Chapter 1: World of Balance
When Prompto was fifteen, he met the Marshal for the first time.
It was impossible to be friends with a prince without meeting all manner of people who could kill him ten ways with their bare hands, but Cor the Immortal had easily been the most intimidating of the lot. Even Gladiolus, despite being taller and broader and more wild looking than Cor, had unfrozen pretty quickly around Prompto once he’d decided that Prompto wasn’t only hanging around to take advantage of Noctis.
Prompto was entirely certain that Cor couldn’t do anything except frown, and he radiated the kind of dangerous strength that had Prompto cowering away from him. Their first meeting had mostly consisted of Cor glaring at Prompto while he stuttered through an attempted introduction, with Noctis laughing at him in the background the whole time.
Once Cor had disappeared off again to go do whatever terrifying things he did when he wasn’t intimidating teenagers, Noctis had assured Prompto that he wasn’t really as scary as he seemed. Prompto was pretty suspicious of that claim, considering that there was a fair bit of difference between the future King of Lucis and a random teenager from a not terrific part of Insomnia. Of course Cor wasn’t going to be as terrifying to Noctis as he was to everyone else.
Still, even after Noctis slapped him on the back and told him that he didn’t need to worry about Cor, Prompto couldn’t get the man out of his mind. His poise, his strength, his attitude; Prompto found himself entranced by the older man, and he wasn’t entirely sure why.
Eventually he decided that it was because Cor seemed to be everything he wanted to be. Prompto couldn’t imagine someone like Cor every feeling insecure or out of his depth, while Prompto felt like he was drowning half the time.
So maybe he found himself trying to emulate Cor a little bit. He didn’t always succeed- or at all, really- but it made him feel better to imagine that he could be cool and strong like Cor one day. He even made a few casual remarks to Gladiolus and Ignis about joining the Crownsguard, but they’d told him it wouldn’t happen until he was twenty.
Apparently there were exceptions- those two and Cor among them- but Prompto had neither royal clearance to join young nor the kind of overflowing talent that got people brought in early. Apparently Cor had joined when he was thirteen, and Prompto didn’t think he’d ever stop being so awed by the Marshal. He hadn’t been brought up to be part of the royal retinue like Gladiolus and Ignis had, which made it all the more impressive that he’d been let in so young.
Noctis laughed at him whenever he tried to casually ask what Cor was up to, but also tended to indulge him with probably exaggerated stories about taking down all manner of traitors and spies within Insomnia. Prompto was pretty certain that at least one of the stories had been the plot of a movie he’d watched when he was younger, but Cor was infinitely more interesting than some bland action star.
In hindsight, Prompto probably should have realised that something weird was going on, but he didn’t.
He just figured that he really admired Cor.
When Prompto was seventeen, he found himself breathless in the middle of his history class one day, completely missing the words that were coming out of his teacher’s mouth.
His older, amazingly intelligent, handsome, male teacher who he definitely had a crush on.
He wasn’t sure how he hadn’t figured it out earlier. It was blindingly obvious now that it had hit him, and his cheeks flushed with heat when his teacher suddenly made eye contact with him. It was the same feeling he got when Eyalia turned around to talk to him during maths class, asking if he’d gotten the same answer as her or if they could work together.
Swallowing hard, Prompto tried to tune back into the class, but he couldn’t focus over the frantic nature of his thoughts. He’d never thought about a man like that, and he wasn’t quite sure what to do.
By the time the bell rang for lunch, Prompto still hadn’t come any closer to understanding what was going on, and after sending Noctis a quick text he packed up his bag and went home. It wasn’t like he was going to be able to concentrate on anything, and if the school called to talk to his parents, it wasn’t like anyone was going to be there to pick up the phone or bother checking the messages.
He wasn’t really surprised when Noctis appeared at his house after school, worried about why he’d disappeared so suddenly, but he still felt bad about it.
Although he didn’t really want to talk to Noctis about what had happened, he knew that there was no one else he trusted to keep his secrets, and he did want to reassure Noctis that he wasn’t dying or something equally serious.
“I think I l-like...men,” Prompto ended up blurting out as a response to Noctis’ probing questions, only to be met with a tilted head and a blank stare.
“So?” Noctis asked, curling his legs up under him on the couch.
Prompto stared back at him, nervously chewing on his bottom lip. “You don’t think that’s weird?”
“Why would I...Okay, look. You know Iggy and Gladio, right?”
Prompto nodded, unsure. Since he’d first met Noctis, the two had gone from being Noctis’ terrifying keepers to being Prompto’s friends, but he didn’t know what their relevance was to the situation at hand.
“They’ve been dating since they were like sixteen, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been listening to them whine about how much they like each other since I was too young to know what the fuck they were on about.” Shrugging his shoulders, Noctis picked at a loose thread hanging from his school shirt. “You like girls too, right?”
“I...I guess?” Prompto said, still trying to process the fact that he’d apparently never noticed that two of his friends were dating. Although they did always seem to stand or sit next to each other, and now that he really thought about it, he might have misinterpreted a few quiet conversations and lingering touches…
“That’s cool,” Noctis said, nodding casually. “Gladio does too, but I don’t think Iggy does.”
“Oh,” Prompto said, trying to talk himself out of his next question but knowing it was going to come out anyway. “What about you?”
Noct frowned a little bit, looking like he hadn’t anticipated the question. “Me? I guess I...just never really thought about it. I’m going to get married off to some noble girl anyway, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Prompto thought that sounded sad, but when he said as much Noctis just laughed.
“Nah, it’s okay. It’s a tradeoff for getting to be unbearably rich and powerful.” Prompto thought he could hear a flat note in Noctis’ voice, but he decided not to call him on it. He still didn’t entirely understand royalty, but even he knew that they basically never had the luxury of marrying for love.
“Anyway,” Noctis said once the silence stretched just a beat too long, “You’re telling me that you just left school and didn’t even get in trouble?”
“I deleted the message,” Prompto said with a shrug. “No one’s gonna notice. Besides, couldn’t you do the same? Not like the school’s gonna be able to call your dad.”
“Oh, they wouldn’t call my dad. It’d be way worse than that.”
“What d’you mean?” Prompto asked. He’d never really thought about what would happen if Noctis got in trouble at school, because it wasn’t like they could really discipline their prince, right?
Noctis leaned towards Prompto, a smile twitching his lips before he managed to make his eyes look big and scared. “They’d call Iggy.”
Letting out a pretend scream of horror, Prompto rolled himself off the couch, acting like he was petrified and feeling immensely glad that Noctis had managed to lighten the mood so easily. As it was, Noctis was laughing as he sat on the couch and watched Prompto’s little display, and Prompto felt his chest go warm.
He was so lucky to have found such an understanding friend.
When Prompto was eighteen, he found himself at a party, trading shy kisses with another boy for the first time.
It was nice, he decided, but something was missing. It wasn’t quite as nice as when he’d finally managed to get a few dates with and lose his virginity to Eyalia, but he couldn’t quite figure out what was wrong. Even though they’d decided they were better off as friends, he still preferred Eyalia’s confidence to the timid boy who was currently putting a shaking hand on his arm.
A few kisses later and Prompto had decided that he just wasn’t all that attracted to timid. The boy was perfectly cute, and Prompto had thought that he would enjoy his company, but he just wasn’t feeling it.
Pulling away, Prompto acted like he’d just gotten a text, subtly angling the screen away from prying eyes and flicking open his messages.
“Shit,” he sighed in a way he hoped was convincing. “Dude, I’m so sorry, but I gotta go.”
“Oh,” was all he got in reply, hurt green eyes looking back at him. Pain was the last thing Prompto had hoped to cause, so he pulled out the big guns.
“Yeah, can’t leave His Highness waiting,” he said, feeling bad about lying but not seeing any other way out without leaving the boy feeling rejected and undesirable.
As expected, it worked, and hurt eyes turned big with shock and awe. “You know Prince Noctis? ”
“Yeah,” Prompto said with a gentle smile. “He’s my best friend.”
“Oh, you’re Prompto,” the boy said, and Prompto no longer felt guilty about not having heard his name over the pumping music. The boy lifted his fingers to his lips, his expression looking like kissing the prince’s best friend was an achievement or something.
Satisfied that he could take the opportunity to leave, Prompto said a quick goodbye and disappeared into the crowd, coming out the other side and slipping through the front door of the house. It had probably been about time for him to leave anyway, and he let the cool night air clear his mind. He needed to untangle his thoughts, and he began to make a mental list like Ignis had taught him to do whenever he started feeling overwhelmed.
So, he definitely liked women. The more confident, the better, especially if she was also quick-witted and beautiful.
He definitely also liked men. Although he hadn’t really been feeling the nervous boy, his cock had still gotten a little hard from their kissing, and he didn’t think that would happen if he didn’t actually like men.
What did he like, then?
An image of his history teacher came to mind, and Prompto swallowed hard. The man had left the school at the end of the previous year, and Prompto’s history marks had immediately improved from the lack of distraction. Without the man around and being unbearably kind to him, he’d long gotten over his crush, and he certainly didn’t miss it.
But he thought that his teacher would certainly have been more forward than the boy at the party, his big hands knowing exactly where to touch Prompto to get him worked up in an instant. Still, Prompto thought as he frowned, something was still missing from that particular fantasy...
The realisation hit Prompto like a tonne of bricks, and he stopped short in the middle of the darkened footpath.
He’d had a crush on his teacher because the man was tall and handsome and intelligent, but Prompto needed something more than that.
Prompto wanted a man who was strong and capable.
Someone like Cor Leonis.
“Holy shit,” Prompto said out loud to himself, remembering what he’d naively called ‘hero worship’ and realising that it might have been a little more than that. He hadn’t seen Cor since the early days of his friendship with Noctis, the man having much better things to do than lurk once he’d decided that Prompto wasn’t a threat, so he’d never really had a reason to think about Cor in relation to his newly realised desires.
Now a lot of things were making sense, and Prompto practically ran the rest of the way home as his brain conjured images of what it would feel like to be under the Marshal’s strong body.
If he got himself off to thoughts of Cor making love to him- he was still a romantic at heart- then that was his own secret. It wasn't like he ever ran into Cor anyway, not now that Gladio had fully embraced his role as Noctis’ Shield, so he didn't think that remembering an old crush was going to affect his life in any way.
What would the commander of the Crownsguard want with him, after all?
When Prompto was nineteen, he received a call from a private number.
He knew a lot of his old classmates had often talked about how they ignored calls from anyone with a blocked number, but Prompto didn’t have that particular luxury. No one connected to the royal family wanted their phone numbers on full display, after all.
“Prompto Argentum speaking,” he answered, trying his best to remember his manners.
“Cor Leonis,” a gruff voice said on the other end, and Prompto let out a high-pitched squeak. “Gladiolus told me that you expressed an interest in joining the Crownsguard.”
“Huh?” Prompto said, wondering when that had happened. “Oh! Dude, that was like, four years ago.”
There was silence from the other end, and Prompto coughed awkwardly. “I mean, uh, Marshal, sir.”
“Yes, well,” Cor said, and Prompto was glad to hear that he didn’t sound any more murderous than usual, “when His Highness turns twenty, it becomes his duty to choose his own personal retinue, rather than His Majesty deciding. He’s been...insistent that we ask you to join.”
“Um,” was all Prompto could say at first, trying to process the information. “Don’t you have to be, like, military first?”
“Usually,” Cor said, and Prompto fancied that he sounded frustrated, although he wouldn’t claim to be able to really read the Marshal’s moods. “But technically the only person who can overrule Prince Noctis is King Regis, and Ramuh knows that he was just as bad…”
Prompto wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, but he figured that Cor wasn’t going to tell him more information than he absolutely had to. He’d have to ask Noctis about that. “So you’re just gonna...let me join?”
“Absolutely not,” Cor growled, and Prompto cringed away from the phone. “You’ll be fully tested before we let you guard the royal family. It’s probably too soon, but there are...circumstances at play here.”
“Not a civilian’s business,” Cor snapped. “You’ll find out when- if- you’re accepted. There’s a physical exam and a written test, although the final decision is up to His Majesty. They’ll be administered after your twentieth birthday, but most people fail at least one on the first try.”
It sounded terrifying to Prompto, but the knowledge that Noctis had asked for him had Prompto swallowing down his fear and nodding, even though Cor couldn’t see him. “I’ll do it. What’s the plan?”
“Recruits usually take a tutor for the written test. The highest score we’ve had in years on that part went to Ignis Scientia: kid was damn near perfect even though he didn’t actually have to take the test, so ask him.”
“Whoa,” Prompto breathed, but Cor ignored him.
“Physical training starts today at five in the Citadel’s main gym.”
“Wait, what?” Prompto asked, pulling his phone away from his ear to check the time: just after three.
“If you’re late, it’ll only be worse for you,” Cor said before the line went dead. Prompto realised his hands were shaking as he lowered his phone, and he stared blankly at the black screen for an uncomfortably long period of time before he was scrambling off his couch, stumbling over himself as he tore his apartment to pieces looking for decent workout clothes.
When he made it to the Citadel gym at a quarter to five, the place was eerily silent. The other times when Prompto had been there, usually to wait for Noctis to finish up with Gladio, there had been multiple Crownsguard and Kingsglaive members working out in there, and it was odd to see the place so empty.
Taking a seat on one of the benches scattered around the edge of the room, Prompto quickly realised that he was too jittery to sit still for long. Bouncing up again, he ran himself through a series of quick warmups, trying to work the nervous energy from his body. He wondered who was going to be training him, but no one stuck out as the obvious choice.
Gladio was a great teacher, but his focus was Noctis; there were other Crownguard members who he’d seen running drills, but he’d never actually exchanged more than a quick greeting with them. It could have been almost anyone, Prompto realised.
And then the door slammed open, heralding the arrival of the last person Prompto had expected.
Cor walked into the gym with perfect military posture, placing his katana down on a bench and shedding his jacket. Prompto didn’t think he’d ever seen the Marshal in just his uniform shirt, and he swallowed hard at the sight of strong, bare arms with faded scars running across them.
“Prompto,” Cor said with the slightest tilt of his head once he turned around, giving Prompto a perfect view of his broad chest. The man was old enough to be Prompto’s father, but he wanted, and had done ever since he’d realised that Cor was the exact kind of man that he liked.
“M-Marshal,” Prompto managed to squeak back. “Why are you...I mean, don’t you have other stuff to be doing?”
“Of course I do,” Cor said, his usual frown twitching a little further down as he crossed his arms over his chest and pushed out his biceps, “but royal orders are royal orders.”
Stretching his neck from side to side, Cor immediately threw Prompto into the deep end, running him through a gauntlet of every type of weapon that the Citadel had on hand. Prompto quickly discovered that he wasn’t cut out for close-quarters combat, not like the others and their blades.
Thankfully, Cor didn’t seem to mind- or, at least, he didn’t immediately toss Prompto out on his ass when he proved himself completely incapable of handling a sword.
“Prince Noctis already has two blade wielders,” Cor said as he stood behind Prompto, his arms wrapped around him to steady the gun in his hands. “I’d rather focus on something else for you.”
There was a shooting range beside the gym for the gun and bow users and Cor had, predictably enough, demonstrated proper shooting posture with a perfect set of bullseyes. Prompto’s first attempt had gone okay for a beginner, but his further tries had all been abject failures.
He knew it was because of the way that Cor was manhandling him, but he couldn’t exactly admit that out loud.
By the time Cor dismissed him hours later, his entire body was aching from recoil and being thrown to the ground so many times while trying out various weapons. He thought he’d been doing okay while moving around, but the moment he stopped and just stood under the warm pressure of the shower he started feeling like he wanted to vomit.
The plus side, he supposed, was that the exhausted sickness was keeping his other, more inappropriate thoughts at bay. Cor hadn’t needed to break a sweat to deal with him, but his every movement was strong, graceful and perfect, and that was before Prompto even began considering how many times Cor had grabbed him to change his stance.
At least Cor had told him that he wouldn’t be Prompto’s only teacher, as he’d also be working with Gladio and Ignis. It was a tiny relief in what he knew was going to be months of sexual frustration and ill-advised fantasies.
He was so, so fucked- and not in the way he wanted to be.
When Prompto was twenty, he passed his written test and failed his physical exam.
It wasn’t an altogether surprising result: Ignis had a brilliant mind for history and strategy, and he’d managed to drag Prompto up to par the same way he’d gotten Noctis through school. It was harder to work towards the physical part, but he knew he’d been close.
He managed to pass on his second try, only a few months later. It was then that he’d been informed that The Circumstances no one could tell him about meant a journey to take Noctis to Altissia, so that he could get married. That was all well and good, but then he was told that they would be leaving in only three days.
It all seemed to happen so quickly, and Prompto soon found himself in front of Clarus Amicitia’s office to receive his uniform, Cor standing by his side.
“Prompto,” Cor said, turning to look at him. He was still unfairly handsome and distracting, but Prompto had loved training under him, pushing himself harder than he'd ever thought possible to drag approving nods and praise out of the Marshal. He'd even mostly stopped getting boners during training, although afterwards was an entirely different story.
“Yes, Marshal?” Prompto replied, swallowing down his nerves and straightening his shoulders. He'd proven himself worthy of the Crownsguard, and as Cor was fond of reminding him, he'd ‘better damn well act like it’.
“You did good,” Cor said as he squeezed Prompto’s shoulder with a sword-calloused hand. “I'm proud of your progress.”
The tiny flex of his lips- more to a straight line than an upward curve- had Prompto blushing, and he was a little caught off guard when Cor suddenly let him go and knocked on the door, letting himself into the office while Prompto was still frozen in the doorway.
After stepping into the office, Prompto felt like he didn't get a single moment of rest until they were out on the road, wide swaths of unassuming scenery passing them by. He remembered thinking that it was almost peaceful, despite the daemons and the Empire riding their tail.
So naturally, of course, that was when the world and everything they knew began to crumble around them.
Chapter 2: World of Ruin
When Prompto was twenty-five, he found himself sitting at the edge of the haven just outside Hammerhead, runes glowing bright under his ass as he let his legs dangle over the edge.
He hadn’t been to Hammerhead in years, preferring to spend most of his time over to the west of the Disc. The further away from Insomnia, the better, really: Prompto didn’t enjoy thinking about either the memories of the old days or what Ardyn had turned the place into. No one was really sure what Insomnia was like in the darkness, as anyone who had half a brain didn’t go near it and anyone who didn’t never came back, but Prompto could guess.
Shaking his head, Prompto tried to think of something, anything else, but maybe it hadn’t been such a great idea to seek out shelter alone. He’d thought that it would be easier to step away from the other hunters gathered at Hammerhead, but now he was left with only his own thoughts for company, which was dangerous enough when he hadn’t been forced to return to such a familiar place on hunter duties.
He very distinctly remembered staying at that exact haven years before, playing King’s Knight with Noctis while Gladio set up the tent and Ignis began prepping for dinner, the sun setting against the distant horizon. Now, the sun was long gone and the satellites with it, his phone had been tossed to the bottom of his bag years ago when power had become a precious resource and the cell towers had mostly been destroyed by marauding daemons, Ignis and Gladio were who knew where and possibly dead, and Noctis was wherever he’d gone when the crystal had taken him.
At least, Prompto thought with a humourless smile as he summoned his gun in a flash of blue light, he knew that Noctis was still alive. If the royal line was gone, then there was no way he could still access Noctis’ magic. It was scarcely a comfort in a time of absolute ruin, but it was something.
“Flashy light tricks make you a target.”
With an undignified yelp, Prompto lost his grip on his gun, watching it tumble down from his perch for a moment before willing it to disappear rather than letting it hit the ground below. Perhaps he should have been more careful about watching his back, but daemons weren’t stealthy and only another hunter would risk coming out to a haven. In the early days after the fall, fighting and theft had been common as people panicked, but after five years people had mostly learned to work together in the face of certain death.
It wasn’t perfect, but Prompto felt confident enough in his own abilities to be able to protect himself. The people were no worse than they had been during the light, even if the world had gone to shit around them.
Looking over his shoulder to see who had joined him, Prompto’s eyes widened when he saw Cor standing behind him. He’d barely laid eyes on the man since the fall, knowing that he had taken it upon himself to travel across Lucis, training hunters and occasionally taking part in particularly difficult jobs. Prompto hadn’t even realised that Cor was at Hammerhead, having only stayed at the main camp for long enough to chat with Cindy and talk shop with a couple of familiar hunters.
“Good to see you,” Prompto nodded, going to stand up. Cor waved him down, instead walking over to sit next to him on the edge of the haven. As Cor stared out into the darkness, Prompto took a moment to look at him in the dull light of the runes, his eyes tracing over the strong lines of his nose and jaw and the wrinkles that hadn’t been there years before. The fall of the world had been hard on everyone, but some carried it better than others, and despite the new marks Cor was definitely not looking his age.
He wasn’t an awkward kid with a crush anymore, but Prompto still swallowed hard as his heart rate picked up.
For a brief, irrational second his fingers twitched like he was going to go for his camera, but charging the thing had become somewhat less of a priority, especially when it was sometimes touch and go as to whether the floodlights would stay on and keep everyone from being devoured by daemons.
“Glad you’re still alive,” Cor eventually said, once the silence had begun to stretch far beyond what could be considered comfortable. It was an uncomfortably common greeting among hunters, but Prompto still felt a warmth in his gut at the sentiment.
Cor just nodded, and Prompto eventually managed to drag his eyes away from the man beside him. “Um. Have you heard anything about...the others?”
Now he could feel Cor’s intense gaze on him, but he couldn’t bring himself to meet his eyes. Long silences were apparently still par for the course with Cor, and Prompto barely resisted the urge to fidget under Cor’s intimidating, piercing stare.
“I haven’t seen Ignis in years,” Cor said after a while, and Prompto’s breath immediately caught as he imagined the worst. “But not too long ago, I heard a pair of hunters discussing a blind hunter who singlehandedly took down multiple mindflayers with a polearm.”
It wasn’t as good as definite confirmation, but Prompto let out a sigh of relief regardless. If anyone could take care of themselves even without their sight, it was definitely Ignis, although he couldn’t help but worry about his friends. He would have preferred it if they could have all stayed together, but it had proven too painful to be a group of only three. There were too many memories between them, memories that caused nothing but pain when there was a gaping hole in their group.
Ignis had slipped away first, leaving word with Cindy before disappearing into the endless night while the other two were sleeping. Prompto had seen him a few times since then, but he’d never expressed any interest in working together and so Prompto had always moved on, however reluctantly.
After Ignis left, things had been awkward between Prompto and Gladio, and Prompto had chosen to quietly leave once Iris had proven herself competent enough to stand beside her brother. He knew how much it hurt Gladio to have him there as a reminder of what they’d been through, even if the man would never say it; once he knew that he wasn’t leaving Gladio alone, the decision to leave had been easy.
Painful, yes, but easy. He wasn’t the one whose boyfriend had disappeared without so much as a goodbye- if they’d even still been together by that point. Prompto had noticed them becoming more distant, but he’d never wanted to ask.
“I met Gladiolus and Iris at a settlement up north. They’re fine.”
“Terrorising daemons the way only Amicitias could, I guess,” Prompto said, although the humour fell flat.
“They’re an impressive pair,” Cor agreed regardless, and his arm brushed Prompto’s when he shifted a little. Prompto was already beginning to reassess whether he really had gotten over his ‘awkward kid with a crush’ phase, although he was more confident in his looks and his body than he had been years before.
He still didn’t think that Cor would be interested, though.
“Clarus would be proud,” Cor continued, and there was the tiniest hint of something in his voice that had Prompto turning to stare at him again. Whether it was something in the set of his frown or the distant look in his eyes, realisation crashed into Prompto like the Hydraean’s waves.
“Oh,” he said, even as his brain screamed for him not to say it. “You and Clarus-”
“No,” Cor said with a bitter snort, cutting him off. “Clarus loved four people in his life: His wife, his kids, and King Regis.”
“A long time ago,” Cor agreed, not needing Prompto to spell it out. “Me and half the Crownsguard, I think.”
“Must be a family thing,” Prompto said. He hadn’t spent long with the Crownsguard, but he’d seen and heard enough to know that Gladio had been a hot topic of locker room conversation, especially as no one had seemed to know that he was already spoken for.
“Caught onto that, did you?” Cor asked, his frown easing just a little. “There’s no shame in falling victim to an Amicitia.”
Cor’s look was a little too pointed, and Prompto held his hands up in front of him, palms facing Cor. “What? No, not me.”
Thinking of the subtle way that Gladio’s eyes softened whenever he looked at the man he loved, Prompto shook his head. “I went somewhere I had even less chance.”
Cor let out a huff that was probably as close as he ever got to a laugh. “I know.”
“Of course you do,” Prompto sighed, drawing a foot up to the haven’s edge and resting his hands and chin on his knee. “Guess I should say thanks for not embarrassing me about it.”
He wasn’t altogether too surprised, but he had to admit that he felt far less ashamed about being called out than he thought he would be. Cor was a hard taskmaster when it came to training and duty, but he was never one for humiliation or unwarranted criticism.
“Not necessary.” Rolling his shoulders out, Cor squinted into the darkness, his frown deepening again. “There’s trouble coming.”
Trusting the Marshal’s instincts, Prompto swallowed hard and let his leg drop back over the edge. He had maybe a ten second window to do something very stupid before they had to go out and stop whatever was spawning so close to Hammerhead, and if he was lucky it would murder him before he had to think about the consequences of his actions.
Before Cor could stand up, Prompto put a firm hand on his shoulder, trying to stop himself from shaking as Cor turned to face him. If he was surprised by the way that Prompto eased in close to him, he didn’t show it, and Prompto kissed him until the earth split open and an Iron Giant pulled itself into the human world.
“Thank you,” Prompto said once he pulled back, his cheeks flaming red. Cor had definitely been participating, even if it was only a tentative kiss born from years of Prompto pining from afar, and Prompto smiled as he realised that he hadn’t been pushed off the edge of the haven.
But the Iron Giant had fully materialised now, and there was no time to waste as Cor stood up, his katana in hand. Summoning his own gun again, Prompto stood up and straightened his spine, looking every bit the man who had stared evil in the face and come out alive rather than the nervous wreck who had just kissed his first crush.
He could feel Cor watching him again and so he took long, confident steps towards the daemon, clearing his mind to keep his aim sure. It had been a long time since he’d fought alongside Cor, and years of fighting for survival in the darkness had only made Cor sleeker and deadlier.
Prompto knew he’d improved immensely as well, but of course Cor still put him to shame.
When the Iron Giant was put down without too much effort, Prompto turned and grinned at Cor, getting one of his pleased little face twitches in reply. It quickly faded, though, and Cor tilted his head towards the haven they’d left.
“You should go back before anything else appears. You look tired.”
Prompto’s watch said it was a little after ten o’clock, but without the sun or satellites he had no way to tell if it was the morning or the evening, or even if it actually was ten o’clock. People slept when they were tired now, or simply when they collapsed from exhaustion; when everything was night, there was no such thing as a regular sleeping pattern
It had been a while since he’d slept, though, and so Prompto nodded. “What about you?”
“I was only passing through Hammerhead when they told me you were out here.”
“Oh,” Prompto said, feeling irrationally disappointed. He hadn’t been expecting anything, not really, but after the kiss…
“I’ll find you again,” Cor said firmly, sheathing his katana. There was grime on his fingers, but Prompto didn’t care when they gently gripped his chin, Cor brushing their lips together in a brief but sure kiss.
Prompto was left standing there alone when Cor slowly dropped his hand, turning around and walking into the endless darkness.
“Cor!” Prompto called out before he was swallowed by the night, and although the man didn’t turn back, he stopped almost immediately.
Swallowing back the pleas he already knew the answer to, Prompto made an important decision. “Where did you say you met Gladio and Iris? And did the hunters say where they saw Iggy?”
When Prompto was thirty, he had a dream.
Thar alone wasn’t anything too unusual. The past ten years had been a mess of nightmares and memories that left Prompto waking up with tears in his eyes more often than he would admit, although they were less frequent when he was with Ignis, Gladio, Iris and Talcott. Ever since his meeting with Cor at the haven, they’d been teaming up more frequently, although they did still often go their own ways.
More often than not, Ignis and Gladio left together, and Prompto was bursting with happiness that they seemed to have worked through their issues. There wasn’t a lot of cause for celebration in a world of darkness, so he was just happy that they had each other.
This dream, though, didn’t leave him despairing like others often did. He couldn’t exactly remember the details, but it had left him with hope burning bright in his chest and the strangest urge to get as close to Insomnia as possible. After ten years of wanting nothing to do with the place, he knew it should have been suspicious to suddenly need to go there, but something told Prompto that everything was going to be okay.
Noctis was coming back. He didn’t know how he knew, but his unwavering certainty was something that couldn’t be ignored.
He was maybe two days out from Hammerhead, but he made the trip as quickly as possible, only feeling a little bit of guilt as he purposefully avoided the few remaining outposts to stop himself from getting sidetracked with hunting requests.
The closer he got to Hammerhead, the more right he felt, and he broke into a sprint when the bright lights of the outpost appeared on the horizon. There could have been a pack of wild coeurls on his tail and he wouldn’t have noticed, too focused on Hammerhead in the distance.
Iris was the first one to notice his hurried approach, and she ran to meet him on long, quick legs. A late growth spurt had put her at around the same height as him, and ten years of fighting alongside Gladio had covered her in strong, lean muscles. She was objectively striking, and Prompto knew he might have been interested had his heart not been stuck elsewhere.
As it was, he loved her like a little sister, and he let her pick him up and swing him around in a tight hug when they met at the edge of the lighting. He’d barely managed to get both feet back on the ground before he was being lifted again, and Prompto resigned himself to being an Amicitia plaything for at least the next little while.
“You’re in a good mood, big guy,” Prompto said once he was back on solid ground for the foreseeable future. Gladio’s chest puffed up with pride, and Iris giggled behind Prompto.
“Tell him, Gladdy,” she said, and Gladio grinned so wide that he practically outshone the harsh floodlights around them. Glancing around, he jogged away to meet Ignis where he was coming up to them, slinging an arm over his shoulder and walking with him until they both stood before Prompto.
“Prompto,” Gladio said in a gleeful voice, “meet Ignis Amicitia-Scientia.”
“No shit!” Prompto exclaimed, bouncing forward to wrap an arm around each of them. “How long ago?”
“Around a week, if we’ve got our days right,” Ignis said, lifting a hand and tracing his fingers down Prompto’s face. “I notice you’re still insisting on keeping that awful beard.”
“Damn, Iggy,” Prompto laughed. “Harsh.”
Squeezing them both tight for another few moments, Prompto took a step back and watched as Gladio pulled Ignis a little closer to his side. Ignis’ arm went around Gladio’s waist, and Prompto marvelled at how well they fit together.
“It’s good to see you all,” Prompto managed to say, starting to feel a little choked up. “So I guess you guys... felt it, right? He’s coming back?”
Ignis and Gladio both nodded.
“Iris and Cor felt it too,” Gladio added. “Not as strongly, though.”
“Cor’s here?” Prompto asked, accidentally sounding a little too excited. They’d only briefly crossed paths since the time at the nearby haven, but even though five years had passed he could still remember those kisses like they had happened yesterday.
He openly admitted that it was pathetic, but there wasn’t much he could do about it.
“Yes,” Ignis said, and Prompto had the oddest feeling that sightless eyes were fixed on him behind Ignis’ visor. “He said you would know where to find him.”
Looking over towards the haven in the distance, Prompto hesitated. He wanted to spend time with his friends, but…
“Prompto,” Ignis said, drawing the attention back to him. “Go.”
“We were about to go to bed anyway- not like that, Gladio, wipe that stupid grin off your face- so you might as well. Just...make sure you get some rest. Tomorrow could be the day.”
“How do you always do that,” Gladio grumbled playfully, the lascivious grin that Ignis couldn’t have seen falling from his lips. Ignis’ smile was more restrained, but Prompto could still tell that Gladio was going to get lucky.
“Yeah, I remember you guys trying to be subtle in the tent, I’m getting outta here.”
Clapping Iris on the shoulder- when had she gotten so broad?- and mouthing a good luck to her, Prompto left Iris and Amicitia-Scientias behind. As he got closer to the haven he could see a basic campsite set up there, a familiar figure silhouetted against the glowing blue runes.
“Fancy meeting you here,” Prompto called out as he climbed up the rocks, Cor slowly turning towards him. Drawing close, Prompto took in the lines around his eyes and mouth, betraying his age in a way that still managed to leave Prompto breathless.
He was thirty years old and felt like he’d seen enough to last ten lifetimes, but Cor still made his heart pound as surely as he’d done over a decade ago. It would have been pathetic, were Cor not drinking in the sight of him the same way as Prompto was.
“You know,” Cor said suddenly, nearly making Prompto jump from the sudden break in the silence, “I never expected you to pass the Crownsguard exams.”
“Neither,” Prompto laughed, although it was stilted from how exposed he felt under Cor’s intense eyes. “Pretty sure it was luck.”
Cor shook his head, his lips pinching together. “I mean before we started training. I knew you would make it after that first session.”
“The one where I kept fucking up because you wouldn’t stop touching me?” Prompto joked, but Cor’s expression didn’t change.
“Working well under pressure is an important skill,” Cor said, walking to the edge of the haven. Prompto hurried to join him and they sat down where they had five years before, the lights of Hammerhead behind them as they looked out into the sprawling darkness. “But...perhaps I went a bit far.”
“If you’d asked me then,” Prompto said slowly, licking dry lips and ignoring his pounding heart, “I would have said you didn’t go far enough.”
“You were a kid,” Cor said, and Prompto hummed his agreement. “It would have been inappropriate, an abuse of my position.”
“And now?” Prompto asked, but Cor didn’t say anything.
“Cor,” Prompto eventually said to break the silence, swallowing down the urge to add in a sir or two. The Crownsguard didn’t have a crown to guard anymore, and it wasn’t the time for formalities anyway. “He’s coming back.”
“We’ll be going to Insomnia.”
“We might not come back.”
“...I know,” Cor said once more, his voice low and gruff.
Prompto took a deep breath, hunching forward to rest his elbows on his thighs and drop his face into his hands. Even with the feeling of hope still burning in his gut, he was worried about what would happen after Noctis came back.
They’d have to face Ardyn, and there was no guarantee that they would win.
Ignis and Gladio had been given the luxury of seventeen years together, and Prompto didn’t even know if he had seventeen hours left. He didn’t want to return to Insomnia with regrets haunting him, and he had to wonder if the other two had somehow guessed that the time was coming and that was why they’d finally married.
“Cor,” Prompto said again, sitting upright and forcing himself to look at the man next to him. His breath was coming quick and his heart was beating too fast, and he was an eighteen year old romantic again instead of a thirty year old man who had been through too much. “Make love to me.”
Cor snorted at the cheesiness and Prompto couldn’t help but grin, but Cor nodded resolutely and turned to accept when Prompto leaned over to kiss him, the blue glow of the protective runes the only thing giving them any light.
When Prompto was thirty years, five months, and twenty-two days old, he found himself being laid down in a tent just outside of Hammerhead, with Cor Leonis’ hands on his hips and lips on his jaw.
Cor’s hands were as sure as Prompto had always hoped they would be, years of sword callouses rubbing against his bare torso and making him shiver. He was a long way from the boy he’d once been, and he felt comfortable in his ability to turn Cor on in return, running his hands down Cor’s scarred back and feeling him start to get hard.
In a stressful, dangerous world, it wasn’t hard to find another hunter to spend some time with, most people not willing to take the risk of starting something permanent in such an uncertain time. Some outposts were more notorious than others, and Prompto had quickly learned which ones were the best.
He'd always kind of hoped that he would meet Cor at one, but he'd had no such luck. Not that it really mattered anymore, what with the way that Cor was starting to rock their hips together and catch Prompto’s lips in a series of teasing kisses.
Cor was more gentle than Prompto had been expecting but he wasn't about to complain, not when he'd been placed down on the bedding like something to be treasured, worshipped . Unlike almost everything else in their lives, this wasn't a fight, and there was none of the dominant posturing that other hunters tended to try and pull.
Instead, Cor slowly pulled Prompto apart piece by piece, and Prompto had no doubt that the man would put him back together as well. For the first time in years, he let himself truly relax, holding Cor close with a hand on the back of his head and an arm draped across his back.
Rocking his hips up to meet Cor’s own, Prompto let out a long, stuttering moan, Cor pulling away from his lips so that the sound filled the quiet night. It would have been embarrassing had Cor not taken a sharp breath and thrust his hard cock against Prompto’s, obviously getting more turned on by the moment.
“Cor,” Prompto whispered, craning his neck to press his lips against Cor’s throat, “fuck me.”
Letting out a short growl, Cor sat back onto Prompto’s legs, fingers tracing down Prompto's neck and across his nipples. The feeling of his short nails against sensitive skin had Prompto’s hips rocking, his nipples going hard under Cor’s touch.
“Sensitive?” Cor asked, lightly brushing his thumb over one of Prompto's nipples and making him let out a soft, happy sound. “I see.”
If Prompto had thought that his pants were tight before, he was feeling positively strangled as Cor fondled him, deft fingers teasing and tweaking his nipples.
“F-fuck,” he stuttered at a particularly harsh pinch, giving up and shoving Cor's hands downwards. “I'm not young anymore so unless you want this ending quick, you better quit it.”
“You think you're not young,” Cor said with a quiet snort, sneaking a hand around Prompto’s to rub against his chest once more for good measure. Prompto squirmed and let out an irritated whine, planting his hands on Cor’s shoulders and pushing until they rolled over.
Surprised that it had actually worked, it took Prompto a second to realise that he was now on top, and a devious smirk broke out across his face. “Now you’re in for it.”
Cor’s usual frown had completely straightened out, and for a second Prompto could have sworn that he actually smiled. He blinked and it was gone, and so he promised himself that he would make it happen again.
Shifting a little, Prompto planted his ass directly on top of Cor’s crotch, grinding down and feeling how hard the man was underneath him. Prompto shivered when strong hands grabbed his hips, encouraging him to keep moving and build up a steady rhythm. Even though Prompto wasn’t getting any direct stimulation himself, it was a hell of a trip to know that he was the reason why Cor was so hard underneath him.
His fifteen year old self would never have believed this.
Leaning forward, Prompto dragged his lips against Cor’s, holding him steady with a hand on his jaw while Prompto’s thumb stroked his short facial hair. Prompto’s cock was straining against his pants, and the discomfort was finally enough to have him breaking out of Cor’s grip and sliding down his body.
His fingers were trembling a little as he flicked open Cor’s belt and drew his fly down, swallowing hard before he hooked his fingers into Cor’s underwear and pulled the whole lot down. His breath caught as he finally saw the dick he’d been imagining for years, and after he shuffled back enough to tug Cor’s remaining clothes off and toss them aside, he slid forward and leant down to run his tongue all the way up the underside.
Cor let out a pleased little grunt at the feeling, one of his hands reaching down to cup the back of Prompto’s neck. There was nothing urging about his touch but Prompto took it as encouragement, and he felt like his heart was pounding in his throat as he wrapped a hand around the base and his lips around the head.
Cor curled up slightly when Prompto began to suck, making soft, sloppy noises as he tried to focus on giving the best blowjob of his life. He hadn’t exactly expected Cor to be vocal, and so he wasn’t too disappointed when all he got was some heavy breathing and the odd grunt whenever he did something particularly nice.
Still, when he looked up, Cor’s face was red and his mouth was open, and as Prompto watched his tongue flicked out and left his lips wet and shiny. It was probably the most human that Prompto had ever seen the Marshal be, and he barely even regretted it as he pulled off from Cor’s cock with an obscene noise.
“Gonna fuck me?” Prompto asked, wiping at his wet mouth with the back of his hand.
Cor’s lips twitched up again, and this time Prompto knew he’d seen it. “What happened to that scared kid who did whatever I wanted practically before I asked?”
“He grew up,” Prompto said, lowering his hand to reveal a mischievous smirk. “So is that a no, because I can get myself off if I have to...”
“Don’t even think about it,” Cor said, and suddenly Prompto was on the ground again, Cor tugging off his pants with a little less finesse than he would have expected. Cor’s hands were warm and slightly sweaty as he ran them up Prompto’s legs, pushing them wider apart before leaning past Prompto to snag his bag.
For a while there, lube had become somewhat of a scarce item, the kind of luxury that disappeared during the early days of darkness while they were still trying to work out which resources were about to run out completely. Prompto was incredibly glad that it had made a reappearance, especially when that meant it was in Cor’s hand at that very moment.
“Shall I do the honours?” Cor asked, and Prompto grinned as he pulled he bent his legs and opened them as far as he could manage. Cor obviously decided that was an acceptable answer, because not even a moment was wasted as he ran the tips of slick fingers across Prompto’s exposed hole.
Prompto didn’t bother muffling his moan when Cor slipped a finger into him, his eyes thoroughly caught by Cor’s intense gaze. There was something burning in the depths of his gut that had never been there in all his brief encounters with other hunters, or even way back when he’d lost his virginity to Eyalia. It had him rocking back onto Cor’s hand as he was stretched open, Cor as economic in his motions there as he was with everything else.
“Ready?” Cor asked soon enough as he removed his fingers to slip on a condom, and Prompto propped himself up on his elbows while forcing himself to meet Cor’s stare with what he hoped was an almost equal intensity.
“Cor fucking Leonis,” he announced, straightening his legs just to wrap them around Cor, “I’ve been ready for you since I was eighteen.”
“The Astrals only know why,” Cor muttered, but before Prompto could launch into a multi-part lecture series about why he’d always liked Cor so much, there was a hot, hard pressure against his ass and the breath rushed out of his lungs.
Adjusting his legs so that they hung loosely over Cor’s shoulders, Prompto relaxed back and bit his lip, determined to remember every detail of this moment. Cor’s first slide into him was torturously slow and Prompto shoved himself forward as well as he could from his position. It seemed that Cor took pity on him after that, bottoming out inside Prompto far quicker than he had been expecting.
“Ohhh,” Prompto sighed, palming at his straining cock with one hand as he rolled his hips a little. Cor wasn’t as big as he’d ever taken, but no anonymous cock could ever match up to the respect and, dare he imagine it, affection he could feel if not see from Cor, and that more than made up for the difference.
He sometimes felt weird about how clingy he could be when he fucked other hunters, but he didn’t feel an ounce of shame as he dropped his legs and held Cor close, clutching at his head and back as the man began to fuck him. Cor obviously had no complaints, kissing Prompto deeply and building up speed in his hips until Prompto couldn’t muster the coordination required to kiss him back any longer.
“Amazing,” Prompto breathed as he rocked between Cor’s cock and his own hand, pleasure running down his spine and lighting a fire inside him. It was everything he’d ever dreamed of and more, and for a moment he forgot that he was living through the apocalypse, forgot that every day was a new struggle for survival, forgot that he very much might have been about to march to his death.
All that mattered was the man he was holding close to him, with teeth nipping at his skin and rough facial hair setting his nerves alight as surely as the cock hitting his prostate was.
“Fuck,” Cor muttered against Prompto’s neck, grinding his hips into Prompto’s ass. “This isn’t going to get drawn out.”
The tiniest hint of desperation in Cor’s voice had Prompto jerking himself as quickly as he could manage, garbled noises easily falling from his lips as he tried to express just how hot he found it. He failed miserably and yet he thought that Cor understood.
Despite what Cor had said, though, he seemed determined to make Prompto come first, pressing against his prostate and doing whatever he could to steal Prompto’s breath away. He seemed more pleased with himself the less that Prompto could make intelligible sounds, and soon enough Prompto was feeling his hips shake with his impending orgasm.
“I’m gonna,” he managed to say, stopping to swallow and getting the sense knocked out of him when Cor shoved his hand off his cock and replaced it with his own. “ Ah!”
If it hadn’t already been established how weak he was for the man still pounding into him, Prompto might have been embarrassed about how quickly he came when Cor touched him. He couldn’t care too much about it when the force of his orgasm left him light-headed, though, and so he just revelled in the sensations running through him as come splattered against his stomach.
Cor made a sound of pure satisfaction as he leaned forward to kiss Prompto again, and his thrusts began to lose their perfect rhythm as he let himself find his own orgasm. Prompto was still trying to hold him close, but he was finding that his grip had weakened significantly from how hard he had come, and Cor seemed to find his desperate attempts funny.
It would have been more offensive had Cor not been in the middle of coming inside him, and all Prompto could do was grin stupidly at finally being the one to make the Marshal orgasm. It was a wild, heady feeling that Prompto could have become addicted to, but he certainly wasn’t naive enough to chase something more when his own fate felt so jumbled and uncertain.
Unwinding himself from Cor’s sweaty, sated body, Prompto squeezed his eyes shut and tried to get himself back under control, his chest still heaving. Cor rolled off him and removed his condom, dropping it on the bare ground beside his bedding to be forgotten.
“So,” Prompto eventually said, although he had nothing else to follow it up with.
“So?” Cor asked, sitting up with the kind of perfect posture that Prompto knew he would have struggled with even before the mindblowing orgasm.
“Thanks, I guess,” Prompto continued, finally regulating his breathing. “Thanks for making a stupid kid happy.”
Cor frowned, and it was only then that Prompto realised that his previous expression had been positively pleasant. “I didn’t do this out of pity.”
“Good,” Prompto managed to say, although his heart felt like it was going to burst with happiness. “C’mere.”
Tugging at Cor’s arm, he managed to encourage the other man to lay down, immediately plastering himself to Cor and knowing that he probably wasn’t going to die for it.
“I can’t come with you,” Cor said after a while, and although he wasn’t making any moves to return Prompto’s suffocating hug, he certainly wasn’t rejecting it either. “The four of you have to do this alone.”
This time, it was Prompto’s turn to respond with a solemn, “I know. I can feel it.”
“I’ll be waiting for you to come back,” Cor said, his voice tight with something that Prompto couldn’t name. “All of you.”
Not sure if he could promise that, Prompto just clung a little tighter, the hope in his gut now an absolute certainty that Noctis was going to return within the next short while.
The pair of them stayed like that until they both felt it, and Cor pulled Prompto into one last deep, passionate kiss before urging him to his feet. Prompto looked half tempted to stay, but Cor just silently shook his head, staying seated as Prompto gave him a long, lingering look before leaving the tent. He was needed with the others, and Cor could feel that as certainly as he could feel that he himself was not meant to be there.
He didn’t want to place high hopes on Prompto returning in one piece, but he would wait for him regardless. There was little else he could do, and eventually he would go to meet Iris and Talcott while the King and his men did what they were fated to do.
For the moment, though, he let himself stare blankly at the roof of the tent, his thoughts more than a little preoccupied. For once, he’d let himself be vulnerable, and Prompto had more than repaid him in kind.
In a life filled with regrets, that was one thing that Cor would never change.