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It's Your Heart

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Part 1 - Gladio

 

Gladio watched as Prompto walked with no hesitation on the treadmill in the physical therapy office with relief. When the blond had told him that the therapist thought he had improved enough to scale back to once a week appointments, he had insisted on coming along for the last regular one to see how Prompto was really doing. He trusted the therapist’s judgement, and Prompto’s slow but steady improvement had been plain enough, but...still. He wanted to be sure. A few minutes later, Gladio grinned as Prompto finished up his course with the therapist and trotted over to his side, bumping his hip against Gladio’s leg.  

“You’ve been doing well, Prompto. Remember your exercises, don’t overdo it, and you’ll be back to normal in no time. I know this has been tedious for you, but you’ve done well,” the therapist said as he walked up to the two of them, and Prompto bobbed his head in agreement. “I’ve already run over everything with Prompto, Mr. Amicitia, did you have any questions yourself? I know you’ve been helping him out.” Gladio shook his head, and the therapist nodded. “Good, then I’ll see you two around.”

“Do you want to go get some lunch?” Prompto asked as they exited the office, and Gladio didn’t need any time to think about it.

“Sounds like a plan to me,” he replied, and together, the two got on the elevator, Prompto’s fingers hovering over the buttons.

“Usual place?” Prompto asked, and Gladio paused. The king had calmed down the edict strongly suggesting that Prom and Cor stay close to the Citadel after his introduction to the public, as it were, only asking that they not go out alone. But besides a short trip by Cor, Prom, and Nyx to Little Galahd which he had not been invited on, the younger man really hadn’t gone much of anywhere. But the cane and walker had been returned to the therapist, and as long as they didn’t go for a several mile excursion, Gladio knew that Prompto would do just fine.

“I have a better idea,” he stated, pushing away Prom’s hand and hitting the button to the lobby. Prompto’s eyes went wide, and Gladio reached over and ruffled his hair, leading to Prom squirming away with a laugh. “Let’s get out of here.”

Once outside the Citadel gates, Gladio wrapped an arm around Prom’s shoulders and pulled him gently to his side, smiling as he watched the younger man’s cheeks flush charmingly. Their dynamic had been changing for months, ever since Iggy had all but forced Prom to stay at Noct’s apartment during his then-unknown fainting spells, and ever since then, Gladio had been increasingly enjoying every blush, shudder, and soft look he could get out of the blond, but had not pushed for more. Prompto’s life had been turned upside down in a very short period of time, and he hadn’t wanted to push when the poor guy was still figuring out everything.

Gladio sighed silently as he and Prom walked down the main drag away from the Citadel, keeping an eye on the crowd as they passed by. He had already seen several people give them a double-take, realizing just who they were, and he wanted to make sure that no one got any ideas. He was gratified to see that Prompto was also keeping a smiling but observant eye on his surroundings, nodding to those who recognized him with the poise of a king without really meeting anyone’s eyes. Prom wasn’t inviting conversation, and so far, so one had pressed the matter. Good. Gladio would be even more impressed, but he knew that the king had personally given Prom some basic lessons in etiquette and public relations for exactly this reason while he was still recovering, and while Prompto could be a goofball, he was good about getting serious when necessary.

Gladio met Prom’s eyes for a moment and squeezed his shoulder, leading to a faint blush that made him grin at the smaller man. Prompto really had become the catalyst for something more between all four of them, even if they hadn’t really spoken much about it. He, Iggy, and Noct had been in each other’s orbit for a large portion of their lives, and there had been times where he thought that one or all of them might end up going that extra step with each other, but it had never happened. At least in regards to him, at any rate. He wouldn’t be shocked to find out that Iggy and Noct had been having a little something, although he suspected that if they were, it was only on occasion. But lately, all four of them had been exchanging looks that Gladio knew in his gut were more meaningful than they once had been; even their ridiculous sleepovers had increased, which had only served to make the tension even thicker. But none of them had made the leap. Not yet.

“Where did you want to eat?” Prompto’s voice cut into Gladio’s musing, and he looked down at him and tilted his head.

“I'm good wherever you wanna go, Prom,” he stated, and watched as Prompto thought it over for a moment, his brow furrowed and mouth pursed. It was, like many things the man did, irritatingly endearing.

“Well, there's an Altissian place not too far from here that I was curious about,” Prom mused, and Gladio waved his free hand.

“Lead the way.”

While Altissian places generally had a reputation of being pretty fancy, Gladio was pleased to see that the one that he and Prom walked into was more relaxed, and even the server who seated them, while clearly recognizing them, didn’t say a word beyond the usual. Prom ordered a carbonara dish, while he got pasta fagioli, and then they settled in to wait. He thought about speaking a few times, but Prom seemed to be just enjoying being out of the Citadel, and Gladio sat back and watched as the younger man happily snapped away with his camera at everything that moved, and at just as many things that didn’t..

It was nice to see. Gladio had felt more and more guilty every time it was reiterated that Prompto should remain in the Citadel, and while Prom kept up a good front generally, it had been really beginning to grate on the man, and he knew it. Noct had already planned all sorts of ridiculous things they could do, even Ignis had brought up the idea of a little roadtrip to him, something to get them away from the city. It was what they had been planning on doing to begin with had the empire not been planning a giant murderous takeover, so it was definitely something to consider. There was supposed to be a well-known chocobo farm out in the Duscae region-

“Ack, I’m sorry, I’m just taking pictures and ignoring you,” Prompto cut in on Gladio’s thoughts, and he blinked at the younger man before shrugging.

“I know you are just happy being out of the Citadel, Prom, I figured you deserve a little time to soak it up a bit,” he replied, joyfully answering Prom’s grin. The food came only seconds later, and there was no talking after that, only systematic demolition of some seriously excellent dishes. They were almost done when a young man slowly approached their table, looking rather hesitant; Gladio shifted slightly to keep an eye on the intruder, but didn’t otherwise react. After a long awkward minute of the person shifting and alternating between staring at the floor and Prompto, he raised his head to say something, only for Prom to smile and nod to the man.

“Can I...help you?” Prompto asked, and the man flushed and picked at his fingernails, clearly nervous, after another awkward pause, Gladio frowned, which finally seemed to knock the man out of his stupor.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I wanted to ask, are you that chosen of the Dawn Mother that everyone’s been talking about since the fight at the Citadel?” the man finally got out, and Prom flushed a bit, but otherwise held his composure.

“Ah, yeah, that’s er, well, I’m one of them. Is there something I can help you with?” Prompto may have gotten a few lessons from the king, but people generally didn’t have the ability to just approach the king while he was eating, which honestly, as far as Gladio was concerned, was kinda rude.

“I, uh, I wanted to ask if you are able to call ghosts to you all the time? A friend of mine got to see their grandfather when you sang to the city, and I would like to see my dad again, if...if it’s possible.” Prompto paled, and Gladio ground his teeth together, trying not to speak up before Prom had a chance to do so, fortunately, Prom set his shoulders and gave the young man a regretful smile.

“I’m sorry, it- it doesn’t work like that. I sing, and if the spirits want, they come to me...I can’t summon specific ones. I’m really sorry,” Prompto explained, and Gladio could tell that the whole restaurant was listening in, but the petitioner took the answer with good grace, and nodded.

“I had a feeling, I told her that you couldn’t have possibly known all of those ghosts that appeared, but she thought I should try,” the man said, and Gladio felt himself relax a small amount. “Thank you for your time, sir.” Gladio reached under the table and patted Prom’s knee as their guest departed, and watched as Prompto allowed himself one small sigh before straightening and nodding to Gladio.

“Cor warned me that things would be different, but I think that it just hit home even more than the whole singing to the city thing. Wow,” Prompto said quietly, and Gladio gave the other man’s knee a squeeze before sitting back in his chair.

“You good? You wanna finish your lunch?” Gladio responded, and Prompto nodded, much to his relief. Ten minutes later saw him paying the check, and the two of them headed out of the restaurant side by side. Gladio tried not to look like an enforcer, but he knew that he probably wasn’t doing the best job of it. Several people stopped and turned towards Prompto as they silently headed back towards the Citadel, only to see whatever expression Gladio had on his face and immediately change their mind. After the third person fled, he felt a poke in his side, and looked down to Prom’s bemused face.

“While I appreciate the thought, Gladio, scaring everyone off probably isn’t the best idea. Both the king and Cor pointed out that keeping the public liking me, as weird as that concept still is to me, is my best bet for the future,” Prom said, and Gladio coughed in response, rubbing at the back of his head.

“Sorry, it’s habit, especially after what just happened.” Prompto shook his head and gave him yet another dazzling smile, accentuating his freckles, and Gladio’s mouth went dry. Shit.

“Well, I appreciate the thought, anyway.” That grin was still firmly in place as Prom patted him on the arm and continued walking, and Gladio was firmly up shit creek. He didn’t know how much longer he could keep his mouth shut, not the way things were going. As they reentered the Citadel, Gladio could barely keep his hands off of his friend, but thankfully, Prom didn’t seem to notice his strange behavior. “Got any plans for the rest of the day? With my PT appointments largely wrapping up, I’ve got nothing going on.” Gladio’s first impulse was to just sling Prompto over his shoulder and go make out with him somewhere, but he forced his brain back under control and actually thought about it for a moment.

“Well, I usually go get some training in, would you like to come with?” he asked, and Prompto nodded enthusiastically. Training it was. Maybe it would help get his mind off of... this.

As they walked into the training halls, more than a few people stopped and looked at the two of them, but instead of the double-takes of the general public, the mix of Crownsguard and Kingsglaives in the room were looking Prompto over in thinly veiled concern; he would feel a bit put out, but he knew they were just making sure that Prom was alright. The whole damn Citadel, for the most part, had been cheering on his recovery, something that Prom seemed to be unable to fully comprehend. Gladio knew he could blame those excuses that the younger man still called his parents for that one, but there was no use beating a dead chocobo. What was done was done.

“Do you think I could get some time at the shooting range? Cor came with me a few weeks ago, but that’s the only time I’ve been here since everything happened,” Prompto asked, and Gladio shrugged.

“I don’t see why that would be an issue. You wanna warm up with me in here first?” he responded, and Prompto nodded, stripping out of his vest and throwing it on a nearby bench. Although he had seen Prom do that at least a hundred times in the last six months, he nearly choked on his own spit. Again. Down boy. He shrugged out of his own jacket, throwing it over by Prompto’s, then started in on a basic regimen of stretches, smiling at Prom when the younger man started copying his movements as well. “You’ll want to keep it basic for now, at least until you’ve gotten more time under your belt here. The last thing you want to do is strain something right when you are firmly on the mend,” he said to Prompto, who grunted his agreement as he stretched out his legs.

“Yeah, no, definitely not something I wanna do. I just don’t want to cramp up while shooting, so I’ll stick with the usual warm up for now,” Prompto said, and Gladio noticed more than a few of the others in the room nod their agreement with the voice’s words, which made him snort. Prom looked up from his splits in confusion, and he shook his head.

“Nothing, just noticed something. Did you want me to come with you for your shoot?” Gladio asked, and Prompto froze in a rather ridiculous angle, clearly thinking.

“You know...nah. I think I want to see how I do first before I embarrass myself in front of you,” Prompto mumbled, and Gladio rolled his eyes.

“I’m sure you’ll be fine, but whatever you want, Prom.” The blond pushed himself up to his feet relatively smoothly, which was always reassuring, and started stretching his arms and back, tilting from side to side as he moved. It took Pelna, who was standing clear across the room, raising an eyebrow to make Gladio realize that he was just standing there and staring at Prompto like a creep, and he forced himself to turn around and continue on with his own warm up. A few minutes later, he twitched when a hand slapped him on the back, and looked up to see Prom with his vest back on, clearly about to depart.

“I’m going to the range now, Gladio, I’ll see you afterwards?” Gladio nodded dumbly, and Prompto waved and left the room before he could even think to say anything.

“That was pathetic. Seriously, Gladdy?” His heart dropped to the approximate level of his spleen, and he turned slowly to see none other than his darling little sister standing with Pelna, who was doing a pisspoor job of disguising his laughter. Bastard.

“What in the- why are you even here, Iris?” Gladio groaned, and Iris rolled her eyes and smacked his arm.

“We were going to meet up for training later, or were you too busy mooning at Prompto to remember?” Gladio froze and stared at the weight rack across the room like it held the secrets of the universe. He had completely forgotten. Pelna wasn’t even trying to hide his laughter anymore, and Gladio wanted to go kill something.

“How long have you been standing there, anyway?” he growled, and Iris spun on her heel and grinned.

“Long enough to say hi to Prompto and talk with Pel for a little while, Gladdy, you were seriously zoning out,” his sister replied, and he finally gave up with a sigh.

“Yeah, I completely forgot. Sorry, Iris,” he said, and Iris pouted, but relented, hooking her arm in his and dragging him off to a different part of the room, waving to the thankfully departing Pelna as she did so.

“Okay, training is important, but far more important is the fact that you need to just suck it up and say something, Gladdy! You look at Prompto like you want to eat him for lunch half the time-” Gladio choked, giving his sister a scandalized look.

“Where in the world are you hearing things like-” Iris gave him a flat look.

“Gladdy, I’m fifteen, not four. You can’t tell me you never heard this crap in school,” Iris said, and Gladio scowled. She wasn’t wrong, but really? Damn. He grabbed his sister’s hands, and looked at her pleadingly.

“Why don’t we do some training for now, and we can talk later in a place with less ears around? Please?” Iris gave him one seriously gimlet eyed look, but relented once more, taking up a standard fighting stance and waited for him to get his ass in gear. This was something he could always lose himself in, and he followed his sister’s lead. The next thirty minutes rushed by as the Amicitia siblings went through their paces, finally coming to an end when Iris managed to hook her legs around Gladio’s neck from behind and knock them both to the floor, Iris rolling away before he could crush her under his weight.

“How was that?” Iris crowed, hopping up and down as she swiped her hair back into place; Gladio couldn’t help but give his sister a grin, leaning over and pulling on a lock of her hair as she batted his hands away.

“Excellent, sis, you get better every day,” he agreed, and Iris cheered then promptly grabbed his arm.

“You owe me a talk.” He should have known that she wouldn’t forget. Gladio sighed and untangled his arm so he could go grab his jacket, then looked up at the clock. Prom usually took at least an hour at the range, so he could probably spare at least ten minutes to talk with his nosey sister. Signalling to her with a hand, the two left the training hall and headed to a small reference library a few floors up which was always quiet, tucking themselves into one of the reading rooms. Iris barely waited for the door to close before setting in. “Okay, so...you and Prompto. Everyone and Prompto. I think I’ve seen Noctis give him the heart eyes a few times too. Iggy’s harder to read, but I wouldn’t be surprised there, too. Please don’t tell me you guys are going to get all caveman over this, I couldn’t take it,” Iris groaned, and Gladio sucked in a breath. She had them all pegged, somehow, and if she did, who knew about their father or worse, the king. His head thumped against the table, and Iris sighed. “Is it so bad? I think you two would look cute together.”

“It’s- it’s more complicated than that, Iris. What you just said-” Iris’s eyes went as wide as he had seen them in years, followed by a gleeful smile that made ice run down Gladio’s spine. Aw hell.

“If I’m guessing what I think you are really trying not to say, I can’t see that going over real well with the council. The king, I’m less sure about, he’s usually all about what makes Noctis happy, but to have all four of you-” Gladio lifted his head just enough to thump it against the table again. “-and since I have pretty much guessed that I have no chance in hell with Noctis, not that I ever did in the first place, I’m totally all for this. Now one of you just needs to actually talk to each other,” Iris sighed, and Gladio felt her small fingers running through his hair. “I hope at least the prince has a good size bed, because I have no idea how you all will fit otherwise-” Gladio sat bolt upright in horror, and his evil sister burst out laughing. “Your face! I win!” His hands shot up and grabbed her face, mushing her cheeks together.

“Not a word outside of here, Iris. Seriously. Don’t bring it up to anyone. I have no idea what’s going to happen, and if the wrong people get weird ideas-” he pleaded, and Iris extracted her face from his palms without complaint, taking his hands in hers.

“I’m not an idiot, Gladdy. I’m just going to wish you good luck, and don’t screw it up, okay? I like Prompto, and for some reason, I like the rest of you morons. Now that the world is hopefully not ending, you’ve got time to figure it out.”

“Yeah, we do.”

A few days passed, and he still wasn’t any closer to bringing it up to the tow-headed dipshit, even as he sat in the main room in Noct’s quarters and listened to said dipshit sing in the shower; if there were any spirits hanging around, he didn’t notice, and he enjoyed hearing Prom’s beautiful voice without having to worry that Prom would notice his presence and stop. Noct had been dragged off to a meeting by Iggy at least an hour prior, so it was just the two of them in the apartment. He had been keeping himself busy and scarce the last few days, trying to get his thoughts in order, but here they were again. Just the two of them. He knew Prompto at least was attracted to him, there had been far too many clues for him to think otherwise, but there was a difference between just finding someone good looking and wanting to actually be in a relationship with them, and well-

“What’s going on, big guy? You seem distracted.” Gladio barely restrained a jump at Prompto’s voice, and he looked up to see a damp, utterly delectable Prom standing in front of him in one of his endless tank tops and a pair of sweats, his shirt sticking to him as he finger-combed his hair. Gladio couldn’t even summon the brain cells to form a response. “You alright, Gladio?” Prompto leaned forward and put a hand on his shoulder, giving him a light shake, and he finally couldn’t take it anymore. “Gladio, what-”

Gladio reached up and grabbed the back of Prompto’s head and pulled him down to his level, kissing him firmly on the lips; the smaller man stiffened for a moment, and Gladio was certain that he was going to pull away, but then Prompto sighed into his mouth and wrapped his arms around his neck as the kiss deepened. Gladio let his hands run down Prom’s side, then pulled him carefully into his lap, letting the younger man get comfortable at his own pace. It was a stray drop of water from Prompto’s still-wet hair that finally broke the spell as it dripped on their noses, and Gladio chuckled as he lifted his head away from the temptation sitting on his thighs.

“Was that okay?” he asked, and watched with amusement as Prom stared at him like he was seeing him for the first time, the flushing blond licking his lips and swallowing heavily as he sat dazed in his lap. It was a good look on him.

“Was that- Gladio, are you joking? I thought I was doomed to be forever surrounded by a cadre of hot people that occasionally and platonically slept in the same bed as me, of course I’m okay!” Prompto squawked, and Gladio couldn’t help but laugh, only to get a fist pressing against his nose in response. “Not cool, seriously man, you guys are all perfect and shit, and there’s little old freckled me. There’s a ranking of hotness in the Citadel, and while I’ve come to the hilarious realization that Cor has been firmly entrenched at the top of that for decades, you three come soon after, and I’m somewhere around the basement, behind the cranky lady who handles uniforms in the Crownsguard and Crowe’s half-dead potted plant. I’m no one’s idea of hot, I’m just kinda dorky cute? I think?” Prompto finished, and Gladio wanted to smack the man upside the head. Seriously? A third of the Citadel wanted to either wrap him up in blankets and tuck him into bed, another third wanted to do what he had just done, and the final third at least thought he was cute. No, he wasn’t the strapping heartthrob type, true, but certainly didn’t mean that he wasn’t a looker.

“Prom, you are as clueless as your honorary dad; Cor has spent my entire life plus some not thinking of himself as anything but a decent looking boring soldier guy, while half the fucking Citadel has been panting after him-” Prompto’s nose wrinkled, and Gladio snorted. “Sorry. Then we have you. You have spent the entirety of our acquaintance babbling about how you are nothing in comparison to the rest of us, and I’m not referring to just looks. Knock it off,” he grumbled, then leaned forward and gave Prom another kiss. “No, your muscles are never going to bring the boys to the yard, but that’s not you. We all like you. Freckles and all.” Prompto’s flush was working its way down his neck, and Gladio grinned. “So I’m gonna ask you again. Was that okay?” Prom groaned, but nodded and smashed his face into Gladio’s neck; Gladio wrapped his arms around him and waited for the younger man to get his thoughts together as he let his hands rub up and down his back.

“You keep saying we, ” Prompto mumbled into his shoulder, and Gladio tensed a bit.

“Well, I can’t speak for the others, but I...I wouldn’t be surprised if they feel the same way I do,” he replied, and Prompto looked up at him with wide eyes and a dropped jaw.

“Say again? Gladio, that’s nuts-”

“Actually, I rather say he has the right of it.” Both Gladio and Prompto froze as both Ignis and Noctis sidled into view, and Gladio had the sneaking suspicion that they had been there for some time. He realized with serious internal amusement that he wasn’t embarrassed in the slightest, and grinned at his friends as the two of them walked up to where they were sitting, Ignis with a sly smile, and Noct with a saucy smirk. It felt completely appropriate. Prompto was chewing with some intensity on his bottom lip as he looked between the three of them, and Gladio felt compelled to reach up and pull lightly on his chin to get him to stop. It garnered him a pout, but Prom stopped and returned to looking just a bit overwhelmed instead.

“Hey, Prom, don’t worry about it, we aren’t going to do anything you don’t want. Feel free to go back to making out with Gladio, it’s fine,” Noct oh so helpfully exclaimed, and Gladio could have hit him; Prompto just continued looking shellshocked at everyone until Noct finally got his act together and pulled on a lock of Prompto’s still-wet hair. “Seriously, Gladio was pretty much right, but we know this is all kinda new and weird, I’m still getting my head around it too. Take your time.” Noct leaned in and gave Prompto a kiss on the cheek, then backed up and waved. “I’m gonna go visit dad, I’ll be back later.” Noct was gone in seconds, and only the three of them remained.

“While Noct’s phrasing was perhaps a bit to be desired, his sentiment was accurate. We are all quite fond of you, Prompto, and I don’t believe any of us would turn down a chance to…” Ignis trailed off, his face thoughtful; Gladio just continued holding the lightly shaking blond in his lap. “-we would all appreciate a chance to explore our options, perhaps.” Ignis also leaned over, kissing Prompto on the forehead, then withdrawing. “I have some paperwork I should attend to, I’ll return soon.” Ignis was also out the door in moments, and it was just the two of them again. Prompto shifted in his arms, but didn’t try to get up, instead letting his head fall back to his shoulder.

“This- this isn’t some giant joke, right? Not that I think you guys would do something like that-”

“No, as I said before, I can’t speak for them, but as for me, I’m definitely serious about this. If you aren’t comfortable with any of this, Prompto, we’ll back off. I know you’ve been through a crazy amount of shit lately, and I don’t want to add to it if you aren’t certain,” Gladio stated, and Prompto lifted his head from his shoulder and met his gaze easily. “What do you think?”

Prom leaned in and kissed him without hesitation, and Gladio felt his back slump in relief. He hadn’t even noticed that he had tensed up. “I think I definitely need a little time to wrap my head around it, but I’m not saying no. To any of it. It almost feels…” Prompto paused, and Gladio felt a smile creep onto his face as he watched the younger man in his arms. “...it feels like a natural progression of things.” Yeah, that was pretty much exactly how it felt to Gladio as well, as insane as it would seem from the outside.

“Yeah, it does to me, too.”

Chapter Text

Part 2 - Noctis

 

Prompto’s birthday was coming up in only three weeks. Usually that involved a night of video games, arcade hopping, and a great meal, but Noctis really wanted to do something better this time around, especially after things had jump-started between the four of them not even two weeks prior with Gladio’s help. He and Iggy had backed off to let Prompto adjust to the whole crazy idea, and Noctis was trying his best not to do more than perhaps a bit more touching than usual while trying not to be jealous that Gladio was getting- well. While he was pretty sure things hadn’t progressed all that far, he had walked in on them making out on at least three separate occasions, and it was getting a bit old. Not that he wasn’t happy for the big guy, but he seriously wanted to join in the party. Now that he knew what Prom looked like all flushed and happy...hell, not just Prompto, Gladio looked pretty damn fabulous like that too, and it was driving him crazy. Iggy was being a great sport and was being more affectionate than usual, which was keeping the edge off, but damn.

Anyway, birthday. Prompto deserved an awesome birthday party, and Noctis was going to make sure that the man got one. That meant that he needed help, and who better to help than the king? Dad had been all for Prompto sticking around to do pretty much whatever the hell he wanted to do following the battle, and Noctis figured that this would be something that would be right up his alley. He knocked on the door to his dad’s office, and was relieved when he was told to enter by the man himself, not Clarus for once.

“Morning, dad,” Noctis greeted as he walked into the office, quickly seeing that his father was alone before throwing himself into the chair that Clarus usually occupied and hitching a leg over the armrest. His father raised an eyebrow but continued reading the paper in front of him for a solid minute before finally lifting his head and taking off his reading glasses.

“Good morning, son. One day, you’ll find yourself regretting that you sit like that so often,” his father said with amusement, and Noctis rolled his eyes.

“Yeah, I’ve only heard this one a few thousand times. I have a question...well, a proposition for you, dad,” he asked, and the king sat back in his chair, curiosity clear in his expression.

“Go ahead.” Noctis raised a hand and ran a hand through his hair, then conceded to his dad’s comment and sat up properly in his chair.

“It’s Prompto’s birthday on the twenty-fifth. Usually, the four of us just go have fun, y’know, go out to eat, hit up an arcade or two, maybe a short time at a club, but I was

thinking of throwing him something a little...fancier? A proper party?” Noctis could see the exact moment when what he was saying fully absorbed into his father’s brain, and the resulting smile bode well for his chances.

“It’s almost his birthday, is it? Well, I think it would only be entirely appropriate that a proper celebration be planned for one of the heroes of recent events,” his father mused, and Noctis nodded in agreement. “Astrals know that those parents of his probably hadn’t done anything to acknowledge such an important event in years-” His father scowled, and Noctis nodded again in agreement. No, they hadn’t. He and Prompto had started hanging out when they were barely fifteen, and there had never been any sign of anything more than a phone call on the day, no comments about gifts, no stories of Prompto going anywhere with his parents...he had thought it was sad then, and it still stunk now. “So what did you have in mind?” The king’s voice derailed his increasingly maudlin thoughts, and Noctis thought for a moment before shrugging.

“Something here, big cake, enough room for everyone who wants to come-”

His father smiled as he rested his chin on his hands. “That sounds lovely, son. We could have the kitchens cater…” Noctis smiled as his father launched into a basic plan, and settled back in his chair. That’s what he was talking about. His dad had always had a soft spot for planning fun events; it was something totally different than the business of the kingdom, and usually ended up with people in a good mood for once. He wasn’t going to make it a surprise party, but he wanted to make sure that planning was well underway before he told Prom.

About a week later, however, he was reminded of the downside of asking the king for help. His father’s inquiries for various things had somehow been leaked to the press, and now the whole damn world knew that they were planning a party, which meant Prompto totally knew what was going on. And when Prom approached him in the training hall after a sparring session with Gladio, he knew he was screwed.

“Noct, what’s going on? Gladio doesn’t seem to know, Iggy is as tight-lipped as usual, and you’ve been super elusive. Then I saw something about a party being planned here at the Citadel on some second-rate news site this morning, and well, I couldn’t think of anything there’d be a party planned for except…” Prom trailed off, and Noct grinned, reaching out and ruffling the blond’s hair as they headed out of the hall towards his quarters.

“Except you, you mean?” he stated, and Prom gave him a wide-eyed stare. “Yeah, well, I thought it was high time you had a proper damn party for once; not saying that our usual was bad or anything, but yeah, party. What...what do you think?” he stuttered the last few words as he spoke, suddenly nervous that he had screwed everything up. Prom was still looking at him like he had grown a second head, which didn’t bode well for his rapidly dwindling confidence. “Prom, you okay?”

“Uh, really? I mean, a party sounds great, I don’t think I’m worth all the bother, though...it sounds like you asked the king for help? I-” Noctis shook his head and sighed, cutting the other man off.

“Dad likes you, you know that, and why wouldn’t we want to throw you a party? I had that overblown thing for my birthday, it’s your turn now.”

“But you’re the prince! I’m just-”

“-one of the saviors of Insomnia, whose actions are partially responsible for the end of the Starscourge, who is one of the divinely chosen representatives of the Dawn Mother, and who, almost single-handedly, saved me and Luna’s life? Not that the last part is public knowledge, but you see what I’m getting at here?” Noctis stated plainly, and Prompto flushed a deep red that accentuated every blasted freckle on his face. It was completely endearing. Prom opened and closed his mouth a few times, then started gnawing on his bottom lip as he looked at everyone but him. Noctis waited a little while, then finally reached out and poked Prom in the cheek. “Hey.” Prompto sighed and scrubbed at his nose with a loose fist.

“You know that Cor is responsible for a lot of that too, right? And I could have never pulled off the last thing without him-” Noct finally decided to just pinch Prompto’s lips shut, completely derailing the blond mid-redirect.

“Trust me, no one is lessening Cor’s contributions to the whole thing, we know that he had been quietly working here and there behind the scenes for almost thirty years even before everything went down, but still. You know what you did, Prom, and stop trying to say otherwise. It’s annoying.” he grumbled, and Prompto stepped back and crossed his arms for a moment, looking perturbed, then finally sighed and nodded.

“You and everyone, I guess. I am pretty bad about doing that, aren’t I? Gladio said something similar to me not too long ago, and Cor and the king both have said something as well-”

“Then listen to them, if you won’t hear it from me. Okay?” Noctis asked, and Prompto nodded ruefully. “Now, party. Any special requests?” Prom froze, but this time Noctis waited and let him think about it for a little while.

“I like spice cake?” Noctis grinned, and clapped him on the back.

“See, now we’re getting somewhere.” Spice cake. Noctis managed to not let his smile slip, but it was a close thing. Shit, now he needed to let the kitchens know immediately, he had told them chocolate. But first- “Anything else?” Prompto hummed to himself for a minute, then shrugged; Noctis took the pause to punch in the lock code for his door, and the two headed inside.

“As long as everyone can come, that would be cool. You know, the usuals, the Glaives, Cor…” Prompto said, and Noctis grunted his agreement.

“Nyx definitely has to be there. Watching Cor with him the last few months has been hillarious. Remember what I said when you got pissed at Cor the morning after everything? About him being kinda emotionally stunted?” he chuckled, and Prompto burst out laughing.

“Oh man, poor Nyx; Cor just looks lost half the time he’s talking to him, but at the same time-”

“I honestly don’t know if Cor has ever been in a serious relationship, I don’t remember seeing him with anyone. I’m tempted to ask dad, because this shit is getting stupid, and that’s even in comparison to us,” Noctis snorted, and Prompto glowered.

“Well, how was I supposed to know? I mean, you guys are always around, and you all tended to kinda flirt with me anyway...well, maybe less with Iggy, but I think he’s just more subtle…” Prompto grumbled, and even Noctis had to admit that the blond had a point. Gladio had been the most obvious about it, with his constant manhandling, but even his moves and whatnot could be explained away by him just joking around. As for Iggy, yeah, he was right. Subtle was practically his middle name when it came to anything like relationships, and even Noctis had not quite realized that Ignis was interested in him in that way for some time because of it. The fact that he had willingly announced it to Prompto a few weeks back had been shocking enough, and that was probably because it was clear that the youngest member of their group hadn’t gotten the clue yet after months of again, far too subtle hints. The two men flopped onto his over-sized sofa next to each other, and Noctis leaned over and bumped Prompto’s shoulder with his own.

“Okay, yeah, you might have a point there. But now you know, whatever you end up wanting to do with that information,” he stated, and was relieved to get a bright smile in response, then thrilled a few seconds later when Prompto tipped over, letting his head fall into his lap.

“Got the message loud and clear, your highness,” Prom commented, and Noctis snorted, running his fingers through the blond’s hair until they both dozed off. It was a nice way to take a nap.

It was easy enough to gather a loose guest list and instruct the kitchens that the birthday boy liked spice cake, but Noctis wasn’t prepared when the press figured out who the party was for. His father summoned him to his office only a few hours after the news leaked, and it was as bad as he had feared it would be when he had first found out from Ignis.

“What do you mean, you’re getting flooded with requests for party invitations?” Noctis snapped, and his father gave him a sharp look at his tone before sighing.

“As mad as it sounds, son, Prompto has gone from the complete unknown who had been seen in the prince’s presence a few times over the past few years to one of the saviors of the world, and a photogenic savior who works by singing magic is about as perfect as the press can get to grace their front page. We are there on a frequent basis, but Prompto is new to them. Cor’s getting a lot more attention too, but let’s face it, he was already a somewhat known entity who just happened to be far more interesting than even the whole Immortal schtick led them to believe, but he’s not a good-looking young man with a beautiful voice-” Noctis interrupted his father with a choked snort.

“Tell that to half the Citadel, I’m pretty sure that all those hot or not of the Citadel lists just decided to get permanent plaques with Cor’s name on them because he had been at the top for so long, then to find about about the whole herald thing-”

“-half the tabloids right now are either wondering who he’s dating or if he’s being held hostage here,” his father gave him a look, but had continued on as if Noctis hadn’t spoken. “Let’s be honest, allowing some well-connected people to attend would be good for Prompto’s image, and might dispel some of the more ridiculous rumors, but the only way I could see it working out is if we extended the time and allowed for a broader event for the first few hours-”

“He’ll hate it. He just wants us there, not strangers,” he cut in again, but this time his dad allowed it, tilting his head in agreement.

“I agree, but I believe we should ask Prompto’s opinion before we move forward. Do you agree?” Noctis scratched at his nose, but nodded.

“Yeah, I suppose.” A totally unrelated thought came to mind, and he grinned.

“Hey, dad, I was wondering, do you know if Cor has ever been in an actual relationship?” The king looked him dead in the eye, a done expression that made Noctis burst out laughing.

“Is this about his inept possible fumblings around Captain Ulric?” The two spoke in eyebrow waggles for a moment, before his dad finally just groaned and let his head fall into his hands.

“We somehow save the world without fucking it up too badly, and everyone goes crazy in the aftermath. To answer your question, son, a few short ones, and they were all a very long time ago. Before you were born, for the most part. I think he decided it wasn’t worth the trouble.”

“Until now?” Noctis commented, and his father snorted.

“I guess we will see.”

Noctis left his dad’s office shortly thereafter and headed back to his quarters to see if Prom was there. He was, along with both Gladio and Iggy, and he couldn’t help an annoyed sigh as he fell onto his sofa next to Prom, who was playing on his phone. His shield was lounging in one of the chairs reading a book, and had not even looked up at his entrance. Typical.

“What is the matter, Noct?” Iggy asked from the kitchen, and Noctis groaned, running a hand through his hair.

“Spit it out, Noct,” Gladio said, not even looking up from his book; Prompto nudged him with an elbow but said nothing. Noctis looked over at the blond and grimaced.

“So this whole party thing has gone a little crazy,” he stated, and Prom frowned.

“What happened?” Noctis sighed, reaching out to tweak a lock of the sunny hair on his friend’s head.

“Turns out the press figured out the party was for you, and now-”

“-and now?”

“Dad says there’s all sorts of famous and noble types all trying to get in now, now that you’re the hot social ticket of the year. I told him that you probably wouldn’t like that, but he wanted me to ask you to consider letting the party be a little longer? Like an hour or two on the beginning for the wider audience before they all get kicked out and it’s just us? He knew that you probably wouldn’t be thrilled, but-” Noctis cut himself off at the look on Prompto’s face, wide eyes set in pale cheeks, and sighed. “You don’t have to, you know, dad can tell them all to-” Prompto shook his head, a wan smile that Noctis didn’t believe in the slightest on his face.

“No, it’s fine, it’s just a bit surprising; I mean, why would anyone else care about me? Is it a meet the new weirdo thing? Wait, don’t answer that,” Prompto muttered as he got to his feet, and Gladio and Noctis looked at each other in dismay as the youngest of their group walked into the kitchen without another word.

“Why didn’t the king just tell them all to fuck off, as you were about to say?” Gladio asked quietly, and Noctis frowned.

“Something about how allowing a few well-connected types might help...what was the word he used… dispel some rumors; I guess some of the rags are claiming that he’s pretty much being held captive here,” he responded, and Gladio slapped himself in the forehead in response.

“I hadn’t heard that one, although I had heard that the king was supposedly jealous of Prom and Cor because of their abilities and wanted to make sure they were kept under control. Luckily, I don’t think that rumor has gotten much traction, because it’s been pretty obvious that he’s at least okay with it. But you know the media,” Gladio stated, and Noctis nodded.

“Yeah, unfortunately.”

“Blondie’s putting on a good face, but he doesn’t like this either,” Gladio said, and Noctis let himself flop back into the cushions.

“Yeah, I know that too. This wasn’t what I had in mind for throwing him a birthday party,” he groused, and Gladio got up and sat down next to him, wrapping one of those big arms around his waist and pulling him to his side. It was nice, and Noctis let his head fall against Gladio’s shoulder.

“Yeah, I know Noct. But this is your play, you’ve gotta figure it out.”

“I’ll figure it out.”

He didn’t figure it out fast enough. Nyx, of all people, threw an additional wrench in the works only two days later when he mentioned to the lot of them that Little Galahd had also expressed interest in throwing the voice of the dawn a birthday party, and Noctis could see the exact moment when Prompto shut down, his face going dull and blank as he quietly claimed that everything sounded fine, but then promptly excused himself. Nyx gave the lot of them a look that he couldn’t quite translate, then departed as well.

“Fuck,” Noctis swore, smacking his palm against his forehead.

“Not that I approve of the language, Noct, but you appear to have quite the conundrum on your hands,” Ignis helpfully chipped in, and Noctis scowled.

“I just wanted to give him a damn party, and it’s turned into all this bullshit. Why does this always happen?” he grumbled, and Gladio gave him a pat on the back.

“Go find our favorite chocobohead, iron out what we all know he’d actually like, then go tell everyone else to go hang,” Gladio stated, and Noctis nodded.

“Yeah, you’re right. I’ll go find him,” he replied, and immediately departed. But after a half hour of searching and no answer to his phone calls, he had no clue where Prom had gone, and finally just headed to his father’s office. He knocked, but was already opening the door before Clarus could summon him in.

“Hi dad, hi Clarus, can I talk with you for a minute?” Clarus raised an eyebrow but set down the papers he was holding, looking up at Noctis; his father just sighed and took off his reading glasses.

“This is about Prompto, correct?” Noctis nodded, throwing himself into the chair in front of his father’s desk.

“Can we skip the whole allowing celebs to come thing? Prom is about to have a meltdown, he’s just not letting us see it. Then Nyx told him that I guess a bunch of people from Little Galahd want him to throw him a party too-” That got both his dad’s and Clarus’s attention, Lord Amicitia leaning forward to look Noctis in the eye.

“I’ve not heard about this, is it new?” Clarus asked, and Noctis shrugged.

“I think so? Even Nyx sounded like he thought the timing was a bit much, but I suppose it’s not a big surprise that they want Prom over to visit again. I figured it would probably be him, Cor, and Nyx going to whatever ends up going down there, so I wasn’t worried about it, but it kinda seemed like the last straw,” he stated, and his father tilted his head.

“I’ll leave any arrangements regarding that up to the three of them unless they have need of either myself or Clarus, I think. As for your original request-” Another knock at the door cut his father off. “Enter.” Noctis sat up straight as none other than the topic of their discussion walked in tentatively, his face a bit blotchy and the edges of his eyes suspiciously pinker than usual. Shit. “Prompto, this is a surprise. Please, sit.”

“Thank you, your highness,” Prompto said, sitting in the other chair in front of the desk. Noctis watched with more than a hint of nervousness as his father looked between him and Prom for a moment, before smiling.

“I’m guessing you are also here because of how everything appears to have gotten blown out of proportion in what was supposed to be a nice birthday party?” Prompto flushed a bit at the king’s words, but firmly nodded, and Noctis could tell that he was steeling himself for an argument. “Noctis was here asking much the same,” his father stated, nodding towards him. “I have an idea. Something that should get the nobles and personalities off our backs, and let you have what my son was always intending this to be, a nice party with family and friends. Will you allow me to explain?” Prompto bobbed his head, and Noctis crossed his arms, waiting. “Why don’t we have a nice, controlled afternoon tea earlier in the day, with a select guest list and only lasting an hour or two at most. You and Noctis can chat with various celebrities and nobles a bit, have a pleasant light lunch, and bow out without feeling guilty after said hour or so,” his father paused and grinned mischievously, and Prompto actually giggled in response. “-then those pushy old bastards can go bugger off, and you can have a nice birthday party with those who you actually want to see that evening. What do you think?” It sounded perfect to Noctis, but it was up to Prompto. The blond sat in his chair for a long moment as they let him think, but it didn’t take long.

“That sounds...actually pretty cool. You sure that’s okay? I mean, wait-” Prompto cut himself off, then got to his feet and gave a shallow bow to the king. “That sounds great, sir, thank you.” His father waved away Prom’s silly bow, and gestured to him.

“Thank Noctis, it was him letting me know how overblown this had all gotten that made me think of it. I’ll get something set up and ask you a little later about perhaps a few celebrities that you would like to meet, if that’s alright.” Prompto bobbed his head again, and Noctis got to his feet to join his friend. “Then we’ve figured it out. I’m sorry for the unrest, Prompto, that wasn’t intended, it’s just that things and events here tend to be blown out of proportion very quickly sometimes.” Prompto chuckled and shrugged in response.

“Well, I guess it’s the whole royalty thing, I’m still not used to being, well, in the midst of it all. But thanks, really. I appreciate it, I’m sure everything will be awesome,” Prom said, and Clarus even cracked a smile from his seat as Prompto half-bowed again, and Noctis coaxed him out of the room, giving his dad a quick thumbs up before closing the door behind them.

“Well, I’m glad we figured that bullshit out. Prom, does this work for you-” Noctis almost bit his tongue as Prompto grabbed his arm and dragged him to the elevators without a word, not saying a thing until they were back in his quarters. “Prom, what-” Noctis found himself slammed against the wall in the entrance, then found himself with a face full of freckled blond as he got kissed within an inch of his life; not even Ignis coming around the corner to see what was going on got the two to stop until Noctis had to break away to breathe, panting softly as Prompto’s flushed face and swollen lips did the same.

“Thank you,” Prompto said, leaning in one more time to kiss Noctis, then carefully stepped away, a twinkle in his eye that made Noctis’s mouth go dry. “Hey Iggy! What’s for dinner?” Noctis ignored the completely amused expression on Ignis’s face as he let his head thwack the wall behind him. Well, he had said he had been feeling left out. Only pride kept Noctis from sliding to the floor like a bad soap opera actress. Damn, the boy could kiss.

The next week and a half passed in a flurry of far more enjoyable planning, with him wrapping up the party plans while Prom and his father figured out who would be going to the tea. As he had predicted, Nyx had tentatively scheduled himself, Cor, and Prompto for a visit to the Galahdian district after Prom’s actual birthday, with the people told that the voice, while honored, really didn’t want the fuss of a party. Luckily, they saw it for what it was, Prompto not wanting people to fuss too much, and promised to simply show them more of the area and people.

The tea was a complete success. Prom got to meet a few singers and actors he liked while Cor tried to look somewhat sociable but only really managed being the most intimidating wallflower ever; Crowe had somehow gotten in, ostensibly as security, but they could see her chatting with everyone and sending texts and messages constantly, probably to Nyx, if Noctis’s guess was correct. Ignis was, of course, a natural, and had been largely helping Prompto out with proper introductions with the nobles that had attended. Gladio had skipped, citing the need to get a few things done before the party. His loss. Noctis stayed on his best behavior, enjoying watching as a slice of the who’s who of Insomnia were introduced to the real Prompto Argentum, a sweet, bubbly young man who could light up a room with his presence. He was a bonafide hit with pretty much all the guests, and even managed to drag Cor out of his corner table for a few minutes before the tea wrapped up for the evening, introducing the dour man to his favorite pop singer with an enthusiasm that made all three parties enjoy the conversation.

Just as promised, though, he and Prompto made their farewells and left without issue, Cor, Ignis, and Crowe following right behind them.

“Well, I think that went quite well, don’t you think, Prompto?” Ignis asked, and Prompto grinned, hooking his arm around Noctis’s shoulders.

“Yeah, that was great. Thanks for your help.” Ignis shook his head.

“Think nothing of it.”

The party was an even bigger success. Prompto had taken one look at the giant cake and almost fainted, then had almost knocked Noctis over in his exuberance to thank him for remembering his request for spice cake, the two only remaining standing due to Gladio holding them upright.
“Don’t kill each other before the party has even gotten underway,” Gladio grumbled, but nothing was going to slow Prom down from his party high. Over the next few hours, Noctis and Gladio followed sedately as the birthday boy bounced all over the room, and Noctis was utterly impressed with Gladio’s skill at stuffing bites of food in Prom’s mouth at regular intervals even while he was talking with people, and a quick glance over to where Cor and Nyx were sitting told him that he wasn’t the only one amused by the whole thing.

The presents went over well too; the three of them had each given him a little something before the party, with Ignis being oddly cryptic and saying that he had an idea for the four of them, and Cor, being Cor, had gotten Prompto a beautiful custom-made pistol. As cool as Nyx’s gift of a Galahdian necklace and his father’s gift of a shopping spree for a new wardrobe was (when the king walks in on you patching a new hole on your already thrice-repaired pants, he takes notice, as Prom found out,) the winner of the night went to Pelna, whose choice of a giant chocobo beanbag chair went over so well he had knocked the Glaive flat in his thanks.

A short time after the presents were opened, and far too much cake and maybe a few too many fizzy drinks later, Prompto was completely out and snoring, the adrenaline rush of the night completely spent. Noctis and Iggy maneuvered him so he was lying across their laps in some semblance of comfort before relaxing against the cushions of the large sofa themselves, the buzz of the few drinks Noctis had consumed deflating into a solid post-party exhaustion. The crowd had thinned to only a dozen or so people, mostly asleep or too drunk to be moving much, and he patted at Prom’s head and tried not to fall asleep himself.

“I would say I win, but we never actually finalized a bet,” Gladio said from out of nowhere, the big man far too chipper for the rest of the conked out party goers as he took a seat next to him, reaching over and running his fingers through Prompto’s hair. Ignis and Noctis both gave the shield a confused look. “Prom will be thrilled when we tell him.”

“Tell him what? What in the world are you going on about?” Iggy muttered, and the answering grin from Gladio made Noctis actually wake up a bit.

“What happened?”

“I’m going to give you two guesses who I just saw on the balcony inspecting each other’s tonsils,” Gladio looked like he had just won the lottery, and both Ignis and Noctis’s jaws dropped in almost perfect sync.

“You’re joking,” Noctis managed to squeak out words first, and Gladio shook his head, the grin never budging.

“Nope, from the look of it, Nyx had finally just shoved Cor against the damn wall and had his way with him...not that Cor looked like he was complaining. In the slightest. After I suggested they relocate, I pointed out that Cor was falling down on the job for being a guy who could pop all over the fucking place, and he gave me a death glare that was definitely tempered by the fact that he looked like someone who had just been thoroughly kissed, then they poofed away,” Gladio shook his head. “I thanked them for finally figuring their shit out, too.” Ignis groaned, even as Noctis began to laugh.

“Gladio, you didn’t.”

“I did,” Gladio almost sing-songed, and Noctis kept laughing. Damn, he was happy it all worked out in the end. The party, Prompto, even Cor possibly getting some, er, maybe finding a partner? Well, he had known the guy his whole life, he didn’t want to think on it too much. Cor was practically his uncle. A groan came from their laps, and Noctis looked down to see Prompto blinking owlishly from his lap.

“Wha happened?” Prom mumbled sleepily, and he grinned and leaned over, glancing around before giving the blond a quick peck on the lips.

“According to Gladio, Nyx finally had enough of Cor’s obliviousness and pushed him against the wall outside and started making out with him,” he explained, and the immediate look of amazement on Prompto’s face was golden.
“And? And?”

“Sounds like it worked to me, Gladio said they both left together Cor-style pretty fast,” Noctis chuckled again, and Prompto grinned.

“That’s awesome! Man, today turned out so well,” Prom stated, his head never leaving Noctis’s lap. “Thank you, Noctis.”

Noctis ran his fingers down the side of Prompto’s face, enjoying the sweet smile he was receiving in return. “Happy birthday, Prompto.”

Chapter Text

Part 3 - Ignis

 

Ignis waited patiently for his audience to respond to his proposal, taking the moment to inspect his fingernails before looking up again at the threesome.

“Road trip? Like we were supposed to do before?” Prompto asked, and Ignis raised his eyebrows and gave a short nod.

“Well, not quite like before, this would be perhaps a week or two at most, and nowhere near Altissia for a wedding, that’s for certain,” he pointed out, and Noctis laughed.

“Luna might take offense to any of us getting married without her there, let alone in Altissia. Where were you thinking, Iggy?” Noctis said, and Ignis mentally cringed a bit at the mention of the princess before moving on. While she seemed to think of Noctis as a dear friend, he was still uncertain of whether she harbored actual romantic feelings for the man. Something to worry about later.

“Perhaps a casual tour of the Duscae region, with a specific stop that I will not mention now that I am quite certain would go over well. We would probably stop by Lestallum as well before returning,” he explained, and Noctis pursed his lips and nodded, looking rather impressed. Gladio raised an eyebrow, then leaned back in his chair, his arms raised and his hands against the back of his head. He had already mentioned it to the man, but it was before he had asked for permission.

“You’ve already run this by the king and dad, I can tell. Possibly more importantly, you’ve obviously run this by Cor. The shiny new gun for chocobohead makes sense all of a sudden,” Gladio said, and Ignis gave a slight smile and nodded.

“I brought it up to his majesty, Lord Amicitia, and the marshal a few weeks after Noct’s birthday, I thought it would be nice for all of us, especially Prompto and Noct, to get away from everything for a short while. We are not logging a specific route, we have simply been asked that we comport ourselves with the dignity befitting our stations, be proper ambassadors to the crown, and stay out of trouble. While he didn’t quite spell it out, Cor was also quite transparent in his offer of assistance at any time, should we need it,” Ignis said, and Prompto grinned in response.

“He’d be able to reach us in less than an hour anywhere in the Duscae, if I understood his range correctly. Man, I wish I could do that,” Prompto grumbled half-heartedly, only to get his hair scuffed by Gladio.

“You have your own schtick, blondie, and it’s a lot more fun for the audience than Cor poofing off everywhere,” he snorted, and then turned back to Ignis. “When are you thinking?”

“In a week, if nothing else arises. Since we were already supplied for our original trip, we actually need very little extra. Food, mainly, and our luggage, of course,” he stated, and Gladio nodded. “What do you all think?” He watched as the three men looked at each other with growing smiles on their faces, and the tiny sliver of anxiety that they wouldn’t like the idea faded away as all three of his favorite people turned to him as one and nodded.

“I’ll pack tonight, this is going to be awesome!” Prompto yelled, then Ignis was pleasantly surprised by a sudden lapful of happy blond, and he automatically brought his arms up to wrap around the slim waist. “Thank you, Iggy. You’re the best.” For the first time since the idea of all four of them came up, Prompto leaned over and gave him a kiss; unlike that first one he had observed between Noct and Prompto, this kiss stayed light and sweet, with only a hint of tongue before the younger man withdrew. “Is that okay?” Ignis blinked at the quiet question for a second before raising a hand and drawing Prompto back down, giving him another kiss before releasing him.

“I hope I’ve satisfied your question,” he said, and the blond grinned and slid off his lap, looking over at Noctis before striding towards the bedroom.

“Time to pack! I’ve got all these new clothes, do I want to bring them or some of my older ones-” Noctis ran after him, the bedroom door closing behind them. Ignis stared off into space for longer than he would ever admit until he was interrupted by Gladio.

“He’s something else, isn’t he?” the shield exclaimed, and Ignis huffed a short laugh as he got to his feet, approaching the eldest of their group.

“As far as I’m concerned, you are all something else . ” Ignis finished, then leaned over and kissed Gladio briefly before stepping back and heading for the door. “I’m going to inform the pertinent parties that the trip is on, would you like to join me?” He relished Gladio’s wide-eyed expression for a moment before he turned away to put his shoes back on; a few seconds later, a familiar shadow came from behind, and a hand coaxed his shoulders around until he too was kissed by Gladio, short, sweet, and a bit scratchy, before the man stepped around him to grab his own shoes.

“Sounds like a plan, Iggy. Lead on.”

The week went by quickly in a flurry of packing and preparations, and before they knew it, the Regalia was pulled around to the eastern entrance, stuffed to the brim and ready to go. Prompto had already taken at least a dozen photos and a selfie or two, Noctis had been ordered to put as much of his fishing stuff as possible in his armiger before the car exploded, and Gladio had somehow managed to squish in what Ignis was quite certain was far too much camping gear, but they were ready. The three “dads” were there to see them off, along with Ulric, Ostium, and Altius, and after a few hugs (Prompto,) mild warnings (the dads,) and insults (Altius,) the four of them were in the car and on their way out of the city.

“I’ve never been out of the city, this is going to be great!” Prompto shouted as soon as they cleared the last gate, and Ignis gave him a quick look out of the corner of his eye as he gunned the engine, leaving Insomnia behind. “That doesn’t count, I only remember a tiny bit of it,” the blond groused, and Ignis conceded the point. Prompto had only been three, from what Cor had stated, so he had a point.

“Did you have anywhere specific you wished to go? Any of you? I plan to stop by Hammerhead, the king has asked us to drop off some letters for a Mr. Sophiar, who I believe is an old friend of his, then there is nothing specific planned,” he stated, and was pleased see Noctis brighten in the back seat.

“I’d like to see Galdin Quay, I could do some fishing there,” Noctis said, and Gladio looked up from his book and grinned.

“Sounds good to me, I've heard they have great food,” Gladio concurred, and Ignis nodded, then glanced once again at Prompto.

“What say you, Prompto?”

“Sounds good to me!”

Galdin Quay it was. But first, they needed to get to Hammerhead and take care of the king’s errand first, and perhaps get an early dinner before deciding where to stay the night. The havens of old still existed, even if the daemons were gone, and were usually avoided by most wild animals. He was quite sure that Gladio would jump at a chance to actually use his camping equipment, and it would be nice to see the stars away from the lights of the city for once.

Prompto leaned over his door, camera in hand, and Ignis instinctively brought a hand up and grabbed his belt for stability as the younger man took his photos. There were far more cars out on the road in Leide than he remembered, and Ignis knew that the duel defeat of both the Scourge and the empire had led to the increased movement of people in and out of the capital. While the old traditionalists and xenophobes in Insomnia had been bemoaning the supposed loss of their pure Insomnia with the wall gone, most people had been quick to point out that the city had never been what they claimed it was, and to shut it already. He agreed with the latter entirely.

The lights dimmed on the dashboard suddenly, followed by a momentary loss of power. Prompto seated himself back in the car properly as Ignis squinted as dim but ominous lights flashed across the dashboard.

“Oh dear, this might be a problem,” he muttered, and Prompto leaned in and frowned at the dash as well.

“I thought this was just looked over, there’s several service lights on now. Do you think we can make it to Hammerhead? It’s a auto shop, right?” Prompto asked, and Ignis carefully pressed the gas pedal and was relieved at the responding acceleration.

“I am afraid I will be turning off the radio and AC for now, I want to avoid any extra power drain until we arrive,” he explained, and he could see Gladio frown through the rear view mirror. Noctis was awake, but he kept his mouth shut and just listened to the others.

“I forgot to ask, but how are we going to be paying for all this? Dad reminded me that the rest of Lucis uses gil, but all he did is hand me a small stack of bills and tell me good luck. I don’t know if I’ve got a small fortune here, or just enough to buy us dinner,” Gladio said, and Ignis sighed.

“The king gifted us with a decent amount of funds, enough that he claimed would see us through the trip provided we didn’t stay at the hotel at Galdin, or spend otherwise extravagantly. But with the Regalia suddenly acting up, we might have to do some extra planning, depending on if you are willing to part with whatever Lord Amicitia gave you.” Gladio sighed once more and picked up his book again.

“We’ll figure it out when we get there, I guess,” Gladio stated, and Ignis nodded and returned his full attention to the road.

Thankfully, the car managed to make it to their destination, and he pulled it in close to the garage doors and killed the engine. “Well, at least we arrived without any further issue,” he said quietly as he got out of the car, the others following his lead at various speeds. “Well, first things first, I need to locate Mr. Sophiar-”

“I’ve been seein’ a lot of crown city cars lately, but this one might just be the prettiest one yet.” A strong distinctive voice interrupted him, and the lot of them turned around to see a rather stunning young woman with short sandy hair and a well-ventilated outfit with her hands on her hips. “Ah, I recognize you! The prince and the...voice, right? I think I even remember seeing you two as well in the papers as well,” the woman gestured to Ignis and Gladio, who nodded. “Well, then allow me to thank you four, then,” she grinned, and Ignis met Noctis’s eyes with a bit of a question. Noctis stepped forward and gave the young lady a friendly smile.

“I’m not quite sure what you think you need to thank us for, but-” Noctis started, but the woman shook her head.

“I know you all in the crown city had kinda forgotten, but daemons were always a major threat outside the main towns out here. To have them and the Starscourge gone? It’s a dream come true, prince. When we got the papers and heard the reports over the radio, Takka threw a party over at the diner to celebrate. Maybe we should have another-” An old man walked up slowly, waved a hand and cut her off.

“Ah, last thing we need around here is another party, Cindy. Especially for this bunch,” the old man grumbled, and Ignis actually felt a little insulted as the man approached Noctis and gave him a searching look. “Well, well, you’ve gotta be Reggie’s boy. Favor your momma for now, but I bet that you’ll look more like your daddy when you get a few more years under your belt,” Noctis’s mouth gaped as the man then turned to Gladio, his eyes tracing the long lines of the shield’s form. “Then we have this big boy over here, I always wondered how you Amicitia boys ended up so large, you’re even bigger than your grumpy old man.” Another turn and Ignis found himself under a surprisingly intense gaze. “You, I’m not sure about, but you remind me of the chamberlain that was getting trained up before Reggie became king. What was his name, Scienta, Sceintia-” Ignis had to cut in on Mr. Sophiar, and he knew damn good and well that this old man was exactly who they were there for, the king had showed him an old picture and described him as a stubborn old cuss, which Ignis was finding rather accurate so far.

“Scientia, sir?” Cid froze, then gave an answering grunt.

“Yep, that sounds right. You a kid of his?”

“Nephew, sir,” he replied, and Cid nodded before turning finally to Prompto, who just looked a bit bemused at the whole encounter.

“Then we have you. The papers and radio are saying all sorts of interesting things about you, kid. Something about singing magic? Sounds fiddly to me. But you and the kid seem to both have some sort of magic thing going on, and the next time that idiot gets anywhere near here, I’m going to throttle him for not saying anything-”

“Paw-paw!” Cindy snapped, and the four men watched with wide eyes as Cindy gave her father? Grandfather? a warning expression before the old man sighed. Prompto raised his hand a tiny bit like he was sitting in a classroom, and Ignis could feel a headache coming on.

“Ah, sorry, who’s the kid you are talking about?” Prompto asked, and Cid snorted and waved a hand.

“Who’s the kid, he asks. That damned idiot and his love of throwing himself into danger every two minutes...look, blondie, I’ve known Cor Leonis since the swords he wielded dwarfed him twice over, and he went from young and stupid to less young and stupid, with a side of being too damn serious for his own good. He’s the only one of the old crowd I’ve actually seen in the last thirty years, and even he only tends to stop by every five years or so. My Cindy had quite the crush on him back in the day until I told her he couldn’t find his ass with his own hands when it came to relationship shit-” Cid cut himself off as Prompto burst out into delighted laughter, and even Ignis felt a smile creeping onto his face. “I’m guessing he’s not changed, by your reaction.” Prompto gave a rather telling wobbling hand motion, but grinned at the old man.

“You’re right, but, and this is a total secret, someone recently figured out how to bypass his cluelessness.” Cid snorted.

“What’d they do, grab his ass and back him into a corner? Because that’s what it would probably take; the damn kid went into the military too young, he never got to be a normal teenager. I think it screwed him up sometimes,” the old man took his hat off as he spoke, running a leathery hand through his hair before popping it back on his head. Ignis watched as Prompto opened his mouth to say something, but finally just took his phone out and poked at it for a moment before sidling up to Cid and showing him the screen. Cid squinted at the small screen for a moment, and for the first time since the whole surreal exchange had started, the scowl melted away from Cid’s face, and Ignis could finally see the man that Regis had also described as as good as they come as his eyes softened at whatever Prompto was showing him. “Well, I’ll be. Good for him. That’s the boy that took over Reggie’s Glaives, right? He’s been in the papers occasionally too,” Cid asked, and Prompto kept the screen up as Cindy leaned over and looked as well, a sweet smile blossoming on her features as she inspected the image.

“Yessir. It’s been less than a month so far, but, ah, as you said, he basically just shoved Cor against a wall and kissed him. Seemed to do the trick,” Prompto chuckled, and Cid actually cracked a real smile.

“Well, that’s a sight. Tell the kid to come visit, and to bring his boy with him. I wanna meet who managed to pull this off,” Cid ordered, and everyone couldn’t help but nod their agreement. “Well then, I’m figuring you’ve got a real reason for being here.” Ignis stepped forward and handed Cid the small bundle of letters.

“I was asked by his majesty to deliver these to you, sir. He also instructed me to tell you that he hopes that he might be able to visit at some point in the future, or that you might come to see him,” he stated, and Cid nodded and looked down at the letters with a tiny sigh, his expression wistful. “I’m also afraid that we might need to request your usual services, during our drive here, the power to the Regalia seemed to weaken, and while we were able to finish the drive, I’m concerned for our further travels.” Cindy immediately broke away from the group and walked over to the car, leaning into the driver’s side and popping the hood.

“Come over here and try to start it, would you? I bet I know what’s the matter,” Cindy said, and Ignis dutifully walked over and tried to do just that, only to receive an ominous clicking in response. “Did the lights dim? AC seem to cycle off?” He nodded, and Cindy waved him over to look at the mess under the large hood, but he had no idea what he was looking at. The other three also joined him as they looked at the engine, but the looks on their faces told him that they knew about as much as he did. Cindy looked at the lot of them and gave a lighthearted roll of her eyes. “Not a lick of car knowledge between any of you, is there? Okay, here goes; I’m guessing a lazy mechanic back in the crown city looked it over, noticed the power issue, and assumed that the battery was dying-” she pointed out the battery, which was clearly new. “-then swapped it out for a new one. But what is actually wrong is that the alternator is shot; I could jump her, but she’ll be dead again when you turn the car off. Possibly before you turn the car off, depending on how busted the alternator is. Needs to be changed out,” Cindy finished, then Ignis watched as she sighed and shooed them away from the car. “You’d think I’d just asked you to rebuild the engine from the blank looks on your faces. I’ll take care of the old girl, you four go find yourself dinner and I’ll be done soon.” Cindy pointed to the diner across the parking lot, and after they exchanged a few looks, they all decided that the mechanic had the right of it, and took her advice.

Twenty minutes later saw them with a nice warm meal being placed in front of them by the previously mentioned Takka, who seemed to be nice enough, if a bit skittish, and Ignis and Gladio inspected their funds as the younger half of their foursome dug into their meals.

“Twenty thousand gil. Our meal here was close to one thousand, so we are already down to nineteen. Who knows what Cindy is gonna charge...” Gladio trailed off as he too dug into his meal, and Ignis sighed and followed suit.

To Ignis’s great relief, however, Cindy only charged them for the part itself, and he was quite certain that she undercharged them even for that. Only seven-hundred gil later, and they bid the pleasant young lady and her cantankerous grandfather goodbye, both mechanics extracting a promise out of them to return and visit properly someday, and set off on the road again. “I suggest we find an appropriate campsite within the next hour or so, while we don’t need to worry about daemons, there are still many beasts that are more active at night,” Ignis said, and he didn’t need to look in the back seat to see Gladio’s gleeful answering grin.

Camping ,” Noctis hissed, and was immediately assaulted by Gladio, who pulled him into a headlock; Prompto just rolled his eyes and went back to taking photos. Ignis ignored the backseat and waved a hand to get Prompto’s attention.

“Yeah?” Ignis gestured to the glove compartment, and the blond took the hint and opened it up.

“The marshal put in a map that he promises is decently up to date. Could you see if there are havens marked on it?” he asked, and Prompto dutifully pulled out the map and opened it up, looking at the map and back up at their surroundings a few times before pointing straight.

“If I’m reading this right, we’ll get to one not far off the main road in forty-five minutes or so.” Ignis smiled, reaching out and running his fingertips down Prompto’s cheek, the blond giving a lovely grin in return.

“Sounds like a solid plan.”

As Prompto had deduced, they found the haven easily, and after a largely one-man whirlwind of camping supplies had blown through, they had themselves a rather respectable campsite, complete with tent that looked like it might fit everyone without having to stack. A light snack and a pleasant time by the fire later, they adjourned to the tent; they had not shared the same bed since they had revealed their...interest in each other, but Ignis need not have worried. It was cool enough that the familiar cuddle pile they ended up in was quite comfortable, and he buried his nose into the back of Prompto’s neck, giving it a kiss as he felt Noct’s arms wind around his torso from behind. In a matter of minutes, he knew no more.

Galdin Quay was a small, yet interesting marvel. The restaurant was world-class, the scenery excellent, and so far, the people were friendly and not too nosy. It was clear that Noctis was recognized by pretty much everyone there, and Prompto perhaps only a small bit less, but no one had approached them yet. All Noct had on his mind was fishing, that much was clear, and Ignis was thinking about speaking with Coctura, the head chef, about recipes and food preparation. Gladio wanted to try the food, but was otherwise happy just hanging around with them, and Prompto was all over the place snapping photos, as usual. After consulting with the others, they agreed to stay with the blond for a while during his photoshoot, then they would keep Noct company for a few hours while he fished. Thankfully, Ignis had both his phone and a book with him to keep him entertained during the long inevitable wait.

“There’s a pier at the back of the restaurant, I bet I can get some good shots from there,” Prompto cut in, and without waiting for a reply, the youngest member of their group dashed ahead, leading to the rest speeding up to catch up with him.

“No, blondie isn’t excited about this trip or anything,” Gladio commented, the sarcasm clear in his tone, and Ignis couldn’t help a laugh. “You did good, Iggy. Best idea any of us have had in months.” Ignis could feel the heat rising to his face as Gladio wrapped one of those warm hands around the back of his neck, squeezing lightly before releasing.

“Thank you, Gladio.” They reached the stairs leading down to the dock together, the younger half of their group already below and taking photos. As they descended the stairs, a voice that they did not recognize, sharp and a bit smarmy, came from near their friends, and they sped up to see what was going on.

“-rince and the holy magic singer, the voice, here in Galdin. Goin’ on a trip, your highness? Your grace? Or just passing through?” Ignis and Gladio rounded the corner to see an ash-blond young man looking at Noct and Prompto like they were his next meal ticket, and Ignis bit back a sigh and stepped forward, only to be stopped by Noct, who raised a hand to forestall him.

“What’s it to you?” Noctis stated, and the man tilted his jaw up and smiled, his smile mischievous. He was probably a reporter, it was not exactly a surprise that they had finally run into one, but still. It was only the second day.

“Aw, don’t be like that, Prince Noctis, we’ve only just met. Name’s Dino, I’m a reporter and occasional jeweler. I’m just a little curious why two of the most important people in the world are currently down here, especially because it was getting pretty well known that the voice had been all but locked up in the Citadel,” Dino questioned, and behind Noct, Prompto let out a gusty sigh.

“Why does everyone think I was being held prisoner or something? Man, that stinks,” Prompto grumbled, and Ignis watched in dismay as Dino zeroed in on the blond like a dog chasing a treat.

“So what has happened since the battle at the Citadel, your grace? You were walking with a cane for a while…” Dino trailed off, and Prompto’s nose wrinkled.

“What’s that you keep calling me?” Dino laughed, getting to his feet and brushing his front off.

“I did some research on the Dawnsworn after everything came out, found out all sorts of interesting facts about you all. That’s what they used to call you, you see; unlike the Oracle, the random nature of the goddess’s selection made that you weren’t princes and whatnot, so you all were generally given courtesy titles. Altissia has an excellent selection of ancient dusty books that were a huge help, you’re quite the...fascinating bunch, you must know,” Dino finished, and to Ignis’s shock, Prompto flushed an angry red that spoke more to embarrassment than anything else. He wasn’t entirely certain what was going on, but it had gone entirely far enough. Before Ignis could speak up, though, Noctis stepped in front of Prompto in a clearly defensive move, glowering at the reporter.

“Hey, what the hell, man. Stop with the cryptic talk. What do you want?” Noctis snapped, and Ignis closed his eyes and sighed before reopening them. There were certainly better ways to calm the situation, and berating the reporter was not one of them. Prompto’s reaction, though-

“Woah, I didn’t mean anything by it, your highness, just commenting on what I had read. I’m sure you know everything already, so it’s just small talk. Just interesting, that’s all. So what’s all this, a vacation?” Dino’s smile went as pleasant as he was sure the man could pull off, and Ignis stepped in front of the younger duo and addressed the reporter directly.

“Yes, the prince and the voice are on a short excursion, they hope to enjoy themselves whilst learning about the region as well. Now if you'll excuse us, we have a prior engagement,” Ignis stated firmly, and Dino nodded and gave a half-bow to Noct and Prompto.

“Sounds like a great idea, your highness, your grace. Enjoy your trip!” Dino seemed to have enough brains to know when to quit, and Ignis silently shepherded Noct and Prompto in front of him as they all went back up the stairs to the restaurant. He exchanged a look with Gladio, looking pointedly at Prompto, but the shield just shrugged and shook his head. He didn’t know either. He really hoped that the blond wasn’t keeping secrets again, but even if he was, he sensed that this was a little different than before. Whatever it was, it appeared to be something having to do with his status, and it was apparently very embarrassing, if the blush that was still fading from Prompto’s features was anything to go by.

“Shall we go find a fishing spot, Noct?” Ignis decided to go for the peaceful option for now, and they all took the bait. Watching Noctis fish wasn’t the most exciting activity, but it allowed for everyone to relax and pretend that previous interaction hadn’t happened. A few hours and several fish later, which were donated to Coctura, they had not seen the reporter again, and they were enjoying an excellent meal. The place wasn’t cheap, but it lived up to its reputation.  

A bottle of wine was set down in front of them, and Ignis looked up at Coctura herself, who smiled and uncorked it. “I’ve been told to tell you that this is an apology gift,” she explained as she poured the wine into their goblets.

“I’m assuming from a man named Dino, correct?” Ignis stated, and Coctura nodded and smiled.

“He told me he came on a bit strong when he was asking his questions, and didn’t want you to think too badly of him,” the chef said, and Prompto rolled his eyes and took a swig out of the goblet. Oh dear. Gladio looked a bit worried, but visibly chose to leave it for now, reaching out and taking a sip of his own drink. Ignis looked at Noct, who raised an eyebrow and ignored the wine as he returned to his dinner.

“Tell Dino the thought was appreciated, if he asks,” he told Coctura, who nodded and departed without further comment. The next few minutes were spent watching Prompto down the entire glass of wine in record time with increasing trepidation while quietly finishing their meals. Ignis paid the bill once they were finished, and they headed to the camper they chose to stay in for the evening instead of the incredibly expensive hotel, Prompto still mostly silent as they headed inside.

“Alright, Prom, spill,” Gladio said as the door closed behind them, and Prompto blushed again, flopping down at the little dinette with a groan.

“Do I have to? It’s so...so weird,” the blond grumbled, and that certainly wasn’t the response he was expecting, and neither was Gladio, by the confusion crossing his features.

“Weird? You got funny after he mentioned that he had done research on you…” Gladio trailed off as Prompto’s blush got even more vivid. “Prompto, it can’t be that bad.” Prompto let his head smack the table, his face and neck completely red, and Noctis patted him on the back, then froze.

“Wait, you got kinda shifty after Nyx leant you his dawn book thing, and Cor completely vanished outside of official shit for like three weeks when you passed it onto him. You wouldn’t let me read it, either,” Noctis mused, and Ignis watched as Prompto immediately stiffened up under Noct’s touch. They had a winner. After a moment, the miserable looking blond lifted his head and looked at them gloomily.

“Ugh...I’m such a freak, you guys have no idea. I mean, I don’t think you’ll have a problem with it, but I always knew I was weird, even before the whole singing thing came around, and-”

“Prompto, what in the world are you going on about?” Ignis finally asked, and Prompto groaned.

“That book, right? Nyx thought I knew a lot of that stuff, so he didn’t say anything when he lent it to me. But turns out there’s all sorts of crazy other stuff that the two of us are supposed to be able to do, and it’s...it’s…” Prompto kept trailing off, and Noct patted him on the back again.

“It’s what? Like special murder skills? Temple rituals? I don’t get why it would be so embarrassing-”

“Noct, the Dawn Mother, among other things, is considered the goddess of life and the harvest, if you get where I’m going with this-” Gladio barked out a laugh, quickly shoving his hand over his mouth to stifle it. Ignis sighed again as Prompto gave the shield a dirty look, but he was also seeing where this was heading.

“Oh hell, Prom, are you going where I think you’re going with this?” Gladio coughed out, and Ignis could see when the point finally got through to Noct, his eyes widening as he looked over at the blonde.

“Supposedly I have all sorts of weird sex magic powers, is that what you want me to say? There was literally like three sections in this old-fashioned book about rituals, and virility and fertility stuff…” Prompto’s face had gone full-on scarlet, and Ignis had two very different thoughts on the matter, one of which he was not going to mention out loud. It was far too early in their relationship. As for the other-

“Prompto, are these...abilities something that need to be used? Just because you have them, doesn’t mean that you have to employ them,” he said, and was pleased when Prompto actually stopped squeaking and shuffling in his seat to think.

“You- you might actually have a point. I knew I was weird even as a teen, due to...ah, reasons, but honestly, when I read all that stuff, I freaked out a tiny bit at Nyx, who apologized, then we both realized that Cor was going to flip if he didn’t know about it,” Prompto sighed once more, then chuckled. Gladio snorted and ran a hand through his hair.

“He didn’t know a damn thing about it. The king actually hauled up Ulric to his office to ask what the hell was going on, did you know that? Cor was a fucking ghost for weeks,” Gladio laughed under his breath again, and leaned in over the table at Prompto. “Tell us whatever you want, Prom, but you’ll find that that we’d probably be a more...receptive audience than you think.”

Ignis facepalmed (but silently agreed,) Gladio grinned, Noct laughed with a little too much cackle, and Prompto let his head smash back into the table. They didn’t bring it up again.

For now.

The next morning they set off to the northwest, coming across a fascinating ruin that had probably been there since the time of Solheim; there appeared to be something below the surface, but they could see no way in. The stones of the great tower were missing in large quantities, either through calamity or recycling, but the shadow of what it must have looked like was still easily discernable. Prompto really wanted to stick around for some unknown reason, clearly fascinated by the place. Although Ignis was quite unsure about the proposition, they acquiesced and explored the area, which was truly interesting, if rather ominous, until the sun began to set. They had set up their camp at the nearby haven, and after the sun finally disappeared beyond the horizon, Ignis was about to start cooking dinner when Noct suddenly woke out of his doze, looked around, and jumped out of his chair.

“Where’s Prom?” Noct said, and Ignis whirled around to see no sign of the blond in any direction. He hadn’t been paying attention. Damn it.

“Shit, we told him not to wander off-” Gladio snapped, and the three of them leapt from the haven and ran towards the ruin, only to nearly trip over each other as they realized that the ruins were glowing. “What the- Prompto! Where are you?” Gladio yelled, and Noct pointed towards a shadow near what had looked like the former entrance.

“There!” They ran up the stairs as one, and Noct wrapped his arms around Prompto from behind, giving him a shake. “Prom, what are you doing, you didn’t even say-” Ignis watched Noctis’s eyes grow wide, and he released the younger man and took a step back. He and Gladio exchanged a look and moved around to the front of Prompto, and saw exactly what had startled Noct. Prompto’s eyes were glowing like he had been singing, and he was staring ahead at the glowing blue carvings upon the stone floor like they called to him, making no sign that he even noticed his companion’s presence. Beyond, Ignis could see that the wall that had looked like the obvious entrance was gone, and before they could figure out what to do, Prom began to walk forward towards the open door like he was in a procession, with slow and deliberate steps. The three other men exchanged an alarmed look, and they all moved to block Prompto from going further, leading to Prom walking right into Gladio before stopping, his brows furrowing and his still-radiant eyes growing confused.

Maybe the tower did call to him, but Ignis knew that they were not going to let their friend, Voice of the Dawn or not, go wander into what could easily be his doom. Ignis looked at the shield, and with a firm nod, Gladio picked Prompto up, swinging him into his arms as he began to squirm and reach out towards the tower.

“We need to get him away from here, we have no idea what is within, and we are certainly not prepared for any sort of serious exploration,” Ignis got out as they jogged away from the ruin, Prompto looking more and more flustered as they moved away from it. Just as they reached the outer edges of the walls, Prom, still struggling in Gladio’s grip, took a deep breath and sang, a single note that brought the lot of them to a screeching halt, the red glow of the ruin transforming from ominous to overpowering in an instant. The light drowned out the stars as it spiraled up the length of what was probably the building’s original height into the sky, but just as quickly, it dimmed and returned to the former moderate glow of before.

“What just happened?” Noct asked, his voice almost monotone, and Ignis looked at Prompto, who had calmed, but still looked unfocused, and back once more at the ruin.

“I have no idea. Let’s get back to the campsite for now, hopefully Prompto will snap back out of it,” he replied, and they did just that. Ignis was relieved to see that everything was exactly where they had left it, and Gladio placed Prompto neatly into one of the chairs, keeping his hand on the man’s chest as he tried to immediately get back up.

“Prompto, you need to stay here. Iggy is going to make us dinner.” Prom continued to look lost and tried to get up again, although Ignis could see that the light was receding from his eyes. Noctis scooted his chair right up to Prom, taking his hand and bringing to his mouth, giving his knuckles a firm kiss.

“Come on, Prom, wake up. Forget about the spooky tower, Iggy’s gonna cook us something awesome, and you know it-” The last of the luminescence faded from the voice’s eyes, and Prompto looked around at them all in complete disorientation before shaking his head.

“What- I feel a bit dizzy, what happened?” Gladio and Ignis frowned, and Noct leaned in, reaching out and running his fingers down the blond’s cheek.

“We were hoping you could tell us that. We turned around and you had wandered off; we found you by the ruin, which was glowing, along with your eyes, and you were marching in like it was calling you-” Noctis grimaced, and Prompto looked at him in shock for a moment before his gaze grew distant.

“I- I I think it was something like a stronghold, at least the lower levels, meant to protect some of the most important things and people of Solheim. The missing tower was both a temple and a castle of sorts.” Prompto’s voice grew more certain as he spoke, and the others all exchanged a quick look before focusing back on the subject of their worry. “It was dedicated to her, as a goddess of both earth and sky; it was a major place of worship.” The Dawn Mother. Of course, it made complete sense; Ignis assumed that there was some coded knowledge in Prompto’s divine talents that had informed him as such. Gladio heaved a sigh of relief and leaned over, giving Prompto a quick kiss on the lips before pressing his forehead against the blond’s.

“You scared the shit out of us, Prom. I picked you up to carry you away, and you kept trying to climb out of my arms and return to the place-”

“Fuck, I’m sorry, I don’t even remember.”

“It’s fine, just...if you are feeling some weird urge like that, let us know? At least we can be prepared,” Gladio asked plaintively as he stood back up, and Prompto nodded rapidly. “Good.” Ignis let out his own quiet sigh of relief, then headed back to the camp stove.

“Time for dinner.”

Later that night, all three of them had managed to hold onto Prompto as they squirmed around in the tent, more than half afraid that he would head back to the ruin if they let go. The light Prompto had summoned was still a mystery, but if Ignis had to guess, it was some sort of ritual they had interrupted. Luckily, he showed no sign of wanting to leave again, and they all somehow managed a decent night’s sleep in the end. Ignis called Cor upon awaking, explaining what had happened and recommending that he also avoid the area until perhaps a larger group could travel with them to explore the place. Cor knew of the tower, which was named Costlemark, but had never gone near it. He took Ignis’s words at face value, and agreed to his proposal. Another thing to worry about in the future, but not anytime soon.

The next few days were spent working their way west and around the Disc of Cauthess, taking lots of photos, doing a little hunting, and simply exploring the terrain. People would recognize Noctis and Prompto when they stopped at various mini-marts and outposts, but excepting a question or two, they were largely left alone. Also, to everyone's relief, there was no sign of other magical ruins, only destroyed old tech and far more modern buildings. On the third day after Costlemark, Cor sent them all messages with Lunafreya’s new phone number, confirming that he had verified it before passing it on. From then on, all the others were often sending the princess pictures or messages off and on as they travelled, and even Ignis sent her a few short messages wishing her well as they headed north towards Lestallum.

“Do we try to drive up to the disc?” Ignis asked, but to his relief, all three of his companions shook their heads.

“Didn’t we hear that the road is kinda rough and the ground near the caldera is unstable at best? Probably better we avoid it,” Gladio stated, and both Prom and Noct nodded in agreement.

“Then Lestallum it is.”

As they approached the first large settlement they had seen since they had left Insomnia, Prompto frowned from his seat and looked over at him. “I’ve been meaning to ask, but there was once more towns than the scattered little communities we’ve been coming across, yeah? It seems so empty here sometimes. Was it daemons, or the empire?” Prom thought for a minute, then snorted. “Or both? I remember something about this in school, but they kinda rushed through it.” Ignis nodded as the buildings of Lestallum came into clearer view.

“Over a millennia of imperial incursions and invasions combined with the increasing amount of daemon attacks led to the mass movement of peoples from all over greater Lucis to Insomnia, some more recently as the wall was reduced over the past century; the general estimate at current is that close to fifty percent of all Lucians live within the crown city, the rest are scattered about the continent. There has not been a reliable census of the entire domain outside of the city in centuries, however, so that could be over or understated. If peace holds, and the empire doesn’t try to invade seriously for a time, it is very likely that some people will leave the crown city and return to their ancestral homes. As with the king’s help in Tenebrae, there is already a concentrated effort to restore and improve infrastructure around the continent, so hopefully within a short amount of time, Lucis will finally join Insomnia in the present in its entirety,” he finished his lecture right as he headed to the parking lot, coasting down the driveway and sliding into a spot. “Welcome to Lestallum.”

They all climbed out of the car, grimacing at the cloying heat before looking around. “You’ve been here before, right Iggy?” Noct asked, and Ignis nodded.

“As a child with my uncle, although it’s been close to fifteen years. I’m afraid I will be little help if you need directions to specific destinations,” he said, and Prompto grinned and scuttled towards the outlook below, his camera already out and snapping away. The others shrugged with good humor and followed the blond down the steps.

Lestallum was a joy, despite its insipid humidity; they wandered the streets, enjoying the sights and smells of the vendors as they took in the sights. The only downside is that they were recognized far more easily in the town than they had been anywhere outside Galdin on their trip, with the easy availability of papers and radio, and as they explored the town, they were increasingly approached by curious people wanting to meet two of those responsible for the downfall of the Starscourge. The prince part for Noct was clearly secondary, as the royal family had been increasingly isolated in Insomnia for generations, but the Scourge had been a very real and daily part of these people’s reality for centuries, and they had been deluged with the news out of the crown city of what had happened for months. Ignis was quite aware of how sensational the reports had become over time, however, and he dreaded the thought of what the citizenry had been hearing. He realized very quickly that he had a point to his dread, and they began providing the most straightforward answers they could as the questioning increased.

“Is it true you defeated the Infernian by singing?” They all fought the Infernian together, which weakened him; the grace of the Glacian finished him off.

“Did the Oracle really destroy the crystal?” It’s rather more complicated than that, but trust that she was in the right.

“I heard you can summon the dead?” Prompto, luckily, had heard this one before, and explained that while he requested their presence, but they came of their own will.

“The Scourge ended up focused in the chancellor of Niflheim? How did that happen?” The chancellor was a being that was no longer human, he had been consumed by daemons. It’s quite a long story, and it’s better you read a reputable paper for details.

Most of the questions were pedestrian, and Noct and Prompto had little issue answering them as they continued walking along, politely nodding and thanking the people for their support.

“Is the goddess angry that we had stopped worshipping her?” That question brought them to a standstill, and they all looked to Prompto, waiting for a response; the goddess’s divine messenger blinked, looking thoughtful for a moment before shaking his head slowly.

“No, she is perhaps a bit sad that she was forgotten in much of the world, but she isn’t angry. She only wishes for your happiness, not your guilt,” Prompto’s voice was light and clear and his tone benevolent, and Ignis was reminded of how Cor seemed to know just what to say in similar situations in the set of his squared shoulders and straight back; he could see the approval in Gladio and Noct’s eyes as well at the scene.

“Well, that’s quite the good news, then. Thank you, err...what do we call you?” The woman asked, and Ignis decided to cut in.

“While there appears to be ancient precedent for some various forms of noble address, the matter has not yet been determined for the modern era. As the Princess Lunafreya is often addressed as the oracle, it appears to be standard for many to address Mr. Argentum as the voice. But perhaps that is up to you,” he explained, and the woman nodded, bowing to both Noctis and Prompto before leaving. Prompto looked a bit discomfited, and Gladio patted him on the shoulder.

“Still getting used to it, huh?” Gladio asked, and Prompto sighed, but managed to keep the friendly smile on his face as they walked down the street.

“Yeah, well, it’s what I’ve gotta do. I’m not Noct, but I’ll do my best,” Prompto said, and Noctis wrapped an arm around his shoulders and gave him a quick hug.

“You’ll probably do better than me once you get used to it, Prom. Don’t worry too much about it,” Noct replied, and Prompto laughed, tilting his head to bump the prince’s temple with his own. As recalcitrant as Noctis could be on occasion towards his duties when they were lesser occasions, Ignis had no doubt that the prince might actually be telling the truth.

In the end, they stayed in Lestallum for two days, staying at the hotel and enjoying the food and nightlife; after the first day, people pretty much left them alone, which left them free to explore at their leisure. But the time allotted to their trip was steadily coming to an end, and Ignis had one very specific spot planned on the way back for Prompto. They were not going to miss it. Their luggage was packed back into the car, and after one last pause at the outlook, they piled in and continued on their way.

“Where are we going, Ignis? You’ve been rather cryptic about the end of our trip,” Noct commented from the back seat, and Ignis smirked and turned south. Gladio’s expression was shrewd, and he knew that the shield was quite aware of where they were headed.

“It’s a surprise, but we should be there later this afternoon,” he replied, enjoying the pout from Prompto as the blond crossed his arms.

“No hints?” Ignis shook his head.

“No hints.”

Prompto fluttered his eyelashes at him several times, which was far more attractive than it should have been, but he held firm and Prom finally gave up and began playing on his phone to pass the time. Gladio read, as he usually did, and Noct dozed off. To Ignis’s great amusement, they were all so invested in their individual activities that the giant sign rather blatantly announcing their destination went by unnoticed, and it was Noct’s nose that got them to look up as Ignis pulled off the road up to the ranch.

“What’s that smell-” Noct looked up and grinned. “Hey, Prom, look where Iggy brought us!” The answering sound that came from the blond as he looked around actually caused a shiver to go down their spines, and Ignis was not surprised that there was a hint of light in the voice’s eyes when they all hopped out of the car.

“Chocobos!” Prompto shrieked again, and before Ignis could even formulate a response, the blond rushed forward and leapt into his arms, wrapping his legs around his waist and giving him the filthiest kiss he had possibly ever had; he vaguely registered Gladio quickly shifting to block any view from the ranch house as he and Prom thoroughly explored each other’s tonsils, but his attention was completely captured by the lithe young man he was entwined with.

Prompto was utterly intoxicating, and he found himself in complete understanding with the completely enraptured looks he had seen on Noct and Gladio recently.

“While I hate to say it, you two better break it up before someone comes by,” Noctis cut in with audible chagrin, and Ignis begrudgingly broke away from the minx in his arms and coaxed him down onto his feet, but not before stealing another quick peck before fully withdrawing.

“Thanks, Iggy, I really appreciate it,” Prompto finally got out, and Ignis grinned at the flushed young man standing right in front of him.

“I had no idea, Prompto,” he said with a laugh, gaining him a solid smack to the arm before Prom pivoted on his heel and walked towards the chocobos stabled in the distance, the other three scrambling to catch up. When Prompto was within about fifty feet of the closest chocobo, however, the whole ranch went mad; the chicks ran out of their nests, the grown birds leapt the poles of their stables and the entire herd rushed at their favorite blond as one, the handler that tried to stop the stampede was bumped out of the way as Ignis and the others tried to reach Prompto before the chocobos did-

Then the herd stopped mere inches from their target. Ignis realized that Prompto hadn’t been even alarmed at the rush, and his jaw dropped as the birds wound around the blond making their distinctive noises; the chicks were headbutting and walking over Prom’s feet, and the adult birds were starting to groom his hair as he laughed with delight, letting his fingers stroke feathers and run down beaks as they walled him in.

“What in the world is goin’ on here?” A man dressed in a hide vest and yellow scarf walked up to the wall of chocobos in complete confusion, trying and failing to get any of the birds to move. “I’ve never seen a chocobo do anything like that,” the man said, and Ignis was pleased when Prompto managed to poke his head out of the wall of feathers, a giddy expression that relieved any worries that he had about the situation.

“Ah, sorry, it’s my fault, I think they’re naturally drawn to me,” Prom explained to the man, who looked at him with narrowed eyes before clearly recognizing him, suspicion largely receding from the man’s features.

“You’re that singing kid, the one who helped take care of both the Scourge and the empire, right?” The man smiled, reaching out and petting one of the chocobos. “Name’s Wiz, this is my ranch. Why would the birds like you so much?” Prompto stepped forward, and the birds parted in a clean wave to let him through, falling into a loose formation behind him. The whole scene looked like Prom was the commander of a chocobo squadron for a moment before he started giggling; the chocobos all kwehed as he laughed, and the whole scene looked like something out of a bad TV show as the rest of the humans stood around in somewhat flustered amusement.

“Ah, I’m sorry...the goddess told me that while she and the astrals had worked together to create the world, chocobos were pretty much her idea; she warned me that they might-”

“Recognize you?” Noct drawled, and Prom flushed.

“Maybe?” Prompto squeaked, and Wiz looked Prompto up and down with the eye of someone used to appraising livestock, clearly trying to size their friend up.

“That’s right, there was a whole thing about you and the marshal being divine messengers or something, wasn’t there? I admit, I think I pictured someone more like the marshal than a skinny kid when I first heard that, no offence. But the chocobos approve of you, and that’s good enough for me,” Wiz stated, and turned towards Ignis, Noct, and Gladio with a smile. “Don’t think I didn’t recognize y’all either, especially you, Prince Noctis; y’all featured rather heavily in the same reports, photos and all. On a trip?” All four of them nodded, and Wiz beckoned to the building in front of them. “Well, if you want some lunch, I’d be happy to whip you up one of my club sandwiches.”

“That sounds like a wonderful idea,” Ignis said, and after Prompto coaxed the majority of the chocobos back to where they had been before, they sat down and enjoyed an excellent meal, the chicks constantly darting around their table and bouncing into Prom’s legs as they ate.

“Before you guys ask, no, I didn’t know that was going to happen, although I knew they wouldn’t hurt me when it started, though,” Prompto claimed, and Gladio rolled his eyes.

“It’s just another part of the Magical Voice Prompto saga, you sing magic, activate creepy old buildings with your voice, attract friendly and fluffy birds by your mere presence. No, it’s pretty much par for the course at this point,” Gladio stated bluntly, and Prompto turned scarlet while the rest of them burst out laughing. Prompto shoved the last bite of his sandwich in his mouth, chasing it with the rest of his soda, then slammed the glass back on the table as he got to his feet.

“Well, I can see where I’m not appreciated, I think I’ll go play with my new best friends now, they may not speak much, but at least they don’t make fun of me,” Prompto said in a huff, but the corners of his lips were twitching as he turned and ran towards the stables, the chicks tripping over themselves trying to catch up. Ignis, Noct, and Gladio all exchanged amused looks as the blond threw his arms around the largest chocobo, the beak immediately setting to work grooming his hair.

“Oh look, his new friends know how he likes his hair,” Noctis cracked, and the three laughed again as they watched Prom get down, then a look that Ignis had seen before sparked in the blond’s eyes. Wait.

“Wanna go for a jog, guys?” Prompto said to the chocobos, and they cried out in near-unison and ran once again out of their pens to their new favorite person’s side, then opened his mouth and sang. The chipper tune led to the chocobos joining in when Prompto started whistling seconds later, and Ignis was not imagining the shades surrounding him as the voice started jogging around the ranch, singing as he went; the chocobos followed him singing along at the whistling parts as all of them, Wiz included, watched the scene in complete amazement as Prompto, eyes and body aglow, and his entourage bopped from one corner of the main ranch area to the other in complete abandon. Ignis could feel every bit of fatigue and every ache and pain lift from him like they had never been there at all, and he smiled once more as the song came to its inevitable end. Prompto gave a few of the chocobos a hug before running over to them, only for his still slightly wobbly legs to give out right in front of them, leading to Gladio swinging him up into his arms and glowering at him.

“Too much running,” Gladio admonished, and Prompto pouted, but was clearly not in a hurry to get down as he laid his head against the big man’s shoulder.

“Yeah, I know, but it was fun!” Noctis stepped forward and poked Prom in the stomach. “What?”

“Even the chocobos get a song?” Noct whined, and Prom gave a bashful grin in reply. Ignis reached out and clasped Prompto’s shoulder, giving him a soft smile.

“You know what, I think we have plenty of time for more songs. What do you all think?” Ignis asked, and his heart felt even lighter than it had with Prompto’s song when all three of his dear friends nodded as one. Wiz looked at the lot of them with an expression that was far more knowing than it probably should have been, but there was nothing Ignis could do about that.

“What do you want to do after we are done here?” Noctis asked, and Ignis looked at him with a smile that was far more fond that he had intended, but he couldn't find it in himself to care.

“Let’s go home.”

 

 

Epilogue:

 

“Cid told us to tell you, and I quote, Tell the kid to come visit, and to bring his boy with him.” The look on the marshal’s face after Ignis imparted the quote was positively the funniest expression he had ever seen on the man’s face in his life, and the smack of the marshal facepalming a few seconds later just added to the whole set piece.

“You told him?” Ignis spared a moment to think about possibly taking the blame himself, but he figured this is something that Prompto could own up to.

“I’m afraid blame is to be entirely assigned to Prompto on this occasion, marshal,” Ignis stated, and he could see the exact moment when the fight left Cor’s eyes, his shoulders slumping in resignation. Captain Ulric, who had been watching the whole exchange silently, raised his eyebrows.

“Who’s Cid?” Ulric asked, and the look Cor gave him in response, the defeated gaze over Ulric’s shoulder into the middle distance, was so beyond what Ignis could handle that he swiftly excused himself, and he staggered into the first empty room beyond the Crownsguard offices and laughed himself sick.

Ignis heard from Ulric later that they did end up visiting, and since the Glaive couldn’t even get out more than a few words without bursting out laughing, he assumed it went well.

For at least one of them.