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what's it worth.

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        Gotta Be a Reason by Alec Benjamin.

 

    He was on the front line, stranded on the beach,

    Crawling to his best friend, floating in the sea,

    But he didn’t make it, he still can’t believe

    How arbitrary fate is, he says:

 

    There’s gotta be a reason that I’m here on Earth,

    Gotta be reason for the dust and the dirt,

    The changing of the seasons never changed my hurt,

    So what’s it worth, what’s it worth?

   

 

   

 

    Ignis has always been a helpful comrade and a good man, and joined the army at Ravus’ side when Niflheim took Tenebrae by way of flame. Ignis works at his side as an advisor and tactician, and even Ardyn, (the bastard) seems impressed with him, and toys with Ignis surprisingly little. Perhaps he’s just invisible and Ravus is insane. (Sister, please. it’s a metaphor.)

  Ignis likes that Ravus can crowd him against a wall and kiss him bruised and senseless, arms caging in the sides of his head. Ravus likes that he can press him up against the corner of the room and cover him so nobody else can see, breaths mingling in the shadow of his body, smoothing his hands down his ribs to rip a shudder out of him. He’s about four inches taller than him, and the mild edge that gives him to the way they stand together lets him drown Ignis in the sight of him, letting Ignis’ arms rest on the swell of his left shoulder, letting the other wrap around his neck at the elbow. Ravus hums and  hooks his arm under Ignis leg and lift him, pressing his willowy body up against the wall.

They both like that.

Ravus likes that Ignis is quick and lithe, trim, lean muscles coiled with power and grace, and Ignis likes that Ravus is all corded muscle, and fierce, pure, unbridled strength.

He’s never had a partner who was the same sort of beautiful and strong like Ravus, who slants their bodies together and mouths at his neck. Ignis sighs and curls his fingers in Ravus’ smooth hair, pulling his head back to bite at the cusp of his jaw.

A sound bubbles up from Ravus’ chest like a soft moan, and he works his hands up the side of Ignis’ thigh, feeling the worn fabric of his uniform under his human hand, and sliding it up to cup his back.

Ignis arches back, separating them briefly with a sigh of contentment, and returning to bite at Ravus’ lips, “Shower with me?” he murmurs, and Ravus nuzzles his face in the side of Ignis’ neck, “Indeed.”

Ignis makes his footsteps loud enough for Ravus to hear him coming, so he doesn’t startle when Ignis wraps his arms around his metal bicep and starts to undo the outer layer of armor, his fingers digging into the clasps.

“Come lie down,” Ignis murmurs, “If you would.”

Ravus sets down his mug and faces Ignis as he peels off his armor, sliding it down and off of his hand.

“Is there something wrong?” Ravus has always been a little blunt, but Ignis just searches his eyes, sees the concern there, and the tension spills from him.

“I am afraid.” Ignis says, because his voice will not yet allow him anything else.

“I am here,” Ravus says, and the (i will protect you), hangs in the air silently, unsaid.

“You misunderstand. I fear for you, Ravus,” Ignis whispers, “I fear not for myself, but for you.”

Ravus is silent, and so he continues.

“I worry about the possibility of failure.” Ignis tries not to look him in the eyes, “That something will go wrong. That I will fail you, and you will lose her.”

“You will not fail me.” Ravus whispers, brushing his hair back from his forehead, sweat-soaked from nightmares and cooling quickly, “You are not capable of it.”

Ignis fists his hand in Ravus’ loose tank top, and breathes through clenched teeth.

Ravus opens a drawer in his desk, and shifts around pens and sheets of loose paper, before turning back to Ignis.

“I was going to figure out something to say befitting of the love you give to me, but I can only think of two words,” Ravus turns back toward him, and his hand is opening, and it’s a ring and- “Marry me?”

Ignis’ heart stops for a moment, and he reaches out to touch the ring, stammering.

“Dear heart,” he rubs the engraving of a sylleblossom against his thumb, “my answer was always going to be ‘yes.’”

 

    Ignis is left to tend to Lunafreya in Altissia, due to his Tenebraen upbringing and loyalty to the Oracle bloodline more so than Niflheim. Lunafreya smiles politely at him, but it doesn’t reach her eyes. Ignis is fine with that, as he guides her to the altar.

    She looks around worriedly at the people, but keeps her head down as much as possible and doesn’t notice when Ignis pickpockets the ring from where it’s resting on the bedside table on the way out.

    The Imperial ships meet them there while the Hydrean rises, and Ignis attempts to keep Lunafreya standing, before falling to his knees himself from a wound on his leg that stings with the saltwater. His breathing is labored, but hers is more so.

    Ardyn saunters up to the shattered land they’re using to stay away from the water rapidly rising.

“About that ring.” he leans down toward her, and something sings in Ignis’ veins, his blood screaming, and he rises to his feet

“You let him have it.”

    Ignis uses the lightning Ravus gifted him with and warps with a crack of light and the blade sinks into his stomach instead of Lunafreya’s. He gasps with the strange coldness, the slippery burn of wrong  where it slides into his organs. He gasps and seizes for a moment, his body jolting, and places his free hand at the wound's opening, where the blade is still lodged in his body.

Lunafreya gasps behind him, and raises the trident, her body shaking with the toil of the covenant. Ardyn tilts his head, a predator admiring it's work.

“You never cease to surprise me, Scientia,” and grabs Ignis by the hair, wrenching the blade free with a violent twist, causing him to cry out, and cutting Ignis’ fingertips where they pinned the blade to his wound. His flesh and organs rip open grotesquely with the new level of severity, causing blood to spill from between his teeth and past his lips from where his organs turn to mincemeat.

Ignis quickly shifts his grip on his own dagger and uses both hands to push it upward and to where Ardyn’s heart should be with a satisfying gasp of breath.His body then fully gives way to weakness, pitching to the side, and Lunafreya grabs for him, her own coughs rattling in her chest as she presses her frail looking hands to his wound, her eyes wide with confusion.

    Ardyn tumbles back slightly, before removing the blade from his heart, and dropping it to the stones of the altar. It promptly gets washed away by a flood of water, skittering across the stones. Ignis breathes heavily through his nose in short gasps, and Ardyn drops to his knees as he tries to rise, the fatal poison on Ignis’ blade kicking in as he hisses, black tar-like blood seeping from the wound.

Ignis wetly coughs, his body burning with the cold of the sea and the fever of his wound. Ignis pushes Lunafreya’s hands away from his stomach, soaked with blood, and presses his own shaking hands to the wound, “Save your strength for the journey ahead.”

    “Mr. Scientia, I will not live long, you should not have-”

    “Make peace with him before you do.” Ignis murmurs, and she takes his hands and prays for his safe passage, “Surely the Oracle would not deny a dying man that one thing.” His accent is distinctly Tenebraen.

    She wants to ask who she’s meant to make peace with, man or god, but he is losing breath and blood and time.

    The man’s white silk shirt is turning red from the blood.The tiny blue sylleblossom embroidered on his chest pocket slowly turning to a bloody shade of black.

    He fights to stay awake, but his pulse slows and picks up erratically.

    Noctis lands nearby his body limp and motionless, and Lunafreya calls upon the Kings of Olde for assistance as she runs her hand just above the raw wound, trying to keep him alive with what magic she can muster this soon after a covenant without undoing the progress of the man who lies dying before her, soaking her dress with crimson.

The rain that pours down violently soaks them both to the bone, and spills red ribbons of his blood into the sea with each pitcher of water it drops on them. His hair is soaked with the water that’s pulling itself up onto the altar, and he looks almost familiar, his green eyes glittering each time he looks at her. The sea casts waves on her as she tries to keep his head above the water, pulling him up to rest. The taste of salt and the smell of his blood probably won’t leave her before she dies.

    Lunafreya wants to scream, but instead pulls her braid down and yanks her ponytail free. Her headache eases ever so slightly, but the tears she feels coming force their way out of her in silent gasps anyways. She cries because she feels powerless to save this man- the one thing she’s supposed to be able to do. She’s furious. It’s like Insomnia all over again. No one was meant to die for her.

    He’s got a ring on his right hand, a simple thing with a sylleblossom engraving. Tenebraen, then. She doesn’t recognize him.

    Noctis is lowered carefully onto the altar, and she desperately aches to go to him, but she cannot leave this man’s side just yet. Noctis is propped up on a rock, safe from the rising water.

The Magitek soldiers arrive, and the man in her lap jolts awake as they pull her away, and she white knuckle grips the trident.

He burns his wound closed with a scream, and rises. He holds the Ring of the Lucii in his hand.

“I swore an oath to keep the Chosen King and Oracle safe. Whatever it takes, I will protect them!”

He forces the Ring onto his finger, despite Lunafreya’s screams of protest.

Ardyn rises, and immediately attacks. The ring slowly dies out, and with it, Ignis’ ability to hold onto his life. Ardyn kicks him soundly in his raw cauterized wound, and he falls back onto the stone, clutching his side as blood begins to seep through where damage has been redone.

“You fought valiantly,” Ardyn hums, “For a dead man.”

Ardyn considers him for a moment, like he’s remembering something, and turns on his heel to walk away without another word.

She sees Ravus in the distance and does her best to call for him, crawling toward where the man-so much like Nyx Ulric- is lying in the water, his chest barely rising, and propping up his head so he doesn’t drown.

    Her brother arrives, and his eyes lock immediately to the soldier in her arms. He breaks into a run and warps in a bolt of lightning, kneeling beside him, reaching out. He intertwines their hands, and shifts him so that he’s in his arms, his hetero-chromatic eyes locked to the scars the man now bears from the ring. His eyes flutter open, glassy and unseeing, and he reaches out with his hand, dragging it up Ravus’ chest and then to his hair. He finally finds what he’s looking for, breathing out his name like a prayer and smiling fondly, “Ravus, Dear Heart.” he whispers, in a choked breath, raising a hand slick with blood to her brother’s face, “I was worried I’d fail you,” he whispers, voice breaking as he spits up blood.

"And as I said," Ravus breathes, "You do not have the capacity for such a thing."

    Their right hands both bear the same band when Ravus intertwines their fingers, pressing his lips to the man’s ash blond hair.

    “This is-” She looks down at him, and really sees him, the hair, the necklace at his throat in the shape of a moon, she remembers his eyes, his voice, and tries not to feel angry when she tends to Noctis, as Ravus and Ignis say their goodbyes behind her. Ravus never told her the surname of his... his husband- , and Ignis never told her his first name. This is why the rings are on their right hands. Ravus mentioned once that he couldn’t wear anything on his left arm.

    Ignis . She feels her breath catch in her chest, and cradles Noctis’ head in her lap. Her brother’s husband. Is dying for her.

    She aches for her brother in that moment, as he breaks down behind her, and she pretends not to hear, brushing Noctis’  sea-soaked hair away from his forehead.

    “Thank you,” Ravus manages, and Ignis shushes him, trying not to provoke a coughing fit.

    “Let me die in peace,” Ignis whispers, barely audible, and Ravus growls, “I’d rather you not die at all,”

    “It’s happening, Ravus, be kind. Just,” Ignis seems to be falling apart, his calm and orderly facade breaking as his body begins to fail him, “Just hold me, please.”

    Ravus laughs but it’s soaked with his pain and tears, “Is that an order?”

    Ignis hums, and Ravus wraps his arms around him, leaning against a bit of rubble, he lets Ignis rest against his chest, and his breathing begins to even out into an achingly slow rise and fall.

    It goes so silent for a moment she fears he might be dead, and when she turns, Ignis is raising his right hand to caress Ravus’ cheek, and he’s leaning into the touch. “Thank you,” and Ravus, through his tears murmurs, “whatever for?” and Ignis manages to gasp out, “Loving me,” and Ravus has to bite his lip hard so as to not sob.

Ignis runs out of time, and his face tilts limply where it’s resting on Ravus’ shoulder, his long legs sprawled out before him. Ravus clutches his body, and clenches his teeth, trying to make his pain silent.

   

 

 

    Standing at his gravestone, “ Ignis Scientia Nox Fleuret’  tastes like seawater, and when the sylleblossoms bloom they bloom with red flecks of color like a splatter of his blood.