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Toothbrush

Chapter Text

The plastic cover to the toilet creaked under him as Prompto shifted nervously on it, far sweatier than he should be in the seventy-two-degree apartment- with it’s actually properly functioning air conditioner- on a day in which neither school nor exams were happening.

For the better part of twenty minutes he had been sitting there, trying not to look at himself in the wide bathroom mirror that hung all-encompassing over the black granite countertop of Noctis’ bathroom, instead staring at the singular toothbrush in the holder by the sink. No matter where he looked though he saw glimpses of his nervousness in the reflection, a hand through his flat hair, the red dusting over his neck making his freckles stand out horribly.

In his hand he held the very object of his distress: a yellow toothbrush with a trio of orange chocobos on the handle. Looking at it, it felt very out of place in Noctis’ chic black bathroom. He couldn’t bring himself to do anything but look at it.

Noct had said he could leave some stuff at his place.

Prompto shouldn’t have freaked out over that. Though he had originally thought it was Noctis telling him that he was gross, when he could get away from his duties and they’d just lay around all weekend Noct didn’t really shower or even brush his hair, so it probably wasn’t that. But it was true that Prompto spent more time over here than at his own place- and the functioning air conditioner was not the only reason- over on afternoons after school playing videogames and avoiding homework, or the weekends when he got there on Friday and didn’t leave until Monday morning. He woke up more often than not with the prince of Lucis half sprawled out on his lap or bundled up on his couch, borrowing his sleep clothes and burrowed into a black blanket that smelled like him.

And there were those days that he crashed out over there on the weekdays and didn’t have the time to run home before school and had to chew a whole pack of gum so he wouldn’t have morning breath. Those days were pretty awful.

So it definitely wasn’t as a big deal as Prompto was making it out to be. But some small part of him kept him on edge at the thought of leaving things here, like he had any right to be able to come back whenever he wanted. Noct had told him it was okay, and he always reassured him that Prompto had a place here. But it never alleviated the nerves, rather spiking them to outrageous levels that let Prompto spend twenty plus minutes of his life dreading over a toothbrush.

Then there was the fact he knew Noctis had someone to clean his apartment. Though he’d met Ignis, Noct’s driver and occasional nanny, it wasn’t him who normally cleaned the house but rather a team of maids; Ignis in all his loyalty wouldn’t have said anything about another person’s stuff showing up all over the place, but certainly the maids would talk if another toothbrush appeared beside the prince’s. Whatever that would imply was not the case- definitely NOT the case- but they didn’t know that. And the fact that Noctis had too much chill about everything wouldn’t help either.

But it wasn’t like that, and Prompto knew that (even when occasionally the thought stabbed him right between the eyes with how okay with something like that he would be), and everything made sense why it should be okay, and yes, you’re definitely overthinking this.

Suddenly there was a knock at the door that startled him out of his head.

“Hey man, you okay in there? Didja fall in?” Noct’s joking lilt came from behind the closed door.

“Uh- out in a jiffy!” Prompto called back, wanting to stab himself as his voice cracked.

The foot falls of Noctis walking away echoed down the hall and Prompto smacked his forehead against the wall as he let out a breath.

Way, way too much overthinking.

Forcing himself up, he walked over to the sink, blatantly ignoring his reflection, and hovered over the toothbrush holder. Letting out a deep breath he hadn’t realized he was holding, he put his toothbrush in the little hole next to Noctis’.

He staring at them for a moment letting it sink it. Noct’s toothbrush was green. It doesn’t suit him. Somehow that fact makes Prompto feel better about his goofy chocobo toothbrush next to the prince of Lucis’.

It’s this small action that reminds him how he got used to seeing his own toothbrush sitting by itself at his apartment, how lonely looked. Prompto always saw Noct’s own toothbrush sitting by itself all the time but never thought much of it, but seeing the two sitting side by side struck him at how lonely Noctis’ had looked as well. Despite the nerves, he thought the two looked pretty okay next to each other.

He had a comb and a stick of deodorant to put up as well, but felt much better about stowing them away in the drawers beneath the sink, away from prying eyes. But leaving his toothbrush on the counter, where it could clearly be seen, he took some small pleasure in it now. It was his indication of belonging, that he wasn’t on his own anymore.

And that he was welcome to come back.

Chapter Text

The world seems bleak when Prompto is awakened by the sound of his phone alarm. It felt like he’d just closed his eyes; in all actuality, that was probably the case.

He reached over and grabbed the bleating device from where it sat on the coffee table, ignoring the temptation to snooze the alarm, and dismissed it. Sitting up, he glanced blearily around, the barest cracks of sunlight peeping above the horizon. He rubbed his face, glancing at his phone again.

Three hours of sleep was something at least.

After a trip to the bathroom for morning related bathroom things, Prompto remerged and picked his way over to the kitchen. He reached up and rubbed his eyes again as he waited for his vision to adjust to the fact he was wearing his glasses again for the first time in years; he’d fallen asleep with his contacts in like a moron, and upon waking up this morning, his eyes itched like hell. After all but scraping them out of his eyes and being without a back-up pair, glasses it was.

Poking around in the cabinets, he recovered a bag of coffee and two mugs, and placed them on the counter as he had a stare down with the coffee maker. Noctis’ coffee machine was top-line, some kind of deluxe edition, and was likely more complex than Prompto’s camera. Still, a coffee machine is a coffee machine, fill it with water and put coffee in the basket and bam, coffee; Prompto’s operating under that assumption whether it’s right or not with only three hours of sleep.

It was around the time of year for midterms, and both he and Noctis- with some gentle prodding (stabbing) from Ignis- had decided to try and get a leg up on studying this time around. Prompto needed a B on all his exams to pass, and Noctis, while actually pretty good in school, had his laundry list of absences that threatened his grade, so they both found it prudent to put in some man hours studying. They’d been up till three in the morning though, and Prompto found he was almost ready to give up the ghost on passing midterms. 

The coffee machine was humming away a moment later. Prompto’s stomach moaned pitifully as a reminder he’d been up longer than he usually was. He glanced about the kitchen in a slight panic; he was no Ignis when it came to cooking, not to mention he seriously didn’t want to burn his best friend’s place down.

Another quick rummage through the cabinets rewarded him with the answer though: cup noodles. Prompto pulled down two cups, and filled the tea kettle with water. He set it on the stove, turning it onto high, and was surprised by the sudden presence of a person against his back.

“Whatcha doing?” Noctis mumbled sleepily against his neck.

“Morning.” Prompto replied as Noct shifted so that his chin was on Prompto’s shoulder. “I figured we’d be hungry so I made some cup noodles. There’s coffee too.”

Noctis blinked blearily at the kettle, clearly still half asleep and trying to process what had Prompto said. Then he seemed to register the smell of coffee, leaning up and ambling away. There was the sound of a spoon and what Prompto assumed was Noct loading up his coffee with the ungodly amount of sugar he typically used before he stumbled off to collapse at the dining room table.

Prompto checked the kettle to see that it had boiled, cracking open the lids of both noodle cups and pouring the water in. He then swung by the coffee machine, grabbing his cup of coffee (black), and holding the noodles in one hand and his coffee and two forks in the other, joined Noctis at the table.

Noct was resting his chin on his hand, already halfway through his coffee. “There’s grounds in it.” He mumbled around the rim.

Prompto took a sip and got a mouthful himself. He winced, setting the cup down. “Sorry man.”

Noctis shrugged. “S’cool. It’s just nice to not have to make it myself.” He grabbed a fork and stirred his noodle cup. “So I vote we do this on the weekend instead next time.”

“We’re gonna do this again?”

“You gotta pass, right? So yeah, we are.” He spoke around a huge mouthful of noodles.

“Yeah… we are.” Prompto echoed. He took a bite of his own noodles; he hadn’t let them sit long enough, so the flavor was watery and bland. He decided he was too tired to care. He went to take another bite but stopped once he realized Noctis was staring at him strangely.

“What?”

“You’re wearing glasses.” Noct comments like it’s the strangest thing in the world. To him, who hadn't seen Prompto in them since their primary school years, it probably was.

“Yeah.” Prompto felt the need to cover them up with his hand subconsciously.

Noctis just shrugged. “They’re cute.”

Prompto couldn’t find the words to respond coherently to that. They finished the rest of the meal in silence. Prompto took all their dishes to the sink and tossed them in unceremoniously once they were done, and Noctis spoke again.

“Thanks again. For the food and coffee.” He said it partially into the table because he was laying with his head in his arms but Prompto heard it anyway. “It’s nice to wake up like to something like that.”

Prompto shrugs as his blush threatens to burn his cheeks. “It’s cool. I’m sure you’re used to it at the home with servants and stuff.”

“Yeah, but it’s nicer when you do it.”

And Prompto is left unable to respond once again. Instead he sips the last of his coffee and watches the way Noctis’ shoulder rise and fall against the table as he threatens to fall back asleep. And he realizes he feels at home like this too.

Chapter Text

The day was like any other, so after the final bell had rung, Prompto goes and stands in the courtyard to wait for Noct like any other day.

The rush of kids push pass him and he ducks his head and focuses way too hard on making sure he doesn't get in anyone's way. Once the initial rush was over, Prompto scanned the area expectantly, but there’s still no Noctis. He pulls out his phone and goofs around on King’s Knight for a while, before flipping through his Snapchat story. He watches the birds on the roof, waves at the art teacher as she leaves, lets the stray cat that hangs around school sniff his fingers, but still nothing.

Suddenly Noctis is bounding up to him and looks to be out of breath. “Hey man, sorry, but I’ve gotta go to a meeting with dad. He literally just texted me.”

“Uh- it’s cool man. Do what you gotta do.” Prompto replies nonchalantly despite trying not to feel too disappointed- it’s not like they don’t see each other every day. “I’ll just head home then, I guess.”

 “You can go to the apartment on your own if you want.”

Prompto startles at this. “W-would that really be okay? I mean… okay. Sure, if you don’t mind?”

Noctis nods once before reaching into his bag and fishing out his wallet. Producing a black keycard, he handed it to Prompto.

He then turned to go, but Prompto nervously asks, “Wait… is this really REALLY okay? Like, super duper, really, really okay?”

Noctis gave him a withering look before turning and jogging off to wherever Ignis presumably waited for him. Watching his retreating back, Prompto is struck by the weight of the key in his hand. Looking down at it, it’s shiny and black and reflective of the sun and doesn’t look like it belongs in his freckled hand.

Without anything else to do, he begins the treck to Noctis’ apartment, arriving just as the sun begins its descent into the horizon. The keycard gets him through the front door and elevator without a problem, even though he’s looking over his shoulder every five seconds, waiting for someone to throw him out. But no one does and he gets to Noct’s floor with no issue. Approaching the door, he swipes the keycard again, and goes inside.

He leans against the wall and yanks his sneakers off, leaving them on the mat along with his bag. Walking into the main room, Prompto just stands there for a moment. He walks over to the couch and plops down but has the oddest hang up about where to put his hands. He doesn’t want to touch anything.

He settles on the floor. He spends a moment twiddling his thumbs before dragging his bag over. It leaves a smear of muck on the (surprisingly) clean floor. Prompto stares at it and feels the sudden, sinking thought, what am I doing here?

There’s no reason he should be here without Noctis. He’s not royalty, he’s not related to him; if anyone found out about this, surely he’d get in trouble, but Noct would certainly get in so much more of it. Would he lose the privilege of being able to live by himself? Would Prompto never be allowed to see him again?

That thought makes every other one swirling about his head fall silent.

This tiny spot of happiness in such a previously lonely life, he can’t bear to think about losing it.

This apartment, previously such a happy, safe place away from the worst of Prompto’s anxieties and loneliness feels just as bad without Noctis here. The empty rooms echo the same as his own lonely apartment, things that fill the shelves are just items because nothing here matters one bit to Prompto, not the game consoles, the air conditioner, the couch that is practically his second bed.

None of it matters because it’s empty without someone to help fill it.

Prompto gets up from where he’s curled on the ground and begins to make his way to the balcony for some fresh air- this sad, stale air of such a closed and lonely place- when he passes the entertainment center. Mindlessly he takes note of the game console and the stack of Justice Monsters games beside it, but then he stops and actually looks at it. They’re the only things on the entertainment center beside the TV, no pictures, no trinkets, nothing.

Prompto knows every crack and corner in this house, but when he looks around again, he realizes that lack of anything all around it. No pictures, no little sentimentalities, no notes on the fridge; just a sweatshirt Noct left on the counter and Prompto’s own things on the floor. It’s so reminiscent of his own house it’s startling.

An adopted child from a war-torn country and all but left to his own devices besides the monthly checks from the government, Prompto never had many things to fill in the spaces of where he made his life- never even a place he truly considered home. But Noctis had everything he could have wanted, and still his own home looked as lonely as someone who’d never had one.

The person that Noctis became within these walls was so different from the aloof, distant prince he was for the rest of the world, but maybe it wasn’t just his privacy and freedom that made him that way. Maybe it was being able to share this loneliness with someone else.

And Prompto knew that feeling far too well. He drew his arms around himself.

He was so ready to flee just a moment ago, but now he was struck by this revelation. The thought of Noctis once again coming home alone made him fit to burst with sadness; he couldn’t do that to him. He resolved himself to calm down and wait for him.

He sat down on the couch again. Shaking out his arms, he rested them by his sides. He felt a tiny bit better. Bringing his bag over, he forced himself to do some homework in an attempt to get his mind off his anxiety. Slowly, Prompto did find himself relaxing in this familiar space, and the comfort that Noctis would fill up this place with his presence made all the difference.

Once he was done with the last problem set, Prompto found himself yawning and decided to take a nap; anything to make the time go by faster. He was almost excited about this now.

When he awoke again, it was dark outside, and the door was opening. The light from the hall cast yellow shadows against Noctis as he entered, and had Prompto rubbing the sleep out of his eyes.

“Welcome… home.” Prompto called from in between a yawn.

Noctis came over to him and greeted him by running a hand through Prompto’s matted hair. “I’m home.” In the dim light, Prompto could tell he was tired and grumpy, but Noctis’ voice was soft. “Sorry to wake you, I didn’t expect you to still be here.”

“Yeah… I had to be here… when you got home.” Prompto mumbled through another yawn. “So I could welcome you home.”

Noctis snorted, though fondly. “Go back to bed.”

“M’kay.”

Chapter Text

It had begun about a week or two after Prompto had moved into his own place. A cat had shown up in the ally beside the apartment complex, skinny and malnourished, and Prompto ever the animal lover had fed it with the meager provisions his then fridge had provided (leftover spicy green curry and a single cheese slice of questionable quality). After that, the cat started coming around frequently and soon more followed.

There were so many of them that Prompto started naming them just to keep them all straight. What really started that though was the appearance of a ridiculously large brown cat with an attitude and a deep meow that reminded Prompto all too well of Noctis’ bodyguard Gladiolous, so much so that he started calling it Catdio. He named several others after people he knew- a leggy silver cat with green eyes Iggy, a tiny black calico Iris, an elegant white cat Luna-, but after about six of them he ran out of people and just started naming them random things. However, recently a small black cat with the most striking blue eyes had started coming around, and its propensity to fall asleep anywhere and everywhere had led Prompto to calling it Noctis.

Prompto’s hands were shaking from the cold as he fiddled with the can opener, Noctis(cat) at his feet watching him patiently. With midterms over, winter was right at their door, and the Glacian was merciless this year. Finally freeing the lid from the tin, Prompto set it on the ground and settled beside it as Noctis(cat) went about eating. Several of the other cats were still eating, and Prompto sat with them contentedly, stroking their sides and making idle chatter at them (to the point he’s sure some of his neighbors probably think he’s a nut) until the cold gets too much and Prompto shuffles inside with one final stroke to Noctis(cat)’s fluffy head.

The wind is picking up, and Prompto turns on the Weather Channel to see that a wicked front of freezing rain and sleet is on its way. Which is great, because his apartment is drafty on a good day. Prepping for the worst, Prompto pulls out the bucket he keeps in the hallway closet and his biggest, puffiest jacket and sets himself on the couch to weather out the storm.

It’s about then that there is a loud thump at his window followed by the saddest yowl he’d ever heard. Shifting over the blinds, Prompto found Catdio sitting on the tiny ledge with his paws to the glass, meowing his head off. Prompto throws the window open as quickly as he can in his panic, and Catdio darts in, disappears under the couch and Prompto is left scratching his head as he closes the window. He sticks his hand under the couch trying to get Catdio to come back out when the window creaks again.

When Prompto lifts the blinds this time, he’s met with a dozen more cats yowling to get in. Throwing it open, the cats pour in, which is when coincidently enough the sky decides to open up with freezing rain. Prompto’s shirt gets soaked, but he successfully gets all the cats in and slams the sill down.

Heaving a sigh, he takes stock of the dozen-odd cats meandering around his apartment at the moment. Even though it was unexpected, Prompto finds himself thankful they all came here to escape the storm. He can’t bear to think about what might have happened to them had they stayed outside all by themselves. And the sudden presence of life in his lonely apartment gives him more comfort than anything else could.

He wonders idly what Noct is up to about this time; probably using the storm as an excuse to go to bed early.

Resettling back on the couch, Prompto is immediately swarmed by cats as they all tuck in for the remainder of the storm. Noctis(cat) has already dozed off on the arm of the couch, and Luna has joined him. The heater in the wall is creaking from age and overuse, and even though the house is somewhat chilled just due to its draftiness, Prompto is comfortable in this moment.

That is until the sudden flickering of the lights, followed by the loud creak from the wall before everything is dark and cold.

The wind outside is howling as it throws water and ice against everything, and the cold is already beginning to seep in through the cracks. The leaky corner drips into the bucket Prompto had set up and one of the cats starts yowling again. The house seems way too cold.

He doesn’t know what to do. Both the air conditioner and the heater die regularly during the worst of their prospective seasons, but never this early. He finds the yowling cat and tries to calm it down but it just runs away. He feels the distinct rise of panic in his chest. He really should be fine, but the cold and water are upsetting the cats more than him, and Prompto is completely at a loss.

The sudden bleeping of his phone’s ringtone draws his attention to where he left it on the floor. He grabs it and stares at the caller ID: Noctis.

“Hello?”

There’s a sigh of relief on the other side. “Prompto you answered. Are you okay?”

“Y-yeah I’m fine.” Prompto casts a look around his living room, utterly perplexed. “What’s wrong?”

“The storm knocked half the city’s power out. How’s it at your place?”

“Uh, yeah, the lights and heat were just knocked out.” Prompto replies nervously. He’s already shivering without the heat; he’s afraid Noct can hear his teeth chattering. “B-but it’s fine. I’ll survive.”

There’s the sound of something slamming in the background. “I’m coming to get you.”

“Huh?”

“Sit tight. I’ll be over in a few.” The call ends as abruptly as it began.

Prompto stares dumbfounded at the phone in his hand. Noctis was coming to get him. How exactly?

The innate pessimist in him figured that he’d wouldn’t be able to get through the storm, and not to hold out hope for rescue. It hurts him to think so lowly of Noctis, but Prompto can’t blame him for giving up on him when he’s not even that important in the grand scheme of things. Pocketing the phone, the best thing Prompto could figure to do was to round up all the blankets and jackets in the house and make a huge nest for himself and the cats. He goes and does just that, and is in the middle of doing so when there’s a sudden insisting knocking at the door.

Noctis is standing huddled in the doorway, hair drenched and dripping all over the floor. And idling by the curb...

Is the Regalia.

Noctis stole the fucking Regalia.

“You stole the fucking Regalia.” Prompto utters in disbelief.

“I did not steal it, I borrowed it without permission. Grab your shit and let’s go.” Noctis irritably replies.

Despite the fact Noct stole the Regalia, just to pick Prompto up, he doesn’t move from the doorway. The wind is roaring and everything is covered in mist and ice, but Prompto is suddenly very unwilling to leave. Casting a glance back, he can’t bring himself to leave all the cats here.

“Noct… I can’t go with you. They-“ He gestures to the congregation in the living room with defeat in his voice. “I can’t just leave them…”

Noctis looks slightly aghast once he realizes just how many cats were being negotiated about. He grits his teeth and wrings a hand through his hair and looks just about as pissed off as a person can be. Prompto stares at the ground, unwilling to part with them but feeling stupid and sorry about Noct making the drive out here for no reason.

“Fine. Bring them.”

Prompto’s elation lasts only as long as the next wave of freezing rain thrown at them. “Now.” Noctis growls as they both flee into the apartment.

Grabbing all the jackets and blankets he’d amassed earlier, Prompto gets Noct bundling the cats up in them as they duck out into the downpour to dump them in the back of the car and repeat the process until fourteen cats are nestled in the backseat. Throwing a few extra things into a bag for himself, Prompto locks the door and rushes out to where Noct is honking the horn obnoxiously at the curb. All but throwing himself in, Noctis is driving away barely before the door is closed.

He’s soaked and cold, but Prompto is unspeakably happy as he settles himself in the front seat with the heater on full blast. Something black is lobbed at him from the left and lands on his head, startling him. Pulling it off, Prompto realizes it’s one of Noctis’ black sweatshirts.

“Put it on. You’ll catch a cold.” Noctis reasons as he wipes water from his nose.

Prompto’s gratitude swells in his chest and he can find no words. He slips it on over his head and revels in its soft warmth. But what comforts him most is the innate smell of its owner.

The only sound for a while is that of the rain and the car, but eventually Prompto finds his voice. “Thanks. For coming to get me.”

A grunt in response.

“And thanks for letting me take them. I mean… I’ll pay for any damage they do or whatever.”

A sigh. “All that matters is that you’re here and you’re safe.” Noctis is still frustrated, but his voice belies relief more than anything. “Anyways, we’ll be home soon.”

Prompto turns his gaze from the calamity outside to his best friend in the driver’s seat. He’s driving recklessly and just blew a red light. Water is running rivets down his face and he’s sporting a few scratches down his arm, and he’s got one arm wrapped around bundle in his lap that is none other than Noctis(cat) nestled in, already napping.

He looks so silly and normal and Prompto can only stare at him for so long before his emotions overwhelm him and he’s burying his nose in knees.

“Thanks Noct. You’re the best.”

Chapter Text

Prompto was a teenage boy. Therefore, it was within his DNA to put off doing laundry as long as humanly possible.

The time, however, had officially reached ‘as long as humanly possible’.

With both his personal apartment and the complex he lived in lacking a washer and dryer, Prompto usually had to go to a laundromat. He made a day out of it, riding the bus the six blocks to the place (he tried walking for a while to save money but quickly found trudging around with two baskets full of pretty gross smelling clothes to be extremely… gross), eating vending machine popcorn and taking pictures of the graffiti on the white brick walls outside the laundromat while his clothes washed and dried.

This month though he’d dropped a good chunk of his monthly stipend from the government (and paycheck from his part-time job) on a new camera lens, and had been scraping to get by since- his pitifully empty refrigerator was a testament to that. So when it came time to (finally) do laundry, Prompto turned out his pockets to find only a handful of change and a doodle Noctis had lobbed at him in chemistry class last week.

Worst case scenario, he waits another week to get his next paycheck (which was horrifying to think about. There are too many unidentified stains to warrant walking around in half of his clothes). Worst, worst case scenario, he asks Noct for some money.

But it’s the second option that has him curious. Picking up his phone, he shot a next at Noct.

His phone pinged a moment later.

NLC: Sure you can do laundry over here.

In an effort to keep the previous disaster that was Noctis stealing the Regalia to rescue Prompto during the last sleet storm (Noct got in so much trouble. So. Much. Trouble.) from repeating, Prompto scraped up enough money to get a bus over to the apartment. Noct’s apartment is a mess when he arrives. That’s not surprising. What is surprising is that apparently, upon asking, this is his attempt at consolidating all his own stuff he needs washed. Noct needed to do laundry too.

And apparently, he doesn’t have a clue on how.

He led Prompto through a little door to what he had originally assumed was just another pantry, but now saw housed a top of the line washer and dryer (in black of course). It was a cramped fit, two mostly-grown teenagers and their heaps of laundry, and Prompto found himself in almost constant contact with Noctis; he tried not to let it affect him too much.

First came sorting, which was pointless in Noct’s case because all his clothes were black, but Prompto led him through the process anyways and Noct listened along. As he sorted his clothes, Prompto went through the pockets of his garments, checking for anything left behind. To his surprise, he found his old glasses in the pocket of the sweatshirt he wore the night he stayed over during midterms; it really had been that long since he did laundry.

He smiled lightly at them, stowing them away in his jeans.

Next came pre-treating; they laid all their stained clothes out on top of the dryer and Prompto directed Noctis on scrubbing out all the little stains with a toothbrush and some laundry soap. He tended to his own things next, and was once again surprised, this time finding a dried clump of toothpaste on the hem of the chocobo shirt Noct had got him; Noctis had bought it after he saw Prompto’s chocobo toothbrush and learned how much he liked the birds.

Noct grumbled behind him, and Prompto glanced over his shoulder. Noct’s hands were wet from soap, but he was shaking off from something else.

“Ugh- there’s cat hair everywhere.”

Prompto snorted at this. Noct gave him a dirty look. “Seriously, it’s like nothing but cat hair everywhere.” Prompto couldn’t help laughing harder. “You don’t have black clothes, you wouldn’t possibly understand.” Noct was having none of it, but there wasn’t any bite in his tone.

“Yeah, sorry bro.” Prompto choked from laughing so much.

“There was cat hair all over the place after that storm. Ignis nearly had a cow.” Noct shook his head, though he was laughing a bit then too.

“Hey, I’m still really grateful that you did that for me- uh, us.”

Noctis shrugged. He was smiling though.

After a lengthy instruction on the many buttons of the washing machine, they haul their clothes in one load at a time and plop down on the floor to wait it out. They play King’s Knight for a while, lobbing socks at one another when they screwed up on the mission. They’re rolling with laughter by the time the washer dings and they transfer the clothes to the dryer.

Once the last dryer is done, they throw all the clothes on the living room rug. Sorting through their clothes is easy, all of Noctis’ are black and Prompto’s are every color but. It gets a little awkward once it gets down to just underwear and socks, and they spend several minutes trying to figure out whose boxers are whose until it’s figured out Noct has wider hips and all the stretched-out ones are his.

Prompto demonstrated how to fold properly with a shirt on his lap. Noct tried to recreate it, but failed miserably. Three more attempts later, and the prince of Lucis is still being bested by a sweatshirt. Snorting again, Prompto crawls over to him on his knees.

“Like this,” he grabs one of Noctis’ hands in each of his and manually instructs him how to fold. It’s hard doing it facing away from himself, but even though Noct is complaining, he’s compliant, and a few seconds later, the shirt is nicely folded.

“Okay, so… just do that.”

Noctis stares down at it, and Prompto realizes he’s still holding him by the hands. He lets go a moment too late and Noctis has turned his blue gaze to him instead.

He then cracks a smile. “You fold them for me. I’m horrible at it.”

“C’mon, you gotta practice. Besides, I’m not your housewife.” Prompto jokes to cover the nervousness those eyes and smile inflict upon him. 

“You’re not? You stayed up to welcome me home that one night I got back late. That’s like the same thing.”

Prompto can’t reply; he’s already balled himself up in an effort to hide his furiously blushing face. Noctis is rolling with laughter, literally rolling on the floor.

He stops a moment later though, reaching out and pulling one of Prompto’s arms from his face. He smiles coyly. “No worries though, you’re the coolest housewife I know.”

“… I’m still not gonna fold your clothes for you.”

Chapter Text

Noctis hated Venustine’s day for some reason. Like, really hated it. Hated it so much so that he actually answered Prompto’s normal barrage of early morning texts that day.

Prompto was always up at the crack of dawn, going for his morning run and doing any extraneous chores he normally didn’t have time for- being over at Noct’s every waking second outside of school and work and all- and typically sent Noct a variety of texts throughout the morning. This morning they had consisted of a picture of the rising sun, taken on his run; a picture of Noctis(cat) sleeping on his stoop (Noct still didn’t know there was a cat named after him. Prompto still can’t decide whether to tell him or not), a text consisting entirely of music notes (sent while Prompto was listening to that one Chocobo song that always got stuck in his head), and a text of the calendar focused on the date, February 14th, followed by a line of surprised emoji faces and Prompto typing in all caps:

Prom: I FORGOTTTTT IT’S VENUSTINE’S DAY TODAY! CANDY! (ノ*0*)ノ(ノ*0*)ノ(ノ*0*)ノ

And while he was finishing styling his hair for school, his phone pinged with a text. When he saw it was Noctis replying, he nearly dropped his comb. The text was short:

NLC: no way I’m going to school today

The curt response kinda scared him. Prompto sent him back a quick one-handed text- u okay bro? ( ´△`) -  while he hurriedly finished his hair with the other hand. He grabbed his bag and was walking out the door when his phone chimed again for an unbelievable second time that morning.

NLC: no I’m not okay I’m going to die

That did not make Prompto feel better.

However, once he got to school, he saw Noct standing at their usual meeting place in the courtyard. Relieved, Prompto jogged up to him, swatting him on the backside to notify his presence like he always did. Noct jumped and sent him a glare over his shoulder.

He looked even more grumpy than usual (more so than usual Morning Noctis, and Morning Noctis was usually a bear), and before Prompto could ask him about the cryptic texts, he spotted something wedged in the crook of Noct’s arm. It was a little pink box adorned with a bow, and inside-

“Seriously, man?! The day hasn’t even begun, and you’re already getting chocolate?” Prompto groaned.

Noctis did not look enthused. He sighed. “It’s always like this. I told you I didn’t want to come today.”

“I can’t see why that’s a problem! Getting candy from cute girls, it’s what every guy looks forward to all year on Venustine’s day.” he whined.

“... It’s a problem because I always get mobbed in the process. I seriously can’t stand Venustine’s day.”

The bell rung then, signifying the beginning of morning classes. As the students began to file in, Noct was looking like he was about to be called up before a firing squad. Girls were already flashing him shy and coy smiles, and a few actually approached them on their way to their first classes. By the time they got to where they split in different directions for first period, Noct already had an armful of boxes.

He barely even waved by to Prompto as he all but sprinted to try and make it to his classroom before getting besieged again; he ended up warping the rest of the way once another girl tried to get his attention, startling several passing students into the wall.

Prompto chucked at this as he made his way to his own classroom. Sadly, no one tried to give him candy, and he reached his class with no interruptions. First period, being the first class of the day, was usually a bore, everyone half-asleep or still dozing, so Prompto had the class to daydream for the most part.

Venustine’s day had always made him nervous as a kid, being overweight and socially awkward; he didn’t even have friends back then, so the chances of a girl liking him was stupidly low. Even after he began losing the weight, he still knew his nervousness and anxiety showed through, and he still couldn’t look anyone in the eye, let alone a girl. He was sincerely hoping this year would be different; befriending Noctis really had made all the difference in Prompto, in more than just people finally seeing him and not the fat kid he used to be. After becoming Noct’s friend, it had given Prompto the courage to join the photography club, get a job, and finally become comfortable in his own skin to where it wasn’t painfully obvious that he never felt he belonged anywhere.

And yeah it was kinda cheating, being the prince’s best friend, but he still hoped someone noticed him this year- maybe he’d get lucky and get a girlfriend too. Whatever he might’ve, sort-of, maybe felt for his best friend was something he didn’t want to think about right now when he didn’t even know what to make of it for himself. A cute girl would certainly be the better alternative to dreading over that.

When Prompto saw Noct again in third period, his candy stash had tripled. And he looked sufficiently rougher for wear than he had previously. Apparently he’d been beset by girls after second, and in the chaos, one of them had stolen his tie and another messed up his hair.

By lunch time, Noct looked ready to die. They were sitting outside like normal, but Prompto was flopped up against the wall eating his salad while Noct was surrounded by girls fighting to give him their Venustines. More than a few other guys were giving him dirty looks over their pitiful piles of candy, and Prompto was fully aware he probably was too.

It was so crazy over there, Prompto had almost missed the petite boy walking over to the crowd surrounding Noct. He slid through the masses, which parted just in time for Prompto to see him nervously blushing and giving a box of candy to Noctis. Prompto stopped chewing and just stared dumbfounded.

Noctis himself and the rest of the girl horde were shocked too, but for his part, Noct just took the box and smiled. The boy walked away with his head held high, back to his own group congratulating him for his bravery.

The girls resumed their frenzy and Prompto just kept staring.

The rest of the day was of a similar caliber as lunch, and Prompto didn’t see Noct for more than two seconds at a time before he was inevitably mobbed by more girls (but no other boys). It had only calmed down by the time school was over and they could finally go home.

Prompto’s day had been, in short, sad and candy-less. Not a single girl had approached him. Noct, on the other hand, had five bags of boxes and cards. They actually needed Ignis’ help bringing it all up with them to the apartment.

Noctis looked thoroughly thrashed now that Prompto could get a good look at him as they both flopped on the couch. He’d never recovered his tie, his hair was still a mess, and the frown he’d worn all day seemed permanently plastered on his face. In fact, the only time Prompto had seen him smile all day was when that boy had given him his present. Prompto didn’t know what to think about that.

Noct rummaged around and pulled out one of the boxes, unceremoniously yanking it open and digging into the candy.

“I thought you hated getting stuff for Venustine’s.” Prompto grumbled, watching him tuck in.

“Just because I hate it doesn’t mean I’m not going to eat it.” He offered the box to Prompto, but he put a hand up and refused. He was not going to take pity candy.

“It’s just so unfair, okay? Can’t you leave some girls for the rest of us? You even got a guy, too…” Prompto mumbled without thinking.

Noctis swallowed slowly and gave him a look. “Did seriously no one approach you today?”

“Nope. Why?”

Noct set the box on his lap aside and reached over into his candy pile. He dug around for a moment before bringing an entire bag up. He offered it to Prompto.

“What? I’m not taking any of your presents, man. Even I’m not that desperate.”

Noct shook the bag. “These are all addressed to you. From the girls.”

“…huh?” Prompto gaped at the bag.

Noct dropped it on the coffee table. “Yeah, I was approached by a ton of girls who just wanted to give you candy. Apparently, you seemed so quiet and aloof that they were too nervous to give it to you themselves.” He snorted. “Seriously, it’s all yours dude.”

Prompto stuck his hand in the bag, pulling out a few. There wasn’t as many Venustines in the bag as Noct’s, but there were eight there and all addressed to Prompto in various girly scripts. He pulled open one of the boxes and inside were a dozen little chocolates. He picked one up and ate it happily, savoring every little bit, even licking his fingers.

When he glanced up to dig around for another Venustine, Noctis was looking at him with a strange smile on his face.

“What?”

“You really like Venustine’s day, don’t you?” Noct asked with that same little smile.

Prompto felt silly but he couldn’t hide his elation. “Yup. I do.”

Noct grinned and turned back to his chocolates. “Noted.”

Chapter Text

Prompto had known about it for weeks ahead of time, and had as such gotten over it since then. However he’d conveniently forgot about it the day of, and when Noct brought it up, Prompto knew about it all over again. And remembered it sucked.

Noct was going on a fishing trip for spring break. His dad had been totally fine with it, miracle of miracles, and the minute they found out the dates they had off for break, he went at it like a madman planning. And now, Sunday, the day before break started, he was leaving for one of the nature parks in Insomnia for a whole week.

Which sucked.

The nature parks in Insomnia had been created after the (magical) wall went up some ten-odd years ago, since most of the city’s populace couldn’t or weren’t willing to leave the city with the war looming outside the wall. These parks were as close to authentic wilderness you could really get here, complete with trees and lakes (man-made) and a complete lack of cellphone reception.

Which also sucked.

Noctis texted Prompto goodbye Sunday evening while he was pulling overtime at the smoothie place he worked (getting in as many extra hours as he could with spring break breaking his normal school curfew), simultaneously reminding him about his trip and about how much it was gonna suck without him here. And the fact he wouldn’t even be able to communicate with him for a week as well.

Which probably sucked the most.

Prompto forced himself to remain positive once the initial wave of suckiness passed. He wouldn’t be slumming it over at Noct’s every day, and as such could actually get stuff done around his own apartment. He could work on that paper that the one diehard teacher always assigned before a break (chemistry this time), work some more hours at his job, clean his house, maybe even get a chance to head down to the park to snap some pictures for his portfolio.

The first two days of break went really well. Prompto had woken up Monday morning for his run, ready with a dozen of his rando morning texts for Noct only to realize he wouldn’t get them, but other than that small disappointment, everything else was fine.

He cleaned his apartment top to bottom, sweeping up all the cat hair that would inevitably recollect itself along the corners of his living room, and giving his whole kitchen a once over- which had been scary because he hadn’t done that since moving in. Monday night was spent writing his paper, and Tuesday morning down at the park taking pictures of the blossoming spring trees and the family of ducks at the pond. 

Tuesday night he and Iris stayed up till four in the morning playing King’s Knight Online with Catdio on his lap, and he only thought about Noct right before he finally passed out from exhaustion; he wondered about how much fun Noct was probably having being able to fish nonstop for a full week.

And that he missed him.

Wednesday was different though. Prompto was getting ready for his shift at work when he got a text.

NLC: Yo.

Prompto had never responded to a text so fast in his life.

Prom: Hey?

He stopped and stared at his own response. Quickly he added:

Prom: R u bak?

Noct replied:

NLC: Nope. I just stumbled over a place with some reception.

NLC: Thought I’d say hi.

He read over those two lines of text twice before finally replying:

Prom: HI

NLC: Hey.

Noct didn’t text back after that. He did text back later that night though, right as Prompto was getting home from work. It was a picture of a campfire, and beside it, a plate of fish.

NLC: The only thing I hate about fishing trips is having to camp.

Prom: O that does kinda blow.

NLC: Yeah but Gladio loves it.

It hadn’t occurred to Prompto that one of his other friends would’ve gone with Noct on his trip. Really, it made sense that someone went with him- leaving the prince of Lucis alone with a fishing pole was a recipe for never seeing said prince ever again- but it still made Prompto jealous in that moment.

Prom: Ignis there 2?

NLC: Nah Specs sat this one out.

Prompto didn’t know if that made him feel better or worse. Worse- the longer he thought about it- because it was just the two them out there. They only exchanged a few more texts before Noct presumably fell into a dead zone again, and left Prompto staring at his texts feeling envious and shallow.

There was no reason he should be as bothered as he was. It had been hard not seeing Noct at all the past two days or even being able to speak with him, but for that time Prompto had felt fine. He was more productive than he would’ve been, and if he didn’t think about it, he didn’t miss Noct as much.

He was probably overthinking things. He’d grown clingy being around him nearly twenty-four seven since they’d been friends. The time apart wasn’t bad at all.

The next day- Thursday- Prompto was surprised to find Noct texting him again. This time it was several pictures of various fish laid out on the shore. They didn’t text much more beyond Prompto asking what kind of fish they were, and he felt a little bit better about today than he had yesterday.

That day he called up Iris and they went to a movie together. They then went by his work and he bought them smoothies with his employee discount. She laughed a lot and it was almost like a date. He felt like that probably wouldn’t have been possible if Gladio had been around- something else positive(?) about Noct being away.

Friday was quiet in comparison to the rest of the week. It was depressing to think that spring break was almost over and school would resume in two measly days. Prompto felt fairly unmotivated that day and just spent it on the couch with videogames and the cats. Noctis(cat) had been scarce most of the week, and Prompto found this depressingly hilarious. 

Noct texted him for the first time around noon.

NLC: Nothing’s really biting today.

Prom: u  probably already fished the place dry. (・ヘ・)

NLC: Who do I call if that happens?

Prom: Man-made lake problems. (⊙﹏⊙)

NLC: First world prince problems.

They texted a while longer before Noct’s fell out of range again. Prompto went about the rest of the day as usual.

That night though, Noctis texted him again. It was about two in the morning and Prompto had been fighting sleep for about an hour when the text came in. Prompto’s sleep addled gaze suddenly focused once he saw the contents of the message.

It was a picture of Noctis. Not quite a selfie, as it only featured about a third of his face from his cheek to his ear, but it does include one of his haunting blue eyes. He’s staring at the camera dead on and there’s a hint of a grimace in the bottom portion of the frame; the picture is fairly dark- it looks like it was taken in a tent- and there’s a large, dark shape in the background. The text underneath the picture reads:

NLC: Gladio snores like a catoblopas.

It’s been less than a week, but seeing his friend’s face after so long momentarily captivates Prompto. That gaze, even in photo form, grabs his attention and holds onto it with an iron grip where Prompto can’t look away. He doesn’t even respond to the text.

Another arrives a moment later.

NLC: I kinda wish it was you here instead.

Prompto can’t find the words to respond to that.

NLC: Hey you awake?

Prompto doesn’t respond to that one either. He just goes to bed. He can’t find the words to reply; but he’s also afraid of what he might say if he did.

The next day was Saturday and it was a busy day at the smoothie shop. Prompto was on the ten to six shift, and didn’t get a breather until his lunch break at two. When he checked his phone, he saw a new text from Noct that had been sent only twenty minutes ago. The fact it was recent made him feel a little better about not replying last night.

The message was once again a picture, but this time it was of a fishing hook. It was green, and in the shape of a cactaur. There was no text underneath it.

Prom: Cool. New lure? 

NLC: I found it in my tackle box.

NLC: It was wrapped up. From dad.

Prom: No shit?

NLC: Yeah.

It took Prompto a few minutes to find a reply.

Prom: I guess it was his way of being with u when he couldn’t come.

NLC: Yeah.

Prom: Did u ask him 2 come with u?

NLC: No.

NLC: He’s always so busy.

NLC: So I stopped asking.

Noctis’ last text made Prompto miss him. Made him miss him so much more than he had the entire week combined. Whatever loneliness Prompto had been struggling with without Noct here, Noct struggled with too, only he lived under the same roof as it. Prompto found his home in Noctis, even though he was away, but Noctis’ own home was never around to begin with.

It made him so sad.

Prom: Hey at least u’ll b bak 2morrow.

NLC: Yeah.

Prompto’s break was over then. He went back to work and tried to put Noct out of his mind.

He’d be back tomorrow. He’d be home tomorrow.

He didn’t text Prompto the rest of the day or that night. Prompto went to bed tired from a hectic day at work and his thoughts full of Noctis.

The next day Prompto sat around nervously waiting for Noct to text him once he got back into civilization proper. The cats had congregated around his window again, so he passed the time taking pictures of them. Surprisingly, Noctis(cat) had decided to make an appearance today, and ended up in most of Prompto’s pictures; even in cat form, both Noctises were extremely photogenic.

It was around three in the afternoon when Noctis(human) finally texted him.

NLC: Just got home.

Prompto readied a quick ‘welcome home!’ message in return but stopped once he thought about the picture Noct had sent him Friday night. Setting aside Ignis(cat) on his lap, he went to the hallway where the light was best and after a few trial shots, took a picture of himself waving to the camera.

He attached it to his text and was about to send it when braveness struck him. Biting his lip, under the picture and the first line of text, he added:

I missed u.

Sending it before he could chicken out, Prompto flopped down on the hallway floor to await Noctis’ reply. It was taking a while to arrive, and as he began to panic, thinking he’d said something weird or overstepped some boundary, Prompto began to type up a quick message trying to rebut the previous one; but then, Noct’s text dinged in. 

NLC: I missed you too.

Chapter Text

“It’s hot.”

“There’s no more fans to hook up.”

“… that’s not cool.”

“Yup.”

Noct flopped back on the ground, staring at the ceiling fan. It was oscillating on its highest speed, but it seemed to do little to impact the heat. The ground was the coolest place in the apartment at this point, and Prompto was grateful for that small mercy as he stretched out further across it, trying to get every inch of his skin in contact with the cool surface. Even the cats were making the most of the cool surface; just about every other available space was covered in them.

The heat was hitting near record breaking temperatures that day, making just about every Insomnian citizen miserable along with it. Not even the prince in his swanky apartment had been spared; Prompto had gotten a call around eleven that morning (thankfully a Saturday) from a frustrated Noctis.

“Do you have air conditioning?’

“Yeah. Probably not much longer though. The thing always kicks it when it gets real hot out.” Prompto had said this while plugging in his back-up fans in preparation for the inevitable kicking of his AC.

“Whatever. I’m coming over if that’s fine by you.”

Prompto switched his phone from one shoulder to the other as he had opened a window for extra circulation. “Are you sure, man? It’s gotta be better over at your place.”

“Nope. The AC has gone out for most of the building.”

“That sucks. I bet it’s still cooler in there than it is here though.”

“Maybe, but I don’t want to be around angry sweaty rich people. Please save me.”

Prompto had gotten a smile out of that. “Haha, who’s the prince saving whom now?”

Noctis had come over about twenty minutes later, and they’d spent the day surrounded by fans and cats with glasses of ice cubes pressed to their foreheads. In all honesty, it hadn’t been all that bad having someone to complain with, laying side by side under the window where the shade was, throwing ice cubes at each other and their wrists touching occasionally.

“Is there seriously nothing else we can do to get cool here?” Noct complained, rolling over onto his stomach.

“I can see now why you don’t want to be around sweaty rich people. You’re just as bad as them.” Prompto teased.

“Yeah but it’s different when there’s a fuckton of them all being grouchy.”

“Suuuuure.”

They settled into silence. A cat climbed on Noctis’ back and curled up there. He grunted and Prompto snorted.

“Hey there’s a convince store around the corner. We could go get popsicles.”

“Popsicles?” The mention of sweets got Noctis’ attention.

“Yeah.” Prompto sat up, smiling to his friend. “I’ll treat.”

“Cool.” Noctis said as he rolled over, the cat jumping off his back with a grumpy meow.

Prompto grabbed his wallet, and they slipped on their shoes before locking the door and making their way down the block. The convenience store was blessedly cool inside when they got there, and they took a moment to just enjoy the AC before heading to the ice cream cooler in the back.

Prompto picked out a strawberry bar. Noct wanted two, and Prompto didn’t mind spending a little extra at seeing how his face lit up overlooking all the desserts. Noct picked out a chocolate sundae cone and a cherry popsicle. Prompto paid and they left, walking slow as they ate their treats on the way back.

Noct was through his sundae cone by the time Prompto was halfway through his strawberry bar, and was a halfway through his popsicle when Prompto was done. Noct had red stained lips and rivets of cherry popsicle running down his hand as the sun melted it in his hand without mercy.

“Shit, man, it’s melting…”

“Eat faster.”

“I already got brain freeze from trying that.” Noct licked his thumb and traded the popsicle to his other hand. “Help me finish it before it’s toast.”

Prompto looked at the popsicle with warring emotions. Mostly embarrassed emotions. “Uhh… you’ve already ate off it though.”

“Yeah, so?”

Noct turned from licking his fingers to stare at Prompto, his tongue still sticking out. Prompto noticed it too had been dyed bright red. He doesn’t know how to feel about that.

“You know… it’s weird. Germs and stuff.” Prompto replied lamely.

“Prompto, I’ve been in school with you for years. I probably already have your germs at this point. Your’s and half the junior class’. Just take the popsicle. I don’t want you to have wasted your money on something to have it melt.”

Noct’s consciousness made Prompto want to melt into the sidewalk like the popsicle. Steeling his nerves, he took the treat and took a bite off the top. The thing practically melted the moment it hit his tongue and he choked on it. Sputtering like a moron, he coughed cherry popsicle all down his chin and over his hand. Noct was laughing as he beat against Prompto’s back to help him through the choking fit.

Prompto croaked pitifully looking at his stained tank top and the trail of cherry left behind them on the sidewalk. “Ugh! There’s so much… it’s everywhere…”

Noct laughed harder at this.

“Seriously man! It’s sticky…”

Noct was in coughing fits from laughing so hard. He was rasping when he spoke, “Went for a little too much right off the bat. Don’t worry, with practice, you’ll get better.”

Prompto’s face was as red as the popsicle at this point. Giving up on dignity for the day, he used his already stained tank top to clean the popsicle off his face and neck. He then took another huge bite of the popsicle for good measure, staring dead in Noctis’ eyes the entire time.

Noct rolled his eyes and took the popsicle back, licking up the stick before taking a nibble off the end.

Prompto couldn’t unsee that. They walked the rest of the way back in (slightly mortified) silence, trading the popsicle back and forth until it was no more, and Noct threw the stick at a bush.

Back in the apartment, the heat was just as bad as before, and Noctis promptly returned to his spread-eagle position on the ground. Prompto went about looking for a reasonably clean shirt to change into, when he spotted movement by the window. Noctis(cat) was climbing up onto Noctis(human)’s chest, startling the prince, but he smiled and pet the cat’s head once Noctis(cat) curled up.

Struck by the sweetness of the moment Prompto pulled out his phone, and stealthily leaning against the couch, he lined up the two to take a picture.

But Noctis(cat) was turned away from the camera, and Noctis(human) had his eye’s closed. Trying to get a better shot, Prompto muttered under his breath, “Look this way, Noctis…”

“Huh?”

Noctis(human) spoke up, startling Prompto into taking a picture on accident. Noctis(cat) raised his head, and Prompto was met with two eerily similar, puzzled blue gazes. Noctis(human)’s mouth was still stained red and Prompto focused on that instead.

“Uh…”

“You called my name. What’s up?

“Uh… I was… actually… talking to the cat.”

“The cat?” Noctis(human) looked at Noctis(cat) on his chest. “The cat is named after me?”

Prompto scratched his head. “Uh… yeah.”

Noctis(human)’s look was impassive for a moment, but then he smiled and ran a hand over Noctis(cat)’s head. “Cool. Are there ones named after anybody else?”

“Yeah.”

“Neato.”

Noctis(cat) was still be stroked on his head, and his tongue stuck out experimentally to taste the cherry popsicle on his human counterpart’s hand. Noctis(human) stopped petting him and let him lick his hand clean, the little cat licking his lips satisfyingly when done.

As Noctis(cat) sniffed around for more, Prompto chuckled. “I guess he likes popsicle too.”

Noct stroked the cat affectionately with a grin.“Guess that makes three of us.”

Chapter Text

Noctis was having a rough day.

Everything seemed to hit him one after another, a nonstop barrage that all demanded his immediate attention, the balancing act that was being both a high school student and the crown prince of a country at cold war.

Noct arrived at school late, having overslept from being up the night before at a political function; this got a few dirty looks from teachers, but as their prince he practically had unlimited tardy privileges, and he ended up dozing on Prompto’s shoulder in third period, so it hadn’t really started all that bad.

But then he was yanked from fourth period for an emergency and didn’t return till the latter part of the day. He was back only in time for last period, and by then he was more than just sleep deprived, but also furious for some unspeakable reason. Prompto tried to coax the problem out of him, but the teacher had gotten onto him for his absences again, and everything seemed to just get worse. Tardiness was one thing, but complete absence was whole other animal, and having four in one day wasn’t doing Noct any favors with his already (impressively/horribly?) long list of them.

That on top of it, there was also an extensive project on the political history of Lucis that would be worth one-third of their final grades assigned that day, and there wasn’t a person Prompto knew who hated politics more than Noctis. He actually dropped his face into the desk when it was announced, and everyone in class (and probably the whole city) heard the resounding thud.

However, the final nail in the coffin didn’t hit home until they went back to his apartment after school. Prompto was arranging his study materials on the coffee table (because that optimistic streak from midterms had reared its ugly head yet again) as Noct puttered about the apartment. He had a manila envelope in his hand, flipping through a variety of color-coded papers that each seemed to piss him off more than the last, and yawning like he was ready to drop dead on the floor that moment.

Watching him, Prompto decided to make the poor boy some coffee, and when he stood to go make some he noticed something on the dining room table.

A red notebook, bound with silver cords. Gold trim around the edges, and a swirling, tree-like design embossed on the cover.

Luna’s notebook.

Prompto eyed it with curiosity. He’d known for some time the prince and oracle were still in contact with each other. The first time he’d seen Umbra in person- not just on TV- was last year when he’d visited Noct at school, and learned of their correspondences. Noctis was sheepish but proud of the fact- that they had been able to keep contact in the years since Tenebrae had been taken over, and Lunafreya became the most publicized of political prisoners. Noct hadn’t said much about it, only that it was his only direct line to her, but he didn’t have to say how much it clearly meant to him.

Prompto saw that much himself.

Noct guarded that notebook like a national treasure, never allowing another’s hands to befall its pages and never sharing their correspondences with anyone. Sometimes he’d wait days to reply, trying to find the perfect thing to share with her or waiting for something special to happen so he could then tell her about it . It was a strangely sweet side to the prince that not even Prompto knew well.

The way Noct’s eye lit up flipping through the book, it was like nothing else. He could tell he cherished it greatly.

Seeing that though, it reminds Prompto of the letter Luna had sent him all those years ago, still stowed in a drawer of his desk. Every now and again, he’d take it out, unfold that crisp expensive parchment and re-read the faded cursive scrawl that had been his sole support all those lonely years. The paper still smelled that indescribably nice feminine smell, so strong it had hardly worn away over the years. He’d never replied to it, a few dozen tries thrown into the wastebasket later, and Prompto eventually decided he didn’t need to.

Though part of him just didn’t want to bother possibly the most important woman (because Lunafreya was already a woman back when Prompto was just a sad, fat, fuck-up kid) in the world, there was also a part that feared the first letter had been a mistake in and of itself. It was addressed it him, but maybe it was just a fluke, something printed out by some assistant and the proper name filled in, and that it was just some small pointless thing sent to a small pointless person that Luna would never think about ever again.

But Prompto tried to remain positive about it. So he put away his pen and stopped trying to find the words to write to the person who more or less saved his life, enjoying the words he’d already garnered whether they were special or not.

He never told Noct about that letter. He’d worked for so long to be a person worthy of being his friend, he’d stopped looking at him as a prince and was finally seeing him as the person he was, and didn’t want Noctis to ever think he’d just done it because Luna asked him to.

And though a small part of him wanted to think that it might’ve broken Noctis’ heart if it were true (not that he’d like it if Noct thought that he’d only befriended him out of duty, but more that it would be a way to really show that he cared about Prompto, and the sad, self-doubting wreck he was), he knew when it came down to it, it would be about Luna and not him. Luna was Noct’s safety net, an idol so far removed from everything else in his life that lived in Noctis’ heart and between the pages of their shared diary; she was something that was all Noctis’, someone who kept him sane and safe and himself, and Prompto didn’t want to take that away from him by making Luna a person they shared.

But that idealism didn’t curb the jealousy Prompto felt. Staring at that book on the dining room table, he imagined running his fingers over the busted binding and flipping through her words like they were meant for him. How had she changed in the six years since she’d sent him that letter back in fourth grade? Did she still write in cursive, did she scent her parchment with the same perfume? Did she doodle in the corners or write so much she had to scrawl the rest of her thoughts in the margins of the page?

But he’d never touch the notebook. Noctis would never allow it.

Because Luna was his.

Noctis came into his view and snapped him out of his thoughts. He dropped his book bag on the couch beside Prompto’s, throwing a bag of chips on the table and his school blazer beside them.

“I’m going to go change real quick. Be out in a few.” Noctis deadpanned over his shoulder as he headed for the hallway. A moment later, Prompto heard a door click closed.

Alone in the living room, his attention zeroed in on the notebook again. Noct had left it there without a second thought; maybe he wouldn’t mind if Prompto took just a peek inside? Or maybe he would, but if he never knew, that what would it hurt?

He gulped. He stood up stiffly, steeling his nerves and walking to the table. It felt so disloyal doing this, wanting to look at these private interactions. But he still wanted to. Noct would never have to know how much Prompto wanted to share Luna, just for a moment.

His hand made contact with the cover. He undid the cord that bound it closed, and flipped to a random page—

“What the hell are you doing?”

Noct was standing in the middle of hall, and Prompto’s attention would have went right to his bare chest if it wasn’t for the look of absolute fury on his face.

Prompto dropped the book in surprise, it falling out of his hands and smacking into the side of the table before plummeting to the floor.

“N-noct… I thought you w-were changing-“

Prompto was sure he looked like a deer in the headlights as Noct stalked over, physically pushing him out of the way when he reached down to grab the notebook. He ran a hand over the fragile binding, and Prompto was terrified he had broken it.

“I forgot my phone in my blazer… but when I come to grab it, you’re going through this without my permission.” He growled, the angriest he’d ever heard him. “What the fuck did you want with it?”

Noct’s eyes were piercing when he met them, like lightning crackling in a dark blue storm, and Prompto was the lightning rod that drew it all to him. He couldn’t hold that dangerous gaze, eyes falling to the freckled hands that had committed the crime.

“I… just wanted to see what was inside. What you guys wrote-“

“I never said you could do that.”

“Yeah, but I just wanted to know how she was doing-“

“That’s none of your business.”

“But you never say anything when I ask-“

“Because it’s none of your business!” Noctis threw his hands in the air and turned away. He walked back to the hallway, notebook clutched in his grasp and voice seething. “I’ve just had the absolute shittiest day ever, and I haven’t heard from Luna in months, and you just had to go and look through my private thoughts and conversations when I turn my back.

Thanks. You’re the best.”

A door slammed a moment later. And Prompto was alone again.

Even though the storm was gone, he still felt the residual danger that had overflowed from Noctis’ gaze, the thunder of his words and the chill of his tone freezing Prompto where he stood at the table. His hands were shaking as he brought them to his face, covering his eyes like he could’ve ever forgotten that look on Noctis’ face.

Betrayal.

Why?

Why had he wanted to see it so badly?

Noctis had already had a bad day. But Prompto was going to make him coffee and he was going to wake up, and they were going to work on this stupid project and eat junk food, and it was gonna be okay.

The room seemed too large to Prompto, the walls too far away and the air freezing everything.

He wanted to leave.

But he really didn’t want to leave Noct like this. As upset as he was, could he just leave him here like this?

But did Noct even want him here?

Prompto ran a hand through his hair.

Did Noct even want him here? It was his apartment after all, and it was him that made Prompto want to stay. But the stillness of the air, and resounding echo of the door slamming, it was like the room itself was shaming Prompto for his actions. He felt his shoulders rising as he bunched within himself, feeling the overwhelming need to move somewhere, stand anywhere else, but not being allowed to for the fear of being seen by the disapproving room.

But behind his fears and worries and shame, there was also pain. His own hurt.

Noctis was throwing a fit, but Prompto’s own heart was clenching over how selfish he was being. Luna was his, but that didn’t stop Prompto from wanting. Noct was in a mood, but he didn’t need to take it out on him, and as betrayed as he felt towards himself, Prompto felt betrayed by Noctis as well.

Why couldn’t he just let him pretend the Oracle was everyone’s, not just her king’s? Why did he have to guard her so selfishly? What did he feel for her that he didn’t want anyone else ever knowing?

He wanted Noct to feel better, so much. But he also wanted to know Luna, so much.

Prompto didn’t know which he wanted more.

They both were at fault here, but Prompto wasn’t thinking about that. He was just thinking about how afraid he was of Noct would come out of his room and having to look at him again.

Friends weren’t supposed to do this to each other.

Are you really friends then?

He couldn’t take it anymore. His shame won out, and Prompto grabbed his bag from the couch.

And he ran away from home.

 

Chapter Text

School was lonely the next day. Noctis hadn’t bothered to show up.

Prompto tried not to take it personally. He’d probably just gotten tied up with prince stuff again- likely more of whatever had him so bent out of shape yesterday. Though in all honesty, he was somewhat relieved. He wouldn’t know what to say if he had to see Noct, and he certainly wouldn’t know what to do sitting next to him four periods of the day. He’d probably implode from shame.

Noctis hadn’t texted him at all- not even a short message to check if he’d gotten home safe. Again, in all honesty, it was probably for the best. There had been too many tears to see straight, let alone write a coherent message.

He’d gone home last night, but couldn’t even hold back the tears long enough to reach the end of the street. They’d began the moment he was alone in the elevator, nothing but light piano music to cover his sniveling, and by the time he unlocked his own apartment door, he was sticky with snot and tears, and feeling very stupid.

Prompto ran straight to his room, and dug out Lunafreya’s letter. He re-read it several times, holding it as far away from his face as he could to keep the tears from getting on it.

The letter was shorter than he remembered. He took the time to slide the paper back into its envelope before balling it up and throwing it blindly across the room and curling up with his face in his knees.

It wasn’t worth it.

All today, he’d still been in a funk. No one paid attention to him without Noctis around, and he roamed the halls between classes a pale ghost of self-pity. It felt like grade school all over again.

At lunch, Prompto decided to bite the bullet and text him. It was nothing more than a hey, because his shame addled brain couldn’t come up with anything more meaningful if held at gunpoint. There was no answer throughout lunch hour, so Prompto kept his phone in his lap the rest of the day, checking it every time the teacher looked away.

Nothing. Not even the little dots that showed Noct had even looked at it.

Walking home, the anger came back and bullied away the shame. He hadn’t seen anything in the book, hadn’t even finished flipping to a page when Noct caught him. Whatever he hadn’t wanted him reading, Prompto hadn’t read it. There was no reason to be giving him the cold shoulder.

His knuckles were white where they clasped around his phone as he walked. Prompto still checked his messages every few minutes despite the anger forming a tight ball in his gut. Staring at his hands, he immediately checked his phone again.

Whatever forgiveness he thought he was entitled to, Noctis’ continued lack of response refuted it. Shoving the phone in a pocket, he didn’t know what he was really expecting.

The stairs creaked as Prompto ascended them to his apartment, his footsteps stirring some of the snoozing cats that lounged there from their slumber. With all the heat and humidity recently, the wood was expanding and causing issues. The door stuck a bit after he’d unlocked it, and Prompto had to kick it in to get it to open.

He stood in the doorway, taking in the true shittiness of his house. It hadn’t even been a day yet, but the thought of never being allowed in Noctis’ apartment again was a sad one. Not getting to play video games on that massive TV that probably weighed as much as Noctis himself, or enjoying the air-conditioning when (supposedly only) Prompto’s own was out, or drinking expensive coffee from that stupidly fancy coffee machine, or sleeping on that couch tangled in blankets and limbs with his best friend.

An overwhelming sadness rushed over him and made the breath catch in his throat. Did Noct even want him here? Are you really friends then?

More than the anger and the sadness, this just hurt. Like Noct was choosing Luna over him. And as unfair as it felt to him, Prompto knew he couldn’t blame him. Why would anyone in their right mind choose some lame, nervous, foreigner over the Oracle of the whole world?

He laughed, standing on his front porch. No one. No one would. I wouldn’t even choose myself.

He went inside, grabbed the lone bag of chips and container of ice cream he kept for moments such as this, and flopped on the couch. He flipped channels mindlessly, eating chips with one hand and holding the remote in the other. The ice cream was slowly sweating condensation on the coffee table, left untouched for the time being, because Prompto wasn’t entirely committed to disrupting his normally very health-conscious diet just yet.

It was a funny thought: the prospect of losing his best and only friend didn’t even make him sad enough to drown his sorrows in ice cream.

Maybe because he’d always known this day would come, Prompto pondered, munching on a chip.

He stopped channel surfing once he landed on the news. The blue banner across the bottom of the screen lorded ‘Trouble with Accordo?’, but despite the ominous headline, the footage shown was full of confetti and silver ornamentation, several dignitaries clustered on the stairs of the citadel shaking hands with King Regis, and behind that, a smiling Noctis.

Despite the heat, Noctis was dressed head-to-toe in black, wearing a suit and tie that looked completely out of place on him. He was shaking hands with some of the foreign dignitaries, one of the king’s hands on his cane and the other on Noctis’ back. The blue banner had changed, talking about some resolutions reached in the negotiations held the past few days, and the camera has suddenly focused on Noctis. He looked towards the camera, surprised by the sudden intrusion, but quickly sliding back into a mild smile.

This close to him, one could pick out all the grades of color in his eyes, and next to the bright cheap blue of the news banner, it made his eyes seem all the deathlier blue. And though the camera was focused on his smile, no one there would have been able to tell how fake of a smile it had been. Prompto could tell.

This must’ve been what had been bothering Noct so much the past few days. It made Prompto feel even smaller by comparison.

The world kept turning, and shitty things kept happening, and Noctis would have to keep fake smiling, and nothing concerning Prompto really mattered. Him being selfish made no difference in the long run, Noct would have been pissy and the world would’ve sucked on its own. In the grand scheme of things, he was insignificant and Noctis didn’t need him.

He turned off the TV and pressed his hands into his eyes. 

Eventually, he got up and retrieved his book bag. Dragging it to his room, he dumped out the contents and went to work on his political history project. Focusing on the kings of Lucis (which weren’t all male, surprisingly) was an effective cure for overwhelming self-pity.

Afterwards, he ended up putting away the ice cream for another day.

The following morning, Noctis was back at school. He got an earful from the teachers, but took it like a champ, and sat down next to Prompto in their shared classes with his normal morose look. However, he didn’t speak with him at all. Four classes, they sat together, four classes, not a word uttered between them. Prompto couldn’t find the words to speak, and Noctis seemed content in ignoring his existence. At lunch, Prompto ate alone behind the PE building where he had spoken to Noct the first time when they were kids, flipping through photos on his camera.

The next day was more of the same, however when Prompto hazarded a greeting to Noct in the morning, he was met by the prince’s cool scowl, followed by him walking away without looking back, trailing a chilly wind behind him. The absence between them the past two days had hardened into cold, bitter tension. The more Prompto tried to reach out and salvage something of their connection, Noctis pulled back without even the grace to badmouth him. He just scowled and turned away.

Hopelessness was making Prompto restless. He split his evening between trying to work on his project, and shooting nearby objects with rubber bands when his mind inevitably wandered. Across the room laid the crumpled corpse of Luna’s letter against the closet door, unmoved from where he’d thrown it the other day. Lounging against his bed, Prompto squinted at it with an intense dislike. And fired a rubber band at it for good measure.

The band hit the wall behind it rather than the ball itself. He turned away, throwing his head back on the lumpy mattress and staring at the ceiling.

As angry as he was, as resigned as he felt he should be, something within him still didn’t want to admit defeat. Five years of self-loathing and single-minded drive did not disappear overnight. He didn’t want to let Noctis go.

But he also didn’t want Noctis to let him go. They both knew loneliness so severely, and found a way to combat it within each other. Noct may have Gladio and Ignis by his side, but was that all he wanted? As silly and ego-inflating as it felt, Prompto knew he was Noctis’ first friend outside the carefully maintained circle that was the life of a prince. Would he really want to lose that? As much as Prompto didn’t want to lose the only meaningful relationship in quite possibly his entire life?

He thought Noct was better than that.

Selfishness made up his mind. He was going to try talking some sense in Noct, no matter how frosty he insisted on acting.

Prompto greeted him the next morning, even when Noctis brushed him off. He insisted on walking with him between blocks, divvied up their notes work between them like always in class. Noctis didn’t give him a single glance, but took the work and did his half without complaint. It was a spearhead of hope to Prompto that this wouldn’t be in vain.

Instead of splitting ways at lunch, Prompto sat down right next to Noctis as usual, and ate his salad as usual. Noct didn’t say anything. 

Blind, stupid hope filled Prompto’s chest as he thought through carefully what he wanted to say. The first half of lunch most of his bravery threatened to flee under the weight of his hope, and as such was spent in the silence of eating. But when Noct was done first and got up to go, Prompto’s will finally manifested itself, and he grabbed Noctis’ arm to stop him from leaving.

Noct struggled for a moment on instinct, but stopped a second later and just let his arm hang there in Prompto’s grasp. With a gentle tug, Noctis was back on the ground beside him.

“I need to talk to you, man.” Prompto pleaded with gravity.

Noct didn’t meet his eyes. “Yeah?”

Tension descended between them. Prompto didn’t do anything but stare at his hand, still wrapped around Noctis’ arm.

“I’m sorry, okay?” He eventually got out. The words felt like a paltry offering compared to what he felt.

“About what?” Noct replied with a bitter nonchalance.

“About… the whole journal thing.”

Noct gave nothing away but silence. Prompto finally removed his hand from his arm and ran a hand through his own hair. Noctis wasn’t going to offer him any leeway.

“It was a shitty thing to do behind your back, and I’m sorry. It’s just… you never say anything about her. And I just, like, really want to know about her, since she’s so important to you, and it just got the better of me. And whenever I ask, you just… you know, but doing it behind your back wasn’t okay, and I’m just really sorry about that.” He spoke it all in one breath, and had to take a gulp of air before he was done. “So, can you please forgive me?”

Noctis regarded the ground between them with an overt interest. The permanent furrow between his brows of the past few days was gone however, replaced with an open, tired weariness. Eventually, his eyes drifted up, regarded Prompto almost shyly through his dark lashes. The weight of his gaze back on him, Prompto’s heart leapt.

Nervousness invaded his breathing again, and Noctis wasn’t saying anything, which only made it worse. Prompto ran a hand through his hair again, feeling the uncomfortable urge to babble. “I mean, I forgive you too. For the way you acted. It wasn’t cool, dude. I mean, I didn’t even see anything, so-”

The unguarded expression on Noctis’ face slammed shut like a cell door. His shy eyes seized up, furrow now firmly back in place along with the anger and hurt of that night before. He stood up abruptly, shaking his hands like he could shake Prompto’s touch from them.

“What in the gods’ name is your problem? You think I’m at fault for any of this? You went behind my back through my personal belongings, not to mention Luna’s, but no, I’ve done something wrong?” Noct grabbed his bag and ran a hand through his bangs, messing them up in a vicious ferocity. His voice was heavy, and cracked. “Get a clue, Prompto.”

He turned his back on Prompto for the second time that week, and walked away.

Prompto watched him go before he couldn’t watch anymore, and his head fell into his hands. Panic, anxiety, hurt, and sadness washed over him in equal measures, and a poignant feeling of failure cut them further into his being. He sat there until the bell rang, standing up and grabbing his bag and walking to class like a mechanic being.

Noct was already sitting at his desk when Prompto walked into the room, staring out the window. His gaze never wavered from it as he sat down beside him. Prompto didn’t bother him.

The walk home was another battle of self-pity and object shame, shouldering the failure of the afternoon, and Prompto was exhausted by the time he got home. He’d left the window open that morning to let the breeze in, and found it had blown in more than air, but a tiny black cat as well. Noctis(cat) had made himself quite comfortable on Prompto’s bed, cracking open a blue eye when he entered the room.

Prompto couldn’t help but sigh at his friendly intruder, dumping his stuff and hopping in bed with him. Noctis(cat) made a mewl of annoyance at being jostled around, but quickly settled back in against his stomach. He ran a hand over the little cat’s fur, receiving a gentle butt of Noctis(cat)’s head against his hand.

He just laid there a while, enjoying the mindless action and the soft feel of Noctis(cat)’s fur. From this angle, he could see the occasional flash of the code prints on the inside of his wrist as he petted Noctis(cat). A tiny black barcode and tiny black numbers, forever marking him as different and odd and other as he felt.

They had always been a part of him, though he’d never known why, but they’d never been such a comfort to him as they were now. A reminder of what he was, and what he wasn’t. Noctis’ rejection was a ugly reminder of something he strived to pretend didn’t exist: any hope of him belonging.

The pain was dull under the feel of Noctis(cat)’s fur, and Prompto wanted to curl up in it. He closed his eyes, buried his face in the cat’s back, and allowed all the misery he’d been holding onto sink him.

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly, Prompto ended up dozing off just like that, pressed into Noctis(cat)’s fur.

The feeling of vibration against his hip is what eventually woke him. Blinking sleepily, Prompto found the sun had set while he was asleep, the only light in his room that of the orange glow cast off the closest street lamp.

His companion was still curled up against his stomach, Noctis(cat) dozing peacefully despite Prompto’s stirring. He took a moment to run a hand along the cat’s back as his sleep scrambled thoughts slowly trickled back to cohesion. The movement from his hip hummed through his whole body, and Prompto remembered he had his phone stowed there.

He couldn’t fathom who’d be messaging him now. Maybe the phone company, texting to remind him to pay the bill. He fished it out of the pocket of his school jacket, rearranging his limbs to be less intrusive on Noctis(cat)’s slumber, and hit the power button.

A new message notification blinked at him, and beneath it, Noctis’ name. Prompto rubbed his eyes again with the back of his hand, not entirely convinced he was seeing what he thought he was. Besides getting eye crud all over the place, nothing had changed when he pulled his hand back and stared at the notification again.

He allowed himself a quick breath to steady his nerves, and opened the message.

NLC: Hey

The message had been received about three hours ago, which unnerved him for some reason. Maybe’s Noct’s lapse in judgement had already passed, and he’d just freeze Prompto out again if he replied now.

The thought made him bitter. He was well aware of how moody and testy Noct could be, and he was also well sick of it. After a round of heavy debating on whether or not to just chuck the phone across the room, Prompto decided he really didn’t have the money to replace it if it broke, and typed back a reply with a deep sigh.

Prom: Hey

NLC: Eos you actually replied

The response was instantaneous. The vibration of his phone continued to hum within his hands as Prompto regarded the reply.

Prom: so whats up?

The dots that signified Noctis was typing flashed, stopped, and then flashed again.

NLC: I guess I want to talk to you.

Prom: why

NLC: You know why.

NLC: This isn’t a conversation I wanna have over text though.

NLC: You deserve more than that.

Prompto’s heart was thundering at a break-neck pace as the trio of texts came in. Noct wanted to talk, but didn’t want to do it over the phone, because Prompto deserved better than that.

What did Prompto deserve though? An apology, his best friend back, forgiveness? An answer to this complicated feeling in his chest about Noctis, or a resolution with Luna that didn’t make him feel so horribly insignificant? A life without a barcode on his wrist, and bills to pay, and hiding in plain sight?

What did Noct need to say, and what did Prompto need to hear?

Hope was an ugly thing when it made you want things beyond your reach, but so was pessimism that crowded your thoughts and drove everyone away. His heart was delicate, and even though it felt like it’d break if it beat too hard, Prompto needed to know what Noct wanted him to hear.

Prom: Okay

But there were also things Noctis needed to know that Prompto wanted him to hear.

Prom: whatcha wanna do then?

NLC: Shit I actually hadn’t thought that far.

NLC: Well tomorrow’s Saturday. We could just meet up somewhere.

Prom: sure

Prom: okay

Prom: where?

NLC: The arcade? There’s that sitting place behind it we could meet up at. At like noon?

Prom: mkay

NLC: Okay.

There was nothing left to say. However, as Prompto was about to turn off his phone, one last message popped in.

NLC: Thanks

He stared at the reply long after the time stamp changed from one minute ago, to two minutes ago, and finally so long it simply turned to the time it had been sent.

Feelings mixed with the tension and disappointment of the past few days threatened to overwhelm the wall of Prompto’s conscious grip on himself, and as frustrated as he should have been, that one little word was able to undo days of damage. Self-hatred morphed effortlessly into bravery and purpose.

Prompto sat up in his bed, heedless of Noctis(cat)’s meow of complaint, pressing a hand over his eyes. How pathetic was he, to have all of his self-worth tied so irrevocably to one person?

Two, he corrected himself, thinking of Lunafreya. But deprecating ridicule reminded him of how little her actual contribution to his life she had given (and that he was the one who valued her so, and not the other way around), so he revoked the thought, but decided to still count it as a half. Then his self-worth would be tied so irrevocably to one and a half people.

He immediately wanted to smack himself.

But thinking of Luna reminded him of the letter, still laying across the room in its final resting place against the closet door. It might’ve well been a whole world away, with how much Prompto dreaded going to retrieve it. But he made himself rise from the bed and cross the sea of his floor to it, picking it up and smoothing out the creases against the door.

He knew what he had to do with it, but acknowledging that he had to do it didn’t make it any better.

Showing Noct the letter, explaining it, was the only way Prompto was ever going to be able to look him in the face after all of this. His selfish want, hope, for Luna had driven a wedge between them he couldn’t live with- not after so much chasing, for so long.

It felt scary, doing this, like Prompto was going to allow his heart and motivations to be picked apart for the science of friendship, but if it was what was going to fix this between them, he was going to let it.

He would deal with the emotional repercussions later.

---

It was raining the next day. Prompto got to their intended meeting spot soaked to the bone, having decided to walk there to save money before the skies burst open, and ended up sprinting the rest of the way once it did.

He threw his body against the brick wall beneath the awning he took shelter under, the humidity in the air as uncomfortable and heavy as the dread dogging his heart.

Of course, it had to rain today, the day they were supposed to meet up outside, the day Prompto was supposed to make amends so he could live with himself and not be stuck in this endless cycle of self-hate and disappointment.

And now, of course, Noct was probably not even going to show up. Prompto didn’t want to check his phone for a text in the fear it might be true.

He ran a hand through his matted hair, layers of damp clothes moving over humid skin like sandpaper. It felt even worse due to Prompto having run out of deodorant, the skin moving against itself uncomfortably.

He hadn’t even realized he was running low until he was out, and when he went hunting for the spare usually kept on hand, he remembered it was over at Noctis’ house. Along with his comb and toothbrush, the items he left there because he was there more than he was his own house.

That toothbrush was my favorite one, was the first remorse that popped into his head. The chocobo one- he’d brought it over specifically because it was his favorite. Who knew if he was getting it back after this mess.

The letter was a leaden weight in his pocket, and after a quick check, seemed to have been spared the worst of the rain’s damage. A single corner had gotten damp, and besides the crumpled mess it had become entirely by Prompto’s own fault, it was fine. He didn’t know if that made him feel better or worse.

Across the street, a clock on a digital billboard announced it was quarter past noon. The rain had chased away most of the pedestrians and even diminished the amount of traffic on the roads, and no matter how much Prompto craned his head in either direction, he saw not front nor fender of the Regalia. Because for all he exalted Noct, he highly doubted the prince of Lucis would be walking anywhere in rain like this.

Disappointment, a mixture of Prompto’s pride and just plain frustration at Noct for leaving him high and (soaked) dry, riled within him, and with a pointed stare at the clock, he gave Noctis five minutes to make or break their friendship.

Four minutes.

Three minutes.

Two minutes.

At a minute and a half, Prompto got ready to leave. One more glance at the clock, and he readied himself to make a break for it when a dark shape came hurling from his left and barreled into Prompto, forcing them both back under the cover of the awning.

“Don’t you dare leave.” A sharp voice warned from beneath the layers of sodden black clothing against Prompto’s shoulder, and when they separated themselves, the lightning blue gaze of Noctis warned Prompto of the repercussions of his actions as severely as his voice had.

Noct pulled his black hood off, the front of his bangs soaked and limp against his forehead, but the rest of it spiked and flawless as usual. He shook out his arms, wringing water from the ends of his sleeves as he looked expectantly at Prompto.

When he didn’t say anything, Noct spoke instead. “So… you get here okay?”

“Uh, have you looked outside? It’s pouring.”

“Yeah, I noticed.” Noctis’ sarcasm was full of its usual bite. That seemed like a good sign.

Prompto ran a hand through his hair. “’m surprised you actually showed up. Didn’t expect you to wanna get out in the rain just for me.”

Noct tilted his head up, watching the way the rain dripped off the drainage pipe. “I’ve done it before.” He replied simply.

Prompto’s eyes widened, remembering the sleet storm from the past winter. What a mess that had been, but Noct was right- he had come then too. “I guess.”

Noct nodded. Prompto swallowed thickly.

“So… what did you want to tell me?”

Noctis leaned against the wall, a solid foot between he and Prompto’s shoulders. Prompto followed the movement with his eyes but found he couldn’t look directly at him once he was this close, and decided to focus on the space between them instead.

How much he wanted, in that moment, to move closer. To move farther away.

He couldn’t make up his mind, so he didn’t move at all.

“I’m not choosing Luna over you. I mean… I’m not choosing either of you over the other. I mean…” Noctis stopped, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes, the cold confidence he always exuded evaporating in the humid summer air. “I was upset because you went through our stuff without asking. That’s all. It had nothing to do with anything else.”

“Okay.”

“You should’ve just apologized so we could move on. It’s just …” Noctis broke off again, tilting his head away before Prompto could see the sad, small smile that graced his lips. Almost before. “I just know how you get stuck in your head sometimes… and it sucks to fight with you over stupid stuff like this, man.”

“Okay.” Prompto repeated, unsure of what else to say at this point. Noct was still looking away, but he could still see that sad smile so clearly in his mind. It was unlike the one he wore on television, or the one he spoke to his father with.

He’d never seen it before. Like Noctis was actually sorry about something.

And that’s a strange thought to have about your best friend, but out of everything he’d seen and realized about the Prince of Lucis since becoming his friend a year ago, not once had Prompto ever really seen Noct be sorry about something he’d done. Resignation, bitterness, but never humility.

But out of everything he’d seen and realized about his friend, one of those realizations was that the prince was a normal person, like anyone else.

A beat of silence passed. The rain droned on, and Prompto swallowed this understanding along with his heart.

“I’m sorry.”

Noctis sighed. It was a sound like he was deflating.  “Yeah… I’m sorry too.”

“… I’m sorry I do stupid stuff, and that we have to fight about it.” Prompto’s voice was frail, but he hoped the sentiment was not. “I’m sure you’re used to it by now, though.”

Noctis chuckled, and the sound resonated within Prompto’s heart. He bumped their shoulders together. “It’s cool. You’re fine.”

A boom of thunder sounded in the distance, causing Noct to jump. He flattened his back against the wall, watching the sky like he expected Ramuh to peek out and laugh. Prompto noticed their shoulders were still touching, and could feel the heat of Noctis’ skin through the layers of his wet hoodie.

Standing together like this, it wasn’t too hard to imagine them both belonging in each other’s lives. That Prompto could mess up and Noct would run through the rain for a chance to forgive him; that they could go to school together and hang out, and despite vastly different stations and statuses, they could exist in the same space and it would be fine.

Part of Prompto didn’t think he deserved this. Part of him thought Noct knew this, and was trying to prove him wrong.

Because that was the way Noctis showed he cared for him. By proving him wrong whenever he doubted him.

“One thing though…” Noct broke through Prompto’s thoughts with a contemplative expression.

“Yeah?”

Noctis’ gaze seemed all at once too focused and too distant as he regarded the rust on the ceiling of the awning. “You said before about how whenever you asked me about Luna, I didn’t tell you anything. What was that about?”

“Huh?”

“Why do you care so much?”

The question was loaded with something unspoken. It took Prompto a moment to remember the letter in his pocket.

He’d forgotten it was even there. After getting it into his mind he was going to have to bust ass to get Noctis to forgive him, and the surprising ease with which the situation had actually been resolved, all thoughts of the letter had gone out the window- replaced with the warmth of Noctis’ body against his own.

Noct was still watching the ceiling, strangely patient. Panic was an icy spike through Prompto’s spine, and his hand itched to fly guiltily to his pocket.

What was he going to say? What could he say, that wouldn’t undo everything they’d just accomplished by finally being honest with each other?

But this kind of honesty felt dangerous.

How, after Noctis outright said that he wasn’t choosing Luna over him, that he knew how messed up Prompto got when he got stuck in his own head too long, could Prompto just come out and say that Luna was everything to him before Noct was? That Prompto chose Luna over him, before Noct even had the chance to choose Prompto.

Want rushed over him. He felt the notebook within his grasp again, and all Prompto wanted was to flip through those pages and unearth everything there was between Luna and the binding, between her and Noctis.

How, after everything he’d seen and realized about his friend, could Prompto just come out and ask how exactly they felt about each other, and where he could possibly fit between them?

Want dissipated, and all Prompto felt was the letter in his pocket.

It wasn’t worth it.

“Ah, you know… she’s the Oracle of the whole dang world, and you… just talk to her like a normal person.”

It wasn’t worth it to tell the truth, and it wasn’t worth it to risk losing Noctis again.

So Prompto smiled, and lied.

“I just wanted to know what she was really like. I see her on TV, and… well. That’s it, man. I just think she’s cool.”

“Oh. Okay.” Noctis tore his eyes from the ceiling and readjusted himself on the wall. His voice was surprisingly light.

It was such a relaxed response, something sparked within Prompto. Maybe, Luna wasn’t that far beyond his reach? He bit his lip, afraid to look too hopeful. “Maybe… you could share a little about her now? Like, just how she’s doing when you talk-“

“No.” His voice was sharp, tired, but resolute. Noct stuffed his hands into his hoodie pockets, and stared at the rain. “No… just. Don’t. Please.”

The hope dimmed, and he bit harder into his lip to keep the frown from his face. Of course.

“Yeah, okay. Sorry.”

Noct shook his head. “Just… let it be, okay? You’re both important to me, but… some things are just between me and her. So.”

Prompto swallowed his self-pity, and nodded. “No, it’s fine. I get it.”

Noctis just nodded back. They both watched the rain.

When he got home, Prompto decided, he was going to put the letter back in his desk where it belonged. He couldn’t bear to think of ditching it after everything, but he also knew he couldn’t just leave it somewhere that Noct might one day find it. He could never know about it.

For the time being, he simply focused on the feeling of Noctis’ shoulder against his own. He’d leaned into it without realizing, and found Noct had done the same. Now, instead of the space between their shoulders, Prompto watched the space between their foreheads.

And he thought about that moment, how he wanted to move closer. Or to move farther away.

But he still couldn’t make up his mind, so he didn’t move at all.

 

Chapter Text

“I’m making a weird face in that one.”

“Dude, that’s just your face.”

Noctis huffed into Prompto’s shoulder but did not retort.

The two of them were camped out on Noctis’ living room floor, limbs and soda cans strewn about every direction, Prompto’s camera nestled in his lap and Noctis’ head on his shoulder as he scrolled through photos. The clock on the cable box blinked a quarter till midnight.

“Hey look it’s me.”

“That’s a cat.”

“Isn’t that the cat you named after me?”

“… Yeah.”

Noct chuckled at that, his breath warm on Prompto’s neck. He shuddered, and Noctis laughed harder.

Today was the last day of school. The last day of Prompto’s sophomore year. Summer break was within spitting distance, a mere fifteen minutes away, and Prompto pledged to spend every day for the next two months in this exact position.

Tonight, they were over at Noct’s place, Prompto’s camera accompanying them so they could go through all the pictures he’d taken over the year, with the goal of creating a scrapbook in mind.

This had been a good year. One of the better ones- one of the best. And even if after everything was said and done, if something came between them or they simply just stopped being friends or if Niflheim invaded and they all died, and this book just laid in Prompto’s desk, at least it would exist and be proof of this year.

“Man, seriously though.” Noct had stopped laughing and was instead focusing on the picture displayed on the camera- a photo of himself and his namesake cat. “All of your pictures are of ducks or cats. Or me.” The last part was added with a grimace.

Prompto’s eyes wandered over to the coffee table, where a stack of photos laid on its glossy black surface. They were the ones he’d already decided were going in the book, a mixture of the ones he’d already developed off his camera and others he’d plucked off his own walls. He was hesitant to make any sort of reply to Noctis’ comment, especially when, yes, that stack largely consisted of nothing but those three things.

And Noctis was going to tease the hell out of him for it.

“I-I’m sure you’re used to it! You practically live with cameras in your face.” Prompto answered with a shy smile, turning slightly away to hide the explicit truth of Noctis’ statement on the incriminating device.

“Doesn’t mean I like it.” He replied sulkily.

“You take great pictures though. Better than me.” The hundreds of pictures of Noctis Prompto snapped over the past year (alone) on his camera contested to that. As well as the numerable cringey selfies of the photographer himself mixed in. “I always end up squinting or making a dumb face. Or I give myself a double chin.”

“Uh-huh.” Noctis grunted, unconvinced. He reached for the pictures of the coffee table, laying his head flat against Prompto’s shoulder and shuffling through them. “Prove it. You definitely don’t have a double chin.”

“Nope. Not gonna happen.”

Noctis snorted, but didn’t press.

With the prince entertaining himself elsewise, Prompto’s attention drifted back to the camera in his lap. The picture of Noctis and Noctis(cat) was still on the screen, and Prompto favorited it, marking it for print later. It was a sweet moment, no matter how much Noctis teased him.

The next several pictures also consisted of cats- Ignis on the windowsill, Catdio in mid-meow- and beyond that, selfies of Prompto with the cats.

No. Definitely not adding those.

He continued scrolling through the photos, and as he did so, memories began to unfold across them. The evening of the sleet storm, Prompto drowning in Noctis’ black hoodie and covered in cat hair; the day they did laundry together, the sheer amount of clothing piled up in Noctis’ closet of a laundry room and the socks that covered every surface after they’d had a sock war; Venustine’s Day, and Prompto’s tiny stack of valentines he’d been so proud of; the hot weekend Noctis’ AC went out and they suffered together with popsicles and dirty jokes.

He’d stopped favoriting photos by this point, simply watching the memories roll by with a smile on his face. Home, in a million different ways, but home nonetheless.

 This had been a good year.

Suddenly, Noctis spasmed against Prompto’s shoulder, flinging himself up in a flail of arms. Prompto jumped at the jarring motion, nearly dropping his camera. Scrambling to recover, he angled his body towards his friend and was met with an incredible sight.

Or lack thereof. Nothing could be seen of Noct’s face, save for his ears, tipped in a blaze of red. The prince’s hands covered the rest, the spaces between his fingers as red as his ears. He was hunched over, like he was trying to fold himself out of existence. The stack of pictures laid innocently in his lap.

Prompto didn’t know what he was seeing. “What? What, man?!” He wasn’t sure if panic was the correct response but doubted laughter would help whatever the situation was turning into.

“Uggghhhhhh….” Came Noctis’ muffled response, tinged embarrassment and shyness. He pushed his face even deeper into his hands. “I can’t believe you kept it.”

“Kept what?” Prompto all but shrieked back, still unsure of how to react.

Neglecting to answer, Noct reached down into the pile of photos on his lap, holding up the top one for Prompto to see.

It was the not-quite-a-selfie of Noctis from the week he was away on his fishing trip. Featuring only about a third of his face from his cheek to his ear, he was staring at the camera dead on and with a hint of a grimace in the bottom portion of the frame, the single blue eye visible staring hauntingly out into the viewer. The picture sent to Prompto the night Noctis said he wanted Prompto with him.

The picture that Prompto printed out and had hanging on his mirror in the months since.

“I can’t believe you kept it, and then you printed it out.”

“Ah.” Prompto’s own face heated up, finally finding the appropriate response to Noctis’ embarrassment. “I like that picture.”

There was nothing else that could be said. At least without some infinitely incriminating feelings coming through. Noctis continued to hide his face in his hands, and Prompto pointedly looked everywhere but at him.

But then they laughed.

Noctis’ face never left its hiding place, but his shoulders shook as laugher ripped through the awkward atmosphere. Prompto’s head had fallen back against the couch, chest heaving as he forgot to even breathe and just laughed.

They laughed. They laughed for a while, laughed until they were choking on hiccups and scrambling to find a soda can within reach that wasn’t empty so that they could wet their throats and keep laughing.

“That’s- that’s definitely going in the book.” Prompto took the photo from Noctis, collecting the rest of the stack and returning them to the coffee table with the not-selfie on top.

“Ughhh, fine.” Noct griped, his voice still breathy with laughter. He resituated himself, hands on knees, and gestured to the stack. “So how many pictures have you already picked out? How many spaces in the book are there?”

Prompto made a quick count of the favorited pictures on the camera, and added them to the ones in the stack. “Looks like it’s pretty much all filled up already. There’s only one space left.”

Noctis glanced at the cable box, eyes focusing in on the time. “Well, it’s still the last day of school, technically.”

He was right, three minutes still left till midnight. Noct put a hand on Prompto’s shoulder, giving him that grin made Prompto’s insides quiver and every idea out of his mouth seem like the best in the world. “Whattya say we get one last picture in?”

Prompto couldn’t help returning the smile. Nor did he fight the idea of having one of his awful selfies in the book. He simply held the camera above them as Noctis leaned back in on his shoulder, and pressed the button.

This had been a good year.

Next year will be even better.