It was the one place he felt he could concentrate without being called 'moody' or 'lazy' or anything like that. Perhaps it was ironic, considering his character, that he would be as graceful ice skater as this, but to Ignis, it only made sense that Noctis was so adept.
If he had to bet, he would say that Noctis was born for this…
Unlike many other people, Noctis never wanted to compete professionally. He raced against children and teenagers on the ice. Sometimes, he went along with the hockey team, dodging and swerving between them with mindless ease. Most times, he moved alone on the ice. Even with a crowd of people around him, he barely slowed down for instant, and when he did, it wasn't long enough to talk. Ignis often went with him, but instead of skating, Ignis would read, write in his notebook, or even listen to music as he watched Noctis glide by. But this wasn't to say that he couldn't skate. In fact, it was almost second nature to him.
His life was filled with many stressors, though he learned how to disguise it very well at his age. He took up skating when he was about ten. He preferred tactile learning and the almost rhythmic shick of his skates helped him retain information. Back then, it was fun. Even now, it's an escape. He had more than enough free time between his own studies and helping Noctis' with his. He also had time when Noctis went off with his father for various tasks and reasons. He had time when Gladio came to visit and especially when he dragged Prompto along.
He had time. He was glad that Noctis did too.
People began to leave the ice, and eventually, Noctis was the only one left. He brought his hands up over his head and did a spinning turn before continuing to glide along the ice. Ignis thought he looked beautiful. And this was all coming naturally to him. Brilliant– it was simply brilliant how Noctis was so in tune and honest with his body in this silent way. He sighed through his nose and tapped his fingers against the air, his arms draped on the bleacher board behind him.
Tap, tap. Noctis was moving to his music, but before the instrumental burst into its crescendo, Noctis stopped and slid his way over towards the wall. He looked out to Ignis, pantomiming pulling out earbuds. Ignis did as requested.
“Why don't you skate?”
“Maybe I don't want to embarrass myself,” Ignis said, leaning forward and pulling the other earbud out as well.
“Like you're that bad, seriously. You should be able to at least stand up.”
“I might.” Ignis lowered his gaze down, staring at the ice through the open space in the wall.
There was a pointed silence between them, but after a time, Noctis turned, letting his right arm linger on the wall as he said, “Lame…” and skated away. Ignis brought his attention up and watched as Noctis skated away from him. The younger male stared at the space in front of him, concentrating for a moment before daring a leap. He shuddered out a surprised breath and brought his hand up to his chest. Ignis smirked. He didn't think he could get away with that.
Ignis brought up his phone and paused his music. He stared at the name for a moment and sighed through his nose. When he looked up again, Noctis was leaning back into a spread eagle spin, his arms raising up slowly above his head. Honestly, it was amazing what Noctis had. Did he even notice it himself? Ignis' eyes narrowed slightly, and he stood up, wrapping the cord around his phone.
If not, then… he would just have to help open his eyes. At least once.
“Come on, Noct. We should probably get back,” Ignis said, stepping forward and tucking his phone into his pocket. “You should study a little more before you forget everything before your exam.”
Noctis sighed, looking very annoyed in that moment. His face relaxed as he turned himself around. “Coming…” He took another spin, this time making a wide arch, his arms flowing back behind his body and then falling down at his sides. Ignis reached out his right hand for Noctis to take. The younger male grabbed Ignis' hand and stepped out of the ice without a single word. He carefully stepped over to the bleachers to sit down and remove the boots from his feet. Ignis watched, a million things going through his mind as he thought of what to do next. He turned his head towards the ice and knew that in whatever he wanted to do he had to do it right away.
Noctis slipped the dark grey headband around his neck and then pushed it up again over his head, pushing his front hairs back. It used to have a moogle pom-pom at the end, but in a ridiculous play wrestling accident, the pom got snapped off. In the end, it was still a pretty good headband. Noctis dropped his hands into his lap, staring at himself in the full-length mirror which was propped up against the wall across from the side of his head. He looked tired. To be fair, he always looked tired, but he really looked and felt it today.
What time was it…?
He turned himself to the right, weighing his hand down and sliding his palm against the sheets and under the pillow. He wrapped his fingers around his phone as his hand came down onto the plush object. The pillow felt cool against his cheek, just the way he liked it. He tucked onto his side, bringing his phone to eye level as he typed out his password. The time read 8:08 before disappearing and revealing his home screen which was cluttered with unsorted apps. He always meant to get to that, but then he would navigate to social media and completely forget entirely.
Today was no different.
He was midway through checking his timeline before his phone vibrated in his hands. A notification badge slid down from the top of his screen. A message from Ignis.
Going out today; be back around 10 o'clock.
Noctis would celebrate by going immediately back to sleep. He rolled onto his stomach and let his left arm drape over the side of the bed. He stared at his reflection, only able to see himself from the ribs down. He swung his arm back and forth out of sight. For some reason, that was amusing to him, in the way where he briefly postulated about a mirror-world existence, and when that became too deep, he fell asleep.
He woke up again when he felt something crawl against his hand. He jerked it back and opened his eyes blearily, staring down at a carbuncle that had come into his room.
“Hey, little guy,” he said groggily. His voice sounded awful. He cleared his throat and tried again. “How'd you get in?”
He stood up slowly and walked over to his desk, which was just across from his bed. The rectangular window was to the left of his desk. The carbuncle would have still been able to jump down onto his bed from the edge as well. He could see that the window was partially ajar; the animal must have squeezed itself between the window and the frame to let itself in.
“Little scamp,” Noctis said as the carbuncle rubbed up against his leg.
He bent down to pick it up, letting its front paws drape over the front of his arms. It leaned its head back to nuzzle and lick him under the chin. Noctis laughed and tipped his head away. He scratched under its chin to distract it and made his way to the door.
“Yeah, yeah. Let's see if we can get you something to eat.”
He exited out of his room, which was at the end of the hall. Ignis' room was to the right, and one of their bathrooms was to the left. Heading down the hall, Noctis stepped into the open living room. There was another hall to his left where their study and the guest bathroom was. Diagonal and to his right was the front entrance. His immediate right had the open kitchen with the dining area just past that. Next to their circular dining table was a casement window with a black frame. It swung towards the outside– it used to swing inwardly, but they had to change that. The windows were really nice to sit beside. Usually there would be folded blankets for when Noctis knelt down beside the windows and stared into the distance.
The carbuncle gave a little chirp in his arms and nipped at his fingers. He shook his head and muttered “Sorry” down to the animal. He had zoned out. What did they have in the fridge again? To others, it might have been pointless, but he enjoyed pointing at the selections in the fridge and listening to the little responses the carbuncle gave. He wasn't sure if the animal understood what he was doing, but he liked to think, perhaps, it did.
He set the carbuncle down on the floor and made it a plate of the 'best' selections. Everything was what the little animal had chosen, and even though it wasn't a lot, it seemed happy all the same.
He went back to grab his phone and came back, blindly typing back a response on his social app. He stepped over the carbuncle, which chirped when it saw him. He sat down on the ground, legs outstretched to make way for the table. He set his phone down. Well. He might as well stretch. He switched to his music, getting himself started by leaning to the right and then to the left. He put on Lightship and closed his eyes, stretching his arms up above his head as he took in a long, deep breath. He brought his arms out again and leaned forward, ducking his head– moving with the fluidity of a snake– as he ducked his head under the chair in front of him.
He set his forehead down against the floor and let out his breath slowly. He felt the carbuncle against his left arm, and then he felt it on his back. Unprepared for the stretch, he hissed in pain and quirked his legs up suddenly. “A-ah! Don't do that!” As if it didn't hear him, Noctis felt its little paws set against his shoulders. “Little bastard…” he reached up a hand to boop it on the nose. He turned his head and wagged a finger at it. He tried stretching again, shifting to the left with his head under the chair. He touched his temple to the chair leg and simply moved his hands over. He tried again with the right, but it just wasn't working. Well. He guessed he was stuck like this.
The song passed and drifted into another. By the third one, there was movement at the door. The carbuncle perked its head up and then jumped down from Noctis' back. He heard the keys jingling more clearly as the door opened. Noctis groaned in pain, raising himself into an upright position and lifting his legs to draw them together. He was in a sitting fetal position, but with another groan, soon leaned over to lay curled up on his side.
The door clicked closed, and keys jingled. Ignis must have been petting the traitor.
“Is everything alright, Noctis?”
“There's a traitor in our midst.” Noctis moaned painfully and rolled onto his back. “K-kill the rabbit.”
“Let's not do that.”
Soon, Noctis heard the rustling of bags as they were set on the table. He opened his eyes and saw Ignis walk into the kitchen as he scrolled through his phone. His heels knocked against the tile flooring. The little clicks of the carbuncle's nails followed after. A pause.
“You're still not dressed yet?”
“Not yet.” Noctis sat up, reaching to grab both the chair and the window to help himself up. “Should I ought to be?”
Ignis stared blankly at him. “I'm not going to touch that.” He then pushed up his glasses and looked around their kitchen. First order of business, he picked up the plate from the floor. “You've a meeting with Christine, the one you told me about the day before.”
Noctis stared off and then nodded his head. “Right… From the online league,” he said, reaching over to open Ignis' bag.
“Don't touch that.”
Noctis looked at his friend and stuck his hand into the bag, flopping his hand around with a blank look on his face. Ignis watched him, expression equally unreadable. Noctis then pulled his hand out.
“It's just a pair of sweats,” Noctis said as he walked forward. He bumped his hip with Ignis' as he went past. “Lame, I thought I'd find skimpy underwear or something.”
“Don't get your hopes up.” Ignis crossed his arms and watched the younger male pass. “I wouldn't make it that easy.”
Noctis paused and gave Ignis an up and down look. His lips tugged down; he nodded his head. “Nice.”
When he earned a scoff, Noctis turned away. He grinned to himself and headed back into his room. He heard rustling behind him, but he wasn't curious enough to look this time. The carbuncle followed him and jumped up onto his desk. As he made his way over to his closet, the animal called out for him again, a little louder this time. Noctis turned back.
“Aww, you're leaving?” The carbuncle made a little pleasant noise. Noctis stroked a hand over its head, flattening down its ears, before cupping its face between both hands. He scratched its cheeks, and it really seemed to like that. “I'll see you around, okay?”
He let go and the carbuncle, wide eyed and doll like, stared up at him for a moment. It was meaningful, or at least he felt it was, and then the carbuncle turned and made its way out the window. He watched it go with a little smile. He let the moment pass before turning back towards his closet. Alright, alright. What was he going to wear today? If Ignis bought sweats, he was gonna go casual.
Yeah, that was his excuse.
“Two for late skate.”
Noctis rubbed at the corner of his eyes as Ignis paid the entry fee. The woman smiled at them as she printed out their passes. Noctis had his skates slung over his shoulder, and true to his earlier whim, he was dressed pretty casually. He had on a thin v-neck long sleeve shirt and harem pants with ridiculously deep pockets. The waist fell a bit low on his hips, but he liked these pants. Fight him about it. Ignis had surprised him with a track jacket and grey sweatpants. Did he receive bad news or something? Like. He didn't look bad. It was just… unexpected.
After he was handed his pass, Noctis took it with a slight yawn. “I'll be there in a minute,” Ignis said. Noctis lifted his hand in acknowledgement. He walked over to the bleachers behind the entrance booth, heading almost completely to the end before sitting down. With no one in the rink, it didn't really matter where he sat, but he was a creature of habit. He pulled off his sneakers and switched them for the skating boots. He stood up and carefully tapped each toe to the ground before stepping onto the ice.
Ignis, all the while, hadn't moved from his position. The attendant smiled at him before getting him a pair of boots as well.
“Thank you,” he said. “Is it alright if I play music through my speakers?”
“Sure,” she replied, leaning down to grab a black book bag, which she handed off as well. “I doubt anyone will be coming at this time.”
He glanced at the clock on the wall to her left. “Hmm. I don't think so either.” He looked to her and then nodded. “Thanks again.”
“No problem. Have fun.” She lifted a hand, waving her fingers.
Ignis nodded and then let out a calming breath as he stepped away. He wasn't nervous by any means. It had just been a few days, almost a week, since he had last been on the ice. He stopped to stare at the frozen rink. His attention was only grabbed when Noctis tried another hop, this time with a spin. Ignis smirked. He knew this would be worth it. He walked over to place his things down. He pulled out his phone and a cylindrical speaker he had bought earlier. He connected his phone and set the items on the wall. Going back, he unzipped his jacket, soon pulling it off his form.
Noctis made a slow turn on one foot. His right arm was arched in front of him, hand curved away. His left arm was held out behind him. He saw Ignis' back, a black form fitting shirt on his person. He also saw the speaker and wondered what that was for. Ignis ducked out of view for a moment, and Noctis turned back. Alright, he needed to focus on this. He wasn't going to try anything difficult. That'd be stupid, but he wanted to see if he could try this again. He was flexible enough to try it off. The issue was only confidence.
“Guess there's only one way, and that's to do it,” he said to himself.
He arched away, skating as fast as he could to the left end of the rink. He leaned forward into an arabesque, staring blankly at the ice as he turned around. He stood up and stopped himself. He took in a deep breath—
and then he froze.
He looked to see Ignis in ice skates. Ignis had his gaze trained on the ice, staring at it as if he was seeing an old friend, and he guessed that wasn't entirely inaccurate. He moved over to his phone, pulling up a playlist called “Shorts”. It had a variety of music only narrowed down to its most profound points. He found Valkyrie, which only played the first minute and fifty-five seconds of the song.
“Noct,” he said, looking over to the other male. “Would you mind playing this for me?”
“Sure…” Noctis skated over.
Ignis drifted away to the center of the rink. Noctis glided sideways, watching his boyfriend pass. Neither of them said a single word to each other. Ignis didn't even looked at him; he had that distant look in his eyes. The kind he always had when he was thinking. Noctis looked away and reached out for the wall. Once he connected, he slid his hand over and took up the phone.
“When you're ready.”
Ignis didn't say anything for a long while. He was making up the steps in his mind, not so much choreographing as he was trying to select what would work best for him. He closed his eyes, took a moment to collect himself, and looked over to Noctis.
Noctis hit play.
The song started softly, and Ignis knew exactly when it would kick off. He used the thirty seconds to prepare himself. He gave a small spin, his free leg grazing against the ice before he switched off into a backspin. He glanced behind him and spun gracefully, drifting backwards with his arms out at his sides. When the singing began, Ignis took three quick steps and leaned forward, curling his free leg behind him. Noctis watched, speechless, as Ignis glided into a closed chocotaw turn. The transition was effortless. Ignis brought the instep of his free foot behind the heel of his skating foot. His weight transferred from one foot to the other; his arms stayed out at his sides, only lowering slightly as he raised up his right leg. He pulled his glasses off his face and skated back towards Noctis quickly, holding the spectacles out. Noctis reached out to catch them, curling his fingers around the glasses and not really paying attention to the fact that his palm was smudging the lenses.
Ignis brought the heels of his feet together, raising his arms above his head. He skated to the center of the ice and took a moment to lower his arms with a flow. His fingers were together, palms facing up. He looked to Noctis, and their eyes met for the briefest moment. Ignis curled his fingers into loose fists. As the guitars started, he pushed off the ice to turn his body. He leaned forward, free leg up in the air straight back behind him. The turn was well paced, and then with a forward swing of his leg, he changed his pose. He tucked his left leg, touching the heel of his foot against his right thigh. His upper body was bent over his curled leg. The turn was slow, matching the beat of the song. But as the music became more urgent and intense, Ignis straightened into an upright spin, arms tucked close and both feet against the ice. As his spin increased, he brought his hands up over his head, palms overlapping and facing upward.
He stopped suddenly just as the cymbals started. He looked over his shoulder to Noctis, eyes barely opened. Then with an emotinal change in atmosphere, he lowered down, crossed his arms in an X position over his chest, and skated forward. Noctis was stunned in the best of ways. He watched as Ignis maneuvered over the ice, moving with a precision and grace that Noctis could only expect. And yet, somehow, he didn't expect this. Ignis looked so passionate; pain and longing bent his expression as he skated.
It wasn't long before the sample bite of the song was over. Ignis opened out his arms towards Noctis but then raised them up to the sky. The music petered out as the singer started up again. Ignis pushed himself forward with his right foot and held out his left hand for his glasses. Noctis handed them over, staring wide-eyed at his boyfriend's face.
“That was amazing.”
“Thank you.” Ignis unfolded the legs and set the glasses back on his face.
“No. Seriously. That was…” Noctis looked past him to the ice. He relived the spin again in his mind before looking back to Ignis. “How long have you been skating?”
Ignis brought himself closer to take up his phone and play a song from his regular list. Afterward, he reached down to take Noctis' hands. He skated backwards, the toe of one foot behind the heel of the other. Noctis stared up at him silently but then pressed forward. He wrapped his arms around Ignis, lifting up his right leg ever so slightly behind him.
“When were you gonna teach me?”
“When you were ready,” Ignis said fondly.
He gently moved away Noctis' arms, holding his lover by the wrists. He brought up Noctis' right arm and turned him around. Now with his back facing Ignis, Noctis leaned his head back to look up at his partner, his arms now crossed over his chest. There was a moment of silence as their eyes met. Ignis laced their fingers together.
Noctis leaned his head back to look at Ignis. “Am I ready now?”
“With a little more awareness, you should be.”
“Hm.” Noctis felt Ignis untwine the fingers of one hand, and he allowed himself to be unfurled. He spun away, and the two raised their legs in unison. Ignis floated backwards with Noctis facing him. They were an arm's length apart, their fingers hooked together. “And what does that mean?”
“You move so easily on the ice,” Ignis said as he straightened up and pulled Noctis towards him. Noctis took the initiative and turned around. Ignis' hands fell to his hips, and they sped around the rink together. The amount of trust between them was unspoken. Ignis' heart raced with excitement as they moved so uniformly together. “Noctis… You're a natural.”
Noctis blushed but tried to hide it with a cool guy smile. “You're flattering me.”
He tipped his foot forward and dug his toe pick into the ice. Ignis almost mowed him down but managed to catch himself by scratching a crescent shape around Noctis. His hands never left Noctis' slimmer waist.
“I mean it.”
With their eyes meeting, it was harder for Noctis to hide his blush in some way. His lips twitched with a grin, but instead he lifted his head. He looked at Ignis with hooded eyes.
Ignis ran his hands up to Noctis' ribs and coaxed his boyfriend closer. “I'd be more than happy to.”
“And you've gotta show me how you did that spin too,” Noctis said.
A smile then. Ignis nodded his head. “Of course, Noct. But I don't know if you'll be able to do it.”
Noctis reached his hands up and shoved at Ignis' chest. Ignis lowered his hands and allowed himself to be pushed away with the motion. Noctis scoffed before following after.
“Don't underestimate me.”
Ignis crossed his arms and spun around quickly, legs close together as he swayed side to side. “Don't brag. Your aptitude remains to be seen.”
Noctis skated in front of Ignis, scratching the ice as he came to a sudden stop. It was then that Ignis was suddenly aware of the electronic beeping of the new song. He focused briefly and noticed that it was Restart playing.
“Try me,” Noctis said with a smirk on his face.
Ignis tipped his head down, letting out a chuckle. The song was rising now. He nodded and met Noctis' eyes again.
“Okay,” he said, just as the beat dropped.
He motioned for Noctis to follow after him and described a turn, twist, quick step, turn routine they were going to do separately but in unison. They skated around in a large circle as Ignis quickly explained how it was done. When Noctis felt that he could understand it, he nodded his head, and they tried it. Ignis realised that stepping was not Noctis' strong suit and made a note to work on it. He was graceful with turns but more responsive on the twists, and he already knew from watching that Noctis was nervous to try any jumping just yet. Good. He didn't need to focus on those.
At Noctis' repeated behest, Ignis performed the spin again. At the end, Noctis stared at him before skating away. He shook his head and mumbled, “That's just not fair.” He heard a laugh behind him, and yes, he knew that all of this would take a lot of effort and time. Still, seeing Ignis do that in person was more breathtaking than he ever would have dreamed. He felt hands slide up against the undersides of his arms, opening them out. Ignis spoke gently against his ear, “Lean forward with me”, and Noctis did.
They focused on the ice as they curved around together. At the peak of their turn, Noctis stared down at their arms which were close together. Then he glanced up to Ignis' handsome face. No, this just wasn't fair at all, but this moment was absolutely great. Noctis slowed down, and Ignis curved away from him. On a whim, Noctis pushed at the ice. He curled his right leg back, opened out his arms, and leaned his head back. He turned his hands over, fingers in an elegant position. He brought his arms together and went into a two foot spin.
He looked like something out of a dream. He even looked peaceful, Ignis thought to himself. But then there was the brief jerk he gave when Noctis abruptly came out of his spin, shocking himself and flinging his arms out. At least he was ready to catch himself.
“I hate falling,” Noctis said when Ignis was close again, “but almost falling is definitely worse.”
“Definitely.” Ignis smiled and reached up to brush a hand over Noctis' cheek. “Ready to go yet?”
Noctis shook his head. “Let's stay here a little longer. Okay…?”
A slow nod. “Anything you wish.”
They shared a brief kiss on the ice, Ignis slightly curving them away and letting them flow along the edge of the rink. He didn't care what song was playing right now; anything outside of Noctis was the furthest thing from his mind. When the kiss broke, Noctis stared up at Ignis and felt his heart beating quickly in his chest again. This man was so handsome, so talented. And on the ice, he seemed so elegant. Noctis would find a way to make him see that.
It was only a matter of time.