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Despite his fury, he made it out of the lab without stabbing anyone. Or court martialing anyone.

Most likely because he had the still weepy burden of the child that should have been safe, damn it. He had saved Prompto with his own damned hands and delivered him to people who should have looked after him.

 

The doctor had taken one long look at him and wisely decided that he shouldn't be argued with.

 

He took him back to the Citadel, carried him inside to his own quarters with Prompto more or less dead weight against him until he was set on his feet, unresisting as the stained hospital wear was stripped from his body and he was lifted into the bath.

The only reaction he got was a little sigh and "it's warm." That made his teeth set further on edge and his jaw ache in protest.

He helped the boy bathe, scrubbing shampoo into his dirty hair until the child had been a limp and nearly asleep, he dressed him in some of Noctis' clothes and made him scrambled cheese with eggs and toast.

The kid scarfed it down, nearly inhaling the food.

"Did they feed you normal food?" He asked, watched as Prompto carefully scraped his place.

Prompto shook his head a little bit. "I got rations, same as them all. But doctor said since I was getting the blood that counted as my rations." He licked off his fork, settling back in the chair with a wistful expression.

"More eggs?"

Giant, bright eyes locked on him. "Could I?"

He grunted, getting up and fishing more eggs out of the cold box. "Eggs we have and plenty." Egglayers did well with the artificial lights, and Sonja was breeding some that were particularly suited to night laying. Meat, aside from fish, was harder. They had some hearty milk beasts that didn’t have much meat on them, nocturnal mostly and adaptive to the long night. But red meat was quickly becoming a thing of the past.

Prompto smiled at him, quiet. "Thank you."

"Welcome. You need the protein."

Prompto tugged at the sleeve of his shirt - it was a bit oversized on him and he wasn't sure if that was the result of Noctis' habit of hiding his hands in his sleeves or if Prompto was that much smaller. His guess on their ages should mean they were pretty close as far as numbers went. Maybe a few months between.

But, he reasoned as he plated the eggs and toast, Noctis had never missed a meal in his life. Prompto clearly had. Noctis was a sheltered and treasured and much wished for child. Prompto had been a means to an end – twice now.

It made him angry all over again, watching Prompto clear the plate a second time.

Lucis should be better than this. They weren't the Niffs experimenting on children.

Desperate or not, they would not sink to this level. He would not allow this, not so long as he lived and breathed.

“Do you want to sleep?” He asked Prompto quietly.

The boy seemed to consider the question for a time, head bowed in thought. “Would I have to go back to my room?”

“Never.” He assured. “I have some things to do, so I am going to get someone to sit with you. But if you are tired, I assure you that you can rest for as long as you wish.”

Prompto studied him, and apparently decided that there was truth in his words enough that he could manage. “I would like to sleep, sir.”

“Alright, lets get you settled and introduce you to Monica.” She was better than playing nursemaid, but he honestly didn’t have many people he would trust with the little person. Clarus was still recovering – magic caused damage that resisted magical healing – Dustin was working with Noctis and Ignis, Nyx had the younger group of cadets and was drilling them. Wesk was with Sonja, as he often was this time of day. Working on new strains of night resistant foodstuffs.

He needed Monica and he needed more people he could trust and fast.

Prompto nodded seriously at the bed in the guest room, looking up at him for approval. “I can sleep there?”

“Sure can. You let Monica know if you get hungry again or you need anything. If she can’t find it, we don’t have it.” He ruffled the kids hair and surprised another shy smile out of him. “I’ll be back soon. You rest.”

Monica raised an eyebrow at him, but made no other comment as to the look on his face as soon as the kid wasn’t looking.

But then, Monica knew the less than sanitary parts of his record.

She had every reason to belive that the threat on his face was one he would bring to fruition.

He didn’t head back to the treatment center, though, he headed for Clarus. If he didn’t want to explain a string of executions, Clarus was his best shot.

He should have known better.

One eyed, two broken legs, and with one arm still splinted so heavily that it was a wonder he could move at all, Clarus still managed to sit bolt upright. “They were doing WHAT to him? He’s a kid, right, Noctis’ age?”

He crossed his arms, leaning back in the chair. “He is. Apparently one of his “parents” Was infected with the scorge and he panicked, latched on and sucked it out of him like a snake bite. He pulls it out of the air, but that’s a slower process. According to the doctor. Biting is quick and efficient, patient is back to work.”

Clarus’ jaw worked, good hand twisting into the air around a sword he wouldn’t be able to lift for a long while yet. “You left them alive?! That is unlike you!”

He shrugged. “I was focused on getting him out of there and into the bath.”

“And you let him bite you.” Clarus seemed a bit unnerved by that. “Six, poor kid. That has to be terrifying, stuck with urges and needs he can’t explain or understand. What are you going to do?”

“Keep him near me. I think eventually we can set something up where he’s doing enough room wide ambient work that we can keep it from spreading – I’ll get Dustin on him, he’s good at making things…kid safe.” He sighed. “Feed him again, if he needs it. He’s small enough, I doubt he took more than a few mouthfuls and it really seemed to make an appreciable difference. The liquid cleared up around his eyes. A few more blood donations and he might be back to normal. Whatever that is for him.” That was the problem. They had no idea how much of this was Prompto’s normal evolution to an adult, pre-programed into his DNA, and how much of it was environmental.

Clarus swore softly. “You think he’s safe?”

“Absolutely. There’s no doubt about that in my mind. You didn’t see him, Clarus. He was….” He tightened his arms. “They’re all very lucky he needed me more than they needed to pay.”

Clarus snorted. “So that doctor is out, probably any of the staff he implicates in withholding things from him – it’s one thing to use the kid, it’s another thing to withhold his ration and housing allotment. What about the adoptive parents?”

“One of them was and is in Galdin – has been there since the nightfall. The other.” He curled a lip. “About to be assigned out of his cushy office job for child abandonment. I’ll not send Prompto back to him.”

His friend sighed, leaning back. “Send the doctor and him out to one of the outposts. They can make themselves useful and all be denied the ‘comfort’ of one of the more occupied areas. You won’t be able to control yourself if you see them again.”

“Right. I don’t really want to control myself.” He loosened his arms, rubbing his face. “He’s just a kid, Clarus.”

His friend looked entirely sympathetic. “He has you now. He’s safe.”

“He shouldn’t have been in danger in the first place. WE’re nod damned Niffs. We don’t hurt kids. Gods – damn the gods. This scourge is their doing anyway.”

“Focus on what you can do, leave the rest for later.” Clarus advised gently. “And get some rest, you’re half a shadow yourself.”

He grunted. “I’ll have Monica take them all their reassignments.”

“Good. Keep your hands clean. The last thing we need is a riot.” Clarus joked.

He rolled his eyes. “Get those legs healed so we can handle a riot.”

“Leviathan made some very persistent points, my friend.” Clarus gestured to his legs. “Should have seen the other guy.”

“What other guy? Reggie was walking.” He returned, trying to ignore the sting of mentioning Regis’ name.

“The other, other guy.” Clarus protested. “I can’t remember his name. But he was totally there.”

“Right. Sure.” He shook his head. “Get some rest, hero. Else we’ll be saddling you with my nickname.”

“Doesn’t have the same ring to it. Cor the Immortal sounds like someone you’d buy the action figure of.” Clarus mused, grinning, wicked.

His friend was using his status as an invalid too freely.

He would need to find some method of revenge.