiolus was a wee lad, maybe three or four, he had a bit of an oral fixation. Saw something he liked, he popped it straight in his mouth!”

Dad,” Gladio said.

“He was out in the garden with his mother one day, helping her plant some new flowers - gladioluses, coincidentally - when he saw a bee buzzing around the bushes.” He paused here, chortling to himself. “Little tyke went straight up to the thing, grabbed it in his hand, and swallowed it whole!”

“Swelled up like a balloon,” Cor added.

“Like you were there,” Gladio snapped.

“I wasn’t,” Cor agreed. “Your father took pictures.”

“What?! Dad!"

“You have to document these things, son. When you have children, you’ll understand.”

“I understand you’re being an ass right now.” Gladio took a few steps closer to Ignis, beckoning him up out of the chair. “C’mon, Iggy, let’s go.”

“Aw, did Daddy hurt your feelings?” Cor asked.

“I’ve had enough of family for one day.”

Ignis fought to hide his grin as he stood, not quite able to meet Gladio in the eye lest the other see his amusement. “It was nice talking to you both,” he said, nodding first at Clarus and then at Cor. He received two nearly identical nods in return before Gladio nearly pulled him out of the kitchen and down the hallway.

“In a hurry?” Ignis asked, quirking an eyebrow.

“Jackasses, both of them,” Gladio muttered, opening the door to his father’s house and stepping out into the bright afternoon sun. “One is bad enough, but when they get together?” He shook his head.

“They only tease you because they care for you,” Ignis reminded him, matching his stride to Gladio’s as they set off down the street. “They’re happy for you, Gladio. For the both of us.”

“Yeah, I know.” Gladio turned to look at Ignis, brows drawn down in thought. “What’d they want anyways?”

“Your father was simply telling me, in his own way, that he approved our of relationship.”

Gladio made a noise of acknowledgement, nodding. “I’m glad. Not that his disapproval would’ve stopped me,” he added quickly. “But… I’m happy he’s alright with this, yeah? It makes everything a little easier.”

“I understand,” Ignis replied.

And he did - Gladio and his father had always been close, nigh on mirror images of one another, a generation removed. He no doubt wished his father to affirm and approve his life choices, even if, as he said, he didn’t deem them necessary. Had Ignis’ father still been alive - and he had ever had any sort of memorable relationship with the man - he no doubt would have sought approval as well.

But he didn’t, and he wasn’t going to dwell on the fact. His friends approved of the match, as did Gladio’s family.

That was enough for him.

“I’m glad Clarus approves as well. Iris too,” he continued, coming to a stop as they arrived at Ignis’ car. “It means a great deal to me.”

Gladio shrugged, though the smile on his face implied he wasn’t quite as ambivalent as the gesture suggested. “What can I say?” he asked. “They like you.”

“You have good taste.”

Gladio snorted, opening the passenger side door. “Yeah, I do. So, hey - what are you up to now?”

Ignis quirked an eyebrow. “I’m… surprisingly free, at the moment.” He paused. “Why, did you have something in mind?”

“Wanna come back to my place? Think I could come up with a few ways to fill that free time.”

“Why, Gladio,” Ignis exclaimed, feigning indignation. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were coming onto me.”

“Oh, trust me,” Gladio said, grinning wolfishly. “I will be.”

Ignis had never gotten into a car so quickly in his life.

Chapter Text

“It’s… bigger than I expected.”

Gladio nodded. “I get that a lot.” 

“Tell me something.” Ignis turned so that he was facing the doorway to the room. “How in the world did you manage to fit that through the doorway?”

“Patience, and a little elbow grease.”

Ignis snorted, and then turned back to face the gigantic, hot pink chocobo-shaped punching bag sitting in the corner. “I’m surprised you didn’t rip a seam, shoving it through the door as you likely did,” he said.

“It’s tougher than you might think,” Gladio replied, shoving his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Thing fell over on me once when I was younger. I punched it and kicked it, and I think once I fucking bit it, but I had to wait until my dad got home to help me get it off.” He tipped his head once, respectfully. “It can take a beating.”

“Well, if it couldn’t, it’d be a poor excuse for a punching bag, now wouldn’t it?” Ignis mused. He studied the thing a few moments more, and then looked down at his watch. “Hm. It’s a quarter to six, Gladio, we need to be going if we’re to make it to the restaurant on time.”

Gladio nodded. “Lemme grab my coat.”

“You’ve unpacked it already?”

“Just the one,” Gladio threw back over his shoulder, trotting down the hallway to retrieve the black leather jacket, slung over the back of a chair. He’d made sure to find it earlier, knowing they’d be going out tonight.

Hadn’t been easy though - he’d been living out of boxes for the past few days, not enough free time to sort all of his belongings out from a recent move just yet. A small price to pay for a bigger apartment, he reasoned. But it was damn annoying, and who knew he’d had so much stuff? How the hell had it even fit into his old place?

Witchcraft, that’s how.

He was sure of it.

“Prompto and Noctis are meeting us there,” Ignis informed him, reading a message off his phone.

“I thought Prompto had to work?” Gladio asked, shrugging into the jacket.

“Apparently not,” Ignis replied. “He got off early.” He looked up, eyes taking in the sight of Gladio in leather, and made an appreciative noise. “Very nice.”

Gladio grinned. “Yeah?”

“Mmm.” Ignis took a step forward, pulling on one side so that the hemlines were straight. His hand lingered at Gladio’s chest, fingers splayed wide across the fabric.

“You alright there?” Gladio teased. “Look a little distracted.”

Ignis’ eyes flashed from behind the rims of his glasses. “Just admiring the view,” he said, withdrawing his hand and taking a step back.

“Wanna admire it some more later?”

“Perhaps.”

The flirting stopped there, Ignis half-dragging Gladio out of the apartment and into his car. It was a short ride from there to the restaurant where they had agreed to meet Noctis, though the traffic made the drive much longer. Ignis attempted to pass the time by listening to the news reports on the radio. Gladio attempted to give him road head.

He didn’t quite succeed, Ignis snatching his hand away at the last second, just as a very large, very tall truck pulled up beside them. Gladio pouted for a few minutes, but the mood had broken, and nothing more came of his further attempts to rile Ignis up.

Noctis and Prompto had already gotten a table, seated in a secluded area near the back of the restaurant. Ignis and Gladio sat down across from them, the waiter arriving to take their drink orders before either of them had managed to take their jackets off.

“A glass of red wine for me, I think,” Ignis said, “Your house merlot.”

“And you, sir?” the man asked, turning to Gladio.

“Uh…” Gladio grabbed a drink menu, giving it a hasty once-over before turning back to the server. “Let me have an Insomnian Pale Ale. Tall.”

The man nodded. “I’ll put those drinks in right away,” he said, scurrying off to do as he’d said.

“This place is nice,” Ignis said, looking around the room with an approving eye. “Your selection, Noct?”

“Prompto’s actually,” Noctis replied, throwing an arm over Prompto’s shoulders.

The blonde chuckled. “Hey, don’t look at me, it was one of my coworker’s suggestions.”

“Well, then you shall have to thank them for us,” Ignis said. He pulled a menu towards him, opening it and looking over the options. “A wide selection, it appears.”

“Yeah, they cater to all sorts of crowds!” Prompto replied. “That’s one reason this place is so popular, I hear. Got a little something for everyone.”

Ignis looked over at Gladio. “What are you in the mood for?”

Gladio shrugged. “Food.”

Ignis snorted. “A pity, that, we’ve come to the one restaurant in Insomnia that doesn’t serve food,” he drawled.

“You asked,” Gladio retorted, taking the only unopened menu and letting it fall open onto the table before him.

Prompto hadn’t been kidding; there were at least five pages of food selections, neatly broken down by type of cuisine and type of food. Gods, there was one entire page devoted to nothing but soup. How could there possibly be that many kinds of soup? And the salads, fuck - surely there weren’t that many ways to throw a bowl of lettuce together.

“I think I’ll try their fish stew,” Ignis announced.

Gladio wrinkled his nose. “Really?”

Ignis lifted an eyebrow. “Is there anything wrong with that?” he asked.

“No, it’s just…” He flipped to the next page, pointing to the picture of the steak. “You could have that, and you want a bowl of soup?”

“Stew, Gladio, not soup.”

“Same difference.”

“They are not,” Ignis assured him.

“If you say so.”

“I take it you’re getting a large plate of meat, then?” Ignis sniffed. “Rare, just the way you like it?”

Gladio grinned. “What can I say? I like my meat.”

Across the table, Prompto choked on his drink, and Noctis had to bang a fist on his back to get him to stop.

“Alright there?” Gladio asked.

“Yeah,” Prompto said weakly. “Just, uh, caught me off guard.”

Their server returned a moment later, and they all placed their orders, giving up their menus to make more room on the table. When he’d left, Noctis turned to Gladio, a curious expression on his face. “So, you all moved in yet?”

“Not quite,” Gladio replied. “Still gotta lot of boxes sittin’ around. Missing half my plates, too.”

“Did they run away with your vanished spoons?” Ignis asked, taking a sip of his wine.

“Funny,” Gladio retorted. “You’re funny.”

“Those plates were atrocious, anyways,” Ignis said. “We’ll get more tomorrow when we go to the store for towels and sheets.”

“Oooh, going shopping together?” Prompto wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. “Letting Iggy decorate your place, big guy? Sounds serious!”

It was. A good kind of serious, nothing bad. But Gladio felt irked by Prompto’s tone just the same, and he couldn’t help but make a hot retort. “Yeah, you letting Noct decorate yours? What’s that look called again - slob chic?”

“I think it’s hobo chic,” Ignis interjected. “But it’s used to refer to clothing, Gladio, not home decor.”

“Whatever.”

“What’d you move for, anyways?” Noctis asked. “Something wrong with your old place?”

Ignis turned towards Gladio curiously, Gladio noticed. It was a question he’d asked when Gladio had mentioned switching residences, a question Gladio had been adamantly avoiding for the past two weeks. But it didn’t look like he was going to be able to get away with it much longer, not if the curious faces of his three best friends were anything to go by.

“Wanted some more space,” he said, shrugging. “Old place was getting a little cramped.”

“Cramped?” Noctis snorted. “Have you seen Prompto’s flat? It could fit into your bathroom.”

“Hey!” 

“No offense,” Noct added.

Prompto sighed. “It is pretty small,” he said.

“How much stuff do you have, anyways? You live alone.”

“It’s all of those romance novels he reads,” Ignis said, smirking. “He can’t bear to part with any of them, even the ones whose spines are all but worn away to nothing.”

“What if I want to read ‘em again?” Gladio demanded.

“Uh, buy a new copy?” Noctis suggested.

“Or just go digital,” Prompto added. “Everything’s available on e-readers nowadays!”

“It’s not the same,” Gladio said, shaking his head. “If I read a book, I want to read a book. Not some weird tablet thing.”

“It would save you a lot of space,” Ignis said, shrugging.

“What, now you gotta problem with my books?” Gladio snapped. “C’mon, Iggy, I thought you’d at least be on my side.”

“That was before I had to help you package up every last one of those paperbacks,” Ignis said flatly. “The papercuts - they murder.”

“Whatever, you love my book collection.”

“Keep telling yourself that, big guy,” Prompto said, grinning. “We all know the real reason Iggy’s dating you.” He elbowed Noctis in the side. “Right?”

“Totally,” Noct said, returning the smile.

Gladio waited for them to elaborate, but when no answer was forthcoming, he threw his hands out wide. “Well? Gonna let me know why my boyfriend likes me?”

“Because you can reach the top shelf!” Prompto explained. “Duh!”

“Without having to use a stepstool,” Noct added.

“Oh! And because you can pick up really heavy things with just one hand!”

“I bet you can open pickle jars like a champ, too.”

“Eat my entire ass,” Gladio snapped, rolling his eyes and reaching for his beer.

“Gladly,” Ignis mused.

Gladio spewed beer all over Prompto, who screeched in surprise. Ignoring the way Noctis had burst out laughing, Gladio turned towards Ignis, scowling, wiping at his mouth with his hand.

“How long you been waiting to use that one?” he demanded.

Ignis took a delicate sip of wine. “I haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about, Gladio,” he said innocently.

“Uh-huh. Bite me.”

“We’ll be back,” Noctis said, grabbing a sodden Prompto by the arm and pushing him towards the restrooms. “Gotta clean up.”

“Sorry, Prompt,” Gladio said, shooting the blonde an apologetic grin. “Didn’t mean to do that.”

“Hey, no worries,” Prompto replied, flicking a few drops of beer from his hand. “Little beer never hurt nobody.”

Gladio waited until the two younger men were gone before turning to Ignis. “You owe me another beer,” he said, motioning to his now mostly-empty glass.

Ignis shrugged, raising a hand to get their server’s attention. “It was worth it,” he replied, the corners of his lips curving up into a smirk.

A few minutes later, Gladio had a fresh beer and Ignis was nursing a second glass of wine. He turned towards Gladio in the seat, the alcohol making him a little more relaxed and bringing a slight flush to his cheeks. “So tell me, Gladio,” he mused. “Why did you decide to move?” Gladio opened his mouth to speak, and Ignis held up a finger, shushing him. “And don’t feed me the same response about how you needed more space, either. We both know that that isn’t entirely true.”

Gladio hesitated, thinking of the right way to frame this.

The truth was, he had been hoping that in getting a new apartment, a bigger apartment, it would allow Ignis the opportunity to spend more time with him. With a second bedroom, they could set up a workspace for him, a desk and some chairs and maybe even a mini-refrigerator so he could have a stash of Ebony on hand. It was simple, really, not a big deal, and he should’ve mentioned it to Ignis first, run it by him. But Gladio didn’t want Ignis to think he was asking Ignis to move in with him. 

No, no, no - not yet. It was far too soon for that, only a few months having passed since they’d officially gotten together. Not that things weren’t going well, because they were. Things were great. More than great, even.

So what was the rush, really?

He was happy; Ignis was happy. And so he was perfectly content, for once in his life, to take things slow and not worry about the next step. Relish the moment, live in the present - that kind of thing.

Having a second bedroom was just him being prepared. 

That was all.

Now, how did he convey all of that to Ignis?

He cleared his throat. “Iggy, I-”

“Gladio.” Ignis set a hand on his knee, and Gladio looked down at it, surprised. His eyes flicked back up a moment later, settling on Ignis’ face, frowning at the amused, happy smile his lover was wearing. “You don’t actually have to answer that question.”

Gladio blinked. “You sure?”

“I think I can guess.”

Gladio nearly sagged in relief, thanking the gods - yet again - for gifting him with a boyfriend as intuitive as Ignis was. “I didn’t want to… upset things,” he said.

“You wouldn’t have,” Ignis assured him. “I appreciate the sentiment.”

Gladio snorted. “That's what you say when you get a gift you don't really like. That you appreciate it.”

“Fine, then, I love that you thought to create a space for me in your new home. I-” Ignis broke off then, cutting his words short.

Gladio waited a few moments to see if Ignis would say something else, but he remained silent, instead reaching for his wine and taking a drink. Gladio put his hand on top of Ignis’, still resting on his thigh, squeezing gently.

Ignis returned the pressure, even if he didn’t meet Gladio’s eyes.

Noctis and Prompto returned then, telling a wild story about someone they’d seen in the bathroom, and Gladio let the matter drop. He wasn’t bothered by Ignis’ obvious deflection, by the way he hadn’t been able to say what he was feeling. There was no need. Gladio could tell what he was thinking just from looking at him, just from his body language. He knew what Ignis was trying to convey, not needing to hear the words to understand the feelings behind them.

Some things, he had recently discovered discovered, were just as well left unsaid.  

This was one of them.

* * * * * 

“Gladio.”

Gladio looked up, pausing in the middle of unlacing his shoes to see Ignis smirking at him, a devious glint in his eyes.

“I have a terrible idea.”

“Yeah?”

“Come.” Ignis held his hand out, and Gladio took it, rising to his feet and following Ignis as he led the way to the second bedroom of his apartment. He paused in the doorway, not bothering to turn on the light. It wasn’t really necessary, Gladio saw, the giant pink chocobo practically luminescent.

“Iggy, what’s this about?”

Ignis drew his lower lip between his teeth, eyes heated as they stared out over the top of his glasses. “I’ve thought of a better use for that chocobo,” he murmured, fingers dancing along the skin of Gladio’s forearm.

Gladio blinked.

“Wait, you-” He froze, what Ignis wanted to do suddenly clear to him.

Was he… was he being serious right now?

For real?  

The chocobo?

“Let’s christen it,” Ignis purred, taking a step into the room.

Gladio chuckled, watching as Ignis slipped the glasses from his nose, setting them on a nearby box along with the beer he’d been nursing since they’d returned from the restaurant. He then turned towards the punching bag, whipping his shirt off and throwing it aside, running a hand through his slightly mussed hair.

“Iggy, are you drunk?" 

“Of course not,” Ignis said, scandalized. He looked over his shoulder at Gladio, one eyebrow lifted haughtily. “I’m merely suggesting that we find a better use for this fine creation instead of letting it bear the brunt of your fists.”

Gladio had never officially used it as a punching bag, not really. Iris had cried at the mere suggestion of using the chocobo for its intended purpose, even though she'd bought him the damn thing. But he didn’t see fit to tell Ignis that now, not when he was giving Gladio damn sex eyes and biting his lip like that.

“Okay.”

Gladio moved to stand behind Ignis, putting his hands on his hips. His skin was warm to the touch, hot almost, and Ignis turned, catching his mouth in a searing kiss that left Gladio breathless.

Ignis groaned, one of his hands rising to wrap around the back of Gladio’s head, pulling him down even deeper, if that were possible. Gladio let him, let him curl his fingers in Gladio’s hair, let him lick, and suck, and bite at his lips. There was an unusual passion to his movements, a raw sensuality that Ignis had only displayed on a handful of occasions before. Gladio loved it, drank it up, took everything that Ignis was willing to give him, returning that passion with a fire of his own, pressing Ignis back into the pliant surface of the chocobo. 

He hooked a finger around one of Ignis’ belt loops, pulling his hips forward, and Ignis yanked at his hair, hard, in response.

Gladio groaned, and he felt Ignis’ lips grin against his.  

“You are wearing too much clothing on such a hot night,” Ignis informed him, his free hand toying with the hem of Gladio’s shirt.

“Take it off me, then,” Gladio suggested, nuzzling down into Ignis’ neck, sucking at the expanse of flesh there.

“Ah-” Ignis gasped as Gladio bit down, for once not scolding him or pushing him away. “I’m afraid I c-can’t.” He was squirming under Gladio’s mouth, breath gone ragged. “I’m finding myself t-terribly distracted.”

“Yeah?” Gladio pulled a little harder on the belt loop, forcing their bodies closer together.

“A very large, very handsome man has a hold on me,” Ignis continued, digging his fingers into Gladio’s scalp, keeping his head buried at the juncture of shoulder and neck even when Gladio tried to pull back. “I don’t think he’s going to let me go,” he whispered, breath hot in Gladio’s ear.

Gladio growled, biting down harder, and Ignis moaned. “Hell no, he ain’t,” Gladio breathed. “Never.”

Ignis let him linger a second longer before pushing him away, and before Gladio could get him back, he’d begun to climb, hoisting himself up onto the chocobo’s wing. It sagged under his weight, but then Ignis was clambering onto the thing’s back, patting the space behind him. “Care to join me?” he asked, snaking a hand down his front and palming himself through his pants. He groaned, rocking forward into his hand a little, and Gladio hastily obliged, eager to replace Ignis’ hand with his own.

The chocobo wasn’t quite as big as it looked once you were sitting on top of it, Gladio quickly found. There was a limited amount of space on its back. But Ignis had twisted around so that they were facing each other, slipping a hand beneath Gladio’s shirt and blatantly feeling him up, and fuck, but space seemed the last thing to complain about right now.

Within seconds, Ignis had gotten Gladio out of his shirt, draping it over the chocobo’s head like some kind of blindfold. “To preserve the creature’s chastity,” he’d said.  

That, more than anything, suggested that Ignis was a little tipsier than he was letting on, but he was clearly still in command of himself, rising up and balancing on his knees as he shucked off first his pants, and then his underwear, motioning for Gladio to do the same as he laid back against the creature’s neck.

“Hurry,” he said, languidly stroking his cock. “I want you.”

The words went straight to Gladio’s dick, and he groaned. “Yeah?” he asked, pushing his pants down. He nearly fell off the damn bird’s back disentangling his legs, catching himself at the last moment on the chocobo’s wing.

“Yes,” Ignis breathed, continuing to stroke himself as his other hand ran down his chest, tweaking a nipple before slipping down the curve of his belly. He bit his lip, barely stifling a groan, throwing his head to the side and giving Gladio a better view of the dark bruise marking his neck.

The one Gladio had put there scant moments before.

The sight of it awakened something primal in Gladio, some need to see Ignis covered, no, littered, with marks of his affection, and he bent forward, biting down on the lowest curve of his ribcage.

Ignis gasped, but didn’t tell him stop.

Nor did he stop Gladio when Gladio moved over to his side, grazing his teeth along the curve of his hipbone, or when he trailed his mouth lower still, tongue flicking out against the sensitive skin beneath his navel.

Gladio worshipped him until his lips were red and swollen, only pulling back to allow himself a moment to breathe. Ignis looked utterly debauched, pale skin flushed, chest heaving, eyes blown black with desire. He reached a hand out for Gladio, wanting to drag him back down for another kiss, and Gladio let him.

He settled his weight atop Ignis, pinning the smaller man into place with his hips, and Ignis clung to him, wrapping his ankles around Gladio’s so tight neither of them could move very much without fear of falling to the floor. The movement made Ignis’ length brush against Gladio’s thigh, and he shuddered, lips going slack as he bucked his hips forward again.

“Keep doing that, and we won’t get to the good part,” Gladio said, chuckling. The laughter turned into a groan when Ignis shifted, this time pressing up into Gladio’s dick, and Ignis smiled triumphantly.

“We’re already at the good part,” he retorted, putting a hand on Gladio’s ass and pushing down.

“Fuck yeah, we are,” Gladio murmured. “You got stuff?”

“In what pockets, pray tell?” Ignis demanded, panting. “My pants are on the floor.”

“Right. So then, let’s-”

“Here.” Ignis let his legs fall to the side. “Let me-”

“I got you,” Gladio said, putting a hand on Ignis’ belly and keeping him down when he tried to sit up.

“Gladio,” Ignis huffed, “I want to-” He broke off with a moan as Gladio buried his head between Ignis’ thighs, nearly swallowing him whole. “Oh. Oh, that’s wonderful.” His hand rose, tangling in Gladio’s hair once more, and he bucked up, choking Gladio a little as he fucked his mouth.

Gladio didn’t care. He just opened his mouth wider, tried to take in as much of Ignis as he could, licking up the shaft and sucking at the head whenever Ignis pulled back.

Gladio,” Ignis groaned. “Please-"

Gladio shot a hand out, pressing down on Ignis’ hips to stop his incessant bucking. “Hold still,” he muttered, gripping Ignis’ cock at the base. “So I can-” He wrapped his lips around the head, licking at the salty precome he found there, and then worked his way down. When it got to be too much for him, he withdrew, hollowing his cheeks and sucking as he returned to the head. 

Ignis murmured encouragements to him all the while, sentences eventually reduced to words, and then again to mere sounds, Gladio having to rely on the breathy little moans and gasps he made in order to know which spot to turn his attention towards.

“Gladio, please, I want to come-”

Ignis was quivering now, shaking with need, and Gladio took him as deep as he could, ignoring the ache in his jaw. Ignis threw his head back, spine arching as his hips jerked a few more times, and then, with one more, fucking beautiful noise, he came, spilling his release down Gladio’s throat. 

He sagged back against the chocobo’s neck, and Gladio pulled back, resting his chin on Ignis’ hip bone, ignoring his own aching cock for a second to just watch Ignis gasp for breath.

He must have had a stupid look on his face, for when Ignis looked down at him a moment later, he frowned. “Are you alright?” he asked. “You look… silly.”

“Silly?” Gladio snorted. “Iggy, you lush.”

“I am not -”

“Since when have you ever used the word ‘silly’ sober?”

Ignis pursed his lips, and between that, the red flush sitting high on his cheeks and the gloriously disheveled state of his hair, it was so fucking adorable Gladio almost couldn’t stand it.

He laughed. “Gods, I love you.”

Ignis’ breath caught in his throat. “Gladio-”

It wasn’t something Gladio had ever said to Ignis before, the words new on his tongue despite the truth of them. But it wasn't like he'd been waiting for a specific time, or anything.

Nah.

He wasn’t the kind of person to wait for the opportune moment, like Ignis was.

Instead, he’d just looked at Ignis, and he’d known that that was how he felt. That was what he wanted to say.

And so he’d said it.

Ignis lunged forward, nearly toppling off the chocobo’s back, kissing Gladio deeply. His hands were everywhere - Gladio’s face, his chest, his hair, his cock, still hard and heavy between his legs. “Say it again,” Ignis breathed, lips trailing along Gladio’s abdominal muscles now.

Gladio caught his hand, tangling their fingers together. “I love you,” he said.

This time, Ignis shuddered, and he pushed Gladio backwards, leaning forwards and wrapping his lips around Gladio’s cock. Gladio barely had time to let out a cry before Ignis was swallowing him whole, licking and sucking at his dick with a skill Gladio, with all the practice he'd since had, had still never managed to achieve.

“Fuck,” he groaned, fingers tightening around Ignis’ palm. “Iggy-”

Ignis hummed, throwing his free hand behind Gladio’s back and encouraging him to buck forward, to snap his hips up into Ignis’ wet, willing mouth.

It wasn’t necessary. At this point, Gladio was so wound up, all it was took was a few, half-hearted thrusts, and he was coming, hard, Ignis sucking him completely dry before collapsing atop him, resting his head on Gladio’s stomach.

They stayed like that for a while, bodies sticky with sweat, content merely to lay in each other’s arms. After a few minutes, however, the vinyl surface of the chocobo became acutely uncomfortable, and Gladio lifted them both up, grimacing. He could already feel a kink forming in his back.

“Okay, so,” he said, sliding down to the floor. “Chocobo sex - hot, but uh, really fucking uncomfortable.”

“Agreed,” Ignis said, joining Gladio with a wince. His body was dotted with smooth, red marks, spots where he’d physically stuck to the vinyl and had had to peel himself off. They stood out in stark contrast to the round, purple bruises Gladio had sucked onto his skin.

“Good in theory.”

“Bad in execution,” Ignis finished. He took a step away, grabbing the beer he’d abandoned earlier and taking a drink. He then offered it to Gladio, who took it gratefully.

“Shower, then? Or bed?”

Ignis considered for a moment. “Bed,” he said finally. At Gladio’s lifted eyebrow, he pursed his lips. “We’re buying new sheets tomorrow anyways.”

Gladio grinned and led the way to the other bedroom, pulling Ignis down onto the mattress after him. It was early yet, the sun just having sunk below the horizon. Normally, Ignis would have protested that he still had a few hours of work time left, that there were still things he could be doing. Tonight, however, he sank down into Gladio’s arms, burying his face into the crook of his neck and breathing deep.

“I never thought I’d ever get to hear you say it,” he murmured.

“Hmm?”

“That you…” Ignis swallowed. “That you return my feelings.”

Oh.

Gladio’s arms tightened around him. “Well, I hope you can get used to it,” he said. “Because I mean it - and I ain’t taking that back.”

Ignis pinched him. “Don’t even think about it.”

Gladio chuckled, pressing a kiss to Ignis’ forehead.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.”