Prompto’s never really had a ‘family’ of his own. Sure, the Argentum family had taken him in and were kind enough, offering him shelter and food to keep him alive, but little else. It was probably why he’d end up being so chubby at a young age; all that junk food and no one there to scold him for eating nothing else.
And don’t even get him started on his real parents… he’s glad he’s got no memories left of them…
It still surprises him to this day that, despite his own, rather dysfunctional, childhood, he still had the desire to have a child of his own. After all, with his history, there’s no way he could possibly raise a child properly, could he? There were all these studies that had proven that people with a bad family history were hardly fit to be parents…
And yet everyone who saw him with Regina told him he was a perfect parent to the little 5-year-old.
Regina adores him, and she always toddles after him wherever he goes, holding onto his fingers or his pants leg, never straying too far from him. And Prompto adores her just the same, and if it was possible, he’d never let her go. He doesn’t know why he’s the parent that his own had never been, but maybe it has to do exactly with that; because he remembers what it is he should’ve had as a child…
But whatever it is, he doesn’t let it bother him for long.
He has more important things to worry about more often than not.
“Don’t like bugs, huh?” Prompto asks with a chuckle as he holds his little girl, who’s currently pouting/frowning unhappily at said bugs crawling along the bushes.
Prompto laughs at the very vehement call and the puffy cheeks that follow the single word, showing her clear displeasure. He doesn’t like bugs either, but at least he’s got enough guts now to actually squash him if they’re really bothering him… or shoot ‘m to bits if he was dealing with something bigger than the average garden sized bug.
Regina, however, won’t even come close to them, whether she has a weapon against them or not. She especially hates spiders, but Iris says that’s nothing strange; most girls and a lot of boys don’t like any form of arachnid.
And secretly, Prompto’s glad he’s never seen one bigger than those palm-sized ones; those were freaky enough as is.
“Oy, Prompto!” Gladio is calling out, making him look over. “C’mon; let’s get going, shall we?”
He really doesn’t like leaving Regina, but he does need to get back to hunting regularly. Unfortunately, Ignis had other things to do, and Iris was helping Holly at the power plant, which left just himself and Gladio. Thankfully, Talcott’s prepared to look after her, since he recently started working at Wiz’s Chocobo Post. And better yet, Regina actually likes Talcott, so they don’t have to worry too much about her making a fuss around him.
Prompto goes to Talcott and passes Regina to him, promising his little princess he’ll be back soon and kissing her on her forehead before he does, because she’s very picky about being passed on to someone else without being told first. He waves goodbye, telling her again that he’ll be back soon.
Regina doesn’t like to see him go, but she waves him goodbye anyway. And then Prompto smiles and hurries off; Gladio’s getting annoyed, already, but oh well. He’d rather make sure his little girl isn’t left feeling abandoned.
The sun is setting by the time Prompto and Gladio return to the outpost, and Prompto’s happy to report that he doesn’t have any scratches for once. He’s managed to keep their target off of him for long enough for Gladio to strike ‘m down, while he takes careful headshots at anything that even moves for him wrong.
So, yeah, he’d call it a successful hunt, indeed.
But he isn’t prepared for what he hears when he comes back, when he sees Talcott and a number of the other workers running around in a panic, isn’t prepared for the words told to him or the block of ice that feels like it’s been dumped into his gut.
“Pr-Prompto…! I… w-we can’t find Regina anywhere…!”
Prompto can barely think straight… can barely see straight… panic is clouding his mind and it has his heart pounding in his throat and his blood pumping so fast that it buzzes in his ears as his breath accelerates until he’s almost hyperventilating. He’s never experienced such a high level of panic ever before; even his panic over losing Noct to the Crystal hadn’t been this great. He’d at least been able to steady his gun to shoot at Ardyn. Now, he wasn’t sure if he’d be able to do even that.
Apparently, one moment, Regina was right next to him, and the next she was gone… and no one could find where she’d gone.
Gladio tells Prompto to go back to the hotel room, saying that they need someone in the room in case Regina comes back on her own and finds her way to their room and while he doesn’t want to leave it to the others and he wants to join them in looking for his little girl, he knows that Gladio’s right. If she comes back to the room all on her own, then there has to be someone there for her… and so he goes to the room and sits on the bed, clasping his hands together to stop their insistent shaking and trying to collect his breathing.
He doesn’t normally pray, has never been the type for it, never had the belief for it, but he finds himself doing just that now; praying for his little girl’s safe return.
But the hours pass, the sun disappears, the night descends upon them, and the panic returns a thousand times worse, his whole body shaking and trembling as his eyes fill with tears at the thought of something horrible having happened. He’s glancing at the clock every few seconds, and he eventually gets up and paces around, biting his nails and his thumb as he tries to calm himself down, telling himself over and over again that he can’t leave the room because he needs to be there in case his little girl comes back and comes looking for him…
But he knows he can’t sit still and just wait…
He releases a cry, yanks on his shoes, grabs his gun and his flashlight and pulls on his jacket, running outside into the darkness.
Prompto’s outside in the darkness for barely a minute or the sky breaks open with the crack of thunder and within moments he’s soaked to the bone, but he’s beyond caring. He runs away from the outpost, trying to think logically about where Regina could possibly be. If he was her, where would he go?
She isn’t at the post; Talcott would’ve found her by now if she was. She isn’t at the racetrack; again, it’s too close and Talcott would’ve found her. But what else is nearby?
Deadeye’s nest is also a ‘no’; it’s the first place Gladio thought to check, and if she was there, surely he’d have been back already.
A sudden, though unlikely, thought hits him then, but he still swiftly bolts off into the direction of the place he’s just thought of;
It strikes him then as well that the cave is littered with daemons like imps and goblins, which were most commonly known for snatching children away, and this makes his blood boil at the very idea that one of those beasts had dared take his little girl away from him.
Prompto arrives in record time, and he’s dimly aware in the back of his mind that he should tell Gladio where he is and, potentially, request backup before the cave blocks his phone’s signal, but Prompto is far too panicked and angered and scared for Regina’s fate that the thought is almost instantly dismissed as he begins his descent into the depths. He can’t waste any more time…
The first time he came here had been particularly traumatizing; because really, why did it have to a goddamn snake trying to kidnap and potentially eat him of all people?! Why not Gladio? He had a lot more meat on his bones than Prompto did (and still does, to be fair…), but noooo, it just had to be the skinniest guy of the bunch, huh?
Thankfully that daemon’s no longer a threat, so Prompto focuses instead on moving through the cave as fast as he dares and can without accidentally tripping over his own feet, his gun already in hand with his finger on the trigger, though he makes sure his hand’s relaxed enough that he doesn’t accidentally pull the trigger on things he shouldn’t. It’s dark, and he’s glad he still had the common sense to grab his flashlight before leaving the hotel, allowing him to actually see where he’s going or he’d have been lost five seconds in.
A sound comes from up ahead and he pauses, listening as he grips his gun in both hands now, seeking to steady himself at least somewhat before he dives in headfirst without looking. Leaping before looking is still not a very well thought out strategy in any situation.
It’s a chittering, almost like a high-pitched laugh, and one that can’t possibly belong to a human, but it’s a sound he remembers very well, and he doesn’t think he’s ever going to forget it; imps. His earlier assumption immediately rushing back to him in full, Prompto’s hands clench tightly around his gun, finger itching against the trigger, as he feels his face contorting into a scowl, lips curling back into a snarl. He tries to hold back, but his anger has taken over, as has another emotion he can’t even name, and he immediately rushes in, gun raised and the moment he catches one of them in the flash of his light he pulls the trigger back.
The bang makes them look up, of course, but the one he’d had his sights on can barely get a sound out before the bullet rips through its skull, killing it in a single well-aimed shot. The other imps try to lunge for him with squeals of fury, but Prompto ducks and dodges and weaves through them, firing shot after shot and wiping them out in record time. Had he not been in such a blind rush, he might’ve been amazed at his own prowess, especially with the amount of imps surrounding him. As it is, though, he barely gives them any attention as he rushes on after they all lay dead at his feet, dissipating into smoke as all daemons do.
“Regina!!” he shouts in between battles, pausing his frantic dash to listen, his breath labored and cold sweat rolling down his forehead, but he has no time to wipe it away. His voice is cracking, but he knows that he needs to shout, even if it’s only to fill the deathly silence surrounding him when there aren’t imps or goblins around to screech at him. “Princess! If you’re here, please!! Answer me!!”
It seems to take so much longer than it had years ago to get through to the very end, but by the time he gets there, he’s breathing heavily and his vision is blurred with tears as he tries to calm himself down, but it’s not working…
“Please…!” he hears himself choking out through a clogged throat. “Please, sweetie… please be alright…!”
There’s a sound then; one that sounds like the laughing from before, but this time it sounds more… angry? Yeah, that sounds about right… but why angry?
He starts for the sound – when his foot almost slips out from under him and he barely manages to suppress a yelp as he stumbles to try and stay upright. Once he’s upright, he looks down and shines his light on the ground, trying to see if he accidentally stepped in a puddle he’d missed, but he can’t find anything of the like… except a streak of red…
Frowning, Prompto follows the streak for a moment, and finds a trail… and in the middle of the trail there is a torn scrap of dark gray fabric…
His blood freezes for a brief moment, realization dawning on him with recognition following shortly after… but then it boils and a rage unlike any other begins to boil under his skin, and then he’s moving before he’s even aware of it. He slams a new cartridge in his gun, and as he dashes around the corner and spots the imps and goblins, crowding around a hole he remembers passing through long ago while exploring, only to find some massive locked door behind it, screeching as they try to fit through properly with their weapons…
But Prompto doesn’t give them the chance.
His gun fires once, twice, thrice, and three imps are dead. Three more shots before they can even realize what is happening, and this time three goblins bite the dust. The remainder barely even has the chance to do anything as Prompto dispatches the last imps and the single lone goblin remaining, never once slowing down before he falls back and literally slides himself through the hole all the way to the other side.
And there she is…
“REGINA!!” Prompto screams, scrabbling across the floor toward the girl huddling up before the massive door, pushing his gun back into its holster as he drops down beside the girl.
She’s gasping, wheezing, pale, and her small hands are firmly pressed against her stomach, dyed as red as the ground beneath her. Her small body’s shaking, her lips and eyelids are trembling, and sweat is glistening over every inch of visible skin that isn’t dyed red. Panic hits him hard then, and for a moment, Prompto wants to scream in a combination of horror and anger, but his own rational side is shoving both of those aside to focus solely on the present; his little girl needs help and she needs it now!
He almost rips his jacket off, followed by his shirt, which he then tears to pieces along the seams, swiftly tying knots in the fabric, and then he’s scooting over and pushing the fabric against the girl’s stomach and she whimpers and then wails from the pain, trying to curl up, as tears shine in her eyes. He shushes her, and gently moves her hands and then her so he can swiftly secure his torn shirt around her stomach, covering the wound with the makeshift bandage and tying it firmly to hopefully stop the bleeding.
“It’s okay, sweetie…” he hushes her softly, taking her small hand and kissing the small, blood-stained knuckles, uncaring if it transfers to his own mouth. “Daddy’s here now… everything’s going to be okay… I promise… it’s okay… it’s okay… everything’s okay…”
He chants the words like a mantra, to his little girl, but also to himself, breathing only slightly easier in knowing that he’s found her and that’s right here with him, but only slightly because he’s not in the clear yet and he still has to get her out of there! He can’t tell how bad the wound is, but he doesn’t want to know now; he just knows that he has to get her back to safety and to have the wound treated.
“…it… it h-hurts… Da…ddy…”
“I know, sweetie, ssshh… it’ll be fine… we’re going home now…it’ll be fine…”
After pulling his jacket on, but leaving it open for now, he gently picks her up, then pulls her against him firmly as he zips up his jacket around her, so that he can hold her close with one hand, and still potentially shoot things getting in his way if necessary. Only when he’s sure that he’s got her up against him does he begin to rush off.
He’s never moved this fast before, has never run this far or long before, but he finds he can’t stop, as he runs on and on, one arm wrapped around Regina’s badly shaking form firmly as he takes sharp intakes of air to supply his lungs with oxygen. His legs are screaming at him for reprieve, but he doesn’t give a crap and forces himself to keep moving regardless of his own exhaustion. Even when he exits the cave he never stops running and runs as fast as he can toward the lights of the outpost, as he breathlessly repeats over and over and over the words “It’s okay… it’s okay… it’s okay…”
When he arrives, Gladio sees him coming first and he starts to berate him on leaving the hotel without telling anyone that he had done so, until he spots Regina and his annoyance makes way for shock and horror. She’s really pale now, almost as white as a sheet, her shivering’s slowed down to where you can barely see her moving, her breathing’s slowed to the point where he can barely feel her breaths against his chest, and she’s gone completely slack in his grip. She’s slipping and they both know it…
Prompto tries to get words out, tries to say something—anything—to explain what happened and how things turned out as they did, but his voice cracks and all he manages is a broken sob of; “Please…”
He can barely walk, can barely breathe, can barely see; his legs are screaming at him for reprieve, his lungs are burning from lack of oxygen and his eyes are clouded with tears but he can’t give in to his emotions just yet… not until Regina is safe… not until he knows she’s going to be fine…
She’s taken from his grasp, to treat her, he knows, but he can’t let her go; he needs to be there for her! He can’t leave her… not when she needs him the most!
They eventually let him stay, let him hold her hand as they hook her up to oxygen and carefully attach her to an IV because she’s lost so much blood and oh god she’s so pale… Prompto is panicking and he knows he shouldn’t be there because he’ll just stress everyone out but he can’t leave her… he can’t!!
He doesn’t look to the wound, but he knows it has to be bad; he hears the doctors gasping in alarm and hears their hushed whispers about it being so horrible but he doesn’t listen… he merely holds her hand in both of his own and holds it to his forehead as he sits there, breathing unsteadily as he prays to whatever deities are watching over them… prays for them to protect his little girl… to make sure she’ll make it through this…
It’s all he can do right now…
He can’t sleep… the hours tick by, but he can’t sleep… even though she’s okay now… her wounds are stitched up, she’s got color back to her skin, and she’s breathing better… but he can’t sleep… he just can’t… he needs to be there when she wakes up… needs to know she’s okay… he has to…
He blinks, his eyelids feel heavy, he looks up…
When did he get here?
“You need to rest; it won’t do her any good if you exhaust yourself to the brink of collapse.”
“…I can’t…” he admits, turning back to his daughter. “…I can’t… I can’t leave her… she’s—”
“I did not say you should ‘leave’ her,” Ignis interrupts, and he walks around the bed, using his fingertips along the foot to help him determine where he can walk. He steps up to the other side of the bed, reaches out, and then he, gently, tugs Regina a little more to the edge of the large bed. It’s much too big for her alone, but it’s the only size in medical. “I merely advised you to get some rest.”
Prompto blinks once, and his eyelids feel even heavier, he nods, and then, wearily, he gets onto the bed, moving as close to the small girl as he can, curling his arms around her small frame as he holds her close without disrupting any of the equipment.
He shuts his eyes then, holding his daughter close to him still, and he falls into an uneasy sleep…
When he wakes again, finally, Prompto’s first thought is that he might have just dreamt the whole thing up, and that everything was just fine, and would be fine… but once his brain caught up again and his weary eyes regarded the still form of his daughter next to him, still with an oxygen mask and still with an IV attached to her arm, he bites back a cry of despair. He lays back down and gently rests a hand on her chest (avoiding the large bandages secured around her stomach meant to prevent infection, and he rests his forehead to her head, struggling to breathe properly.
He forces himself to take deep, steady breaths, continuously reassuring himself that things were okay and that they would be okay soon; she was healing, and it wouldn’t be long until she was back on her feet again, bouncing around and laughing without a care in the world.
Prompto keeps telling himself this… it’s the only thing that keeps him grounded now.
Prompto winces at the voice, almost hesitant to respond, but he knows he has to, so he slowly sits up and turns to his friend. He’s in for it now, he’s sure of it… he really should’ve called Gladio he was going out there to look for her; he knows! …and yet rationale had had abandoned him and he’d run off without thinking twice.
“H-hey, Gladio…” he manages to get out, bracing himself already for the earful he’s probably about to get…
But no such thing happens.
“How is she?” Gladio asks as he moves over and takes a chair at the bed’s far end.
Of course Prompto’s confused about the lack of… well, shouting, really, because Gladio was known to be very loud when he was angry or upset, and yet he’s not saying anything about the stunt Prompto had pulled. It must show on his face, because Gladio chuckles softly, but it’s a mirthless chuckle.
“Don’t worry; I’ll get to that once the little one’s back on her feet. I know what that’s like…”
‘That’ as in worrying and panicking about another’s well-being, Prompto realizes, and he breathes a little easier, relaxing on the bed slightly.
“So… what happened?”
And Prompto explains, about him feeling helpless, about feeling like he needed to do something, about actually running off and heading for Fociaugh Hollow, about his run-in with the daemons, about how and where he found Regina, about the state she was in…
There are times where he can barely get the words out, but he forces himself to push on, to explain and to hopefully alleviate some of his own panic and worry so that, he hopes, he can sleep a little better. He’s glad for Gladio being there; he can relate and he reassures Prompto that, even if it was irresponsible, he did the right thing. Because if he hadn’t gone when he had, they might’ve actually lost her…
It’s a chilling thought… but it eases his mind and heart at the same time…
Because he did run off… he did enter Fociaugh Hollow… he did hunt down the daemons that took his little girl…
But most importantly; he did save his daughter…
A few days pass, with Regina gradually regaining her strength again, but Prompto still can’t bear to leave her, so he stays by her side almost continuously, leaving only when he needs to use the bathroom, and even then he makes sure to be back as soon as possible. He doesn’t want her to wake up and to be all alone, or around people she doesn’t know, and so he stays by her side…
Prompto groans as something prods at his cheek insistently, not wanting to wake up… his eyes feel heavy and he can barely muster up enough energy to even think… but when there’s another prod, followed by another call, his eyes blink open slowly and he feels more than hears himself humming…
And then his eyes meet a pair of tired blue orbs.
“…! Regina!” he gasps out and immediately reaches out to hold her (carefully! She still has medical equipment secure to her…). And then he hisses as his muscles protest against the sudden swift motion that they’ve become unused to because of how long he’s been lying in bed. “Argh…!”
“…Da-Daddy…!” the small girl calls out, trying to reach for him, but wincing as she tried to move the arm with the IV in it.
“I’m okay, sweetie!” Prompto quickly assures her, placing her arm back on the bed, holding her hand and gently rubbing his thumb over it. “I’m okay, everything’s fine,” he promises with a warm smile, trying so very hard not to cry. “How are you?”
“…owie,” the small girl admits, and Prompto chokes out a small laugh.
“Oh no… where, sweetie?”
“My tummy…” Regina says, putting her hand over the bandages covering her stomach.
“Aaaww, my poor baby,” Prompto says softly, before he moves in and gently kisses the area she indicated. “It’ll be okay, sweetie,” he promises, gently moving her long bangs out of her eyes. “Everything will be okay…”
“I promise, princess.”
And as she smiles and moves closer (as best as she can) to cuddle, Prompto has no desire to deny her as he wraps his arms firmly around her. And when she shuts her eyes with a small smile, Prompto finally smiles again for the first time in days and he breathes easier as a weight lifts from his shoulders.
It’ll be okay… everything’s going to be fine…
He’s never had a parental figure in his life who would get protective over him, doesn’t have a reference from which he’s learned it’s important for a parent to protect their child… but it seems some things just come… naturally.
And he wouldn’t have it any other way…