They’ve only just left the restaurant when Gladio takes his hand, twining their fingers together as they walk back to Ignis’s apartment. A bold move for a first date. For once, Ignis isn’t wearing his gloves, and Gladio’s warm, callused skin feels nice against his own. It feels right, like they’ve been doing it all their lives and it’s the most natural thing in the world. Ignis glances at him, and Gladio meets his eyes, and then they both look away, laughing nervously.
They barely speak. Ignis is too preoccupied with the wild beating of his heart, and with his lurching stomach, to think of something to say. It’s ridiculous that he should be so tongue-tied. He’s known Gladio for the better part of a decade. They’ve conversed thousands of times before. But it’s never been like this. He’s never been so acutely aware of Gladio’s opinion of him, never been so eager to impress.
But his anxiety is short-lived. His apartment is only five blocks from the restaurant. They arrive outside of it sooner than he would have liked.
“Guess this is where I leave you,” Gladio says, releasing Ignis’s hand to shove his own in the pockets of his jacket.
Ignis nods, his stomach sinking. He doesn’t want to say goodnight to Gladio, not yet. But it wouldn’t be appropriate to invite him up tonight. They both have work tomorrow, and he gets the sense Gladio isn’t ready to take that step yet, no matter how much he might want it.
“I suppose it is,” he responds.
A breeze tosses a few tendrils of hair across Gladio’s face. He pushes them back off his forehead, and his gaze moves from Ignis’s eyes to his lips. The hunger in that look sets Ignis’s pulse racing again.
“Can I kiss you goodnight?” Gladio asks.
Ignis’s heart somersaults in his chest, and he has to stop himself from wiping his clammy palms on his slacks. He’s wanted to kiss Gladio all night—wanted, in fact, to kiss Gladio properly for a long time, ever since one evening two years ago when Prompto roped them into a game of Spin the Bottle at Noct’s eighteenth birthday party. It was an awkward kiss—how could it be otherwise, when it was Ignis’s first?—and Gladio never mentioned it again. Ignis always assumed he wanted to forget about it.
That all changed when Gladio approached him at the gym last week, raking a hand nervously through his sweat-dampened hair, and asked Ignis out for dinner.
“Yes,” he says, though it comes out as a whisper. So he clears his throat and says, a little louder, “Yes, of course.”
But Gladio doesn’t move. He keeps staring at Ignis’s mouth, his own lips parted, hands still stuffed in his pockets. For the first time, it strikes Ignis that Gladio is nervous, too, that his palms are equally clammy and his heartbeat just as thunderous.
Well, then. Ignis will simply have to take matters into his own hands.
He steps forward and tilts his face up. They’re standing so close he can feel the heat of Gladio’s body, can smell the beer and the spice from his cockatrice skewers on his breath. Before he can lose his nerve, he reaches up to bury a hand in Gladio’s wild hair, pulling him down until their mouths meet. At the touch of his soft lips, Ignis floods with warmth, a kind of warmth he never knew another human being could make him feel. His cheeks heat. From the top of his head to the tips of his toes, his skin prickles with it.
Gladio breaks the kiss before Ignis can deepen it, his lips hovering only an inch from Ignis’s own.
“You sure you don’t wanna go to the bar around the corner for a nightcap?”
“I don’t think that’s wise,” Ignis murmurs, voice husky to his own ears. If they drink, he’ll lose the last shreds of his self-control. “I have a meeting at seven-thirty tomorrow morning.”
“Damn.” Gladio kisses him again, his hands sliding under Ignis’s jacket to rest on his hips, pulling him closer. The kiss is chaste, without tongue, just the sweet press of Gladio’s mouth and the gentle brush of their noses. As they pull apart, his breath ghosts over Ignis’s lips. “When can I see you again?”
“I daresay you’ll see me at the Citadel tomorrow.”
Gladio chuckles. “That’s not what I meant.”
“Tomorrow evening,” Ignis says. “My last meeting ends at eight. We can—”
Another kiss, more insistent this time. Gladio’s tongue slips into his mouth, and Ignis groans and winds his arms around Gladio’s neck, drunk on his affection. All he wants is for Gladio to lay him down and use those lips on every last inch of his body, turning his trembles into shudders of ecstasy. The hands on his hips slide up his back, grasping handfuls of his dress shirt.
Ignis allows himself to tease Gladio’s mouth with his tongue just once, and then he forces himself to stop, before this goes any further.
“I had a good time tonight,” Ignis murmurs against his lips.
Gladio plants one last, soft kiss on his mouth. “Yeah. Me too, Iggy.”
Reluctantly, they draw apart. Ignis clears his throat and straightens his jacket with a tug on the hem. Gladio runs a hand through his hair again, his cheeks flushed and lips swollen. How beautiful he looks, under the dim glow of the streetlamp, his eyes a lively, rich gold.
How fortunate, that Ignis should be allowed to have him.
“Tomorrow at eight?” Gladio says. “I’ll meet you here?”
“Yes, that sounds wonderful,” Ignis says.
Gladio grins and starts to walk backwards, his hands in his pockets, his eyes on Ignis, until he reaches the corner. Once there, he lingers for just a moment, as if they can hold on to the magic of the evening so long as they’re within sight of each other. Then Ignis raises a hand in farewell, and Gladio raises his in return, and he finally disappears around the corner.
Ignis touches his lips, smiling, and lets himself into the building.