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been living in an uptown world

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It’s the first time Noctis is coming to Prompto’s apartment, and they’re taking the bus. As weird as Prompto feels making the crown prince of Insomnia take public transport just so they can go to Prompto’s tiny flat and play video games on his dated console, it didn’t seem right to have Ignis to come all the way from the Citadel to ferry them from school to Prompto’s neighborhood just to send him away and then call again when Noctis needed to be picked up (even if Noctis insists that this is one of the things Ignis is paid for, Prompto feels bad taking up any more of his no doubt hellishly busy day than he needs to). Besides, by this point Prompto’s been around long enough and passed enough of the Citadel’s most rigorous background checks and character inspections that he gets a little more leniency with how much of Noctis’s precious free time he takes up.

Prompto rocks on his heels as they wait at the bus stop while Noctis seems engrossed with the tiny print on the yellowing schedule sheet, finger hovering over the column for the line they’re taking to Prompto’s apartment. Prompto’s had the timetable practically memorized since he was five and his mom handed him a pre-loaded bus pass and a sticky note with the line number and stop written on it, but it’s funny to see Noctis doing the mental math of how long the bus will take to circle its route back to their stop. He perks up when the bus roars its way to a stop at the curb, though, immediately coming to stand at Prompto’s side out of the way of the passengers who start funneling from the hissing-open doors.

“Oh! Geez, I almost forgot,” Prompto says, digging through his pocket and pulling out two bus passes. One is his own (its color is faded at the corners and the plastic is a little bent, but Prompto got it from a chocobo-themed promotion and there’s no way he’s throwing it away ever), and the other is the one he bought for Noctis and loaded up with a couple of crowns before coming to school today. It’s the regular, boring, monochromatic type, because sadly there aren’t any cool promotions happening now, but it will get the job done.

Noctis takes it from him with raised eyebrows, and starts turning it over in his hands. “Woah,” is what he says, rubbing his thumb over the glossy plastic, and might have said something else but now all the other people at their stop are boarding and they need to do the same.

“Just follow me, ok?” Prompto says, turning towards the door and lifting himself onto the first step. He glances behind himself to make sure Noctis didn’t get lost in the after school commuter crowd, and is a little flustered when he catches the intense look of concentration Noctis has focused solely on him. Which, he shouldn’t. Because he literally just told Noctis to pay attention to what he’s doing. But still, with Noctis’s sharp, dark features and the warm late-afternoon light glancing off the glass of nearby office building, it looks almost sultry and leaves Prompto flushed. He almost trips on the next step, and scolds himself for it before keeping his eyes ahead. He pointedly taps his card against the reader and instinctually thanks the driver before shuffling into the aisle. He watches over his shoulder as Noctis places his card on the reader, waiting for the little green light before lifting it off, and Prompto’s endeared by the way he offers the driver his thanks as well. Which is stupid, because that’s just a polite thing to do, and surely all of Noctis’s princely upbringing drilled being polite to citizens into his head, and Noctis is a good person besides.

He grins at Noctis as they settle near the back of the bus, Prompto leaning against the wall next to the door and Noctis facing him, hiding his face from the crowd at large, while steadying himself by gripping the metal bar over his head. The bus lurches away from the stop and into the street. “Congratulations, you’ve successfully boarded an Insomnia Metropolitan Transit bus! We’ll make a card-holding commuter of you yet.”

Noctis smirks, then holds up his bus pass. “Looks like you already have,” he says. He turns the little card between his fingers, eyeing it. “When did you get this?” he asks still watching the light glint off of it.

“Oh, uh,” Prompto says, inexplicably embarrassed, “I picked it up before school. I mean, I knew we were going to need it, so I figured I might save us a little time?” And why did he make that sound like a question! That’s why he did it so why not just say so!

“Well, thanks,” Noctis says, smiling. Then, he presses the damn thing to his chest, eyes rolling up dramatically as he says, “I’ll treasure this token of our friendship so long as I live, Prompto Argentum.”

Prompto smacks his arm, because his best friend is a jerk, even as they both giggle. “Whatever, I hope it gets eaten by an anak, asshole.”

It’s then that they reach the next stop on the route, and the bus comes to a jarring stop as it swerves into position, and Prompto’s safely pressed to the wall but Noctis, for all his physical training, has never been on a bus before and jolts from the sudden movement. He loses his balance a little, even as his hand grips tighter against the bar above him, and his feet end up between Prompto’s, and his other hand ends up on the wall next to Prompto’s neck, and the other passengers swaying behind him have pushed his chest up close to Prompto’s own.

For a second, all Prompto can do is look at him, now that he’s so close, but all he gets is about a second to take in how warm Noctis’s face is starting to look before Noctis readjusts to his previous stance. “Sorry about that,” he mutters.

“Dude, it’s fine,” Prompto reassures him. “It happens. Just got to get used to it, is all.”

Noctis fixes him with a look, one that goes well with the little smile started at the edges of his mouth. “Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Prompto’s heart lurches as the bus starts back up again.

Then, Noctis has to ruin the moment by childishly saying, “Just wait, soon I’m going to be better than riding buses than you,” and Prompto has to smack him on the arm again.

The next time they take the subway. Prompto texts Noctis to make sure he brings his pass (Noct: of course i bring it with me always it is my most treasured possession, and Prompto rolls his eyes and sends him an emoji to convey as much) and tells him he’ll be there in twenty minutes, and eighteen minutes later he’s waiting outside the station closest to the citadel looking for his best friend. Noctis sidles up a minute later, wearing some casual clothes and a cap pulled low over his eyes.

“You ever considered sticking a fish hook in that thing?” Prompto teases as he tugs the visor lower down Noctis’s head, forcing him to fix it and his hair.

“Think that would be a good look?” Noctis asks wonderingly when he reemerges from the mess of his bangs, and he sounds just sincere enough that Prompto has to pull the cap back down as punishment.

They get on the escalator going down into the station, and Prompto pulls Noctis by his shoulders to standoff the step in front of him instead of by his side. When Noctis shoots him a look for it, Prompto shrugs and motions to where other commuters are walking down the steps on the left side. “It’s just polite, I guess.”

When they do get down into the station, and Prompto shows Noctis how to make it through the turnstiles by scanning his pass just like he had on the bus, Prompto watches as Noctis’s eyes go wide taking in the long, tiled halls of Insomnia’s subway system. Prompto kind of gets it; these are old stations, still kept immaculately clean, and the Citadel stop is one of the most grandiose. It’s not really like the ornate, art-lined halls of the royal galleries or sky-high ceilings of the throne room that Noctis grew up around, but for someone’s first time seeing this sort of thing Prompto gets it. It’s pretty cool. He watches happily as Noctis peers around, holding his cap back with a hand to take in the intricate tile work and peer down at the flickering timetables and advertisements. It’s also pretty cool getting to be the person showing all of this to him.

But they’re going to miss their train if they just stay here forever, and there’s more that Prompto wants Noctis to see before their time together for the day is up. “Come on dude, we got plans,” he says, leading Noctis by the wrist until he snaps back into focus and can navigate through the crowds on his own.

They catch their train by a hair and sink down into their seats next to each other. Noctis’s eyes are following the quickly-blurring sight of the station disappearing as they’re plunged into the dark of the tunnels. “This is just like the movies,” he says, a little dazed-sounding.

Prompto giggles. “Yeah, I guess.”

“You don’t think so?” Noctis says, looking at him. “Haven’t you seen, like, any of the shows that take place there? Wait, yeah, didn’t they actually film there?”

“I’m sure they did,” Prompto says, amused but trying not to sound patronizing. “Probably pissed off a lot of commuters in the process, too.”

“Huh,” is all Noctis has to say about that, and then they fool around on their phones for the next few stops.

Their car has started filling up with more and more people, and with all the seats taken more and more of the standing room has been taken up too. When Noctis glances up from his phone and doesn’t look back down after a few seconds, Prompto looks up too.

“What’s up, bud?” he asks, and then sees where Noctis is looking at a young mother trying to balance a toddler on her lap and grip a metal pole simultaneously. He also sees Noctis look at where the priority seats are being taken up by some other distracted teens and sees how Noctis’s eyes narrow for just a moment before he stands up and walks into the aisle.

“Excuse me, ma’am,” he says when he gets close enough to the mother. His eyes are averted out of what Prompto has picked up is a habit for when he’s in public; it’s a tactic for when he’s trying his best not to be recognized and cause a scene. “You can take my seat.”

The woman’s relief is visible, and she shuffles down to where Prompto’s also stood up, leaving both seats open for her and her child. She’s still thanking Noctis profusely, who in turn is gripping a stabilizing bar with one hand (he’s been extra cautious about not taking any stumbles, after that first time) and trying to wave off her thanks with the other. And yeah, maybe it’s not a big deal, just like thanking the bus driver last time wasn’t a big deal, but Prompto’s just as taken with how Noctis will go out of his way to be decent to people. He may be a slacker who won’t eat his vegetables if he can avoid it and would rather play video games than read his diplomacy briefings, but in moments like this Prompto can see he’s right in thinking that Noct’s going to be a good king.

“We’re the next stop,” he lets Noctis know, bumping their shoulders together and giving him what he hopes isn’t too sappy of a smile; he’s already decided not to bring up the young mom, who is now using their seats next to the window to point out all the tunnel lights flying past them to her wide-eyed child. Noctis looks at him and nods, then pulls out his phone, unlocking it and fiddling between screens before shoving it back in his pocket and staring at his feet.

They get off the train and when they get on the escalator Noctis immediately positions himself to the right side of the step he’s on. Prompto’s heart surges with pride and he takes advantage of his spot on the upper step to coo and pat Noctis on the top of his head in a way that makes Noctis jab a finger into his side in retaliation. Point taken. They emerge and Prompto watches Noctis’s eyes squint at the change of light despite his cap.

“Aaand, we’re here!” Prompto announces, totally unnecessarily as they’re greeted by signs like “INSOMNIA CITY ZOO (BLUE AND SILVER LINES)” and “ENTRANCE: INSOMNIA CITY ZOO” and “INSOMNIA CITY ZOO SPECIAL EXHIBIT: THE DUALITY OF DUALHORNS”. “The zoo!” Prompto says anyway.

“Pretty busy today,” Noctis notes, not critically, but he does bring the collar of his vest closer to his face.

“Yeah, it is a weekend. But hey, more crowds means a better chance of blending in,” Prompto tries to reassure him as he leads them up to the ticket counter. “We’ll be like assassins! ‘Hide in plain sight,’ that’s the second tenet!”

That gets a grin out of Noctis. “Don’t know if you’ll blend in with anyone here with hair like that,” he says, bringing a hand up to mess with Prompto’s cowlick. Prompto squawks indignantly. “You might have to stick with the chocobos to blend in.”

“Okay, if you’re going to be rude I can just leave you in the subway next time. Make you fend for yourself.”
“Right, what would I do without you, look at a map?”

“Fine, I can see where I’m not wanted,” Prompto sniffs and sticks a leg out as if to march out of their place in line. Noctis laughs and grips his elbow, throwing his balance back to where he was.

“You don’t get out that easy. You promised me a day at the zoo, you have to deliver.”

“Or what, you’ll bring me up on charges of treason?”

“If I have to.”

“Are you really that attached to seeing a coeurl?”

“Maybe I just like having you around,” Noctis responds easily, leaving Prompto a little breathless. Stupid, he thinks, Noctis is your friend of course he likes spending time with you, isn’t that the whole purpose of this trip anyway? Thankfully, he’s saved from having to come up with anything to say to that, because then it’s their turn in line. Noctis takes advantage of his state to slip up to the window and get an upper hand when it comes to paying for their tickets — both of them, even though Prompto brought money specifically for this purpose — and elbows Prompto out of the way when he tries to plead with the poor girl behind the glass to help him save his pride. Ultimately victorious, Noctis struts away from the window, tickets in hand, and Prompto has no choice but to trail after him to collect his.

“Thanks, man, but really, you didn’t have to!”

“Maybe I wanted to,” Noctis says again, any these maybes he keeps dropping are infuriating.

“Fine, but I’ll buy lunch,” Prompto insists.

“You can try.” Noctis just grins his shit-eating grin as Prompto groans and they make their way through the decorative archway of the zoo’s entrance.

They make their way through the Leide exhibits before getting hungry, and Prompto checks his visitor’s map before leading them towards the food court. It’s a busy day, and Prompto tells Noctis to go save them seats while he orders their food, and even though Noctis sees the tactic for what it is he goes anyway, leaving Prompto triumphant in knowing he’ll at least pay his friend back in food.

Trays loaded up with only the finest in cheap fast food fare, Prompto places the greasy feast in front of Noctis with a flourish. “Dig in!”

Despite, or maybe in spite of, the professionally cooked meals from Ignis and warnings about keeping in shape from Gladio, Noctis relishes any time the opportunity comes to gorge himself on this kind of stuff, and Prompto knows it. Even he likes to indulge in the stuff sometimes, although ten-year-old guilt will kick at the back of his head when he does, but for Noctis it’s different. It’s a complete, messy break from the minutiae of his extremely structured life — planned right down to his every minute, every meal. If all Prompto can give his best friend is the chance to do something truly normal once in a while, then he’ll do that the best he can.

And maybe it’s also a good opportunity to get some blackmail pictures of Noctis shoving three fries in his mouth at once.

“If you ever show those to Specs,” Noctis says, voice low and deadly after failing to wrestle Prompto’s camera away with his greasy fingers, “I will end you.”

“Yeah, yeah, you can try,” Prompto says, unworried. “Anyway, hurry up, we still gotta get to the Cleigne exhibits.”

“It’s still hard for me to believe you’ve never been to the zoo!” Prompto says as they’re walking between exhibits, soft serve in hand. Noctis shrugs as he makes a valiant attempt to keep his tipping cone from leaking onto his hand.

“Never had the chance before.”

“Didn’t you go on, like, a field trip?” Prompto asks, then remembers. “Hey, yeah, we totally went on a field trip here in, like, middle school! You weren’t there?”

Noctis swallows and says, “It was deemed too high of a security risk.”

“Oh,” Prompto says, trying to see the situation through the eyes of someone like Gladio or Ignis.

“It’s fine, I’m here now,” Noctis says to save the conversation.

“Yeah!” Prompto brightens. “But — hey wait! So it was a security risk for you to go with middle school group but it’s okay for you to be here with me?”

“I’ve got more training now,” Noctis points out. “It’s unofficial, so as long as I make sure no one recognizes me here I’m good. And, uh, I’ve got you.”

Prompto laughs a little self-deprecatingly. “I’m hardly your shield, dude. Don’t know if I’ll be much help if anything happens.”

“My staff trusts you enough,” Noctis says. Prompto feels a surge of warmth at that. He met Ignis and Gladio only a few months ago, but it feels good to know he’s made a good impression on them, that the people closest to Noctis deemed him worthy of sticking around. “Besides, I’ve seen your high scores on Duscae Bullseye. If I put a gun in your hand we’d be invincible.”

Prompto puffs up his chest, feeling warm and light. “Damn straight! Kidnappers better beware, we’re unstoppable!” And when Noctis switches holding his cone to his other hand so he can throw an arm around Prompto’s shoulders, laughing loud and genuine, Prompto really believes it.

Noctis is at Prompto’s house, and this time he’s managed to work it so that he can spend the night. It was a long and arduous process that required bribing Ignis, getting Gladio to back him up, and apparently some paperwork (at this point Prompto had assured him that if it was too much trouble he really didn’t have to, I mean it’s a dumb idea anyway, and you’ve seen my place it’s not that special, and Noctis had cut him off by saying, “No, this is important to me,” and Prompto couldn’t find anything to say after that). But, he managed, and after taking the bus (Noctis producing his pass and scanning it with something close to pride that had Prompto giggling behind his hand) the're now sprawling in Prompto’s living room, and have been for the past several hours. Empty take-out containers and soda bottles are on the coffee table, Prompto is in his coziest flannel pajamas, and the little clicks of Noctis’s controller, the little grunts he made during a fight sequence, the warmth radiating from where their legs met at the center of the couch — Prompto feels content, peaceful, and thoroughly soothed in spite of the violent cries and splatter of virtual bloodshed from his unimpressive television set.

The only thing that would’ve made this moment better would be something sweet, like chocolate. And as soon as that thought comes to him, it sticks.

Groaning as he sits up, Prompto checks his phone for the time. It’s only ten minutes past midnight, the twenty-four hour convenience store was maybe a three minute walk away, and it’s not as if it would be his first time going there in his pajamas. Besides, maybe Noctis would want something too. Prompto prods at his knee with his foot. “Hey, you want any snacks?”

Noctis pauses the game. “Sure, what do you have?”

“Nothing,” Prompto replies, and gets up off the couch to grab his shoes. “’S why I’m running to the store real quick. What do you want?”

“Uh,” Noctis says, and Prompto looks at him even as he hops on one foot to pull his boot onto the other. “It’s dark out.”

“Yeah? There are streetlights, I’ll be fine.”

“But it’s late?”

“The place is open, don’t worry. Really dude, it’s fine, just tell me what you want.”

Noctis’s confusion is edging towards awe, and Prompto is starting to feel like maybe Noct really should get some sleep when he says, “Can I come?”

“Uh, sure. Get your shoes on.”

Noctis scrambles to get the controller on the table and untangle himself from Prompto’s throw blanket to grab his shoes and wallet while Prompto looks on with quiet bemusement. It was sort of like he just told a dog he was about to go for a walk, he thought, as Noctis pulled up next to his door ready to go.

It’s a pleasantly warm night, perfectly fine weather for wearing pajamas out in public. Noctis has his hands shoved in his pocket but whatever nonchalance he was trying to show from that is belied by his head swiveling around to take in the sights of a quiet city neighborhood at night. Prompto decides not to comment.

They make it to the corner store and Prompto picks out a few bags of junk food under the glare of fluorescent lights while Noctis runs his eyes over the rows of brightly-colored packaging. When they make it up to the counter, the attendant rings them up by rote and only pays enough attention to do a double-take at Noctis when they’re already on their way out the door.

“So,” Prompto begins, swinging the little plastic bag between them, “I’m guessing you don’t make a habit of midnight grocery runs.”

“No,” Noctis says. “No midnight anything, really. It’s too unsafe. Or grocery runs either. Wouldn’t really know what to get anyway, I guess.” He scratchws the back of his neck like that's somehow something to be embarrassed about.

It makes sense. Ignis, being responsible for Noctis’s diet, does most of the shopping for him. Noctis’s apartment is never not well-stocked; there's always leftovers in his fridge or pastries in a delicate bell jar on the counter. Noctis wants for nothing.

Except, after watching him crouch to look at the cartoonish mascots and loud lettering of food wrappers in the corner store tonight, Prompto thinks that maybe Noctis wants things Prompto has never even thought to want before.

“Well lucky for you,” he says, “I picked up all the best things.” He rattles the items in the bag to emphasize his point. “We’ll dine on only the finest garbage and I promise that by the end of the night you’ll be feeling sick and hating yourself for it.”

Noctis shoots him a grateful smile, arm falling back to his side. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Noctis has been in a bad mood all day, and Prompto’s trying not to be too worried. In first period, Noctis had thrown his bag next to his desk and told Prompto to wake him up when it was over. When they met for lunch Noctis had been less than talkative, and somehow Prompto managed to beat him in two rounds of King’s Knight in a row — without so much as some threatening trash talk from Noctis afterward.

The end of the school day rolls around and Prompto chews his lip by the front entrance, waiting for Noctis to get out before Ignis can come pick him up. But when Noctis does come outside, it’s with a determined look on his face and march to his step. He grabs Prompto by the arm and walks them out to the sidewalk even as Prompto splutters and asks what’s going on.

“I can’t go back there tonight,” Noctis says eventually, when they’re about a block away from school. It’s obvious he means the Citadel. And, even as he prays to the Six to forgive him in playing a part in the possible kidnapping of the crown prince, however willing, Prompto nods and doesn’t try to fight him. If Noctis needs a break, fine. Prompto’s his friend, not his retainer. He’ll buy him bus passes and junk food and give him an uncomfortable, lumpy old couch to sleep on. Prompto would lay down his life for his prince, but he’ll open up the mundanity of his life for his best friend if that’s what he wants.

Noctis scans his bus pass, thanks the driver, and glares out the window as the city dissolves into Prompto’s residential district. They get out, go upstairs, and Noctis drops to the couch and rubs the heels of his hands into his eye sockets.

“You don’t have to tell me anything you don’t want to,” Prompto starts, gently, perched on the arm of the couch. “But do you want to talk about it?”

Noctis sighs — a long, world-weary sigh that even dramatic teenagers shouldn’t be able to muster. “Not much to talk about,” he mutters. “Just — the usual bullshit. Duty, destiny, whatever.”

Prompto snorts. Yeah, whatever. “Alright, well. I’d offer you some comfier clothes but I gotta go do laundry first. You okay staying here by yourself for a bit? Or are Kingsglaive going to break down my door?”

Noctis drops his hands. “I’ll come with you,” he offers.

“I was joking about the Kingsglaive, Noct.”

“No, but. I don’t know. I guess I don’t want to be alone.”

Oh. Oh. “Oh,” Prompto says, dumbly. “I mean, of course, you can come. It’s just the laundromat, though. Kinda boring.”

Noctis shrugs.

“Okay I’ll go get my stuff.”

And that’s how Prompto finds himself with his dirty laundry over his shoulder and quarters in his pocket, leading Noctis towards the back corner the neighborhood laundromat where the wall of washers meets the wall of dryers. He shoves in a load, pays for soap, and then they sit in two mis-matched plastic chairs and watch the clothes tumble around.

“I’ve never done my own laundry,” Noctis admits, and he doesn’t sound like he’s bragging or haughty or even ashamed. His voice just sounds flat, and his eyes look blank.

Prompto hums but doesn’t say anything.

“I’ve never done… a lot of things. Things I probably should have done by now. Or, know how to do. But I’m not allowed to, so I never will. And maybe it’s stupid because it’s all just small stuff, but. It’s weird. It sucks. I just wish I could feel normal sometimes, so it doesn’t ever only feel like my life is — is leading me towards this one thing I have to do because for some reason I was born to do it.” He sighs and slumps over his lap. “There’s so many things I’ll never get to do. I see them in movies and stuff, but I don’t know how it feels for real, all these things that make people normal. What if I end up being king of people I don’t really understand? What kind of ruler is that.”

The washer switches over to a spin cycle. The machine wobbles a little and makes shaky noises that almost drown out Noctis’s sigh.

And Prompto knows he’ll never really get it. He can’t really understand the scope of what Noctis is experiencing, but he can empathize. The tattoo on his wrist is reminder enough that he was born into something meant to mark his life for some other miserable purpose, but he got lucky. He got lucky to escape here, to Insomnia, and to have a camera, and to find a puppy with a hurt leg, and get a letter from a princess that lead him to become friends with a prince. He can share that fortune with Noctis, who makes his life better by the virtue of being in it.

Prompto takes a deep breath. “When we rode that bus, for the first time, you said ‘thank you’ to the driver. You didn’t even have to. You just did. Because you knew it was a nice thing to do. And then, on the train, when you gave up your seat for that woman with the kid. That was nice too. And when you buy me stuff, and then let me buy you stuff so I can pay you back. Those are all really nice things.” Prompto’s brain is tripping over his tongue and he’s trying to keep himself on track instead of just gushing over how much he likes his friend. He doesn't need to know just how much Prompto thinks of him. “And you did all of those things because you’re just a really, really nice person. You weren’t a ruler then, you were just a nice guy. And I think that counts a lot.” Prompto kicks his feet out then crosses them under himself. He looks down at his wringing hands. “Maybe you don’t know everything about being a normal person, but you know enough about being a good person that it doesn’t really matter.”

When he looks up, Noctis is looking at him with his brows all scrunched up and eyes desperately emotional. His lips are slightly parted but he’s not making any sound. Prompto sends him a fond smile and grips his arm in a bracing gesture.

The washer buzzes. Prompto stands up, moves the laundry to the dryer, and holds out some quarters in his hand. “Wanna do some laundry, Noct?”

Noctis is quietly delighted by how the coins disappear from their slots as he punches the feeder in. After the clothes are dry and folded (a few shirts a little sloppy, but Noctis did his best), they go back to Pormpto’s apartment and he throws some of his looser clothes Noctis’s way. Prompto also throws him a bag of potato chips and picks up his controllers and the retreat into fantasy and friendly banter for a while. Soon, someone is going to come from the Citadel to find Noctis and drag him back to his princely world. For now, though, they’re two teens out of school with oil on their fingers and laughter on their lips.

Prompto kicks at Noctis’s thigh and whines as he gets his ass handed to him in yet another round, throwing his controller to the table and swearing to never pick it up again out of shame. Noctis is laughing so hard at Prompto’s pathetic performance and subsequent dramatics that he’s gasping for breath, and eventually his own controller falls to the ground and he tips into Prompto’s lap.

“Nothing makes you happier than humiliating me does it?” Prompto complains, and Noctis is thrown into more hysterics at the pout Prompto is sporting.

“Nothing at all,” he agrees, “except maybe you forgiving me?”

“Fine,” Prompto says, trying to stay stern even under his growing grin. “You’re forgiven. I couldn’t stay mad at you if I tried.”

Noctis looks at him, remnants of a goofy smile on his face but something more guarded beginning to take its place. He's chewing on his lip the way he does when he's thinking hard about something.

“What's up, buddy?” Prompto asks, worried that maybe he hasn’t done as good a job at cheering Noctis up as he’d hoped.

Noctis is straightening himself up, and Prompto moves to follow, crossing his legs under him as he sits up. “There’s uh. There’s another thing, I haven’t done before,” he starts.

“Uh-huh,” Prompto urges him on.

“Something I feel like, maybe I should have done earlier. And I don’t want to never know how it feels.” Noctis’s nerves are visible in the stiffness of his shoulders, his clenched hands; but his voice is growing a little firmer, and he’s steeling himself for something.

Prompto’s mind is completely blank but he manages to breathe out, “Anything.”

Noctis leans forward, hands kept in his lap, and when his face is about an inch from Prompto’s he hesitates. Then, he turns his head, closes his eyes, and makes the final push. He lips are dry, and they press into Prompto’s in a burst of pressure he’s almost too overwhelmed to notice. But when Noctis pulls back Prompto feels the loss sharply.

“I’m sorry,” Noctis bursts out immediately. “Oh, fuck, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to take — take advantage — oh, Six, I just thought. I don’t know what I was thinking. I’m sorry. You said ‘anything’, and then I just. I’ll uh. I’ll go.” And he tries to push himself off the couch but stumbles because Prompto’s got his hand wrapped tight around Noctis’s wrist. Noctis looks from the point of connection, up from Pormpto’s hand and arm to his face, and there’s shock and hope and want there that Prompto never expected to give him.

“Noct,” Prompto says, as evenly as he can, but speaking’s a little harder now. His voice sounds breathy and more than a little awed. He licks his lips and watches Noctis’s eyes get a little wider because of it. “Please, please do that again.”

Noctis sinks closer, with no hesitation this time, and he uses his hands to cup Prompto’s cheeks, his neck, to bring him closer as he plunges in with all the fumbling excitement of a teenager having their first (well, second) kiss. The wetness of Prompto’s lips catches on the dry of Noctis’s, their teeth click a little when they try to push a little closer a little too fast, and Prompto grins because it’s perfect.

Noctis has to leave soon, has to be a prince and lead the country and fulfill a prophecy. Whatever. Right now, he’s burying his hands in Prompto’s hair, moving his lips to his jaw, listening to Prompto whisper “Noct,” as if his name always existed separate from any sort of title, it’s enough. For a few minutes, heart hammering and sweaty-palmed and smiling shakily with bruising lips, Prompto lets him just be himself, and it’s enough.