Noctis grabs his phone from the nearby end table, tapping wildly at the suggested playlist in search of the perfect mood music for the Bluetooth speaker. He makes it a good ten clicks in before his cherished husband, patient as he may be, has simply had enough.
“Well, I’ll know by heart the first 4 seconds of virtually every Christmas song in existence at this rate,” Ignis bemoans over his shoulder sarcastically, hand perched midair with a bright, red ornament dangling from it, covered in glitter. He finds it the perfect spot, Noct’s hands at his waist giving him a sudden start.
“You’ll make me drop this,” Ignis tuts, turning to press a hand to Noct’s chest just as he leans in expectantly, as if to plant a kiss right on that scar drawing a line down a soft lip with an even softer curve.
“But this one’s your favorite, Iggy, see?”
He tilts his head toward the speaker as if the gesture bears any relevance to the sound slinking out. Ignis follows it with his eye line, a soft smile of surrender gracing his lips.
“It is,” he concedes, placing a chaste kiss in the center of Noct’s forehead, right where it belongs. Drawing back, he brushes his knuckles gingerly over his cheek, a little smitten by the unexpected clean shave. “Now, hand me that box over by the tree skirt, I’m looking for the set of ornaments your father used to like.”
Noctis nods dutifully, long tails of his robe swaying as he shuffles over to grab the time weary box intended.
“You mean the ones with the screaming people on them?”
Ignis rolls his eyes, rotating the ornament he’d just hung on the tree to perfection.
“They’re carolers, dear,” Ignis says with a sigh, shaking his head in bemused disbelief.
“Whatever. They look like they’re yelling,” he replies with a laugh, then stands, voice taking on a little indignant tone. “Hey, why haven’t we wrapped it in this garland yet?”
Noct holds it up in his hands but Ignis doesn’t even turn around to address it, raised high on his toes to hang another glittery trinket to the tree.
“If you’re referring to that ghastly silver five gil store atrocity, you can simply put it back.”
Noctis screws his face, tossing the garland back into the box with a huff.
“I heard that,” Ignis responds with a twist at the hip, reaching for his little squat glass of eggnog and taking a sip. It’s his second of his own design, and Noctis has already gulped down three by his count.
Their evening waxes on like that, a warm picture of whimsy and nostalgia for times that are long since passed for the both of them. The tree, spun with white lights already, sits near to the windows, its own ambient glow reflected in little dots along the cold, frosted glass. Snow gathers on the pane in wistful silence, gazing longingly inward as the music plays on, a series of tunes to celebrate each limb burdened heavily with tiny glimmering orbs of Christmas cheer.
Noctis is proud of the tree if his stance is to be believed, his scrawny ankles visible between edge of robe and overpriced slippers. Ignis is equally proud, less of the spruce and more of the terrifyingly beautiful creature perched triumphantly beside it, entreating him for a picture.
“It isn’t finished yet,” Ignis reminds him, brushing a few intrepid needles from his woolen pajama pants, hideous patterned things with a matching button up top that Noctis bought him surely as a joke, but bid he wear them nonetheless. At the very least, they’re warm.
He wanders into the expanse of boxes riddled across the floor, each surrounded by a halo of newspaper or bubble wrap, or tinier boxes home to the more classy ornaments of the bunch. He bends, extends a searching hand into this box, fussing, before moving onto the next. Distraction renders him unprepared for the warmth of hands at his hips, fingers curling into the junction between hip and thigh.
“Noct,” he chides halfheartedly over his shoulder, arm still plunged into the box near his feet.
“What?” Noctis asks playfully, sliding up close, chasing the slope of Ignis’ ass as he rises to his full height, resting his palms gently over Noct’s hands. “Don’t want my help finding the star?”
Chin sat at Ignis’ shoulder, he curls his arms about his middle, drawing their bodies together, smile wide enough to show every tooth in his head. When Ignis cranes his direction he’s nearly close enough to kiss, but with his lips just out of reach Noct pouts a little and gazes at the curve of his lashes instead.
“The star is the last thing you’re looking for, we both know that,” Ignis responds sardonically, the grin at his lips betraying him when Noct’s hands slip one under his shirt, one under the waistband of his god awful pajama pants.
“Is that so bad?”
He retreats from Ignis’ clothing, turning him in his grasp to steal a kiss before he can answer with something customarily scathing. They both taste like Christmas and alcohol had a lovechild, but Ignis is the one who pulls away laughing, feigning disgust.
“You smell like an entire bar already,” he accuses, pressing both hands to Noct’s chest to pry them apart, but it’s a silly choice indeed. The drink makes his husband rather playful, and he tugs him down at the hip, pivoting on his foot to gently toss him to the floor on his back. For Ignis it’s quite a long fall, and his care not to step on or into any boxes makes him ungainly, and the result is that Noctis tumbles with him, both of them a yelping, giggling heap upon the floor.
They laugh stupidly until they’re a bit out of breath, Ignis propped up on his elbows and Noctis having landed between his parted legs, both realizing simultaneously that the drink has done a little more than warm their cheeks. The tree watches over them only inches away, so close that if Noctis spreads his arm out he could reach the trunk, winched tight in the stand. Instead he regards Ignis, the last remnants of his laughter fading, as the glow from the lights twinkle in his beautiful, green eyes. His gaze lingers, first on the faded scars at his brow, the brave chip in the bridge of his nose and the proud split of his lip.
Ignis looks perplexed, reaching out to card his fingers through dark waves from the temple back to the crown, holding in his hands a thing more precious than any King could ever hope to be. They seem to share the moment, to know together that it’s laden with something precious because it’s the first Christmas that should never have been. It is one day of many hundreds, stolen from the hands of the gods.
Noctis finds that gouged lip between his two, sucking, rolling it between his teeth before lifting up onto his hand to get control of the kiss. Not that he’d ever need to do such a thing; Ignis would seek to neither take nor alter anything from his pilfered King. He returns tenfold what he’s given, warm but anxious hands roaming beneath his ugly shirt, because he knows the truth; has seen the future become the distant past, has seen things he never wished to see.
And yet, those very things put the fire in his touch when he cradles Noctis’ face in both hands, gave him the strength to burn another path into the future, into the present, into the now, where Noctis is pressed against the stiff strain between his long legs and the warm kiss of top shelf bourbon is being fast outdone by the warmer kiss from Insomnia’s great, exalted hope. The track switches, a Christmassy instrumental as Noctis wraps his fingers around his husband’s length and drops his weight back down, the gratifying stroke and pressure making Ignis lift his voice in a way that lends nicely to the tune.
They don’t speak, feels too much like words would somehow spoil what they’ve built there on the floor beneath the tree, surrounded by boxes emptied of their memories. Ignis braces on the shoulder of the same hand through which he ruts himself, the other still at Noct’s face, thumb mapping the jut of a cheekbone. Their breaths commingle, Ignis’ coming in shorter, more shallow increments as the pace quickens, until with a knit brow and eyes pinched shut he comes almost silently, his own gasps no louder than the sound of his release splattering quietly against his bare skin.
The track switches again, and Ignis opens his eyes, panting, to see Noct still straddling his middle on both hands, his head canted to the side and expression soft, albeit a touch drunken.
“Isn’t that funny, Iggy?” he asks, and in fact Ignis has no idea what he’s referring to, but with no way to get free and no place to go, he plays along.
Again, Noctis nods toward the speaker, bending forward to hide a few kisses up the center of Ignis’ chest, before murmuring against his bare skin.
“Your favorite song came on again.”
Indeed, it had; a bittersweet and melancholy melody meant to deliver the crooning promise that the listener has to wonder whether or not ever comes to fruition.
Except there really is no wondering anymore. Not from this moment, until they day they draw their final breaths.
They’ll both be home for Christmas, no dreams necessary.