i'm a loser, loosen up
set it free, must be tough
will i be, known and loved?
LA really, messed me up
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Driving is different in the summer.
The doors thrown open, one leg in as you turn the key and start up the AC, not so-willing to be blasted by hot air, but too stupid to start the car early on.
Prompto makes a squawking sound as he slides in the back seat, and his bare legs touch the black leather. Noctis watches him scooch downwards, attempting to tug down his shorts and spare his legs a second-degree burn.
Gladio climbs on in, jeans and all, and when the AC is finally blowing cold air, Ignis slips behind the wheel cool and indifferent.
Noctis is last. He can see the coattails of his father – he’s given his last wave goodbye, and is already being corralled back into the citadel by Clarus. Guards follow and they take something metaphysical with them. The gates, the swords, the constant eye on Noctis’s life.
Noctis folds into the passenger’s side, clicks his seatbelt and with the final slam of the door comes a loud click and a lock.
The Regalia is idling, but it’s dead silent. Breath held, staring wide-eyed and too afraid to speak because really? Is this really happening?
Noctis turns to look at the backseat. Prompto appears just as amazed. The luggage is in the trunk, the tank is full of gas, the seatbelt is burning a hole into his arm and it’s really, really happening.
Ignis settles his hands on the wheel.
“So,” Prompto grins, willing to break the ice. “Summer vacation, huh? I’ve never had one of those.”
“Me neither,” Noctis says.
“Ha-ha, very funny Prince Noctis.”
“It’s true,” Ignis says, and he would know. He throws the car in reverse, looks over his shoulder, and Noctis wants nothing more than to reach over and take his hand, but he won’t. He can’t. Not until Insomnia is far behind them.
It sorta began in high school.
Well, if we’re being honest, it probably started way, way before that.
(7. Hey, your hair is kinda’ funny, can I touch it?)
(4. I like your glasses.)
(11. Heh, I bet you can’t carry Prompto AND me—wanna bet?--)
But high school. That’s when shit gets real.
The three of them have been friends for years. Gladio and Ignis have always operated on this higher, cooler-than-you senior level, but Prompto remained faithfully by his side, through shooting spitwads in math class and sneaking Noctis out of the citadel for late night arcade escapades (arcadescapades?).
The world’s eye has always made life a little harder. It’s hard to dip out and be a teenager when every ma and pa has seen your face since uh, the day you were born. Noctis has never shied away from his birthright, but life already fucking sucks when you’re sixteen, and having the entire country watch you while you fuck up along the way? Not so fun.
Noctis wants to make his father proud. But he also wants to rip off this second skin and run, run and run and run until he reaches a place where his feet bleed, and nobody will be around to see.
He’s been destined to marry a princess since he learned how to walk. And Noctis really likes Luna. He sends her letters and sees her on holidays, and when he’s ten years old and learning how to pop wheelies in his wheelchair he asks,
“What if I’m gay?”
Luna is older and better at everything, so he takes it to heart when she smiles at him and says,
“We’ll figure it out.”
So what if?
If Prompto sneaks him cigarettes, and they crouch behind the school AC units and smoke, and Noctis can’t stop staring at his mouth?
If Ignis cooks him dinner and helps him with homework and teaches him how to drive and cuts his hair with a tenderness just too soft to be nothing?
If Noctis burns and kicks and bleeds, and learns to teleport through true grit and tears, only succeeding to make not Cor, not even his father – but Gladio proud?
The world is watching him. Tabloid headlines and guards at every corner and cameras at the gate of his school. They know his bloodtype, they know his betrothed, they know everything –
Gladio moves into an apartment six months before Noctis graduates highschool.
And Noctis knows his country is watching, except, maybe here.
They’re used to sleepovers. Crashing in Noct’s room for study sessions, eating dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Argentum, Clarus inviting them back to their royally-sanctioned apartment for pizza and movies.
But Gladio’s apartment is new. It’s quiet. His neighbor is a disabled lady too old to operate a phone, let alone a camera. And the word sleepover suddenly means something entirely different. For the first time in ever, the door shuts, and Noctis feels this crushing swell of… freedom.
It’s a secret.
Ignis thinks it’s a terrible idea.
He’s usually right about these things.
Icarus flew too close to the sun – but nobody ever talks about how good it felt along the way.
It’s tense. Knee to knee, pizza and stolen beer cans and late-night shit TV, the room too swollen with something nobody wants to say.
Prompto, in all his sweet, genuine beauty, has pizza sauce down the side of his mouth. With Gladio and Ignis’s full attention, Noctis leans over and cleans the corner of Prompto’s lip with his own.
It’s like popping a balloon. Acknowledging the thing they were all supposed to ignore. Prompto freezes rigid, Gladio bites into his lip, and Ignis closes his eyes like he’s realized the inevitable.
Noctis knows. They all know, okay?
The way Gladio and Ignis treat Prompto with a softness not seen anywhere else. The scar down Gladio’s eye, a mark carved out of loyalty, out of – it can’t just be -- is he crazy? Is this normal? For royal guards to beat the shit out of anyone that looks at you funny? For your retainer to fix your hair and kiss your forehead when he thinks you’re sleeping? Do childhood friends cuddle at sleepovers? Do they steal your shirts and wear them to school?
You can take it how you want. People would call it a lot of things.
Noctis grabs Ignis by the shirt collar. Pulls him forehead to forehead so he knows he’s serious.
“Don’t-“ Ignis begs, like it takes everything he has not to say it. Like it’s all he’s ever wanted.
“Do it,” Gladio says, so Noctis kisses him too. He’s not always brave, but he’s willing to be brave, here.
Noctis has never been in love because he didn’t think he could be. Because law etched a name on a piece of paper and gave him a soulmate he didn’t ask for.
Gladio grips Prompto by the back of his hair and kisses him like he’s waited a thousand years for it. And if Noctis is supposed to feel jealousy disgust or fear then he doesn’t, he really fucking doesn’t.
Ignis taught him how to lie.
Pencil pusher, straight tie and all, Ignis is indeed a very good liar. (Gladio claims to be the best, but that in-and-of itself is a bluff, Gladio can’t lie for shit. Ask his sister.)
Ignis on the other hand. It’s a pure, honed and heartbreakingly familiar talent of being raised gay in a no- gays-allowed household. Ignis hasn’t been on speaking terms with his birth parents for years, but the damage is still there.
So when Noctis approaches the throne, Ignis is at his side. And he stands board straight as if he isn’t just as nervous as Noctis knows he is. He’s a beacon of confidence. A lie, just like they’re about to.
“Prince Noctis,” Regis starts, relaxing at the sight of him. “This is a surprise.”
“Yeah, well,” Noctis shrugs a shoulder. Ignis gives him a side-eye for the informality, so Noctis clears his throat a little and bows. “Um, your Majesty. Thank you for attending the ceremony yesterday.”
It’s not common that the King of Lucis shows up to your graduation. Ignis told him he should be proud, but diploma in hand, Noctis didn’t feel like he did very much. Between combat training, royal understudies and prince formalities, he didn’t have time for straight A’s.
“Hey, you did better than me,” Prompto grinned, smacking him with his graduation cap – and it’s a real shame he couldn’t kiss him on camera. Just a real damn shame.
Regis looks at Noctis with a brow raised, the same look as when Clarus would drag him by the collar and snitch about the Prince sliding down banisters again.
The king then smiles, settling his head in one hand, “Alright, what is it you want?”
Noctis fights his own smile, and shifts his hands behind his back. “What? I can’t just come visit my King?”
Regis’s brows now disappear into his hairline, and Iggy’s shoulders stiffen in a way that only Noctis knows as a strong urge to suppress a laugh. Well, there’s no use torturing himself any further.
“I want to go on a vacation.”
“Oh. You wish to travel?”
Noctis shrugs, looking to his shoes. “Yeah, I dunno’. Just – a graduation thing. Only a week. I’ve never been to the beach.”
There’s no way in hell this is going to work. A whole week of no supervision? It’s a PR nightmare waiting to happen.
“Ahh, I see. Your retainers are going with you?”
Noctis looks up, “I – I mean, yeah. Prompto would come too.”
Ignis remains dutifully silent, but nods once.
Noctis can feel his heart lodged up in his throat, beating through his ears. He just wants one week. One short time where they can be them without shutting all the blinds and locking the door twice. Without checking over their shoulders and being too scared to hold hands. Just a week out of time, before Luna arrives in Insomnia and Noctis is bound to –
“Okay,” Regis says.
His father nearly laughs, crossing one leg over the other.
“You have my permission. I think you’ve well earned a vacation.”
“Are you serious?” Noctis blanches. “You’re going to let me outside the wall?”
“Your friends are going with you, are they not? The lot of you are more than capable, I presume. Why, should I be worried?”
Noctis thinks of all the school trips he wasn’t allowed on. About the one time he left the city without his father, and almost never walked again.
It’s different now.
“Nope,” Noctis says, too excited to bite down his grin. He elbows Ignis and spins on his heel, waving, “Thanks Dad!”
Regis snorts and turns his head, fighting a laugh. Noctis takes the stairs two at a time because holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit –
He stops mid bounce, and turns to look over his shoulder.
Regis’s eyes are soft, and his tone shifts into that I’m speaking to you as a father voice.
“To my own dismay, I couldn’t take you many places as a child. So please, embrace this time, and do what makes you happy.”
Noctis bites his lip and nods, turning back down the stairs before he can do something stupid, like get emotional.
Ignis sighs, a bit resigned, and bows fully to Regis.
“Thank you for your time, your Majesty.”
“Loosen up a little, Ignis. It’ll be good for you.”
“I will keep it in mind. Thank you, your liege.”
Regis waves him off, and Noctis is already at the bottom step bouncing on his heels, throwing open the door and shouting to Prompto,
“We’re going to the beach!”
Later, when the formalities are long lost at the dinner table, Noctis does something he hasn’t in years, and hugs his dad before bed.
“Is there anything you want to tell me?” Regis asks.
Past the wall, nothing but stretches of desert and cactus and prickly tumbleweeds and yet, Noctis is utterly and completely terrified to reach across the console and hold Iggy’s hand.
He’s done it before. Quietly, when it’s an ungodly hour of the morning, Ignis loyally cooking breakfast at the stove, apron at the waist and hair soft from a shower – fuck he’s pretty, he’s so, so pretty.
Noctis has been watching Ignis instead of the road. His side profile is nice, beauty marks scattered down his neck, glasses high on his nose. He loves when Iggy rolls up his shirt sleeves. His arms are surprisingly strong; sturdy and soft with callous-worn hands born from throwing and kitchen knives alike.
Ignis glances at him, and Noctis turns his head away.
Prompto’s shutter snaps in the backseat, and Noctis squirms around to look over the headrest.
“See anything cool?”
“Everything!” Prompto gasps. “I mean. It’s nothing but dirt but holy shit – I’ve never seen so much dirt!”
“City boy take me home,” Gladio teases.
“Eat shit, so are you!”
“At least I know how to pitch a tent.”
Prompto snorts, “Oh you know how to pitch a tent alright-“ and Gladio shoves him. Prompto is thrown into the side door from the sheer force of it; he throws a punch back, not doing much in retaliation but it makes Gladio laugh anyways.
They’re sitting too far apart. Noctis has seen them wired together at two a.m., limbs so twisted, giggling nose to nose about stupid shit, like whatever romance movie they’ve decided to torture the room with.
There’s a sizeable gap between them.
They must be a little nervous too.
Noctis rights himself in the seat and looks back out the window. The roof is up to hide them from the summer sun, and the glass vibrates with the bass of Noctis’s R&B playlist. He sets his head against it, feeling the vibrations up behind his cheeks.
“How far are we?” Prompto asks, folding his legs under himself. Ignis turns the music down.
“About five hours, if the map is right.”
“It’s a shame we can’t go to the Galdin Quay. I hear that place is like, uber fancy.”
“Too much press,” Gladio says. “Paps eat there for breakfast.”
“I know, I’m just saying. I bet I could get some great photos.”
“The southside beach is a bit less known,” Ignis says. “Much closer too. The Galdin Quay is a good week’s drive.”
“Ugh, I don’t know if I could sit in a car for that long,” Prompto stretches his arms above his head. Noctis watches him in the rearview mirror, and wants so desperately to shove his hand along the patch of skin riding between his shorts and his tank top. Fuck he’s gay. “Dude, my legs are already killing me.”
“Oh, your legs are killing you?”
“Shut up mammoth, you’re abnormally large. They don’t make cars in your size.”
Ignis gives a surprised laugh, and Noctis wishes he’d do that more. Laugh, and stuff.
Heat reflects off the pavement, shimmery mirages lighting up the road. The air feels tight in here, still something unsaid, still tense with a line they’re a bit too nervous to cross.
There’s a lot to lose.
Braving the distance, Noctis sets his hand on the middle console. Not reaching, but…putting himself out there. It could be nothing, it could be something.
Ignis drops a gloved hand from the steering wheel and takes his fingers in his own. Noctis jerks his head up, and Ignis doesn’t look away from the road, but he squeezes his fingers in response.
Noctis’s entire body relaxes. He sinks back in the seat, curling up and holding Iggy’s hand in his own. The leather is rough against his palm, but Noctis pets along the exposed skin of Ignis’s thumb and feels the rope around his chest loosen somewhat.
Prompto rolls down the window and sticks his arm outside. Gladio’s hair ruffles from the wind, and Noctis feels a twist of excitement for a sudden unknown, for all the possibilities laid before him. All the things that they could be, if only it was a different world.
If only Noctis were someone else.
They find a Crow’s Nest out in the middle of nowhere. It’s no mans land, nothing but a gas station, a Coernix and a pebbly, unpaved road.
The air is hot and dry. A breeze comes through, but it’s full of gritty dirt – not really refreshing in the slightest.
“There’s a beach out here?” Prompto wonders, wiping his eyes.
“A couple hundred miles that way,” Ignis points.
Gladio holds the door open for them, and the inside feels like a step out of time. Old-fashioned booths, pinball machines and cheesy 90’s decorations up the wall.
“Wel’welcome,” the man behind the counter waves. “Whatcanny’ do ya’ for?”
“Help ya’ self.”
The joint is only half full. It's nice not to worry about cameras. Noctis chooses a booth by the window, and Prompto immediately slides in at his hip.
“I like their accents out here,” Prompto says.
“I’ve only been to the beach once, but the accent gets a bit more west coast the closer you get to the ocean,” Gladio says. He mocks, “Dude.”
“Dude shut up!” Prompto huffs. “My parents were marine biologists at the north shore.”
Noctis picks up the menu and fans himself with it, “The north shore? Why the hell’d they move to Insomnia anyways?”
“The Nifs, I presume,” Ignis interjects. Prompto nods, and Ignis looks to Noctis in explanation. “The coastline was once Niflheim territory -- for a few years in the late nineties.”
Prompto shrugs, “I think it’s better that I was raised in the city. I would’ve burned to death out here.”
“We need to keep sunscreen on you,” Gladio jabs. “Or we’re gonna’ hear the complaints all week.”
Noctis snickers, and Prompto crosses his arms in an I know but I’m not happy about it way.
“Now, we don’t all tan so beautifully as you two,” Ignis teases. Noctis tenses a little, glancing across the room before looking back. They’re far from the border, but his neck tingles anyways.
“I just finished my tattoo this year, so I might be a regretful member of the sunscreen club,” Gladio sighs.
“Hey, welcome!” Prompto beams. “Iggy checkups are free every fifteen minutes. Failure to comply will earn you a day of nagging.”
“Ha.” Ignis deadpans.
Prompto reaches across the table and grabs at Gladio’s arm, turning his wrist over. Gladio is technically wearing a shirt, but he hasn’t bothered to button it, and Noctis has seen Gladio shirtless… hm, three million times? But he’s still eye candy in the rawest form, and Noctis can’t really look away as Prompto skims his fingers up the inside of Gladio’s tattoo. It feels like worship.
“It doesn’t hurt anymore, does it?”
“Nah. But I’m not excited to have it fade on the first year.”
“Keep a proper shirt on and you won’t have that problem.”
“Now Iggy, you know that’s against my religion,” Gladio jokes.
“Fortunately for us,” Prompto grins, and Gladio snatches his fingers and squeezes them.
The server approaches the table, and Prompto and Gladio rip back their arms as if they’ve been burned. Noctis bites his lip, fighting the sink in his stomach.
The man smiles friendly, “Have ya’ll decided?”
“Sure have,” Gladio covers, and orders for the whole table. Noctis keeps his hands carefully in his lap, but rests his boot against Iggy’s beneath the table. Ignis shoots him a concerned look, and Noctis pointedly ignores it.
Prompto looks a bit discouraged. When the server walks away, Noctis quickly grabs his knee and squeezes, and Prompto squeaks, elbowing him back in the side.
He likes how ticklish Prompto is — how red his freckles get. Noctis is very strong, and resists the urge to kiss him. He looks back out the window instead.
The fast food joint is playing pop music from ten years ago – the kinda’ stuff he used to hear at elementary school dances. Its scorching hot outside, but there’s something nice about the emptiness of a desert.
“Oh shit, I wonder if we get signal here.” Prompto pulls out his phone, “I’m like, one raid away from leveling up.”
“Awh, one more level and you’ll only be six behind me,” Gladio grins, digging for his own phone.
“Fuck off! I got in late, okay?”
“I have gear I can trade you,” Ignis says. “Free experience.”
“Stop helping him, he doesn’t need it,” Noctis snaps.
Prompto jabs his thumb in Noctis’s direction, “He’s mad because I whooped his ass the other day and made him spend like fifteen bucks I-R-L.”
“Fucking microtransactions. I have to wait a whole day to be revived? Fuck that.”
“Uh, have you considered getting good?”
“Gladio, I swear to god I will find a way to choke you out.”
Ignis and Gladio decide to run into the gas station before hitting the road again. It’s too hot to sit in the Regalia, so Noctis leans up against the car door and crosses his arms.
Prompto is kicking a pebble with his shoe, catching it with his insole and knocking it up like a soccer ball. He catches it again, and shoots it towards Noctis — and it slides clean between his boots.
“Goal!” Prompto grins.
Noctis hums, half-heartedly kicking at the pebble and knocking it back over. Prompto frowns, choosing to stare rather than stop it. The pebble bops into the gas pump.
“Hey man. Everything alright?”
Prompto looks once around the empty lot. There are a few parked cars over by the Crows Nest, but not a soul on this side. Prompto approaches quietly, and slides his hip up against Noctis’s, planting a hand on the car.
“Um. Are you comfortable with all this? Iggy’ll turn back if you want –“
“Why would I want that?” Noctis snaps.
“Well!-“ Prompto gestures. “You’re being—” He makes a snappy gesture with his hands. Noctis’s stomach sinks, and he immediately looks to his feet.
“Ah. Shit, sorry.”
He doesn’t mean to. It just feels like his heart is eating itself from the inside out.
Prompto reaches for him, but stops partway. Noctis looks back up and Prompto sighs, chewing on his bottom lip. His eyelashes are all red and dusty from the wind.
“It’s fine dude. But you know you can like,” Prompto gestures, “talk to me?”
Noctis sighs and flops his forehead against Prompto’s shoulder. He wobbles a little in surprise, but catches Noctis by the hip. Noctis swallows before speaking.
“Ooh. That’s kinda cute.”
“Sorry! Is it the drive?”
“No – it’s just. Like.” Noctis turns his nose towards Prompto’s neck, not even caring if his skin is too warm. “Remember when we used to talk about this? Running away?”
Prompto’s hand slides up a little on his hip, fingers curling up in the hem of his shirt. It’s probably a little sweaty but Prompto doesn’t seem to mind.
“Heh. Yeah. But we’re not really running away, are we?” Prompto pauses, and his voice drops a little, hesitant even in the middle of nowhere. “I remember. You said you’d take us up where the water’s blue. And I said I wanted to motel hop and slow dance until our feet hurt.”
“I’m afraid of not remembering every detail of this,” Noctis says. I’m afraid I won’t want to go back.
“Hey now, that’s my job,” Prompto grins. He sticks his arm in the open car window and pats around for his camera. “Allow me to take the first selfie of the week?”
Prompto has every reason to be cold and indifferent to the world, but he’s so warm and soft and yellow in his heart that Noctis’s mouth hurts from smiling.
Prompto turns the camera around and Noctis makes a peace sign in front of Prom’s nose, and the shutter goes off right as Gladio comes out carrying a bag of beef jerky, Ignis at his heel.
“Hey!” Gladio shouts. “Taking pictures without us?”
“Dudes, get in here.”
Ignis isn’t keen on having his picture taken, but he always indulges Prompto, and Noctis thinks it’s really sweet. Gladio and Ignis have to crouch down a little to fit in the frame, but the photograph catches some of the Regalia, and the red desert out behind them.
“Shit, I closed my eyes,” Gladio frowns.
“Shotgun!” Prompto shouts.
Prompto is fun to watch in the front seat.
Camera in hand, hanging half out the window, crossing his legs, turning around in his seat, pulling out his phone and squirming to fix his hair in the rear-view mirror. Ignis has a lot of patience, but thirty minutes in -- he gently reaches over and sets a hand on Prom’s thigh, and Prompto goes rigid still for the rest of the hour. It’s pretty hilarious.
Gladio spends most of his time reading. Noctis watches the scenery go from red desert, to a brownish hue, to less cactus and more wildgrass, to the eventual tree, wow.
Gladio doesn’t wear cologne, but he smells really good by nature, even when he’s gross and nasty from working out. Gladio is his best friend, his shield and mentor, but Noctis still hasn’t figured out how to tell him please cuddle me, so Noctis bumps his shoe against Gladio’s and settles for that.
He looks up over the page of his book. Noctis fiddles with the pop-socket on his phone.
“Slugbug!” Prompto points. He turns towards Ignis with a fist curled, but all Ignis does is glare, and Prompto slinks back in his seat.
Noctis laughs once, and reaches over the headrest to bop Prompto on the head.
“Nice try. Slugbug.”
“Ow! Seriously no fair.”
“Ignis has the power to kill all of us,” Gladio warns. “Without the addition of a four-thousand pound steel strap.”
Ignis doesn’t comment, but his face softens. Noctis has spent too many years watching him be cold and collected. Watching him slide on a mask and shield Noctis from cameras, protect him in legal meetings, wake up at five-am so he can drive Noct to school. Things Noctis never asked for, but Ignis always did willingly.
Now the top buttons on his shirt are undone, and he’s tapping the wheel to Prom’s shitty music, and Noctis keeps his boot against Gladio, just to remind himself that it’s real.
It’s not like, a mansion or anything.
They’ve rented out a small beach house on the residential side of the coast. The lanes are narrow, but there’s nothing but locals out here. It’s a slowgoing beach city, and they roll down the windows as they approach the lot, breathing in the seaside air.
The temperature has dropped with the altitude. It’s nice and cool, and Noctis breathes deep when they step out of the car.
“Ohhh baby, you smell that?” Prompto inhales. Gladio lifts his arms above his head and grunts, popping his back. Even Ignis stretches, crossing an arm over the other and yawning.
“The landlord said the key was in a potted plant. See anything?”
“Got it,” Noctis says, peeking into the planter. Gladio pops the trunk, and Prompto steals the key from Noct’s hand, taking the stairs two at a time up towards the front door.
“Oh oh oh, house tour!”
Prompto wedges the door open, and Noctis jogs the stairs to keep up.
“Woah, this is way nicer than you said it was gonna’ be,” Prompto says.
Noctis peeks his head in. The layout is narrow, but deep. There’s a kitchen with a breakfast bar and an adjoined livingroom, cushy couch and T.V. included.
“Oh no don’t mind me,” Gladio grunts, hauling two suitcases at a time. “Pack mule over here.”
“That’s why we keep you around,” Noctis snorts.
“The décor is nice,” Ignis notes. It’s all beach themed, seashells, blue and teal. It’s fresh but cluttered enough to feel homey.
They trudge upstairs to check out the bedrooms. There’s two masters, two bathrooms, two beds. Prompto and Noctis decide to dump their shit in the same room, figuring room assignments are obvious, but will likely go to shit anyways.
“Looks like it’s you n’ I,” Gladio says, hauling another set of suitcases up the stairs.
“Good,” Ignis says. “Let them stay up all night giggling.”
“Sorry you don’t wanna’ join us on planet fun.” Prompto makes a double peace sign, and Noctis mimes him.
Gladio tosses a bag; Noctis jumps out to catch it before Prom busts his nose on it.
“Fucking Christmas,” Noctis curses, adjusting the weight of the bag in his arms. “What did you pack?”
“And what’s that? A cement block?”
“I’m near certain Gladio packed a weeks worth of clothing in a wallet,” Ignis says. He shows off Gladio’s tiny bag. “Which is, mildly concerning.”
“Prom and I have very different meanings of the word essentials.”
Prompto bounces over to the banister and looks over the edge.
“Hey, I bet I can make it to the couch – “
“Here,” Ignis interjects, shoving a second bag in Prompto’s arms. “Go unpack – no you will not be living out of your suitcase for the week.”
“Bet. One hour and they’ll trash the room,” Gladio calls, disappearing into his own bedroom.
“Yeah, give it three days and lets compare bathrooms,” Noctis snaps back. Ignis makes a huffy noise, and Prompto’s laugh cackles from their room.
Ignis is a very organized person. Clean bedroom, clean kitchen – but Noctis has seen him get ready in the morning. Hair product, toothbrushes, aftershave, razors – paraphernalia as far as the eye can see. It’s kind of endearing as all hell. Don’t tell anyone he said that.
Gladio’s head pops out of the bedroom. “Won’t bother me,” he teases. Ignis hums as he passes him, lightly petting across Gladio’s jaw and making his way back down the stairs.
Noctis is kinda’ sorta in love with the way Gladio looks at Ignis. He just looks... absolutely whipped, completely done for. Which is definitely valid.
Ignis starts, “I’m going to make a run to the grocery store before we get too settled. Would anyone like to come?”
There isn’t an immediate answer. Noctis feels a little guilty, but he’s kind of at his maximum for the day.
“I’ll go,” Prompto offers.
“Thank you dear. Unpack and I’ll wait for you.”
Prompto’s idea of unpacking is opening a drawer, unzipping his bag, and dumping it all in one go. Shockingly effective.
There’s talking downstairs, and Noctis is left to put together the rest of their room.
The bed is nice. Prompto has taken the first two drawers in the dresser, so Noctis fumbles with his bag and slowly begins to put his shit away. The room is a little stuffy, so he pops open a window, and the bedroom fills with sea air and street traffic.
The walls are white, and there’s beach photographs hung above the bed. It feels so different here – rather than the modern architecture and fast pace of Insomnia.
Noctis sits on the bed and smooths his hand across the pillows. He can hear the front door shut and lock, and the engine of the Regalia bounces off the house walls.
With a roof over his head and a setting sun, Noctis briefly closes his eyes and feels at peace.
Noctis must’ve fallen asleep, because he wakes up in the dark. The hallway light is on, but someone has shut his door and closed the open window. It’s a little chillier now, and it’s the cold that draws Noctis from the bed.
He rubs the sleep out of his eyes, and fishes for a sweatshirt out of Prompto’s open drawer.
There’s a gap in the hallway between bedrooms. Cabinets with towels, a few locked ones for the landlord, the usual. He can hear the T.V. on downstairs, and soft talking as it sounds like Prompto and Ignis are unloading bags.
The other bedroom light is still on; Noctis creaks open the door and peaks inside. Their room has a similar layout, but there’s a connecting bathroom and a mini-fridge shoved in the corner.
Oh wow, these two lucked out. They have a balcony on the other side of the room with two white French doors. Noctis throws the lock and tugs one of the doors open, wrapping his arms around himself and stepping up to the railing.
It doesn’t quite face the ocean, but you can see a corner of black among the housetops. There’s streetlamps and low-powerlines swooping between the alleys. He can hear laughter as a group of friends walk down the sidewalk in flip-flops and sweatpants.
Noctis’s chest rises and falls with a deep breath. It’s chilly, but indescribably refreshing.
There’s the sound of a door opening and shutting behind him, and Noctis looks over his shoulder to catch Gladio stepping out of the bathroom, dressed and rubbing his hair with a towel.
“Hey, you’re awake.”
“Sorry,” Noctis says. “I don’t even remember falling asleep.”
“Your body must’ve needed it.”
Noctis hums. He looks back over the rooftops and curls his fingers into his armpits.
“You guys got lucky. Pretty view up here.”
There’s some brief shuffling in the room. Noctis jumps when a large hand slides along his waist.
“Oh, sorry,” Gladio blinks. “This okay?”
“No – no, it’s –“ Noctis’s tongue feels too big in his mouth, so he just flops back into Gladio, and encourages his hand to rest above his bellybutton. “It’s fine.”
Gladio gets with the program quickly. He sets his chin on top of Noctis’s head and clasps his hands together on the flat of his stomach.
Noctis’s heart is beating stupid fast; the window is open, there’s people on the street, someone could see.
But Gladio is warm, and they’re far from home, so Noctis looks up and forces himself to relax.
“More stars here,” Noctis notes, to break the silence.
“You really should let me take you camping,” Gladio says. “You can see millions. It’s fuckin’ dope.”
Gladio’s voice is rumbly and deep against his ear, and Noctis closes his eyes to immediately to soak it in.
“Mm. Not a camper.”
“You don’t know that.” Gladio’s hands slide to either side of his hips and squeeze. “You’ve never been with me.”
Noctis shivers a little, and his face goes hot knowing Gladio could feel it.
It’s a weird place to be. For years, Gladio was the one that pushed him harder. Made him stronger. Gave him bruises and tossed him around and gave Noctis a serious complex, because he liked it. And he knew he shouldn’t.
But Gladio is soft, too. It’s beautiful, and Noctis isn’t sure if he’ll ever have the words to tell him. Let alone the time.
Feeling brave, Noctis grabs for his right hand and brings it to his mouth. Gladio hums happily above him, and he drops his head to rub his cheek against Noct’s ear. Gladio’s beard tickles and it makes Noctis laugh from his nose.
“Gladio, I found charcoal for the barbecue,” Ignis starts, pushing open the bedroom door. “Do you think we should – oh! He’s awake.”
“Howdy,” Noctis says.
Gladio separates from him, “Do you need me to grill for you?”
“No no, don’t mind me,” Ignis turns back to the door. “Talking to myself.”
Gladio laughs, and swats Noctis on the butt before following Ignis down the stairs.
“Let me do it. I’m sure you have a whole production in the kitchen.”
“Not a whole – well, perhaps. I wanted a fruit salad and I thought…”
Noctis smiles to himself, and peeks over the banister. He can see Prompto sitting at the kitchen bar, peeling oranges and eating half of them.
“I’ll help too,” Noctis decides.
“Oh?” Ignis stops at the bottom stair and presses a hand over his heart. “Am I dying?”
“Soooo funny,” Noctis deadpans, but laughs because Prom starts to, and he’s kind of infectious that way.
“Hey, is that mine?”
“Nope,” Noctis lies. Prompto squints at him in disbelief, and Noctis slides next to him on the barstool. “Let me do it. You’re eating all the oranges.”
“Prompto,” Ignis chides.
“Wow, first you steal my sweatshirt and then you snitch on me?”
“He likes you,” Gladio jokes, and they all laugh that time. Noctis starts peeling oranges, but he slips a slice to Prompto every once in a while, because it’s fun to see him get so excited, hiding the slices in his cheeks so Iggy won’t see.
So yeah, he does like him.
He likes all of them, Noctis thinks.
They find dishes in the kitchen cabinets. Gladio barbecues chicken out on the porch, and they have fruit salad and rolls and cooked veggies that Noctis won’t go near.
They’re tired from the drive, but it’s still a little tense. Nobody will make a move tonight, but there’s that feeling they’re used to – door closed, only twenty-four hours to be together before it’s rise and shine, go to school, work at the citadel and a mountain of paperwork to return to.
They’ve been playing this game for a while. Weeks, (even months) between ‘sleepovers’, schedules that won’t match up, such little time to build whatever it is they’re trying to be.
There’s a lot of lines the four of them haven’t crossed. A lot of things they haven’t done because they know — whatever this is — it won’t last. It’s not supposed to.
That part hurts.
The shower is nice though. Noctis stands in the hot spray for a long time. Prompto is still awake when he crawls in the other side of the bed. His phone light glows against his face, and Noctis settles against him, pulling out his own phone.
“Nice shower?” Prompto whispers. There’s no reason to, but it’s late, and it feels like they should.
Prompto squishes a little closer. Noctis decides to scroll through his feed one handed, flopping the other arm over Prompto’s waist. He’s in a big T-shirt and shorts, and Noctis likes that he can feel his legs.
“Beach day tomorrow,” Prompto yawns.
Noctis nods silently, and drags his hand up the side of Prom’s shirt. Prompto clicks his phone off and smiles at him, leaning up on his elbow to kiss the corner of his mouth.
Ugh, Noctis hates how much he feels. How something so stupid and small jerks under his skin and lights him on fire. Soft skin on skin, Prompto’s held breathing and pointy little nose pressing on his own. Noctis doesn’t kiss back in fear of taking it too far.
Prompto takes a while to settle. Arms and legs wiggling, grabbing the sheets and twisting until his back is towards Noctis. It’s easier to pin him in and force him still, and it works.
They fall asleep to the sound of distant street traffic.
There’s only one good time to wake up, and that’s when you have nowhere to be.
Noctis stirs as Prompto climbs out of bed, tip-toeing into the bathroom and closing the door extra softly. He squints long enough to see the sun peeking through the blinds, before rolling over and going back to sleep.
He wakes later to the smell of pancakes.
This time the sun is jutting right through the blinds, bright and high and obviously past ten. Noctis stretches, squirming around in the sheets and rolling to sit up. He can hear Prompto’s laugh from downstairs, and that’s what has him slinking out of bed.
Gargling mouthwash and spitting in the sink, he scratches his hair as he descends down the stairs.
“Good morning princess,” Gladio teases.
“Did you sleep well?”
“So fucking good,” Noctis yawns. “Coffee?”
“Here,” Ignis rises from the barstool and approaches the coffee pot. “Hungry?”
“I made the eggs!” Prompto raises an arm. “Sort of.”
“I asked Iggy to show me how he does the sunnysides so perfect.”
“I think that’s a Specs exclusive skill,” Noctis says, accepting the coffee with a thank you. “Like his double donuts.”
“I’m glad to know my work repertoire befalls eggs and driving,” Ignis says.
Noctis tries to give him a smile over his coffee, and Ignis’s eyes sparkle back. It’s rare to see him with his hair down, let alone in sweatpants and a cotton t-shirt, Ifrit alive his mouth is watering.
“Well, at least I tried,” Prompto says. He stirs his fork around in his plate, “Next I need to learn how to make the apple bunnies.”
“Those, actually, are quite easy,” Ignis says.
“You said that about the eggs,” Gladio laughs. Noctis turns his head to see him kicked up on the couch, no shirt and a book in hand. Very on brand, but the little bun on his head screams Iggy’s handiwork, and gods it is cute.
Noctis grabs a plate and serves himself pancakes, and some of Prompto’s eggs. He doesn’t finish the pancakes, but makes a show of eating all the eggs just to make Prom happy.
“So what’s the plan today?” Prompto asks, swiveling the chair.
They all look to Ignis. Iggy sips his coffee and continues to scroll through his phone, taking a moment too long to realize the room is looking at him.
“Oh – whot?”
“I don’t believe we have one,” Ignis says.
“You know we’re going to argue if you leave it up to us,” Noctis says.
“Ah,” Ignis smiles, and smothers it quickly. “Then how about we clean breakfast and see if they have any beach umbrellas stashed in the garage?”
“Solid plan,” Gladio answers.
Noctis feels torn between gathering them all on the couch and squishing every inch of skin against them for the next seven days, or actually going out to see a real life beach in person.
“Mkay,” Noctis chews.
“Alright, alright settle down,” Prompto claps. “Everyone, welcome to the sunscreen club. We have a new member this month, very big, very sexy. Everyone say hello.”
“Oh my god, shut up.”
“This is a club of helping others,” Prompto continues. “You do me I do you. Then you do you, and I do me and –“
Ignis takes the spray sunscreen and hits the back of his neck with it. Prompto immediately squeals, curling away – “COLD!!!”
Noctis has one earbud in already, half-tuning out the screaming going on behind him. The garage door is open, and a few people ride by on bikes. Noctis is trying to stuff as many towels as humanly possible in this bag, and he’s maxed out at about three and a half.
Gladio rubs some sunscreen along his tattoo and nods to the wall where complimentary beach stuff hangs.
“Anyone want a chair?”
“I’ll take one,” Ignis says. “But I can carry it.”
“Nah, I got it.”
Ignis sprays sunscreen on his hand and slathers it up Prompto’s back, catching him by the waist before he can squirm away, “Well – thank you. I’ll take the cooler then.”
“Anything good in there?”
“No alcohol is permitted on the sand.”
“Damn, that’s a no.”
“Come on,” Noctis whines. “Let’s just go.”
Ignis is in a big floppy hat and a tank top, and he’s pale but – pretty when he steps out under the sun. Gladio looks like he was born for this; backwards cap and sunglasses and a black drawstring swimsuit. Prom is in shorts two-sizes too big, and it’s a real crime he doesn’t have any understanding of how hot he is.
“Alright then,” Ignis says. “Shut the garage.”
“I’m pickin’ up good vibrations~” Prompto sings.
It’s only two blocks to the sand. There’s some locals already out on the beach, but they’re sparse and laid out on towels.
When they spot the ocean, Noctis faulters, pausing to breathe it in. It’s…kind of astounding. The blue doesn’t end, stretching on and on until it disappears into nothing.
Prompto leads them out to the top of the sand, as close as they can get to the water without the danger of getting caught in a wave.
The sand isn’t hot yet, so Noctis kicks off his sandals and helps Gladio screw in the umbrella.
Ignis settles straight in the shade, but Noctis lays his towel under the sun. Noctis is fortunate enough to know that he doesn’t burn. One time he got volunteered to do some cleanup project out on the other side of town, and it wasn’t bad, but he baked for about thirteen hours and came out looking like a soufflé. His guards on the other hand, were not so lucky.
Prompto lays down next to him, keeping his towel half in the shade like that’s going to do anything to save his legs later.
Gladio forgoes a towel all together, crashing right in the sand and rolling to his stomach, pulling that same book out of thin air.
“Is it that good?” Noctis asks.
Gladio thumbs to his last dogear and blinks, “Hm?”
“Your book. You haven’t put it down since yesterday.”
“Dramatic,” Gladio says. “But it’s good. Periodical romance. War and stuff.”
Ignis snorts, and plugs a set of earbuds into his phone. “And what novel would entertain your standards, highness?”
Noctis doesn’t like being called that when they’re like this. When they’re not Prince Noctis and his retainers. He frowns, and shifts on his towel, flicking down his sunglasses.
“None,” Prompto laughs.
“Whatever, read what you want.”
“I will,” Gladio grins. “Want me to read to you? ‘Sweet Victoria, your eyes are like-“
Noctis rolls over and puts in his other earbud. He can hear the others laughing; Noctis chooses to tune out their chatter. The sun is hot, but the breeze rolling off the ocean is cool. It’s blue and sparkly out there, a few kids splashing in the rolling waves, a couple seagulls floating by the buoys.
Prompto has already dug out a soda from the cooler and is burying his feet completely under the sand. Noctis dozes in and out watching him build little sand piles, fiddling with the shell-bits he finds along the way.
He’s talking to Ignis about something, occasionally leaning over to point at his phone – and the way Ignis looks at him…it’s soft. Sweet.
Music blasting in his ears, Noctis can’t hear what they’re talking about, but Prompto gestures with his hands and giggles, and when Prompto turns away, Noctis is fortunate to see the look on Iggy’s face shift from adorably fond, to narrowed and –
Prompto arches his back and plants a hand in the sand. His shoulders are all freckled, little dots leading down his back and under the waistband of his swimsuit. Noctis fights a smile as the ravenous look on Iggy’s face poofs away the very second Prompto turns back to him.
Gladio turns a page in his book. The sun feels like a hot blanket, so Noctis dozes off for real this time.
He couldn’t have slept for very long, but light is stabbing right in his eyes, goddammit. Noctis sits up and rubs at them.
“How’s it going?” Prompto nudges him. “Feeling relaxed?”
“Hot,” Noctis answers.
“Wanna’ go jump in the water? These losers won’t go with me.”
Gladio and Ignis don’t grace him with a response. Noctis snorts.
Prompto pulls him to his feet, and he shakes some of the sand out of his shorts before following down to the water. It laps to their ankles, and yeah, it’s fucking cold – hello, awake now - but you kinda’ get used to it the further you go.
Prompto is jumping up and down, wiggling his arms around as he bounces, and Noctis laughs.
“What are you doing?”
“It helps, dude. Try it.”
Noctis starts to jump with him, knowing they look fucking stupid but not really caring anyways. There’s nobody within thirty feet of their umbrella, so Noctis edges him on, splashing Prompto when his back is turned.
“Fuck!” Prompto laughs. “That is so cold, dude.”
“Go under on three?”
“No way, you’re gonna’ fake me out.”
“I promise I won’t.” Noctis reaches out a hand. “Here.”
Prompto has a pretty smile. He takes his hand.
“I’m putting a lot of trust in you.”
“Gee, I’m honored.”
“Three!” Noctis calls, and they dip under when a larger wave crashes. Ramuh its cold, but his skin feels so much better now.
They whip up together, jerking their heads to flip their hair out of their eyes.
“Woah!” Prompto laughs. Bright blue eyes, blonde hair curling under his ears.
Nobody’s looking. They’re waist deep in the ocean. This is the last week he has.
Noctis grips his hand painfully hard, and hooks an arm around Prompto’s neck. He sways, surprised with the weight, and Noctis pulls him until they’re kissing.
Prompto’s lips are cold and taste like sea-salt, but they part in a surprised little gasp, and kiss back without any hesitation, and Noctis’s stomach flips from it. Noctis bends his knees and Prompto goes with him, floating down in the water and letting them bob with a wave.
It warms his mouth, burns in his lungs and flutters his stomach.
They pull apart when a wave nearly knocks them off their feet. They dig their hands into each other, careful not to let the other float away.
“What was that?” Prompto laughs.
“I dunno,” Noctis says. He turns his head sideways again, pressing back in to taste salt and sunscreen and soda pop. Prompto’s tongue darts out to wet his own lip, but Noctis catches it with his teeth and –
“Ew!” Prompto jerks, “Ew ew ew what was that –”
Noctis looks around, startled. A fish? This close to the shore?
“Seaweed,” Noctis laughs, holding it up.
“Gross nasty disgusting get that away from me.”
“What?” Noctis giggles. He holds up the seaweed and reaches for him, “It won’t hurt you. Go on, touch it.”
Prompto nearly elbows him in the face trying to get away.
“Stop! Noctis I’m serious!”
The joke isn’t worth a broken nose, so Noctis tosses it back towards the shore.
“Fine, fine, see? Here, take my hand again.”
“No way, you have slimey seaweed fingers.”
Noctis washes them off in the water and flicks it his way. Prompto sputters into a laugh, wiping his eyes.
“Hey,” Noctis frowns. “You’re looking a little pink.”
“Yeah. Come on, let’s get you covered.”
“Ugh, I need new skin,” Prompto sighs, reluctantly taking Noctis’s hand. “Maybe someone will be willing to buy mine. You think I’ll be a hit on craigslist?”
“I’m not answering that.”
They trudge back up the hill and towards the umbrella. Ignis looks up, along with Gladio.
“Heard a lot of screaming down there,” Gladio grins.
“We had a run in with some pretty dangerous seaweed.”
“Oh shut it. Where’s the sunblock?”
“Here.” Ignis hands him the bottle. Prompto squirts some in his palm, and Noctis takes some too, just so he can help Prompto catch the spots that are turning red.
“Thanks. Man, I’m going to be one giant freckle after this.”
“Yeah, but it’s cute,” Gladio says.
Noctis rubs behind his neck, and Prompto squirms when it tickles.
“Agreed,” Ignis says. Noctis nods, and Prompto turns his eyes down, a bit embarrassed.
“Your hair is gonna’ bleach out too,” Noctis adds, ruffling his hair with his non-oily hand.
Gladio turns over, pressing a hand to his own shoulder and frowning.
“Dang. I didn’t think I was sitting that long. Hey, can you pass the bottle?”
Prompto tosses it, and Gladio catches the sunscreen in one hand. He turns to Ignis.
“Do you mind?”
Noctis always thought Gladio and Ignis were great dancers. Because damn, all they do is fuckin’ dance around each other. Middle school, high school, post-grad and even now, Ignis is a man of many masks, but even Noctis catches the short, brief panic that flickers across his face. He clamps it down with his jaw, and nods.
Gladio turns in the sand, facing his back towards Ignis, and Ignis full on bites into his lower lip. Prompto looks to Noctis, brow raised, and he nods back in a yeah, I know.
Ignis pours sunscreen in his palm, caps the bottle, and stares at Gladio’s back like it’s some kind of mural. He reaches out, fingers pausing to hover right between his shoulder blades.
It’s all or nothing. Noctis knows whatever the four of them have going on here, it goes beyond attraction. But Gladio and Ignis – they hop around each other, as if they’re afraid of what’ll happen if they dive a bit deeper. If they cuddle too close in bed. If maybe, they kissed for real, instead of just watching.
Noctis knows they care about each other. He knows it’s deep too, because you just don’t dance around stuff like this. Not if it’s just a fling.
Ignis touches Gladio like he’s afraid he’ll scare him away. Noctis knows how much Gladio means to him, but he never really stopped to consider how Ignis would feel, if Gladio really did fulfill his duty.
You know. Die for his prince.
(The scar makes Noctis sick to think about).
Maybe Gladio is Iggy’s everything. It’s actually, the one thing Noctis understands intimately.
Ignis spreads his fingers from the tattoo beneath his neck, to the tailfeathers at his lower back. Long, slow strokes, enough to lull Prompto and Noctis utterly silent.
“He — hic! — the hospital he, this drunk guy he, he came out of nowhere-“
“Take me to him.”
Ignis digs his thumb into his shoulder, as if he’s trying to rub the sunscreen beyond his skin. Gladio shivers a little, gaze dead set in front of him.
“Iggy’s really sick. I don’t know what to do.”
“Don’t move. I’m on my way.”
Ignis sits back, and clears his throat.
“Thanks,” Gladio says, and his voice is a little rough.
Prompto and Noctis share one more look, before breaking the ice that’s settled.
“Alright, I’m hungry,” Prompto stretches. “Got any grub in that Poppins bag?”
“It just so happens…” Ignis starts, righting his glasses and popping the cooler. “I have sandwiches and crackers.”
Prompto moans, “Oh Iggy, you’re the best.”
Ignis smiles, and his eyes flicker down and up in a rare moment of bashfulness.
“Turkey or ham?”
When the sun gets lower on the ocean, they start to feel a little washed out. They pack up their stuff and hunt down flip flops, trudging back across the sand and up the block.
There’s something about a day in the sun that leaves you tired, but full of energy anyways. Something about the reddish hue of the sky, mixed with locals on bikes and the taste of soda still in your mouth.
“Are there any requests for dinner?” Ignis asks.
“Yeah,” Noctis says. He bumps Iggy with his shoulder, “For you to take a break.”
“I really don’t mind.”
“I know a vacation is a foreign concept Iggy, but you’ve been busy since we got here.”
“Hey, let’s do a pizza. I saw a local place around the corner?”
Ignis perks up at the word local.
“Ah. Alright then. The usual?”
Prompto fingerguns, “You know us!”
It’s hard not to watch Prompto’s little bubble butt while he walks. He’s still trying to shake all the sand out of his hair, so Noctis reaches up to help, and it falls like snow. Prompto laughs, turning around to scruff Noct’s hair in retaliation.
“We need showers before we even think about eating,” Gladio says. He unceremoniously dumps his armful of shit in the corner of the garage.
“No sand in the kitchen,” Ignis snaps. “I will know.”
Prompto calls first dibs on the shower. Noctis trudges up after him, not really excited to sit around covered in sand for thirty minutes, but whatever. He tries to shake off as much as he can, but it’s still everywhere. Nobody warned him about this.
He steps in the bedroom, and Prompto already has the shower running. His shirt is in his arms, and he’s staring at the wall like he’s waiting for something.
Noctis cocks his head, “Prom?”
Prompto jerks, yanking his shirt to his chest.
“You’re wasting water,” Noctis jokes. “I’ll steal that shower from you.”
“I um.” Prompto looks down, and up. Noctis is immediately drawn to his mouth, where his tongue wets his bottom lip. “I was wondering if uh. You wanted to share?”
“You don’t have to –“
“Okay,” Noctis blurts.
Prompto stares a moment longer, and it’s…it’s nice to know that Noctis isn’t the only one who gets nervous about this stuff.
“Okay,” Prompto repeats.
Prompto silently drops his shirt to the bathroom floor, and Noctis follows. They take off their swim trunks and dump them in the sink to be washed out later.
Noctis laughs when he sees sand up Prompto’s lower back, and beneath his butt.
“Sandy ass,” he jokes, tapping his rear.
“You’ve got it in your ears!” Prompto laughs. “Get in, asshole.”
Noctis tests the temperature and steps in first. It’s a not a huge shower, but there’s enough from for both of them to stand comfortably.
“Damn,” Prompto sighs, shoving his head under the spray. “That feels good.”
“You’re a little pink, babe,” Noctis mumbles. He pokes his shoulder, and Prompto winces.
“Shit. Is it bad?”
“No. It’ll probably fade by tomorrow.
He’s pink down his back, and there’s a white tan line at his hip.
Noctis rests his hand against Prompto’s side, and feels his mouth go a little dry. His gaze dropping back to his ass, and up to the nape of his neck. Ugh, pretty. Like a thousand little stars in his skin.
Prompto turns, gently stepping back to pull Noctis into the spray.
The water washes sand down the drain. Prompto is staring at him with those big puppy eyes. Noctis isn’t that self-conscious, but it’s hard not to be when someone looks at you like that.
They find soap somewhere, scrubbing down sun-sensitive skin and trying to wash away as much sand as possible. Prompto takes the loofa out of his hand, and takes over for him.
“You tanned,” Prompto states. His voice is tight.
“Is that bad?”
“No.” Prompto rubs up his side, feeling beneath his armpit and behind his shoulder. He looks up, “You know you’re like, really hot, right?”
Prompto sighs out of his nose, and drops his mouth to Noctis’s shoulder. His hands skim around to his lower back, the loofa dropping to the floor.
“I really like hanging out with you guys. But gods it is bad for my libido.”
Noctis laughs again, almost startled at how loud it is against the tile. He rests his hands on Prompto’s hips, lightly skimming up his waist and over his shoulderblades, soaking in all the warm skin he can.
“Blueball city dude. It’s totally killing me.” Noctis braces a hand against Prompto’s jaw, feeling water hit the backs of his shoulders. “You’re killing me.”
Prompto’s chest raises sharp, and it feels tight, suddenly. Secluded and safe and okay.
Prompto’s gaze drops to his mouth. Noctis rubs his thumb along his cheek, and just looks.
“Can I kiss you?” Prompto asks.
“Yes,” Noctis answers, and Prompto tips his head and parts his lips and doesn’t even bother with anything chaste. It’s messy, steamy with the humidity rising up the glass. Noctis grips him hard by the back of the neck and fucking kisses back. Nothing but tingles, yellow sparks behind his closed eyes.
He slides his tongue into Prom’s mouth, feels Prompto curl his tongue back and it’s like a stone in his stomach. A heavy drop and a flip that makes a sound grind in his throat.
Prompto kisses with force – for what he lacks in finesse, he makes up in enthusiasm and that’s okay, Noctis isn’t an Olympian kisser either (Ignis). He likes the spit that rolls down his chin, he likes the nails digging in his back, he likes it.
Quick, Prompto moves from his mouth, to his jaw, down into his neck which is so not fair, because everyone knows that’s his weak spot. Noctis moans, breath short from the steam, heat going nowhere but south.
“I…” Prompto starts. Noctis drops his hands to his ass and pulls him forwards, rocking Prom’s semi against his hip, “Ah – fuck!”
Prompto’s hands burn against his back. Every where he touches, up his shoulders and around his neck. He drops a hand between them and flattens his palm against Noctis’s stomach.
They kiss again. Again, again. More. And more.
“Noct,” Prompto sighs. Noctis kisses into his hairline. Prompto decidedly wraps a hand around his cock and squeezes, and Noctis hisses through his teeth, cock throbbing in Prompto’s palm. Alright okay, even he wasn’t pent up, his dick in Prompto’s hand will always be spank bank material.
Prompto stares him down, mind made. “I want to make you feel good.”
“Fuck,” Noctis curses. “Fuck.” They’re not prepared, nor do they have the patience to pull any tricks. Noctis thinks quickly. “Something fast?”
“Yeah,” Prompto sighs. “I really wont…”
“Me too. Turn around.”
Prompto obediently looks to the shower wall, and Noctis adjusts him where he’d like. He grabs each of Prompto’s wrists and presses his palms to the cold tile. Heart in his stomach, Noctis nudges Prompto’s thighs together, sliding up to his back and holding him by the waist.
Just the innuendo of the position makes him fucking crosseyed, bloody Ifrit.
“Yeah? What are you…“ Prompto begins, but jerks up straight. “Oh! Oh. Oh hell yeah, fuck my thighs. Fuck, fuck yeah.” Noctis breathes out a laugh through his nose and with the slick of the shower, he slips his cock between his plush little thighs. Prompto whines, dropping his forehead against the shower wall. The friction is mad good. Prompto babbles, “Oh god, this is like, such a wet dream dude. I used to jack off thinking about – about this.”
Noctis grits his teeth, trying not to blow it as soon as he rocks back and forwards. He slips a hand around to find Prompto’s dick, grabbing him sloppily by the base. He’s a solid weight in his hand, twitching at the contact.
“Ah ah – yeah, yeah. Fuck, bite me.”
Noctis does, right under his ear. Prompto moans loud, rocking back against his hips and then up into his palm. They don’t make much of a rhythm, but they get a pace down with time. Noctis leans back to stare at where his dick disappears between his thighs, and it’s almost too much.
Blood is rushing through is ears, hot in his stomach and down to his toes. Prompto moans again and Noctis jerks, as if he’s been shocked. Everything about Prompto turns him on – everything, everything. His fingers clenched against the wall, sand still in his hair, water dripping down freckles and moles and stretch marks.
“Oh god Noct,” Prompto whines. “I can feel – oh,” Prompto drops a hand down between his thighs, where the head of Noctis’s cock bumps against his balls. “Shit.”
Heat in his gut, Noctis feels his stomach twist tight. He pumps his hand faster, knowing it’s a little too rough, but Prompto likes it that way. He thrusts a little too hard, shoving Prompto up against the tile, and Prompto cries out pretty.
“Louder,” Noctis mumbles. “Make ‘em hear you.”
Prompto gasps, hips shoving back, and it’s Noctis’s turn to groan. He doesn’t make it. His balls draw up and his stomach clenches and it’s over; he jerks back to paint Prompto’s thighs, slicking up the cleft of his ass as he jerks his hips a few shaky times.
Prompto is making hiccupy noises against the wall, some slur of holy shit that’s so hot, Noct, Noctis please –
So Noctis unevenly squeezes the head of his cock, and Prompto comes, dramatic and boneless and soo loud, enough to reverberate off the tile.
“I got you,” Noctis mumbles, kissing his ear. Prompto trembles, legs shaking as he works through it. They’ve fooled around before, but every time feels like the first. Noctis isn’t sure if it’s inexperience, or just that he’s really whipped for the partners he’s chosen.
Prompto turns and leans his back against the wall, still shaky. His pupils are blown, hair slick and his side red from where the water has been pelting him. He’s chewed his lip a little too much.
“Um,” Prompto breathes. “Fuck.”
Noctis presses his cheeks in his hands and kisses him. Prompto smiles into the kiss and kind of ruins it, but that’s okay.
They’re giggling when they finally make it down the stairs. They tripped twice trying to pull on sweatpants, and Prompto nearly broke a foot over his own shoe, and it reminded Noctis of the time they hopped the school fence and Prompto got his leg stuck in the wiring, and Noctis is now laughing too hard to make it down the stairs alone.
Prompto supports him with an arm, snickering in his ear, and they jump when arms wrap around them from behind, and squeeze them at the waist.
“Oh, now that’s no fair,” Gladio grins.
Prompto turns in his grip and juts up his chin, smiling.
“You two were up to something fun,” Gladio hums. He presses his mouth to the hickey on Noctis’s neck, and then smacks a kiss against Prompto’s jaw. “And you didn’t invite me? Rude.”
“Sorry, no room,” Noctis teases.
“There’s only space for two twinks,” Prompto raises a peace sign.
“Damn, where do I apply?”
“You’d have to go under quite the makeover to meet the requirements,” Ignis teases. He’s curled up on the sofa, a blanket over his lap, and Noctis has never seen something so appetizing, holy hell. He dips out of Gladio’s hold and nearly teleports across the room.
Ignis is already lifting the blanket when Noctis crawls in next to him. Ignis presses him close, and it finally feels like they’re starting to fall into a rhythm. The blinds are up and the sun is still setting, but Noctis isn’t worried. He noodles his arms around Ignis and flops his head on his shoulder.
Ignis breathes in, smoothing along his outer arm, “Ahh, all clean I see.”
“You smell good,” Noctis mumbles.
“Thank you. Did you enjoy your day?”
“The ocean is prettier than the pictures,” Noctis says. “But I’m tired.”
“He fucked my thighs,” Prompto tells, rising on his toes to be a tease.
It works, because Ignis’s breath catches, and Gladio grits his teeth, grabbing Prompto by the waist and hauling him up in one arm.
“Christ, you can’t just say that shit. Now I’m actually jealous.”
Noctis feels his face go hot. He looks to the T.V., where Ignis is watching some home renovation show. Prompto says he hates being manhandled, and Prompto is also a liar.
Gladio supports his weight and keeps a hand free, and Prompto giggles when he’s set on the counter.
“Tease-“ Gladio starts.
“That was quick.”
Gladio says, “I’ll get it.”
Prompto kicks his feet and laughs, watching Gladio move to answer the door shirtless. Thick arms, tattoos and wet hair -
“Innocent delivery boy is about to get a sexual awakening.”
“This could be the start to a really good porno,” Noctis adds.
“Did somebody order a large sausage?” Prompto drops his voice, and it’s really fucking funny because they did actually order a large sausage. Noctis cackles.
Gladio flips them off, turning around the corner and opening the door. Noctis only catches half of the conversation, but he hears a mix of stuttering and Gladio’s low no, thank you. Have a nice day –
“Number alert!” Prompto calls, hopping off the counter and taking the receipt from Gladio. He turns it over and looks at the digits scrawled on the back. “Called it.”
“Innocent delivery boy not so innocent.”
“Was he cute?” Ignis asks.
“A little young,” Gladio sighs, setting the pizza on the counter. “Order up.”
Noctis stretches out a hand and makes an ah ah sound, because there’s no way he’s getting up from the Worlds Most Comfortable couch crease.
Gladio raises an eyebrow.
“Oh, first you get laid and now you want me to hand feed you?”
“We live to serve,” Ignis hums. Noctis clicks his tongue and makes a fingergun, and Gladio rolls his eyes.
They eat dinner on the couch and flip between the limited T.V. channels. Prompto sits cross legged and barrels on about the cameras used on the Discovery channel, and Noctis has no idea how he has any energy left, but he’s nice to listen to. Some people find Prompto’s chattiness annoying, but Noctis isn’t one of them.
Ignis is warm. Noctis really wants to kiss him. But Ignis is involved in whatever he’s watching, and it’s nice to see him relaxed for once, so he keeps still.
Gladio kicks his feet up on their laps, and Noctis likes the combined weight of it. It’s grounding in a way that’s hard to explain.
this is an au where everythings the same except no monsters i said so
every other summer or so i end up writing a beach fic. its in me bones i canny help it. its no poetry or nothin, but fuck if this au makes me happy
Will I be? Stay right here
Any closer, bad idea
Shout out to, what is done
R.I.P, here comes the sun
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The best part of a vacation is being bored.
It’s just…nice to not think about shit.
They had a slow morning. Gladio and Ignis brought back Starbucks, and they’ve been lounging around the house, not up to much. Prompto has been involved in a game on Iggy’s iPad for the last three hours, and Noctis is pretty sure he’s never seen him sit still for so long, and it’s almost scary.
Ignis sliced up a watermelon at lunch time, and they’ve all been picking at it for the last hour or so. Gladio’s hair is wavy from the braids Prompto gave him last night, and he’s sat on the porch most of the day, already onto the next book in his series.
“That,” Ignis says, “is offensive.”
“What is?” Noctis chews. “His cake?”
“A St. Honoré is supposed to have a beautiful golden color to it,” Ignis sighs. “Almost like honey.”
“Ah. His looks like a bicycle tire.”
The judges on T.V. reiterate Ignis’s criticism almost word for word. Noctis snorts.
“You know a lot for someone who doesn’t cook pastries.”
“I find I lack the patience,” Ignis says. “There are too many factors beyond my control, like humidity levels and dough quality. Cooking is much more relaxing than baking.”
“I like to bake,” Prompto adds, not looking up from his game. “Like, box brownies and stuff.”
Ignis makes a face, and Noctis shakes his shoulders in a silent laugh. They’re on opposite ends of the couch, and Noctis really wants to cuddle with him again, but he doesn’t want to invade Iggy’s personal space. He’s been a little distant, and Noctis doesn’t want to annoy him now that he’s finally warming up to the idea of a vacation.
Gladio enters from the porch, sliding his book on the counter and stealing another slice of watermelon out of the bowl.
“Hey couch potatoes,” Gladio says, like a hypocrite. “Do we actually plan on leaving the house today?”
“Tell me what we’re doin’ and I’ll put on pants,” Prompto says.
“I’m fine with whatever,” Noctis says.
Ignis hums, “Well, we did pass that bike rental on our jog this morning.”
“Oh yeah. Good prices too.”
“Wait, you two went jogging this morning?”
“Yeah, didn’t you see the shells we picked up?”
“What?!” Prompto sets aside the iPad, “No!”
“They’re drying on the porch,” Ignis smiles. “We even found a few conch shells.”
“What the hell, that is so cool. Take me next time!”
“Do not take me,” Noctis says.
“It’s only two p.m.,” Gladio looks at the clock on the oven. “I’m making an executive decision. We’re riding bikes.”
“When I said ‘whatever’ I also meant not that.”
“What? Can’t ride a bike?”
“Of course I can,” Noctis folds his arms. “Specs taught me.”
“Hahaha- wait,” Prompto giggles. “That’s adorable.”
“He was,” Ignis agrees.
“Then what’s the big deal?”
“Riding a bike isn’t really on my top list of relaxing things.”
“You’ll eat your words,” Ignis says, brushing Noctis’s bangs aside, and rising fluidly off the couch. “Promise, darling.”
Noctis feels his mouth go dry. Damn, Ignis plays dirty. Noctis feels his face go hot, and doesn’t put up any more of a fight.
This is…kind of cool.
The bike path is lined by palm trees. It flows high above the sand, where you can see miles of ocean. They spent half an hour at the bike-shop, and another twenty minutes arguing on where to go, but Ignis insisted he lead, and now the four of them are riding along the path and it’s…(fun, okay, sheesh).
Prompto has shoved his speaker in the basket of his bike, and you can hear the waves crashing from up here, and the sun is nice.
Noctis rides alongside Gladio. It’s probably for the best, because Gladio is in track pants and a muscle shirt, and it’s way too distracting.
Ignis and Prompto aren’t exactly chopped liver either. Noctis always forgets how wide Iggy’s shoulders are.
“I’m the lonely twin the left hand~” Prompto sings.
“Reset myself and get back on track,” Noctis finishes, with Prom’s speaker. Prompto laughs, turning his head back and peddling along. He sticks up his arms, surprisingly competent at riding a bike with no hands.
“I don’t want this isolation~”
“To see the state I’m in now.”
Ignis reaches across the distance as he rides, grabbing Prompto’s open hand. Their bikes wobble as they ride hip to hip – and Prompto laughs, “Woah!” and Ignis laughs with him.
“You idiots are gonna’ fall,” Gladio grins.
“We’ve got this!”
“Hold on tight,” Ignis smiles. Ignis’s hair is rustling with the wind. It was spiked this morning, but the humidity has already allowed it to fall, messy in his face.
Their bikes wobble again, but Noctis is thoroughly impressed that they haven’t eaten shit yet.
That’s why it’s so embarrassing when Noctis hits the one pothole everyone else managed to avoid, and goes head first over the handlebars.
“Shit!” Gladio hits the brakes.
There’s the sound of screeching tires. He assumes. Noctis is kinda’ busy seething in pain and also anger.
“God dammit,” Noctis sighs. He sits up off the hot pavement, ignoring the stares of onlookers.
“Noctis,” Ignis throws up his kickstand, hurrying to his side. “Are you alright?”
Noctis checks his arms, his legs, his head.
“Yeah,” he rolls his eyes. His arm is bleeding, but it’s black with the asphalt. “Fuckin skinned myself.”
Prompto is laughing so hard he’s crying.
“Dude,” Prompto wipes his eyes. “You – you flew.”
Gladio lets out a snort, but tastefully brushes under his nose to hide a smile. He picks up Noctis’s bike for him.
Ignis presses a hand to his head, double checking for blood. He looks at his arm, and when Ignis decides he’ll live, he helps him to his feet. Noctis tries to bat him off, but Ignis is persistent.
“Knock it off, I’m fine!”
“Be grateful I don’t stick a helmet on you,” Ignis says. They’re still in the middle of the path. Pedestrians and other bike-riders move around them, so they try to shuffle off towards the side.
“Damn,” Noctis rubs his sore arm. “Sorry guys.”
Prompto sniffles, still giggling. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
“Yeah right. Do me a favor and never be a doctor.”
Prompto doubles over, miming Noctis flying over the handlebars. Ignis and Gladio start to laugh, and simultaneously smother it.
“Thanks, thanks guys,” Noctis jokes. “Bleeding out, I really appreciate the help.”
“Sorry,” Ignis sniffs. “Are you okay to keep on?”
“Yeah I’m good.”
“You’re riding next to me then,” Ignis says. “Gladio obviously can’t be trusted to catch you.”
“Hey now!” Gladio starts, mounting his bike again. “I can catch a lot of shit, but the speed of sound ain’t one of ‘em.”
Prompto nearly falls over trying to sit on his bike again. Noctis goes up to him and straight up shoves him in the grass. Prompto clutches his sides, rolling with laughter, and Noctis straddles him, fingers jabbing for his stomach.
“Little! Blonde! Asshole!”
“Hahaha help! Stranger danger!”
Gladio plucks Noctis off Prompto like a toddler in a fist fight. Gladio easily sets him back on his feet, dusting off Noctis’s shoulders.
“Can we please have one normal outing as a family? I’ll turn this car around.”
Noctis knows Gladio is joking, but something about the word family hits him firm in the stomach.
Prompto smiles, allowing Ignis to pull him to his feet.
“Normal is a –“
“Shut UP – “
“-setting on a washing machine – “
“I’m stealing your bike.”
Noctis didn’t realize how much his arm hurt until they returned the bikes and walked home.
He takes a shower to wash off all the caked blood and black asphalt, and it starts to bleed again after the shower. He skinned both of his knees, but his left arm definitely got the worst of his weight. Damn, that’s embarrassing.
Ignis catches him walking through the hallway in pajama shorts, trying to stop the bleeding with a handtowel, and nearly drags him into his bathroom by the ear.
“Christ Iggy,” Noctis huffs, looking around the bathroom. “We’ve been here three days.”
It looks like a bomb went off. It’s the complete opposite of the attached bedroom; perfectly tidy and sparkly clean.
“I don’t want to hear it, I’ve seen your room,” Ignis huffs, digging through the drawer for his first aid kit (of course he brought a first aid kit). “Stand still. We need to disinfect this.”
“I washed it in the shower.”
“You won’t enjoy the infection.”
Noctis reluctantly stays still while Ignis wipes down his arm. It burns like hell, but Noctis manages to stay silent through the pain. He winces once, and Iggy’s eyes go soft.
“Apologies.” Ignis mumbles. “Should have cared for this earlier.”
“Not your job,” Noctis shrugs.
Ignis looks at him serious, green eyes a solid burn.
“It is. In more ways than one.”
Noctis swallows. He hopes Iggy will lean down and kiss him. He does not.
Gladio peeks in from the bedroom, mid change. He finishes pulling a hoodie over his head and frowns.
“Shit. That’s deeper than I thought. Sorry for makin’ fun of you.”
“You better be,” Noctis teases. He winces a little when Ignis dabs at his elbow. “I’ll have you sent to the brig for treason.”
“Oh noo,” Gladio snorts. “What must I do for the prince’s forgiveness?”
Noctis wordlessly points to his mouth. Ignis pauses, glancing up as Gladio crosses through the doorway.
“Impress me,” Noctis says.
“Well now,” Gladio smiles. “That’s an easy one.”
Iggy’s grip tightens around his wrist. He doesn’t move from Noctis’s side, even when Gladio invades their space among the silence of the bathroom. He steps closer, hovering over them both. Ignis is so tall, it still amazes him that Gladio can make Iggy look petite.
“He’s goading you,” Ignis says softly. “Better show him proper.”
One hand against the countertop, Gladio leans down, tipping his head and pressing an open-mouthed kiss against Noctis’s lips. Noctis hums happily, his free hand gripping Gladio’s forearm.
Gladio kisses hot. Like, everywhere. He smells like leather and wood, earthy and delicious. He never stops moving, never accepts anything other than compliance, and that’s why it’s so fun to fight back. It’s a tug of war, pushing and pulling until his jaw hurts. Noctis won’t give in easy.
Ignis presses a clean cotton swab against his elbow, and the pleasure-pain makes him gasp, accidentally allowing Gladio to fuck his mouth with his tongue.
He likes how big Gladio feels. It’s annoying most of the time, except now.
“Ah,” Ignis sounds, finally finished. He wipes down Noctis’s wound and begins to wrap a long bandage around the worst of it. “Appears your big mouth is good for something.”
Gladio pulls back sticky and turns his head – a mere few inches away from Ignis.
Breathing hard, Noctis bites his lip because please. Do it. Do it.
“You bein’ smart over here?” Gladio mumbles.
Ignis answers, very carefully finishing the bandage, “I’m always smart.”
The air feels tense. Noctis slides his hand up Gladio’s arm, and squeezes his bicep in what he hopes is encouragement.
Ignis and Gladio stare at each other for a moment too long.
Ah, what Noctis would give to be a fly on the wall. Do they cuddle in bed? Do they keep to their sides of the room? Do they cross paths in the shower?
They’re so individually beautiful. Noctis doesn’t understand why they’re so afraid to step a bit further.
The attraction is there. Ignis reaches up and brushes his thumb along the shaved part of Gladio’s hair. And just when Noctis thinks they might kiss – Ignis dips out from under his arm and begins down the hall.
“I’m making hamburgers from scratch tonight,” Ignis calls. “I absolutely refuse to cook and clean.”
Noctis bites back the disappointment. Gladio looks to him curiously, and Noctis takes his hand, pulling. He likes that Gladio follows.
“Yeah yeah, we’re on it.”
Dinner makes him sleepy. Heavy red meat and wheat bread; Noctis makes it maybe a foot in the bed before he’s conked out.
That’s why it’s such a surprise when he wakes up in the middle of the night.
The room is dark; he can hear the occasional car drive by. They left the window open, and cool sea-air blows through with the breeze.
Prompto is lightly snoring on the other side of the bed. He’s drooling, arms flopped like a squid, and Noctis is concerned for how often he looks at Prompto and just feels overwhelming affection. He’s dumb and messy and an asshole, and also brilliant and talented and gorgeous.
Noctis tries to roll over and go back to sleep, but he can’t keep his eyes closed for long. He chooses to lay on his back and stare at the ceiling.
He thinks of home, and presses his palms to his eyes.
No use thinking of it now.
Feeling restless, Noctis tiptoes out of bed. A couple floorboards creak, and he winces when Prompto’s snoring hitches – but he manages to make it down the stairs without like, falling and busting his ass again.
He rubs his arm a little sorely, hoping that Ignis stocked the fridge with some kind of juice.
To his own surprise, the kitchen lights are on low. Noctis blinks to adjust - and jumps when he realizes someone is sitting at the breakfast table.
There’s the familiar glow of a laptop light. He can see a binder across the table – and the hooded, scruffy figure at the table is none other than Ignis.
“Now what the hell are you doing?” Noctis gruffs. His voice is a little sleep rough. Ignis stiffens and pushes up his glasses to cover his surprise.
“You better not be doing what I think you’re doing.”
“It’s not what it looks like…” Ignis starts, tone light. Noctis is too tired to be hesitant any longer. He walks up behind Iggy’s chair and slips his hands down his shoulders, to the front of his chest, propping his chin on Ignis’s head.
“Earl Carlosta, BCC. Water District- this looks like work to me.”
“There’s just a few meetings we’re missing this week,” Ignis sighs. He rubs his eyes, pushing up his glasses. “Some things must be done, even during a ‘vacation’.”
Noctis frowns. He wanted this to be their time – but there’s no outrunning it all, huh?
Iggy freezes beneath him. He brings up a hand, covering Noctis’s fingers.
“I’ve made you feel like you have to do this alone.” Noctis presses his cheek to the top of Iggy’s head. “This is my homework. I’ll do it.”
“No – I don’t mind. It’s a few reports, is all.”
“Well, you’re obviously not having a good time, so. Let me do it.”
The air goes cold. Ignis turns his head, urging Noctis to step off him.
“Stop,” Noctis snaps. “Stop calling me that.”
Ignis stands from his chair, turning with a tired, puzzled expression.
“Are you alright?”
“I don’t want to be your prince right now. I want to be your boyfriend.”
Ignis nearly recoils. Then he has the gall to look guilty for it.
Noctis’s chest hurts. It tightens, squeezing into his stomach. He knows Iggy. He knows him.
Noctis shoves his hands in his pockets.
“Do you want to be here? With us?”
Ignis bristles, as if he’s offended.
“Wh – of course I do. What kind of ridiculous – “
“Kiss me,” Noctis demands. Ignis stops mid-reach. Noctis slides up to him, placing his hands on Iggy’s narrow waist. He feels like a statue beneath his fingers. The kitchen lights are low, and they’re whispering soft, but Noctis grits his teeth and demands, “Kiss me. Kiss Prompto. Kiss Gladio.”
Ignis opens his mouth, but nothing comes out. Noctis waits, and when Ignis has gathered his thoughts he says, “Lady Lunafreya will be arriving three days after our return.”
“I knew it,” Noctis huffs.
“It’s – “ Ignis spits, “It’s hard to pretend everything is okay. I told you this – this was not permanent.”
Don’t get attached.
“It’s tearing me apart,” Noctis whispers, fighting a crack in his voice. “But if we don’t enjoy this now, we might never get another chance.”
Iggy’s mask chips.
“Live in the moment…” Ignis mumbles. “It is difficult for me. Being here is…heartbreakingly wonderful. Everything I want is right in front of me, but it’s something I must also lose.”
Noctis raises his hand to Ignis’s cheek. Ignis looks to him with shimmery green eyes and finally, it’s him in there. The Iggy he saw the day Noctis grabbed him by the collar, and kissed him straight on. Real, true, down to the bone.
“I’ve been fighting to stay out of my head. You keep out of yours.”
Ignis breathes a laugh, pulling Noctis closer in his arms.
“Forgive me. I did not mean to be distant.”
His heart hurts. Noctis traces beneath Iggy’s eye, along his cheek and faded acne scars.
“You were the one that taught me the word for us. Poly. Doesn’t…that mean, even when Luna and I…” Noctis swallows. “The three of you can move on?”
Ignis’s eyes harden cold. His arm braces around Noctis’s lower back, and he makes an ack sound as Ignis hauls him into a crushing hug.
“Do not insinuate what I think you are. I cannot bear the thought of it – of it not being all four of us.” Ignis pauses. “I don’t know who I’ve become.”
He’s worried Ignis can feel how fast his heart is beating. Noctis hugs Ignis back, closing his eyes.
“Let’s not think about it. We’ll do work later, okay? Together?”
Ignis doesn’t answer. He pets the back of Noctis’s neck, before pulling back and pressing their mouths together. Noctis whimpers, surprised from it, going jello in his arms. He lets himself go lax, lets Ignis kiss expertly into his mouth and press a hand against his lower back.
He thinks of the days spent in Gladio’s apartment. Slung over his shitty couch, Ignis mapping his mouth with his tongue, fingers slipped under his shirt –
“Let go,” Noctis begs. “Let go.”
Ignis knows what he means. He holds on tighter, kissing harder, pulling Noctis’s bottom lip between his teeth and letting Noctis do the same in return. Iggy’s glasses press against him, making little marks in his skin and Noctis wants so, so much more. Ignis’s hands brace at his cheeks, miming the way Noctis is holding him.
“Okay,” Ignis mumbles, forehead to forehead, and it breaks his heart.
The clock says 3 am. Noctis convinces Ignis to shut the laptop, and climb alongside him on the couch.
He wakes up to gentle shaking. Noctis can tell it’s still Shit A.M., because the light coming through the windows is bluish and soft.
“Ignis,” a deep voice whispers.
A head shifts against his shoulder – and Noctis peeks open an eye to see Iggy still asleep at his side, tucked between Noctis and the couch cushions.
“Iggy,” Gladio tries again. He reaches across and gently brushes Ignis’s hair out of his face. He’s sat back on a knee, unaware that Noctis has woken already. “I’m going for a jog. If you’re not coming lock the doors.”
Gladio does things that Noctis doesn’t always notice. Like be the last one to lock up the house, always hovering at the back of the group, checking for the exits when they enter a restaurant and walking along the edge of a sidewalk, between them and the cars.
Hm. Maybe he does notice.
“Mm?” Ignis stirs, rubbing his eyes. “You’re leaving?”
“I’m coming,” Ignis says. His voice is grainy and beyond hot. He starts to rise, and Noctis lets out a long groan.
“Oops,” Gladio grins. “Sorry. Go back to sleep Princess.”
Noctis secures Ignis between his arms, hooking a leg around his thigh for good measure.
“You can’t go.”
“You ought to come,” Ignis says, sounding more awake. He gently pets across Noctis’s knee and jokes, “The exercise is good for you.”
Noctis lets him go.
“Ugh,” he pouts.
Gladio is impressed. “Dang, you’re good.”
Ignis shoots him a smile, and pats around for his glasses. Gladio plucks them off the floor and hands them to him, and Ignis mumbles a thank you. He sits up slowly, stretching his arms above his head, and Noctis sighs in disappointment.
“Sorry baby,” Gladio grins, leaning down to press a kiss against his high cheek. “I’ll bring your toy back soon.”
“Hm,” Ignis says.
The scratch of Gladio’s beard feels good, so Noctis purrs and rubs back against him. Gladio laughs beneath his breath, and kisses down into his neck, petting up his stomach beneath his shirt.
“Wow, look at you this morning. Now I wanna’ stay.”
“You woke me up, we’re going,” Ignis rises, popping his back.
Gladio sits back on the edge of the couch and sighs. He looks to his left hand, “Sleepy prince?” He looks to his right hand, “Iggy in jogging shorts?”
He can feel Ignis’s eyeroll. Noctis snorts, closing his eyes again and pulling Gladio’s hand back towards him.
“Gotta’ get dressed, sorry.”
Ignis begins up the stairs, saying, “Give him to Prompto. He’ll leave you alone.”
Noctis sleepily presses Gladio’s hand along his cheek, rubbing his nose into his wrist. He smells good. Like cotton bedsheets and soap.
“Good idea. Alright, hold on.” He grunts as he scoots an arm under Noctis and hauls him up.
Noctis whines as he’s forced from the world’s most comfortable couch. Gladio jokingly tosses his weight in his arms, and begins to cross the living room and up the stairs.
“Jeez, keep binging the pizza and I won’t be able to do this anymore.”
“Funny,” Noctis deadpans, knowing Gladio can deadlift a car. He makes it look easy, rising up the stairs with an arm free to run along the railing. It reminds him of when they were younger; when Noctis would fall asleep in the boring adult meetings, and Regis would ask Gladio to take him to bed. He never meant carry, but Gladio always did anyways.
Gladio toes open the door. Prompto is still a ruffled mess on the other side of the bed. Blonde hair spiked up beneath the blanket, warm skin at the back of his neck – Noctis sticks out his arms like a baby to candy, and Gladio’s shoulders shake with a silent laugh.
Gladio drops him to the bed, and Prompto sniffles, rolling over and peeking open an eye.
“Mmmm-“ Prompto mumbles, clinging back onto him like a Koala – and yes. Yes this is good. Yes.
“We’ll wake you up for breakfast,” Gladio says.
Noctis shoves his face dead center in Prompto’s chest, Gladio closes the door, and he’s out again.
“I want huge tits,” Prompto says. “Like, massive bongos, dude. I won’t settle for anything less than a D cup.”
“I told you to trust me!” Noctis huffs. He’s crouched in the sand, kneeling over what is now just Prompto’s shoulders.
Ignis is reapplying sunscreen for some reason (he hasn’t left the safety of the umbrella, but okay). Gladio seems to have given up on the sunscreen club; and he’s the only one being useful, actually sculping some kind of tail around Prompto’s legs. It’s not the best tail, but it’s a tail.
“Bigger!” Prompto calls.
“Any bigger and you won’t be able to see!”
“There are children at this beach,” Ignis says.
“Pssh, they’re like, fifty feet away. They won’t see.”
“They might see these honkers,” Noctis says. He’s trying to sculpt seashells on the two bowling-ball-sized mounds of sand generously placed above Prompto’s chest. “Fuck, the men on mars can see these.”
“Good. My vision is coming true.”
“Stop moving your toes,” Gladio snaps. “You’re fucking up my tail.”
“Hey, Prince Ignis,” Noctis calls. Iggy lifts up his sunglasses and blinks. “Why don’t you get over here and be fun for once.”
“Yeah!” Prompto cranes his neck. “Take it off!”
Ignis slides his glasses back down.
“No thank you.”
“You’re the best artist out of all of us, man. I don’t know where this tail has gone wrong.”
Noctis looks over and snorts so hard it hurts his throat. It’s bad. Gladio glares, and Noctis quickly turns back to where he’s sculping a little waist on Prompto, before Gladio can toss him back in the ocean again.
Ignis sits a moment longer, and then sighs.
“Oh! He sighed!”
“Strip, strip, strip strip-“
Ignis yanks off his shirt by the back collar, and the three of them cheer.
He steps over to Gladio and sits on his knees.
“Oh dear,” Ignis says.
“Let’s start over, shall we?”
Ignis scoops sand away and begins to rebuild the fin. Gladio follows suit, and Noctis almost gets distracted, watching them kneel side by side in the sand.
They’re a pair that were forced to grow up too soon. You could say that about all four of them, really, but at least Noctis had Gladio and Ignis to stand in when he couldn’t. To cover for him when he snuck out to the arcades. To pick him up when he fell.
Who did Gladio and Ignis have?
Gladio elbows Ignis a little, and Ignis elbows him back childishly.
Each other, Noctis realizes. They had each other.
Noctis always forgets how good Ignis looks without a shirt. It should be a no brainer, but you really don’t expect Ignis to have so much muscle. Next to each other they’re just -
Noctis turns away, and realizes that Prompto is smiling at him.
“You cute,” Prompto says.
Noctis grabs one of the mounds and squeezes.
“Hey! You can’t just grab my sand-boob like that!”
Gladio clicks his tongue, “No class.”
“Honk honk,” Noctis replies, squeezing again. The genuine laugh he gets in response feels good.
“You’re going to burn, darling,” Ignis says, dusting off his hands.
Prompto scoffs, “How? Ninety percent of my body is buried.”
“You can still burn your scalp.”
“Here,” Gladio says, taking off his snapback. “Put this on him.”
Noctis takes the hat and slides in on Prompto’s head. He realizes, with a thrum of sadism, that he could do whatever he wanted, and Prompto wouldn’t be able to do a thing about it. He grins and turns the hat sideways.
“Hey! Don’t make me look like a douche.”
“Stop me,” Noctis says, poking his cheek. Prompto tries to bite his finger, and in the meantime, he kicks and crumbles the tail they were working on.
Gladio and Ignis make a sound in unison, “HEY!”
They look so silly. Crouched in the sand, two of the most gorgeous people Noctis has ever seen, sculpting a fucking mermaid tail out of sand.
Noctis rolls back and laughs, clutching his sides, borderline crying.
“Now we have to start all over again!”
“Do you wish to be a mermaid or not?”
“Noct started it!”
They shower that evening, and decide to walk to the nearby pier in search of dinner. The sun is still up, but it’s lower in the sky, turning the clouds all shades of red and purple.
Prompto is in a sleeveless hoodie and jeans so ripped, they can hardly be called jeans anymore. He fits in with the culture here. The humidity curls his hair a little, and Noctis likes the little fuzzy ends that stick up. Prompto hates it.
He flushes when Prompto brushes their hands together, and slips up to feel along his new bandage. There are too many people around to hold hands.
“How’s the arm?” Prompto asks.
“Mostly bruised. It’s already scabbing over.”
“At least it wasn’t your face.” Prompto taps Noct’s cheek as they walk. “Thank your reflexes for that.”
“Thank you me, for not breaking my own teeth.”
Gladio begins, “All I want for Christmas is –“
“- my two front teeth,” they finish.
Ignis sniffs out a joint with great gyros, so they sit on the outside patio and watch people stumble in and out of the bar across the street. They’re higher up on the pier, and you can see exactly where the sun is setting on the water. Prompto brought his camera along this time, and snaps pictures from his perch on the plastic chair.
Noctis blinks when the camera aims his way and clicks.
“Don’t move! Your hair looks blue in the sun.” Prompto clicks again, and Noctis sniffs, posing with his gyro. “Pretty!”
“What are these?” Gladio smiles, leaning over to tug up the leg of his shorts. “These aren’t yours.”
Noctis pulls away and mocks a scandalized look.
“Gladio! My honor.”
“Those are mine,” Prompto laughs. “Closet thief.”
“They’re much too small on you,” Ignis says. “Thank god.”
Noctis is surprised by his own laugh. He loves the rare times when Ignis flirts with him. That’s how you know he’s really at ease.
Gladio is leaning on the back two legs of his chair, an arm slung over Prompto’s shoulders, but Noctis notices the way he wobbles, purposefully blocking a group of girls from their view of Noctis.
He doesn’t have to worry about cameras out here – but the girls are all on their phones, so Gladio still looks out for him. Shield in every sense of the word.
“Listen,” Noctis starts, stirring his straw in his soda. “I don’t look for clothes when I get dressed. I shove my hand in a drawer and pull out the first thing I touch.”
“We know this and accept you for who you are,” Prompto says. Ignis nods solemnly.
“And you somehow make it look good,” Gladio snorts.
Noctis looks down and blinks. All he grabbed was a black t-shirt and Prompto’s track shorts.
“Well,” Noctis shrugs. “We can’t all get away with walkin’ around with no shirt on.”
Prompto agrees, “Yeah. I’d look like a serious douche. At least your tattoo works as a shirt.”
“A what?” Gladio laughs, astonished. “I don’t think that’s right.”
“Yeah it is! Back, arms, and tits are covered. It’s an ink shirt.”
“Only one tit,” Noctis says. “So what’s that?”
“A nip slip.”
“I refuse to get involved in this,” Ignis mumbles, scrolling through his phone.
“I will buy both of you ice cream if you put a pin in it right now,” Gladio says.
“Deal,” they reply.
Even with the sun almost gone, it’s nice to see the lanterns click on. Strung around food stands, street lights and the distant glow of cars out on the parking lot.
True to his word, Gladio buys them ice cream. It’s dark enough now to not feel so guarded, so Noctis walks with a hand around Gladio’s waist, Gladio’s arm strong over his shoulders.
Prompto and Ignis aren’t so obvious. Confession after confession, even after all their fooling around behind closed doors, Prompto still holds a shred of intimidation in the face of Ignis.
He’s so cool, Prompto says, all the time.
They walk only a few steps ahead on the sidewalk. Noctis can tell by Prompto’s body language that he wants to take Iggy’s hand. Prompto decides to loop their pinkies together, and Noctis bites his tongue to fight a smile.
Ignis doesn’t make any physical acknowledgment. He continues to stroll down the sidewalk, face forward, and a moment later he pulls his hand away from Prompto. It’s only long enough for Ignis to stretch his fingers flat, and slide them in-between Prom’s.
He can see Prompto’s shoulders perk, his walk picking up to match Ignis’s pace.
Gladio pulls Noctis closer by flexing his arm. He says under his breath,
“Mmm,” Noctis agrees. “I know it won’t last long. But I still feel lucky anyways.”
Gladio looks down at him. Noctis stares at the cracks in the sidewalk.
“I won’t let anything hurt you,” Gladio says, serious. “Including this.”
“There’s some things you just can’t help.” Noctis swats him on the butt to lighten the mood. “But thank you, knight in shining armor.”
Gladio’s frown doesn’t leave his eyes. He stares forwards, gaze falling on Ignis, and Noctis wishes he could give Gladio some kind of encouragement without sticking his nose where it doesn’t belong.
The evening has a melancholic feeling to it, but Noctis isn’t sad. His skin is warm from a day in the sun, his mouth still tastes like ice cream, and they’ll return to binge Hells Kitchen and crash on the couch.
It’ll be okay.
“You stashed a yoga mat in the armiger?”
“I had to,” Ignis defends. “Gladio wouldn’t have allowed me to bring it otherwise.”
Noctis has risen early again. But also, it’s been literal years since Noctis has had so much consecutive sleep, so that’s likely the blame. Ignis already had coffee in the pot when Noctis came downstairs, so he sits on the edge of the couch and watches Ignis stretch in the living room.
They’ve opened the windows. The weather is supposed to be warmer today, so they’re enjoying the cool morning air while they can get it.
“And,” Noctis continues, “what does Gladio have against yoga mats?”
“He never allows me to practice in his apartment. I haven’t a clue why,” Ignis says. Noctis hums. Ignis continues to stretch, his position changing from a bend at the waist, to a downwards plank, all in one movement. Gladio might not see the merit of an exercise like this, but it’s crucial to Iggy’s fighting style.
Noctis is one of the more stretchier ones of the group, so Noctis rolls up the pantlegs of his pajamas and asks, “Can I join you?”
Ignis lifts up an arm to look up at him.
“I would like that. I can lend you the mat?”
“I don’t need it.”
They used to do this together, sometimes. When Noctis would sit with his head between his knees, panicking about everything and nothing all at once. Yoga looks dumb, but it helps to clear his head.
Noctis mimes into his same plank position, and they push off the ground together, gathering their feet beneath themselves and pushing until they’re bent at the waist.
Ignis lets out a breath and Noctis follows him. The burn feels good. His knees are still a little sore from his fall earlier in the week, but he likes to poke at the bruises. Noctis is weird that way.
They shift through a variety of poses together. Noctis isn’t any happier to be awake, but at least he gets to watch Ignis pull off bizarre stretches with his insanely long legs.
“We should practice more combos when we get back to Insomnia,” Noctis says.
“Agreed.” They’re in a lunge, elbows pressed to one knee while they wait out the thirty seconds. Ignis’s ears are pink with the strain, and there’s shimmery sweat down his collarbones, but he otherwise appears unphased. “Do you want to attempt that triple handspring again?”
“Uhh,” Noctis thinks. “Yes, but my broken nose still remembers our last attempt.”
“And again, I told you I was sorry for that.”
“Definitely not your fault. We were testing the Gods with that one.” They switch knees. A dog starts barking from one of the neighboring houses. Noctis likes the white noise of it. You don’t get the neighborhood feel in downtown Insomnia.
Noctis isn’t pushing himself into the harder positions like Ignis. He keeps the burn light, not really awake enough to sweat, but wanting the buzz that comes with it. Unfortunately, he’s been forced to be active for the last ten years of his life, so his body craves some kind of challenge.
They press their feet flat to the floor, and bend at the waist until their hands are gripped at their ankles.
Gladio appears in the entryway. Noctis stands upright.
His hair is in a messy bun, strands falling out after Gladio slept on it. His track pants are sagging below the line of his underwear, and he has a book in hand, like he was going to make a B-line for the porch.
Gladio softly sets the book down.
His face is drained of color, mouth parted in a small o shape. His eyes don’t even look brown anymore. Just a sharp, jet black.
Ignis hasn’t noticed any movement yet; he stands upright, stretching his arms above his head, wrists lax and long fingers stretched gently, like a dancer.
Gladio is looking at him like he’s the whole damn world.
Noctis falls back to sit on the couch, Gladio steps forwards, and Ignis prepares to change into the next position.
Noctis bites his thumb and keeps quiet, the thumping in his chest banging in his ears.
“Ignis,” Gladio says.
Ignis jumps, spinning around on his heel. His eyes are humorously wide, downright surprised at Gladio’s ability to sneak up on him – but that’s not the end of it.
Gladio swipes Iggy’s feet out from under him. Ignis goes down hard, breath whooshing out in an exhale – and Gladio catches him by the waist, slowly lowering him to the ground, following after him like a dancer grinding to the floor.
“You,” Gladio grits, his arm between Iggy’s waist and the yoga mat, holding Ignis right in his grip.
“What the-” Ignis gapes. His glasses flew off in the fall. He tries to wiggle away, but Gladio presses more of his weight on him, drawing a choked inhale on Ignis’s end. “What are you…”
“I can handle sharing a bed,” Gladio states. “I can take the messy bathroom and the stupid towel you wrap around your head after you shower.” Gladio slides his hand down Iggy’s body, his spine hitting the floor while Gladio grabs the back of his thigh and squeezes. “I can not. Handle this.”
Ignis pauses, arms still sprawled above his head, legs trapped by Gladio’s weight.
“Ah.” Ignis blinks. “I see.”
“Promise me,” Gladio growls. “If I kiss you we will never fight and you will never fucking leave me.”
“We will fight,” Ignis says. “But I won’t ever leave you.”
Gladio grabs him by the thigh and pulls with enough weight to slide Ignis on the mat – but Ignis is already a step ahead, his hands coming up to hook behind Gladio’s neck, pulling until Gladio is right in his face, until he’s close enough to kiss.
Noctis doesn’t know why he’s suddenly fighting the urge to cry. He doesn’t, but his eyes burn. He draws his knees up on the couch and hugs them, his head swimming with too much all at once.
It’s the last piece.
He’s not sure if this could’ve happened anywhere else. Back home, where their parents ask about their girlfriends. Where paparazzi try to sneak into Noctis’s bathroom. Where magazines assume his new shampoo is the work of a girl. Where Gladio and Ignis work so hard to protect Noctis and Prompto, that they barely find the time for each other.
Ignis slides his nails up into Gladio’s hair, tugging out the bun. Gladio growls out a noise so amazing, Noctis involuntarily holds his breath.
It looks like a conversation. A back and forth – where for once, Gladio goes still, and lets Ignis pull his hair and suck on his tongue. Gladio pushes him into the floor, all raw strength, and Ignis makes a high, breathy ah sound.
“Oh,” Prompto says, sleepy in the doorway. “Fuck.”
Their kiss parts long enough for Gladio to say, “Mornin,” before Ignis knees him in the gut, kicks at his hip, pushes with his shoulder and flips Gladio flat on the mat, pinning him down and kissing him hungry.
“What’d I miss?”
“Just some yoga,” Noctis answers. Prompto laughs, and Noctis opens his arms – and Prompto comes right to him, kneeling up in his lap and kissing him good morning.
“Finally,” Prompto says. “Only took you guys twenty years.”
Gladio lifts a middle finger behind Ignis’s neck, and Noctis and Prompto turn nose to nose and giggle like idiots.
There’s a staircase up the back of the house that leads straight to the roof. They’re not huge smokers, but Prompto still has a small bag of weed in his suitcase, so they climb up there and decide to roll one.
It’s not real strong, but they don’t want to cause trouble with the landlord by smoking in the house. There’s a couple lawn chairs and a dusty firepit up here, so they prop up in the shade and pass the blunt back and forth.
He likes watching Prom smoke. He has long eyelashes.
“I don’t miss home,” Prompto says.
“Me neither.” Noctis bites at his thumbnail. “That’s probably a bad thing.”
“Nah. Comes with the teenager thing.”
“We’re not teenagers anymore,” Noctis says. Prompto turns down his eyes and smokes.
“Iggy and Gladio are kind of amazing, aren’t they?”
“I probably have a crush on them,” Noctis jokes. Prompto laughs.
“Me too.” Prompto passes the blunt over, and Noctis turns his head to blow. “Hey, don’t say anything. But the Prince of Lucis is pretty hot.”
Noctis snickers, coughing when he sucks in a little too much. He passes it back, and right when Prompto raises the end towards is mouth, the ladder starts to shake.
Noctis stiffens, and Prompto hovers his free hand by his hip, where he’d keep his gun – but it’s just Ignis, spiked hair appearing over the top of the roof.
“You scared me,” Noctis hums. Ignis dusts off his hands and nods an apology.
“I was wondering where you two got off to.”
“Sorry,” Prompto beams. “Get your dick sucked? You know Gladio is great at it.”
“No,” Ignis snaps, crossing the roof. “I had a phone call.” He sticks out his hand expectantly, and Prompto passes him what’s left of the blunt. Ignis brings it to his mouth and smokes. Noctis always waited for the lecture, but it was Ignis that taught him how to smoke.
‘If you’re going to do it, then do it right’.
“Bad call?” Noctis asks.
“Just news,” Ignis breathes. “Have you been on social media at all?”
“Satellite tells us that Niflheim is making military preparations.”
Noctis scrubs a hand through his hair and sighs. Great.
“Who knows,” Ignis replies, perching on one of the empty chairs. “There are supposed to be discussions of a treaty with your marriage. Case in point of the whole thing.” Prompto physically flinches, but Ignis continues. “It could be that Niflheim is looking to invade other territories.”
“Something Lucis is also against,” Noctis grits.
“We’re across the border, do you think we need to head back?”
“Nothing to worry over yet. But we ought to keep an eye on the news.” Ignis takes one last puff, and hands the blunt back to Prompto. “If this information is reaching the public now, it means the King knew about it weeks ago. He wouldn’t send you off if he knew you would be in danger.”
Ignis always knows what to say. Noctis flops his head back in the chair and sighs.
“I need to call my dad.”
“We need to do something fun before this day is over,” Prompto says, sitting up. Ignis hums.
Noctis scratches at his arm, “Maybe we should-“ he pauses. Oh, lightbulb.
Noctis grins, “Was I the only one that noticed the volleyball in the garage?”
Prompto lights up like it’s Christmas.
“Oh,” Ignis says, rising with a smile. “That kind of fun.”
Prompto leads them to the sand with the volleyball raised above his head. He’s singing some botched version of the Circle of Life. At least it’s the late afternoon, so most of the locals have left the beach already.
“Are you wearing sunscreen?” Ignis asks.
“On what?” Prompto gestures to his leggings and his t-shirt.
“Your arms. Your face. Your shoulders –“
“Yes,” Prompto lies. “Come on, it’s just one game.”
The suns in an annoying spot, so they’ve all got sunglasses on. Noctis breathes in deep, and feels himself settle with the sound of the ocean. The net is empty, yay.
“Alright, rules,” Gladio says, kicking off his sandals. “Two v two, play to eleven. Three touches a side.”
“Do you win by one point or two?”
“Now, are we allowing dumps?” asks Prompto. “You got pre~tty pissed off last time.”
Gladio huffs, “Yes. It’s a bitch move, but you proved your point. It’s legal.” Prompto makes a yesss sound, and leaves his flip-flops next to Gladio’s.
They play rock paper scissors for teams.
“You and me,” Noctis throws out a fist, and Gladio bumps him.
“Alright Iggy!” Prompto grins. “Team beach blonde. Let’s show ‘em how it’s done.”
“You guys are so fucked,” Noctis says.
Ignis hums, “Never underestimate your opponent.”
Yeah, right. Prompto, Noctis and Gladio have played games after training at the citadel – but he’s never seen Iggy play any kind of sport. Gladio on the other hand, doesn’t even need to jump to block the net. Noctis knows he’s a spot libero, so the odds are definitely in their favor.
Prompto serves the first ball.
“Got it!” Noctis calls, bending his knees and bumping the ball in the air. It goes a little wonky, so Gladio jumps to tap it back in the boundary.
Noctis jumps up and smacks it over with the palm of his hand, grinning. Total spike-
Ignis jerks sideways, and receives the ball. It sets perfect; Prompto hits it back over.
“Damn,” Gladio breathes. “Ignis, you play?”
Noctis receives the ball, aiming it higher this time. Gladio jumps, and with his right arm he slams it towards the back of the court. Dang, that’s hot.
“Shit!” Prompto skids, but Ignis receives it again-
“What the hell – “
“I’m familiar,” Ignis replies. “Prompto, one touch!”
It volleys back and forth. Eventually Gladio spikes the ball close to the net, and both Prompto and Ignis miss, diving into the sand.
“Hell yeah!” Gladio sticks up his hand, and Noctis jumps to high five him.
“Knew there was nothing to worry about.”
“You’ve shown your cards,” Ignis says. “Serve.”
Noctis serves this time – and the round is more of a challenge than he was expecting. Prompto and Ignis work kind-of amazing together? But Noctis has trained alongside Gladio for years. He knows Gladio’s next move before he even makes it. Some of their volleys go ten, fifteen times, before Ignis grabs Prompto by the back of his shirt, and they both jump the net for a double block.
It spikes back on their side. Noctis laughs, hitting his knee with his fist.
Ignis shakes out his hand, smirking.
“Shit, I forgot he’s smart,” Gladio says. He turns his back towards them and whispers, “Plan?”
“Prompto can’t dive for shit. Let’s shoot towards him.”
The game pushes Noctis to his limit. Sand between his toes, rushing back and forth to catch receives, jump blocks and hit spikes.
Gladio sets a ball way too high on accident. They all squint to see where it’s going to fall. But Noctis sees the opportune moment; he teleports ten feet in the air, flattens his palm and spikes it right into the back corner of the court.
“Cheater!” Prompto calls.
“Hey, we all heard the rules.”
“There’s no way that’s legal!”
“Technically, I didn’t say anything about teleporting.”
“New rule,” says Ignis. “No powers.”
“The point stays,” Noctis argues.
“Keep the lead,” Ignis replies. “You’ll need it.”
“Oooooh!” Gladio laughs. “Iggy’s gettin’ spicy!”
The ball volleys again. Noctis wipes sweat from his collar, switching places with Gladio so he can jump and block Ignis’s spike. Prompto dives to the back of the line to receive the ball, and Ignis goes for a second hit, skimming past Gladio’s fingers.
Noctis accidentally receives it back over the net.
“Shit! Sorry Gladio.”
“Chance ball!” Prompto calls, popping it up the air. But he does something strange – as soon as it flies he jerks away from the net, running to get distance. Ignis tosses the ball back up in the air, and with one more hit left, he drops to his knee, clasps his fingers together, and hauls Prompto up above the net.
Prompto’s palm hits the ball with a resounding smack! Noctis is too fuckin’ amazed to try and receive it.
Ignis catches Prompto before he hits the sand, and Prompto wraps his arms around his neck and screams in victory.
“Damn straight! No powers over here motherfucker!”
“Woow,” Gladio lifts a brow. “We’re pulling combos now, are we?”
Noctis bends over to pick up the ball, and nearly drops it. Prompto is still laughing in Ignis’s arms, toes just reaching the ground as Ignis bends down and kisses his jaw. Palm spread up the side of his cheek, a good half-head taller and still supporting most of Prom’s weight in one arm. Prompto pulls back and pecks his mouth with a laugh.
“Uh, excuse me, ref?” Gladio says to no one. “The other team is emotionally compromised?”
“Six to five!” Noctis calls. “On belay!”
“Belay on!” Prompto yells back.
Harder, stronger – they work together to catch receives and set spikes. Okay, fine; he won’t teleport. But Gladio kneels down and Noctis jumps off his back, and he aims the ball right between their feet.
It’s fun to laugh like this. To make each other mad and argue over rules and still be amazed by the opposing team’s talent. Prompto is strong. He dives without fear, rolls around and pops back up like a never-ending supply of energy. Even Gladio is getting winded, leaning his hands on his knees and waiting for the next serve. Prompto raises the ball to eyelevel, deciding on his serve strategy.
“Come on sexy,” Gladio catcalls. He clicks his tongue and whistles, and Noctis snickers behind his hand. “Whatcha’ waitin for beautiful?”
Prompto faulters in surprise, and Ignis barks,
“Knock it off.”
“Come on baby,” Noctis pats his thighs. “Hit us with it, sweetheart, we’re waiting on you, gorgeous.”
Prompto’s face has gone blood red. Ignis crosses his arms and gives them a very unimpressed look. Gladio snickers,
“Gonna’ look real sexy when I rip those leggings off you tonight.”
“Hey batter batter, you gonna’ hit that ball or come sit on my face?”
Gladio and Noctis click their tongues twice and whistle together, and then burst out laughing.
“You guys suck!” Prompto calls, voice distant from the other side of the net.
“You wann’ me to sweetheart?”
“Prompto-“ Ignis presses, and Prompto serves the ball skewed left.
“Fuck,” Prompto wipes his face. “S-sorry Ignis.”
“It’s alright – prepare to block.”
They hit the ball back over, and it’s not strong enough to be a spike. Noctis crosses to the front in a handspring, and flips up to pop the ball over the net. Ignis blocks it for a point, but Gladio still shouts, “Holy shit, Noct.
“Dammit,” Noctis spits. “You’re too good at blockin’, Ig.”
“It’s the friggin’ legs,” Gladio answers. “Come on, next serve!”
“You,” Prompto nuzzles him, right under his jaw. “Are a little cheater.”
The game ends at sixteen to eighteen. They played long enough for the sun to start hitting the water, seagulls flying off the ocean and towards the trees.
There’s the clatter of pots and pans downstairs as Ignis starts on dinner. They’re free of sand and shower clean, so Noctis runs his hands up Prompto’s shirt, and squeezes over his ribs.
Noctis snickers, “You guys won anyways, so what’s it matter?”
“Well you didn’t make it very easy, now did you?” Prompto bears more of his weight down, rubbing his cheek along Noctis’s.
“Aww, winner winner had to work for his chicken dinner?”
“I want to be mad at you for teasing me,” Prompto says. He sits up and presses his lips to Noctis’s neck, and Noctis makes a low sound. “But I haven’t seen you this comfortable around us since – shit, never?”
His face goes warm. Noctis sniffs and drags his nails up Prompto’s back.
“Well don’t clam up now!” Prompto pecks his mouth. “We’ve finally pulled out a piece of the stick shoved up Iggy’s ass. Ya’ll were sharing?”
Noctis laughs, and covers his mouth when he snorts. Prompto cackles a witchy laugh and braces his hands on Noctis’s pecs.
“You guys were a good team today.”
Prompto flushes, “Y-you think so?”
“Well you won, so – yeah.”
“It’s kinda like fighting.” Noctis brushes his hair behind his ear, and it pops back out. “You guys have different styles. But they work.”
“Mmm.” Prompto leans down and kisses him again, pulling back slow and leaning away at random intervals. “I think we’re just lucky Gladio and Iggy didn’t end up on a team.”
“What? You don’t think we can take ‘em?”
“My height chart says no.”
Noctis sucks on his tongue, and Prompto hums. He sighs out of his nose and shifts his weight, and Noctis asks, eyes still closed.
“Just thinking about them this morning. Makin’ out on a yoga mat – ugh. So hot.”
“Yeah, I haven’t stopped thinking about it either.” Noctis stretches his legs, sighing. “Been trying not to. Kinda’ makes me hard.”
Prompto sits up and stares down at him. Noctis stares back. Prompto squeezes his nose with his fingers, and Noctis’s voice comes out muffled.
“You wanna’ do something super evil?”
“Woah, it smells amazing in here.”
“It’s a slow-bake roast,” Ignis says, washing his hands. “If you’re hungry now I can slice that cantaloupe we picked up today.”
“We can wait,” Noctis says.
Prompto fluffs up his damp hair and hops over towards the couch. Gladio has turned on one of those music channels, and he’s reading a book on his phone.
“What’cha doin’?” Prompto asks.
“I’m onto the third book in the series, but the bookstore only had the second,” Gladio huffs. “Oh—hello,” he turns. Prompto hops up behind him and sits on the ledge of the couch with his back against the wall, knees spread to fit either side of Gladio’s shoulders. “Are you going to braid my hair?”
“I want to give you a Viking braid I saw on Pinterest.”
Noctis crawls over the legs of the couch sectional, and grabs one of the pillows to wrap his arms around. “There’s a bookstore on the pier?”
“It’s a small selection,” Ignis explains.
Gladio sighs, “I hate reading on my phone. But if I don’t find out what happens next I will kill someone.”
“You’ve lost it,” Prompto smirks. He bops Gladio on the head once, and then begins to part the longer strands. “No more marbles in here.”
“The main character left her husband out of wedlock to run away with a female soldier that snuck into the army.”
“So like, Mulan with lesbians.”
“Carry on,” Prompto says, and begins to braid Gladio’s hair. Gladio reaches back to pat his knee, and scrolls to the next page.
Ignis has his back turned to them; he’s sautéing something for his roast, knife running clever and adept across his chopping board.
The pan sizzles, the T.V. plays music, a truck goes by.
Gladio’s head bobs every so often as Prompto pulls back on his hair. His undercut doesn’t give Prompto much to work with, but the double braid he’s pulling back into a high ponytail is kind of cool.
Gladio notices him staring, and raises an eyebrow.
“How do I look?”
“Like a sexy pirate.”
Gladio blinks slowly at him, unamused, and Noctis continues.
“Pirates are handsome.” He scooches closer and leans up to pet under his chin. “You shaved.”
“Just a little. Beard was getting long.”
“You should grow it out!” Prompto gasps. “Then I can braid that too.”
“Absolutely not, long beards are itchy as all hell.”
“That’s such a shame. Hey Noct – can you tell if I’m even?”
Noctis climbs closer, throwing a leg over Gladio’s thigh and straddling it. Gladio blinks at him curiously, and Noctis sits up on his knees to look over the top of his head. Gladio locks his phone and sets it aside, almost automatically grabbing Noctis by the waist so he doesn’t topple over.
“Yup. You’re even.”
Noctis sits back down on his thigh, and tips up his head to blink innocently at Gladio through his lashes.
“I,” Gladio starts, “am honestly surprised you’re still awake.”
Noctis shrugs, and settles his hands on either side of Gladio’s neck. The back of his wrist brushes Prompto’s inner thigh.
“You took a fair amount of dives on your bad arm,” Ignis says. “How does it look?”
Gladio takes his wrist and looks at the bruising, making a face in the process.
“The scab healed, but he definitely bruised his wrists. What did I say about catching receives with your hands?”
“I miss sometimes, okay?” Noctis huffs. “I caught more than you.”
Prompto jerks Gladio’s head again as he braids, and Gladio breathes out through his nose.
“Whatever. I should be happy it wasn’t your face like…last time…” Gladio trails, cutting off completely when Noctis decides to readjust in his lap. Gladio blinks at him, and Noctis stares back. He drags his fingers up beneath Gladio’s chin, swiping a thumb across his bottom lip, and touching the edge of his scar. Gladio has beautiful eyes.
Noctis leans up and hovers over his mouth, breathing quietly, waiting to see if Gladio will move at all. When he does, Prompto grips him by the back of his hair, and Noctis holds him still by the jaw.
Noctis tips his nose out of the way and kisses him. Gladio is too surprised to be pushy, so Noctis licks across his bottom lip and purrs at the scratch of his beard.
Ignis sets down his knife very, very slowly.
He can feel the exact moment that Gladio’s brain clicks on. He grabs him roughly by the hips, surging into him and kissing back. Noctis jerks from the sheer force of it, closing his eyes and gasping through his nose.
“Damn,” Prompto whispers.
The way Gladio handles him always manages to twist his gut. Calloused hands dragging up his shirt, squeezing at him like he’s a toy to throw around. Tossing him on his stomach and licking up his spine, rolling ‘em over and sucking him off –
They can’t let Gladio flip the scrip today. He’s way, way too good at it.
Gladio licks over Noctis’s lower lip and along his tongue. It’s wet, a little sticky as he pulls back and sucks.
Noctis pats Prompto’s knee.
Gladio’s head is ripped back by Prompto’s hand. He tugs at the base of Gladio’s hair, tipping his head sideways and craning his neck back at an angle, so he can lean up and around and kiss Gladio instead.
“Wait-“ Gladio starts, as Noctis immediately dives for his neck. Prompto keeps him quiet, moaning high and squeezing Gladio’s hair harder – and Noctis catches just a glimpse of tongue before he sucks a fat hickey into the soft side of Gladio’s throat.
Of course today is the day that Gladio decides to wear a shirt. Noctis pulls it up by the hem and drags his hand along his abs, feeling smooth ridges and hot skin. Gladio groans into Prompto’s mouth,
Prompto’s free hand slips around the other side of his neck and down the collar of his shirt, reaching down to squeeze his pecks and flick over a nipple. Gladio rips back his head and gasps.
“Fuck!” Noctis bites down on his throat. Gladio gasps, eyes going wide, “Oh my god it was a setup. Ignis help! I’ve been –“ he’s cut off by Prompto’s mouth again.
Prompto snickers and lets go of his hair to help Noctis rip off his shirt and toss it off the side.
“Oh, how unfortunate for you,” Ignis hums. Noctis looks back to see him wiping his hands on a towel, his cutting board forgotten as they now have his full attention. Good.
“Ahhh, Gladioo,” Prompto purrs, running his hands down his naked chest and thumbing over his nipples. “We’re gonna’ have so much fun!”
“Shit,” Gladio grits. His head flops back, and woah is it sexy to feel his hips jerk up against his own will. “What’s this for?”
“What’s this for?” Noctis repeats. “It’s day five and I haven’t had your dick in my mouth.”
“Absolutely criminal,” Prompto agrees.
Gladio’s stomach clenches beneath his hands, and Noctis dips his head to lick across his right pec. His nipples are hard now – it makes it easy to flick it with his tongue and grind in his lap.
Gladio’s head flops back against Prompto yet again, and Prompto evilly grabs his hair and cranes his neck to kiss him half-twisted.
His hips jerk up again – and they’re only wearing sweatpants, so it’s like, mind-blowingly hot when he can feel Gladio getting hard against his thigh.
They wouldn’t have had the courage to do this five days ago. The adrenaline is exhilarating.
Gladio’s hands leave his waist to grip into either side of Prompto’s knees. Prompto gasps, nails jerking to dig into Gladio’s scalp, and that’s just enough time for Noctis to slip off Gladio’s lap and onto his knees.
“Good teamwork,” Noctis says, grabbing his waistband. “Keep it up.”
Gladio’s thighs tense, head jerking back just in time for Noctis to grab his pants and shove them down far enough for his cock to bob up against his stomach and oh it’s been too long. Noctis’s mouth waters.
“Ahh, look at that,” Prompto purrs, scratching down Gladio’s shoulders and back up his chin. “You’re already super hard.” He flicks Gladio’s nipple, “This really works, huh?”
“I’m going to kill you,” Gladio grits, through his teeth.
“Yeah, it works,” Noctis says.
“Fuck you’ve got a great dick,” Prompto continues. “Don’t you think, Iggy?”
Ignis has gone from interested, to absolutely enveloped. One hand is gripped into a handtowel, the other up against his mouth as he chews on his thumb. Ignis doesn’t even bother with an answer.
Noctis hides his smile by biting into the muscle of Gladio’s thigh. Technically, Gladio could squeeze his legs shut and pop his head like a strawberry, and that – Noctis paws between his legs and noses along Gladio’s shaved happy trail, teasing him by rubbing along his cock. Focus, Noct.
“Ifrit,” Gladio curses. “This is – a lot.”
Lazy and with nowhere to be, Noctis grips him by the base and licks the head like a lollipop. Through (unfortunate) experience, Noctis knows he can’t fit him fully in his mouth (again, unfortunate), but there’s ways around it. Noctis flicks his tongue and lets himself drool a little just to make it a little wetter. Gladio and Prompto stare down at him, and it turns butterflies in his stomach.
Noctis presses his free hand on Gladio’s bare hip, and pulls the head of his cock into his mouth. Just a little, to suck and watch Gladio go cross-eyed. He’s heavy on his tongue, salty and clean from a shower. Noctis sucks harder, and Gladio clenches his fingers into Prompto’s calf, gasping.
Noctis lazily moves up and off, dragging him along his lower lip and waiting for Gladio to grow impatient. He doesn’t. He’s not as pushy or demanding as Noctis would’ve expected. He just looks – kind of amazed.
“This is okay?” Noctis asks. He licks base to tip, teasing him by chalking the head along his tongue.
“You’re friggin’ beautiful,” Gladio says.
Face red, Noctis hums happily, and bobs his head down to take as much as he can. He breathes through his nose and pulls up, eyes burning only partway down.
“Mm, won’t all fit, huh Noct?” Prompto sighs. He rests his cheek on top of Gladio’s head.
Noctis’s voice sounds croaky.
“Yeah. Better get down and help me.”
“Oh... I was really set up,” Gladio realizes, as Prompto slips off his shoulders and slides down and off the couch, like a little monkey.
“You think we planned this?” Prompto grins. “Us? Pshh. Never.”
Noctis opens his mouth in waiting, and Prompto joins him on the floor, kissing his mouth wet and sloppy.
“Goddammit,” Gladio grits. He presses his face into his hands and rubs his eyes, and Noctis feels his cock jerk in his hand.
Prompto licks the spit off his chin and pops off his mouth messy. There’s the sound of a chair scraping off the room, and Noctis peeks out of the corner of his eye to see Ignis sit in a barstool, eyes dark and lips sealed.
Ignis is not normally so complacent, but the look on his face is serious. His eyes burn through them.
Prompto runs his hand up Gladio’s left thigh, Noctis grabs him by the base and Prompto takes him down, further than Noctis could manage.
Gladio surges, cursing up a fuckin’ storm. Noctis snickers to himself, and leans down to lick over what Prompto can’t manage.
Which, all things considered, isn’t much. Prompto is good at this, and he’s fully aware of it too. Lips stretched he bobs his head and groans, and Gladio isn’t normally loud, but he does bite his hand like it’s all he can do to stop himself.
Oh, this is fun. Prompto bobs up and Noctis licks down to his navel, and it’s amazing to turn someone so strong into wiggly jelly.
“Feel good?” Noctis goads. Prompto works his throat and Gladio looks like he might actually bite a hole in his hand. Prompto pops off, Noctis sucks him down instead, and Gladio’s stomach clenches with a choked ah! – sound. Ugh, Noctis is like, dangerously hard – but this isn’t about him.
They switch like that, every so often. Gladio drops a hand to trace Noctis’s cheek, tender at first, and then rough as Prompto does something fancy with his tongue.
“What – am I gonna’ fuckin’ do with you two,” Gladio sighs, head rocking back. “Christ. Your mouth Prompto.”
Noctis mouths over his balls – and Gladio’s restraint snaps, hips jerking up and choking out Prompto almost painfully.
Prompto moans like whore in hell.
“He can take it,” Noctis says. He pets under Prompto’s eyes, and wipes away the water there. “Do it again.”
“Fuck no – I’ll come.”
Prompto pulls off and Gladio groans. Noctis takes over, back to light teasing, kissing beneath the head.
“Oh?” Prompto grins. “You gonna’ come for us?”
Gladio grips the back of his hair and yanks – “All over that fuckin’ mouth of yours.”
“But you know who should have the honor?” Prompto grins. Noctis leans away and bites his tongue in a smile. “Hey Iggy,” Prompto calls.
Gladio’s eyes snap up. Ignis tenses on the barstool. The room comes to a complete standstill.
Gladio’s mouth drops open. Ignis stares back at him.
“You – you don’t have to do that,” Gladio says. He’s flustered.
Confident, flirty Gladio; now flustered.
Ignis rises from the barstool. Noctis looks to Prompto in utter excitement.
“I knew,” Ignis begins, undoing his top button on his collar, “you two were up to something.”
Prompto yanks Noctis up to his feet and off towards the side of the couch. Ignis crosses the room gracefully, staring Gladio straight down.
Gladio – flushed and shirtless, sweats shoved to his thighs, cock spit-slick and curved against his stomach – Ignis drops to his knees, and Gladio’s eyes go wide as saucers.
“Oh, my god,” Gladio begins.
Ignis carefully removes his glasses. He then kisses Gladio’s stomach once. Again, down to his bellybutton. Across the tip of Gladio’s cock.
Gladio bites his thumb and grits through his teeth fuck fuck fuck – close already, curling his toes into the carpet. Ignis looks up through his lashes. Gladio blurts,
“I’m serious. I know we were f-fucking around this morning but you really don’t have to –“
“No.” Ignis starts, “This - is something I have thought about extensively.”
And with all the fluidity and grace that makes up Ignis’s DNA, he pulls Gladio into his mouth and swallows strong enough for them to see the bob of his adam’s apple.
Gladio is a fucking goner.
“Oh yes,” Prompto purrs, petting between his own legs.
Ignis is the only one strong enough to pin Gladio by the hips and swallow with a purposeful abandon, enough to keep going even when Gladio curls over him, and tries to shove him off in warning. It is probably one of the top five sexiest things Noctis has ever seen with his own eyeballs. Ignis doesn’t move, because he’s right where he wants to be.
Gladio’s voice crack of ‘Ignis’ is what does Noctis under. He straddles Prompto lap, shoves down their pants and squeezes his eyes shut, shuddering in an attempt to not blow in his sweatpants.
“Oh oh –“ Prompto starts. “This is gonna’ last six seconds.”
“Six, five,” Noctis counts, kissing him on four and slipping his fingers around Prompto’s and coming on two.
“I didn’t stand a chance, did I?” Gladio pants.
Ignis laughs. Gladio pets around the corner of his mouth and into his tongue, and it’s clean as can be.
“Revenge is always sweetest,” Ignis says. He turns to Noctis and Prompto – and the look on Gladio’s face makes Noctis think hm, maybe I should be worried about this – but his brain is currently sipping a margarita on another planet, so, future problem future me, et cetera and whatever. Ignis slides up into Gladio’s lap and kisses him, so as far as he’s concerned, they won.
He wakes to buzzing on the side table. It’s easy to ignore at first.
But someone moves at his left, and then someone moves on his right – and hey, this is definitely not the bed he’s been sleeping in for the last six nights.
“Noooct,” Prompto groans. “Phone.”
Damn, that’s his phone?
Noctis sits up and rubs his eyes. Oh, right. They crawled in with Gladio and Ignis last night.
Gladio is knocked the fuck out, but Ignis is sleepily looking at him, bedhead stuck up in really charming way.
Noctis leans over Prompto to reach the side table, his phone the only one buzzing among three others. He checks the caller ID.
“It’s okay,” Noctis whispers to Ignis. “Just my Dad.”
Ignis nods and closes his eyes, rolling over and pressing his face in Gladio’s back.
Noctis manages to wiggle his way past Prompto’s feet and out the door. His phone is still buzzing in his hand, so he shuts the door and answers groggily,
He clears his throat and leans up against the hallway wall, “Hey. Nn, what’s up?”
“I thought I might check in with you and make sure everything is alright.”
“Dad, it’s six in the morning.”
“Oh, oops. Clarus hasn’t heard from Gladiolus in a few days and he’s losing his marbles. Anyone dead yet?”
“Nope. Still alive over here.”
“Good to hear it. I don’t want to talk business with you yet, but I assume you’ve been keeping up with the news.”
“Yeah. I’m guessing it’s not really ‘news’ to you, huh?”
“Unfortunately no. It’s nothing you should worry about right now -we’ll speak more on details when you return. Enjoy your last day, and I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon.”
Noctis’s stomach plummets.
Tomorrow is Sunday.
Noctis presses his fist into his eyes, and swallows back the itch in his throat.
“Right. Okay. Stay safe and um. Let me know if you need anything from me.”
“Likewise. I spoke with Lady Lunafreya. I’ll have you know she’s doing well.”
It feels like a dumbbell is sitting on his chest.
“I’m glad,” Noctis says genuinely. He can hear a voice in the background, and Regis talks away from the speaker, before bringing it back and saying,
“Clarus is telling me my time is up. Is there anything you need to tell me?”
They say their goodbyes, and Noctis hangs up the phone. He sighs again, pressing both fists into his eyes, and standing amid the empty hallway.
He sneaks back in the bedroom and finds his previous space gone, Prompto now snuggled in Ignis’s arms. That’s fine, Noctis slips around to Gladio’s other side, and Gladio latches on almost immediately, sniffling as he stirs.
Noctis clings onto the back of his tank top and tries to breathe.
“Okay?” Gladio whispers.
“Squeeze me really tight,” Noctis mumbles. “Please.”
Gladio does. It helps to make him feel human again. To pull his brain back in his body. Noctis sighs and faceplants into his collarbone and chooses to focus in on the sound of Gladio’s heavy breathing, and Prompto’s breathy little snores.
lets bring back the era of long vacation fics
thanks guys :>
As within, as without ya
Will I be, so in love?
Gettin' closer, close enough
Shout out to, what is done
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Toothbrush hanging out of his mouth, Noctis splashes water on his hair and calls it a day. Whatever shape it decides to take is good enough for him.
Prompto on the other hand, is trying so desperately to shape his hair, it’s starting to hurt Noctis’s heart a little.
The bathroom lights are on blast, and you can hear the music Gladio is playing from the other master bathroom – faded alternative rock muffled by the shut door.
Prompto pokes at his own cheek and sighs at his new freckles. Noctis rinses out his mouth and spits in the sink.
“I keep telling you they’re cute.”
“I have so many now,” Prompto whines. He ruffles out his hair again, and when it still won’t fall into place he sighs and gives up. “Ugh, whatever.”
“It’s just gonna’ frizz out when we reach the pier,” Noctis says. “What’s the big deal?”
“What’s the – it’s our last day!” Prompto shakes his shoulder. “I have to make sure it ends on a high note!”
In a strange moment of tenderness, Noctis feels his throat go tight. Prompto works so hard at keeping everyone happy, it’s a thankless job, and he gets more flak than praise.
Noctis hooks a finger in Prom’s beltloop and yanks him close, bumping their hips together and smacking a kiss against Prompto’s cheek before he walks out of the bathroom.
“You look great. Can I borrow your boots today?”
Prompto blinks dazedly, and then presses a hand against his cheek and smiles, following after him.
“Sure. What happened to yours?”
“I got too much friggin’ sand in them.”
It’s a Saturday, so the pier is noticeably more crowded than usual. Normally it would be annoying, but there’s something nice about the busyness that breathes the beach to life.
Dogs on leashes, friends with surfboards and Volkswagen vans parked along the street. Noctis is careful not to draw too much attention to himself, but it’s nice to be in a busy place and not feel a pitfall of anxiety. Instead it’s just like, a teacup full. That’s totally manageable.
Shop owners have moved more of their merchandise outdoors. Racks on wheels are parked along the sidewalk, full of hoodies and tank-tops and cheesy hats.
Prompto and Gladio are having a hay-day trying on all the stupid shit they can find. Prompto has piled at least half a dozen hats on top of Gladio’s head, and is determined to balance it long enough to get a picture.
“Hey Specs.” Noctis picks up a pair of sunglasses with two pineapples for lenses. “I found your new glasses.”
“Oh, goodie,” Ignis says. He closes his eyes and allows Noctis to pluck off his glasses and slide on the pineapples instead. He then blinks, “This will go over well in the citadel.”
Noctis cackles, and Prompto whips around with his camera.
“Hold on! Let me take a picture!”
Ignis is dangerously patient, crossing his arms and allowing Prompto to snap a photo – Prompto dips out before Ignis can sabotage it. Ignis takes off the pineapple sunglasses and swaps Noctis for his own.
“Aww, is that a no?”
“Not my style, I’m afraid.”
They step further into one of the gift shops. There’s little beach snow globes, ocean-themed jewelry and hoodies in every color variety. Prompto has latched onto a tie-dye sweatshirt and won’t let go, so Noctis mentally prepares to jump in and pay for it before he reaches the register.
“Okay,” Prompto starts. “How douchey would I look in one of these?” He holds up a surfer-style shark tooth necklace.
“Pretty douchey,” Noctis answers. He pauses, “You know who wouldn’t?”
Noctis takes it from him and hands it to Gladio.
“Put this on.”
Gladio, with two hats in each hand, blinks and sets down one of the snapbacks.
He puts on the necklace, and like Noctis predicted, it actually looks good. Tattoos, open short sleeve button-down and swim trunks.
“I’m mad,” says Prompto.
“What’s going on?” Gladio asks.
“I’m buying you a necklace,” Noctis says, making Ignis laugh behind his hand.
“I don’t need –“
“It does look good,” Ignis adds. Gladio scratches his neck and looks away – and Noctis leans over laughing with Prompto.
“Iggy, you need a souvenir too.” Prompto lifts up a pair of red booty-shorts that say Lifeguard across the ass. He gasps, “OHH-“
“Absolutely not,” Ignis interjects.
“Please,” Prompto cries. “You would look so good. You would make all my dreams come true.”
“All in favor say aye.”
A chorus: “Aye!”
“That’s not how this works,” Ignis says, putting the shorts back. A lady and her son give them an odd look, and Ignis holds up a hand in a sorry gesture. Ignis lowers his voice, “Can you three behave?”
“Us?” Prompto beams, walking backwards down the aisle. “We’re always on our best behavior.”
In an excellent show of teamwork, Gladio slips the shorts back off the hanger and places them in Noctis’s arms as he walks by. Ignis sighs and looks back to the shelf of seashell knickknacks, and Noctis throws the shorts behind his back. Prompto shoves them under the tie-dye sweatshirt in his arms just as Ignis shifts further down the aisle.
Gladio fist bumps Noctis at the hip, and takes off his shell necklace, jogging to catch back up with Ignis.
“Hey, did you see the mugs over there?”
“Oh? No, I did not.”
Gladio leads Ignis away, and Noctis laughs as they sneak over to the check-out lane.
“A-Class teamwork,” Prompto says.
“He’s gonna’ find out eventually, but if we can make it down the block - fuck I’ll be happy.”
There’s a sandwich shop at the very edge of the pier. It’s oversees the ocean, so they dangle their feet through the bars and watch surfers down below.
Fluffy clouds are rolling in off the ocean. It casts shadows on the water, and Prompto is more enveloped in taking pictures rather than eating his sandwich. Noctis is a little jealous of the fishermen lined up on the other side of the pier.
Noctis blinks, looking up with a mouth full. There’s a girl standing nervously, her friends whispering to each other a few feet away.
Gladio and Ignis whip their heads over.
“Um, sorry,” she laughs. “But I swear I’ve seen you before.”
Noctis full on freezes. Deer in the headlights, a big fat punch from the real world. Noctis opens his mouth without a single clue in what to say.
No, he thinks. No no no – it’s not over yet. I still have one more day, I still –
“He was in a cat food commercial,” Prompto answers, not even looking up from his camera.
“Oh,” she blinks. “Really?”
Ignis, sharp as a whip, coolly leans back on his hand and replies, “Yes. It was the Friskies ad they used to run every thirty minutes on the Home channel.”
“Ohhhh!” She points. “Oh yeah, I remember! Hahaha, wow. Sorry to bother you.”
“Not a problem,” Noctis plays. “I’m totally famous. Get it all the time.”
She giggles and wrings her hands, turning back to her friends and gesturing in a way that says nope. The group begins to shift further down the pier, and Noctis lets out a hard breath. Crisis avoided.
Gladio whistles, “Quick thinking, Prom.”
“I always thought Noct looked like the dude in the Friskies commercial!” Prompto points to Ignis. “You totally got it!”
Ignis winks at him, and returns to his sandwich. Noctis leans up against the bar and exhales again, trying to expel the adrenaline.
“Wait wait wait, I look like who?”
“Uhh, what are you doing?”
“Ow-“ Noctis squirms, pressing a hand to his head. “Son of a bitch.”
“Oh shoot, sorry!”
“Nope nope, you’re good.” Noctis blinks away the pain and goes back to rearranging wires. If he could just…reach…
Prompto tips his head and squats.
Noctis squirms his hand along the back of the receiver, and plugs the colored wires into the right spots.
“Well. I was laying around, staring at the ceiling – you know, like one does.”
“And I realized that there’s speakers up there. So I hunted around and it turns out this stereo is hooked up to the whole house. Some-“ Noctis yanks, “-asshole renter must’ve rearranged all the aux cords.”
“No way,” Prompto stands up, and looks over the back of the table. “You think this is wired through the whole house?”
“Well what else would ceiling speakers be used for?” Noctis shocks himself on the power outlet and yips. Huffing, he tries again and hears the speakers pop. “Ah-ha. Quick, help me up.”
Prompto reaches down and hauls him to his feet. Noctis rubs at his forehead and hunts around for his phone. He finds it on the kitchen counter, next to all the seashells Ignis has washed and dried.
They ate an early dinner at a bar on the strand. They spent most of the day out of the house, and while the sun is nice, it still leaves you feeling sweaty and warm at the end of the day. Ignis and Gladio are showering upstairs, so Noctis figures it’s the opportune moment to fuck around.
“Alright, the verdict?”
Noctis plugs in his phone and hits a random song.
“Wait.” Prompto leans into the stereo cabinet and turns up the volume. Music starts to play through the living room, the kitchen and the hall.
“Dude, I’m mad we only figured this out now.”
“Me too.” Noctis hands Prompto his phone. “Pick something. It’s not a motel, but it’ll have to do.”
Prompto blinks at him twice.
Noctis fumbles with his fingers, looking down and then up. Nerves flutter in his stomach.
“Well. When we – when we used to stay up talking. I said I’d take you where the water’s blue and you said – “
“I wanted to motel hop and dance until our feet hurt,” Prompto finishes. His cheeks are pink, and he looks absolutely taken. Noctis rubs his cheek, embarrassed. He sniffs and sticks out a hand impatiently.
It’s getting dark outside. Shutters open and windows cracked, you can smell the neighboring barbecues.
Prompto looks down, quickly typing in a song and setting Noctis’s phone on the cabinet. Music fills up the beach house like water.
Noctis waits for Prompto to slowly take his hand. Prompto rests his left on his shoulder, and threads their fingers together with his right hand. Noctis swallows and steps up to him, resting his other hand on Prompto’s waist.
When the beat gets louder - they dance. Noctis used to have ballroom practice for fancy parties he didn’t care for. So he’s not totally inept, but this isn’t like any of those dances. This isn’t like being paired up with some princess, wishing he could waltz with one of the cute guards instead.
No. This is Prompto, barefoot on the carpet. Swaying back and forth, not really leaving the two-foot diameter of where they stand. They start stiff, but the music gets louder, and they get braver, and Prompto nervously lifts his eyes from where he’s been staring at Noctis’s collar.
Step left, step right, step forwards, the slow bass of the song rattles the windows. Prompto half-smiles. His voice is raspy.
“I always wanted to dance with a prince. Will I turn into a pumpkin at midnight?”
Noctis snickers, “I don’t think Cinderella turned into a pumpkin.”
Prompto pulls his hand away so he can flop both arms over Noctis’s shoulders. Noctis smooths his hands down Prompto’s waist, forcing them not to shake.
The song trembles through them, and they sway a little more. Prompto has already closed his eyes, and after a while he starts mouthing along to the lyrics and Noctis is fucked. Six feet under, dead in the water, shot shot shot.
Baby lets talk.
Time slows down to nothing. It stretches on forever and ever, the texture of Prompto’s t-shirt in his hands, the smell of the shampoo they’ve been sharing, the carpet under their feet. They get lost in it.
The song changes. Forehead to forehead, Prompto sighs. Arms still stuck out straight and wrists turned down, Prompto opens his eyes and looks at him.
“Um.” Prompto smiles sheepishly. “Don’t tell Iggy. But I’m kind of in love with you.” Prompto tips his head down and laughs to himself. “I’m in love with all you guys.”
The world flips upside down in the best way possible.
It’s like a dart in a glass. Like smashing a vase full of water. It floods out of him, into him – this realization of oh -- that’s what the word for this is. That’s why his chest aches.
Noctis squeezes his waist and encourages Prompto to look at him again. He takes a deep breath to steady himself. Noctis wants to say it. It’s bubbling in his throat, spilling out of his mouth like a broken dam.
“Don’t tell Iggy,” he repeats, “but I – I love you. Three. All, um. Of you. ”
Prompto bonks their foreheads together and laughs. Noctis laughs with him. He feels light on his feet. It’s like a weight off his shoulders, a burden that’s-
They freeze. Prompto jumps - almost jerking out of his arms entirely – but Noctis clutches on tighter in surprise, and they nearly bump heads turning to look at the doorway.
Ignis has a hand up against the arch, sleeves halfway rolled, hair soft and ungelled and he looks utterly and completely heartbroken.
“Um,” Noctis manages.
“Why can’t I know?” Ignis repeats. Noctis can’t think of a single time his voice has sounded so vulnerable, and it kinda shatters his universe in half.
“Y-you,” Prompto stutters, pulling away. “When we started all this you said – you said we can’t get attached. I, I didn’t want you to get mad…”
“Well fuck, we’re well past that aren’t we?” Ignis curses. He presses a fist to his eyes. “Fuck,” he repeats.
“I’m prey of my own hubris,” Ignis says. His voice cracks, and everything just falls apart. “Of course I – of course I’m in love. Do you really think I’d be here if I wasn’t head over tits already?”
Noctis covers his mouth and turns away, eyes watering. Gladio, having heard the commotion, reaches the bottom stair. He grabs for Iggy’s arm.
“Don’t,” Ignis says sharply. But Gladio reaches in again, and with a tug he pulls him in tight, and Ignis hides in Gladio’s shoulder. The music keeps playing, but it feels hollow.
Noctis feels like he can’t breathe. Barefoot on the carpet, suddenly dizzy with too many emotions all at once.
“Why am I the voice of reason?” Ignis croaks. “I don’t want to be this. I don’t want to be the bad guy.”
Gladio pets a hand behind Ignis’s neck and says, “You aren’t. You don’t have to be.”
“We had rules.”
“And it looks like we all broke ‘em,” Gladio replies. Ignis looks up at him, and it’s another confession that rings around the room like a bell. Noctis feels physically struck by it.
“Ignis.” Prompto stretches out a hand. “Dance with me.”
All the crumbs of Ignis’s mask are long gone. His eyes are open, glassy and scared.
They’re all a little scared.
“This is bad,” Ignis says.
“I’m happy,” says Prompto. “I’m really – really happy I –“ he smiles. “Dance with me Iggy. I’m in love with you. Dance with me.”
Prompto’s smile lights up hope in Noctis’s chest. He doesn’t want to be sad. He isn’t sad. What they have is beautiful and deep, and Noctis isn’t the only one who feels that way.
“Please,” Noctis says.
Ignis breathes a laugh under his breath, and wipes his eyes with the back of his sleeve. He steps forwards, reaching for Prompto’s fingers – and Noctis turns to Gladio and curtsies.
The dull pain in Gladio’s eyes sparks into deep brown and light humor.
“We shall,” Gladio teases, stepping forwards and scooping him up by the waist.
Prompto and Ignis dance formally. Gladio spins Noctis and sets him back on his feet, and Noctis laughs once to himself, and then louder again, locking his arms behind Gladio’s neck.
This should hurt, but it doesn’t.
Gladio looks down at him so fond. Like when Noctis would flip him on his ass during practice. Or when he’d sass back Cor in training. Or the first day he teleported. Just fond.
“I didn’t know you could dance,” Noctis says. Gladio keeps a rhythm, not as clunky on his feet as Noctis would’ve expected.
“Fighting is a dance,” Gladio says. He tugs him closer by his lower back. “We’ve been dancin’ for a long time, baby.”
Yeah. They have.
Ignis is holding Prompto dangerously close. Like if he lets go, he might just disappear. Arms pressed to his back and face in his shoulder, Prompto holds him back just as tight.
They’re whispering something to each other. Prompto starts to giggle, and Ignis starts to smile, and Noctis catches his eye over Gladio’s shoulder.
It’s okay, Noctis mouths.
Ignis sets his hands firmer into Prompto’s lower back, and presses his mouth to Prompto’s temple.
And there. There it is.
The strength bleeds back into Ignis like new breath of life. Eyes filling with a newly fueled fire, Ignis really starts to lead their dance; and easy as always, Prompto follows along.
The next song is faster. Noctis steps on Gladio’s feet and decides to just hang by his shoulders, and Gladio laughs. Deep and rumbly.
Prompto is singing badly, they bump elbows on accident, they fumble when they switch partners and dance off beat when they start laughing. The intensity winds tighter. Hands on waists, shoulders, slipping down, fumbling up, pulling on hair and teasing kisses that don’t quite happen.
Noctis doesn’t want to be anywhere else.
He’s overeager to climb on the bed, and Ignis chases him onto it.
“Noctis-“ Ignis starts, but Noctis knees his hip and flips them over, pinning Ignis by the shoulders and grinning in triumph. Ignis huffs, ruffled.
“I taught you that.”
“You taught me a lot of things,” Noctis says, leaning down and over him, pressing their mouths together. Ignis hums in reply. His fingers are cold, and Noctis jumps when he pushes up his shirt and holds him at his ribs.
They kiss long. Heavy, deep presses, like they’re trying to stretch it out as far as they can. Ignis sets the pace and Noctis lets him. He sighs when Ignis lovingly pets behind his ear.
Heartbeat erratic, Noctis pulls back and looks down at him. Green eyes, red mouth, Noctis has Iggy’s full attention, and it’s exhilarating.
“You,” Noctis whispers, “are not the bad guy.”
Ignis’s eyes pop wide, before settling over with affection. Ignis smiles lopsided at him, and pets across Noctis’s cheek.
There’s yelling coming from the stairs – laughter and a loud thump. Prompto is having some kind of petty argument with Gladio about being carried, which involves a lot of punching each other with their mouths. Ignis and Noctis scurried around them like normal humans.
Noctis just can’t wait. Ignis is more mailable than usual. Less cold, more needy. Noctis kisses him again and Ignis licks wet into his mouth, hauling Noctis closer like he needs him.
Noctis tips his head more. Tries to mold more of himself into Ignis, in hopes that they’d just melt into one.
“Noooo!” Prompto cries, kicking and screaming.
It appears Gladio has finally got him in a fireman’s carry. Prompto gets dumped on the bed, and Noctis bumps off of Ignis as it rocks. Prompto sits up like a ruffled bird.
“That – was a violation of my rights.”
“Mmmm, okay baby,” Gladio teases, and Prompto sits up on his knees and kisses him before Gladio can reach the bed.
“Ah,” Noctis watches. Ignis is clever, still sneaking his fingers up his stomach and down his spine. “I really hoped we’d end up here.”
“Where?” Ignis asks.
“The same bed,” Noctis turns, and kisses him again. It tingles. Ignis steadies him by the jaw, waiting for Noctis to go lax before he shifts the control and kisses smart. Controlled, heavy and hot and jeez, it’s a lot.
Ignis traps him in by a knee. Noctis grinds into him, sweatpants against jeans, and Ignis makes a punched noise into his mouth. Noctis gasps with the sudden heat that dips south like, way fast.
“That,” Ignis pants, “is not princely at all.”
Noctis grinds into him further, the fabric too thick to feel much, but still going a little dizzy from the friction. Ignis tips his head back and sighs. Noctis builds an uneven rhythm, the short-term satisfaction too good to stop. There’s something so hot about Ignis thrusting back. About Ignis planting his feet and thrusting up and finally, fucking finally – chasing after something he wants.
Noctis drops his head, Ignis bites into his neck – and Noctis full on moans.
He rips back and slaps a hand over his mouth in surprise.
“Ohh,” Gladio starts. He sets a knee on the bed and dips a finger in Noctis’s sweatpants. Ah, shit – he’s been half-mast since they really started dancin’ downstairs, and now his hardon keeps Gladio from pulling down the fabric all the way. Gladio grins, “Oh I want this. Trade me?”
“Trade you?” Ignis laughs. “Like what, livestock?”
“Mmmm,” Prompto purrs to Ignis. “I bet your mouth tastes like Noct.”
“You are such a weirdo,” Noctis says. But he rolls off and Ignis sits up, and Prompto climbs into his lap lightning fast.
“Come here you,” Ignis says, and Prompto wiggles up straight and plucks off his glasses so he can kiss him face on.
“Oh,” Prompto kisses. “You do.”
“Where do you want me?” Noctis deadpans. “On my knees? Ass up? I can put my leg behind my head.”
“You’re a little smartass,” Gladio says. “It’s a shame you’re fuckin’ hot.”
Noctis makes a peace sign, Gladio grabs him by the thigh, and Noctis gasps as he skids across the bed, and is pushed down into the sheets.
He’s laying the wrong way, his head towards the foot of the bed, but Gladio climbs between his thighs and parts his legs and oh fuck, oh fuck okay.
Too many years Noctis watched Gladio flirt with girls, take numbers and makeout with nameless faces under the school bleachers. Too many years he sat by and seethed, secretly, whenever Gladio would sneak a new girl into the citadel. Too many fucking years Noctis pined, to not reach out and hold onto him.
So he does. Gladio supports his weight with one arm, and Noctis skims his fingers along tattooed skin and thick muscle, and holds on tight.
Prompto and Ignis are like, a huge concoction of pretty that shouldn’t exist. Something about the way Prompto tips up his head and waits, like a kitten just happy to get kisses. Ignis grabs onto him and pulls, squeezing his ass and bruising his mouth– and is aggressive in a way you don’t normally see. It’s amazing to kiss them. It’s amazing to watch.
Gladio rolls down his sweats and his underwear in one go, and Noctis feels his whole body go hot. He’s the first one naked, and his skin raises in goosebumps from the cool air.
“My head is gonna’ pop off,” Noctis whispers.
Gladio pets up his legs, from knee to hip, rubbing circles into his flexors. His face sobers,
“Is this okay?”
“Um, duh?” Noctis scoffs. He flops his head back. “Er. I was actually thinking…” His back arches off the bed, and Noctis snaps his eyes open in surprise! – “Fuck! Oh fuck – Gladio! –“
Scruff rubs against his inner thighs as Gladio dips between his legs and pulls his cock straight against his tongue, base to tip. He swallows him down with little-to no effort, way too fast. Gladio’s nose touches his navel as he hums, mouth tight and wet and Ifrit – Noctis screws his eyes shut and cries out, the combined heat and the visual alone enough to get him off.
Gladio pulls off, bobs once and flattens his tongue on the way back down. Noctis makes a noise like he’s in a fuckin’ porno.
“Oh, open your eyes darling,” Ignis says. “That’s too good not to watch.”
“I can’t I –“ Noctis peeks open an eye. Gladio looks like a kid in a candy shop. Eyes sparkly, so frickin proud of himself. Ohh, look at me – I give amazing blowjobs and I know it. Fuck him.
Gladio decides it’s a good idea to swallow. Noctis nearly crushes his head with his thighs, clenching down and digging his toes into Gladio’s back.
“I can’t!” Noctis cries, arching up. “I can’t I can’t- I’ll come!”
“Damn, I’ll come,” Prompto marvels, still fully clothed and in Iggy’s lap. Gladio spares him and pulls off, squeezing him at the base and showing some goddamn mercy. Holy shit.
“Fucking Bahamat,” Noctis sags. “You just love doing that, don’t you?”
“Yes,” Gladio says. He’s nicer now, deciding to slowly suck on the head and not propel Noctis towards the edge like a pumpkin in a catapult. “I did say I was gonna’ get you back.”
Noctis tips his head and watches Gladio work between his knees. He has such long eyelashes. Noctis feels short of breath for a multitude of reasons.
Prompto makes a squeak next to them; Ignis has already chucked Prompto’s belt off the bed, and is pulling down his zipper one-handed while he marks a collar around his neck. Prompto is absolutely preening from the teeth at his throat, and the clever hand down his pants.
Noctis sighs, twitching when Gladio slips the head of his dick along his tongue. He pulls off to rub his cheek against Noctis’s thigh, and press a kiss into his hip. His voice is deep and feigns innocence.
“So, what were you gonna’ say?”
“Earlier,” says Gladio. “You said I was thinking…”
“Oh.” Noctis brings a hand into Gladio’s hair. He’s the one guy that actually likes having their hair pulled during a BJ. He swallows, and curls his fingers by his ears. “Um.”
Ignis pauses, looking up and over Prompto’s shoulder. Prompto turns and smiles at him.
“We were thinking, actually,” corrects Prompto. Noctis nods.
This is it. The line they haven’t crossed. Deep breath – okay.
“We should have sex,” Noctis says.
Ignis and Gladio blink at him. Then each other.
“I…am very concerned of what you think we’ve been doing,” Ignis stares.
“No, like –“ Noctis rolls his eyes. “You should fuck me, us, whatever.”
“Ah fuck,” grits Gladio. He presses his face into Noctis’s stomach and groans. His head shakes a little when Noctis laughs.
“Are you certain?” Ignis looks to Prompto, and back. “This is – it takes preparation and time and– “
“We have all night,” Prompto grins. “Literally.”
Ignis swallows. His eyes glaze over in thought, and Noctis, feeling a little self-conscious, chews on his knuckle in anticipation. Green eyes turn upwards – and Ignis looks at him, and only him.
“If I have you, I won’t let you go.”
“Then don’t,” Noctis says.
Prompto has played around with this stuff more than Noctis has.
Gladio (of course) grabs lube out of his bag, slicks up three fingers and Prompto takes it like a fucking champ. Hands gripping the headboard, mewling like a vixen, he makes it look so easy.
Ignis upcaps the lube, Noctis tenses, and it’s like a record scratch, freeze frame. Hit the pause button. Ignis stares him down.
“You…don’t have to – “
“Don’t fucking finish that sen-“
“Wait wait wait wait wait,” Prompto waves. He sloppily kisses Gladio, and pulls away from him like it’s a hard thing to do (it is). “Let me do it.”
“Um. Are you sure –“
“I’ll make it feel really good, okay?” Prompto smiles. “Sorry Iggy, I trust your fingering abilities more than anyone-“
“-but I’ve been messing with toys since puberty.” Prompto crawls over him, and Noctis feels his nerves settle. “Since you shot up six inches and took off your shirt in gym.”
“Damn,” Gladio stares. “I don’t know if I can watch this. Too many wet dreams at once.”
Ignis laughs breathily, and hands the lube to Prompto. He uncaps it, wetting his fingers like a natural. Noctis tells himself to fucking calm down – but it feels like he can’t breathe. He’s not scared, he’s just sort-of dying.
Prompto reads his face easy.
“It’s okay,” Prompto says. “It’s okay it’s okay-“ Noctis jerks, tensing under him. A cold finger rubs once and presses in – and Noctis grips into Prompto’s naked side, focuses on the feel of Prompto’s cock dragging against his own, rather than the alien feeling of Prompto’s middle finger. Prompto kisses him and oh, that’s nice.
“Weird,” Noctis answers.
The second finger hurts. Noctis gasps against his own will, and Ignis blurts,
“Prompto, slow down.”
“He can take it.” Prompto drags his mouth along Noctis’s lips, not really kissing, but his nerves are on end and the oversensitivity makes it hotter than it is. “Watch this, baby.”
Noctis is still trying to focus on the ceiling and ignore the burn, when Prompto stretches his fingers and presses down hard, and his voice goes raw from screaming.
Prompto is laughing at him. Noctis doesn’t even care.
It feels like someone’s jabbed him with a cow prodder. Like his entire body exploded, but he’s still here. Noctis’s spine lifts off the bed entirely. Ignis and Gladio look warm under the collar.
“Alright,” Noctis croaks. “Okay. I get it now.”
Prompto cackles. He rubs their noses together and says, “God I love you. Okay, how’s this feel?” He pulls out his fingers and pushes them back in, and Noctis chokes.
“Oh – good. It’s – fuck Prom.”
“You make pretty noises,” Prompto says. You’d think it was impossible, but Noctis flushes even more.
Gladio has decidedly had enough of watching, because he’s trying to wrestle Ignis out of his shirt, and is going 1v1 for control of whatever boxing match they’re doing with their tongues.
“Maybe I should fuck you,” Prompto whispers. He pulls his fingers in, and out. A mind-numbingly slow pace. “Maybe they won’t notice.”
Holy shit, ain’t that a picture. Noctis bites his lip, and stares into baby blue.
“Oh I’ll notice,” Gladio says. “Iggy I swear to god. Take off the shirt.”
“I can do it myself,” Ignis huffs.
“But unwrapping the present is the best part,” Noctis offers.
Ignis glares at him, Prompto laughs, and it feels lighter. Not so serious.
Gladio grabs the shirt and rips. Buttons fly off the bed.
“You-“ Ignis growls, gripping Gladio by the back of the hair, and Gladio snickers into his mouth. Ignis kisses him bruising and hard, but his shirt is now a wrinkled mess on the floor, so we all know who won here.
Not fond of being dead weight – Noctis squirms his hand between their bodies, and feels between Prompto’s legs. Prompto crooks his fingers and they gasp together, bumping noses again, sharing the same air. They snatch Iggy and Gladio’s collective attention like the crack of a whip.
The air is hot.
“Alright Blondie,” Gladio grunts. “You’re done.”
Prompto wriggles as he’s manhandled across the bed, sighing, “Oh? Am I in trouble?” He yips when he’s smacked on the butt. “Hey!”
Noctis wants to laugh, but it feels like his chest is caving in. He didn’t realize how much Prompto was grounding him. How much the comfort of skin on skin was – how the sudden empty feeling hollows into his throat –
Ignis reads him like a book, as friggin’ always. Kneeling under his thighs, Ignis feels where he’s wet and presses in three fingers and Noctis’s toes curl in the sheets, eyes nearly rolling back.
“Oh fuck your fingers are long.”
“You did good, Prompto,” Ignis says. He stretches him out a little more, free hand running up his inner thigh. Over his hip bones. Into the valley of his stomach.
Prompto makes some kind of mumbled noise against the wall, where Gladio has shoved him face first.
Noctis cannot for the life of him figure out why Ignis is still wearing pants. Wiggling down, Noctis reaches out for the button on his jeans and pops it. Ignis pulls back, and Noctis breathes through the empty feeling.
“Damn damn damn,” Noctis whispers. He’s able to tug just enough to pull out the head of his cock, and the sight of it makes his heart skip a beat. He’s so fucking hard. Ignis is looking back at him like he’s something ethereal.
“You’re sure?” Ignis asks.
Prompto is bleating a sound against the wall – fingers clenched and eyes screwed shut, begging Gladio to move – and fuck Noctis wants that.
“Take off your fuckin’ pants or I’ll skin you.”
Ignis breathes a laugh through his nose.
Everything feels hot. Ignis reverently kneeling under his thighs, strong hands holding him still, the burn as he thrusts up and in, the room twisting like a lock and a key, as Gladio bites Prompto’s shoulder – and Prompto moans so loud he laughs.
Noctis grips the sheets behind his head and arches. Ignis is careful with him, and Noctis doesn’t want him to be.
“Come on come on,” Noctis pants. “You – you gotta’ move or I’m gonna have a panic attack.”
Ignis’s grip slips on his thigh, and readjusts harder.
“Give me a moment,” Ignis grits, and Noctis realizes with a punch to the gut that Ignis is just as overwhelmed.
There’s too much all at once. Trying to watch Gladio nail Prompto against the wall – god, Gladio’s hands look so big on his body. Size and all, it’s Prompto giving Gladio a run for his money. Prompto, the one thrusting back and digging his nails in the drywall. Gladio has his forehead in Prompto’s shoulder like it’s all he can do to keep control. Gladio could crush him alive. Prompto is probably getting off on that.
Ignis rips his attention back like a chainsaw. Pushing his leg up, slipping forward and deep - Noctis curses because it’s so much, it’s so much – his throat goes raw again. Ignis presses a hand to his stomach and starts a real pace.
Noctis is hit with the cow prodder again. He nearly bites through his tongue, a knife rigging all the way down to the soles of his feet.
“Got it,” Ignis mumbles.
“Asshole,” Noctis cries. Ignis smiles at him, a little toothy, and it brings him back down to Eos. Reminds him that this is really happening.
Noctis narrows his eyes in determination.
He digs a hand in Iggy’s hair and drags him down, mashing their lips together and kissing him until Ignis finally – finally moans. Noctis claws into him. Drags his nails down Ignis’s back, and hopes there’s proof left later on. That Noctis was here. Ignis’s pace falters.
It’s heat down his stomach and into his fingertips. Cotton in his throat, blood in his ears. Ignis is a fucking masterpiece above him, taken apart and doing all he can to keep it together. Noctis doesn’t touch his dick in fear of coming on contact. He wants to drag this out. Wants to ride out the edge as long as he can. Wants to remember this years from now.
“Gods. Babes, look at this,” Gladio pants. He pulls Prompto back against him – and Prompto is red down his neck, cock heavy and wet and defying gravity. Ignis inhales, grip slipping on Noctis’s thigh.
“Stoop,” Prompto whines. "No wait, don't stop- don't don't-"
“Oh fuck,” Noctis reaches out, turned on to his very core. He needs to be closer. He needs -
Ignis pulls out.
“Put Prompto on his side,” Ignis directs. Gladio doesn’t argue. Noctis inhales as he’s turned on his side – and he’s prepared to fight the manhandling, but Prompto is maneuvered next to him – and okay. Good, good.
Prompto threads their fingers together. Noctis turns his face into the sheets and groans as Ignis slides back in.
“Holy ahh – s-shit,” Prompto pants.
“All your dreams come true?” Noctis croaks.
“Inf-finity and b-beyond.” Prompto drags Noctis’s hand to his navel and whispers, “Can you feel him?”
Gladio and Ignis moan near simultaneously. Noctis would laugh, if he wasn’t busy trying to keep his head on straight.
Noctis likes the spaghetti bowl of limbs. He likes the hands, the sweat, skin on skin and the breathless feeling in his chest. Prompto kisses him. They get jostled along the way, but Ignis is a god above him, slowing down and speeding up, keeping a pace steady enough to build the edge and drag him back down.
He couldn’t possibly last any longer than this. Ignis doesn’t pull out anymore, just grinds and grinds, hits deep, and Prompto sneaks a hand between his legs and Noctis comes like a storm. A high, near silent gasp, only because he’s shouted himself raw already. Noctis just holds on for dear fucking life; nails in Prompto’s arm, thigh tense in Iggy’s hand, it tears him apart.
Ignis gasps like he wasn’t expecting it. Pulls out rapid fast, curling over him and shaking – it takes all the braincells Noctis has left to turn and cup his cheek, and Iggy’s face is beautiful. Absolutely stunning.
It’s a lot.
There’s a balloon in his head. Swollen and full and blowing hot air out of his ears.
The room is at a dead standstill. Dark, except for the streetlight casting fancy shadows through the French doors. Clothes scattered everywhere, sheets rustled and twisted, warm bodies and a cool spinning ceiling fan – Noctis should be dead asleep right now.
Instead it feels like someone is sitting on his chest (and like he’s been kicked in the butt, but that’s something else entirely).
Noctis sits up in bed, and rubs his face with his hands. He breathes out quietly, and sucks in air through his nose.
Come on. Pull it together.
A hand presses to his back. Noctis doesn’t jump, but he turns his head towards Ignis, and finds him sleepily staring up at him.
Ignis rubs up his back and down to his tailbone.
“Can’t sleep?” Ignis whispers. Noctis shakes his head no.
“Then the world must really be ending,” Gladio mumbles. He’s been soft since they danced last night, but Prompto really softened him up, snuggled in on his other side, Gladio has been cuddling him like it’d kill him not to. He still reaches over and squeezes Noctis’s knee tenderly. “You okay?”
“Yeah.” Noctis hesitates a moment, but decides to hold Gladio’s fingers on top of his knee. “My head just won’t stop.” Ignis rubs up the indents of his spine. Noctis turns back and offers a toothless half smile, “I’m guessing I’m not the only one.”
Prompto turns in Gladio’s arms, and surprise, he’s awake too.
“Yeah, me too. I don’t want to leave yet.”
“I just…” Noctis runs a hair through his hair. “I just want to see the ocean one more time.” As if it’ll cure all his problems. As if it’ll stop tomorrow from coming.
“Then let’s go,” Gladio says.
“What? It’s like, one in the morning.”
“I’m down,” Prompto says.
“The beach likely has a curfew,” Ignis whispers.
“Nobody will notice,” Gladio smiles. He sits up, Prompto following suit. “Come on. We’re all awake anyways.”
Butterflies flap around in Noctis’s chest. He resists a smile, and turns to Ignis for a silent approval.
“Well,” Ignis sighs, sitting up. “Alright then.”
They set a towel on the sand. You can’t see much of the ocean, except for what reflects the moon – but you can hear the waves, you can smell the seasalt, and right now, that’s enough.
Side by side they sit. Noctis hugs his knees, Prompto wiggles his toes in the sand. Gladio and Ignis sit quietly.
There’s not a soul out here. No cars on the street, no birds, no children. The lifeguard tower is eerily still, the reddish color looking blue from the moon. Everything looks a bit blue, all things considered.
Noctis crosses his arms on top of his knees and sighs. It should feel lonely. Gladio wraps his arm around Ignis’s shoulders, and in the cover of an early, early Sunday morning, Ignis leans into him. He thinks maybe, Gladio might’ve kissed the top of his head.
Prompto draws circles in the sand with his finger. He turns his eyes down before looking to Noctis and asking,
“Are you sad?”
Noctis hesitates in answering. He waits another moment, just to be sure.
“No,” he decides. “Not really.”
“Oh,” Prompto blinks.
“I…” Noctis starts. He swallows, and then shrugs. “People go their whole lives without finding something like this. I’m just happy it happened at all.”
“A mature answer,” Ignis eventually says.
“I don’t…” Gladio pauses. Everyone looks at him and waits. Gladio, the king of emotional invulnerability, a master at deflecting, the playboy in highschool, the shield seemingly above romance. He bites his lip – and in that moment, he looks twenty-one. Gladio continues. “I don’t think I’m strong enough to look at it that way.”
It’s a heavy confession in just a few words. Noctis swallows his heart, keeps it from spilling out of his mouth. Prompto is abnormally silent.
“Me neither,” confesses Ignis. He looks to Noctis. “But I am undoubtedly proud of you for facing this head on.”
Noctis is proud of who he is. Proud of where he comes from, and what he’ll be. But he looks around him and realizes, there’s no way he could have walked this path alone. And there’s definitely no way he could face these coming years on his own.
With a heavy heart, Noctis asks,
“Will you still stand by me when I’m married?”
Ignis and Gladio tense on a reflex, both opening their mouths to argue, but Prompto beats them to it.
“That’s a stupid fucking question,” Prompto says. He squints a moment longer, angrily stewing, before shoving Noctis over in the sand. “You’re stupid.”
“Well said,” Gladio nods.
“Dumb,” Prompto continues. “Dumb stupid.”
“Okay, okay,” Noctis smiles. “I get it.”
Prompto glares at Noctis a moment longer, and flops on him before Noctis can sit back up.
“Dumb question,” Prompto mumbles. “Don’t think like that.”
“We’re with you till the end,” Ignis says, voice tight. “Relationship or not.”
Eyes stinging, but smiling anyways, Noctis digs his hands into Prompto’s shirt and hugs him back.
Tomorrow it ends.
Packing up is always terrible when you’re going home. Suddenly nothing fits like it used to, and you don’t really have the pre-vacation excitement of organizing your suitcase by color. Prompto has to sit on his own bag just to get it shut.
They’re groggy from staying up so late last night, but they need to hit the road before noon to beat traffic. Gladio loads up the car, Prompto and Noctis (try to) clean, while Ignis triple checks under their beds, and finds Noctis’s phone charger in the dresser drawer (oops).
Noctis stands in the doorway of the beach house. He can hear arguing down by the car.
“Hey hey careful with that-“
“Then carry it yourself!”
“Haha w-woah now, don’t get hasty-“
Kitchen is clean, the blankets are folded again, the couch cushions are put back. The fridge is empty, and there’s no more seashells littered on the counter.
They’re saying goodbye to more than a house. Noctis doesn’t want to leave.
Fingers gently brush against his own – Noctis looks up, and Ignis nods to him.
“Yeah,” Noctis says. “Let’s go.”
“Wait!” Prompto calls. He lifts up his camera. “One last group photo!”
Prompto sets a timer on the camera, props it on the hood of the Regalia, and gets a group photo in front of the garage. Noctis feels distant, pulled out of his own head and too tired to smile along with Prompto. He feels like an asshole, because Prompto is trying so hard to keep the mood up (and god knows he’s the only one).
The shutter clicks. Prompto gives Noctis a sad smile, before patting his cheek and saying, “Shotgun.”
Gladio slaps Noctis on the back.
“Come on Princess. You can sleep in the car.”
“You know me so well,” Noctis says dryly.
Ignis slides behind the wheel, the engine purrs, and they roll down the windows just to enjoy the last bit of sea air while they can.
There’s a silent agreement; no more holding hands, no more touching. Rip off the bandaid, and maybe it’ll heal easier.
Noctis thunks his head against the window, Gladio pulls out his book. And with a heavy heart, they’ll build up all the walls they worked to tear down, starting with the space between them on the leather seat.
Trees to cactus, wildflowers to desert grass, dirt and dirt, until they meet metal walls.
Insomnia feels like too much at once. Suddenly everything is loud and in your face– street traffic, crossing guard whistles and honking horns. The sun sets as they enter the city; neon lights flicker on one by one, street lamps and restaurant signs and big hotel towers with flashing ads on the screens. Noctis feels a headache building behind his eyes.
The doors open as soon as Ignis sets the car in park. The Kingsglaive bow as Noctis steps out onto the pavement.
“Highness,” they say. “We hope you enjoyed your travels.”
Noctis yawns and scrubs a hand through his hair. He gets a look at the glaive and snorts.
“Cut the shit, Nyx. Anything interesting happen while I was gone?”
Nyx stands and grins, shutting the door behind him. Guards begin to unload the trunk.
“Heh, interesting? You could say that.” Nyx crosses his arms and nods towards the Citadel. “The King was hoping you’d join him for dinner. I was told to buzz him in as soon as you crossed the gate.”
Noctis swallows. He turns back towards his retainers, (exes? no. no no no.)
They’re staring back. Gladio squeezes Prompto’s shoulder and says, “We’re going to take him home.”
“Right,” Noctis nods.
Ignis isn’t looking at him. His demeanor is chilly, but Noctis knows it’s a coping method more than anything personal. He knows.
“Um,” Prompto smiles. “I had fun. Thanks for inviting me.”
Jeez, it sounds like the end of a pool party.
They can hug, right? That’s normal? No? Too bad, because Noctis draws Prompto in for a side hug and claps him on the shoulder in a way that he hopes is super bro-ish and not loving at all.
“Come stop by before the wedding.”
“I’m invited, right?” Prompto grins.
Agh. This hurts.
Noctis smiles back and pats his shoulder, before drawing back. “Stupid question.”
Prompto bites his lip.
“We’ll see you tomorrow morning for the week’s briefing, Highness,” Ignis bows. “I will email you a compilation of your missed meetings.”
Ignis gets back in the Regalia without saying anything else.
“Shit,” Nyx snorts. “You spent a whole week with a Stiff like that? Sounds more like torture, if you ask me.”
Gladio and Prompto begrudgingly climb back in the car. Noctis watches a moment longer, before turning up and back towards the stairs.
“Yeah,” Noctis mumbles. “You’d be surprised.”
Nyx takes up post outside the door. Noctis nods a thank you, steadies a hand against the handle, and breathes in before pushing it open.
Dinner has already been set. There aren’t any guards or maids on duty, and as soon as the door shuts, Noctis’s gaze falls on his father, sitting at the head of the table.
“Noctis,” Regis smiles. He begins to stand, “Have you eaten? I was worried you would get back late.”
Noctis waves at him to sit down, and slides in on the other side of the table.
“Sorry. I should’ve called.”
“Don’t apologize. You look tired, did you rest at all?”
“A lot, actually.” Noctis serves himself off of the platter, choosing to look at his utensils rather than his dad. “We were just up late last night.”
“Enjoying your last day,” Regis nods along. “Well, I presume you had fun?”
Noctis stares at his food. He taps his fork against the edge of the plate, blinks twice to swallow the ache in his chest, and summons a smile for his father.
“It was amazing. Thank you.”
Regis looks down. Noctis takes a bite. There are church-like stain glass windows in the dining hall, but they’re dark without the sun, and the room feels stuffy. Noctis wants to talk. Wants to tell him about everything. But it’s easier to bite your tongue than to lie.
“The weather?” Regis tries.
“Was the ocean everything you hoped it to be?”
Noctis plays with his food for a moment, before taking a bite.
Regis nods. He takes a sip out of his wine glass, and Noctis tries not to notice the new grey hairs littered in his beard.
Regis clears his throat.
“Well,” he says. “I’ll have you know that Princess Lunafreya has arrived safely this morning.”
Noctis nearly jumps out of his own skin.
“Wh-“ he chokes. “What?”
Regis stares, no indication on his face acknowledging Noctis’s outburst.
“The princess is in Insomnia.”
Noctis steadies himself. There’s a voice distant in his head that screams no! No – I still had three more days! Don’t take this away from me, I’m not ready, please –
“Oh,” Noctis breathes. “That’s good. I’m glad she’s in good health.”
Noctis finishes his dinner.
“Well,” Regis sets aside his napkin. “You’re tired, so we can discuss ceremonial details tomorrow morning.”
He shifts, as if he’s going to stand - but Regis hesitates, and turns his head towards Noctis instead.
“Son,” he starts. “Is there anything you need to tell me?”
His gut reaction is immediate, the word no already on the tip of his tongue. But Noctis stops outright – sits up in his chair and stares, mouth still parted and ready to answer like always.
Can he pretend forever?
Noctis has never experienced a week where he didn’t have to play dress-up. Where he didn’t put on a different, straighter pair of pants. Straighten the tie, straighten your shirt, straight straight –
His father is looking at him so earnestly.
Noctis sets down his fork, and rises his eyes up the table. From his plate, to the platters, to Regis’s face. He doesn’t think much on it.
“I’m gay,” Noctis says.
His father’s face doesn’t change. With a steady pokerface and a single blink, Regis nods and says,
“Okay. Thank you for telling me.”
And… there’s the regret. It feels like his heart is about to claw itself out of his chest. Noctis’s hands shake in his lap. Fuck. Why? Why did he –
“It won’t affect my duties,” Noctis blurts quickly. He jerks to his feet and bows at the waist. “Nobody will know, I promise.”
“Sit,” Regis commands. It has an authoritative tone to it, so Noctis sits quickly. Regis, without a hint of spite, says, “There won’t be a wedding.”
Everything just kind of – stops. The exhaustion behind his eyes, the heartbeat hammering in his ears. It’s white, nothing except for the candle flickering on the table, and his father staring from the other end of the room.
Noctis’s throat goes dry.
Regis repeats, “The wedding is cancelled.”
He’s feeling too much at once. Noctis’s eyes well up, a dead panic jerking him into near hysterics.
“Dad-“ Noctis’s voice cracks, standing again. “You- you’ll start a war.”
Saying it makes his eyes burn. Because there really is no choice.
“There was going to be a war regardless,” Regis says. Noctis is near trembling, but he can’t stop it. Can’t for the life of him still his fucking hands.
Regis sighs, gesturing for him to relax. Noctis is physically incapable, so Regis stands, crossing over a few chairs and sitting closer. He pauses, “Don’t cry, or I will cry also.”
“What are you talking about?” Noctis wipes his eyes.
“I’m sorry,” Regis says. “I would have told you sooner if I’d known. I received word three days ago from spies in the Niflheim military. The wedding was an excuse to infiltrate our walls under a false ‘treaty’, they were going to launch an attack from the inside.”
Shaky and half-dead anyways, Noctis still croaks out in worry.
“I kindly requested the Chancellor to have her come three days early for wedding preparations,” Regis says. “Nothing interesting for the military to attend. The princess is now safe in Lucian territory once and for all.” He pauses. “Aldercapt won’t be happy to find Luna’s Imperial escorts dismantled.”
“You,” Noctis laughs dryly. “You’re sneaky.”
Regis half smiles, and he looks like he wants to grab Noctis’s hand, but doesn’t to spare Noctis the embarrassment.
“The wedding is cancelled, and with your arrival, the walls are officially closed. I won’t allow Insomnia to fall from the inside out like – like some kind of dying animal with tapeworms.” Regis then sighs. “Noctis – I won’t pretend I’m a good father –“
“But I just wanted to know. What you wanted. You always performed your duties, while begrudgingly, but without complaints.” With finality, Regis reaches over and does squeeze his hand. “There is going to be a war. There are tough times ahead of you, and I want you to be supported by those who love you most. Who you trust more than anyone.”
Noctis wipes his eyes again, sniffling to try and pull his shit together.
“You’re…you’re not mad?”
“They care about you more than anyone in the world,” Regis says, sitting back. “Strong, dedicated Glaives. What more could you ask for?”
“H-Hold on,” Noctis stutters. “They - I didn’t say anything about…”
Regis raises a brow as if to say do you really think I’m that big of an idiot? – to which Noctis hides his face in his hands, and decides he’ll just die.
“You will make many sacrifices for your people, and for your country,” Regis says. “But this won’t be one of them.” Regis stretches out his bad knee under the table and relaxes back in the chair. He smiles, the softness of a father on the stature of a king. “Go call them.”
Noctis doesn’t know how to cope with so many emotions at the same time. He nearly stumbles out of his chair, slinging his arms his father’s neck, and hugging him just quick enough before he teleports back across the room.
Noctis nearly runs into a column trying to pull his phone out of his pocket. He hears his father’s laugh in the dining room.
“Don’t,” Ignis says, with all the snarling bite he can muster. “Do not joke with me. You will break my heart.”
“Do you want to hear it straight from the King?” Noctis laughs, bubbly and high enough to jump off the balcony and fly. “We’re not breaking up, Ignis.”
He can hear Prompto scrambling to steal the phone out of Ignis’s hand, muffled yelling as Prompto shouts, “Get back in the car! We’re going back!”
Something clatters in the speaker. Gladio’s voice comes over loud and deep.
“Tell me you’re serious.”
There’s hope in it. Desperation. It's not a question, it's a demand.
“On my mom, I swear it,” Noctis says. Gladio goes deathly silent. Noctis draws the phone closer to his mouth, turning towards the edge of the balcony. “Come back please. So I can tell you I love you in person.”
He doesn’t care about the cameras anymore. Noctis has nothing to hide, and it’s none of their business anyways.
“I’m a bird in a new cage,” Luna says, sitting in her windowsill. “But I feel free. Is this weird?”
“No,” Noctis says. “It’s the same for me too.”
War is war, heartbreak is heartbreak, the Kingsglaive fall in drones, and Luna longs for her lost brother. But there’s a ray of hope in it all. In the small victories. In fighting for what you believe in. In not being alone.
No more dress-up. No more walking the borderline.
“Noctis, what on eos are you pacing for?”
He’s already reached the end of the hallway again. Noctis turns on his heel, and paces back towards the windows.
Regis is slow-going with his bad knee. He won’t let anyone help him, but Clarus keeps an unhurried pace at his side, casual, as if out for a stroll.
Noctis stops, steadies himself, and turns towards his father before they reach the courtyard door.
“Please,” he begs. Hands pressed together, Noctis sets his fingers under his nose. “Please. Don’t embarrass me.”
“Don’t embarrass you?” Clarus leans back and laughs. “Are you kidding? I’ve been looking forward to this for years!”
Noctis lets out a mock sob, and presses his face in his hands. Regis breathes a laugh through his nose, and waves off Clarus.
“Go embarrass your own son,” Regis says.
“I will, your Majesty,” Clarus bows. He steps out into the courtyard; the smell of barbecue ribs and fresh-off-the-girl hamburgers floats in after him. The white door shuts again. Noctis feels like there’s a hive of bees in his stomach.
“Relax,” Regis says, way too carefree. “I just want to meet them as your father, and nothing more.”
“That’s what worries me,” Noctis sighs.
Regis taps Noctis’s heel with his cane.
“You’ve had it coming.”
“Yeah. I know.”
His father hesitates before opening the door. He offers a half smile, the first Noctis has seen from him in a while.
“I thank you,” Regis says, “for allowing me to act as a normal parent for an evening.”
Noctis lowers his hands. It dawns on him then, that his father is no different than himself. That sometimes, despite the honor and the privileges, there comes an urge to just be normal.
Regis steps out into the courtyard.
“Ahh,” he breathes in, facing the sun. “Ignis my dear, that smells incredible.”
“I can’t take all the credit, your Majesty,” Ignis bows. “Gladio is a master of the grill.”
“Just serving my country,” Gladio salutes.
“No formalities, please,” Regis waves.
The Argentums are already here, sitting at the picnic table, looking very-out of place, but patiently listening to Iggy’s eccentric uncle go on about the art of knives.
Prompto already looks like he wants to die. Head in his hands, elbow on the table – it’s nice to know he won’t be alone in this.
Prom looks nothing like his adoptive parents (duh), but they have the same kind of body language. They get really excited when Regis asks about their careers.
“Wait,” Clarus says. “I. Have baby pictures.”
“Alright,” Gladio says, stepping away from the grill. He hands Ignis the skewer. “It’s time. Put this through my forehead.”
Ignis looks between Gladio and the skewer. “I’m afraid I can’t do that.”
“Oh ho,” Prompto perks up. “This just got a whole lot better.” Noctis slides next to Prompto on the bench, because there’s no way in hell he’s missing this. Gladio glares at him from across the courtyard, and Noctis raises his hands.
“Hey, everyone in the country has seen my baby pictures.”
“Holy sh-moley,” Prompto leans over the table to look at Clarus’s hand. “He was so…round!”
“I remember,” Regis sits. “That was a big kid. Your poor wife…”
“Tell me about it.”
“Please,” Gladio begs, pressing the skewer further into Iggy’s hand. Ignis shakes his head no.
“Wait!” Iggy’s Uncle shifts to pull out his wallet. “I have pictures too.”
“Nevermind,” Ignis says. He hands the skewer back to Gladio. “Me first.”
“Fuck!” Noctis trips. “God-dammit.”
He jumps on one foot, squeezing his eyes and counting to ten.
“Fuck fuck fuck my toe!” He grits his teeth, “I swear to god Prompto, one day I’m going to trip over your shoes and then I’m going to die and – oh god, I sound like Ignis.”
Gladio laughs from the hallway. He passes by with an armful of laundry, voice fading as he walks past.
“Are we going to have to amputate?”
“Fuck off,” Noctis snorts. Gladio cackles and continues towards the laundry room.
Noctis kicks at Prompto’s boots with his good foot, shoving them out of the way. Damn, Noctis can’t even remember what he was looking for anymore.
Sighing, Noctis leans up against the desk chair and rubs out his sore foot. Okay, time to retrace his steps. He was just talking to Ignis about the inauguration, Noctis said he didn’t have a suit because he ripped it at the Glaive ceremony last week – no, he was NOT showing off, it’s not his fault the recruits don’t know how to – hey, what’s that?
Noctis blinks at a purple binder sticking out from under their bed. They just cleaned on Monday, Noctis has no idea how the room gets so blown up (well, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if they’d just sleep in their own bedrooms, but you know how that song and dance goes).
He walks over and squats near the edge of the bed. There are a handful of books shoved under here, but they’re definitely not Gladio’s, because he’s picky about dust and all that shit.
Noctis grabs the binder and blows off the dust.
“Nooooct,” Prompto cries from the other bedroom. “Have you seen my boots?”
“Yeah!” Noctis calls. “I just broke my fuckin’-“ He reads the front of the binder and stops. Noctis exhales, “…foot.”
“Wha?” Prompto peeps through the doorway. “In here?”
Noctis holds up the binder.
It’s been a long time since he’s seen Prompto flush so red. He didn’t think anything embarrassed him anymore.
“Ummm,” Prompto laughs, and rubs at the back of his head. “Haha. Hey, that’s where that went.”
South Beach, M.E. 755
The first picture is them outside of the Crow’s Nest, crouched in front of the Regalia. Shiny and goofy and nervous. Arms around each other, the camera a little out of focus.
A laugh bubbles out of him before Noctis can stop it. He smiles, tracing the edge of the page, before turning to look at Prompto.
“You made a book?”
“Ah…” Prompto crosses the room and sits next to him on the bed. “A long time ago. Yeah.”
“Wow,” Noctis smiles. “Look at Gladio’s hair!”
Prompto bites his lip in a grin, “It’s so short.”
“You still had a baby face,” Noctis says. He reaches over and thumbs over Prompto’s stubble, and Prompto bares his teeth in a goofy smile. It’s near impossible to resist kissing him.
He likes the way Prompto kisses. Kind of boyish, but skilled in a way that only comes from so much practice. Prompto breaks the kiss with a peck to the corner of his mouth. He turns back to the binder.
“I honestly don’t remember what I put in here,” Prompto mumbles. He reaches over and turns the page.
“Wait.” Noctis cups his hands over his mouth, “Hey! Meeting cancelled! You two get in here!”
“What?” Gladio leans back through the doorway. “What’s going on.”
“Look,” Noctis turns the binder around. “Prompto made a cute scrapbook of our beach trip from like, a million years ago.”
Prompto shoves his face in his hands.
“Don’t say it like that!”
“Oh,” Gladio snickers. “Hey Iggy! Get up here.”
Ignis’s voice is dim from downstairs.
“-eeting NOT cancelled, the secretary of Accordo is expecting an appearance from the King-“
“Nothing that can’t be pushed ‘till tomorrow,” Noctis says. “Oh my god, you took a picture of Ignis in the sunhat?”
“Pff, you think I wouldn’t?”
“I’ll get ‘em,” Gladio says, making his way down the stairwell.
He can hear Ignis’s feathers ruffling all the way from up here. Bickering and a short, choked off “Gladio!”
Prompto leans back on his hands and cackles. There’s a thump, a distinguished cry, and a faint – do NOT hit my head on the stairwell I will castrate you with my good knife –
“I got you! Quit fussin’!”
“Honestly,” Ignis says, arms crossed and pouting over Gladio’s shoulder as they cross into the bedroom. “You cannot continue to manhandle anyone that disagrees with you.”
“It’s worked for me so far,” Gladio grins. He slips his hands down Ignis’s thighs – and Ignis is nothing if not nimble. He instinctively wraps his legs around Gladio’s waist, hands gripping into his shoulders.
“Why am I here?” he huffs.
“Maybe I just wanted to see your pretty face,” Noctis says.
“Also,” Prompto adds, taking the book out of his hands and turning it around. “Sunhat!”
Ignis hides his face in Gladio’s shoulder and sighs.