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A New Friend

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   It all started on the first day of high school.

Ignis picked Noctis up, expecting the young prince to immediately start complaining about his classmates, or teachers, or classes, or all three. But instead, he thanked Ignis and immediately pulled out his phone.

   Ignis glanced at his charge in the rearview mirror as he peeled away, raising an eyebrow. “How was your day at school today?” He asked. Usually, the answer was answered with a roll of the eyes or a list of complaints levied against anything from the uneven front steps or the way his social studies teacher’s projector flickered.

   “It went well,” Noctis shrugged, turning his gaze to his buzzing phone.

   That was not what Ignis was used to hearing from Noctis, but did his best to keep the surprise out of his face. “Oh really?” He asked mildly, “What made it go so well?”

   Noctis shrugged again, replying to was evidently a new text.

   That was also unusual. Noctis very rarely got texts from someone other than him or Gladio. For him to be so absorbed in it when he could be doing something he preferred, like sleeping, it must be a big deal.

   “Who are you texting?” Ignis asked.

   With a start, Noctis’ head jerked up, and he met Ignis’ eyes. “No one,” He pouted.

   “Does “no one” have a name?” He asked, trying to suppress a small smile but ultimately failing.

   “Prompto,” Noctis said, turning back to his phone.

   Ignis hummed. So Noctis had managed to make a friend. Or, more likely given Noctis’ disposition, this “Prompto” had managed to make friends with Noctis. Either way, it was hard for anyone to get close to the prince, especially after the accident with the Marilith.

   He made a mental note to find out more about this “Prompto”. Anyone who could get to the prince this quickly was someone to watch out for.

 


 

   As it so happened, Prompto likely wasn’t a person to watch out for. At least, the background check Ignis surreptitiously ran on the boy didn’t say anything of importance. He was a painfully boring student, with a C average and few extracurricular activities. Teachers said he had a spotty attendance record, but was still a good student and tried his best. Ignis secretly hoped the boy’s work ethic would rub off on Noctis.

   Outside of school, Ignis couldn’t glean much information, as Prompto was still a minor and Ignis’ background check wasn’t quite that official. But Ignis did find out the blond had been adopted at a young age and that he lives in a townhouse with his parents.

   Overall, an ordinary kid. If the friendship went well, maybe he would have to file paperwork for a more extensive check, but at the surface level at least, Prompto looked like he would make a great friend.

 


 

   It took just over a week and a half for a full background check to be in order.

   “Noctis!” Ignis hissed, “Where have you been? You had a meeting two hours ago! And you weren’t answering my texts! I was worried sick!”

   “I was at the arcade with Prompto,” Noctis said, stuffing his hands in his pockets and shuffling away.

   “You’ve been seeing Prompto outside of class?” Ignis asked, taken aback. He wasn’t aware that the boys’ relationship had progressed that far in such a short time. If it had...

   Noctis shrugged. “Yeah. He texted me saying he was out and about and asked if I wanted to go to the arcade. I said yes. It’s no big deal.”

   Instead of fighting the prince, which no doubt would have led to him shutting down and ignoring his advisor, Ignis sighed. “Please text me when you do something like that. I was fifteen minutes from calling Cor and getting all the Crownsguard to your location.”

   Noctis just nodded and locked the door to his room.

   Twenty minutes later, he had all the proper paperwork filed.

 


 

   Two days later, Ignis had the results of the background check in a very official-looking envelope as he knocked on Gladio’s door. He wanted a second set of eyes to help him look over everything.

   Iris was the one who opened the door, but she quickly called for Gladio and ran back to her room like a good little sister. Gladio must have her well-trained with promises of tea parties and chocolates.

   After accepting a can of Ebony, Ignis spread the results of the background check out on the coffee table and sat back. Gladio picked up a picture of Prompto and snorted.

“So this is the kid that’s got Noct slacking on training?” He asked. “Looks like he can use some training himself.”

“That’s not what we’re looking for,” Ignis chided, “We just need to see if he could be a danger to Noctis. Look for things that don’t add up, or that don’t make sense.” He picked up a few documents and perused through them carefully.

It took about two hours to comb through all of it, cross-referencing names and dates, calling old doctors and teachers and even the landlord. At the end of it, the only odd thing they found was that Prompto had no birth certificate, he was just adopted at a very young age, likely an immigrant from a war-torn country. With his hair color, it was likely he was either Tenebraen or Niff, but it was highly unlikely that should be a problem with the young age he was adopted at and his parents’ completely Lucian heritage.

With a sigh, Ignis set down the report and adjusted his glasses. “It seems like there should be no problem with Noctis and Prompto remaining friends. Unless you have an issue with it?”

Gladio slapped a stack of papers back down on the coffee table as well. “‘S long as I can kick Noctis’ ass every time this kid makes him late, I don’t care one way or the other.”

 


 

   “So, Noct…” Gladio said casually, leaning on his giant wooden sword, “I heard you managed to make a new friend at school. What’s he like?”

   Noctis glared at him, “Ignis already told me you ran a background check on him. I’m pretty sure you know all about him by now.” There was real anger in the prince’s eyes. Gladio could use that.

   “What, are you mad at us? Scared we’ll chase your little friend away?” He teased.

   “You better not,” Noctis said, getting to his feet and readying his sword. “I’ll kick your ass if you do.”

   Gladio smiled at the challenge and readied his own sword. “You need to be able to hit me first, princess.”

   They sparred for another half an hour before taking a quick break. Noctis flopped on his back, panting, as Gladio sat heavily beside him.

   “So what’s the kid like?” Gladio asked again. He caught Noctis’ confused gaze and shrugged. “We know what he looks like and probably a few personal things that we should share, but I’m talkin’ about his personality. His hobbies. Y’know, stuff like that.”

   “He runs a lot,” Noctis said, “Like, a couple miles every morning. He also likes photography. He’s nice, I guess, funny.” He shrugged. “He’s a really cool guy.”

   “You’ll have to invite him over for a training session,” Gladio suggested, “He looks like he can use some serious muscles.

   “What, like yours?” Noctis asked.

   Gladio laughed, flexing one arm. “A little bit of training’s not gonna get that little stick to gain this much muscle, but maybe a little more than he has now,” He said with a smirk. “And, as I bonus, I get to meet him. Size him up.”

   “Gladioooo,” Noctis groaned, “No, you’re staying far away from him, you will probably make him piss his pants if you did your whole intimidation routine.”

   “Well, I like a guy who’s scared of me,” Gladio teased.

   “Seriously, dude,” Noctis said, “He’s a really cool guy, I don’t want to scare him off.”

   With a sigh, Gladio heaved himself to his feet again. “Fine, but I’m going to expect to meet him soon.”

 


 

   Two weeks later, Noctis was sitting at his desk eating lunch, tapping his foot nervously. From his spot in front of the prince, Prompto raised an eyebrow.

   “You okay?” He asked, “You’re looking kinda nervous. What, you think you did bad on the math test?”

   Noctis snorted, “No, just…It’s just that Iggy and Gladio want- oh,” Noctis said, catching Prompto’s confused expression, “Um, my advisor Iggy and my bodyguard Gladio, they want to meet you.”

   “Oh,” Prompto said, voice small. “Um, I mean, s-sure. No problem. Just… I don’t know, it sounds like a big deal. Like, I’m meeting the people who get to decide if I stay your friend or not.”

   Rolling his eyes, Noctis shoved Prompto’s shoulder. “Dude, I get to choose my friends, Gladio and Iggy just make sure you’re not like an assassin in disguise or something.”

   Prompto laughed, then grabbed a mechanical pencil from Noctis’ desk and waved it in the prince’s face. “Then I guess I’ll have to kill you before that happens! Bwahahaha!”

   “Oh no, you’ve found my weakness!” Noctis fake-gasped, “Mechanical pencils.”

   Prompto did his best to hold back the laughter, but after Noctis sagged back in his chair, playing dead, he couldn’t help but let it escape. “Oh my gods,” He said, gasping for air, “you are such a drama queen.”

   “You mean drama king.”

   "Fair enough,” Prompto said, face crinkling with a smile. “And, hey, if your advisor and bodyguard are anything like you, I think we’ll get along.”

   Noctis nodded emphatically. “Yes. Well, Ignis is a lot more responsible, but you get him started on a pun competition, and he will positively destroy you. I swear he has a pun for every situation, though not always the best discretion as to when to use them. And Gladio is huge and muscley and tries to be intimidating, but he likes romance novels and playing tea party with his sister. And beating the shit out of me in training.”

   “Huh,” Prompto thought, “They sound… interesting…”

 


 

   The date Noctis had tentatively set for their meeting was pushed back as an emergency council meeting came up which Noctis was obligated to attend.

   Prompto was pretty lonely without his best friend right next to him. He hadn’t realized how quickly he had become accustomed to Noctis’ presence over the last couple weeks. He had forgotten just how lonely it was to sit through a passing period, boredly flicking through photos on his camera, or eating alone at lunch, or walking home without telling anyone goodbye.

   The feelings of isolation rose up in his gut, and he flicked through the photos on his camera. There was the photo of Noctis speeding around the racetrack when they went to the arcade, there was a photo Prompto had snapped during passing periods when Noctis was staring dazedly out of the window, there was a photo of a sunrise, and a photo of Prompto that Noctis had taken after teasingly stealing the blond’s camera.

   He was jolted out of his thoughts by a shoulder brushing past him roughly. Prompto stumbled back a few steps, nearly dropping his camera in his attempt to regain his balance. “Hey, watch it!” He snapped at the retreating form of the redheaded kid who had bumped into him.

   The kid turned around with a sharp, “The fuck you want?”

   Prompto’s hackles rose, but he did his best to swallow his fear, “You bumped into me,” He said quietly, “Just be careful with where you’re walking, dude.”

   Instead of shrugging it off or cursing Prompto out, the kid, who was in his pre-calculus class, stalked right up to Prompto, forcing him against a wall. “Look, Argentum, I get that you think you’re so cool ‘cause the prince hangs around with you, but you’re just a common bitch. I don’t even know how you’re in the same fucking school as us,” he hissed.

   “It’s ‘cause of-” Prompto started, but then he was interrupted by the kid pushing him back against the wall.

   “I don’t fucking care. Just stop acting like you’re tough shit or whatever. You’re really not, Argentum.”

   “Don’t call me that,” Prompto said.

   “Whatever you want, Argentum.”

   Okay, he should have seen that coming. Instead of arguing the point, Prompto stayed silent, locking eyes with the kid. He knew bullies like this. You just need to stand up to them and not act afraid, then they’ll lose interest. They just want you to be a passive victim. He refused to be that.

    The kid pushed him once more then turned to leave. “See ya, Argentum.”

 


 

   If that wasn’t bad enough, the next day, Noctis was absent again for reasons Prompto didn’t know. So he was left on his own again. This time, however, the kid from his pre-calculus class was waiting by his locker during passing periods.

   “Hey Argentum,” the kid said, leaning against Prompto’s locker. “I see your little prince friend isn’t at school today. You feeling lonely? The Prince’s little abandoned lapdog?”

   Prompto just sighed. “Hey, I need to get my books. Please get off my locker.”

   The kid gave a dramatic pout. “I’m just trying to be nice here. I’m offering you my companionship ‘cause your little prince is gone again today.”

   “I appreciate the gesture, but I’m fine. Seriously. Please get off.”

   The kid smirked. “Make me.”

   Of fucking course. Prompto shrugged then walked to the closest open classroom, Mr. Disren’s. He could feel the kid’s eyes on his back as he walked up to the teacher’s desk, where Mr. Disren was grading papers. He glanced up as Prompto approached.

   “Can I help you?” He asked.

   Prompto glanced back and saw the kid had moved from off his locker. “Oh, uh, no. Sorry.”

   The kid disappeared until pre-calculus. He caught Prompto’s eye immediately, and, instead of taking his usual seat, made a beeline for the empty space next to Prompto where Noctis usually sat.

   “Hey, Argentum!” He said, bumping Prompto a little too rough to be playful. “What’s hanging, dude?”

Prompto just concentrated on getting his supplies out.

“C’mon, dude, I’m just being friendly, you need to chill out.”

“I don’t want to talk to you, please go away.”

The kid smirked, leaning back in Noctis’ chair, “Nah, don’t think I will,” He drawled. “Besides, free seating means I get to sit wherever the fuck I want.”

Prompto rolled his eyes and proceeded to ignore the kid for the rest of the period.

 


 

In hindsight, ignoring the kid might have been a bad idea. After school, the kid, whose name Prompto had learned was Jeremiah, cornered him in the bathroom.

“Hey, Argentum!” Jeremiah taunted, “Why don’t we hang out for a while?”

“No,” Prompto said. He made a move to go to another bathroom, preferably one a few miles away, but Jeremiah grabbed his arm in a crushing grip. “Ow!” He yelped, “Stop it!”

“Aw, is poor little Prompto scared of the big, bad junior?” Then Jeremiah slammed him against the tile wall, hard enough for stars to dance in front of his vision. He had no doubt there would be a bruise soon.

“Fuck! Stop it!” Prompto shouted, trying but failing to break out of the larger kid’s grip.

Jeremiah leaned in close so that their noses brushed each other. “No,” He smirked, “I don’t think I will.”

 


 

Jeremiah didn’t know when to call it quits. Even when Noctis had finally returned from the Council meetings, Prompto still found himself the target of the larger boy’s taunts. During passing periods without Noctis, it got worse. Prompto would find himself the target of not only Jeremiah’s attacks, but also those of Jeremiah’s friends’.

And one of them, a rugby player named Laurence, just so happened to be in Prompto’s study hall. Without Noctis.

Honestly, Prompto just wished the kid would punch him in the face or something, cause he can deal with physical pain. But when Laurence leans close and whispers that he’s a useless shit who’s obviously paying the prince to deal with his bullshit, it’s hard to shake off. He knew Laurence knew it wasn’t true, and he knew it wasn’t true, but there was that nagging voice in the back of his head that told him there was the slightest chance that other people believe it, and it was humiliating.

He tried to ask the teacher to let him move to a different desk without getting the kid in trouble because he seemed nice enough, but the teacher merely raised an eyebrow. “If I let one person change their seat, then I should let everyone choose where they get to sit,” She pointed out. “Then no one will behave. Sorry, Prompto, but you’ll need to sit down now.”

He had been afraid of that, and as he shuffled back to his seat, he pointedly avoided meeting Laurence’s eyes.

“Yo, what was that about?”

Prompto pulled out his notebook and calculator.

“You got a problem with me?” Laurence kicked Prompto’s shin roughly underneath the table. “Or are you just being a prissy baby? You can’t take a few tough words so you’re gonna hide behind your big, bad prince?” He whispered harshly

Prompto bit his lip to keep from replying. Fanning the flames only made things get worse. He knew that from experience, but these guys were making it incredibly hard not to get riled up.

“‘Oh, my herooo!’,” Laurence mimicked, “Is that what you sound like when His Royal Assness comes to help you?”

“Holy fucking shit, shut the fuck up, dude,” Prompto hissed. “I don’t give a single fuck what you think, but it’s fucking hard to concentrate with you talking to me.”

“Oh, I’m sorry, princess, does my voice hurt your delicate ears?”

Prompto stared at Laurence. “I-I’m not even sure what you’re making fun of. My...my inability to concentrate or whatever? Seriously. If you’re gonna make my life a living hell, at least put some damn effort into it.” He struggled to keep his voice down, voice shaky from anger or fear, he wasn’t quite sure which.

“I dunno, whatever it is, you hate it, right? So I must be doing something right.”

 


 

Noctis noticed something was off around the second or third time Prompto bowed out of meeting Ignis and Gladio. At first, he thought it was just nerves or whatever. But when Noctis asked again, this time in their pre-calculus class, Prompto’s eyes flicked over to a red-headed kid named Jeremiah, then back.

“I, uh, I’m okay. Maybe later. I didn’t do my hair and makeup today after all,” Prompto said, flicking a few stray strands of hair back.

Noctis narrowed his eyes. “Is Jeremiah giving you shit or something?” He asked, drawing a surprised look from the blond.

“Wha-no, why would you think that?”

“Instinct,” Noctis replied.

“Dude, don’t worry. None of those guys would try something like that on me! I’d - hiyah - and - pow - and, like, - boosh -” Prompto emphasize his points with wild punches and kicks, “and they’d all run away screaming ‘cause I’m such a badass,” He said.

Noctis laughed. “Yeah, about as badass as a sunflower,”

“Hey, dude, those things are tall. And the stems are as thick as my wrist. Sunflowers don’t fuck around,” Prompto defended.

“I think that is the weirdest sentence I have ever heard in my life,” Noctis laughed, wrapping an arm around Prompto’s shoulders. Prompto probably took it as a teasing action, but Noctis meant it as a protective arm as he glared at the red-headed kid. Prompto might say there was nothing going on, but he was also the type of guy to walk on a broken foot because he thought he was just being a baby, so Noctis had to take his words with a grain of salt.

“Well, you’re welcome for changing your life in such an impactful way,” Prompto said, “It’s my pleasure.”

Noctis smiled as Prompto untangled himself from Noctis’ arm and shuffled his supplies around, but that smile faded as soon as he met Jeremiah’s gaze. The redhead just cocked his head at Noctis curiously, then pulled out his textbook.

Biting the inside of his lip, Noctis went to do the same. He hoped he was just being paranoid, but he had a nagging suspicion he wasn’t.

 


 

Prompto heaved a sigh of relief as Jeremiah stalked past the bathroom he was hiding in.

That kid really hated him, and he had no idea why. Like, maybe he was jealous that Prompto was friends with Noctis, but that was a stupid reason to treat him like shit.

He groaned and pushed the door to the bathroom open. He wished he didn’t have to tiptoe around Jeremiah and his posse, but such was the high school food chain. Even though he was the prince’s best friend and that should have elevated him to immune-to-bullying status for the first time in his life, these assholes seemed to have it out for him.

And, apparently, they don’t take well to Prompto pretending to beat them up with fake-ass ninja moves. Prompto had gone to the bathroom during pre-calculus and, when Jeremiah also felt the need to go, came back with a bruised shoulder and busted lip.

Noctis had furrowed his eyebrows in that way of his that said he was concerned, but not going to pry, for which Prompto was pretty grateful. He’d hate to dump all his problems on Noctis, who was still a relatively new friend.

He had done his best to keep to himself, pointedly ignoring every time Laurence had kicked his shin and flicked paper wads at him during study hall, or another one of Jeremiah’s friends called him “Argentum”, or some other stupid name they came up with on the fly. He just hoped that if he continued to ignore them, they would go away.

However, when he finally left school for the day and caught sight of Jeremiah waiting at the bottom of the stairs, he knew the redhead wasn’t going to make it easy.

 


 

Noctis sighed. Prompto had turned down Noctis’ invitation to meet the others again , had even refused a ride home saying that he didn’t want to “cramp Noctis’ style”. It kinda hurt, that Prompto thought that Noctis cared about that, even a little. But he just shrugged and let Prompto make his own decisions.

“What’s the matter, Highness?” Ignis asked. He and Gladio had been waiting for the prince just outside the Regalia, but when they caught sight of Noctis’ glum-looking face, they met him halfway.

Noctis sighed, then shrugged. “It’s just that dude, Prompto. He’s really nervous about meeting you two. Keep trying to avoid it.”

Something in the back of Ignis’ mind prickled, and he took a breath. “Highness, if I may be so bold as to suggest that this nervousness may be something more malicious than you believe?”

Noctis turned to Ignis, eyes blazing. “What do you mean?”

“Meeting a friend’s friends is hardly a nerve-wracking experience. But if he’s worried about being discovered, then that might-”

“Ignis, Prompto is not a spy or assassin or whatever you may be thinking, Iggy. He’s just a nervous guy, and-

“Hey, Noct! Bye Noct!”

Noctis whirled to catch a glimpse of Prompto darting around a corner out of sight, followed closely by a red-headed kid.

“Was that Prompto sprinting past?” Gladio asked, face scrunched in confusion.

“Uh, yeah…” Noctis said, glancing towards where Prompto had disappeared, down an alleyway towards the nearby park. “Hold on, I’ll be right back. I… I just wanna ask him something.”

“Let us come with you, assess your interactions with him.” Ignis held onto Noctis’ shoulder, making it clear that Noctis was not going anywhere without them.

“Fine, just hurry up,” Noctis said, taking off in the direction Prompto had gone.

 


 

Prompto groaned as Jeremiah fell into step beside him. “Dude, go the fuck away, I don’t want to hang around with you anymore,” Prompto hissed.

“Holy shit, dude, you on your period or something? Take a fucking chill pill,” Jeremiah said, “I’m just walking home. It’s a funny coincidence that we seem to be heading in the same direction.”

“Well, it just so happens that I need to go to the library,” Prompto lied, heading around toward the other side of the school.

“Oh, dude, same!” Jeremiah said with a predatory grin. “Hey, why don’t we walk together, since we’re going to the same place!”
Prompto stopped and glared at the bully. “Y’know, you’re starting to sound like a stalker, Jeremiah. Stop following me around. I really don’t like it and I will tell the teachers that you’re bothering me.”

“Oh, I’m so scared ,” Jeremiah said in a falsetto, “I don’t know how I’ll show my face if a precious little pwincess feels like I give a rat’s ass about her.”

Anger bubbled up in Prompto’s gut, but he ignored it, crossing his arms over his chest instead. “You’re being a dick, dude.”

Jeremiah smirked. “Isn’t that why His Highness keeps you around? To suck the royal dick?” When that didn’t get much of a reaction, Jeremiah took it a step further. “Oh, and does he return the favor? Is that what your friendship is based on? Mutual co-”

Anger whited out Prompto’s vision for a second, and when his vision returned to normal, he realized that he had just punched Jeremiah.

Well… shit.

Without even waiting for the redhead’s response, Prompto took off down the sidewalk, turning the corner towards the side entrance of the school. He caught a glimpse of Noctis being cornered by a pair of tall kids that looked a couple years older than him. The taller one, wearing a T-shirt that showed off his hulking muscles, was smirking at the prince, taking a step forward.

Prompto’s heart leaped in his throat. Were these guys more of Jeremiah’s friends? Picking on the prince? The muscley one was getting close to Noctis, and it looked like Noctis was trapped with his back to a marble banister.

“Hey, Noct! Bye Noct!” He called in a desperate attempt to distract the two bullies cornering Noctis and to allow his friend to escape. He turned the corner before he had a chance to see if it had worked, sounds of Jeremiah’s pursuit right behind him.

The park he ran through was nearby, and he ducked between a gap in the hedges. This was familiar territory. He knew the terrain of the grass, where the weird divot that he nearly twisted his ankle on a few months ago was, and the fastest way to get back to the big tree.

He just hoped he could climb it fast enough. The limbs were pretty high up, and he usually needed two tries to get a grip on the lowest branch. But at the rate Jeremiah was keeping up, Prompto barely had one try to reach that first limb.

So he prayed to every Astral he could that his luck would hold out, and ran headlong toward a familiar, gnarled tree. When he was right about to run into the trunk, he leaped up as high as his legs would allow and wrapped his hands around the lowest limb, using his momentum to swing a leg over.

Adrenaline was crashing through his system as he heaved himself on top of the lowest branch just in time as Jeremiah ran up to the bottom of the tree.

“You fucking coward, hiding in a fucking tree like a mother fucking squirrel , bitch.”

Prompto climbed a little bit higher, even though Jeremiah’s frantic scrabbling at the branch and trunk was a sure sign that he couldn’t climb the tree.

He waited for his heart to stop beating out of his chest, praying that Noctis had gotten away as well.

 


 

“I believe he went this way,” Ignis said, trailing through a gap in the bushes that had been recently trampled. A few leaves had fluttered in a line ever so slightly to the left, towards a tree on a hill.  No doubt whoever had broken through the line of bushes had continued towards the tree. He motioned for Noctis and Gladio to follow as he jogged towards the tree.

As they crested the hill, Ignis noticed a red-haired student yelling at someone else up the large tree. Drawing closer, he noticed that the red-haired student was the one who had been running after Prompto a while ago. Then, when he looked into the boughs of the tree, he noticed that Prompto was a couple dozen feet in the air, perched casually among the branches.

Before Ignis could inquire, Gladio stepped forward, “The hell is all this about?” He demanded.

The red-haired kid whirled around, catching sight of Gladio and visibly paling. “Wh-what?” He asked weakly.

Gladio pointed toward Prompto. “What’s going on between you and Blondie?”

“The little shit punched me! Just fuckin’ attacked me outta nowhere, then bolted like hell!”

“Hey, Prompto!” Gladio called up into the tree. Between the leaves, they could make out Prompto pulling out earbuds.

“Shut the fuck up , Jeremiah, I’m-”

“Prompto, did you punch this guy?” Gladio demanded.

“I- uh, who…” Prompto scrambled down several feet so he could more clearly make out what was happening below. Then his eyebrows rose as he seemingly noticed Noctis. “Noctis! You’re okay? I thought…” He trailed off, then looked from Gladio to Ignis. “You know these guys?”

Noctis nodded. “Yeah, this is Gladio and Ignis,” he introduced, pointing to each of them in turn. “I guess you ended up meeting them today, didn’t you?” He laughed.

Prompto returned the laugh, the blush on his face evident, even as he was several feet in the air. “Yeah, I guess so. I just…” He trailed off, eyes flicking over to where Jeremiah wa-

Used to be. Because he was no longer there, and Ignis caught sight of a red-haired student ducking into the local library. No doubt the kid was scared off by two older teenagers, one of whom could likely snap him in half without even trying.

Prompto carefully slipped down to the ground, laughing as he almost lost his balance and fell. “Well, this was one hell of a meeting, hey?” He asked.

Noctis pouted. “I didn’t want you three to meet like this ,” He grumbled.

“Oh, no?” Ignis asked, “And how would you have preferred we met?”

Noctis shrugged. “I dunno, not chasing after some asshole bully?”

“Hey,” Prompto said, throwing a casual arm over Noctis’ shoulder, “At least thanks to Gladio, he’ll fuck off.”

“That reminds me,” Gladio hummed, “The kid said you punched him? What for?”

Prompto visibly winced. “Ah, he, uh… he kinda, like... He called Noct, well, he…” Prompto flushed even brighter pink, trying to splutter it out. “He, like, called him a… a slut. And… and I got mad, ‘cause, like, dude , that’s a mean thing to say, and like, I dunno. I didn’t think about it.”

Ignis was about to reprimand Prompto for acting so rashly when Gladio started guffawing.

“Way to go, kid. Show that little shit a lesson!” He said, clapping  Prompto on the back playfully. “Gotta admit, I didn’t sense such giant balls from you, but, hey, I’m impressed.”

Prompto flushed. “I-I don’t think it was really the right thing to do, he was just an asshole for so long, and, like I can take it, it’s whatever, but then he started talking about my friend, and I… I dunno, I just kinda snapped. I wish I hadn’t done it,” He said.

Ignis hummed. It seemed he was wrong about Prompto. The boy would be a good, perhaps even a great example to Noctis. He would have to invite Prompto over to dinner to see if the blond could make Noctis eat his veggies….