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as if it wasn't even there

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Ignis hears the labored breathing that indicates someone is in pain as soon as he opens the door to the motel room. He pauses in the doorway and takes in the scene. The window is closed and locked. Nothing in the room is damaged or out of place. He keeps his hands ready for knives to flicker into place, but he does not believe there is an intruder. It is almost certainly Prompto, making that noise because he is ill or there has been some kind of accident.

Prompto has left the washroom door open, and it is immediately evident what is causing him pain. He has cut his wrist. There is a scalpel in his other hand. There is a non-trivial quantity of blood in view. Prompto is staring at the shower curtain with an eerily calm expression and does not seem to have registered the fact that Ignis has arrived.

Ignis thinks three things in immediate succession in the time it takes to draw a breath in and out.

First: This was not an accident.

Second: He does not want this to be happening.

And third: At least it was him, and not Noct or Gladio, who came across this scene.

"Prompto," Ignis calls.

Prompto's head turns languidly toward Ignis. His eyes are as empty as the dead.

"I-" Ignis finds himself, ever so briefly, at a loss for words. He takes off his gloves to allow for a moment to regain his composure. "Let me get-"

"I don't want a potion," Prompto interrupts. Even though these are words that Ignis does not want to hear, the force behind them is a comfort.

"All right," Ignis replies. He kneels next to Prompto to inspect the damage and pulls off his jacket. Prompto has cut away a flap of skin on the back of his right wrist, in the region generally covered by his wristband. Given that it was the back of the wrist, it is unlikely to be an attempt at suicide. He used his non-dominant hand to make this cut to his dominant hand, which has implications to be considered at a later time.

Prompto turns away again to look at the shower curtain. It's almost a relief.

Ignis lifts the injured arm with as much care as he can. The amount of bleeding is worrisome, but Prompto is not in immediate danger. At least for the time being, Ignis will respect his wishes about the potion, but this cannot go without treatment altogether. So he wraps his jacket around the wound, applying careful pressure to counteract the bleeding.

Now there's the matter of the implement involved, which is still resting in Prompto's hand. Best to remedy that. So Ignis reaches across Prompto's chest with his free hand and slides the scalpel out of his grip, then tosses it into the wastebin. Later it may need to be retrieved and wrapped so some poor garbage collector doesn't get a nasty surprise, but for now, out of reach is more important. Prompto stares at the wastebin for awhile.

"Prompto," Ignis says. "If you do not wish to use a potion, we will need to see a doctor."

Prompto closes his eyes and appears to consider this for a few moments. "Okay," he says.

Ignis takes a brief moment to thank the Astrals that there will not be an argument over the subject. "Can you stand?"

"Yeah," Prompto says. "I didn't slice an artery or anything."

"Yes, right. Of course," Ignis replies, though as lost to reality as Prompto appears to be, he doubts the blonde would have noticed.

They get to their feet, Prompto with even less grace than usual. He seems unlikely to remember to keep pressure on the wound, or even care that he ought to, so Ignis takes on that duty for him.

They proceed out the door of the motel room and are almost immediately presented with their next obstacle: Noct and Gladio. They're laughing at something together. Noct gives Gladio a playful shove. On the stumbling recovery, Gladio spots Ignis and Prompto, and his expression goes dark.

Ignis looks each of them in the eye in turn, willing them to let him handle this.

"Everything all right?" Gladio asks, by which he means "is Noct in any danger?"

Ignis gives them his polite diplomat smile. "Prompto just had... a little accident," he explains. "We're going to check in with the local doctor."

Now Gladio and Noct look even more confused. "Didn't you just go get curatives, Specs?" Noct asks.

Ignis shoots him his most powerful "shut up" look and says, "Better to be safe than sorry, Highness." Noct opens his mouth, but Ignis cuts him off as quickly as he can. "Now now, we don’t all need to go. Why don’t you two eat out, as I shan’t have time to make anything this evening."

Noct stares, but makes no further comment, and Ignis steers Prompto down the hall.


Prompto begins to return to himself as they travel to the clinic. By the time they've arrived, he's shed some of the listlessness in favor of a more familiar hum of anxiety.

The only time that Prompto speaks at the appointment is to inform the doctor that he does not want a potion. She seems irritated by it, but pulls out the supplies to suture the wound. As she works, Ignis gives her a brief outline of the circumstances. Understanding settles onto her features. "Refusal of magical healing is common in cases of self-harm," she says. Prompto flinches at the words.

The doctor hands Prompto a few pamphlets on local mental health services, depression, and self-harm as they prepare to leave. He stares down at them as if they're written in a language he cannot read.

"May I take those?" Ignis asks.

Prompto hands them over wordlessly. Ignis folds them and moves to put them in his jacket pocket before remembering he isn't wearing it. He sighs and puts them in his back pocket instead.

Prompto takes a deep breath and forces on a conciliatory smile. "I'm sorry," he says.

Ignis shakes his head. It is absolutely not the time for that discussion. "Come along," he says, and leads the way out of the clinic.

It will be a busy evening. Prompto needs food and drink. Ignis will have to launder his jacket, and he may as well wash the rest of their clothing along with it. Noct and Gladio will be clamoring for an explanation for the evening's events; they will have seen the washroom by now. It is too much to hope that they have cleaned the washroom. There are all these pamphlets to read, and all the oddities involved in this incident to consider.

Well, Ignis hadn't really expected a quiet night anyway.