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If You Get Lost (You Can Always Be Found)

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If You Get Lost (You Can Always Be Found)

 

Cor didn't think a thing about it when he accepted the flower from the woman on the way back to the Citadel. It had become a relatively common event in the past few months for both him and Prompto, from what he had heard the few times he had managed to see him, and he had taken home everything from flowers to baked goods from well-wishers that had been either displayed, devoured, or quietly thrown away, in a few cases (food was always a risk, but Cor could be occasionally swayed by a tray of brownies, which Nyx never stopped giving him shit about.)

Anyway. She had looked normal enough, middle-aged with hair similar in color to his and gray eyes that seemed friendly enough when he accepted the gift from her; the flower that she had given him was stunning, a beautiful blue with just a touch of green that reminded him of Nyx's eyes, and he decided to take it back to his quarters and put it in water. It wouldn't do to be seen disposing of it publicly, and their quarters could use a little color. Perhaps Nyx knew what it was, because he certainly didn't recognize it.

The denizens of the Citadel had grown used to seeing Cor carrying various little things over the past few months, and he even received a few compliments on the flower as he headed towards the elevators. He entered his quarters a short time later, heading straight to the kitchen, where he retrieved a glass and filled it up with water, then put the flower inside the glass; it really was a beautiful plant, with broad petals and an alluring scent, and he carried it over to his little coffee table in front of the television and sat it down in the center of the table before sitting down at his couch, looking at the flower some more before leaning back and relaxing. He could probably use some greenery in his quarters, but years of constant absences due to work had kept him from ever bothering to get anything.

Looking at the flower, though, it reminded him that he wasn't traveling for long extended times like he used to...well, for the most part anyway, he wouldn’t be travelling to Costlemark all the time, it was just for a little while, and perhaps it was time to consider it. He'd have to ask Nyx when he got home. Cor had mainly been coming home just to sleep the past few months, and he was really getting tired of not being able to see anyone outside of work for more than a few minutes here and there, even his own damn boyfriend. Nyx said it was alright, and that he was busy too, but still-

After a few minutes of sitting down, Cor noticed that the flower’s scent seemed to be getting stronger, and without even thinking about it, he leaned in towards the flower and inhaled deeply, a little spray of pollen falling onto his face and hand as his nose bumped the bloom. Almost immediately, a strange sensation overtook him, and his vision swam as he shot to his feet, only to stumble and fall right back onto the sofa, his eyes growing heavy and his stomach unsettled as he fought to stay awake. The sudden drowsiness was powerful, however, and the last thing he saw was the flower wilting in on itself as his head fell to the cushions.

“Cor? Cor, are you in?” Regis’s voice seem to echo around his skull, and Cor groaned and tried to sit up, only to realize very rapidly that something was definitely wrong. “His wallet and cell phone are here…” he could hear Regis say aloud as his old friend moved into the apartment proper, presumably to try and find him; Cor looked down at his tiny hands and realized that he was in a shit ton of trouble. His heart was starting to race as the rest of his brain was beginning to comprehend that he wasn’t much bigger than your average doll, more than small enough to easily pick up and carry off. He tried to step, but whether due to his rising panic or the shrinking, it didn’t work, and he forced his little legs to move, dragging himself to his feet. It was the flower, obviously, but he had no idea what sort of flower had such an effect- “Cor?”

“Over here!” he shouted, but realized with horror that his loudest shout was probably little more than a whisper to a full grown human. He needed to get Regis’s attention before he was stuck here for hours without anyone knowing- Shoving down his ever-growing panic, he shouted once more, hoping to at least get the king’s attention, but received no response. Regis’s hearing was good, but Cor was pretty sure it wasn't quite what it used to be, and he grabbed at the back cushions on his sofa and started to climb, thankful that at least he wasn't any smaller than he had apparently ended up. He was bigger than one of Iris’s fashion dolls, that he could say for sure, not that it was all that reassuring. After he worked his way to the top of the sofa cushions, he could finally see Regis near the front door, concern plain on his suddenly massive friend’s features, and he raised his arms and shouted once more. “Regis!” The king froze, looking around the room in confusion, and Cor waved his arms wildly until a sharp, grey gaze focused directly on him.

“Cor?” Regis gasped, hurrying to his side, and the vibrations from the movement nearly caused Cor to tip right off the side of the sofa, only for a large hand to brace him from behind as Regis knelt down to look at him, his eyes wide in shock. “How in the world-” Cor’s hands slapped over his ears the instant the king began to speak, his voice making his ears blister, and Regis cut himself off, looking desperately at Cor for a long moment before swallowing heavily (Cor could see his adam’s apple move quite clearly from as close as he was) and whispering. “Cor, how did this-” Regis was still too close, but his voice no longer caused Cor’s head to hurt, and he lowered his hands from his ears. “-how did this happen?” Cor shifted, allowing himself to lean against his friend’s hand as he pointed towards the flower, looking wilted and spent on the table.

“I was given the flower by a woman a few blocks away from the Citadel as I was returning from an investigation; she said it was a gift in thanks for everything I had done. I tried to turn her down, as I always do, but she insisted, and I felt that a flower was a harmless enough gift. I have been offered many over the past few months, I didn’t think anything strange of it. Before it...wilted, it was beautiful; I don’t know where it came from, but it smelled amazing, and the color reminded me of-” Cor cut himself off with a cough, and Regis’s giant eyebrow lifted in amusement as Cor could feel his cheeks warm. “I brought it home and put it in water, then after a few minutes, noticed the scent growing stronger, so I leaned in and then I...passed out. I awoke when you came in. Like this. I can’t use my abilities, either, I just tried,” Cor frowned, looking down at his little hands once more, his back growing uncomfortably warm from Regis’s hand bracing it. He didn’t know what to do, there was all sorts of strange ailments one could get out in the wild, but he didn’t remember being shrunk as one of them-

“We clearly need to figure out what the flower is, and you-” Regis’s hand began to wrap around his torso, and Cor stiffened. “We probably should have the doctor look at you,” the king stated, and Cor only just kept himself from trying to see if he can summon his sword from the armiger, realizing that it would probably appear normal sized and chop Regis’s fool hand off.

“Regis, let go of me, I’m not a doll,” he snapped, and Regis let go so fast he overcorrected and tumbled clear off of the sofa, leading to the king plucking him out of the air before he hit the ground, carrying him around to the kitchen counter and setting him down.

“You aren’t a doll, but you are small enough that a fall like that is going to hurt. Now, you are going to the infirmary, but you need to decide how you are going to get there. It will take you all day to walk there, so you are either hitching a ride with me, or I’m calling Captain Ulric and letting him take you,” Regis’s tone left no room for argument, and Cor was shaking his head before he even realized it. He didn’t want Nyx to see him like this, he probably looked ridiculous…

“No, I’ll...I’ll go with you. It’ll be rather obvious if I hitched a ride in your coat. Maybe-” Cor looked around the countertop, trying to think of something he could hide in; the king huffed and walked over to the other side of the kitchen, grabbing a bag that he hadn’t thrown away yet from a local bakery.

“Who bought the cake?” Regis asked as he popped the bag back open, and Cor rolled his eyes.

“I did , not that it’s any of your business, you old busybody,” he grumbled, but dutifully crawled into the bag when Regis set it down on its side for him, lying down so he’d be upright when the bag was picked back up, which it was almost immediately, jostling him rather harshly. He was going to be feeling this for days. But he stayed quiet as he closed his eyes and tried not to get motion sickness from the swaying of the bag as Regis exited his apartment, then as he walked down the hallway to the elevators; surprisingly, the elevator didn’t bother him, and he took the reprieve to convince his still-unhappy stomach that vomiting would be a bad move. A few more nauseating minutes later, and the antiseptic smell that signified the infirmary wafted into the bag, his nose wrinkling instantly.

“Is Doctor Domitia in? I need to speak with her,” Regis said, and Cor slapped his hands over his ears once more as they were directed back to the old battleaxe’s office, Regis immediately closing and locking the door behind him after he entered. The sound of a chair rolling came immediately after as Cor heard the doctor shuffle to her feet.

“Your majesty? This is unexpected, what can I do for you?” The bag listed alarmingly as Regis sat him down on what was presumably one of the chairs, and he barely bit back a groan as he heard the king sit down in the chair next to him, Domitia returning to her own.

“Have you ever heard of a plant or flower that would possibly-” Regis trailed off, and Cor kicked the side of the bag on principle, not that he even heard. “-that might make a person smaller?” the king finally got out his question, and Cor heard the doctor shift in her chair.

“I haven’t actually, but now I’m dying to know what is in that bag you brought in,” the woman said, her tone curious, and Cor didn’t even have a chance to brace before the bag was picked up once more and being set down on a harder surface, probably the doctor’s desk, before being laid down on its side, causing him to tumble onto his stomach. He was going to kill Regis someday. He wasn’t sure how or when, but he was going to do it. Taking a deep breath, he gathered the few scraps of dignity he had left and slid out of the bag and rose to his feet, brushing at the front of his uniform as he waited for some form of response from the old doctor. When nothing happened for at least a minute, he finally forced himself to look up at Domitia, only to see her, probably for the first time since they had met, absolutely stunned. He’d pat himself on the back for the victory, but he wasn’t really in the mood to. “Marshal?” the woman said, a thin hand reaching out towards him; Cor took a step back automatically, and she immediately pulled it back. “My apologies, but... how? Did you say a flower, your majesty?” Cor nodded, and Domitia sat back in her chair and frowned. “Did you bring it with you?”

“No, I thought it best one of your trained staff collect it just in case. It’s currently in the marshal’s quarters, on his coffee table in the main room,” the king explained, and Domitia nodded and picked up her phone, leaving Cor to cover his ears once more as she barked orders into the receiver. After she hung up, she got up and rounded her desk, sitting down in the chair next to the king and looked at him closely.

“How are you feeling, marshal?” Domitia asked softly as she reached out and grabbed a ruler, holding it up to him. It ended around his pelvis, and she lifted the ruler and held it about where it had previously terminated. “About eighteen inches tall, if you are willing to let me weigh you, I can go get a scale.” Cor frowned, but he nodded, and the woman left and returned in seconds with a small scale, which she set on the desk and laid a tissue on before beckoning him forward. He sat down on the scale without a word, and Domitia leaned in and looked at the measurement. “Eight and a half pounds. Heavier than a doll of the same size would be, but they tend to be mostly hollow. Besides your reduced size, do you have any complaints? Anything hurt? I can tell your ears are not happy with the perceived volume, but besides that-” Cor shrugged as he slid off the scale, and the doctor frowned. “I don’t speak shrug, Leonis, so translate that for me.”

“My stomach isn’t too thrilled with me, but I’m not sure if it’s because of this, or the ride in the bag,” he said honestly, and Domitia nodded.

“Understandable either way,” the doctor said, then leaned back in the chair. “I’m not going to bother to try and keep you here, because I know for a fact that you’d just sneak out if I tried, but you need to have someone with you at all times. We’ll analyze the flower and hope we figure something out. More than likely, this is a temporary condition, so don’t sit on anything expensive that you normally wouldn’t just in case.” Domitia’s fingers twitched once more, and Cor knew she wanted to prod and examine him, but the old woman resisted. He appreciated her restraint.

Regis bundled him back into the bakery bag, and they set off once more. A few minutes later, Cor came to the realization that he had no idea where Regis was taking him, and tried to stand up in the bag to get his attention, but was unable to keep his feet. He needed to find a better option before he finally lost his lunch. After they passed through several doors, they entered a room filled with people, and Cor curled into a ball and crushed his hands over his ears, trying to block out the incessant noise. He was so concentrated on covering his ears that it took him a moment to realize just where they were.

No. Regis! He couldn’t escape the bag safely, however, and Cor groaned in despair as Regis knocked on a door, leading to a very familiar voice welcoming them in.

“Your majesty? This is unusual,” Nyx’s voice was wonderful at any volume, but now it just made Cor’s head hurt as Regis set him down on the desk, then closing the door behind him. “That looks like a bag for the same bakery Cor likes to go to-”

“That’s because it’s a bag I borrowed from your kitchen, Captain. We have a situation,” Regis said bluntly, and Cor could hear Nyx’s sharp intake of breath.

“Is this a mobilize the troops kind of situation, or a only Cor or Prompto would get into this sort of shit situation?” Nyx asked with a sigh, and Regis snorted.

“The latter, I’m afraid. Cor was given a flower by an unknown woman on the way back to the Citadel, and about five minutes after returning to your quarters, he encountered an...issue.” Regis poked his bag, and Cor kicked at the shape of the king’s finger without a second thought. He really didn’t want Nyx to see him like this- “Kick me again and I’ll make you wear Iris’s doll clothes,” Regis hissed, and Cor slumped as the bag was tipped over like before. This time, however, he didn’t move, and he could hear the two other men shift in their seats before he finally realized he was screwed. Taking a deep breath, he again slid out of the bag, pulling his shirt and jacket taut as he got himself to his feet. He couldn’t make himself look up at his partner, although he heard the sharp intake of breath, and he stared down at the grain of the desk, still hoping that the whole debacle was nothing more than a mad dream.

“Cor?” Nyx whispered, and he couldn’t resist that voice. Cor tensed, but forced himself to look up at the man. What would he do if this was permanent, he’d be...he couldn’t- “Oh shit. Before I inevitably make an ill advised comment, are you okay?” Nyx lifted his hand, but instead of reaching for him directly, he laid it flat on the table next to Cor, palm up; Cor looked down at the large hand before sighing and sitting down on it, ignoring Regis’s knowing gaze as Nyx’s fingers curled against his back and lifted him into the air, bringing him up near his face. “You okay, babe?” Nyx said softly, and Cor leaned into the Glaive’s fingers and nodded, before reaching out with a hand and running it down Nyx’s stubble at his jawline.

“I'm fine, just...small. My perspective is completely thrown off, and my stomach isn't fond of being transported by paper bag, but-” he trailed off as Nyx brought up his other hand and carefully stroked the top of his head with two fingers, and Cor slumped in his unusual chair with a content huff.

“Well, it's definitely you. So, a flower? Is there anyone looking into it?” Nyx raised his voice a bit to address the king, and Cor winced. “Sorry,” Nyx whispered, and Regis shifted forward and nodded.

“Doctor Domitia’s staff is collecting it from your quarters, they'll be doing analysis. I hate to say this, Cor, but we need to bring Elshett and Ackers in, see if we can figure out who gave you the flower,” the king pointed out, and Cor crossed his arms and scowled. Regis was right, of course, but he really didn't want everyone to see him like this-

A knock on the door made them all freeze, and Nyx lowered his hands to the table a little faster than Cor would have liked, forcing him to grab a finger for stability. Regis took point, getting to his feet and opening the door just enough to see who was there.

“Ah, Prompto! What brings you down here?” Aw hell. Cor climbed out of Nyx’s surprisingly comfortable palm and regained his feet, brushing off his clothes, ignoring Nyx’s amused snort behind him.

“Your majesty! Err, sorry to interrupt, but I'm looking for Cor? I had a weird...feeling and wanted to see how he was doing,” Prompto said, and Regis turned his head and met his eye, Cor giving him a resigned nod.

“Better come on in,” Regis told Prompto, and Cor barely resisted diving behind a knick knack on Nyx’s desk as the blonde entered the room, the king closing the door behind him.

“So what's going on-” Cor stiffened as lavender blue eyes locked into him, growing impossibly wide as Prompto’s jaw dropped. “Cor?” Prompto dove for the desk, and Cor braced for impact, only for his son to stop short, his hands coming to rest flat on the table to either side of him as he leaned in close. “How did this happen? Are you alright? This is temporary, right-” Cor reached out and rested his hand on the tip of the freckled nose, stalling Prompto’s growing panic.

“Take a breath, Prompto. It was a flower, and the infirmary is looking into it. We're hoping it's temporary,” he said, taking a deep breath and patting the blond’s nose as his own internal panic calmed a bit as he tried to soothe the young man. “It’s just...odd. You all look so large,” he grumbled, and Prompto’s hands twitched around him. He was destined to be a doll after all, it appeared. “Fine, just...don’t drop me.” Prompto grinned alarmingly as fingers wrapped around his midsection, lifting him into the air; he found himself sitting on Prompto's hand, getting an up-close-and-personal look at his brilliant eyes. Prompto’s mouth was quivering, and he knew that his kid was trying not to say something that he figured Cor wouldn't like. “Just spit it out, Prompto, I can tell you're dying to say something.” The blond opened his mouth, closed it, then opened it again; after a few more repetitions of this, Nyx sighed gustily from behind Cor.

“Just say it, kiddo. He's too small to kill you right now.” Nyx was next on his list. When he was full-sized again, he was killing both Nyx and Regis. He’d miss his favorite pillow, but he’d survive. He’d spare his kid, though. Prompto’s face had not stopped contorting the entire time Cor had been musing, and he finally reached out and yanked on a stray lock of hair, which seemed to finally knock Prompto out of his stupor.

“You’re so cute like this, I can’t handle it!” Prompto finally blurted out, and Cor facepalmed so hard in response that his cheeks hurt; Nyx burst into slightly-manic laughter behind him, and even Regis was chuckling as Cor swayed alarmingly on Prompto’s shaking hand.

“Prompto, either stay still or put me down!” he shouted as he scrambled for purchase on his son’s fingers, only to tumble right off; he tried to tuck into a roll so he wouldn’t kill himself on landing, only to be grabbed smoothly from the air by a larger hand than Prompto’s and immediately deposited on the desk. Okay, he’d spare Nyx this time.

“I’m so sorry, dad, I didn’t mean to oh shit I almost killed you I’m so sorry-” Regis actually put a hand on Prompto’s shoulder to stop him before he completely lost it as Cor took a moment to let his shaky legs calm down from the adrenaline rush from the fall. Okay, being small definitely had its downsides. Falling from over five feet up was nothing at normal size, but when he was less than two feet tall? A whole different animal. Fingers rested against his back, and he looked to the side to see Nyx leaning in.

“You okay?” Nyx said softly, and Cor managed a shaky nod in reply. “Okay, while you are unfairly charming at this size, you’re gonna get killed at this rate. Give me a minute,” Nyx said, and Cor nodded as the Glaive stood back up, reaching out and grabbing Prompto’s arm. “Prompto, we’re gonna get some of the high-ranking Crownsguard to look into this, as it’s best it not get out for obvious reasons. You can see that he’s fine, just doll-sized.” Prompto’s eyes were still wide and glossy as the blond looked down at him, and Cor sighed.

“Prompto, why don’t you go back to whatever you were doing for now. One of us will call if there are any changes.” Prompto looked like he wanted to argue, but after a long, fraught moment, he sagged and nodded.

“Yeah, okay. I am really sorry, I didn’t mean to drop you,” Prompto said, sadness oozing from every pore, causing Cor to almost fold at the sight; thankfully, both Regis and Nyx gently escorted his son out before he could change his mind, closing the door firmly behind him.

“Well, this is definitely a problem. At this rate, you’ll be squished like a bug by evening by well-meaning people just trying to take a closer look,” Nyx sighed, sitting back down in his chair. “Why don’t we meet Monica and Ackers in one of the conference rooms so we don’t have to deal with the crowds of the Crownsguard offices as well?” Nyx asked Cor, and he nodded in agreement. If they had to see him like this, definitely better in a calmer area. “Your majesty, will you join us?” Regis had sat back down after locking the door behind Prompto, and Cor met his gaze with a questioning look of his own.

“I will for a few minutes, then unfortunately I do have several meetings I need to attend to. I suggest you remain with the captain for now, Cor, don’t wander off.”

Cor had to remind himself again that kicking the king was a bad idea.

Nyx had brought his gym bag with him, and after some rearranging, Cor found himself tucked into the bag, with Nyx’s (thankfully clean) workout clothes providing decent padding. Better than the paper bakery bag, at any rate. After a few phone calls, the three of them found themselves in one of the small conference rooms, waiting for the hastily summoned Monica and Dustin to arrive. Nyx’s hand was resting next to Cor, occasionally lifting his fingers and running them down his back in a calming fashion as Regis shamelessly watched them.

“You really are far easier to handle like this, Cor, sure you don’t wish to remain like this for awhile? Gives you some downtime and I don’t have to worry about you getting flattened by a falling stone at Costlemark for at least a little while,” Regis commented, his voice brimming with amusement, and Cor scowled at his king and went back to plotting his future demise.

“You wanna wait to come out of hiding?” Nyx asked, again bringing down two fingers and carefully stroking his hair, and Cor leaned into the touch and sighed.

“Yes, I’ll wait until someone explains first, Monica will probably leave me to her cat if we just throw it at her,” he said with a snort, and Nyx grinned.

“Well, you’d have a new steed-” The door opened, cutting Nyx off, and Cor, who was sitting in the bag on the chair next next to his (usually) favorite Glaive, dove under the flap and hid.

“Your majesty, captain, we received your message. It sounded like something was amiss?” Monica’s voice was inquisitive, and Cor slumped. He had no idea how Monica was going to take this, but there was nothing to be done about it now.

“Come in and have a seat, you two. We have a...little situation, and we are trying to keep it under wraps for now,” Regis stated, and Cor could hear the barely restrained pun. He was still going to kill him. Regicide was such a minor crime, after all... Chairs were pulled out and sat in, and Regis launched into the explanation of the flower to Monica and Dustin, but Cor sighed into Nyx’s gym shorts when Regis carefully skirted around the important part of the whole situation. Regis just couldn’t help the reveal part; the man would have been a showman in another life.

“So the marshal was given a mysterious flower that caused some sort of situation, but what is the situation?” Dustin finally spoke, and Nyx sighed. Cor looked up to see Nyx’s hand resting palm up next to him, and he climbed out of the bag and onto it, strong fingers again bracing against his back.

“The situation is this,” Nyx said dourly, and Cor held on as Nyx brought him up to the table, hovering at just the right height for him to jump off of his hand. He looked up just as Monica made a tiny squeaking noise, the likes of which he had never heard before from her, and he backed up a few steps involuntarily. Deliberately not looking at Monica yet, he looked over at Dustin, who just looked stunned. Okay, he’d take stunned over whatever that noise Monica just made meant-

“Astrals,” Monica finally choked out, and Cor backed up another step as she reached out towards him in a disturbingly familiar motion.

“Monica, I am not one of your cats!” he yelled, and his deputies’ hand paused in mid-air, fingers twitching, before she slowly retracted it. Regis wasn’t even trying to hide his laughter now, and even Nyx looked a little amused. That’s it, he was killing everyone but Prompto after this mess was over. Or moving to Costlemark. Holes in the floor and all. He could learn masonry-

“As unfortunately humorous as this whole affair is, we need you two to do some investigating, see if you can find the woman who gave him the flower. Dr. Domitia has taken possession of the flower to do tests, and we are all hoping this is temporary, because I’m quite sure that the marshal will murder us all in our sleep if we all continue to find him...unbearably adorable,” Regis stated lightly, and Cor contemplated seeing if there was any toothpicks in the armiger, just so he could stab the man. “But since I can tell that he’s already plotting my demise, I will take my leave. Keep me updated, everyone.” Regis got to his feet, motioning for the others to remain seated as he departed. After the door closed behind the king, Monica’s head swivelled back to Cor with the speed of a striking snake, and Cor could feel the sweat trickling down his back as she leaned in once more.

“It is rather unfair how cute you are this size, Cor. What are you, eighteen inches tall?” Monica asked, and Cor nodded reluctantly. “Why do these things always happen to you?” Monica addressed the air, clearly not expecting a response, and Cor finally just sat down on the tabletop, folding his legs in front of him. “Okay, so, we need to figure out who gave you the magic shrinking flower and see if there was any maliciousness behind the move,” Monica stated, pulling out a notebook and a pencil. “Alright, tiny marshal, start talking. Times, descriptions, the whole thing. You know the drill.”

After a good thirty minutes of interrogation by Monica, whom Cor would give full credit to her ability to ignore her impulse to poke at him some more, and Dustin, who said one thing to Monica’s ten and spent the whole meeting looking generally flustered, Cor found himself tucked back into Nyx’s gym bag, and without further discussion, Nyx took them both back to their quarters. When the bag was set down on something solid, he peeked out to see that he had been parked on their bed, and worked his way out of the bag, walking up to Nyx’s pillow and sitting down on it, waiting for its owner to reemerge from where ever he had gone (sounded like the kitchen, from the sounds he was hearing.) After a minute, Nyx walked in, a small plate in hand and what appeared to be a small shot glass in the other.

“You must be thirsty, and it looks like you didn’t even have time for your usual snack before all this happened,” Nyx said, sitting down on the bed near Cor and lowering the plate in front of him, putting the glass on top. “It’s still too big for you, but it’s the smallest cup we have unless you have a thimble somewhere-” The plate held a single soft butter cookie, broken into small pieces, and the shot glass of water. Cor’s stomach growled on the spot. Maybe he could try something. The cookie was easy enough, and he munched on what were effectively large crumbs as he sat on the bed next to the plate, with Nyx occasionally stealing a piece. He managed about half the cookie before his stomach informed him that he was done, and he flopped next to the plate on the bed and looked at the far too large glass. He doubted he could even lift it, as embarrassing as it was to think, and he entertained asking Nyx for help before pride kicked in.

No. He could handle it. Getting back to his feet, he carefully stepped onto the plate and walked up to the shot glass. He was significantly taller than the glass, and he reached down and with a little fumbling, managed to get his hands to pick it up. The scale was all wrong, of course, but he got the glass up to his face and took a few sips before his grip started to go; he wrapped his arms around it trying to hold on, but his feet slipped on the slick plate, and down he went, glass and all, and Cor found himself decently soaked sitting in a puddle of water and soggy cookie crumbs. He hadn’t felt like crying in ages, but he was sorely tempted as he sat in the puddle and felt sorry for himself.

“Oh shit, are you alright?” Nyx gasped, and Cor found himself being plucked from the plate and carried into the bathroom, where the Glaive put him down next to the sink and grabbed a washcloth. “It just hit me, but we don’t have any other clothes for you, and we have no idea how long this is going to last. I hate to say this, but I think we may need to modify some doll clothes for you,” Nyx said as he carefully dabbed at Cor’s front for a minute before shaking his head. “Okay, this is pointless. Are you willing to strip down?” Nyx asked, and Cor scowled for a minute before working his wet boots off, then peeling out of his coat, followed by his shirt and pants, finally ending up standing in front of his oversized partner in no more than his damp underwear. Life stunk. Nyx wisely didn’t say anything, and only offered up the washcloth; it was unwieldy, but Cor managed to dry himself off as Nyx picked up his tiny clothes with a thoughtful expression. “I think I can wash these here in the sink, your boots just need to dry out. It shouldn’t take too long,” Nyx pulled out a bottle of handwashing detergent they kept under the sink, and Cor sat down as he watched his partner washed his tiny clothes carefully, before patting out the extra water with another washcloth and laying them out on the counter.

“Thank you,” Cor finally managed to say, his embarrassment so overwhelming that it came out as little more than a squeak, and Nyx sighed, a soft smile affixed to his handsome features.

“You don’t need to thank me, Cor. Seriously. I know you’d do the same for me if our positions were switched. And on that note, I can go ahead and wash your underwear, you know,” Nyx commented, and Cor folded his arms and frowned. “It’s not like I’ve not seen you naked a million times by this point, babe, you’re just...smaller.” Cor really didn’t like sitting around in wet underwear, but- “You don’t have to, Cor, I’m just offering. I think there’s a fabric napkin we can wrap you in while your clothes dry, do you want me to get you that?” Cor considered it for a moment, then gave a begrudging nod.

Twenty minutes later found him wrapped in a red napkin toga as he sat on Nyx’s pillow, listening to the Glaive take a shower as Cor’s stomach began to grumble again. A cookie was not adequate nutrition for dinner, and even his shrunken stomach knew that. He was pretty sure there was some pre-cooked lunch meat in the fridge, though, and he could manage some of that. He carefully climbed down the side of the bed and headed out of the room; what should have been a five second walk turned into a minute-long trek across the floor of his suddenly massive apartment, and Cor came to the realization that the cleaning service that came in really wasn’t paying attention to the dirt accumulating in the corners by the baseboards. After a good sneezing bout, he finally reached his fridge, but realized that he had no way of opening the damn thing. After trying and failing to see if there was a ribbon or anything he could use to pull the door open, he finally just sat down in front of it and sighed as his stomach rumbled angrily at him once more.

“I hate everything.”

A few minutes later, he heard the shower turn off, and then a minute later heard the familiar sounds of Nyx moving about the bathroom.

“We probably should have a proper meal, even you need more than part of a cookie at your size-” Nyx said from the bathroom, his voice cutting off as Cor heard him move into the bedroom.   “Cor? Cor, where are you?” Aw shit. He really should have thought his little trek out before he left the room- “Cor, please tell me you didn’t leave the apartment!” Nyx said as he thumped out of the bedroom, and Cor could feel the vibrations in the floor as the man moved around the apartment; he stood back up, all eighteen inches of him, and shouted.

“I’m in the kitchen!” Nyx came to a screeching halt not five feet from him, dressed in underwear and nothing else, and scowled.

“You know, I decided months ago that you are out to give me a damn heart attack. Or chronic heartburn, one of the two. I’m guessing you were hungry?” Nyx asked, and Cor nodded sheepishly. “Realized that getting into the fridge was going to be difficult, did you?” The Glaive sighed once more before leaning over and offering a hand, which Cor accepted; Nyx set him down on the kitchen counter and turned to rummage around in the freezer. “I know it sucks, Cor, but let me help you. I’m sure you’ll be back to normal before you know it.”

Cor could only hope.

After dinner and an incredibly humiliating trip to the bathroom (Nyx was afraid he’d fall into the toilet,) his underwear were deemed dry, and he happily discarded the unwieldy toga and wiggled back into them before lying down once more on Nyx’s pillow, burrowing his face into the cotton. Nyx slid into bed next to him after turning the light off, but remained sitting up; after a few moments of his partner not laying down, Cor sat up as well.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, and Nyx ran a hand through his hair with a grimace.

“What’s wrong is that I’m afraid I’ll squish you in my sleep. How about you take the pillow for tonight, and I’ll sleep over here,” Nyx said, and Cor’s face was going to be stuck in a frown forever the way the day was going.

“I’ll be fine-” Nyx shook his head, and Cor stomped off the pillow, grabbed the abandoned napkin, then climbed back up, not looking in Nyx’s direction as he flopped back down, pulling the napkin over him like a blanket.

“Cor-” Cor turned so his back, tiny as it was, was facing Nyx, and he heard the man sigh through his teeth. “Good night, Cor. Hopefully things will look up tomorrow.” He felt the bed shift as Nyx laid down, and he closed his eyes and tried to sleep.

After a restless few hours, he woke up again, and without even thinking about it, he climbed down the pillow and moved across the bed to Nyx, who was lying on his back in his usual sleeping position, and carefully worked his way onto his boyfriend’s chest, dozing off to the sound of his heartbeat.

“You’re not stubborn or anything, aren’t you?” Cor awoke to a weight around his midsection, and after a terrifying moment where he completely forgot what had happened to him, he stretched his limbs as Nyx’s hand (the weight) patted at his belly. “I’m guessing you moved over in the middle of the night?” After another satisfying stretch, he sat up on Nyx’s chest, looking down at the man’s giant face. “That’s got to be a disorienting view. Don’t look too close, no one looks good that close,” Nyx commented, and Cor smirked, crawling forward on the Glaive’s chest before examining a mark under the tattoo line on the right side of Nyx’s jaw.

“I never noticed you had a freckle under your tattoo,” he commented, letting his hand stroke down the line; Nyx actually jerked under his touch, and Cor found himself sitting on Nyx’s hands as the now-upright Glaive looked down at him with a strange expression. “Did I...say something?” Cor asked, feeling self-conscious; Nyx shook his head and huffed out a rather exasperated laugh.

“Cor, while I’m normally all for you exploring , it’s a little strange when my partner is about the same length as my forearm. Also, that tickled. Don’t take it personally, babe, but-” Cor let his head dig into Nyx’s chest with a groan as Nyx patted his back in a mollifying fashion.

Everything still sucked.

They ended up returning to the infirmary to see if there had been any progress on the flower (there hadn’t,) before meeting Monica and Dustin in a conference room again to see if they had gotten anywhere (not really) before Cor realized that Nyx really couldn’t be toting him around all day. Officially, Cor was out sick, which was absolutely galling, as he had things he needed to be doing, but there was no reason for the Glaive to skip work.

“I’ll go stay with Prompto, maybe he’ll have some ideas over clothing, as I don’t want to wear the same thing day in and day out,” he announced, and Nyx gave him a dubious look.

“Are you sure? He seemed a little...high strung yesterday, I’d prefer he not drop you again,” Nyx replied, and Cor shook his head.

“He’s not one to make the same mistake twice, I’ll be fine,” Cor stated with some confidence, and while Nyx didn’t seem convinced, he made a call to make sure Prompto was available before they headed up to the prince’s quarters, where they were promptly met by...all four of them. Nyx kissed the top of his head before leaving him to the kids with a smirk. Costlemark was sounding better and better all the time. “Couldn’t help yourselves, now could you?” he sighed, and Gladio grinned before offering a hand.

“Considering we trekked into the heart of Niflheim to rescue a much larger you not so very long ago, forgive us if we are a little invested in your welfare, marshal,” Ignis stated as he leaned in and looked at him a little closer than Cor would like; thankfully, he pulled away just as quickly. “I understand you only have the one outfit?” He nodded, and Ignis stepped away for a moment, crossing his arms. “Hm, as we have no clue whether you’ll be back to normal tomorrow or weeks from now (Cor’s stomach roiled at the very thought,) I better see if we can find something else for you. Gladio, where did you put your phone?” Ignis asked, and Gladio pointed as Noctis leaned in to look at Cor as well.

“It’s still me, I’m just...smaller. Also, it looks like you didn’t get all of your eyeliner off, your highness. New look?” Noctis drew back with a hiss, and Prompto and Gladio both began to laugh as the prince grabbed a tissue and rubbed at his eyelids roughly. “Makeup remover works much better,” Cor advised, and Noctis looked up, his eyes red, and scowled.

“And how you would know?” the prince grumbled, and Cor found himself smirking.

“Wouldn’t you like to know.”

The look on all four of their faces made his day, as crappy as it still was, just a bit brighter.

Well, until Iris showed up with what looked like a doll trunk in hand, and Cor did his level best to hide under the couch. Sadly, Prompto grabbed him and deposited him on top of it before he could finish his escape. Damn it. Iris didn’t notice him, the teenager walking in and setting the massive case on the coffee table, confusion plain on her face.

“I brought it, but why in the world would you need to see my doll clothing collection, Ignis? I haven’t touched some of this stuff in years, I’m surprised you remembered I had it,” Iris said, her voice lilting, and Ignis just gave one of his bland nonsense smiles in response as he leaned over and opened it. Lurid colored clothing spilled out of the case as the pressure was released, and Cor tried to slowly scooch behind his son, who blocked him with a hand without even looking down. He was screwed.

“You collected the larger dolls as well, right? Seventeen, eighteen inch?” Ignis inquired, and Iris nodded.

“Yeah, it was harder finding clothes for that size, it’s not as common, but they were usually much better quality when I did,” the younger Amicitia stated, and Ignis tilted his head as he pulled what looked like a small blue t-shirt from the box. Okay, he could handle that- “You still haven’t told me what’s going on, Ignis. Why do you need large doll clothes?”

Iris’s answering shriek after Prompto explained left Cor’s ears ringing for a solid five minutes, but the teen gathered her wits and started digging through the box unprompted, pulling out various articles while Prompto did the same.

“Okay, doll clothing it is. Marshal, are you doing okay? I don’t think I’ll have any shoes that will fit, the doll feet tend to be rather narrow in comparison to real feet,” Iris said regretfully, and Cor shook his head.

“I can deal with wearing my boots,” he stated, watching with growing trepidation as fantastical outfit after fantastical outfit were pulled out of the chest, Prompto's grin widening with each one. When his son held up a get up that went out of style during the Severan age, his eyes glittering with mirth, Cor shot him a very sharp look. “Don't even think about it,” he said, and Prompto pouted.

“Why not? You’d look great in it, like a prince of old,” the blond exclaimed, holding the little embroidered velvet jerkin aloft, and Cor continued his glare.

“No.” Noctis bent over to look at him, his eyes glittering, and he barely restrained a growl. “Don’t even think about it.”

“Aww, Cor, you’d disappoint Prom like that?” Noctis cajoled, and Cor turned around and sat facing the back of the sofa with a huff. “I’ll take that as a yes,” the prince said lightly, and after some muttering that he didn’t quite catch, a large finger tapped him on the shoulder.

“What?” he grumbled, and Gladio sat down next to him on the sofa, a conciliatory smile on his face.

“You know we’re just trying to distract you, right? I know this has to suck, I certainly wouldn’t be thrilled if I was in your place,” Gladio said, and Cor sighed, pressing the palms of his hands against his eyes. He did know that, but he wasn’t...handling it well. He knew he wasn’t. Sighing again, he turned back around, noting that the chest was closed and the most flamboyant clothing was nowhere to be seen, leaving a small pile of almost-serviceable looking pieces. Prompto held out a pair of pants and a t-shirt with a concerned look on his face, and Gladio grabbed them and handed them to Cor, who took them and held them up, inspecting the cut. After a moment, he  realized a big problem. The clothing was decently close in size, yes, but the inner seams were massive in comparison. They’d rub his skin raw in minutes. Shaking his head, he lowered the doll clothes to his side.

“It’s not going to work. I appreciate the thought, but-” Prompto frowned, reaching over and picking up the shirt.

“What’s the issue? I thought the colors were basic enough-” Cor shook his head again.

“No, it’s the inner seams. The ones on the outfit I’m wearing shrunk down to scale with me, but the ones on these are enormous. It’ll make them…uncomfortable,” he admitted, and watched as Ignis plucked the shirt from Prompto’s hands and flipped it inside out, understanding immediately appearing on the young advisor’s face.

“Yes, I see what you mean. Are you willing to try them on inside out? I might be able to rectify that,” Ignis asked, and Cor shrugged and nodded. “Perhaps the other room, then?” Prompto offered his hand once more, and he, Ignis, and Prompto all headed into the bedroom, where Cor and a pile of small outfits were deposited on the bed, the two younger men turning around as Cor tried on the first set. Shirt a possibility, pants definitely not. He couldn’t even get them closed. Realizing that was probably going to be a problem with the lot of them, he went and tried all the pants on first, with only two out of ten even a possibility due to their elastic waists. Ignis kept to business, and after a bit of sizing with a box of sturdy straight pins he produced from nowhere (Cor pilfered one for future use,) Ignis ran off with with the passable pile, and Cor redressed in his old clothing before sitting down on the bed, unusually exhausted from what was basically a day of doing very little. He tipped to the side as Prompto sat down next to him, a fine-fingered hand keeping him from tumbling over completely.

“You okay, dad?” Prompto asked, and Cor, like he usually did, felt his chest tighten fondly at Prompto’s address, and sighed as he let himself rest against his son’s thigh.

“I’ve been better. I’ve been a lot better. But I’m still in one piece, and I feel normal, if that makes sense, I’m just-”

“-small. Right. You look pretty tired for thirty minutes of clothes fitting, though. You sure you’re doing alright?” Prompto’s voice was a touch strained, and Cor patted the young man’s thigh in response.

“I think it’s more that my brain is just tired, it’s still trying to wrap itself around this mess,” he replied, and Prompto carefully patted his back in response.

“Wanna take a nap? No one is going to tease you if you need one, we can find you an unused pillow-” Cor shook his head, more out of stubbornness than any other reason, and the two sat there quietly for a moment as he started to drift. “Cor?”

“Mmm?” He heard a chuckle, then felt Prompto’s hand at his back once more.

“Why don’t you...rest for a few minutes, I’ll be here,” his son said, and Cor shook his head again, but didn’t move again beyond letting his head rest more comfortably on Prompto’s leg. At some point, he felt himself being lifted into the air, and knew there was something odd about that feeling, but he couldn’t rouse himself enough to care.

“Fell asleep, did he?” Cor heard a voice say, and felt a warm weight on his back.

“Yeah, he’s really tired. He said he feels fine, but-”

“While I’ve certainly never faced something of this nature, it is a traumatic event of a sort. Give him some time to process-”

“I feel bad saying it, but I’ve not seen him much lately, he’s been so busy, so this is actually kinda nice-”

Cor woke up lying on a pillow with a folded flour sack towel as a blanket, and he nearly tumbled right off as he jolted upright in his disorientation, looking around the dark room wildly. He was still in the bedroom, and for a moment, thought he had been left alone; a soft snore to his right got him to turn around, and he relaxed at the sight of Prompto dozing on the bed next to him, his hands both laying flat with their palms up on the bedspread. Something caught his eye, and Cor carefully climbed down off the pillow and moved over to Prompto’s right arm, taking a closer look at the sliver of barcode he could see under his omnipresent wristband; small red marks were stark against the pale skin, and Cor frowned, reaching out and sliding the wristband up a bit to investigate further. After a few seconds of looking closely, he let the band slip back down again. It was finger scratches, nothing more, but it was still concerning. They were small enough that he probably wouldn’t have noticed them if he hadn’t been suddenly seeing things from a new perspective-

“Cor!” Prompto gasped, shooting upright and causing Cor to lose his balance, falling back onto his butt on the bed. “Oh shit, I’m sorry-” The blond trailed off, realizing where Cor was, and Cor sighed and ran through his hair. “What were you doing?” Prompto’s voice held a note of suspicion, and Cor got to his feet and pinched at the bridge of his nose before letting his hand drop.

“I just woke up a few minutes ago, and I saw red marks on your wrist. I was worried,” he said bluntly, and Prompto slapped his other hand over the offending wrist for a moment before letting his hand fall away.

“You could have just asked, you know,” Prompto grumbled, but Cor found himself relieved when his son reached down and picked him up without hesitation, bringing him up to his shoulder. “It’s just a bad habit, Cor, I don’t do anything more serious or anything, if that’s what you were worried about. I promise.” Cor slid off Prompto’s hand and perched on his shoulder, grabbing a lock of blond hair to keep his balance. “You feeling any better?”

“Yeah, I am. I think I just needed a little break.”

The shoulder riding worked surprisingly well, and Cor managed to relax and watch TV with Prompto and the others while Ignis carefully altered the doll clothes by hand. By the time Nyx came by to pick him up from his playdate (Cor took great glee in poking him with his stolen pin after that comment,) he had two pairs of pants and eleven shirts that he could use so he wasn’t always in his uniform. Thankfully, almost all of them were basic colors, and nothing too wild. His usually-favorite Glaive wasn’t happy he missed the fashion show, and gained another poke in the shoulder before they bid Prompto and the crew farewell.

“What, I’m sure you would have looked quite sleek in that little jerkin that Iris showed me-” Poke. “Ow, okay. Trust you to find something sharp as soon as possible.” Cor let himself fall back into the gym bag, then carefully tucked the pin against his thigh as the elevator opened to their floor.

“Captain, have you seen the marshal?” Cor recognized the voice, but couldn’t place a name; he made sure he was hidden under the shirt in the bag as Nyx stopped in the hallway.

“He’s sick, unfortunately. Hopefully will be up and about soon,” Nyx replied vaguely as he continued on slowly, and Cor listened to footsteps as they came right up to where he was hiding in the bag.

“Don’t suppose I could talk with him a minute? Had a question about the Vespasian incident from a few weeks ago.”

“Nope, sorry, he’s not available right now. I can take him paperwork if you’d like-”

“No, it’s fine, it was just a question. It can wait. Thanks.” A rustle. “You know your hand is bleeding, right?” Oops. He didn’t mean to poke him that hard.

“Ah, just caught it on something, I’m heading to clean it off now.” Ah hell, now he felt bad. Cor burrowed further into the clothes and sulked, which he knew was just a self-defeating cycle, but he found he really didn’t care. But the other person finally left (he still couldn’t remember their name) and Nyx went into their apartment and shut the door, then brought the bag over to what felt like the sofa and set it down. He listened as Nyx walked towards the door, pulled off his boots, then padded into the kitchen; the water ran for a moment, then he heard the sound of a paper towel being ripped off the spindle, then a few seconds later, the sofa compressed next to his hiding place. “You gonna hide in my gym bag all day, Cor? I know you weren’t actually trying to hurt me, you know, but pins are extra pointy for a reason. Maybe we can find you a tiny sword somewhere…” Cor stayed put under the pile of clothes, not wanting to face Nyx, even though he was really starting to get hot, and after a few minutes, the increasingly oppressive heat made him incredibly drowsy. Just a few minutes rest wouldn’t hurt...

Cor gasped as he was covered in something cold and damp, and he curled into a ball to try and warm back up. “Mmmrrgh,” he grumbled, but he had no energy to even open his eyes to see what was going on. The cold didn’t go away though, and he tiredly batted at whatever was getting him wet, but to no avail.

“You know, Cor, dying of heatstroke surrounded by my gym clothes is not the way you want to go. Talk about an undignified obituary-” It took a moment for Nyx’s irritated words to penetrate his skull, but he managed to pry his eyes open to realize that he was completely nude and reclining in a thin layer of cold water in the bathroom sink, covered with a washcloth with several pieces of ice on top of it. Oh. “And did you know how hard it is to get you out of your clothes right now? Hopefully I didn’t destroy your pants trying to rescue you from heatstroke, you idiot,” Nyx hissed, but his gentle pat to the washcloth belied what Cor hoped was his true thoughts on the matter. Cor groaned, grabbing the washcloth and pulling it over his face, but Nyx immediately pulled it away, then wrapped his hands around Cor’s torso and pulled him out of the sink. “You aren’t boiling to the touch anymore, so I’m going to hope you didn’t melt your stupid brain with that stunt.” Nyx’s hands were wrapped around his torso under his armpits, leaving his legs dangling, and he sighed as the younger man took him into the bedroom.

“I’m sorry,” he muttered, and Nyx set him down on the bed with a frown.

“Sorry about stabbing me with a straight pin, or sorry because you nearly boiled to death in my gym bag?” the Glaive asked drily, and Cor let himself flop forward onto his stomach, not even caring that he was still naked.

“I don’t even fucking know at this point, I’m just-” he turned enough to look up at his giant boyfriend, who still looked rather unhappy. “I didn’t mean to stab you,” he said honestly, and Nyx rolled his eyes, but reached down and gently ran his fingertips down Cor’s back.

“Yeah, I figured. Let me go grab your underwear, then we need to figure out something for dinner. I’m not letting you starve, too.”

As much as Cor hoped that he would just wake up with everything back to normal, it didn’t happen. Several days went by, with daily visits to both the infirmary and Monica, and Dr. Domitia admitted she had reached out to a few specialists from outside the city to try and figure out what in the hell to do, as none of the tests were returning anything concrete she could use. As for Monica, they had found security footage from a nearby business that showed the woman giving him the flower, but they still were unable to identify her. He wasn’t surprised. He wanted to know why, but at this point, he wasn’t even angry anymore, he was just tired. On the one plus side, he had seen more of his partner and his son since he had been shrunk than he had in over a month, but he couldn’t really do anything for himself, and while Nyx and Prompto had been insanely helpful, Cor could see the growing worry in both of their eyes as nothing changed, and he…

He just wanted to be back to normal.

By the fifth day, someone had started a ridiculous rumor that practically accused Nyx of having murdered him (as Cor hadn’t been seen the entire time, and he had been fucking everywhere for months) which led to a very interesting memo being sent out by Clarus that stated that the next person to put forward such baseless accusations without a shred of evidence was going to be handed their walking papers on the spot by the king himself. Clarus visited him a short time later in his quarters, where Nyx had finally been cajoled to leaving him alone for a little while, his old friend carefully sitting down on the sofa next to him.

“Sorry it took me so long to stop by, I honestly figured you’d be back to normal by this point,” Clarus said, and Cor slumped.

“Unfortunately, it’s not going that way,” he grumbled, and Clarus looked down at him for a long moment before offering a hand; Cor glared at the massive fingers for a moment before getting to his feet and sitting down, and Clarus brought him up so he could look him in the face. “I can see every old man wrinkle like this.”  

“I’ve heard you’ve been an absolute grump most of the time,” Clarus retorted, and Cor quickly looked away, his cheeks burning. “To be fair, I’d probably be pissed too, but I think you are really starting to worry both of your boys. While I’m quite sure Ulric is on his best behavior around you, I’m getting reports of the Glaive offices being a pretty gloomy place right now, and as for Prompto? Well, he’s never been the best at hiding his emotions, as we all know, and he’s downright concerned. Maybe it might be best for you to get out of town for a little while. How about getting some fresh air in Hammerhead, go see the old man,” Clarus offered, and Cor swivelled his head back towards the shield. He was done with everyone .

“And how am I supposed to do that? Hold onto someone’s boot?” he snapped, and Clarus grimaced.

“Yep, you really need to get out of here before you finally piss off the wrong person or give yourself an ulcer, because either way, I don’t see that ending well. I’ll see if Ulric has anything vital going on right now, otherwise, maybe the boys can go,” the older man stated, and Cor crossed his arms and sulked. “I haven’t seen you this moody since you were going through puberty, Cor. It’s bringing back some interesting memories-”

“Fine,” he cut in, scowling, and Clarus smirked, bringing up a finger and ruffling his hair.

“Yup, definitely puberty,” the bastard commented, then sighed. “Cor, you’ve been working like a dog for months, ever since we got back from Costlemark. You need a damn break. Take it.”

In the end, both Nyx and Prompto were enlisted to the project, and Cor found himself bundled into what was effectively a small soft-sided pet carrier, made for cats, from the look of it. He could barely stand up in it, but the point was to keep him from being blown out of the car, so he could deal. At least he could see through the mesh siding. They took the Regalia out of town (they had considered borrowing the prince’s rarely used car, but it only sat two and they were being hopeful,) Cor resting at Prompto’s feet until they cleared the outer gates. Prompto then picked him up and set the carrier in his lap, giving him a smile that was a little dim around the edges. Shit. Clarus was right.

“Doing alright, dad?” Prompto asked, and Cor couldn’t help the smile that pulled at the edges of his mouth. He’d never get used to hearing himself being called that. Ever. Even if he didn’t particularly feel very fatherly when he was less than two feet tall, but well...shit. He’ll take it. “Dad?” He blinked, looking up to see Prompto leaning in to peek at him, and snorted.

“Sorry, was just thinking about something. I’m fine, I’ve ridden in worse the last week,” he commented a bit wryly, and Nyx snorted.

“Yeah, he’s banned from my gym bag, he dozed off in it,” Nyx said lightly, and Prompto giggled, even as Cor stifled a sigh. That really had been stupid.

“Have you heard anything from Dr. Domitia?” Prompto asked, and Cor shook his head.

“No, she was waiting on a Dr. Yeagre to get back to her, the woman is apparently an expert biologist that works exclusively in the wider Lucian area. She considered her the best option for figuring out how to put me back to rights, but she can be a little hard to track down sometimes, apparently,” he replied, and Prompto hummed his understanding as they continued down the road. Before Cor knew it, they were pulling into Hammerhead, and Prompto patted the top of his carrier as Nyx parked the car.

“Well, we weren’t expecting y’all here, what’s going on? Just passing through?” Cindy’s voice was strong and distinct, and Cor froze in the carrier as Prompto wrapped his arms around it, covering up the mesh.

“We are mainly here to visit with Cid, but it’s always lovely to see you as well, Cindy,” Nyx replied smoothly, and Cor snorted as Cindy chuckled.

“Don’t you start that, Captain, I know who you go home to at night,” Cindy drawled, amusement plain in her voice. “Speaking of, where is the marshal? I’m surprised to see you two without him.” Ah, well, it was a good point.

“That’s...actually why we are here. We need to talk to Cid,” Nyx stated, and Cor could hear her intake of breath.

“Oh dear, that doesn’t sound good. Pawpaw’s in the garage, like usual. He was working on one of his projects last I saw,” the woman explained, and Cor laid down in the carrier and pretended he didn’t exist as Prompto carried him out of the car, doors closing behind them as they began to move. “Is it my imagination, or does the marshal get himself in trouble a lot?” Cindy commented, and Cor groaned at the twin snorts from both Prompto and Nyx. It wasn’t that often-

“It’s not your imagination,” Prompto said flatly, and Cindy tittered as she walked away. “It’s definitely not.” Prompto said the second line sotto voce, and Cor smacked his hands over his face and groaned once more as they stepped into the garage, the air cooler than outside as they walked towards the back. “Hi Cid!”

“Who- kid? Why in the world are you two here?” Cid’s voice cut in, and Cor waited for the inevitable. “Where’s Cor?” He heard Nyx sigh.

“Anywhere a little more private we could go?”

A few minutes later found them in Cid and Cindy’s residence, which Cor had only been in a handful of times over the years, Prompto and Nyx sitting down on a dilapidated sofa as Cid took an armchair across from them, his perpetual frown deeper than usual from what Cor could see from behind Prompto’s arms.

“So what’s the kid gotten himself into?” Cid asked bluntly, and a few moments ticked by with no one saying a word. “Well?” Nyx groaned.

“Have you ever heard of a flower causing a weird effect on a person?” Nyx asked, and Cor could see Cid lean back in his chair, a thoughtful look on his face.

“I’m assuming you mean outside of the usual medicinal uses and whatnot,” Cid replied, and after a pause, the old man scratched thoughtfully at his chin. “I’ve heard of a few, but I’ve not seen any myself. What did the kid do?” Cid grumbled, and Cor waited as both Nyx and Prompto took deep breaths behind him.

“We...occasionally get gifts, usually when just out and about in town. We refuse anything big or ostentatious, but flowers are a common theme. Cor was given one about a week ago by a lady, and he took it back to their quarters, and it…” Prompto trailed off, and Cid hissed between his teeth.

“It what?” Cor dragged himself upright, brushing off his clothes as Nyx took over the conversation.

“Ah, probably best we just show you,” Nyx said quietly, and Cor waited as Nyx unzipped the door of the bag, then extending a hand to him for him to sit on. Silence fell like a curtain over the little gathering as Nyx carefully lifted him so Cid could see, the old man’s eyes widening so dramatically that Cor was actually worried for his health for a moment. Cid lifted an arm, reaching out slowly towards him with his increasingly thin hand, and Cor forced himself to remain still as two fingers gently touched the side of his face, running down his jaw for a moment before retracting.

“Kid?” Cid’s voice had a tremor to it that shook Cor to the bone, and he patted Nyx’s hand, hoping to get his point across without saying it aloud. Thankfully, the younger man knew him rather well, and carefully lowered him to the arm of Cid’s chair without a word. “Cor, it’s-”

“It’s me, Cid. I’m just a lot smaller,” he interrupted, and Cid whistled, the sound making him wince as Cid bent over and looked at him even closer.

“When you think you’ve seen it all. Damn it, kid, are you trying to get yourself killed? You’re so tiny! One of your fanclub could easily run off with you like this, and we’d never be able to find you-” Nyx sighed noisily, and the old man cut himself off. “Which explains why all three of you are here. Well, sort of, why are you here? Besides trying to give me a heart attack?” Cid asked, and Cor sat down on the armrest and snorted.

“I’ve not been the most pleasant company to be around since this happened, and since Dr. Domitia is stumped, Clarus basically ordered me out of town to get some fresh air,” Cor explained, and Cid chortled, reaching over and patting Cor on the head.

“Why do I have a feeling that’s a bit of an understatement? And you haven’t been shorter than me since you were fifteen, so excuse me if I’m having a moment here,” Cid said, and Cor rolled his eyes as he got to his feet, balancing on the armrest.

“Don’t get used to it, old man. I’m hoping this is going to be fixed soon. Waiting on a phone call now.” After a short talk with Cid, who thankfully relaxed as time went on (although Cor was still a little concerned,) they adjourned to the caravan outside, Cor settling in on the main bed while the other two went to the diner to get some food. As he didn’t need much, he fully expected a tiny plate of leftovers, which was perfectly fine. Nyx had left Cor’s phone with him, as he had discovered he was able to answer and talk through it just fine even if it was a third his current height, which had been a relief to everyone. But he honestly didn’t expect any phone calls any time soon, so when his phone began to ring, he jumped from the shock. After some awkward fumbling, he managed to answer the call. “Leonis.”

“Hello hello! This is Marshal Leonis, correct? Doc Domitia gave me this number,” a loud, boisterous voice erupted from the speaker, and he flinched.

“Yes, this is he. May I ask who is-”

“Sania Yeagre, I’m a biologist, travelling the world to solve its mysteries. That being said, I was told of a rather interesting one by the Doc, and I was directed to contact you,” Dr. Yeagre said, her voice still coming through far too loud for him, but he managed to recoup and answer.

“Yes, I was hoping to hear from you. Have you...found anything?” he asked, and after a pause, he heard her take a deep breath through the line.

“It’s been hard without help, but I know you are a very busy man, herald. That being said, I’m almost positive I’ve found your flower, but you need to come verify it. Meet me in two days around this time at the southwest corner of the Vesperpool, near the Myrlwood. I’ll be waiting!” Before Cor could get another word out, the call disconnected, and he frowned at the screen as the caravan door swung open, revealing Nyx and Prompto with, as expected, a dessert-sized box in hand.

“Something happen?” Nyx asked, plopping the box down on the bed in front of him, then carefully handing over the doll utensils he had been using for the past few days; the scent of meat and chili flowed over him, and Cor popped open the lid to discover just that, a human bite-sized piece of steak, along with more chili than he could probably handle, and he waved his thanks absently as he dug in, managing to eat all but just the smallest amount of the chili before collapsing to the bed in a proper food coma.

“You are gonna regret that…” Prompto sing-songed as he threw the box away and carefully walked Cor’s tiny utensils over to the sink and washed them off. Cor managed a smirk as he waved away his son’s concerns.

“I’ll be fine. Anyway, I got a call right before you two came back,” he said, drawing their attention; both Nyx and Prompto sat down on the bed, Nyx scooping him up and setting him on his thigh before he could get pulled under from their weight on the mattress. After adjusting his position (Nyx had rather muscular thighs, which, while lovely, weren’t necessarily the most comfortable for tiny him to be sitting on) he scratched at his chin while he recalled what Dr. Yeagre had said. “It was Dr. Yeagre, who appears to be a very...energetic individual. She thinks she’s found the flower up by the Vesperpool, told me to meet her there in two days near the entrance to the Myrlwood. She didn’t give me any chance to respond before hanging up,” he commented, then sighed. “I know we didn’t really pack for a longer trip, but I need to go.” Cor sighed in contentment as Nyx carefully ran his fingers over his hair, and he scooted back on his perch until he was leaning against the Glaive’s stomach.

“Then that’s what we’ll do. We didn’t bring camping equipment besides a few emergency supplies, so we either sleep in the car or stay in Lestallum tomorrow night, and I think I can guess what’s going to win the vote there,” Nyx said, and Cor and Prompto both nodded.

“Thank you, both of you,” Cor said softly, and smiled when his son carefully patted him on the shoulder.

“What did you think we were gonna say? No, sorry, be cute and tiny forever,” Prompto drawled, and Cor snorted.

“Fair enough.”

They set out early the next morning after saying goodbye to Cid, who still looked as worried as he had the night before (although he did a decent job at hiding it,) and Cindy, who was kept out of the loop more due to embarrassment than anything else. Cor denied it to all three of them, but he knew it was true. When he got into his...carrier, he discovered a small blanket and a pillow, both doll-sized and filling most of the inside, he sighed and peeked back out.

“Prompto?” The blond leaned over with a mischievous smile that told him exactly who had gotten his new bedding.

“Yes?” Cor poked at the small pillow and snorted.

“Thank you, I think.” Prompto grinned and started zipping the carrier closed, Cor getting the hint and getting comfortable.

“It's a long drive, and we all know you like dozing in the car if you aren't driving, so it’s perfect!” Prompto exclaimed, and Cor couldn't exactly disagree. He stayed awake for about an hour, watching the tiny bit of scenery he could see and chatting with his family before he took his son’s advice, fussing with the blanket until it was in a good position before grabbing the pillow and laying down with a bit of amusement. Well, he had finally found an advantage to his current size, such as it was. He certainly couldn’t get as comfortable sleeping in a car at his full height, but he’d much rather be back to normal, though. It was nice to just be with both Nyx and Prompto, though, without having to worry about the next thing he needed to take care of. He tried to stay awake a little longer, but the car ride was soothing, and he was lulled to sleep in a matter of minutes.

“...he gets tired really fast, doesn’t he?” Cor could hear someone talking, but he flipped his blanket over his head and did his best to ignore them.

“I don’t know if it’s related to what happened, or if he’s a touch depressed. Could even be both, unfortunately. He’s been running himself ragged for the last two months, and while he insists he’s fine, we all know he’s full of shit. I hope that this doctor found what we need…”

When Cor woke up next, he wasn’t even in the carrier anymore, but lying on a bed in what was clearly one of the hotel rooms at the Leville. He had slept the whole day away, apparently, not even noticing them bringing him in and out of the carrier; his stomach was letting him know what it thought about that with a rather sustained and unhappy grumble. He wiped at his eyes with a hand and sat up, having a quick look around the room to see...no one? Considering how worried both Nyx and Prompto had been to leave him alone for any serious amount of time even in his own quarters, he was actually a bit shocked. He waited for a few minutes on the bed to see if either of them showed back up, but there was no sign of them. He could, however, see what looked like a partial bag of crackers sitting on the table across the room, and he crawled to the edge of the bed and climbed down the bedspread, working his way over to the table and glaring up at it. There was a chair, but it was still pretty far off the ground, and he looked around for things he could push over to help. After not finding anything else even remotely feasible, he ended up dragging over Prompto’s camera case, balancing on it carefully before jumping and grabbing the edge of the chair, pulling himself onto the seat. From there, he grabbed the handle of the drawer above him, and used it to drag himself within range of the tabletop, managing to grab the edge and with a bit of strain, pull himself up the rest of the way.

“I’m going to be feeling that later,” he grumbled, shaking his arms out as he walked across the table to the crackers, sitting down and munching as the door to the room finally opened, revealing both Prompto and Nyx.

“-we’ll wake him up, then see what he wants to e-” Prompto cut himself off as he dashed towards the bed Cor had been on, and Cor picked up a cracker and threw it at the kid’s head before he could panic, managing to hit his butt instead. Nyx snorted out a laugh as Prompto turned around and saw him on the table, clutching a hand to his chest. “Oh, shit, you scared me. When did you wake up?”

“Just a little while ago. Did I really sleep that whole time?” Cor asked, taking another bite of his cracker, and Nyx walked over and pulled out the chair (after moving Prompto’s camera case out of the way,) sitting down and facing him directly.

“Yeah, you did. How are you feeling?” Nyx’s eyes were laser-focused on him, and Cor sighed in-between nibbles.

“I’m alright, just tired of all this. The same it’s been for the last week,” he said, and Nyx reached out and ran his fingers down the side of his head.

“Hopefully Dr. Yeagre has found what we are looking for, because while you are adorable like this, and it’s been nice having you around more often, I do miss having you normal sized. It’s not quite the same cuddling-wise, I’m afraid…” Nyx said, the sad tone in his voice not completely an illusion, and Cor reached up and wrapped his hand around one of Nyx’s fingers, giving it a squeeze.

“I completely agree.”

Prompto found them dinner, and Cor finally got something with more substance than a cracker as he remained on the table and enjoyed tiny little pieces of meat with greens and potatoes while Nyx and Prompto sat the chairs and ate next to him. He was not one to rush eating unless he was forced to, and like usual, he was the last one done, Prompto grinning as he took his utensils away.

“What now?” Cor grumbled, and his son cackled from the bathroom.

“Well, there’s definitely one advantage to this,” Prompto said, and Cor sighed.

“And what’s that?” he shouted to be heard over the running water, and the blond came back out, handing off the utensils to Nyx before reaching out and picking up Cor, bringing him up to his shoulder.

“Well, the food bills are cheaper-”

He didn’t feel too badly yanking a little too hard on a lock of Prompto’s hair in response.

They left Lestallum behind pretty early the next morning, heading north towards the Vesperpool area; Cor managed to stay awake this time, well, most of the time, and only when they were two-thirds of the way there did Nyx announce that he had made a tactical error.

“I...forgot to refuel in Lestallum. We’ll have to stop at Meldacio,” Nyx said with more than a hint of embarrassment in his voice, and Cor shrugged.

“Just set me on the floor again, it’ll be fine. Hopefully Dave isn’t there,” Cor announced, and Prompto did just that as they rolled to a stop at the hunter headquarters, Nyx getting out and heading to the pump as Cor listened to the sounds of the little valley hideaway while Prompto also got out and stretched.

“Well damn, I know this car. Where’s the rest of the crowd this time?” Dave was there. Of course. Cor facepalmed, then dove under the blanket in the carrier, desperately hoping the lead hunter didn’t notice what was sitting in the front seat. “Carrying pets with you now?” Aw shit. The man specialized in being observant, but really, Auburnbrie, you could be a little less so sometimes- “Can I see?” A thump.

“No no, probably best not. He finally got to sleep, I don’t want to disturb him-” Prompto said entirely too rapidly, which certainly didn’t look suspicious , and Cor actually groaned aloud from his hiding spot. The boy was great at hiding specific kinds of secrets, but a natural spy he was not.

“Now I’m really curious- anyway, where’s Leonis? Kinda surprised to see the two of you without him,” Dave said, and Prompto tittered nervously.

“He’s...indisposed.” Cor groaned even louder the second time, which probably wasn’t the smartest thing either; he heard an intake of breath, then after a bit of scuffling, the car door opened, and Cor sighed as his current home was lifted into the air.

“Okay, kid, what the hell is in this thing?” Dave said, a little more sharply, and Prompto actually whimpered slightly as Cor’s carrier was shaken lightly by the hunter, Cor’s stomach immediately telling him what he thought of that maneuver.

“Be careful with him, we are trying to get him back to normal,” his son hissed under his breath, and Cor really wondered where in the hell Nyx went-

“Back to normal?” Dave said, his voice softening in his shock, and Cor stayed still as the top of the carrier was unzipped, only to be thumped soundly in the back by questing fingers. He gave up. Pulling back the blanket, he grabbed his pin and poked Auburnbrie’s finger, the man jerking his hand out of the carrier out of impulse. “Ow, what in the he-” Dave looked down at him, his eyes widening dramatically, and Cor put his pin back and waved resignedly. “Ifrit’s flaming ass what the-”

“Auburnbrie, be careful!” Nyx’s welcome voice interjected, and Dave, thankfully, set the carrier back down on the passenger seat as Nyx got back into the car. “You just had to get nosy-”

“Ulric, he’s shorter than a fucking chocobo chick, how did this happen?” the hunter hissed, and Prompto sighed.

“A flower, given to him by an unknown woman in Insomnia. He’s been like this for a week,” Prompto said, and Dave looked down at him again, his expression hard to read; Cor rolled his eyes and stood up for a moment.

“Dave, please don’t make a scene, we are trying not to advertise this,” he stated, and watched as relief suddenly and completely overtook the man’s features. He wasn’t quite sure why, but he’d take it.

“Yeah, I understand. Where are you headed?” the man asked, his voice pitched low, and Nyx answered, relief clear in his voice.

“Meeting up with Dr. Sania Yeagre at the Vesperpool, she thinks she’s figured it out,” Nyx replied, and Cor could see Dave nod.

“She’s a quirky one, but she’s probably your best bet if this was really caused by a flower-”

“It was,” Cor cut in as he sat back down, and Dave nodded again before reaching into the carrier once more, stopping before he actually touched him; Cor realized what he was trying to do and grasped one of the man’s fingers, giving it the closest thing to a handshake he could pull off before Dave pulled away carefully.

“The Vesperpool can be pretty dangerous to full-sized people, let alone...not, you three, so take care. If you need my help, just give me a holler.” Dave said quietly, and with a light pat to the carrier, backed away out of Cor’s view; Prompto got back in as Nyx started the car, and they pulled away a moment later, Prompto waving to the hunter as they left. After they were well clear of Meldacio, Prompto peeked in the top of the carrier with an apologetic smile.

“Sorry, Cor. I’m not good with that sort of thing,” the blond said, and Cor shook his head.

“It’s fine, son, I know you aren’t. Thankfully, Dave’s pretty hard to rattle for long.” Nyx huffed out a dry laugh, and both he and Prompto looked over at the Glaive, who looked like he really wanted to say something. “What?” Nyx reached over, patting both the carrier then Prompto’s shoulder before retracting his hand.

“Kid, you keep secrets pretty damn well when they are about yourself, and you know it. But if’s about someone you care about, you...aren’t the greatest. You want to make sure they get what they need,” Nyx said with just a touch of reproach, but it was fond too, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose as Prompto squirmed, saying nothing in response. Nyx was right, of course; Prompto was getting better about the formerly constant self-flagellation, but he was still prone to keeping his mouth shut on things he probably shouldn’t. Cor snorted near-silently, allowing himself to flop back into his blankets. He couldn’t talk either, as much as he would never admit it aloud. He was still used to keeping things to himself, as much as he tried to open up to Nyx and Prompto, which was a habit he was trying to improve on. Slowly.

“You gonna nap? I think we still have another hour or so to the Vesperpool,” Prompto asked, looking directly down into the carrier, and Cor took a moment to admire the kind smile on his son’s (he’ll never get over that) face before nodding slowly.

“I think I will, unless you want to talk about something,” he replied, and Prompto shook his head.

“Take a nap, old man, we’ll wake you when we get there,” Nyx answered for both of them, and Cor snorted, audibly this time, and grabbed his pillow and hunkered down for his nap.

He awoke to someone running a finger down the back of his head and spine, and he blinked upwards to see Nyx smiling sweetly at him, hand coming to rest over his lower torso.

“We there?” he yawned, and and the Glaive patted his back before withdrawing his hand from the carrier.

“Yup, well, the closest we can get, anyway. I hate to say this, but it’s probably better you stay in this for now, I’ll keep the top open incase you need to get a quick getaway,” Nyx stated, and Cor stood up and stretched, before reaching out and laying a hand on top of his partner’s finger.

“Thank you again, Nyx. I’m pretty sure helping my magically shrunken boyfriend isn’t usually in the relationship guide-”

“Neither is rescue boyfriend from imperial evildoers, but hey, I’m awesome like that. It’s what I’m known for. Don’t dwell on it, Cor. Hopefully the good doctor has found what we need to get you back to normal,” Nyx replied, bouncing the finger Cor’s hand was resting on, and Cor smiled.

“Right.”

Prompto was already out of the car, and Nyx and Cor joined him after locking up the Regalia. Cor was standing in the carrier, letting him peek out the top as they walked off the dirt road and into the marshlands heading towards the lake, looking for a woman; none of them had any idea what this Doctor Yeagre looked like, but after a good ten minutes of seeing no other human, they were just looking for anyone at this point. A few beasts skirted close to them, but none approached close enough to be concerned with as they continued towards what she had loosely described as their meeting point.

“She really didn’t tell you anything more specific, did she?” Prompto asked, and Cor shook his head. “Well, we are almost there, so-”

“Well, I’m guessing you lot are here looking for me! I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to see you two, but I was expecting the marshal? Is he still on his way?” Cor ducked back into the carrier as a familiar voice sounded out, and everyone turned as a younger-than-expected woman popped out from behind a tree. Dr. Yeagre was dark-skinned, bespeckled, and practically dressed, with a pair of binoculars around her neck and a leather satchel slung over her shoulder, Cor saw no weapons, but if she had survived her adventures around Lucis for as long as she had supposedly been doing them, she clearly had ways to defend herself. Prompto took the initiative, stepping forward with his friendliest grin and nodding.

“You must be Dr. Yeagre! Yes, we are here for you, Cor...er, the marshal, told us you had located what you thought was the flower we were looking for?” Prompto said, and the good doctor waved a hand with some sort of meaning that Cor didn’t understand.

“Yes, yes, when Dr. Domitia called me from the Citadel telling me about this flower’s alleged affect, I didn’t believe it at first, but I was heading to this area anyway looking for a rare firefly, you see, and she had sent along photos of the dead specimen-” Dr. Yeagre waggled her phone in the air, her gaze solely on Prompto. “-and while I haven’t found my firefly yet, I did see a small patch of flowers that looked extraordinarily close to the pictures I was sent, so I sent for the marshal, as requested. I’m guessing someone has been effected, considering her haste in asking for help,” the woman spoke so quickly that Cor almost had problems keeping up, and Nyx glanced down at him in askance. Not much choice, especially if the doctor was helping them out- Cor nodded, and Nyx stepped forward.

“It was the marshal, unfortunately, he’s actually here with us,” Nyx explained, then lifted the carrier up slightly in explanation; Dr. Yeagre moved in, looking into the carrier with clear curiosity, and her excited shriek made Cor hit the floor, his hands over his ears as Nyx pulled the carrier away.

“Ah, my apologies! What a fascinating situation! I see Dr. Domitia wasn’t over-exaggerating the effect- this was all caused by that flower? Did she do any tests on you? Everything is the same as before, minus your size?” the doctor asked, her eyes glittering with interest, and Cor suddenly felt a bit less comfortable being around the excited academic; thankfully, Nyx intervened, moving a few steps back and placing a hand over the top of his current residence.

“Doctor, while we understand your...enthusiasm, it really is of the utmost importance we solve this as soon as possible. You are surely aware of his position, and him being in such a state for any period of time is not safe. There are those who would seek to seize him for their own ends, and he is unable to truly defend himself at this point,” Nyx pointed out, and while the woman pouted for a moment after he was done speaking, she sighed and waved a hand in front of her face in a dismissive manner.

“You do represent a unique subject, and I would love to do a few basic observations, marshal, but I do understand. Follow me,” Dr. Yeagre started walking without so much as a by-your-leave or any other indication, and Prompto and Nyx scrambled to follow her, Cor bouncing lightly off Nyx’s hip in the carrier. They walked along without another word for close to twenty minutes as she lead them closer to the entrance to the Myrlwood, Cor standing back up in the carrier so he could see without being obscured by the mesh. Just when he was about to ask the researcher how much longer they would be travelling, a screeching roar sounded, and he spun around in his bag to see what looked like a whole fleet of sahagin charging straight towards them.

“Nyx!” he shouted, and Nyx turned around with a grimace before looking down at him.

“Hold on, I’m going to throw the bag into the tree to get you out of the way while we take these things down!” Nyx yelled, and before he even had a chance to argue, he was clinging to the carrier as he flew upwards, the handle miraculously hooking on a mid-level branch as Nyx, Prompto, and even the doctor pulled their weapons and got to work; Prompto was already shooting as Dr. Yeagre began firing an honest-to-goodness crossbow (he hadn’t seen one in a long time in actual use,) and Nyx’s kukris were already flying about as he went in close. Cor stood back up in the carrier, a scowl firmly entrenched on his face. He hated this, he should be down there with them-

The tree suddenly shook wildly, causing Cor to lose his footing and fall back into the bag; it took a moment, but he managed to work himself back up, only to be again knocked down as he realized the culprit, two sahagin had managed to get around the three fighting, and had clearly noticed him moving around. He tried to get out of the bag and into the tree, hoping for a more solid perch, only for the entire tree to bend alarmingly towards the ground; he made a split second decision and dove back into the carrier just as the tree snapped back, sending him and the carrier flying. He could hear Nyx and Prompto shout as he sailed across a considerable distance, and he managed to roll himself up in the blanket in hopes of giving himself some padding just as the bag came to a jarring halt, tangled up in some branches and tearing as he tumbled out of it and crashed into a bush; the blanket had been just in time, and he fought his way through the brambles with only a few bruises and a scrape or two to his name as he brushed off his clothing. At least he had his uniform on today-

A roar that was far too close for comfort sounded nearby, and Cor took off running. He had no way of fighting them, he just had to hope he could outrun them on his tiny legs until he could find somewhere to hide. He looked behind and darted in front of a tree just as a sahagin lunged; the beast smashed headlong into the tree and did not move again, and Cor couldn’t help a tiny smirk as he continued to move as fast as he could manage, only to lose his footing and tumble down a small hill, landing flat on his back with the air knocked from his lungs. He could hear the remaining beast’s breathing as it moved in, and he tried to get up, only to get himself to a sitting position just in time to look the sahagin in the eye as it slunk ever closer, its massive jaws beginning to open.

“Well, this is a hell of a way to go,” he muttered, and grabbed for his trusty pin; he wasn’t going to go down without causing at least some pain to the bastard, that was for certain-

Something grabbed him from behind by his jacket, hoisting him rapidly into the air and making him drop his pin as the long-jawed beast charged at his former location, only to be repelled by a large clawed foot that looked incredibly familiar; Cor looked up and realized he was being held by none other than his girlfriend, as Libertus had dubbed her, the black chocobo that he had feared had been killed after Wiz had told them the story behind the baby, and relief, as ill-advised as it was, flowed through him like water. He had a chance. The chocobo delivered two swift strikes to the sahagin with her claws, who recoiled, roared once more, then turned and fled, trampling brush as he vanished into the fog. With a twist of the chocobo’s head, Cor found himself falling to her back, and he clutched a few feathers and held on as she turned and ran...away from the others.

 

“Madame, I need to rejoin my friends-” Her answering kweh was dismissive at best, and he grimaced as they cut through the trees towards a destination that was clearly in his friend’s mind; after a few minutes, she slowed to a halt, carefully lowering her head and entering a narrow passage he had not noticed until they had been right in front of it, walking through it methodically until the path opened back up somewhat, after a few more steps, she lowered herself to the ground. “Is this where you live?” Cor asked, and that was when he learned that chocobos were remarkably skilled at eye rolling. “Okay, then why-” She leaned over and nudged him off her back gently, Cor letting her guide him as he slid down to the grass. After he stood there for a moment, the chocobo seemed to sigh, then again pressed her beak against his back and pushed him forward until he was walking towards her front- and then he saw it. “The flower. You knew what caused this?” he asked, and after an answering kweh that sounded a little too much like do you think I’m stupid? to him, he patted her beak and moved towards the plant.

It was as beautiful as the specimen that had caused all of this mess, its color still extraordinarily similar to Nyx’s eyes, and he approached it carefully, not really knowing what to do. Would its pollen return him to normal? Make him even smaller? He balked, and found himself looking back towards the chocobo seeking some sort of reassurance, only to get an oddly maternal looking glare as she pointed her beak towards the flower with surety. Perhaps she had been affected by it before…

“Cor? Cor! Please tell me you didn’t get eaten!” Nyx’s voice echoed into the little passage, and his girlfriend kwehed unhappily at the sound.

“Dad? Dad!” Prompto this time, and the chocobo was more accepting of his voice, only making a small sound in response. “Wait, that’s a chocobo,” his son stated, and Cor took a deep breath and shouted as he heard them move into the passage.

“Cor? I think I heard him-” Nyx popped into view, Prompto and the doctor following behind, and his chocobo whined once more as Cor stepped backwards and waved. “Oh, thank fuck. Are you okay?” Cor nodded as he took a few more steps back to get a better view of the three, only to run right into something which immediately showered him in pollen.

The flower. His head immediately went strange and fuzzy, and he battled what felt like a sudden case of vertigo as he staggered a few steps vaguely forward, his brain hazily registering yelling as he swayed on his feet, his vision quickly dimming as he looked up to see the chocobo keeping Nyx away as he collapsed to the grass with a thud.

“That was astounding! I wonder if I can replicate the effects in a more controlled environment-” a woman’s voice cut into his brain, and Cor groaned, rolling over and shoving his face into his warm, if uneven, pillow; fingers brushed the hair at the back of his neck, and he trembled uncontrollably. He didn’t want to get up-

“Babe, you need to wake up,” Nyx’s voice had just enough sharpness to it that Cor groaned again and rolled back onto his back, letting his eyes open slowly; a very familiar set of beautiful blue eyes were looking down at him, and he lifted his hand and let his fingers trail down Nyx’s cheek. Then he froze. Wait. Cor looked at his hand, then lifted his head enough to look at the rest of his body. Prompto was sitting next to him to his left, the black chocobo to his right (she looked perturbed by Nyx, but was not interfering,) and the doctor was standing a few feet away from a small patch of- Cor blinked. Flowers. He took one more look at his hand, then back at himself, then let his head fall back into Nyx’s lap with absolute relief. He was back to normal. He was back to normal.

“Goddess and the fucking Astrals,” he said with feeling, and Prompto and Nyx both barked out a laugh.

“I’m pretty sure the astrals would prefer not to be referred to as such, but I get the sentiment,” Nyx said, relief plain on his face, and Cor would have made out with the man right there had they not had an audience (and the chocobo would probably kill Nyx, which would be even more problematic.) “Why don’t you get up and make sure everything seems to be moving and working okay?” That was an excellent idea, and while he was a little shaky at first, he managed to get to his feet without help, and ran through a series of stretches and movements that told him that he was physically just fine. His perspective was a bit skewed, however, and Nyx and Prompto both grabbed him as he promptly tripped over his own feet after overestimating a root in the soil.

“You’ve been seeing everything from around eighteen inches for a week, Cor, you’ll probably need a little time for your brain to reset itself back to your usual height,” Prompto pointed out, and Cor couldn’t do anything but nod in agreement as he carefully sat back down next to his girlfriend, who reached out and groomed at his hair with her beak.

“Thank you, madame, for all of your help. I’d be very dead if it wasn’t for you,” Cor said softly as he reached out, misjudging and bumping his fingers against her head before petting her properly; she didn’t seem to mind, though, and continued grooming at his short hair with what appeared to be growing irritation as she sped up her attempts.

“What was that?” Nyx commented lightly, and Cor didn’t buy his tone for a minute as he kept his eyes firmly on his feathered friend.

“Being that small against a very large sahagin is a losing proposition, as you can probably guess. She intervened before anything could really happen.” Nyx’s face suddenly filled his view, a single finger pressing against his jaw and pushing it so he was looking at the too-calm Glaive from only inches away.

“-could really happen. Care to explain?” Nyx said, and Cor scowled, failing miserably at turning away as that finger kept him firmly in place.

“It never touched me, I’m fine-” Madame Chocobo’s (he was horrible at names) answering kweh was downright amused, and he watched in resignation as Nyx and the bird exchanged a look before the younger man caught his eye once more.

“Cor…”

“The bag ripped open on a tree branch and I fell into a bush, but I had wrapped myself in the blanket. I’m just a bit bruised, that’s all,” he answered truthfully, conveniently skipping the second tumble in his recounting, only to get a light shove from Madame.

“Leaving something out, are you?” Nyx had withdrawn his pushy finger, but he didn’t notice the man snaking a hand behind Cor’s back until he got several firm pokes to the back. Ow.

“Agh, okay, I fell down a little hill after that, that’s how the beast caught up with me,” he muttered, and Nyx’s pokes changed to a soothing pat.

“You’re gonna be walking like you’re ninety by sixty, with the amount of back injuries you seem to get, old man,” Nyx sighed, then nodded to Madame. “Thank you, my lady, for helping this idiot out. He needs it sometimes.” Prompto, who had stayed mostly quiet the whole time, nodded and grinned as Madame leaned over and groomed at his much longer hair with fervor.

“No more mystery flowers, dad. We don’t want to know what someone will give you next,” his son commented, and Cor sighed, patting Madame on the back as he got back to his feet.

“You have a point, Prompto.” Cor turned to Dr. Yeagre, who was utterly focused on the flowers. “I’d be careful with those, doctor. You have seen what they can do-”

“Yes! I have, isn’t it wonderful? Between these and my fireflies, this has been a very fruitful trip!” Dr. Yeagre turned halfway towards them, her mind still clearly elsewhere. “While I’d love to show you the wonders of research, I can see you need to leave. See you around!” Cor wasn’t all that surprised when she bid them farewell with little fanfare, and after thanking her (she had led them in the right direction, at least) the three of them and Madame left her behind, working their way through the passage and out into the open air. He was still misjudging distances (everything seemed skewed to him, which was rather disorienting) and Nyx finally just wrapped a hand firmly around his arm to keep him from falling after the fourth time of tripping over effectively nothing.

“I think it’ll be best if I drive us home. You can’t drive, and I don’t trust you with stepping right now, you’ll probably appear in mid-air outside the Citadel right now,” Nyx drawled, and Cor frowned, but certainly couldn’t contest the point. Once again, once they were most of the way to the car, Madame stopped once more, preening at his hair for a moment before letting loose a sad call, and after another stumble, Cor wrapped his arms around the chocobo’s neck.

“Thank you, Madame. I’m afraid I don’t have anything for you this time,” he said softly, but she seemed to understand, nuzzling his head for a long moment before giving his hair a lick and stepping away. “I’ll come by and visit, okay?” Madame kwehed once more, then turned and headed back into the Myrlwood; Cor watched until she was out of sight before turning back to the others. “Don’t start.” Nyx shook his head, smirk firmly in place, while Prompto did his level best to give him a sweet, innocent smile. He didn’t buy it for a minute. “Let’s get out of here.” He tried to walk back towards the car, only to trip over a root that was bigger than he thought it was; Prompto caught him first before he ate dirt, and Nyx helped drag him upright again. He was beyond embarrassed, but he’d much rather be so around his family than strangers. He could handle it. Taking a deep breath, he threaded his fingers through Nyx’s, and began to walk once more towards the car, his favorite Glaive keeping him upright. “Thank you, both of you.”

“Always, Cor...just-” Nyx trailed off, and Cor blinked. “What Prompto said, if you don’t recognize the flower, don’t take it? Next one will turn you into a kid or something, and we’ll all be fucked-” Cor shivered compulsively at the thought just as they reached the car, and Nyx opened the door just in time for Cor to tumble right on into the back seat.

“Yep, home. Before I break my neck.”

They considered driving straight back to Insomnia, but Cor was exhausted after running for his life from a sahagin a hundred times his size, and after a short stop in Meldacio to let Dave know that Cor was back to normal (and to let him know what flower to avoid) they decided to stop in Lestallum for the night before driving onto Insomnia the following morning.

Cor was certain that he got a few suspicious looks from the locals as Nyx held firm to his arm as they walked up to the Leville (he was waiting for the Marshal Drunkard?! headlines the next morning,) but they made it to their room without any major issues, and Cor let himself fall into the same bed he had slept in the night before with a relieved sigh.

“We need to celebrate you returning to normal, Cor. How’s skewers and rice sound?” Prompto asked as he sat down next to him, and Cor waved an agreeable hand as he practiced being a pancake. “I’ll take that as a yes. I’ll be back.” The door opened and shut a moment later, and the bed sunk next to him once more as a warm hand wove into his hair before slowly running down his spine, causing him to groan and relax into the mattress.

“Definitely still you, my favorite hedonist,” Nyx stated, his voice soft and more than a little amused. “Prompto will probably be gone around twenty to thirty minutes, do you want to take a quick shower?” The Glaive continued to run his hands up and down Cor’s back, Cor alternating between enjoyment and wincing as Nyx contacted the various bruises that marked his back. Shower sounded good.

“Just a shower,” he mumbled, and Nyx snorted a laugh as he helped him back to his feet.

“Babe, I’m mainly going in there to help because I’m afraid you’ll knock yourself out if I leave you to it right now. I’d prefer you survive until we get back to Insomnia, I hate awkward conversations-” Cor tried to push the chuckling Nyx away, only to misjudge the distance and, of course, nearly knock himself out on the shower door. Damnit.

They weren’t quite out of the shower when Prompto returned, but his son took mercy on them and kept the food covered until they staggered back out of the bathroom, Cor feeling much better for it. Dinner tasted wonderful, and he only scraped the plate and the table around it with his fork a dozen times or so trying to eat his rice. Thankfully, the other two were nice enough to not say anything. The ultimate relief was being able to cuddle up properly to Nyx as they went to bed that evening, Cor falling asleep quickly with the sound of a beloved heartbeat in his ear.

By the time they were only an hour outside of Insomnia the next day, Cor was already feeling far more himself, with the strange almost-vertigo having slowly receded over the course of the day; the bruising from his various falls had mostly faded overnight, and he figured he could return to work in a few days. It was going to be a bitch to figure out how to explain why he was gone in the first place, and then he was going to be so behind on things-

“Cor, your phone is ringing,” Prompto’s voice cut into his musings, and Cor blinked then fished for the offending object, finally managing to get it up to his ear.

“Leonis.”

“Marshal, I understand you are on your way back? Things are...looking up, right?” Monica, of course, and he kindly refrained from rolling his eyes at her awkward pun as he sat up in his seat.

“Monica, good to hear from you. Yes, I’m back to normal, and we’ve even figured out what sort of flower it was. It’s very strange, but I’m just happy to be my regular size again,” he said, and Monica hummed a pleased tone.

“Good to hear. We found the woman who gave you the original flower, she seemed legitimately surprised we were looking for her,” Monica stated, and Cor stiffened, then sighed.

“What did she say?” Monica shuffled what sounded like papers on her end.

“Well, we didn’t exactly tell her what happened, just that it had caused some issues, and after some further questioning, she admitted she had no real idea what it was supposed to do. She said she bought it from a traveling vendor who called it a relaxing flower, said that the seller had told her it was ideal for someone who wanted or needed to be pampered. I’m guessing it’s easier to pamper someone when they are less than two feet tall?” Monica said, with a touch of bemusement in her tone, and Cor was actually speechless. Relaxing? Well, if he had expected it, it may not have been so bad, but- “If you think about it, Cor, they may have had a point. You probably got more sleep in the last week then you’ve had in a month; you’ve been all over the place lately, basically doing two jobs, and people have been noticing,” his old friend stated bluntly, and Cor...knew she was right. He had been travelling to Costlemark a few times a week to see how the work there was progressing, now that the last of the beasts had been defeated behind the locked door (and that was a whole other story, he had been uncertain when Luna had sent Ravus to help.) The special door was to be removed soon, as that part of the structure was in far better shape than many of the upper floors, and could be used for a wide variety of uses. It really was a city under the earth. Regis had finally been allowed in, and had been utterly fascinated by the place. Cor didn’t blame him.

“I-”

“Cor, you needed the vacation, and from what I can tell, some well-meaning, if rather foolish devotee thought that a relaxing flower seemed like just the ticket,” Monica said, interrupting before he could say anything, and Cor huffed before something came to mind.

“Wait, what did she think it was going to to?” he asked, and his deputy snorted a laugh.

“She wasn’t sure, but I think she thought it would just chill you out, basically. She seemed a bit clueless, and Dustin could barely keep from laughing at that point in the interview.” Cor smacked his hand against his forehead, before pinching the bridge of his nose out of habit.

“So she thought making me high would work? Really?” Cor groaned, and both Nyx and Prompto began to laugh. “Or was she thinking more calming lavender sort of relaxing? Because those are two very different things,” he commented, and Monica laughed.

“She...was a bit hopeless. But well, you figured it out, and you sound fine. When do you get back in town?” Monica asked, and Cor looked out to see the cliffs of the Ostium Gorge coming into view around them.

“Probably around an hour or so.”

“See you soon, marshal.”

The three men continued on in near-silence once he had hung up, passing through the outer checkpoint and through the many tunnels that headed back towards the main entrance into Insomnia. Right before they were about to leave Leide entirely, however, Nyx suddenly pulled over off the road, putting the car in park and killing the engine.

“What’s going on?” Prompto asked, and Cor’s brows furrowed together as he leaned through the middle section to look at Nyx, who had a white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel, and Cor frowned.

“Nyx, what’s wrong?” he asked, and Nyx sighed.

“Are we going back to Insomnia just for you to work for three weeks straight, coming home only to pass out?” the Glaive inquired flatly, and Cor flinched. He hadn’t been that bad, had he? “I know you are busy, Cor, but you were beginning to look like a zombie, it was driving everyone crazy. I have it on good authority that Regis had gone to our quarters the other day so he could yell at you,” Nyx commented, and Cor forced himself to meet Nyx’s eyes when the man turned in his seat to look at him. “Prompto had seen you, what, two-three times in the past month? You even stopped taking him with you to Costlemark-” Cor shook his head, cutting the younger man off.

“It’s just restoration and building, there’s nothing interesting going on there-” A hand came to rest on top of his, and he tore his gaze away from his partner to look at his son.

“I like going with you, you know, even if I’m not any help. I mean, if you want me there,” Prompto said softly, and Cor closed his eyes out of shame. They were right, of course. He had been so caught up in his various projects, Crownsguard and not, that he had made next to no time for anything else. Before he had been shrunk by that flower, he hadn’t gotten more than five hours of sleep a night in at least a week, waking up to ever-growing frowns from Nyx. Forced vacation indeed.

“I fucked up, I’m sorry. I-” Cor took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly. “I can’t promise I won’t get caught up again in something, but feel free to drag me off when I’m getting stupid about it. Even with the residual vertigo, or whatever the hell this is, I haven’t been this rested in over a month. I need to stop acting like it’s just me against the world, it’s a bad, old habit that was never accurate to begin with.” Cor closed his eyes as Nyx ran the back of his hand lightly down his cheek, his favorite Glaive huffing out a dry laugh.

“You know what, Cor? That sounds like a good start to me.” Prompto patted his hand once more, and Cor opened his eyes again to look at his favorite blond, who had an impish little smirk firmly in place.

“-and if you don’t, we know where to find those flowers now, isn’t that right, Nyx?”

Nyx started the car as Cor let himself fall back to the back seat with a groan. He supposed he wouldn’t kill everyone and run off to Costlemark. They didn’t deserve it.

Even Regis, the old meddling bat. His son would be very unhappy with him if one of his boyfriends was stuck running the country because he had offed his father. Shame.

That didn’t preclude him getting a bit even, however. Perhaps Regis would like to sample the skewers of Lestallum again-

“What in the world are you smirking about, babe?” Nyx asked as he pulled back onto the road and sped through the final tunnel before the bridge to Insomnia, and Cor shook his head and smiled a little wider.

“Nothing important, just looking forward to getting home.”