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Bloody Hands

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Noctis glared down at his plate. Unlike Ignis, the Citadel kitchen staff were a bit afraid of his whims, and they ensured his dinner was vegetable-free; just one fat slab of Garula steak, swimming in gravy and an overly fancy yeast roll.

Across from him, his father slowly spooned some sort of vegetable soup into his mouth. “How is school going?” He asks, nonchalant—like he didn’t just come out of a week-long bed-rest; as if he wasn’t completely unresponsive during two days of it as the ring sucked the life-force out of him.

Why the Astrals needed to be greedy with Regis’s energy right now, he would never know.

“It’s fine.” His reply slipped through gritted teeth in a tone his father did not deserve. After all, it was not his fault that he was born into this prophecy, no more than it was Noct’s fault to be born to his.

That didn’t make it fair; didn’t make it right.

Unperturbed, Regis simply gave his son a wan smile. “That’s good to hear. How are things going with your new friend?”

The prince sat back, leaving all pretense of eating his dinner behind as he pushed the plate away. “Prompto’s great. I think…” Noctis trailed off, eyebrows furrowing in concern when his father began to cough lightly into his hand.

After the small fit ended, Regis gestured for his son to continue.

“…oh, uh, I think you’d like him. Prompto, that is. He’s really awkward…” Noctis surged to his feet as Regis began to cough once more. The king was growing red faced as he held one hand up to his mouth and supported his weight against the table with the other.

“Dad?! Dad, are you ok?” Noctis rushed around the longer-than-necessary table and to his father’s side, gripping him by the shoulder as the older man’s body shook with the force of his ailment.

Regis hissed his reply between gulping breaths. “I..I’m fine, Noctis—“

“No, you’re fucking not! ” Noctis bellowed, slamming his free hand down on the table even as he still soothed his father with the other. “Stop…just stop lying to me, Dad.”

Regis visibly forced himself to straighten, casting his son a withering glance. “To what end, Noct? I watched the ring take my father’s health at far too young an age, and so it is your fate to watch the same happen to me.

“If I can give you…” he couldn’t fend off another small fit of coughs, but he quelled it quickly with a sip of his drink. “If I can give you even scant moments of peace, what kind of father would I be to deny them to you?”

“Dad, I—“

“Noct, please .” His tone was tired but patient; the tone Noctis remembered from childhood, back when his father would come and read to him at the end of his long day even though more often than not the king would fall asleep halfway through The ChocoLocobo. (to this day, Noctis still doesn’t know if that yellow train made its delivery on time)

The prince bit his lip, bowing slightly to his father before going back to his side of the table and taking his seat. He cut into his steak and pretended not to notice as his father discreetly wiped blood from his palm and took up his spoon once more.

“...so, yeah,” Noctis continued in a tone two shades above a whisper. “Prompto’s pretty great...”