Noctis stood with ease on the first dais on the stairway to the throne, looking up at his father with a determined if a bit sad gaze. Behind him were his friends, his lovers and the men he trusted the most on Eos, waiting to start on the journey that would end with Noctis married to someone he had never met before and who might keep the prince from his lovers.
Above him the booming and familiar voice of his father rang out across the mostly empty room, ‘’The decreed hour is come. Set forth with my blessing, Prince Noctis.’’
Noctis bowed and thanked his father, ‘’Thank you your Majesty.’’ The Prince hesitated for a moment, wanting to say more but knowing it wasn’t the time or the place for sentimentality.
The king shifted on his throne, glancing at Ravus who stood quietly in silent support of both men, ‘’Take your leave and go in the grace of the gods.’’ Noctis straightened, giving a small nod and muttering, ‘’Right.’’ To himself.
The Prince and his retinue bowed towards the Throne and the King sitting on it before turning around and leaving the room, rolling his shoulders to get rid of some of the tension that always seem to show up whenever he had to act princely. Ignis reached out to press lightly on Noct’s right shoulder, asking quietly, ‘’Having trouble your highness?’’
Noct groan and leaned into the touch and answering Ignis’ concern with a sigh, ‘’Just the usual Ignis.’’
Gladio snorted, leaning on the wall, ‘’Don’t spoil the Princess too much Specs, he needs to shape up before he gets married.’’ Gladio’s tone was teasing with just a hint of worry for his prince. Prompto was fiddling with the edge of his Crownguard uniform, watching as Ignis slowly helped Noct work out the kink in his shoulder.
‘’Noctis.’’ A voice called out to the group as soon as the doors to the Throne Room opened again and Regis walked out, leaning on Ravus as he limped his way over to his son.
Noct shifted and hurried over to help his dad walk, thanking Ravus with a nod before turning his attention to his dad. ‘’Are you ok? You should have sent Ravus to grab us instead on coming out!’’
Regis chuckled, smiling at his son, ‘’I am fine Noctis, merely tired from all the preparations for the Signing that is all. You needn’t worry about me.’’
Noctis bit his lip, he disagreed with his dad on that point, having seen his hair starting to turn silver from the strain of the Crystal’s magic, and the stress of the last year. Regis had been putting on his brace more often than ever before and had been relying on Clarus to help him return to his room or office at the end of the day when exhaustion rendered his leg too stiff to use. ‘’You’re my dad, of course I’m going to worry about you.’’ The ‘I love you’ went unsaid but Regis was well aware of his son’s love for him.
With a huff, Regis turned to Ignis, Gladio and Prompto, all of them waiting at a respectful distance to allow the father and son some privacy, having been joined by Ravus who was currently showing Prompto a notebook, probably from Luna if Regis was correct. Each of those young men had grown so much since their arrival at the Citadel and Regis felt a father’s pride in being able to see them grow in such a manner.
‘’Ignis, Gladiolus, Prompto. I ask not that you guide my wayward son but merely that you stand by his side.’’ He meet each of their gaze squarely as the King and Father spoke, ‘’Please use your trip to enjoy yourselves before the wedding. It isn’t every day that you are sent to see the sights of Lucis on the Crown’s dime.’’ Regis added to tease the men.
‘’Dad!’’ Noctis whined as he blushed, ‘’I’m not a child anymore and this trip is for the good of Lucis not for pleasure.’’ Noct added with a frown.
His father sighed and reached out to cup Noct’s face with a tender touch. ‘’I know and that why I want you to enjoy yourself. There is still time before the signing and you have a week afterwards before you must wed. Please Noctis, enjoy yourself until you reach Altissa. It will help ease my worry.’’
Noct leaned into the touch and nodded, ‘’Alright, I’ll try but only if you promise me to be careful while the Nifs are here. I don’t trust them despite all their words of peace, it just… doesn’t feel right.’’
Regis offered his son a smile, hoping to reassure the young man, ‘’I will. Don’t worry about the Treaty and go, see the sights outside of Insomnia and meet your subjects while you do. Remember, Wherever you go, the line of Lucis walks beside you. Walk tall my son and be careful. ’’
Noctis smiled, leaning to press his forehead to his dad with a shuddering breath before straightening up and turning to look at Ravus, ‘’I leave him in your hand, Ravus!’’ Ravus smirked as he moved over to support the aging King as Noctis moved away, the prince stopping him momentarily with a hand on his shoulder and whispered into the Kingsglaive commander’s ear, ‘’Please, look after him for me.’’
Ravus shifted and met Noctis’ gaze with his own determined one, ‘’You have my word Noctis. I will be by his side until Niflheim is no longer within the walls of Insomnia.’’
Noctis felt some of the unease slip away at Ravus’ words, offering the older man a nod of thanks before he turned to look at his friends, ‘’Shall we?’’
Prompto chirped, ‘’Ya! Let’s go.’’
Ignis smiled and offered the king another bow as he reminded the prince, ‘’We should leave soon, we have quite the distance to travel.’’ Gladio nodded, adding his own bow toward the king before turning to follow Noctis out of the room. Noctis forced himself not to look back as he descended the stairs to where Cor was waiting with the keys to the Regalia.
The Marshal greeting the four boys, ‘’Are you ready, Prince Noctis?’’
Noctis nodded, ‘’As ready as I’ll ever be. Sorry for making you wait Cor. Dad wanted to talk a bit before I left.’’
Cor smiled in understanding, his own eyes going to watch as Prompto walked over to the trunk of the luxurious car to check on something, his camera most likely, ‘’I see. Here are the keys for the Regalia, I added 2 packages to your luggage. They are gifts from his Majesty, Clarus and myself for Cid and Weskham if you are so kind as to stop and give it to them?’’
Ignis had stayed close to the duo, when Cor extended the car keys towards Noctis, Ignis interfered and snatched the keys before the prince could do so, ‘’I will be taking those, Marshal. Please do not worry, I shall see that the gifts are delivered to their recipients without trouble.’’
A flash of blinding light let them know Prompto had gotten his camera out and sure enough the blond was grinning as he took another photo of his friends with his uncle on the steps of the Citadel. Cor chuckled and asked teasingly, ‘’If you need us to pose for you then you should say something, Royal Photographer.’’
Prompto grinned a bit awkwardly at his Uncle’s words even as Noctis hide his smile behind his hand, eyes sparkling with amusement. The title had been a joke present from Noctis to Prompto after both had gotten drunk and Prompto had started complaining about how Ignis and Gladio had a reason to be beside Noctis all the time but he didn’t and people were talking about it. Noctis had woken up the next day with a massive hangover and a video sent to his dad showing Noctis bestowing the new royal title on a red-faced Prompto, his dad replying with a single word Done.
Shaking his head at the memory, Noct started walking down the stair to join Prompto, wrapping an arm around his friend’s shoulder to look at the picture Prompto had taken of them, ‘’Umm not bad. Why don’t you save it? It’ll make a good addition to the gallery.’’ Noct said.
Prompto grinned and saved the pictures before turning to wave at Cor, ‘’See you in a couple of weeks Uncle!’’
Cor smiled and replied, ‘’Take care and enjoy Altissa, Prompto.’’ He then shifted his gaze to the rest of the group and told them, ‘’That goes for all of you.’’ Ignis bowed to the Marshall before hurrying after Noctis and Prompto, both who grinned and were pushing each other as they argued on who was sitting where.
Gladio waved back at the Marshall before gruffly telling the two bickering boys, ‘’Cut it out and sit down already.’’ Prompto grinned and vaulted over the passenger door when Noctis got distracted by turning to glare at Gladio.
‘’Hey!’’ exclaimed the prince when he realized what Prompto had done, turning his pout and glare on the cheerful blond before slipping into the back seat with a sigh. Ignis chuckled as he took his own seat behind the wheel, verifying his mental list one last time to ensure nothing had been forgotten before starting to drive through the mostly empty streets of Insomnia. As they wound through the familiar road and unto less familiar ones, Prompto reached out and turned on the radio, changing the stations before settling on one playing a soft refrain.
When the night has come, and the way is dark,
And that moon is the only light you see.
No I won't be afraid, no I-I-I won't be afraid
Just as long as the people come and stand by me.
The road out of Insomnia gave the men time to enjoy the beautiful, if a bit hot, day until the Regalia broke down with a sputtering groan and left them stranded on an almost empty stretch of road, a few miles away from Hammerhead. Prompto frowned as he carefully guided the sputtering car onto the shoulder of the road, before parking it and getting out with Ignis.
‘’Gladio, Noct, if you could both keep an eye out for anyone passing by that would be helpful.’’
Gladio nodded, ‘’Sure thing Specs. Come on Noct.’’ Gladio got out of the car, leaning on the side so he could keep an eye out on the empty road while Ignis and Prompto concentrated on trying to fix the Regalia. Noct didn’t get out of the car, too lazy to move too far, and simply leaned on the back rest and joined Gladio in keeping watch.
Prompto opened the hood and promptly moved back as thick grey smoke started pouring out from under it. He felt Ignis gently grab his arms and pull him back and away from the smoke, asking his lover, ‘’Are you alright Prompto?’’
Prompto nodded, coughing a bit and blinking rapidly to clear his eyes from the sting of the smoke before he looked back at the still smoking engine and swore. ‘’I don’t think we’ll be able to deal with this without a full garage at our disposal Iggy.’’
Ignis nodded reluctantly, ‘’So it would appear, I’ll see if I can contact Miss Cindy and have her come pick us up.’’ Ignis waited until Prompto had stopped coughing before moving back to grab his phone.
‘’Don’t bother Iggy. There’s no service here.’’ Interrupted Noctis, who was glaring in annoyance at his own phone. That’s how the four friends-turned-lovers found themselves a few hours later pushing the Regalia ever so slowly into Cid’s garage in Hammerhead.
‘’Well, well if it aint the four pretty boys of the Crown City. Having trouble with this beauty?’’ teased Cindy as she walked over to greet them, cleaning her hands on one of the rags she kept on her at all times.
Prompto grinned excitedly at the welcome, ‘’Cindy! You’re a sight for sore eyes.’’
Cindy laughed, ‘’Aw, that sweet of ya. Still, what did ya do to this poor girl?’’ The mechanic wondered with a hum, leaning over to look at the dash.
Ignis apologised to the young lady, ‘’Our apologies, Miss Aurum, I’m afraid there was a slight complication and the engine seems to have broken down. ‘’
Cindy frowned as she looked up to Ignis, Prompto nodded emphatically and added, ‘’I went to look under the hood and it was full of really thick grey smoke! It took like an hour before it stopped smoking!’’ Cindy leaned down to pop the hood before going up front, lifting the hood and taking a look at the engine.
‘’Well this girl going to take a while to fix. Roll her right in boys and I’ll get to it right away, and Ignis? It’s Cindy.’’ Cindy said after a few moments. Noctis and Prompto groaned at the idea of pushing the Regalia once again but all four quickly followed Cindy’s directions and brought the Regalia into the garage.
As they were about to leave the car in Cindy’s capable hands, Ignis remembered the gift Cor had given them for Cid. ‘’Cindy, is your grandfather around? I have a gift for him from his Majesty.’’ Ignis inquired, moving to grab said gift from the trunk of the car before Cindy started working.
Cindy half-heartedly pointed to the dinner, ‘’Paw-Paw went to eat. You boys hurry on along and let me work on this beauty.’’ Noct smirked and prodded Prompto in the ribs as the photographer lifted his camera to star struck eyes and took a picture of Cindy waist deep in the hood of the Regalia. Prompto pouted at Noctis but followed him out as Gladio took the gift from Ignis and wrapped his arm around the adviser’s shoulders and gently guided the man out of the garage.
It didn’t take long for the four of them to find the dinner, Prompto and Noctis beaming when they realized it was a Crow’s Nest Dinner, and found Cid Sophiar sitting in one of the booth with his perpetual grumpy expression on his face. The older man grunted when he spotted the prince and his personal guards arriving, ‘’So you finally got here. Took your damn time.’’ He muttered as greeting, looking over the guys carefully and seeing the exhaustion lining their bodies.
Noctis gave Cid a mocking bow and told him, ‘’We have arrived with gifts, Sir Aurum. Surely that buys us some leniency.’’ Cid grunted again and watched as the wall of pure muscle that was the prince’s shield, ( a damn copy of his father at the same age), put a slim box in front of him.
‘’Hum, you boys look like hell. Get some rest, you’ll need it.’’ With those words, Cid got up, grabbed the box and left the dinner to return to the garage and his granddaughter’s steady presence.
‘’He does have a point.’’ Said Gladio with a grin, ‘’We all could use some food and a shower. I saw a caravan outside, let’s rent it and take it easy until Cindy’s done repairing the Regalia.’’
Ignis sighed, glancing at Noctis and Prompto who both looked tired and sweaty. ‘’I suppose there is no helping it. Gladio? If you’d be so kind as to go get our things from the car, I shall order some food for all of us and met you all at the caravan.’’
Prompto grinned and gave Ignis a mock salute before grabbing Noctis, pulling him out of the dinner with a hurried, ‘’We’ll rent the caravan!’’ before disappearing from view.
Ignis and Gladio glanced at each other fondly before Gladio left for the garage and Ignis turned to speak with the cook behind the counter. ‘’Apologies for the trouble, is it possible to order to go?’’ the adviser asked.
The man behind the counter grinned and replied, ‘’Sure thing! What can I do you for? Name’s Takka by the way, you need anything, you let me know.’’
Ignis nodded and gave his order, ‘’My thanks, I shall have four of the specials and four of the Kenny’s pop as well.’’ Ignis waited patiently as the food was made, perusing the different hunts available for hunters in the area.
Noctis and Prompto were grinning like crazy as they headed for the caravan, slipping the 30 gils needed to rent it for the night. They pushed each other through the door and into the cramped space with playful shoves, ‘’Come on Noct! Let’s grab a shower before the big guy decides to hoard all the hot water.’’ Prompto said with an inviting smile to Noctis who looked a bit lost in his thoughts now that they weren’t moving.
Noct blinked a few times before he could formulate an answer, ‘’Umm sure.’’ It wasn’t until Prompto grabbed him and tugged him into the bathroom that Noctis really woke up, it was hard not to when Prompto was kissing him so gently.
He allowed his blond lover to draw him into the small room, hearing him lock the door behind him before Prompto whispered, ‘’Let me take care of you.’’
Gladio walked over to the garage whistling to himself, he knocked on the metal door before going in. Cindy and Cid were both in the garage, barely glancing up to see who had walked in before returning to work. Cid grumbled, ‘’Need anything boy?’’ Gladio grinned, strolling to the trunk and opening it.
‘’Just here to pick up some of our stuff since we’ll be staying the night.’’ Explained the Shield, picking up their bags and closing the trunk of the Regalia easily. Cid humphed and handed Cindy a wrench, ignoring Gladio as the man left the shop. Gladio went to the caravan, shaking his head as he heard Noctis and Prompto’s voices from the shower and dropped the bags unto the beds before heading back out.
He joined Ignis in the dinner just in time for the food Ignis had ordered to be ready. Ignis smiled at the sight of Gladio strutting over to lean on the counter, ‘’Need a hand Specs?’’ the shield asks. Ignis smirks and hands him one of the bags and take the other for himself. He take off, leaving a slightly transfixed Gladio staring at his back (and lower backside) before the behemoth of a man remembered where he was and went after his boyfriend.
Ignis opens the door to the caravan just as Prompto come out of the bathroom with a satisfied grinned, drying his hair with a towel. ‘’Welcome back Iggy! What did you get us?’’ asked the blond as he walked over to where Gladio had dropped his bag and dug around for some clothes.
Ignis smiled affectionately at the boy, putting his bag down on the small table and replied, ‘’The specials of course. Is Noctis almost done in there?’’ Gladio copied Ignis, dropping the bag with the canned drinks and the fries on the table before smacking Prompto as he bent over his bag. Prompto yelped at the smack, glaring at Gladio as he straightened and started getting dressed.
He didn’t need to answer Ignis as Noctis did so himself. ‘’Ya, I’m done Ignis. Can we eat now? I’m starving.’’ The prince said as he left the bathroom, a towel over his hips. Ignis nodded indulgently, placing the burgers and drinks around the table. If the reason for their travel wasn’t the upcoming marriage of their beloved Prince, Ignis could have imagined this to be a simple vacation with his boyfriends. Gladio nudged the advisor out of his thoughts, leaning down to whisper, ‘’Don’t worry so much Ignis. Let’s enjoy our first night together outside of Insomnia.’’ He pressed the issue with a lingering kiss, ignoring the wolf whistle from Prompto and pleased hum from Noctis at the sight. Gladio was quite determined to ensure everyone enjoyed their night away from all responsibility; he had plans for them after all.