The thing about camping with people was that sometimes, you saw way too much of them.
Weirdly enough, that was a good thing. There were times when Prompto still couldn’t help but feel completely in over his head and outclassed, and like he didn’t deserve to be where he was. But camping helped. Because it was one thing to see His Royal Majesty, Crown Prince - now KING - Noctis Lucis Caelum CXIV, claiming his birthright by claiming the royal arms and summoning actual fucking gods.
It was entirely another to see Noct sprawled out on his stomach, his face smushed against a pillow with his mouth open and fast asleep in a puddle of his own drool. He was really hard to put that on a pedestal. King Noctis Lucis Caelum CXIV, intimidatingly way out of his league. But Noct? Definitely not on a pedestal.
The other thing that knocked someone right off any “These Beings Are Out of My Plebeian League” pedestal was when someone had morning wood.
The polite fiction with camping and morning wood was that it didn’t happen and you ignored it when it did, and they all clung to that. You didn’t say anything or act any different when someone had it, because you didn’t want anyone saying anything or do anything when you did.
That didn’t mean you didn’t notice.
Prompto still remembered the first time he woke up and saw Ignis of all people pitching a tent of his own, and.... Ignis was asleep, primly sleeping on his back, with his glasses tucked away in their case next to his head, and....
Prompto hadn’t known until that moment that it was possible for your brain to just completely reject what it was seeing. Because it did that. His brain short circuited and utterly rejected it. Prim, proper, posh Ignis just wasn’t supposed to...he...no, nope, no.
His brain couldn’t handle it, and if it were possible for one’s brain to start crying, his did that morning.
But...as much as his brain noped right on out, it...humanized Ignis. Suddenly, super proper stuffy Ignis, Retainer to the Crown was...a normal guy. Prompto still wanted to desperately scrub that morning from his memory, but...yeah. Ignis was just a guy. A guy who got morning wood just like he did. It was hard to be as intimidated by him after that.
So camping, as much as Prompto definitely preferred a nice, warm, soft bed with enough room to stretch out, really helped him because he got to see Gladiolus, Ignis, and Noctis as people. People who were just like everyone else when it came right down to the day to day.
But then there are times when it was bad.
Like right now.
Normally, Prompto turned in first, because as much as people thought he had boundless energy, the truth was, he only had so much energy, and once he burned through it, it was lights out time. He was also somewhat of a light sleeper - he was better at sleeping through the others getting into the tent now - so he normally slept on one of the ends if he went to bed first so no one had to try and get around him, or in the middle on one of the rare instances when Gladio went to sleep before him or if there were a lot of daemons and monsters around, in which case Gladio would insist on taking the outermost, least protected by the wards position.
They’d figured out the tent sleeping logistics pretty quickly, because the thing about a tent was, it was small.
It was really small.
There was just no way around a few things, logistics wise.
When they first started camping out, Gladio, being the King’s Shield, had insisted that Noct sleep in the “safest” place - in the middle, with Ignis and Gladio on either side of him.
That had lasted all of two days. Because while the middle was the safest place, it also meant that everyone who woke up before Noct was stepping over him and jostling him. Which meant...everyone. Prompto had woken up first and literally had to crawl over Ignis and Noct to get out of the tent. And he’d had to get out of the tent because he’d really had to pee. And then he was trying avoid waking Ignis up and was being careful and he ended up instead losing his balance and crashing onto Noct.
Noct had put his foot down the next night camping. “I’m not sleeping in the middle. No. None of you morning people are stepping on me again.”
So the second arrangement had been the Noct sleep in the second safest position that wouldn’t end with him strangling someone for waking him up as soon as the sun rose. Noct would sleep on the outside, in the position closest to the inside of the camp, which would be the most warded, and Gladio would sleep next to him.
That also only lasted one day.
“Gladio, I love you man, but you are too damn big and there is no fucking room. I was squished against the side of the tent the whole night. Next time we camp, switch places with Ignis or Prompto,” he’d grumbled the next morning.
It had taken a while, but eventually, they had more or less settled on who was sleeping where. The system had worked well, right up until Prompto had to go and get a crush.
A week ago, Prompto waking up the way he had wouldn’t have done anything but make him laugh. But now? Now when he was nursing a stupid, stupid crush he couldn’t stomp on because he knew it wouldn’t end well? Now that he was noticing Gladio and the little sounds he made and the little looks he gave and none of that was not helping him or the crush situation one little bit?
Yeah, waking up to find his back against the side of the tent and his nose pressed up right against Gladio’s chest definitely wasn’t helping.
It had been too hot and humid for sleeping in the sleeping bags (or so everyone but Ignis had decided, because of course Ignis would still sleep prim and proper in his sleeping bag), and Gladio must’ve turned in his sleep, and he was big, so in his sleep he’d tried to get more room, Prompto guessed, and since Prompto had been sleeping on his side, that made space, and so...
His brain started panicking and trying to think of how to get out of where he was, especially since, yup, it was his turn for the awkward morning wood you hoped no one would notice.
...dammit, why did Gladio have to smell kinda nice? All woodsy like and not at all like fish guts. And this close, those tattoos were really...and his chest was really smooth, and...
The morning wood was now risking turning into something else, a whole other kinda wood, and a voice in his head started screaming a panicked, “Shit shit shit!” and he could feel his face starting to turn red.
Gladio let out a sleepy little sound, a contented-sounding little grumbly-grunt-sigh thing, and shit shit shit, not helping!
Trying to crawl or slither past or over Gladio would...really not work.
Gladio shifted slightly in his sleep, doing this little back stretchy type thing as he moved and shit shit shit.
Toast, he was toast, all he needed to be was buttered up and...shit shit shit THAT DIDN’T HELP.
The little voice panicking in his head started panicking harder.
He took a deep breath and tried to calm down and think about anything BUT Gladio being that close to him.
He shut his eyes and started thinking about anything else. Like fish guts. Yeah, those fish guts. They’d been really gross and stinky and...
...and Gladio shifted in his sleep and now there was an arm on him.
He opened his eyes, and yeah, mistake.
It was time to end this before he embarrassed himself and made a mess of...everything. Himself, Gladio, their friendship...
If he ended it now, it would be the polite fiction of morning wood that would be ignored.
He poked Gladio. And poked him again. Harder. Then one more time, and started shaking him when that didn’t work.
Gladio let out a startled grunt and his eyes blinked open.
“Yeah...sorry about that, Big Guy, but...you’re kinda crushing me here,” he said, praying to any and all gods that might be listening that he sounded normal.
“Huh? Oh. OH! Shit, sorry!” Gladio said, blinking sleepily at first and then realizing what was going on. He quickly pulled his arm off of Prompto, and another little voice in his head, the voice that was not his common sense, started booing.
“Thanks, man,” Prompto said, gave him a grin, and fled.