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Best Foot Foward (one step back)

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“You can’t have dogs in here.”

“Uh. Sure.” Prompto stood up straight and Pryna bounced up onto her hind legs, pressing her paws into his knees and knocking him with the baton she held in her mouth. A Kingsglaive Prompto didn’t recognize continued to stare expectantly between Prompto and the dog.

“So take it home or something,” the Glaive suggested.

“Oh, this isn’t my dog,” Prompto said, taking the baton from her while Pryna playfully bit at his leather gloves. “She does her own thing.”

“Whatever,” the Glaive sighed and approached. Pryna sat on top of Prompto’s feet, sharp eyes staring up while the guard approached. “This is for you.”

Prompto took the envelope, having to stretch a bit to reach without dislodging Pryna. “What is it?”

“Invitation from Captain Drautos.”

Prompto stopped, immediately looking paler. “Am I in trouble?”

“Not that I’m aware of, yet.”

---

Prompto let himself into Ignis’s office as soon as he had a break. Ignis was one of the few people that could be reliably found in the same place at almost any time of day. The unopened envelope was heavy in Prompto’s pocket. He hadn’t been confident enough to open it while still on duty.

Ignis glanced up at him when the door opened without a knock first, but otherwise didn’t move from his desk. He looked to be flipping through a truly intimidating pile of papers.

“Afternoon,” Ignis greeted coolly.

“Yeah, hey,” Prompto said breathlessly and approached Ignis’s desk, pulling out the slightly rumpled letter and holding it out. “What’s this?”

“An envelope,” Ignis sighed, pushing his glasses up and rubbing at his eyes. He hesitated when he opened his eyes again and saw Prompto’s broken expression. “What does it say?”

“I don’t know, I haven’t read it yet,” Prompto said, dropping the letter on the desktop and running a hand through his hair. “The guard that delivered it said it was from Drautos.”

Ignis hummed and nodded, sitting back in his chair. “Then it’s likely an invitation to a hunt. There’s been reports of a behemoth nesting somewhere a few miles outside the wall. The Glaive were assigned the duty of exterminating it.”

“I thought I was a Crownsguard,” Prompto said, sounding a harried.

“You are,” Ignis agreed, reaching forward to pick up the letter Prompto clearly wasn’t going to open on his own. “But technically you are also a Glaive to the prince. Crownsguard serve the Citadel, Glaive serve beneath royalty.”

“And I’m invited to this thing why, exactly?”

“Have you had any encounters with Drautos?” Ignis asked, slicing the fold of the envelope with a letter opener and drawing the single sheet of paper out.

“Nothing,” Prompto said through an exhale, throwing himself onto the couch. He watched Ignis read the letter a few times, chewing on his fingernails while he waited.

“Well,” Ignis finally said, setting the paper down and looking across his desk to Prompto. “The Glaive hunts are rather prestigious, it’s an honor to be invited.”

“Are they mandatory?” Prompto asked with a grimace. “Because I am so not equipped for that kind of a hunt.”

“A team of people are recruited for the hunts, along with the Captain running it. You wouldn’t be going alone,” Ignis said patiently. “And although you can decline, you generally need a legitimate reason.”

“A fear of death doesn’t count?”

---

It took Prompto five minutes of deep breathing before he talked himself into entering the hangar. In an effort not to look like the Prince’s lap dog he had declined his friend’s offer to see him off, hopefully not for the last time. He could turn around and throw himself down a flight of stairs, but went ahead and pushed the door open instead.

The hangar was huge but mostly empty, a few drop ships and ground vehicles spread out under the tall ceiling. It was easy to figure out which one they were taking. A dozen or so Glaives were gathered around a large tactical van, chatting noisily and tossing bags into the back. Prompto checked the time to be sure he wasn’t late and jogged his way over.

One or two Glaives watched him approach warily. Prompto only had a Crownsguard uniform, different from the Glaive’s. It made him acutely aware of exactly how much he stood out.

“Argentum, right?” One of the Glaives said when he was close enough to hear them speak. Prompto stopped, keeping a few feet of distance in case he wasn’t welcome.

“Yup, Prompto Argentum! That’s uh- I’m- me.” Prompto stopped talking, shoving his hands into his pockets and nodding. Someone snorted but he didn’t catch who. “I’m supposed to be here. Uh. I think.”

“What is he, like, twelve?”

Prompto could feel his face heating up and desperately wished he had any modicum of control over it. One of the Glaives leaned close to another, muttering something under their breath with a smile on their face.

“Everyone ready?”

All the Glaives straightened simultaneously and turned, a few calling ‘yes sir’ at Drautos’s arrival. Prompto’s first thought was that Drautos was possibly the most intimidating officer he’d met yet. Cor, while still daunting, had at least proven himself to be significantly less hard than his face might otherwise indicate. He also wasn’t built like a fucking tank.

Drautos’s gaze landed on Prompto.

“That the only uniform you’ve got, Argentum?” he asked, gruff and appraising.

“Uh, yes sir.” Prompto swallowed and his mouth was dry. “I was only approved for duty like a month ago.”

Drautos nodded and the Glaives started climbing into the back of the truck. Before Prompto could move to follow, the Captain stepped in front of him. Prompto was face level with his chest, having to crane his neck to look him in the face.

“I heard you’re good with a gun.”

Prompto had no idea where anyone would have heard that.

“You brought some big guns, I hope?” Drautos asked.

Prompto nodded, suddenly sure that his definition of ‘a big gun’ and anything remotely sized for the person in front of him were vastly different.

“Good.” Drautos patted him on the shoulder and led him towards the back of the truck.

---

RoyalNightmare: hows it going?

Lil_mr_sunshine: they dont like me

RoyalNightmare: thats ur anxiety talking

Lil_mr_sunshine: no im p sure its them

RoyalNightmare: want me to come get u?

Lil_mr_sunshine: bluh no
Lil_mr_sunshine: i dont want 2 b the weenie that turns the bus around

RoyalNightmare: how long is this again?

Lil_mr_sunshine: until we find a behemoth and kill it

RoyalNightmare: eesh

Lil_mr_sunshine: right?

RoyalNightmare: call me when u can

Lil_mr_sunshine: signal not good
Lil_mr_sunshine: texts kind of spotty rn 2
Lil_mr_sunshine: will call if i can
Lil_mr_sunshine: gtg we r stopping

RoyalNightmare: <3

Lil_mr_sunshine signed off.

---

There was a haven not far outside the city that they stopped at to make camp. Prompto recognized the glowing runes from the last time he’d been camping outside the city. With the van parked Prompto was left by the wayside while everyone else set up camp. He tried asking but nobody knew what he should be doing, even Drautos just told him to wait and walked off. He didn’t have a place in the group.

The sun was scorching but Prompto stood watch for lack of anything better to do. There was a herd of Anak off in the distance, and a few ruins close by the camp, but otherwise it was barren. Nothing really to look out for until nightfall when the daemons came out, and he’d left his camera at home.

“Hey!”

Prompto jumped and someone laughed, though this time he recognized it. Nyx jogged up behind him, looking sweaty but happy. Prompto couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so happy to see someone he barely knew.

“Easy there, Shakes,” Nyx teased, shoving at him.

“I’ll take it easy when there isn’t a behemoth breathing down my neck,” Prompto said, shaking out his hands to fight off the tingling of nerves. “Have you been here the whole time?”

“Drove the truck,” Nyx said and jutted a thumb towards where it was parked. “I didn’t hear you were coming?”

Prompto shrugged stiffly.

“Well, glad to have you,” Nyx said, resting an elbow on Prompto’s shoulder and surveying the barrens around them. “Always helps having an eagle eye on the team.”

“A what.”

“Sharp shooter,” Nyx said. “You’ve got our backs, right?”

Prompto’s mouth was dry, so he nodded and prayed he looked convincingly confident.

---

The sun was finally down but Prompto was on fire, he was sure of it.

They’d split into teams during the afternoon to sweep the area surrounding camp for signs of the behemoth. Nobody found anything except a sunburn. Prompto knew his face had to be red and splotchy by now, and his stinging skin was a constant throbbing pain. He’d never spent much time outside the city, and could count on one hand the number of times he’d had a real sunburn.

The tent he’d bedded down in was cramped, but Nyx had introduced him to a few of the Glaive so at least they weren’t complete strangers to him. Being smaller Prompto had been relegated to the middle where his shoulders were pressed up against Nyx on one side and Libertus on the other. It was hard to sleep.

---

Lil_mr_sunshine: u up noct?
Lil_mr_sunshine: still alive so far
Lil_mr_sunshine: get enough sleep 4 tha both of us
Lil_mr_sunshine: ttyl

---

Lil_mr_sunshine: u awake igs?

AFieryDeath: Yes, how are things?

Lil_mr_sunshine: ugh
Lil_mr_sunshine: can we talk about u

AFieryDeath: That bad?
AFieryDeath: Nothing much to report here I’m afraid.
AFieryDeath: New secretary is awful.
AFieryDeath: She filed personnel reports in alphabetical order according to first name.

Lil_mr_sunshine: ur nightmare lol

AFieryDeath: Then when asked why she would do such a thing she alleged that she was trained that way by the previous secretary.
AFieryDeath: It turns out she’s been doing this since she was hired nearly two months ago.
AFieryDeath: So now I have to try and get together a few people with enough clearance to go through two months’ worth of records.
AFieryDeath: That’s not even counting the trouble it will be to find people to find and re-sort the errant files.
AFieryDeath: Over all, not how I wanted my time spent.
AFieryDeath: Are you still there?

Lil_mr_sunshine: yea

AFieryDeath: This is very boring.

Lil_mr_sunshine: yes
Lil_mr_sunshine: im hoping it will put me to sleep

AFieryDeath: Thanks that makes me feel great.

Lil_mr_sunshine: lol
Lil_mr_sunshine: where r u

AFieryDeath: Bed.
AFieryDeath: Just reading a bit.

Lil_mr_sunshine: what u reading

AFieryDeath: Financial reports I’m afraid.

Lil_mr_sunshine: boo
Lil_mr_sunshine: u should go to sleep

AFieryDeath: That’s good advice.

Lil_mr_sunshine: something something go to sleep Prompto?

AFieryDeath: Or something.

Lil_mr_sunshine: too nervous i guess

AFieryDeath: Even if you don’t have faith in yourself, you can have faith in your comrades.
AFieryDeath: I never would have let you go if I didn’t truly believe you were capable of holding your own Prompto.
AFieryDeath: Still there?

Lil_mr_sunshine: yea
Lil_mr_sunshine: thanks iggy

AFieryDeath: Long day tomorrow, try to get some rest.

Lil_mr_sunshine: yup

AFieryDeath: I need to see you log off.

Lil_mr_sunshine: night iggg

AFieryDeath: Good night.

Lil_mr_sunshine logged off.