Prompto woke up disoriented, his eyes flicking from the shadowy outline of Noctis’s shoulder to the dark curve of Gladio’s hand as he tried to calm himself. A few seconds later led to the realization that he was also sweating like mad and feeling like the world was slowly spinning around him, and after a moment of deep, careful breaths, he gently pried himself out of Ignis’s arms and slid to the end of the bed to avoid disturbing the others as he got to his feet, scurrying as fast as he could manage into the bathroom. He closed the door and flipped the light switch, then moved to the mirror and inspected his reflection. He looked wan, his freckles standing out far more than usual against his pale skin, he was still sweating, even though fall had solidly arrived, making the ambient temperature even lower, and his stomach was churning like he had eaten something off.
That’s exactly what he had thought the problem was three days ago, but things hadn't changed, and he was beginning to lean towards having a flu bug instead, which sucked. They had planned to travel to Wiz’s and Costlemark soon, and he didn’t want to be sick. Also, considering he usually slept with three other people, if he was sick, there was a good chance he had gotten them all sick. Prompto sighed, leaning over and splashing some cool water on his face before sitting down on the toilet lid with a groan. He hated being sick, as he had always had to deal with it himself, and the only time he had been normal sick since they got together was the time the whole bloody Citadel had caught it. He hadn’t said anything yet, as he always seemed to feel better during the day, but maybe he should-
“Prompto?” The door opened slowly, admitting Ignis, who closed it just as carefully behind him. “Are you still feeling poorly?” Of course. Prompto bit his bottom lip for a moment before just giving up and nodding.
“Yeah, I thought it was just a bit of food poisoning at first, but it’s still sticking around-” Prompto trailed off as Ignis laid his palm on his forehead, the normally soothing touch hot and uncomfortable. “Iggy, I’m fine. It’s just a bug, and we all know I usually bounce back from this stuff pretty quickly.” Ignis lifted his hand away, looking at him with a raised eyebrow before turning to the sink and wetting a washcloth.
“While this is true, Prompto, we certainly don’t want you to suffer alone needlessly. We are all quite happy to help if needed,” Iggy said, wringing out the washcloth before folding it and laying it on the back of Prompto’s neck. “How does that feel?” Prompto couldn’t scrounge up more than a relieved sigh, and Ignis ran his fingers through Prompto’s sweaty hair, which didn’t feel so nice; he twitched his head to the side without thinking about it, and Ignis pulled his hand away without a word. “Do you wish to stay here for awhile longer, or do you think you can sleep?” That was a good question. Prompto took stock of his stomach, which had calmed once he had cooled down, and shrugged.
“I think I’ll go sleep out on the sofa, I don’t want to sweat all over everyone. Go back to bed, Iggy, I’ll be fine,” he said, getting to his feet; the washcloth fell from his neck, and Ignis deftly caught it and laid it over the edge of the sink.
“Let me at least find you a blanket,” Ignis said quietly, and the two of them left the room and his other quietly snoring boyfriends and headed into the living room, where Prompto flopped onto the sofa, grabbing one of the throw pillows and shoving it under his head as Ignis draped a blanket over his legs, smoothing it down with a hand. “Would you like me to stay out here with you?” Prompto actually considered it for a moment. He had become so used to sleeping with someone else around that he wasn’t fond of doing so alone anymore, but it was selfish to keep Ignis out with him when there was an incredibly comfortable bed only feet away.
“No, I’m okay, Iggy. Thank you. Go back to bed, I’m sure I’ll be fine in the morning,” he said, and was relieved when the older man didn’t argue, instead leaning over and kissing the side of his head before withdrawing.
“Get some rest, Prompto.” Ignis said softly, then turned and headed back into the bedroom, the door not closing all the way as Prompto got himself comfortable. He hated being sick. He hated the inconvenience, the fatigue, the isolation...but, things were different now. He had gone from being utterly alone most of the time to being surrounded by people who cared, who were interested in him and how he was doing, and he couldn’t discount that. Even Iggy’s simple offer had made him feel all warm and fuzzy, and part of him was wondering why he didn’t accept it, even though he knew the exact reason. Getting all of his partners sick too wasn’t cool if he could avoid it, and honestly, Noct had a very comfortable couch. He could handle a night or two. Prompto sighed, shifting under the blanket a few times before letting his eyes close. He better be feeling alright by the time they leave, he really didn’t want to be sick on their trip. He snuggled deeper into the couch cushions with another sigh, and was asleep in minutes.
“Hey, why’s Prom out here?” Prompto groaned as Noct’s voice pierced his brain and jarred him from a rather pleasant dream, then grumbled as the couch cushion sagged and a hand came down on his shoulder. “You alright?” Noct asked, and Prompto scowled before he even got his eyes open.
“I was until you woke me up,” he stated sourly, and the prince grimaced, patting him once more on the shoulder.
“Sorry, but you were with us when we went to bed, and I wake up and you’re out here. You feeling okay?” Noct asked again, and Prompto forced himself to sit up, scrubbing a hand through his grimy hair before giving a mostly-true nod.
“I think I’ve caught a bit of the flu, and I was roasting, so I figured it best that I sleep out here for the night,” he answered, stretching his arms above his head for a moment before sagging. “It’s nothing big, Noct. I just didn’t want to get you guys sick if it is the flu.” Noctis seemed unconvinced, but leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek, then pulled a face. “What?” Noct shook his head, and Prompto poked him in the side. “I’m that smelly, huh?” Noct jumped to his feet and scooted out of the way before he could poke him again, a smirk on his features.
“No, no, I’ve smelled worse behemoths, you’re fine-” Prompto tripped over the blanket trying to chase after him, and only Gladio’s swift interference kept him from knocking his teeth out on the coffee table. He’ll be feeling the resulting wedgie for the rest of his life, but at least his face was unbroken. He’d take it. Gladio managed to get an arm around his torso and got him the rest of the way upright, and Prompto picked his underwear out of his ass with a groan.
“Thanks, I like having teeth,” he muttered, and Gladio snorted, patting him on the back before letting go, a thoughtful look on his face.
“You’ve been bulking up a bit, I see. Have you been going to the gym more?” Gladio asked, and Prompto blinked stupidly at him as he processed what the older man had said. He had only been going to the gym with Gladio, and he hadn’t been doing anything out of the ordinary-
“No, I’ve just been going with you,” he replied, ignoring Noct as he sidled closer, and Gladio shrugged.
“I’m probably imagining things then. Nevermind, Prom. I think Iggy’s getting out of the shower if you want to take one, and I’m not saying you stink,” Gladio stated wisely, and Prom raised an eyebrow, but took the statement at face value as he waved his thanks, then walked back into the bedroom. He forgot about the Shield’s comment until he was in the shower, and he let his hands smooth down his stomach, trying to see if there was anything different. It did feel a little firmer and thicker than usual, and Prompto decided to chalk it up to his exercise regimen finally showing some effect beyond his arms. He hadn’t changed anything else recently, so that’s...all it could be. He shrugged to himself, then patted his stomach and finished up his shower, managing to nail Noct with a wet washcloth after he got out. The resulting yell made him feel much better.
His symptoms cleared up on their own over the next few days, just in time for the beginning of their trip, and Prompto was just happy he managed to avoid going to the infirmary. He didn’t have anything against Dr. Domitia, but he really didn’t want to be visiting her unless absolutely necessary. He had spent enough time there.
“Prompto, got your bag packed?” Gladio asked, jarring him from his thoughts, and he turned and plucked it from the sofa, throwing the strap over his shoulder.
“Yup, good to go. Wiz’s, here we come!” he announced, and Gladio snorted a laugh as they left the royal quarters and headed down to the parking garage, Prompto watching the lights on the buttons flash as they descended. “The others already down there?” The larger man nodded, then leaned against the wall of the elevator and crossed his arms.
“So, the king wants you to survey our route, huh? Compile a more formal list of your suggestions and concerns on infrastructure and public relations?” Gladio asked, and Prompto couldn't help the grin.
“Yeah, he thinks I might be good at it, because we all knew that me being a Crownsguard wasn’t going to work out. His majesty said that I'm too high-profile, which will never not be weird to think about, and he said he got the idea after I thought up the dodgeball tournament. He also commented that he liked some of the notes I made during our trip regarding the state of some areas, like when we went to Keycaterich and stuff,” he said, adjusting his bag as the elevator door opened and they stepped out, Prompto following Gladio. “So I'm going to try my best! I hate feeling like a freeloader-”
“You are not a freeloader, Prompto, and if anyone is claiming otherwise-” Ignis cut in as they reached the Regalia, and he shook his head.
“No no, I was just saying that I don’t like feeling like one, and with the king giving me something to do...well, I like it. I’m hoping I do alright with it, but I think we are kinda figuring it out as we go,” he cut in, and Ignis nodded sagely.
“Ah, that does make more sense. I think it is a task well suited to you, Prompto. I will not impose, but do not hesitate to ask me if you need anything,” Iggy stated, and Prompto leaned in and gave the advisor a quick hug before bouncing around to the passenger side and getting in, slamming the door shut.
“Job? You said something about helping out dad?” Noct asked from the back seat as Ignis and Gladio both got into the car, and Prompto hummed in agreement as Iggy started the car and pulled out of the parking space, heading to the surface.
“Yeah, trying something out. You know I like having something to do, anyway, and I hardly have the skills to become a professional photographer,” he shrugged, and ignored Noct’s sigh from the back seat. “And honestly, I enjoy taking photos for fun. I mean, selling the occasional one would probably be okay, but I don’t think I want to make a job out of it. Might take the fun out of it.” No one said anything in response to that, and Prompto pulled out a notebook as they headed out of town, jotting down notes as they headed through the tunnels and out into the Leide region. For once, they did not stop in Hammerhead, instead turning southwest towards the mountains; they had not taken this path before, and Prompto kept a sharp eye on what he could see as they headed through the pass, emerging south of the Chocobo Post and passing by a small pond that Noct whined at as they continued on by.
“Perhaps after we have finished our two planned stops, Noct. With Prompto’s tentative new position, it’s best we stick to some semblance of a schedule for now,” Iggy commented, and Prompto laughed as Noct pouted dramatically before finally giving a hint of a smile.
“Yeah, alright. There’s a few more ponds on the way to Costlemark, we could even stop at one of them on the way back,” Noctis offered, and Prompto nodded. It was only fair, he was dragging them to Costlemark again, after all.
Wiz was as friendly as ever, and after a proper greeting by the flock (the black chocobo chick looked around, seemed to realize that Cor wasn’t there, and begrudgingly allowed Prompto to scratch his neck for a minute before stomping off dejectedly. It was entirely too cute, and Prompto, to his own shock, actually snuffled for a moment, feeling overcome. Thankfully, none of the others noticed, and after making sure his face was back to normal, he sat down with Wiz to get his ideas about the area, both with crowd control and general infrastructure. Ever since Sarras had been fully cleared and deemed generally safe, there had been a steady stream of pilgrims and workers trying to clean the place back up, which had lead to a sharp increase of business at Wiz’s. And problems with parking. Prompto felt like he was just bumbling through all this, but he dutifully took notes and offered suggestions (paved parking lot was sounding like a great idea) before they adjourned to the camper for the night. The pilgrims who had seen him and Noct had left them alone with a few polite bows and nods, and the four of them enjoyed a nice evening with the required pile of sandwiches and chocobo chicks running around their ankles. Prompto woke up once in the middle of the night, his stomach churning oddly, but he remained in bed and the sensation eventually went away on its own. It was just nerves. When he slipped on his pants the next morning, it took him far longer than usual to get the zipper up and the button closed, and he stared himself in the tired mirror in the camper and frowned. He thought he had been imagining it, but he was definitely putting on weight.
“Prom, ready to go?” Noct asked, his favorite prince wrapping his arm around his waist, and it took all that Prompto had to not knock his boyfriend’s arm away. He shouldn’t be gaining weight, he wasn’t eating anything unusual, he was exercising- “Prom?” He jerked, then forced himself to turn around in Noct’s arms, dragging a smile onto his face.
“Hey! Yeah, sorry, just got lost in my head there for a minute.” Noctis gave him a skeptical look, but didn’t pry, and with one last glance downward at his stomach, Prompto followed the others out.
The others hadn’t been to Costlemark since they had cleared the site of the last of the beasts, and they were all pleasantly surprised to see the progress that has been made in the building, especially on the upper floors. Prompto, of course, had been there several times with Cor since then, even if he usually spent most of the time convincing him to let the younger people haul the heavy stone around. He had hurt his back enough over the last year, and both he and Nyx were getting genuinely concerned that there could be future ramifications if the abuse continued. Cor had told them that they were worrying too much, Nyx agreed with Prompto entirely. Needless to say, his dad didn't win that fight. The eyes worked on him every time.
“The stone masons have done a splendid job, the damage on the upper floors looks far lesser than it did only a month ago. I assume that the majority of the laborers come from Galahd?” Ignis asked, and Prompto waggled his hand in the air in response. “Oh?”
“I guess Galahd is not as well-known for their stone work as other places, which makes sense, as most of the traditional buildings I remember seeing there were made of wood. Several of the artisans are actually from Tenebrae, Luna sent them over with Ravus. While there’s definitely a Galahdian majority, there’s a wider grouping of people than you would think,” he explained, as he nodded to some workers as they descended further into the structure.
“This place seriously needs an elevator. Everyone is going to have amazing calves after walking this everyday,” Noct drawled, his deadpan comment drawing smiles from those they passed, and Prompto snorted.
“Maybe we can figure out a way? The only shortcut is the one from the deep interior to the surface, and while Cor can go all over the place without worrying about it, it is a lot of walking,” Prompto mused, and even Gladio nodded in agreement. They descended into the mostly untouched rooms beyond the formerly sealed door, the bricks that had been mostly hiding the corridor now gone, and after looking at what felt like an endless sea of stone by the time they were only four floors down, Prompto finally called a halt to their exploration. The lower rooms had, at one time, been made into smaller rooms with wood interior walls that could be rearranged if convenient, but those had long been destroyed by time, beasts, and daemons. With so many floors, though, they needed to figure out something, as no one would want to make that trek often. Who would want to go down over sixty flights of stairs?
“You could house the residents of Lestallum several times over in this place, it must have been quite the sight back at the height of its usage. Was there some sort of hierarchy in the levels?” Ignis asked, and Prompto closed his eyes for a moment and thought, the answer tickling at his brain.
“Yes, but it wasn’t as strict as you might think. The floors had lots of residential areas, but there were libraries, businesses, restaurants...things you would have expected a city to have. The lowest floors were for the upper classes and religious hermits, for the most part; everyone was so convinced that the tower would stand forever, especially underground, that it was not uncommon for upper-class types to keep an emergency residence near the bottom in case of invasion or incursion. The so-called lower classes generally lived closer to the top, which honestly, made it easier to travel around, but as people would walk through their floors more often, it was seen as a less-desirable area,” he explained, shrugging. “I don’t even know. But if people want to really start living here again, at least the upper floors of this part will need to be fixed.” Prompto looked around the bare room, feeling overwhelmed all of a sudden; the volunteers that had flocked to the tower after it had been finally cleared had come of their own accord and were pretty much operating on their own, but they were already starting to look to Cor and him for guidance as obvious repairs were being completed and more elaborate work was needed. It was a lot to handle, and he wasn’t sure he was entirely up to the task.
“Prompto?” Noct’s voice cut into his thoughts, and Prompto rubbed at his arms and stared blankly at the floor, not managing to put together a reply that would make sense as his stomach protested once more. “Wanna get out of here?” He looked up to see Noct smiling sweetly at him, almost missing the flash of concern as the rest of his companions quickly smiled as well.
“Sorry, I just started thinking about how much work this is all going to be here...it’s kinda intense. But yeah, let’s go. I want to go look at the parking area over by the haven, the king was concerned about it. Most people are just parking on the side of the road-” Prompto wasn’t so oblivious not to notice the others exchange a few looks as they headed back up the stairs, and he barely restrained another sigh. “I’ll figure it out, guys. There’s just a lot to do.”
The weather was cool and pleasant outside, without a cloud in the sky; after he took a series of photos and wrote notes and drew diagrams of the area around the crowded haven, they all made the decision to back up to Turncouth Haven, which was south of Wiz’s and about a thirty minute drive away from Costlemark, which would hopefully mean more room. They hadn’t brought the tent, for some reason, but the sight of the stars twinkling above their heads as they lined up their sleeping bags was more than enough for Prompto, who grinned as he dove into his and stared up at the sky.
“I think you are finally learning why I like camping,” Gladio said from his left, and Prompto shifted onto his side with a grunt; Ignis was still fiddling with something over at the camp stove while Noct had already drifted off, and he met the Shield’s eyes with a little smile.
“I never disliked it, but I admit I wasn’t as...enthused as you are. But with a view like this, I could do this every night.” Prompto sighed in contentment as the large man scooted closer, Gladio’s warmth apparent even through two layers of sleeping bags as he rolled onto his back once more, enjoying the starlight until he dozed off. He didn’t wake up once during the night.
They returned to Costlemark for a few hours the next morning, where the volunteers fed them a surprisingly large and varied meal considering their relative isolation out there; Prompto found himself utterly ravenous, and it was only when Iggy leaned over and whispered in his ear did he notice how much he had eaten.
“Did I not make enough to eat last night?” Ignis said softly, and Prompto froze, taking stock at the plate in front of him. How many times had he refilled it already? He had been kind of hungry last night, maybe that’s what the problem was- “Prompto?”
“Oh, you’re fine, I think I was just a little hungrier than usual last night. You know my stomach was bothering me off and on until a few days ago, so I’m probably just trying to make that up,” he said, feeling oddly self-conscious. He usually wasn’t one to eat so much, not anymore-
“I’m pleased that your grace enjoys the meal so much! Will your travels be continuing on today?” The unofficial foreman spoke up, and he forced himself to smile politely and nod.
“Yes, we will be departing soon, unfortunately, but you know that the herald will probably be stopping in at some point this week. You’ll see one of us soon,” he stated, the rest of the sizeable gathering nodding.
“We look forward to seeing you again soon, your grace. Your presence blesses us every time you visit.”
Noct and the others wisely didn’t tease him too much about his answering blush as they said their farewells and departed, and just for Noct, they stopped at one of the ponds so he could try a little fishing. Even as the prince was gleefully casting out his line, a thought came to Prompto, and he turned to Gladio.
“Isn’t the middle of the day the worst time to go fishing? Too much light or something like that?” he said, only to be shushed by the other man.
“It is, but don’t let him hear you, he’ll want to stay all night-”
“I can totally hear you, you know,” Noct deadpanned, and Prompto chuckled as he got comfortable, resting his head on Gladio’s shoulder and closing his eyes.
“Wake me up when it’s time to go or if he catches something.”
About two fruitless hours later, the four of them headed northeast back towards Hammerhead, where they planned to stay for the night before heading back into Insomnia, and he enjoyed watching the darkening scenery go by, occasionally jotting down notes if he saw anything he wanted to talk to the king about later; the mood was mellow, and he just enjoyed being in everyone’s company as they travelled into the night, arriving at Hammerhead just in time to have a late dinner. Even after the sizable meal they had earlier in the day, Prompto cleaned his plate once again before vegging out in the booth waiting for everyone to finish. If anyone noticed, however, no one said anything. As they headed back towards the caravan, Noct looked up at the night sky, as beautiful as it was the day before, and smiled wistfully as he wrapped an arm around Prompto’s shoulders, pulling him in close.
“Wanna play hooky and stay out here a few more days?” the prince asked, his voice matching his expression, and Prompto really thought about it for a moment; it was tempting, the weather was cool and wonderful and no one really had pressing commitments...except for him. Damn. Prompto shook his head regretfully, then tilted his neck and lightly bonked his temple against Noct’s.
“Afraid not, his majesty is expecting me back tomorrow, we’ve gotta go over this stuff. I want to make sure I did it right,” he replied, and Noct huffed.
“Dad can wait, princely prerogative,” Noct stated with an affected whine as he pulled away, and Gladio snorted behind them as they entered the caravan, Prompto shucking his vest immediately then tumbling into the bed with a sigh.
“We can probably go out soon, the king said that if this goes well, he wants to send me back out again,” he said, rolling over onto his back as Noct sat down on the bed next to him. “You know, you guys don’t need to come, there’s going to be a point where it’s going to be impractical for you all to go, being the future king and all. I’ll probably have to ask somebody-” Noct patted his stomach, both cutting him off and making his tummy grumble sourly, leading to a glimmer of confusion from the prince.
“You alright? You can’t be still hungry…” Prompto flushed, rolling on his side and away from Noct as he ignored what sounded suspiciously like a smack behind him. “Ow, okay. Prom, I’m not trying to say anything specific, it was just a question,” Noct commented quietly, and Prompto sighed.
“Stomach’s a little unhappy, guess it didn’t like dinner. I’m fine.” He kept his back to the rest of the camper as he let himself drift; he absently listened to the others move around the caravan for some time before he dozed off. He was awoken once by Ignis, who suggested he get in more comfortable clothes and brush his teeth, but he only managed kicking his shoes off before losing consciousness once more.
Prompto’s mood didn’t really improve, although he managed to be pleasant, and the drive back to Insomnia was somewhat awkward as everyone kept to themselves, which just made him feel worse. His stomach continued to feel unsettled, and it was with him in full brood that they returned to the Citadel; he dropped off his bag back in Noct’s quarters and split, heading to the king’s office with his notebooks without a word to the others. He’d talk to them later, he just needed a little time away from them, although he couldn’t articulate why. When he knocked on the door to the king’s office, however, he realized that he probably should have asked after the man’s schedule, but luckily, he was in residence, and Lord Amicitia ushered him in, motioning to a seat.
“How did your trip go, Mr. Argentum?” the king asked as he got comfortable, setting his notebooks on his lap, and Prompto barely restrained a shrug, instead forcing himself to sit up straight and look professional even as his stomach twinged again.
“It went well enough, I talked to some people as well and took notes regarding what we had talked about before,” he said, his fingers fiddling with the edge of the notebook on top as the king smiled and nodded with an almost paternal air. His stomach burbled audibly, and his face warmed immediately as both the king and Lord Amicitia chuckled politely.
“I am certainly looking forward to going through everything with you, Prompto, but you didn’t need to rush straight here. You could have fetched yourself supper first-” Prompto shook his head immediately before realizing he had basically interrupted the man, and his face felt even hotter as he bit down on his bottom lip. Maybe his majesty was right, he should have waited until later- “Prompto, are you feeling well? You seem somewhat out of sorts. If you need, we can return to this tomorrow, a day certainly isn’t going to make a difference.” The looks on both men’s faces were concerned, and for a split-second, Prompto had the strongest urge to just cry. But he took a deep breath, shook his head, and opened the top notebook, looking down his notes on the area around the Chocobo Post.
“My stomach is just a little unhappy, I think it’s the residuals of a bug of some sort. It’s been bothering me off and on for a week. It’s nothing to be concerned with, your majesty, my lord, but I thank you for your concern,” he said, and he meant it. He just needed to get some rest and eat sensibly for awhile, it would get his moody tummy under control. The king seemed a bit unconvinced, but they finally got down to business, Prompto laying out what he thought would be needed for the various areas they had looked into, from parking issues to road maintenance, and both older men listened with apparent interest and very little interjections until he was wrapping up his thoughts on handling the crowds already at Costlemark. When he commented lightheartedly on Noct’s off-hand statement about elevators, it was Lord Amicitia who actually spoke up.
“Considering what I understand and remember of the architecture, I don’t see how that could work, except for the circular part of the structure. I’m curious, however-” Lord Amicitia leaned forward, propping an elbow on the desk and meeting Prompto’s eyes directly. “-those magic discs, like the one that can bring you from the lower level to the top in a blink of an eye. Perhaps you and Cor might be able to figure out how to make a few more to make the place easier to navigate? The lower levels that you all cleared a few months back go down sixty floors, right? That would tire even the most fit person out to trek up and down on a regular basis. If the goal is to allow people to live there full time again, certain modern amenities will definitely have to be seen to.” Prompto froze, his brow furrowing as he thought. He had no idea how the teleporting discs worked, but maybe he and Cor could figure something out. That was certainly the only way they’d be able to make it work practically-
“Mr. Argentum, I am very impressed with your work, especially as we were both sort of bumbling along with the idea without a significant amount of direction. Are you willing to submit a more formal report on the subjects we discussed? I think it would be best for me to have something more concrete to present to the council, as I don’t want to subject you to them without a little more experience under your belt. While most of them are perfectly kind, decent people, there’s a few that have…” the king trailed off, his expression more than a bit exasperated as he brought up a hand and scratched at his chin before lowering it. “There’s a few that do not quite understand your remaining presence here. I fully expect at least a few comments that perhaps you should move to Costlemark as soon as it is habitable, which is certainly not my wish, of course, and I would say that regardless of the nature of your relationship with my son.” Prompto could feel his cheeks warm once more, but the kind looks on both the king and Lord Amicitia’s faces reassured him, and he kept his mouth shut. “Your presence has been a great boon for the Citadel, Prompto; I’m not just speaking of your actions in defense of the nation and the world, but your heart, your personality- you brighten every room you enter, whether you are aware of it or not, and your insight has already helped many people, and I suspect that will only continue into the future. I thank you for it.”
Prompto spent the rest of their meeting feeling like he was combusting from the inside out from all the compliments, and by the time he returned to the royal floor, he was feeling in much better spirits, giving all three of his boyfriends proper kisses before enjoying a nice dinner, heading to bed soon after. His stomach had apparently finally decided it was in a good mood, and he cuddled into Gladio’s arms and fell asleep easily. He’d start on that report for the king in the morning.
Getting dressed the next day was a mood-killer, and Prompto finally gave up on his fitted jeans and put on some track pants, which he was pretty sure the others noticed. Damn. The thought of getting checked out at the infirmary made his skin crawl for some reason; he actually liked Dr. Domitia, but just the thought of seeing her made him want to run very far in the opposite direction.
He would figure it out.
“Cor, you’ve slept through two alarms and me getting out of bed, did you stay up after I went to bed last night?” Nyx’s voice pierced Cor’s rather pleasant dream, and he cracked open his eyes to see that his pillow was standing next to the bed, fully-dressed for the day and looking down at him with his arms crossed, and it took several more seconds before his brain caught up with what the man had said.
“Wait, what? What time is it?” he mumbled, forcing himself upright with a groan, and Nyx snorted before looking down at his phone.
“It’s almost nine, sleepyhead. Good thing you live in the same place you work-” Cor scrambled out of bed, his body protesting as he dove for the dresser, ignoring as Nyx cackled behind him. “You know, babe, you are the boss, you can show up a few minutes late,” the Glaive commented, but Cor didn’t deign that statement worthy of response as he threw clothing on the bed and dashed into the shower, only to have a sudden rush of dizziness slam into him, causing him to stumble and fall against the shower door, only providence keeping it from falling from its track. “Cor? What was that? You okay?” Nyx’s voice was a welcome distraction as he closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the tile as he waited for the spinning to stop. He wasn’t a kid anymore, he needed to not just jump out of bed like that- “Cor?” The shower door opened, and a warm hand came to rest on the back of his neck. “You alright?”
“I got up too fast, that’s all. Pretend this never happened,” he groused, finally opening his eyes and stepping away from the wall as Nyx sighed, squeezing the base of his neck one more time before letting go.
“Don’t break your neck, considering I’ve already been accused once of trying to kill you, that would make for a very awkward situation,” Nyx said lightly, and Cor snorted out a laugh as he reached for the soap. “Guess it’s just one of those mornings, hm?” the younger man said as he walked back out of the bathroom, leaving Cor to attempt to shower without killing himself. Thankfully, whatever the dizziness had been, it did not re-occur, and he managed to finish up without further incident, coming out off the bathroom to discover that Nyx had waited for him to get out.
“You didn’t have to stay, you know,” he commented as he pulled on his clothes, and Nyx snorted, leaning in and giving him a quick kiss.
“I figured I’d just make sure, being a few minutes late isn’t going to kill either of us,” the Glaive replied, running his hands down Cor’s chest and smoothing his shirt. “You never answered my question from earlier, you know,” Nyx commented, and Cor blinked for a moment before remembering.
“No, I went to bed with you. I don’t know why I’m so tired,” he said honestly, yawning right on cue, and Nyx hummed.
“Well, maybe you had busy dreams or something. Try to get to bed earlier today?” Nyx said, and Cor nodded as they headed out the door together. “Up to a shortcut?” Cor rolled his eyes, grabbed Nyx’s arm and stepped, appearing outside of the Kingsglaive offices before nodding his goodbye and stepping once more, appearing only feet from his desk. As per their agreement, he knocked on the wall to let Monica know he was there, then sat down and started going through his paperwork. He was just having an off day. As Regis and Clarus loved to remind him, he wasn’t quite the kid he used to be.
“Cor, the troops are wondering if you’ve died in here.” Monica’s voice caused him to jolt upright, and Cor scowled at the puddle of drool on the paper in front of him. He had fallen asleep. Again. “Cor?” The door opened, and Monica’s head popped around the edge of the door, her questioning expression turning amused in an instant. “I think you have printing on your cheek. Didn’t sleep well?” Cor brought a hand up and scrubbed at said cheek for a moment before sighing.
“I thought I slept fine, but I slept through all the alarms and Nyx getting up and ready for work, so I’m guessing I didn’t. I think I need to walk around for a little while before I doze off again,” he replied, and Monica held up a finger, vanishing for a moment and returning with a little wipe of some sort.
“You might want to scrub your paperwork off your face, marshal. Not your best look,” Monica replied, handing him the face cleaning wipe and patting him on the shoulder. “If I don’t see you in ten, I’m coming back in to make sure you didn’t fall asleep again.”
“Thanks, I think.”
He did manage to clean his face off and go for a walk without falling asleep again, but even as the work day came to an end, he never managed to shake off the fatigue that had dogged him all day, and he garnered more than one concerned frown from Nyx as they ate their dinner. But his partner kept his opinion to himself as they transitioned from dinner to watching the news, then as they got ready for bed; he was careful not to lay down until Nyx was settled, then snuggled into his usual position and closed his eyes to the sensation of the Glaive running his fingers through his hair.
The next day wasn’t much better, but he at least woke up when Nyx got out of bed, giving him enough time to sit up and pretend that another short bout of dizziness didn't follow suit; thankfully, Nyx was in the shower, and didn't see him. Ugh. He managed to stay awake at work, helped by the fact that he was out in the field most of the day, and maintained enough visible energy to avoid getting any more worried glances from Nyx that evening.
The following day saw him sleep through everything again, but thankfully there was no dizziness as he hustled around to get to work before he was too late again, Nyx looking more exacerbated than worried.
“I wonder if you've caught a cold or something as to why you've been so sleepy the past few days,” Nyx mused, and Cor nodded immediately.
“Yeah, that must be it,” he answered agreeably, even though he had a growing suspicion that he didn't have anything of the sort. He was just a bit tired, that's all. Probably just his body making up for the month or ago where he skimped on sleep. He was almost fifty, after all. He was just getting old. After stepping Nyx to his office, he headed to his, where he did reports and paperwork for a few hours before heading to the gym to meet up with Prompto. He found the blond back at the shooting range as expected, his technique as perfect as ever as Cor watched. It was when his son turned around that he growled on impulse.
“You look like you haven't slept in a week,” he said flatly, and received a quality glower in return. Good, his kid was improving. A moment later, Prompto rolled his eyes as he sent his pistol back to the armiger.
“Pot, meet kettle. You look like shit, too, dad, what's going on?” Cor sighed, motioning to a nearby bench. Prompto followed his lead and they sat down together, his son leaning against his arm; they sat together silently for some time, just enjoying each other's company as they enjoyed the quiet. The shooting range was never all that packed, and Cor, for once, was happy for it.
“I'm just tired, Prompto, I've just felt a bit off all week. How about you?” The blond frowned, twisting his hands together aimlessly.
“My stomach has been weird off and on for a couple weeks now, and I'm alternating been eating everything in sight to barely hungry, but more the former than the latter. The problem is that I-” Prompto trailed off, and Cor jostled his arm to get him to continue. “-the problem is that everything I eat seems to be sticking. I’ve not said anything to the others, although I know they’ve noticed, but I’ve put on ten pounds in the last three weeks and I don’t know why. I’ve been coming down and working out, but nothing seems to work. I’ve gained a few pounds before that, too.” Cor’s eyes flicked over Prompto’s form, but he couldn’t see where the weight was going; Prompto was in a loose t-shirt and comfortable track pants, however, so it wasn’t the best way to tell. He couldn’t remember the last time he had weighed himself, but he knew that his son had struggled with his weight when he was young, and the last thing he wanted was to see him panic over it happening again.
“Just keep up sensible exercise and do your best to eat normally, and if you are especially concerned about it, you might want to go speak to Dr. Domitia. Don’t hide this from the others, you know they just want to help,” he advised, and gained both a nod and a snort from the blond.
“This, coming from you? What’s Nyx say about you being off?” Prompto needled, and Cor pinched the bridge of his nose and groaned silently.
“I suppose this is one of those do as I say not as I do moments, isn’t it? But he thinks I may have a bit of a cold,” Cor offered blandly, getting a raised eyebrow in return.
“Do you?” Prompto wasn’t an idiot, and Cor shook his head and sighed once more.
“No, I don’t think so.” Prompto’s expression told exactly what he thought, and he waved his hand dismissively. “Refer to my previous statement on not following my example,” he stated, and his son stuck out his tongue.
“What is that smell?” Prompto asked, but before Cor could answer, the younger man raised an arm and poked at the side of Cor’s head. “That’s right, it’s the smell of hypocrisy,” Prompto volunteered, a friendly smirk on his face, and before they knew it, the two of them were scuffling around on the bench, which ended with Cor holding the squirrelly blond with a half-assed headlock and an arm around his stomach, which let Cor finally register his son’s weight gain. Hm.
“Did you have lunch?” Cor asked, letting the young man loose, and Prompto shook his head.
“No, but now that you mention it, that sounds good!” Lunch it was. The Citadel cafe was surprisingly full, and the two of them ended up at one of the little tables that was really only sized for one, although the staff insisted they were for two, and stared at the menus that collided with each other every time they moved in the slightest. “I could eat everything on this page. I shouldn’t eat everything on this page.” Oh boy. Cor picked what he wanted, which was small (he wasn’t all that hungry) and closed his menu and laid it down on the table.
“Remember what I said earlier, Prompto,” he reminded his son, and Prompto took a deep breath and nodded.
“Sensible, right.” Fifteen minutes later saw Cor with a salad and a burger, while Prompto had ended up with the three-course steak meal; he raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything as the blond demolished his plate before Cor was even done with his own, and started eying up the dessert counter from his seat. Where was he putting everything?
“I’m not going to comment, but again, keep that in mind,” he said, and Prompto looked down at the table, biting his bottom lip.
“Yeah, you’re right. Man, I hope whatever this is stops soon, I’m tired of gaining weight,” Prompto hissed quietly as Cor finished the last few bites of his salad. “You’ve gotta go back to work, right?” Cor nodded, watching with a frown as Prompto slumped slightly. “Yeah, I need to finish up that report; Ignis looked it over and offered some suggestions, and I just need to tweak it to be more...professional. I don’t really have any experience with that, and Iggy has loads, so-”
“Excellent idea, Prompto. You’ll get more accustomed to the format and presentation in time, if you continue with your new position,” he said, and Prompto grinned.
“I have a good feeling about it, so I sure hope so!”
Cor and Prompto parted soon after, and Cor returned to his office once more, where he...promptly fell asleep again. Luckily, Monica tripped over something in her office around the usual time to leave, which woke him up before she could come in and tease him; after a quick inspection of his face to make sure there wasn’t any marks on it, he walked out into the bullpen, wished everyone a good night, then stepped back to his quarters seconds after walking out of the office, stumbling as a wave of disorientation overwhelmed his senses. He managed to make it to the sofa, where he collapsed, closing his eyes and waiting for the sensation to fade.
This wasn’t a cold.
He knew he needed to say something to Nyx, whose brows seemed to be in a permanent state of furrow as the days went on, but he...didn’t. Nyx tried to get him to talk about it, but Cor changed the subject every time it came up, and Cor forced down the growing guilt every time Nyx gave him that sad smile that told him that he was totally fucking up somewhere. By the time the next week rolled around, he was just exhausted; he was having dizzy spells off and on that he was doing his best to hide, but he knew that people were beginning to notice. His appetite seemed to be dwindling with every passing day, and he was having to force himself to eat while Prompto seemed to be having the opposite problem; he wouldn’t have known about anything more than what his son had told him the other day, but he came across Ignis and Gladiolus talking about Prompto, and he had shamelessly listened in. The fact that they both were out of sorts at the same time was concerning, but until he heard Ignis talk about how Prompto didn’t want to see the doctor either did it really click for him, and he began to wonder. Why would they both be sick? The goddess had specifically reassured them that their link would be innately manageable from the time of their ascension, for lack of a better word, and that situations like the mess in Niflheim wouldn’t be repeated unless either of them deliberately reached out at full strength-
“Marshal?” Cor looked up to see Dustin lingering in his office doorway, and forced himself to sit up.
“What do you need, Dustin?” he asked, and the wiry man dithered in the doorway for a moment before Cor gestured him in firmly, Dustin shutting the door behind him and standing at attention in front of his desk, his expression fiercely neutral. A chill went down his spine before he motioned to a chair. “I’ve obviously fucked up something, I’ve known you too long to translate that look any other way,” he sighed, and Dustin’s eyebrow twitched upwards on his forehead as he sat, the man bringing up his arms and propping his elbows on his knees, then steepling his fingers together. Oh yeah, he was in trouble.
“Sir, I wish to discuss some concerns the Guard has, and I figured it best to just say it directly rather than letting it linger,” Dustin stated, and Cor nodded slowly, then motioned him to continue. “We are growing increasingly concerned about your health, marshal, while you went through one of your old-fashioned work binges a month or so ago, not even bringing up your week of...forced vacation, you were apparently on the mend until a few weeks ago. Now you, to be utterly frank, sir, look like you are getting run over by a behemoth on a daily basis. You barely eat, you look like you haven’t slept in weeks, and I’ve heard at least two different people say that you looked like you were having moments of dizziness or vertigo,” Dustin said flatly, and Cor had to bite his own tongue to keep from saying anything ill-advised. “We are not questioning your competence as marshal and as our leader, sir, we are simply speaking from worry. I’ve known you for almost thirty years, Cor, and I’ve never seen you like this.” Dustin sat back in his chair after he was done speaking, and Cor slumped slightly, his eyes flicking down to look at his twisting fingers.
“That obvious, huh?” he whispered, and Dustin sighed.
“I’m afraid so. I’m going to ask one thing just to get it off the table, because unfortunately certain attitudes still persist among a few of our number. I do not believe anything of the sort is the case, however-”
“Dustin, if this is going the way I think it is-”
“There are a few unnamed individuals who have expressed concerns about your partner, and I fear they believe that he is unduly pressuring or hurting you in some way. They have no proof of anything, of course, and simply point to the fact that you had never been like this before you two came together. Never mind that you’ve had many other things happen around the same time…” Dustin trailed off, and Cor realized that he was practically growling and shut his mouth.
“Sorry. So there’s still some pulling that shit, huh? No, Nyx has been worried about me too, before you ask, and he certainly isn’t doing something to cause this. Just the opposite, if anything. I’m getting tons of sleep, unlike a few months ago...it just isn’t helping. I’m sleeping through alarms, I’m falling asleep in here...I-” Cor cut himself off, looking up and meeting Dustin’s eyes straight on. “This is going to sound crazy.”
“Sir, you don’t have to tell me anything-”
“Something in my head has been telling me ever since the strangeness started that I’m perfectly fine, and it’ll pass on its own, that it’s just a...transition. Part of me is wondering if it’s some sort of strange physical leftovers from the ceremonial stuff I had to handle a few months ago. Just the thought of going to the infirmary makes me want to run the opposite direction, which isn’t generally like me-” Dustin raised an eyebrow, and Cor conceded the white lie with a huff before continuing. ”It’s...strange. But you’re right, I just feel off.” Cor managed to finish his piece without freezing up, and Dustin blinked at him in clear shock, before visibly composing himself and sitting up straight.
“Well, there is one thing that your partner has caused,” Dustin said with a straight face, and Cor arched an eyebrow.
“And what’s that?”
“You wouldn’t have told me any of that a year and a half ago. You would have grunted a thanks for your concern and I’m fine and that would have been the end of it. Between Ulric and that delightful young man you've effectively adopted, you've become somewhat more outgoing than you once were,” Dustin finished, and Cor? He couldn’t argue with that. “So, sir, what are you going to do? Wait it out and hope it goes away? I don’t think that’s going to work too much longer if you get worse-” Cor closed his eyes for a moment, breathing audibly through his nose.
“I’m going to give myself a little longer, and see how I do. I can still work, I’m maybe just not quite at one hundred percent. I just...I really don’t want to go to the infirmary. I’ve never had this sheer aversion to it before, which truly makes me think it’s something having to do with my...other role.” Dustin looked somewhat skeptical, but took his statement at face value, rising to his feet and nodding.
“Take care of yourself, sir, and if you need any of us for anything, just say so. I know it’s been a rather hectic year and a half, but we’ve come out the other side, and looking pretty well for it. We want to make sure you remain in good shape for the future as well.” Dustin nodded once more then exited his office, closing the door behind him; Cor stared blankly where the man had stood for long enough that his eyes began to burn before he finally folded his arms and laid his head down on top of them with a tired sigh. Not everyone was going to be so easy to convince.
The week continued on, and he even managed to go out into the city for work a few times without issue, but the constant fatigue dogged his every step, and he was ruing the day when a member of the public noticed something as well. Nyx was not happy with him, but had largely kept his opinions to himself (if not his concerned looks.) Cor didn’t deserve him. He knew he needed to go get checked out, but when he almost hyperventilated himself unconscious in his own damn office after seriously considering it, he discarded that idea. He would manage. Like he had told Dustin, it was temporary. It had to be.
Usually their Friday night dinner was a special one; sometimes they cooked, sometimes they went out, they often ordered in, but by the end of Cor’s second full week of feeling like increasing levels of crap, the mood between them was strained. He could barely force himself to eat more than just a small amount of the otherwise excellent meal that Nyx had ordered from the one Galahdian restaurant within walking distance of the Citadel that he liked (he had long learned not to ask what was wrong with the others, and doubly learned not to do it in Libertus’s hearing; the resulting lecture had taken almost a half-hour.) After barely finishing a plate that had held not even half of his usual serving, he pushed it aside as he watched Nyx finish his far more respectably sized meal, his head growing heavy with exhaustion as the Glaive carefully did not meet his eye.
“It was good, thank you,” he offered, and Nyx nodded without raising his head as he finished the last few bites of his meal, then set his utensils down on the plate with a clatter.
“Did you get enough to eat?” Nyx said as he finally looked up, and Cor nodded, managing a slight twitch of a smile.
“You know I like that place,” he replied, and the younger man looked down at Cor’s plate before sighing and picking up their dishes, heading into the kitchen and dumping them in the sink.
“For someone who likes that place, you ate about a child-sized portion,” Nyx said blandly, and Cor stiffened. “Your meals have been steadily shrinking all week, and if what I’ve heard is true, Prompto is doing the exact opposite. He was observed in the cafe eating two full meals without so much as a pause for breath a few days ago, only to look, and I quote from Pelna, like he had let his dog die, he looked so guilty after,” Nyx stated, and Cor was surprised enough that he jerked slightly as the Glaive abandoned the dishes in the sink and came back to the table, coming to a stop next to him with his arms crossed. “Cor, what in the hell is going on?” Cor stared up at him, his mouth opening, then closing, then opening for several repetitions before Nyx finally sighed and sat down next to him, reaching out and cupping his jaw with his hand. “I’ll be honest, I thought you were done with the strange physical reactions thing after your ascension, but you two seem to be right back at it again?”
“I don’t know, I don’t even know if our issues are related this time,” Cor finally admitted, and Nyx’s thumb stroked his cheek.
“Now we are getting somewhere. I don’t suppose you’ve gone to see Dr. Domitia yet-” Cor tore away from Nyx’s touch and leapt to his feet, his heart racing as that confusing fear overwhelmed him like a tidal wave; the expression that overtook Nyx’s face was one he didn’t think he had ever seen focused on him, and his stomach dropped to his toes. Was this it? Was this the thing that finally tipped Nyx over the edge? The sheer fury in the younger man’s eyes was so intense that he found himself doing something he almost never did, and before he realized it, he had backed up all the way to the sofa, Nyx following his every move. “What the hell was that?” Nyx hissed from only a few feet away, and Cor tried to get an answer out, but he couldn’t make himself speak. After a few moments of Cor swallowing heavily and Nyx scowling fiercely, Nyx cursed and stomped back into the kitchen, Cor wincing internally at the sound of the dishes clattering together. He couldn’t explain it because he didn’t even understand himself, but he couldn’t even get himself to come out and say it as Nyx noisily put the dishes away before walking past him without a word and going into the bedroom, and he listened to the man go through drawers as Cor ran his hands over his face. He had explained it to Dustin, but-
“Nyx? I- I don’t know if I can explain it, but I-” Nyx strode out with an old t-shirt and pants slung over his shoulder, and Cor felt suddenly faint, stumbling just enough that he was forced to grab the back of the sofa as the other man walked up to him, his breath close enough to feel on his cheek as he raised a hand and laid it on the back of Cor’s neck.
“Cor, I need a little time. And before you panic, I’m not leaving you, you silly moogle, I just need to get some air before I strangle one or both of us, okay? I’ll be back in a bit. Get some rest,” Nyx said softly, leaning in and giving him a soft kiss on his lips before pulling away and turning for the door.
“Nyx?” Cor said, his voice strained, and the Glaive half-turned in the doorway, his expression drained as he scrounged up a tiny smile.
“Get some sleep, babe, I’ll be back soon.” The door closed behind him decisively, and Cor barely made it into the bedroom, his chest aching and his head spinning as he flopped onto the mattress, grabbing Nyx’s pillow and burrowing his face into its familiar scent. He had finally done it. He had finally fucked up enough that he had driven his ever-patient partner away, and he only had himself to blame. He didn’t cry that night, but it was close; when Cor awoke the next morning, feeling like he hadn’t slept a wink, he was still laying on top of the blankets, wrapped bodily around Nyx’s pillow and realizing with heart wrenching dismay that the Glaive was nowhere to be seen. He had probably gone to his office or the barracks.
After a few minutes of wallowing, he forced himself to get up, walking into the bathroom on somewhat unsteady legs, heading to the sink and splashing some cold water on his face before looking at himself in the mirror. Nyx was right to worry, and the mirror told Cor that handily. His cheeks were thinner than usual, the dark circles under his eyes were competing with his equally exhausted eyes for supremacy, and even his lips were dry and cracked. He was half surprised that someone hadn’t started a rumor about drug use. He pulled his shirt off, noting where he looked a touch thinner at the arms, only to get freeze at the sight of his waist. He had no clue how, but he had thought his pants had felt a little more snug over the past few weeks, and the slightest bit of softness around the midsection appeared to put paid to the reason. Cor groaned, letting his hand pat the oddly firm fluff before dropping his arm to his side. What in the hell was going on with him?
He threw his shirt back on and walked out of his bedroom towards the main room, the sound of a very familiar buzzing snort cutting into his increasing worry; he approached the sofa slowly, his whole body sagging in relief at the sight of Nyx sprawled across its too small frame, sound asleep and snoring quietly. He had come back. Cor reached out to him, letting his fingers brush the man’s long hair before he pulled away. Maybe he could make them breakfast, start the day out on a more settled footing. Feeling better with a task in mind, he headed into the kitchen and began gathering the usual supplies, setting to work frying eggs and sausages; when he was popping bread in the toaster, soft footsteps approached from behind, and he sighed as strong arms wrapped around his waist.
“I’m sorry,” Nyx said softly as his head came to rest against the back of Cor’s neck. “I just got so fucking angry there for a moment, and I wanted to leave before I said something I was really going to regret.” Cor stared down at the toaster blankly, his heart pounding in his chest. He...what?
“Why are you sorry? I’m the one being an idiot about this-” Nyx’s forehead moved back and forth against the back of his neck, cutting him off.
“While I’m not exactly disagreeing there, I shouldn’t have cornered you against the damn sofa. That wasn’t...I shouldn’t have done it. I know better. So again, I’m sorry,” Nyx said, his tone firm, and Cor ignored the toast when it popped up and turned in the Glaive’s arms, leaning over enough to press his forehead against Nyx’s.
“We really aren’t used to fighting, are we?” Cor murmured, and Nyx snorted a rather strangled sounding laugh.
“We aren’t.” Nyx leaned in, meeting Cor’s lips for a long, soothing moment before pulling away. “There are many things that drive me mad, and seeing someone I love and care about fall apart in front of me is probably right at the top of that list. I don’t know why you don’t want me to bring up a certain thing, but please, Cor, give me something. ” Cor twitched, feeling that same panic from the night before flicker at the back of his mind, but he stood his ground. Nyx deserved better.
“Give...give me a week. Let me see how I’m doing, if I’m not on the mend by next weekend, I’ll-” he swallowed heavily as Nyx remained silent. “I’ll go see Dr. Domitia. I promise.”
Nyx was so happy with him that he didn’t comment on the burned everything they had for breakfast after they were done talking (he had left the burners on low to keep the food warm,) and Cor just was happy the man hadn’t truly left, as pathetic as it sounded. He had no idea how he had become so accustomed to having the younger man there with him, eating with him, sitting by him on his old couch with his legs slung over his, sleeping with him in the oversized bed that Regis had gifted him when he became marshal (because that’s a normal gift friends give each other) that just a few fucking hours apart after a fight and he was a complete wreck. He’d say that those few ignorant bastards that still lingered in the Crownsguard had the tiniest bit of a point about him being different after getting together with the man, but as far as he was concerned, he was a better person for being with Nyx, and he was a happier person for it. They could go fuck themselves.
He awoke on Sunday feeling somewhat rejuvenated, and spent a nice day with his partner just relaxing and watching third-rate documentaries about various regions of Lucis (they both liked insulting the narrators when they got details wrong.) He continued feeling decent, if not great, on Monday, much the same on Tuesday and Wednesday, and was even up to seeing how Prompto was doing on Thursday. He decided not to chance fate and took the elevator up to the royal floor, walking to the prince’s rooms and knocked on the door.
“Come in!” Prompto’s voice was clear and chipper, and Cor keyed in and stepped through the door, closing it behind him. “Hey dad! I wasn’t expecting you.” He turned to see his son standing on the carpet a few feet away, and almost had a double-take; Prompto looked visibly rounder in the belly than he had just a week and change prior, but otherwise looked well enough. His face around his jawline seemed a bit softer as well, and when Prompto gave him a deadpan look, Cor realized he had been just standing there staring at him.
“Ah, my apologies, son. How are you doing?” he said, working his boots off and walking up to the shorter man, who looked rather dubiously at him in response. “What?”
“One, I really do look super fat, right? The others are trying not to say anything, but they keep having these looks on their faces-” Cor sighed, raising an arm and putting his hand on Prompto’s shoulder, and the blond raised an eyebrow. “You don’t really look any better than you did the other day, you know. You still look like you haven’t slept in a week, and you look like you’ve actually lost a little weight. How are you doing?” his son asked, and Cor frowned as he raised his other hand and pinched the bridge of his nose.
“I’ve been better, but I’ve been okay the last few days. I’m hoping I’m almost over whatever this is,” he said, and Prompto tilted his head towards the living room, and they both sat down on the prince’s incredibly comfortable sofa, his son tipping over until his head was resting on Cor’s shoulder.
“Do you freak out at the thought of going to the infirmary too? It’s so weird, I mean, I’ve been there a ton of times, it’s not like it’s my favorite place, but my head has been going nonono when it comes up the past few weeks, and I nearly knocked Iggy out by accident when he brought it up. Don’t ask.” Cor really wanted to ask, but he behaved himself, nodding in response to his son’s question. “Isn’t it weird? Why are we so weird? When you really think about all this stuff, it’s just wacky, but well, she chose us, we get to have fun with it, I guess-” Prompto was speaking at lightning speed, and Cor sighed, letting his head fall back to the back of the sofa.
“I’ve thought much the same over the years. But we were dealt a specific hand, to butcher the phrase, and we must play it. We’ve done pretty well for ourselves, even if we continue to have...moments. Like these. Unfortunately.” Prompto reached down and cradled one of his hands in his own, then hummed. “What’s up?”
“Your hands look a little funny to me, maybe it’s your fingers? They look a bit bigger than usual?” Cor lifted his head and glanced down at his hand, and it was possible Prompto had a point. Just another damn thing at this point. He let his head fall back to the sofa, and his son thankfully dropped the subject. They talked for a few more minutes, both of them neatly avoiding delving further into what was wrong with either of them before Cor dozed off, Prompto’s head heavy on his shoulder.
“Prom, we’re home-” Cor grumbled at the sound of someone yelling, and he adjusted his head on its perch. “Oh, Cor’s over, looks like they’re taking a nap.” That was the prince talking, of course, but Cor kept his eyes stubbornly closed as footsteps sounded their approach.
“Noct, don’t bother them, they’ve had a rough few weeks.” Ignis, that time, and he barely kept from scowling at the statement. Citadel gossip is too damn-
“I thought those rumors were overstating, but Cor looks rough, guys, seriously; he looks like he hadn’t had a square meal in a week, along with a proper night’s sleep for at least as long. Isn’t that strange, though, Prom’s getting...plumper, and Cor looks wrung out. Do you think it’s another Dawnsworn thing?” Noctis stated, and even Cor, who was still pretending to be asleep, couldn’t help but be pleased with the prince’s theory. If it was, though, what was it, and why? He certainly couldn’t think of anything-
“Have neither of you noticed that at least Cor is totally faking being asleep right now?” Gladiolus, and Cor found himself even more proud; Gladiolus had always been an observant boy, if somewhat tempestuous, and he had honed his natural talents extraordinarily well over the years. Cor blinked his eyes open, fixing his gaze immediately on Noctis, who colored remarkably gracefully as Cor patted Prompto (who had remained asleep) on the shoulder as he sat up.
“I’m very well aware that we both seem to have something strange going on with us, and no, I have no idea why. Hopefully it goes away soon.” All three of his son’s partners looked at him dubiously, and he couldn’t bring himself to say much of anything else before bidding all four men a good night, giving Prompto a hug before leaving. “If you need me for anything, Prompto, just call.”
Just as Cor had been hoping he was on the mend, he woke up Friday feeling like it was the previous week all over again, his appetite and energy completely nonexistent as he barely managed to drag himself into the shower, Nyx following him with worry shadowing his every move. It was the final nail in the coffin regarding seeking out medical attention, and they both knew it.
“Why don’t you stay home today, Cor? The office will survive without you, you could use the rest.” Nyx was near pleading, but he shook his head, barely masking the immediate surge of dizziness as the younger man sighed.
“No, I want to finish the week out, I’ll go see her tomorrow. I promised you, didn’t I?” he said, his voice shaky, and Nyx nodded slightly, his face drawn and tense.
“You did. Alright, Cor, do you need me to do anything for you before I leave?” Nyx offered, and Cor managed to scrounge up a little smile and gave a tiny shake of his head.
“No, I’ll be fine. I’ll see you tonight.”
He was not fine, but he managed to step to work, only to grow so dizzy that he fell to his little sofa, the world spinning around him as he tried not to throw up. He was out of options. He managed to get some paperwork done and grunt at a few people in-between naps before staggering back to his quarters, barely managing to get undressed before collapsing into bed. Nyx joined him sometime later, and Cor fell asleep to Nyx’s arms wrapped firmly around him. It was the best he had felt all day.