Chapter 1: Prompto
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Friday was still game night.
Prompto wasn't sure how he did it, but Noctis practically demanded that any time after five on Fridays was off limits. Prompto suspected that was a couple hours earlier than most officials went home, but it didn't matter. At five o'clock on Friday he was expected to be at Noct's apartment ready to play some games, eat food, and have fun. It wasn't the only time set aside for them to do things or hang out, but it the only consistent time. No matter how Noctis might whine about how boring meetings were or gripe about old politicians, Noctis had stepped into his role has prince the moment he'd graduated nearly half a year ago now, and Prompto thought he did a pretty good job. If Friday evenings were the line in the sand that he told people to not to cross with him, his advisor, and his shield, well, Prompto couldn't blame him for just one evening. Everyone needed time.
Prompto had miraculously set up his own schedule so that he was definitely available every evening and weekends, so if one of them called for him he could be there almost no questions asked. Every Friday he was there before they were. The guards at the doors didn't even bother to stop him anymore. It was practically as though he lived there himself.
The setup itself hadn't much changed, food, games, and sometimes a movie. The biggest difference was the weekly talk (argument?) where Noctis tried to get Ignis to order in rather than cook. That, Prompto suspected, was far less about not wanting to eat what he made, hidden veggies and all, and more about getting Ignis to sit on the couch with them sooner. Noctis had taken a very active role lately in what he called "reconnecting" with Ignis. Prompto couldn't complain either way. On one hand he loved Ignis' cooking. On the other hand he loved cuddling his boyfriend. He stayed out of their little talks. It was win-win for him.
This Friday was a little different, not so much in setup and the night itself, but in the plans they had for the next day. It was October, and though Daemon's Night was technically only the very last night of October, it had grown into such a large thing over the years that it was practically a month-long celebration. Daemon's could be seen everywhere, as well as pumpkins, bats, spiders, and all the little things people had deemed spooky and scary over the millennia. It was only eleven days until the holiday itself, when children dressed up in costume and went around begging candy off strangers.
In between now and then was Prompto's birthday. He hadn't heard anything from Noctis, Gladio, or Ignis, and he grew more and more suspicious about what as happening in their brains by the day, but that was still a few days away. Tonight was game night, and then tomorrow, once Noctis deemed himself rested enough to bother getting up, they were going off to talk a walk through a Horror House. Well. They as in Noctis, Gladio and him. Ignis still said absolutely not at every turn. Even without Ignis going, there was a sense of anticipation clinging to everything about the evening, so Prompto didn't really find it surprising when Gladio pushed himself up from the couch an hour earlier than he normally might and said he was hitting the hay.
Noctis booed him, but Ignis got up from his seat and walked him to the door. Prompto could hear them softly chatting, but he couldn't make out precisely what was being said. They were probably discussing the details of tomorrow. Like whether Gladio was going to be Noctis' only guard at the Horror House. Ugh. Prompto didn't want to think about it.
A couple minutes later Ignis returned, only to say, "I think I'm going to head on out myself."
"Boo, Specs, boo!"
Ignis ignored his jab. "When you're done here," Ignis now had Prompto's almost full attention, because he knew he was talking to him. "Come on up to bed. All right?"
"No matter the time, do you hear me?"
"Yep. Three a.m. Got it."
Ignis chuckled, and boy did Prompto wish that he could pause the game right now to look at his face. He supposed he would have to settle for the feel of lips against his temple. "I'll see you in a couple hours."
It wasn't until the door had closed behind Ignis that Noctis spoke again. "So."
"Was that the 'I'm really talking about sleep' come to bed? Or the 'I want your clothes off in the worst way' come to bed?"
Prompto dared to look away from the screen long enough to glare in Noctis' direction. "I really should have never told you he has two different ways of saying it." Not that he'd even actually said what the two different inflections meant! Noctis had just (correctly) guessed on his own.
Noctis didn't respond to that, but he was grinning, and that was bad enough. "Well?"
Prompto huffed. "It was the 'I don't want you walking halfway across the city at midnight' come to bed."
"So just sleep."
About a minute passed in silence. "Are you lying to spare my brain that mental image?"
"No." He really wasn't, not that he would tell him if he were.
Two hours later, the game was turned off and they went their separate ways. Noctis to his bedtime routine and Prompto up the stairs to Ignis' apartment. The door was unlocked, and after he'd stepped inside and toed his shoes off he locked it behind him. He didn't find Ignis in bed (he hadn't really expected to.) Instead he found Ignis at his kitchen table, papers spread out, laptop open, tablet off to one side. Prompto was sure Ignis knew someone else was in his apartment, but he was also sure Ignis knew it was him, and that didn't register enough on his radar for him to even look up from his work.
"Iggy," he sighed. "It's almost midnight."
That seemed to get through the fog of focus, and Ignis looked up to the clock on the stove. "So it is." He looked back down again almost immediately. "Go on and get ready for bed, Darling. I'll be there in a minute."
If there was anything that Prompto had learned since staying the night had become acceptable practice for them it was that when work was out on the table a "minute" meant an hour. After an hour you'd bug him again and it'd become a "moment" which was about fifteen more minutes. "Nope. Not tonight." He grabbed the back of Ignis' chair and, with a little resistance, dragged it out.
"Prompto, what are you--"
Ignis didn't get to complete that question because before he got it all out, Prompto had him straddled (albeit a little awkwardly, but it worked,), hands cupping his face, and was kissing him. The resistance he got was token at best before he was being kissed fervently in return, hands settled down on his waist and thumbs rubbed circles into his hipbones. That was really nice, he liked the motion, and of course he liked the kissing, but it couldn't go on too long before it became the thing that he'd assured Noctis this wasn't.
He pulled back. "Come to bed, Iggy." The work could wait. Most people didn't even go into the office on Saturday or Sunday. The work could wait. "Please?"
"Yes, all right," Ignis said a little breathlessly, and Prompto gave him another long kiss for it. "Let me put this away," he said when they parted again. That was agreeable. After all, Ignis really shouldn't even have the paperwork around where his pleb boyfriend could see it, not that Prompto was likely to read or understand any of it even if it he did. It was best if it was put away properly for the night. That didn't stop Prompto from settling in against the counter to watch and make sure he didn't get back into working on it again.
Once it was safely put away they went to bed. As utilitarian as his apartment might be in other spots, Ignis had a luxurious bed. It was easily large enough for the two of them. It was actually larger than Noctis' bed, and with Noctis being the king of naps you'd think he'd have the best bed. No. Ignis definitely had him beat. The bed had apparently been a purchase to combat insomnia, something Ignis had an on and off battle with. It didn't really help, according to Ignis, but it was comfortable and pleasing so he'd kept it anyway.
In Ignis' bed, Prompto fell asleep almost instantly.
The clock read 3:04 in bright red the next time he opened his eyes. He had to push himself up a little to see it, and he'd clearly slid down in his time asleep. He and Ignis had also intertwined during that time, and while it had apparently been comfortable before it was anything but now. He tried, he really did, to unwind his legs from Ignis' own without waking him, but before he managed it Ignis' eyes creaked open. Prompto internally groaned. "Turn over," Ignis mumbled, eyes closing again. For a moment his own half asleep brain thought Ignis was talking about the pastry. Turnovers. Why was Ignis talking about turnovers? While his brain chased that thought, Ignis repeated himself. "Turn over." This time it was accompanied by a light tap to his shoulder, and Prompto felt like an idiot. He turned over and slid himself back down under the covers.
There was a slight wooshing of sheets sliding over one another as Ignis himself straightened them out. Then arms slid around his waist and he was pulled back against Ignis' front. He could feel Ignis press his face against his shoulder. It was warm. "Better?" The groggy nature of the words gave away that Ignis was already mostly asleep again. Prompto smiled.
"Good." The word was more a breath than anything else, and then Ignis was gone again. Prompto wasn't far after him.
The next time Prompto was aware of being awake the clock read exactly 8:00. Ignis wasn't in bed. It wasn't surprising, Ignis was up no later than seven even on days off, which Ignis never really considered days off. He'd let Prompto sleep in though, which was nice. Prompto himself was normally up way before now for work, or really more like he was up for his run and then work, so on his days off, while he did usually still want to go on a run, sleeping in was nice.
He rolled over onto his back and stretched his arms up in the air, feeling his whole body shudder with the motion. That was when he noticed it. His wristband had been pushed up in his sleep, exposing the bar-code on his wrist. Panic quickly overwhelmed him as he hastily pushed it back down to conceal the mysterious tattoo he'd had for literally as long as he could remember. Suddenly everything seemed a little bit more terrible. Had Ignis seen it? Or worse did he maybe know what it meant? Was it too awful for words? Was that why Ignis wasn't still in bed? Logic told him no. Anxiety told his logic to take a long walk off a short pier.
There was really only one way to find out. It took a lot more oomph than Prompto cared to admit to push himself up out of bed after that. He found Ignis in the kitchen, hair still damp from a shower, but otherwise dressed and ready for his day. It was a little disappointing. Ignis looked great all done up, of course he did, but there was always something to be said about seeing Ignis dressed down. Out of his armor, so to speak. Hair not yet finished was going to have to be good enough. If he hadn't had a ball of anxiety turning around in his gut, he would have wanted to run his fingers through it.
Ignis looked up from whatever he was doing and smiled. The ball lessened a little. Maybe he hadn't seen it. "Good morning, Prompto. Did you sleep well?"
"I slept great. You?"
"Much the same. I woke up this morning feeling quite rested for once."
"For once. You make it sound like there was a reason."
"There was." He didn't elaborate, but the implication was there, and Prompto didn't know how to handle it so he said nothing. "I'm making a frittata," Ignis said at length.
"Sounds great." Great. It was the word of the day.
"Did you want to go for your run? I can stall it until you get back."
"Nah," Prompto pulled out a chair from the table. "I'm gonna be lazy today, I think."
"Yeah. It's not every morning that I can spend it all with my boyfriend."
Perhaps he imagined it, but Prompto like to think he saw something in Ignis' shoulders melt, just a little. "That's very true. I'd like to spend my morning with my boyfriend as well."
They did. They spent the next couple of hours at Ignis' table, talking and eating. Ignis told him what ridiculousness he could about life at the Citadel, which was always very redacted in its own way, yet still fascinating. It often sounded like high school dynamics, which Prompto found ridiculous. You never escaped high school, even at the highest rungs of the ladder.
In turn, Prompto told Ignis about his week at the restaurant. There were always stories there, even when they didn't happen to him. It was a Galahdian place, after all. You got a lot of people who came in specifically to be racist. Ma didn't put up with that. Not with her people. The combination of that mixed with just normal restaurant drama made for endless tales. Ignis listened to him indulgently, long after Prompto was sure he'd waxed to the side of boring. Eventually though, Ignis glanced over at the clock and sat his coffee mug down. "It's nearly ten. You should probably get ready for His Highness to actually awaken."
Prompto sighed. "Yeah. I should get a shower in before I go." The last thing he wanted was for Noctis to actually be dressed and ready to go before he was out of his bed clothes. That would really be humiliating. "You could come too."
Ignis paused. "Prompto, that's not as fun as you seem to think it is."
Prompto's brain stalled for a moment. Not as fun.... Oh. Ohhhh. Prompto blushed a little, just a little. "I mean. I think it'd be a lot of fun." Sex in the shower, that was. He was pretty sure that's what Ignis had been talking about. "But that was not what I was talking about."
It was Ignis' turn to blush. "No?"
"No. I was talking about the Horror House. You could come with us. Still. We won't tell you no."
"Ah, that." That was a no before he even heard the word, Prompto knew. "No. I'll remain here, thank you. I'll be here when you return to hear all about it."
"I'm sure I'll live with the shame. Now, off to the shower with you."
"Are you sure you don't want to head back to bed first? Since you seem to have that on your mind?" His tone might have been teasing, but the offer was serious. It always was for Prompto. He had yet to hit the ceiling of "sated" in that regard. Maybe it was because they were still in the honeymoon phase of their relationship. Maybe that was just how he was. He wasn't sure yet.
Beautiful hazel eyes gave him a once over, and for a moment Prompto thought he might actually say yes. "Tempting as it might be, we don't have time for that."
"Come on," Prompto half-whined at him. "I bet I could suck you off without cutting my time too short."
The slight, blush returned to Ignis' face, and for Prompto, that was always a win. "Rain check?"
Prompto pouted, but he knew he wasn't going to win at this point. "Fine. Rain check."
"Perhaps to be cashed in later this evening? If you're not too tired."
"I'll hold you to that."
"Feel free. Now."
"Shower. I know," Prompto grumbled and pushed himself up from his chair. "I'm going."
"I'll bring in some clothes for you to wear."
It didn't take him long to climb into Ignis' shower after that, and by the time he heard the door click open and saw the blurry form of Ignis placing a pile of clothes by the sink he was sure Ignis could smell how it was filled with the scent of steam and Ignis' soap. Though he knew that over the last few months he'd acquired a small gathering of clothing here and of course Ignis had a toothbrush set aside for him, he didn't have separate toiletries here. When he showered here it was with Ignis' soap. It was a bar of soap, and no matter how many times Prompto tried to figure out what it smelled like the only thing he recognized was rosemary. It smelled good though. He didn't dislike it. And he didn't dislike the scent being distinctly telling of the fact that he'd been in Ignis' shower.
Even when a room was warm, getting out of a shower was always cold, and Prompto worked quickly to try and get himself dry before he started to shiver and shake. It wasn't until his hair was deemed 'damp' rather than 'wet' that he actually went to look at the clothes Ignis had picked out. He pulled on the pieces as he went. Yeah, he remembered these socks (he'd actually just thought he'd lost them) and he remembered these jeans. He remembered most of it, until...the top. It wasn't his.
It was nice, a shade of green just this side of olive, sleeves and turtleneck collar, and almost absurdly soft to his fingers. He didn't own anything this nice. He knew it wasn't his, and when he pulled it up over his head it was too big. It wasn't so big that he swam in it, but definitely too big to be something he'd bought on his own. He pulled the loose collar up to his nose and...yep. This was Ignis'. It smelled enough like him for a warmth to pool in his stomach and his heart to speed up in his chest.
"This isn't mine," he commented all the same once he'd emerged from the bathroom. Ignis was back at the kitchen table, paperwork, laptop, and tablet back out and spread over its surface. "Don't you have a desk?" He tacked on. Prompto was almost sure he did, somewhere in the spare room that had been decorated like a small office.
"The table has more area to organize out on," Ignis mumbled between fingers pressed to his lips, and then he seemed to break his focus and sat up straight. "Let me see." Prompto came around to his side, and his insides wiggled to see how fond Ignis looked at the sight of him. "I like it," he whispered, reaching out and running his fingers up and down Prompto's sleeve. "It makes your eyes pop. I thought it might."
"It's not mine, Iggy."
"I know, but all that you have here is sleeveless. It's chilly outside. You needed the sleeves."
"I'd be fine."
"Perhaps, but I'll feel better this way. Besides," a slow smirk crawled its way up Ignis' lips. "I like you in my things."
Prompto opened his mouth to give at least one more bit of token resistance when there was a knock at the door. "Wow, he really hustled this morning, huh?"
"So it would seem." Ignis pushed himself up from the table, and Prompto stayed behind while he answered it. It wasn't Noctis that followed behind Ignis when he returned but Gladio instead. While Ignis came back around to the table, Gladio paused in the archway. Prompto could feel his eyes looking him over. Oh yeah. Gladio totally knew this was not his shirt. Maybe he'd even seen Ignis wear it before.
"Noct's ready to go."
"Cool. I just gotta get my shoes on." His hair wasn't done, and that was...ugh, but the truth was that he was probably totally going to ruin it at the Horror House anyway. There was all sorts of things that might mess up a hairstyle.
"Have a good time," Ignis leaned down, and Prompto turned his head in time to catch his lips before they connected with his cheek instead. With Gladio there Ignis kept it short and chaste, but it filled his chest with as much warmth as mulled cider anyway. "I'll see you all when you return."
"Okay." Prompto frowned. Was it just him, or did Gladio sound sad? "Don't work too hard." Maybe not. That sounded normal. "Come on, Prompto. Shoes on. Can't keep Princess waiting."
"You know he hates being called that, right?"
Gladio chortled. "Yeah. I know."
Gladio drove. Prompto could honestly probably count the number of times he'd gone somewhere with Noctis in a car with someone other than Ignis at the wheel on one hand. Of those times it had been Gladio all but once. Noctis had once said that Gladio was a good driver, but he didn't really like to drive. Prompto supposed he should be grateful that Gladio was willing to today. The gods knew Prompto would never be trusted with a license, and Noctis - Well. He'd heard stories.
The Horror House they pulled up in front of had been built in the parking lot of an old mall. You could tell it was old and nearly abandoned by the amount of green that grew out of the cracks in it asphalt. It was fairly busy right now though, with plenty of cars parked off to one side and even from within the car Prompto could hear the eerie music and shrieking from within the Horror House.
"We had this place vetted, right?" It was a little late to be asking, Prompto thought, but apparently now was when it had occurred to Noctis, even as he pulled down the brim of his cap a bit and got out of the car.
"Yeah, couple days ago." At least someone had apparently thought of it. Probably Ignis. It was usually Ignis. "And they were notified to ramp up security because someone important would be visiting."
"Someone important," Prompto scoffed, reaching up and pulling Noctis' hat all the way down over his eyes. "I don't see anyone like that here." Once he got his hat back up, Noctis gave chase, and soon they were shoving and pulling, and half play fighting. (He knew it was play because Noctis could definitely kick his ass given half a chance.) When Prompto glanced back, he saw that Gladio was lingering behind them, a serious expression on his face, eyes cast somewhat downward. Again with the sort of sad expression.
"You okay, big guy?"
Eyes flicked up to meet his own. A stray thought entered his brain. He didn't know why people were so down on brown eyes. Not when they made every expression look so warm. He pushed the thought aside as Gladio spoke. "Yeah. Fine. Just thinking."
"Don't think too hard," Noctis teased, "You might hurt yourself."
"Very funny, Noct."
There was a fee to get in the Horror House, of course. Prompto had the yen all counted out in his wallet. That didn't matter, because Noctis, like the little shit he was, handed over the cash for all of them. This. This was why he normally went first. Exactly so Noctis wouldn't do this shit. "Don't give me that look, it's your birthday week! You don't get to pay for anything!"
"Birthdays are for a day. It's not called a birthweek!"
"Well! It should be!" Noctis hooked his arm around Prompto's elbow and tugged. "Come on! Let's go get the shit scared out of us."
It didn't take long. Horror Houses made their money scaring people, so they naturally took their business very seriously. The first couple of scares were incredibly mild, probably both to ease you into it and to scare off the people who couldn't really handle the rest of it. Prompto was pretty sure by the third or fourth jump scare into it that the workers were going to be laughing amongst themselves later, saying that he really should have turned back at the clown holding the red balloons. The deeper you went, the more daemon-y it got, but it wasn't until the mindflayer with independently moving animatronic tentacles that Prompto actually shrieked and buried his face into the nearest human looking arm. It happened to be Gladio's.
"Shut up!" He growled into said arm when he both heard and felt Gladio chuckling.
"If you're so scared of these things, why did you even want to come?" Fingers dug into his scalp and ruffled his hair. Prompto was now secretly glad he hadn't had time to style his hair. Gladio would have totally just ruined it, let alone the rest of the Horror House.
"Because it's fun sometimes! To be scared of things in a safe environment!"
"It is!" He insisted, pulling his face away from his arm to glare up at his face. Why did he have to be so tall?! It made it harder to glare. "You just don't understand because you're not scared of anything!"
"Well, that's not true."
"Sure it isn't." He pulled away from Gladio's side completely and began to make to catch up with Noctis, who was already getting way ahead of them. "Sure."
They made quite a trio, really. They had him, who shied away, jumped, and cried out at almost everything. They had Gladio, who said and reacted to nothing (damn training.) Lastly, as a complete opposite to Prompto, they had Noctis, who laughed at everything, the bastard. He just laughed. He wasn't sure which of them would be the most noteworthy to the workers later.
In between all the bigger scares, there were a lot of imps and goblins. They didn't seem to have designated spots within the house. They could and would pop out at you anytime. Of course, their jump scares got Prompto every single time, but it was surprising when, maybe three-quarters of their way through the house (Prompto was gauging by how much more of this his body could take) Gladio started to tell off the imp scarers. "What is up with you?" Prompto asked as quietly as he could (which honestly wasn't all that quietly with all the eerie music and background noise) after Gladio actually told the latest imp to fuck off.
"It's the same one, Prom," Gladio seethed through gritted teeth. "It's been the same damn imp the last five times." Gladio grasped his shoulder and pushed him on ahead of him. Protectively, Prompto realized a moment later. There was something about that imp that put Gladio in full on bodyguard mode.
They couldn't have been far from the end when it actually happened. He'd caught up with Noctis again, and he was waiting for the biggest scare of them all. It had to be close now. They hadn't seen any necromancers yet, and he had a theory that a necromancer with potentially human zombies was probably the end. They'd chase them right on out of the house and then they'd all be laughing all the way to the car.
He hadn't bargained for the scare he actually got.
"Hey!" Gladio's sharp voice startled them both, and Prompto caught Noctis' elbow.
"Stay here a sec, okay?"
He could tell by Noctis' face that he didn't like the idea of staying here, but he nodded anyway. "Just a second though. So hurry up."
It wasn't really much of a distance. Five or six steps. In those five or six steps, Gladio continues to talk. "I told you to back off!"
It was the imp again then. Gladio was a big enough guy that in the narrowing of the hallway there wasn't much room around him on either side, so Prompto couldn't really see beyond him. That made it all the more terrifying when Gladio made a grunting noise and doubled over against the wall. For the first time, real terror rose up in Prompto's chest. He had no real facts. He had no idea what had really happened. All he knew was that Gladio was sliding down to the ground hands up to his face, and that the imp was running his way.
Normally, Prompto felt that in a fight or flight situation he was flight. He'd fucking duck and run. What else was he going to do? Just then, there was no room in his brain for flight. Just then, imp nearly in his face, and Gladio on the ground behind it, his brain only saw one option. He didn't even think about it.
He punched the imp.
The movies never tell you how much punching someone hurts. It really hurts, especially when you punch someone in the face with as much force as your puny little arms can muster, as Prompto just had. It must have hurt the imp more though, because it went down - hard. It went down in a fast tumble, and there was a clatter of metal against the ground. Prompto's blood ran cold as Noctis bolted past him. It'd been holding a knife.
His thoughts felt dull as he lifted his eyes to where Gladio was sunk against the wall. He didn't really seem to be all that much more conscious than the imp at his feet. His hands had fallen to the floor. There was a lot of blood pouring from his face. "Prompto!" His eyes moved to Noctis. It seemed like a painfully slow transition. "Call Ignis! Code: Alpha-Orange-Three!"
He fumbled with his phone, hands shaking harder than he thought they ever had before. It seemed like a miracle that he managed to unlock it and hit the call button for Ignis. Ignis picked up after the first ring, but before the second had started. He knew Ignis would know it was important. Prompto never called when texting was an option. There was no hello. Just, "What has happened?"
Deep breath. He had to get it out. "Code: Alpha-Orange-Three." He didn't know what it meant. He trusted Ignis would. A sharp breath from the other end told Prompto that Ignis knew exactly what it meant.
"Is it Noctis?"
His numb brain told him that the code probably meant an attack or injury on a very important person. That was why Ignis was asking. That made sense. "No. Gladio." He looked down at the imp. He didn't think that it was getting up any time soon. Or perhaps that was wishful thinking. "Noctis is secure."
"All right. Stay there. Assistance is on its way." The line went dead.
Prompto wasn't sure he'd survive the wait.
We did say mostly a lighter tone. (It wasn't a lie. Promise.)
If you want to listen to the song we took the title from please click this link!
Chapter 2: Gladiolus
Gladio woke slowly, not so much a fade into consciousness as a slow burn, a disjointed awareness of the sounds around him before he even opened his eyes. The steady beeping of machinery, sharp but distant. The low murmur of continuous noise – movement and speaking and something more – beyond the room he was in. Closer at hand, a familiar stern tone that, when he blinked away the brightness, resolved into a spiky-banged brunet at the end of his bed, expression pinched in a displeased frown as he examined a freckled hand, fussing as he was apt to do. The blond was flushed at the attention, flustered and embarrassed and astrals he wished that were him. Ignis turned the hand this way and that, examining it carefully before, quick as you please, pulling a potion from the ether and cracking it over the injured limb, deaf to the blond’s protests. The blond never thought he was worth such things – absolute bullshit, of course. It was frustrating, how little he thought he was worth, despite how hard he proved otherwise. It was frustrating to hear him protest the use of a simple potion, even after what had happened, though the details were a bit fuzzy on him at the moment. He remembered the haunted house, the build up and the anticipation and how it had been fun enough, until he’d realized that creepy little fucker was following them specifically. And then there had been a moment, when he’d taken the lead, and a flash of something sudden and sharp –
He must have made some sound, as their attention suddenly snapped over to him and the prince, who had been standing slightly off to the side watching, practically threw himself at him. He chuckled. It was funny. Half the time they were at each others’ throats over his training schedule, but when shit got serious, they had each others’ backs. Always.
“. . . hey.” The word was accompanied by a big smile. It was probably the drugs talking, but he actually felt . . . pretty good, to be honest.
“Hey?!” The prince’s tone was indignant, to say the least. “You scared the shit out of me!” He punctuated the declaration with a light punch. A sissy hit from their scrawny prince. Gladio laughed, the expression pulling a tight feeling around his bandaged . . . knife wound.
Ah. Yes. That’s right. The little fucker’d had a knife, and then. . .
One hand reached up to touch the bandage, but his fingertips had scarcely brushed against it when a hand caught his wrist and pulled it away. Long fingers remained curled around his wrist a moment more as Ignis met his eyes, lips pressed into a thin line, and shook his head. Yeah, yeah. Message received. Gladio let his hand drop back to his side, and when Ignis released him, he felt the absence of his hand keenly.
“What’s wrong, big guy?” The blond’s voice was bright as ever, though the way he picked at his fingernails betrayed his continued unease. “The scar’s just going to add to that whole. . . thing. . . you’ve got going.” The blond made a vague little gesture to, as far as he could tell, all of him. Noctis gave an amused snort, and the blond whirled on him to punch his shoulder. “Nooooooct,” he whined, and when Gladio’s gaze roved over to the third member of the group, he found Ignis smiling, expression fond. It was kind of funny, but he didn’t feel like laughing anymore. His breath caught, but when attention focused back on him, he managed a shaky smile. Probably.
“Seriously, dude!” the blond bounced forward to slight tap his arm. Was that supposed to be a punch? He could do better than that. “Chicks totally dig scars!” The punctuated the comment by crossing his arms over his chest and giving a resolute nod, aiming for knowing but coming across as confident, very cute, and absolutely unconvincing.
Did they, though? Everyone always said that. Gladio was pretty sure they just liked to fawn over a certain kind of man (rich, powerful, or attractive), and sometimes scars just came with the territory. He didn’t really find that he cared that much. That wasn’t what he wanted.
“Do you?” the words slipped out without any real thought, the feeling behind them sincere even if he’d have never uttered them sober.
“Huh?” Vivid eyes stared blankly at him for a long moment as the blond processed, then his gaze flickered to his boyfriend, a subtle panic bleeding into his stance. Finding no answers immediately at hand, his attention flickered back to the waylaid shield, and he gave a nervous laugh. “Sure, big guy, but I don’t think that really matters in this case, yeah?”
Behind him, the prince cracked up laughing, clearly finding the situation hilarious. "Oh man," he faintly heard him cackle. "They've got you on the good drugs." He wasn't really paying attention to Noctis though. He was paying attention to Prompto, who'd had a wholly different reaction.
Gladio gave a big, dopey grin. The blond looked uneasy, but flushed prettily, pleased by the bigger man’s easy grin despite himself. Compliments were always nice, so long as the source wasn’t too creepy. Gladio wasn’t creepy, was he? Was it creepy, asking his cute friend if he liked scars – with his boyfriend and the literal prince of the realm in the room, no less? Ignis was going to eviscerate him, wasn’t he? Right now, he didn't care too much.
“Pardon me,” Ignis interrupted, his expression too cool to be called anything close to pleased. He gave a small nod, then abruptly stepped from the room, his attention zeroing in on the nearby nurse’s station before the door closed behind him, cutting him off from view.
After an awkward few minutes, Noctis’s laughter finally began to calm, and he dropped back into his chair. Casually, he pulled out his phone, managing to snap a photograph or two before the blond rounded on him.
“You little – “
The door opened again, but when blondie whirled around, presumably to greet his returning boyfriend, he froze instead with a tiny, panicked squeak. Noct barely glanced up long enough to scoff.
“Noctis.” The King’s focus zeroed in on his son, expression softening with relief at seeing him in person, without question safe and sound, despite the somewhat questionable stains still on his person. “I’m relieved to see you well.” The man’s attention shifted past the blond with the smallest quirk of a smile to settle on the hospital bed. “Gladiolus,” his voice was formal, despite the hint of a smile that accompanied it. “The Line of Lucis is lucky to have you in its service.”
The King paused, and Gladio managed a “yes, sir,” vaguely aware that wasn’t quite the appropriate response, even without his own father giving him a pointed look or the slight slur of his words. The King merely chuckled.
“And my son,” he added warmly, turning back to the blond, “is lucky to have such a steadfast and courageous friend.”
Prompto managed to stutter out something that resembled an appropriate response, deeply flushed and equally flustered. King Regis merely waved off the blond’s floundering with a small gesture before stepping forward to grasp Gladio’s shoulder. For a moment, he paused, his expression suddenly serious as he examined the younger’s shield’s face, gaze lingering on the bandage that nearly covered the entire right side. After a moment, the hand squeezed his shoulder, and with characteristic gravitas he added a simple “Well done” before releasing his shoulder, giving it a pat, and pulling away entirely.
The King’s attention returned to his son, but he only frowned before turning back toward the door. The prince didn’t so much a look up from his phone. Gladio’s father moved to follow, only pausing to give his son a very particular sort of look, and then to extract a promise from Ignis where he was lingering by the door to “see my son home, won’t you?”
Ignis, for his part, bent into a formal bow, quick to assure Lord Amicita that, yes, of course he would. It would be his honour.
And then, just like that, they were gone, and the four younger were alone in the room again. Ignis paused before letting the door fall shut again, then moved back to the younger shield’s bedside.
“The nurse assures me that Gladio is on the correct dosage.” The comment was clearly not meant for him, but it was really kind of insulting that Ignis was talking like he wasn’t even there. The brunet turned his attention to the hospital bed, because apparently he was actually supposed to hear this part. “Your father will sign you out, and then I can accompany you home.” He paused again. It was funny, Iggy and his dramatic timing. “You as well, Your Highness.” Ya knew Iggy meant business when he brought out the titles. Then again, that was pretty much all the time, with the titles. That was their Ignis. Iggy. Ignis, all business.
He was so cute, too, though – always had been, when he thought about it, excepting that period when he’d gotten a little too serious to ever really be considered fun. They were both cute – both Ignis and Prompto – though it took them being Ignis and Prompto for him to really think anything of it.
It had been all well and good when Gladio’s main complaint was only that all his friends were ridiculously, unfairly attractive. Not just the four of them (himself included, of course), even. And that wasn’t really a complaint. Just. A little awkward, sometimes. When things happened. Or if anyone had ever called him on it, when he let his gaze linger a little too long. There was nothing wrong with looking, right? Not if that was all it ever was.
But now. Fucking astrals. It was a hell of a lot more than “what’s in the water that everyone around me is so sixdamn hot?” Now it was Ignis going out of his way to favour the blond’s tastes and outright laughing when His Royal Pickiness complained about bits of celery too small to pick out of his soup. It was Gladio pretending not to notice the way his childhood friend was quick to soothe the anxiety that tightened the blond’s brow, fingers curling against sun-kissed freckles like they were just the most precious thing. It was pretending to think nothing of the way that Prompto bounced into the kitchen after the brunet, flushed and cheerful and easing the tenseness from the other man’s shoulders with a few soft words and a kiss on the cheek.
The nurse arrived to remove Gladio’s IV and deliver the usual hospital-sanctioned lecture, though with Gladio still too woozy to entirely concentrate, the bulk of it was directed to Ignis instead. Shortly after, Ignis shooed the two younger off with a Crownsguard escort – both with the assurance he’d be by later and the blond with, Gladio didn’t fail to notice, a peck on the lips. When they offered to assist with the injured shield, he assured them that he had the situation “well in hand,” resulting in a burst of giggling from both.
Yeah, okay. Gladio giggled a bit at that one, too, even if it kinda hurt. He was pretty sure the drugs were starting to wear off. Hopefully they’d be sending him home with something.
Shortly after they were wheeling the shield out to Ignis’ car, despite his entirely valid protests that he was perfectly capable of walking thank you very much. But hospital policy was hospital policy, after all, as the nurse was all too cheerful to remind him.
Despite the relative brevity of the distance, Gladio found himself drifting off during the ride to Amicita manor. One minute he was admiring the way the streetlights moved across Ignis’ cheeks in the fading daylight, and the next thing he knew, he was being shaken awake, gentle but insistent. Reluctantly, he opened his eyes to see not just Ignis leaning over him, passenger door hanging open, but also a familiar set of anxious brown eyes.
“Hey Gladio.” The girl’s bottom lip trembled slightly when she spoke, immediately activating every protective instinct he ever had. No one was allowed to make his little sister cry. He’d kick their ass. He’d kick anyone’s ass. He’d kick his own damn ass.
“Let’s get you upstairs.” Ignis hooked an arm around him, helping him out of the car and to the front door, Iris hovering anxiety on his other side. Gladio managed to get his feet properly under him about the time they stumbled into the foyer. Gods he was tired. Everything felt heavy. And his face was really starting to fucking hurt.
“One foot in front of the other,” the brunet chided gently. He was so used to seeing his friend bend over backwards for the prince’s every whim, he almost forgot how good he was at this when it was actually warranted. A year ago he’d have teased him about it. Called it mothering. Now it just made him ache.
“Easy, Gladio.” They took it slowly up the stairs, losing his sister somewhere along the way. His room was closest to the top of the stairs, and then it was only a few steps more to his bed. Ignis tried to lower him down slowly, but Gladio himself misjudged and sank against the mattress with a muffled oof. The brunet went to work on stripping him with businesslike efficiency and had him under the covers before his sister returned with a glass of water. Gladio tried to stay awake past swallowing a couple pills, but he could already feel things starting to get fuzzy when he handed the glass back. He faintly registered the sound of the two’s voices, muted and mellow, the feel the blanket being pulled up to his chin, long fingers tucking the hair away from his face. His eyes blinked closed on the sight of striking green eyes, a familiar brow furrowed with thinly veiled worry. Everything felt and sounded like it was underwater, and he was drifting way.
When he woke, it was light outside, though for how long it had been, he couldn’t say. His curtains were partially open, and the manor was quiet. For a long moment, he didn’t move, allowing a lingering grogginess to lift, but soon the thought of getting up was far less unbearable than the need to find something – anything – to dull the pain radiating from the bandaged side of this face. Bandaged over one eye, though the eye itself hadn’t been damaged, right? Yeah. He remembered. Yesterday. (Yesterday?) The haunted house. That fucker with the knife. And Prom. . .
The kid had guts, he’d give him that. Maybe someone would actually teach him out to throw a punch, after this. He could do it. He could totally do it and wouldn’t even mind.
And the prince. . . Noct must have been okay, or Ignis’ first (or second or third) priority wouldn’t have been giving him a ride home.
He sat up slowly, frowning towards the clock on his night stand – 11:15 – before noticing the refilled glass of water, two pills next to it, waiting. Thank fuck Ignis or Iris or whoever’d had the foresight. That was something, at least. Hopefully something that would kick in quickly.
In the meantime, he really had to fucking pee. And probably he should eat something. Check his phone, wherever it was, find out who was around in the process. It was. . . Sunday? Iris should still be home, right?
The house was quiet, though it was hard to say whether it was out of consideration or because he was alone. His father would be at the Citadel, of course, and Jared was away visiting family. Probably Iris at least was around. He couldn’t imagine they’d leave him completely alone after a head injury, even if he was probably fine. And Iris had looked so upset the night before(?). No way was she taking off before she could give him a hard time, at the very least.
It was what it was. Everyone was okay. Or okay as they needed to be. He’d get a badass scar out of it. And as they say, chicks dig scars, right? He groaned, remembering what he’d asked Prompto the night before. No way to take that back, now. Idiot. Though at least they had seemed willing to blame it on the drugs rather than him (constantly) thinking about how cute his friends were.
Gods, all he wanted to do was go back to sleep. Or maybe train until he was too tired to remember how much of an ass he'd made of himself – not just blabbing about his feelings but also how fucking quickly he’d gone down gods his dad had to be so disappointed in him and how he’d gotten so fucking lucky that it had turned out okay. . . but even he knew he wasn’t up for training yet. Sleeping it was. Shit. At least he had the day off. If he could just find his fucking phone.
He was washing his hands when a tentative knock sounded on his door, Iris’ head poking in after a moment with one hand over her eyes like a blinder. “Gladdy?” she called softly, “are you decent?”
He chuckled, regretting it a little for the way it made his face twinge. But the pills were already kicking in. It wasn’t too bad. It definitely could be worse.
“Yeah, Moogle. It’s safe to come in.”
The girl dropped her hand, then bolted over to where he stood in the bathroom doorway, tackling him in a hug that would have dropped a smaller man. Possibly him as well, if he hadn’t braced for impact.
“Gladdy, you asshole!” He tried not to laugh, he really did. He really should have been scolding her. After all, he definitely did not approve of his fourteen-year-old sister swearing. But there was something about her punching him while also hugging him that just. . . activated his laugh reflex. “You scared the shit out of me!”
“Hey, everyone’s fine.” He gave her a quick squeeze, not wanting to hold too tight. Iris was tough as nails, but she was still so little, compared to him. And he could pretend he didn’t feel that damp spot on his shirt, right? “I’m going to have this badass scar that’s going to make all your little girlfriends even more wild over your big brother.”
“GLADDY EWWWWWW.” She shoved him away, her pretty face twisted in disgust.
“Besides. . .” he added with a mischievous grin, head tilted slightly to size her up with his uncovered eye. “. . . if I wasn’t okay. . .” he snatched her back up, fingers digging into her ribs expertly, “. . .could I do this?” The girl shrieked, thrashing and wiggling and he tickled her senseless. It was a much better sound than the anxiety her voice had radiated before.
It wasn’t the romantic love he was yearning for. It wasn’t starlight and fireworks. But this. This was nice. And right here, right now. . . it was enough.
Chapter 3: Prompto
Prompto flexed his hand above him. The skin of his knuckles was smooth, painless, and didn't even hold a hint of irritation. It was still baffling to him. For hours after the attack he'd had painful split knuckles, because that was apparently what actually happened to hands when you punched someone hard enough to knock their lights out. He hadn't even noticed it at first, but once the paramedics and back up had arrived Prompto had simply tried to stay out of their way, and the adrenaline had started to go down. That was when he'd really first noticed the pain. He'd ignored it. There were Crownsguard wandering around, including Cor the Immortal taking statements from employees. Gladio's whole face had been bleeding. A would be assassin needed to be taken away. It was a whole big scene and he didn't need to make it bigger by pointing out his minor injury.
Ignis had arrived at about the time they were loading up Gladio into the ambulance and had taken both him and Noctis to the hospital. Ignis hadn't noticed either, for a little while. He must have started favoring that hand, because he didn't really think Ignis would have noticed otherwise. "Did no one look you over at the scene?" His voice had been calm, but Prompto could feel the anger that bubbled underneath. "They should have looked you over and treated this there."
"Pretty sure they'd had more important things to worry about, Iggy." Like the prince's shield practically bleeding out in the corner.
Ignis had held out his hand. "That does not make your pain unimportant." He hadn't really wanted to, but still, he'd put his injured hand in Ignis' to examine. He'd expected some sort of tsking, he'd expected Ignis to get up and demand a nurse bandage it, or even to bandage it himself. What he'd gotten instead was Ignis slamming a potion over it. The shock of it aching and oozing one second and not even fucking existing the next had somehow hurt more than it had the previous hours, if only for a moment.
To say he didn't know what curatives were or what they did would be a lie. Most people knew about them, but most people knew about them practically as the things of legend. Prompto, like most people, had first learned about them from books in school. How curatives had helped win wars in the past, by keeping more of Lucis' soldiers alive. They were things that only the royal line could make, and there were actually days of every year set aside for the production of them. The most powerful of them, the phoenix down, was kept only to royalty itself. He would later learn that most curatives were kept in the Armiger, but phoenix downs were only kept on a royal person. For. Morbid reasons Prompto didn't want to think about.
The first time Prompto had ever encountered a curative personally had been in high school. It hadn't been serious. He'd just been really tired. When he'd confessed that to Noctis, he'd been asked if he had an energy drink, which of course he had, because how else had he been going to get through his day? He'd handed it over to Noctis, and Noctis had . . . done something to it. He hadn't really explained, just said that it would "put the pep back in his step." Boy how it had put pep in his step. At first, he'd thought that had been all it had done, but later he'd realized that running aches, three reckless bruises, and a scratch earned from a cat that had not actually wanted to be held had also disappeared.
That was when he'd figured out that Noctis had just made him a potion on the fly. That was just how Nocits made them. He made them casually from energy drinks or even Ebonys sometimes. They didn't crack over wounds like the professional ones. You had to drink them, and they were less powerful. Internally Prompto whined. If he'd had to have a potion, why couldn't he have had one of those, and not the really expensive-looking one? It was overkill--
"Eos to Prompto." Noctis' voice pulled him out of what were probably daydreams and he let his eyes slide over to his friend. "What are you thinking about in there?"
"The history of potions." That wasn't really a lie was it? Because he hadn't meant to lie to Noctis.
Regardless, Noctis snorted. "Does your hand still hurt? Do you need another--"
"I definitely don't need another, dude." He hadn't really needed the first one, but he didn't say that. He'd probably get some argument about it. He didn't feel like arguing. He didn't really feel like doing anything. They'd eaten delivery pizza, they'd started watching a movie, but now Prompto noticed that had been turned off too. Maybe Noctis hadn't really been paying attention either.
"Let's just go to bed." Noctis grumbled more than said. Yeah, their minds were definitely reflecting one another. "I don't want to brain anymore today."
"You don't want to brain ever."
"Braining is hard, but especially right now. Let's just go sleep." Honestly, Prompto couldn't even argue with that, braining was definitely hard, especially right now, and sleeping sounded great. He nodded. They got up.
Spending the night at Noctis' place was an old song and dance by now, though he hadn't done it since he'd become Ignis' boyfriend. Still, it was easy to fall into the automatic motions that were usually preformed at one or two in the morning and not nine at night. They were still roughly the same size, so a sleep shirt and pants were shoved at him, and there was a toothbrush kept in one corner of the medicine cabinet. After that, the normal thing was to drag down blankets from the top of the closet to go curl up on the couch, but when Prompto went to start that step, Noctis stopped him.
"Don't bother," he grumbled sleepily, tugging lightly at Prompto's shirt. "Just come sleep with me." Prompto snorted, and Noctis glared, or glared as much as someone who was half asleep on their feet could. "You know what I mean."
Prompto did, but that wasn't going to stop him from teasing. "I-D-K, man, Ignis might get jealous."
"I am the crown prince of Lucis," Noctis said indignantly, "and if I want you in my bed, Specs is just gonna have to get over it." Prompto was still laughing, even as he was pulled over, but he didn't argue. It wasn't as though Noctis' bed wasn't big enough for both of them, and it wasn't like Prompto really didn't know what Noctis meant. Not only that, Prompto was reminded as he shimmied himself under the covers, but Noctis' bed was way more comfortable than his couch.
Prompto didn't think he really fell asleep. He didn't dream, but he drifted. He drifted far enough off that the next thing he knew, the bedroom door was being opened, and he had Noctis' head pressed into his collarbone. "That you, Iggy?" Oh man, his voice was slurred. He had definitely been mostly asleep.
"Yes, it's me."
"Everythin' okay, Specs?" Now Noctis was awake, too, or at least a quarter awake, considering how much his own words were slurring.
"Everything is all right. Gladio ought to be asleep by now himself."
" 'Sss good. Your turn."
"All right. Let me get a couple things settled, and then I'll take Prompto up--"
"Nuh-uh," Noctis grouched. "Now. Here. Get in."
"Highness." Was it just Prompto? Or was Ignis' voice closer now. "I hardly think that's appropriate."
"It's fine. I'm already warm here." That wasn't a lie. There was a certain feeling that one got when they'd settled into bed, and Prompto had already achieved that feeling. "It's been a long day." That was also definitely true. He was pretty sure Noctis had pulled him into his bed because he didn't want to be alone after this afternoon. Prompto couldn't blame him.
"Come on." Noctis wasn't waking up as well as Prompto was. His words were only getting more whiny and slurred. "We used to sleep in the same bed all the time."
Ignis tsked. "I would hardly call it 'all the time.' That aside, you were seven." He huffed. "I suppose I'll just have to go all the way upstairs--" Prompto wasn't imagining it this time. Ignis' voice had definitely gotten closer. "Without my boyfriend. To my cold, lonely bed--" Ignis gave a gasp that was at least half drama as Prompto turned around, grabbed his arm, and yanked him down. "Oh no," he said very unconvincingly. "I'm trapped. Whatever shall I do?"
"Go to sleep," Noctis grouched.
They laid there very awkwardly for a couple of minutes with Ignis only mostly on the bed and Prompto holding onto his arm, chin set against his shoulder. Ignis eventually tapped his shoulder. "Yes, all right, let me up." Prompto reluctantly did, but Ignis didn't leave. He only slid off his jacket and then properly got underneath the blankets. It was a tight fit, but truth be told, Prompto wasn't complaining about being trapped. With Noctis behind him and Ignis in front, Prompto felt truly safe for perhaps the first time since the Horror House. The way Ignis' arms wrapped around him told him that Ignis hadn't been totally unaffected by the whole thing either. Getting that phone call had probably been a heart attack and a half. It was all right now, though. Gladio would live, and he didn't think any of them were ever going to get foot in a Horror House again.
For what felt like a long time, Prompto slept, dreaming dreams he wouldn't remember and briefly waking up in between in a bed he wasn't really familiar with before falling back asleep. When he finally woke up for any real length of time, it was clearly morning. Light was coming in between Noct's curtains and he felt awake, if not really fully rested. Noctis was still asleep behind him, but Ignis was up. If the smell that softly drifted through the room was any indication, he hadn't gone far - just to the kitchen, almost like a normal morning.
Prompto got up, only receiving mild, grumbling complaints from a not-really-awake prince as he stumbled off toward the kitchen. It looked like Ignis was making Altissian toast. If he was making something sweet, Prompto was pretty sure Ignis had not forgotten yesterday at all. He was being . . . well, ironically, sweet. "Morning."
"Good morning." A mug of coffee, the way Prompto liked to drink coffee, was slid across the counter, and yep, Ignis was definitely being a little sweeter than normal this morning. "How did you sleep?"
"Probably about the same as you." Not great, in other words. Did you ever sleep really well in a bed you weren't used to?
"Ah, maybe you can sneak a nap in later."
"Maybe you could too," he said back as he lifted his mug up. He got a look for that, and Prompto lowered it just a little to grin at him. Ignis didn't nap. He knew that. "So."
"So?" Ignis turned back to his cooking, and Prompto considered that a good thing. It felt normal.
"Did you really used to sleep in Noct's bed all the time?"
Ignis tsked. "I maintain that it was not all the time."
"Buuuut?" There was definitely a but there.
"But it perhaps wasn't uncommon that we fell asleep together or that I spent the night. We were younger then, and Noctis was a lonely child who tended to get upset when I left. As I said, he was seven, and we were . . . closer then."
Well, that was super adorable, and Prompto definitely wanted pictures. "What changed?" Close wouldn't be the word Prompto would have used for Ignis and Noctis when he'd first wiggled his way into Noctis' life. They'd been distant in the way teenagers and their parents often were. Prompto had known they'd loved one another. He'd known Ignis was endlessly loyal, but close . . . like friends close? Prompto hadn't guessed that for a while after meeting him.
"It was the car accident." Oh. Oh yeah. The car accident. Prompto didn't think about it a lot. They hadn't been friends then. Hell, Prompto hadn't even been trying to become worthy of being his friend then. He'd just been a fat kid. Still, it had been all over the news. Someone had tried to kill the prince by ramming a car into the one he was in at top speed. Someone had died. Noctis had been severely injured.
"Not many people are really aware that the king absconded to Tenebrae with Noctis after that." Ignis didn't have to say why. It was for healing from the Nox Fleurets. "Noctis left broken and in pain and returned whole, but he was not the same. I was not the same. It was only a few months, but--" Ignis halted. He didn't have to say it, though. Prompto understood. It was only a few months, but things had changed, and they hadn't gone back.
The topic dropped after that, and they ate breakfast in mostly silence, which gave away the sort of tired atmosphere that lingered even after sleep. After they'd finished eating, they got up to wash dishes, and that was about the time that Noctis stumbled out of his room. Once Noctis had his own breakfast in front of him, Ignis said he was going to go upstairs to his apartment and get changed. "Do you want me to bring you down a change of clothes?"
"Sure," Prompto said without thinking before he whipped his head back around. "Actually my own clothes this time, thanks."
Ignis only chuckled at his clarification, but said nothing before he left. "I knew that wasn't your sweater," Noctis mumbled around a bite of food.
"Nope, it's his."
" . . . do I want to know why?"
For a quick second, Prompto's mind blanked. Why--Oh. "Nothing dirty! It's because he thought it was too cold to go out without sleeves."
"You wear tank-tops in the dead of winter."
"I know, but he insisted." He didn't mention how soft it was, or how it subtly smelled of Ignis, and he liked that. No. He didn't mention that. That was just inviting trouble.
A faint chiming hit his ears. "Is that your phone?"
"No," Noctis said with a quick shake of his head. "I think it's yours."
His . . . his . . . why would his phone be ringing? "Oh man, it's Sunday!" He dropped the fork back into the sink and ran for the bedroom. He grabbed it just in time to answer before the FaceTime invitation stopped. "Hey, Mom. Dad." He flopped back onto the bed, feeling like he'd run a short marathon between the sink and the bedroom.
"Hiii, Baby~!" Prompto resisted the urge to roll his eyes and instead focused on the screen. His parents were almost always somewhere different every week, and they liked to call him from outside, so it was always sort of a game for him, guessing where they were. Today it looked dry outside. Just. Very. Dry. "How are you?"
"Yesterday was kind of rough."
"Aww. Was it? What happened?"
Did he tell his parents that an assassin had tried to kill his friend and had sliced up another friend's face in the process before he'd (somehow) just managed to punch them out and everything turned out (sort of?) fine? No. Maybe not that detailed of an explanation. "Noct, Gladio, and I went to the Horror House, one of the good ones, and it . . . uh . . . Gladio got hurt."
"Oh no!" His mother's concern was genuine, and his father's face looked worried too.
"Is he okay?"
"He had to go to the hospital, but he's going to be okay. He went home last night, but. Don't think we're going to a Horror House any time soon."
"I would certainly say not!"
"I'm glad he's okay."
"Me, too," Prompto whispered past a tightness in his throat. What would have happened if Gladio hadn't been okay? It would have been horrible. He didn't even want to imagine it. They bickered sometimes, but they'd also become a lot closer these last few months. He often met up with Gladio for his morning runs now. They spent more time together, even just as the group of them. If Gladio hadn't been okay . . . it would be such a hole in his life. Gods, losing any of them would be an irreparable hole. He didn't even want to think about it. "So, how are you guys?"
"Well," his mother said. She was wearing her face-splitting grin, which always said that she was up to something. Prompto loved that grin. Prompto loved his mother and her kooky plans. He loved her energy and brightness, just as much as he loved his father being the exact opposite. Someone had to ground her, right? He got a full view of that grin and his father's pale-by-comparison smile, and then she moved the phone away, and he got a good look at their surroundings. "Can you guess what region we're in, Prom?"
Prompto wasn't smart. He made stupid mistakes on math equations and couldn't remember the order of kings. He couldn't tell you what the national language of Altissia was, and he couldn't tell you how hot Lestallum was in winter or how cold Gralea got in summer. What he could do was look at the picture on the screen, see how dry and almost bare the land around was, and know that his parents were for sure in "Leide."
"That's right!" That was really close to Insomnia. He dared to have a little hope. His hope was rewarded. "We'll be home by your birthday! Do you have any plans yet?"
Prompto shook his head a little. "Not that I know of, anyway." He knew his friends had to be plotting something. They'd been a little too suspiciously quiet for there to not be something going on, but . . . his parents being in town? That was too much of a gift to pass up.
"Great! Invite that boyfriend of yours over for dinner. I'll make something special, and we can all finally get to know each other!"
Prompto's heart pounded with happiness in his chest. "That sounds amazing."
He talked with his parents for a couple more minutes before they disconnected with the promise of seeing each other in person soon. He tumbled himself back out of Noct's bedroom and told him what had happened during their conversation. He could faintly hear the front door opening just as he finished his explanation. Noct whistled low. "Man, he's not gonna like that."
"Who's not going to like what?"
"I'll be in my room," Noctis said very quickly as he hopped up to his feet and retreated to the bedroom as though the whole apartment wasn't his.
"What's going on?" Ignis sat down a small bundle of clothes that Prompto assumed were for him and then came around the counter. "I was only gone for about fifteen minutes."
"I got my weekly call from my parents."
"I see. And?"
Prompto found himself bouncing on his feet with excitement. "And they're going to be home for my birthday!" He waited a second for some sort of shared excitement on Ignis' end, and when it didn't come, he pressed on, perhaps a little more worried than before. "They wanna meet you. Mom's gonna make dinner, and you can finally meet my folks!"
"Hmm." That was not the good hmm. "Do they respond to texts?"
"I mean, yeah? Not right away usually, but they do."
"Please text them and tell them that we can't come over to your place, but they are welcome to join us for dinner at my place." The words all by themselves were pleasant enough, but there was definitely fire and determination burning behind that expression, and Prompto could not place the why. he just knew he had to put it out.
"Oh, come on, Iggy. You always cook. Mom's a good cook! Let her cook for you, for us! It'll be nice."
Ignis sighed and sat down, which was a sign that Prompto should sit down too, so he did. "I see I'm not going to get away with not telling you now."
"Telling me what? That you had plans for my birthday? I knew that, but this is just dinner. It can't be that big of a deal."
"Ah, but Prompto, the bulk of my plans did revolve around this dinner. You see, darling, I'm moving."
"What?!" Prompto squawked. "Moving?! When? How? Why? Where?!"
Ignis' amused chuckle reached his ears at about the same time that one hand reached his face. His thumb stroked along his cheek, or, more specifically, the freckles that for some sixforesaken reason Ignis actually liked. "I'm not moving far, just up one floor. I've been finding my apartment has been feeling rather small, so I put in a request for a larger space, and it was granted. I've been having some things moved for a little while now, but the bulk of the move will be over the next few days. It should be finished on your birthday."
The desk, Prompto realized, still stuck a few sentences back. Ignis hadn't been working at the table because his desk was too small. He'd been working at the table because his desk was up in this new apartment.
Ignis was still talking. "It was Uncle Ventus' idea that we combine my housewarming with your birthday. I thought it was a good idea. A good excuse to have my uncles over, and a good excuse for not all the attention to be on you. I know you don't like that, after all." That . . . that was true. He definitely didn't like having all the attention on him. "It was going to be a surprise, all of it, but this has thrown a wrench into the surprise of it, at least. It'd be no problem to just add them to the housewarming, though. Then they can meet all of us at once." Ignis smiled. It didn't quite carry to his eyes. No. Noctis had definitely been right. Ignis did not like this. "I think that will work out excellently."
Ignis' hand finally fell away from his face, and Prompto took that as cue to pull out his phone and start texting his parents. He glanced up at Ignis several times as he did. He swore every time he did his face was a little more stern, eyes staring at a spot on the table. He was planning. Plotting. Something. It was the look he had on his face at the end of a bad work day, sometimes, when he was definitely figuring out how to exact revenge on a council member for some bullshit they said. Why did Ignis hate his parents like that? He'd never even met them!
"Wonderful. Do let me know when they reply." He was smiling again, but Prompto knew it was put on. For him. He was putting on a smile for him. He put on a smile right back.
"I will." Ignis leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his forehead. "I want to help you move."
"You certainly do not have to."
"But I wanna. I can come by after work the next couple days and move stuff. I assume you're gonna be putting it in boxes."
"Some of it yes. The rest will be left to professional movers." Ignis sighed, his eyes gave him a once over that had absolutely nothing to do with attraction or sex. "I suppose you could help pick up some of the slack Gladio will be leaving in the wake of his injury."
"Gladio's gonna be helping?"
"Yes, that was the plan, but we'll have to see how he's doing in a couple days."
"Will Noct be helping?"
Ignis chuckled. "No. He'll be working." Prompto supposed that figured.
Ignis' phone went off. Ignis had a couple different ringtones, Prompto had heard each of them enough to know that this was not only a text, but a text from someone Citadel important. He wasn't in the habit of wanting to die, so he leaned back in his chair and let Ignis answer. It only took him a moment, maybe even less than ten seconds, and then his eyes looked up at him again and he explained. "That was Cor. It looks like we're all going to the Citadel."
"What? Why?!" Prompto could count the number of times he'd actually been to the Citadel on one hand, and to be perfectly honest, he didn't really like going there. He didn't belong, and he swore that everyone who looked at him knew it too. He avoided going there whenever possible.
"Cor needs your statements about yesterday's incident." And dammit if that wasn't a perfectly legitimate reason to make him go, but dammit if he still really didn't want to.
He tried to find a silver lining. "I suppose we could go visit Gladio afterward?" He'd never, never ever, been to the Amicitia Estate. He imagined it was just as large and terrifying as the Citadel itself, but he was willing to go for Gladio. Ignis shook his head, and Prompto groaned. "He's been assigned strict bedrest, hasn't he?"
"Indeed he has, for today at least. Feel free to text him your well wishes, though, and I'll inform him tomorrow that you did not forget about him. That aside, I'll probably remain at the office, anyway, to catch up on some of the paperwork that would otherwise overwhelm me tomorrow."
Prompto squinted at Ignis. That whole thing was a whole statement on its own, but there was just something about the way he said it . . . "Sounds like there's a 'however' there."
Ignis smiled, it was a much more real smile this time, and something around his heart unclenched. "However, I was wondering if you'd like to go to dinner tomorrow night. I was planning on sweeping you away yesterday evening, but then the incident happened, and we were lucky just to get back here." Wasn't that the truth? "I know they weren't official plans to you, but I was hoping to cash in the rain check?"
Prompto smiled a much more real smile, too. "Sounds great, Iggy."
What wasn't great was collecting Noctis from his room at that point and heading up to the Citadel. Just getting into its shadow was enough for Prompto to sink down in his seat and feel incredibly small. Noctis and Ignis seemed unaffected by it, but then again, they came here five days a week. They'd grown up here. Here was probably more home than anything else. Prompto didn't think he could ever feel like that. He distracted himself by texting Gladio a feel better and see you soon message. Gladio didn't respond, but then if he was still on the drugs, Prompto supposed he was probably asleep.
It wasn't until they'd parked and they were about to get out that Ignis spoke again. "I'll arrange to have Lars take you both home."
"Someday, Highness, you're going to have to stop reacting to him like that."
"Yeah, well, not today."
They parted ways at the third floor. Ignis' office was apparently higher up, and Cor's was a bit of a walk from there. It wasn't until the elevator (damn elevators, Prompto's heart would be racing for at least ten minutes) closed behind them that Noctis spoke up. "Don't have Lars take you home. Just say you're gonna stick around for a while with me. Even if you go home right after."
Noctis' face got really tight. "Just trust me."
"Okay." He paused, just for a second. "So who's Lars, anyway?"
"You know how like lead actors for plays and stuff have an understudy? Someone who knows all their lines and stuff, just in case the lead actor gets sick or has an accident?"
"Lars is Specs' understudy."
Prompto blinked. He'd never thought about it. He'd never given thought to the idea that everyone was replaceable and there were potential replacements in place. The very idea that if something happened to Ignis, there was someone there who could just step in and do his job was . . . unnerving. "I take it you don't like Lars?"
"I fucking hate Lars, but I never said that, okay? Lars is great. He's very ambitious and hard-working. I love his ass kissing." Prompto snorted. Noctis hated ass kissers more than he hated almost anything else except for maybe vegetables. Except from Prompto. Or maybe Noctis had just never figured out he was ass kissing.
Noctis stopped in front of a door that had a very official looking sign on it that read 'Cor Leonis, Marshal of the Crownsguard.' Noctis knocked. Prompto held his breath. "Come in." Noctis didn't hesitate to open the door, but Prompto definitely hesitated to follow. Ultimately, though, he had no choice, and Noctis shut the door behind him, trapping them in.
It was kind of odd, seeing Cor the Immortal, a celebrated soldier, sitting down behind a desk like he was a paper pusher. To be fair, though, his expression said that he liked sitting there about as much as Prompto thought it looked odd. Or maybe that was just his face. Prompto wasn't sure. Regardless, Cor had them sit, his voice perfectly agreeable despite his sour expression. "It's nothing overly serious," he said, probably more for Prompto's benefit than Noctis'. "I just want a verbal recounting from both of you, and then I'll have you look over a couple papers, sign them, and you can go back to enjoying your Sunday."
"Sounds great," Prompto squeaked.
Noctis went first. It didn't take him long to tell his side, because, by his own admission, he wasn't really aware that anything was wrong until Gladio was facing the imp down. "Gladio had called him out before," he said, "but I really thought he was just . . . showing off or being overprotective. I didn't think there was danger until Gladio was falling over."
"And then I could see it - him - running toward us. Prompto was between him and me, and then the imp was down because Prompto punched him in the face. Just pow, and he was down."
"Is that true?" Cor asked Prompto, his icy eyes boring straight through his skull and into his brain.
"I mean. Yeah?" Prompto looked down at his lap where his hands pressed tightly against his thighs. "I saw him coming toward us and I just. Reacted. To be honest, I didn't even really think about it. I just did it. It happened so fast." They always said that, didn't they? But it was true. There'd been no time.
"Hmm," Cor went, his pen making notes on a paper in front of him. "You trusted your instincts."
"I . . . guess?"
Then came more pen scratching. "Hmmmmm."
Fifteen more minutes of torture later, they were released from captivity, and Prompto thought there couldn't be anything worse than that, at least, until they got to the end of the hall.
At the end of the hall, a man was waiting for them. Prompto had several reactions at once. The first was that if he'd never seen Ignis before, and he'd only heard people vaguely describe him, he might think this was Ignis. Styled hair, wearing a fitted suit, glasses, not skinny, but lean. In other ways, though, he was very much not Ignis at all, and honestly, if you'd asked Prompto to perfectly describe both the terms "paper pusher" and "Lucian purebred," he'd point at this man. His coloring was Lucian in the extreme: dark hair and eyes with pale, creamy skin that Prompto could only dream of (and utterly envy). He carried a suitcase, and though the closer they got the more Prompto realized that the man was actually shorter than him, Prompto also knew those eyes were looking down at him.
Definitely Lucian purebred and proud.
Next to him, Noctis made a soft scoffing noise, and Prompto realized that this must be Lars.
"Your Highness," Lars said, inclining his head slightly. It was a show of respect, yet Prompto felt no respect from it. Lars was only going through the motions. "I was informed that you and your . . . cohort--" Eyes slid back over to him, and Prompto did not miss the disgust that lay there. That. That was why Noctis didn't want him in the car alone with him. The xenophobic comments would come out the moment they were alone, if not before. "Are in need of an escort."
"I can drive myself. You don't need to trouble yourself, Lars."
"I have been informed that it's better for you to . . . not drive unattended." Prompto did not need to be looking at Noctis to know there was some form of eye rolling, whether internal or external, going on at that comment. "It would be my pleasure to assist."
"Sure. Yeah. Okay."
Lars turned on his heel and made his way back toward the elevator, clearly expecting them to follow. They did follow, but not before Noctis gave Prompto an exaggerated outward eyeroll and gesture in Lars' direction. Prompto managed a smile and shrug in return, and off toward the dreaded elevator they went.
The drive back to the apartment building was quiet. Lars didn't allow music in the car, and he certainly didn't attempt any form of conversation. Prompto took to looking out the window about halfway through, though it seemed like every time he looked away for a moment, he caught dark eyes glancing back at them in the rearview mirror. It made his skin crawl a little.
Unlike Ignis, who parked in the parking deck for the building, Lars just pulled up front and let them out, though he did ask (and it was asking, in that nice polite, political way that Prompto would never master) Noctis to stay behind for a moment. Prompto waited for what felt like ten minutes, but was only less than a minute according to his phone, before Noctis got out, shutting the door a little too sharply and marching up to Prompto and through the door. "What did he say?"
"Nothing important," Noctis grouched, but judging by his sour expression he'd said something very upsetting indeed. The expression faded about an hour into playing video games, but Prompto also made sure to not stay too late. By five o'clock he pried himself away and went home. He did have work in the morning after all, or at least that was the excuse he used. He didn't really feel tired at all and ended up staying awake until well after ten.
Monday brought rain with it, which normally didn't mess with his schedule too much. He still got up in the morning, went for his run, showered, and then did whatever else. He did the same today, but it was getting to that time of year where while it wasn't cold enough for snow, the rain was practically freezing as it hit him. His shower afterward was long and hot, but he was cold again by the time he got to the cafe. The rain also meant the cafe was slow, though that didn't mean there wasn't work to be done. There was always cleaning to be caught up on, and Prompto (happily) spent most of his work day washing the ceiling tiles that needed the washing way more than he cared to admit. Ma said she was sorry it was slow, but Prompto wasn't sad about it. He still got paid, and it had kept him busy.
He took a nap, as he normally did on days after work when he was planning on meeting up with any of his friends (or boyfriend in this case), but when he'd finally fully woken up again, he found a text on his phone from Ignis.
Ignis, 5:39 p.m. : Something appears to have come up, and I won't be home on time. Use your discretion.
Use your discretion mostly meant that a last minute meeting had come up and Ignis would likely not be home until seven or later, which meant they wouldn't actually get out to the date until even later, which was doable, but really late for him with his own job in the morning, and that made it up to him. Prompto sighed. This was a thing that happened sometimes. A lot of the time, actually. It came with Ignis' job, and Prompto understood that, but that didn't mean it wasn't disappointing. Of course it was. He did his best to never begrudge it, though. After all, without his job, who would Ignis be? He wouldn't be Ignis.
Well, Prompto thought as he pulled on his jacket to protect himself from the rain, maybe they couldn't go out to dinner, but he could spent a little time with him, right? If it was late enough, maybe he could convince Ignis to order pizza or something. That wouldn't be terrible. Getting Ignis to eat take out pizza was always a treat.
He grabbed his umbrella on his way out the door, and by the time he'd made it to the apartment building, he was very glad he'd chosen both. The only thing that had saved his feet were the fact that they were in waterproofed faux leather boots. Without the umbrella, the rest of him would have been soggy toast.
After a very brief conversation about 'why yes, he was allowed here' with one of the door guards (the other one took mercy on him), he went up to Ignis' apartment, which was unlocked, because Ignis always left it unlocked when he expected Prompto to be over. Yep, Prompto thought as he pulled off his boots and sat them by the door to dry with the umbrella. It was already after six-thirty, and Ignis wasn't here at all. Definitely no date night tonight.
Curious and nosy, Prompto looked into every room in the apartment. It was only in the rooms he didn't frequent when he was over that he found major signs that someone might be moving. His study was nearly empty. Linen closet, medicine cabinet, and cutlery drawers were almost empty as well, but only the things like that. Places Prompto normally wouldn't be opening. He really had been trying to hide it until the very last minute, though now that he knew, Ignis had apparently brought in some boxes that were shoved into corners but were still empty.
It wasn't really a good feeling knowing that you were invading your boyfriend's life so much that he felt he had to move to make more room for himself.
After snooping, he fell back onto Ignis' still-there couch with his phone. He thought about texting Ignis and telling him that he was here waiting, but he decided to let his being here be a surprise. Instead, he texted Gladio.
Prompto, 6:52 p.m. : How's ur face feeling today?
To his surprise, Gladio texted back almost immediately.
Gladio, 6:53 p.m. : It mostly hurts like a bitch.
Prompto snorted at that. He supposed he should have known.
Prompto, 6:53 p.m. : I bet. How r u tho? Ok?
Gladio, 6:54 p.m. : Not bad. Lucid, anyway, not loopy.
Prompto thought that maybe Gladio would let the conversation die there. Prompto was willing to. He'd done his due diligence in checking in, and Gladio was likely tired to talking to everyone about his face and the incident and probably just wanted to be alone by this point. Prompto knew he would, if he were in Gladio's shoes, yet not even a minute later he got another text.
Gladio, 6:54 p.m. : Speaking of loopy, about that question I asked you. I know I was high on pain killers, but it was still inappropriate and I'm sorry.
. . . ah. Prompto hadn't been sure Gladio if would remember that when he'd come down from the drugs. Just recalling it made heat flood his system, and he covered his face with his hands with phone still in them.
"Chicks totally dig scars!" - "Do you?" The words invaded his brain for probably the thousandth time since they'd actually been spoken. He'd eventually said yes, he did, not that it really mattered, but the truth was he wouldn't care for it on Ignis really. Ignis' face was meant to be exactly as it was. On Gladio though, it'd look . . . good. He would like it. Gladio was, as all his friends were, honestly, unfairly attractive. (It came with being nobility, and royalty, and just generally high-ness he'd decided long ago.) Among the three of his friends, though, it was Gladio who knew it. Gladio knew girls wanted him. After all, he had a new one practically every week. Why the fuck had he needed to ask Prompto if he thought they were attractive? The last person on the planet Gladio would care about sober?
At least Ignis hadn't totally freaked out.
Prompto, 6:57 p.m. : It's cool. U were high. We all say stupid shit when we r high, right?
Gladio, 6:58 p.m. : Yeah, thanks for understanding.
Prompto let the conversation drop there. Any more than that would just delve more into the realm of awkward, and Prompto really didn't want to go there. He pulled up King's Knight on his phone instead and just let his mind wander aimlessly as he played it for a little while. Then the door opened. Ignis was back.
The phone was instantly turned off and was being shoved into his pocket just as Ignis' voice reached his ears. "Prompto?"
"It's me!" He called back, knowing that Ignis didn't really need an answer.Those were definitely his shoes by the door. He got up anyway. Was it just him or was he hearing a lot of bags rustling? Had Ignis gone shopping? That seemed . . . odd.
"I wasn't expecting you to come after my text."
"Yeah, but you said use your discretion, which I did," he began as he stuck his head around the corner to the doorway. "And--oh-em-gee you're soaking wet!" He was! His hair, which would have definitely been styled for work, was hanging down in his face, his glasses dripping from the corners, his suit jacket was half off, draped over one arm, but it too dripped. In fact, Prompto was fairly sure that if he stood in one spot for more than a minute, then there would start to be a puddle.
"I. Ah. Yes. I'm quite drenched."
"Did you get stuck in the rain?!"
" . . . one might say that, yes." It was precisely at this point that Prompto realized Ignis had an expression on his face that he normally only saw on Noctis. The one where a child had gotten caught doing something they weren't supposed to. It was weird to see it on Ignis, his eyes cast downward in shame, yet wide, and trying to give nothing away.
"What did you do?"
"It's not really anything I did. It's more what I found." He was talking fast. Definitely caught red handed. "I was--"
"Mew!" The sound came from underneath his jacket.
" . . . I was hoping to surprise you."
Consider himself surprised. "Did I hear a kitty?" Ignis chuckled, apparently resigned to his fate, and pulled the jacket off his arm. Underneath was the smallest kitten Prompto thought he'd ever seen. It was white with little colored spots on its side. "Oh! It's a baby!" His fingers found reaching out for it irresistible, and Ignis didn't even try to stop him from lifting it into his arms. It was so tiny and soft. It, of everything else in Ignis' vicinity, was dry and warm. Immediately upon being put in the crook of his elbow, its little eyes closed and it began to purr. Prompto fucking melted right there.
"I found her under my car when I left work. Of course, I chose to park close to the open side of the parking deck today, so it was wet, and cold, and . . . I couldn't very well leave her there, now could I?"
"No," Prompto's voice warbled.
"That was about the time I texted you, honestly. She was very frightened at first, and it took me far longer than intended to coax her out from under my car. By that time it was six, and there aren't any shelters open after six, and . . . well. I thought my darling might enjoy a kitten, so I went and got all the appropriate kitten things." It was only then that Prompto noticed that the bags he'd heard earlier were filled with litter, food, toys, and a litter box. All the things a starter cat owner would need.
"You're gonna keep her?!"
"I thought we." Ignis stopped himself, cleared his throat, and began again. "There'll be more space in my new apartment. Plenty of room for a cat. She seems to have a sweet temperament. I thought it might be a good change, for . . . me, to keep the cat."
"Yeah," Prompto whispered, digging a single finger into soft belly fluff. The kitten gave a small squeak, but gave no further complaint. "She's a sweetie." Of course, if you asked Prompto, all animals were sweeties. Of course they were. They were animals. Animals were innocent and sweet. Except when they were being little shits, but otherwise innocent and sweet.
"If you don't mind, I am going to go take a shower before the chill truly sets in. Do you think you'll be all right?"
"Yep. Do you want me to order dinner?"
"Nope. No cooking." Prompto wasn't sure he had enough remaining cutlery anyway.
" . . . fine. Whatever you would like, then."
Naturally, with blanket permission like that, Prompto ordered pizza for delivery and then began to set up the cat things. He wasn't really sure where Ignis would want the things, especially with him moving, but he put the litter box in a corner of the living room and the food and water bowls in the kitchen. The kitten was interested in none of it, and by the time Ignis emerged from the shower already in bed clothes, Prompto was back on the couch, a sleeping kitten in his lap. "I have been blessed," he whispered up at his boyfriend, as though anything louder than a whisper would wake the kitten.
Ignis chuckled as he sat down, so close that their sides were touching. One long arm snaked around his shoulder and pulled just that much closer. Lips pressed against his forehead before he whispered "So have I" into his ear.
Well. Prompto didn't know what to say to that, so he said nothing at all.