Prompt Post

Mar. 1st, 2017 05:21 am
[personal profile] ffxv_kinkmod posting in [community profile] ffxv_kinkmeme
 Welcome to Round Two of the FFXV Kink Meme!

CLOSED
 for prompts | OPEN for fills

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Prompt, write, draw, comment, and most importantly have fun!

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UPDATE 3/2/2017: Per the Rules thread: Do not hijack prompts. I
f someone posts a prompt for one pairing, don't comment to say "I want to see this for [other kink]" - post your own prompt for the other kink). To that end, if you are unclear on a prompter's kinks/DNWs, please feel free to ask about them. If you ask about kinks/DNWs or to clarify a prompt, you are in no way obligated to fill it.

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ROUND TWO IS NOW CLOSED FOR PROMPTS!

Go ahead and keep on filling away, we will open up round three for prompts at 0000 EST, Saturday April 22, 2017.


From: (Anonymous)
Noctis Lucis Caelum opens his fridge, dislodging several crayon drawings, and squints at the tupperware containers within. Mold, mold, something that has moved past the mold threshold and into the realm of reanimation, casserole that's probably fermenting... Oh. And an apple. He closes the fridge and pins up the fallen pictures. He'll have to run out during his break and grab something at a food cart, then.

Today is a government holiday, which means most of the kids who frequent Little Stars will be at home. Little Stars advertises heavily to government agencies and military service-members, so Noct has grown used to seeing the school empty out now and then. Still, there are always a few whose parents have to work, so that means Noct gets to shake up the lesson plan to something less structured and get extra pay at the same time.

He opens the plastic lid of the cookies he's bringing to work, and sneaks one for breakfast.

There aren't any camera crews outside today--another bonus, since everyone is too busy congregating at the Citadel--and Noct takes a moment to breathe in the momentary freedom. The press learned ages ago that the son of President Regis Caelum is the worst cure for a slow news day, with his predictable routine, lack of anything resembling a night life, and a degree in Education, but Astrals know they try. He wonders if his father should consider not running for a second term, but suspects that won't go over well. Regis Lucis Caelum has plans, and a few paparazzi aren't going to distract him.

Noct arrives at Little Stars early. Luna, the owner of the school and the one in charge of the one-to-two year olds, is opening up when he gets there, and raises her brows at the tray of cookies.

"So long as you vacuum the inevitable mess, dear Noctis," she says, in lieu of greeting. Noct makes a face. He and Luna went to college together, and it was Luna's idea for Noct to start working at Little Stars in the first place, so he should have known she'd be a stickler for the rules. Luna's an amazing friend--the best friend he's ever had--but she's no one to be crossed. Noct resigns himself to an afternoon of cleanup duty and follows her into the building.

Predictably, Ignis Scientia arrives late.

Not, of course, that Noct pays attention to when Ignis arrives. Not that he knows the sound of Ignis' faulty car engine, or his shoes on the reception room tile, or the soft, low cadence of his voice. Not that he perks up like a dejected pet every time Ignis walks into the room.

Noctis knows he has a weakness for worried, bookish types. He also knows that he's at work, and Luna will kill him if he starts making eyes at one of the parents, so he restrains himself.

Mostly.

He can't help the smile, though. But a smile isn't flirting, is it? It's just being friendly.

"It's a half day at the office," Ignis says to his sons, crouching down on his heels. "How about a movie this afternoon?"

Gladio grins. "Swords?!" he asks. "The Swords movie?"

Astrals, not the Swords film, Noct thinks. What movie executive thought making a franchise about talking weapons would be a good idea? The number of fights Noct has to break up between imaginary Glaives and Crownsguard alone...

Ignis shrugs. "Maybe. Be good today, and we'll go. No fighting." He kisses them on the cheek and waves them off towards the bean bags Noct has placed around the play tables. He gives Noct a little wave, and Noct half lifts his hand, waggling his fingers.

Gods, he has it bad.


---


No fighting may have been too tall of an order for Gladiolus, who gets into two scrambles with one of the older boys within half an hour, pushes little Cindy into her favorite toy car track, and now has to sit in a corner for ten minutes and think about why calling Prompto a stupid little baby is against the rules.

Prompto, meanwhile, can't keep still. The boy is practically a livewire today, hyped up by sugar cookies and the promise of a movie day with dad, and he needs to go to the Quiet Room for a nap by eleven. Noct hands him a chocobo plush from the toy cubbies, and lets him talk his ear off about his favorite character from Swords' prequel, Shields.

Noct knows he isn't supposed to have favorites, but he likes Prompto and Gladio. Prompto's clever for his age and painfully shy, and the moment he finds out you're willing to listen to him, he turns into a mile-a-minute chatterbox. Gladio seems like a troublemaker, but he's always quick to defend his brother, and Noct can tell that a lot of Gladio's frustration stems from a desire to be somewhere quiet. He falls asleep in the timeout chair, and Noct lets him play with crayons and sketch paper for the rest of the day.

That's a little concerning, though. Noct doesn't know if he should mention it to Ignis, but Gladio's drawings have been... changing... over the past six months.

They started fairly typically--Scrawling drawings of his family: Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio, standing in front of their apartment. But then Noct started noticing a fourth figure jammed into the corner in every odd portrait--a white-haired scribble of a person in a triangle dress. A mother? He asked once, and Gladio only shrugged.

Lately, Gladio would draw the white-haired figure, stare at it, and then scribble over the drawing with a black crayon. Noct figures this is probably something he should bring up to Mr. Scientia, just in case. He finds one of those drawings today, and discreetly folds it up in his back pocket.

When Ignis arrives that afternoon, he shows up after all the other parents have gone. Noct is sitting with Prompto and Gladio, teaching them a clapping game, when he sees the familiar crisp, faded suit appear around the corner.

"Mr. Scientia," he says.

"Dad!" screams Prompto, hurling himself at Ignis' legs. Ignis rocks back and leans down to pick Prompto up. "Movie? We're doing a movie? I was good!"

"Was Gladio good?" Ignis asks. Gladio looks down, suddenly quiet. "Ah."

"Don't worry," Noct whispers to Gladio. "I'll talk to him." Gladio gives him the full wobbly-lipped whimper of four-year-old despair, and Noct gets up. "Gladio and I had a long talk today, didn't we, Gladio?"

Gladio nods. Ignis raises an eyebrow and his lips thin in amusement, and Noct tamps down the resulting warmth in his chest.

"And Gladio promised to uphold the rule of the Shield, right?" Noct asks. "Which is?"

"Protect the innocent..." Gladio says. "Stand for justice."

Prompto wriggles in Ignis' arms. "Fight the man!" he shouts. Ignis gives Noct an arch look.

"I don't remember that being in the Shields movie," he says. Noct can feel his ears go pink.

"Yeah, well, maybe I added something. But Gladio's taken an oath now. He's an honorary Shield. So that means he's a protector now, right?"

Gladio's smile is small, but firm. "Yeah."

"So the movie's still on?" Noct asks. Ignis laughs, soft and light, and holds out a hand to Gladio. Gladio runs to him and takes it, grinning wide at last.

"Mr. Noct should come, too," says the boy. Noct freezes. Prompto squeals directly into his father's ear and pounds a fist on his shoulder.

"Yeah!" he shouts. "Mr. Noct! You need to see Swords with us! Dad, make him come!"

Noct stammers. "I... I don't think I can--"

"He's probably very busy--" Ignis says.

"He's a fan, Dad," Gladio pleads. "He knew the oath. Please? Please please please--"

"Please please please please please--" Prompto choruses.

Ignis and Noctis stare at each other for a long moment.

"I suppose," Ignis says, over the incessant chanting of his sons, "if you aren't terribly busy--"

"I'm about to go off shift anyways--"

"PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE--"

"Oh, what the heck," Noct says, watching his professional relationship with Luna go up in flames. "Why not?"
From: (Anonymous)
Yes, Noct! You go get that sweet daddy on a date! OP here is rooting for you! (and so is the peanut gallery that is Prompto and Gladio. Oh man, I can't believe how well you write them as kids.)
From: (Anonymous)
A!A here

Aaaaa thank you! I'm stoked you like this. This is such a fun prompt!
From: (Anonymous)
I am seriously living for this, Author Anon!
From: (Anonymous)
The movie is hardly as awkward as Ignis expects it to be. Noctis--or Noct, as he insists on being called--shows up a few minutes after they do and ducks under the ropes of the ticket line to join them. Gladio gasps, and the man presses a finger to his lips and winks.

He's still wearing his Little Stars Nursery polo, which is dark blue with patchwork stars on the shoulders, but he's also wearing a black jacket with a skull and crossbones motif around the collar. He leans in so Prompto can get a good look at it, and Ignis can smell the vanilla and rosewood scent of the nursery. It's probably ground into the young man's skin by now. Noct smiles at Ignis when he withdraws, and his long eyelashes brush his cheeks as he blinks.

They talk about the boys, because that's the safest subject. Noct has a whole slew of in-jokes with Gladio and Prompto, and the boys look at him with something bordering on hero worship. Gladio even lets the young man carry him so he can look over the ticket counter, which is a breakthrough in and of itself. And when Prompto insists that he hasn't had anything sugary to eat at school and just wants one bag of gummy worms, Ignis glances at Noct, who mouths, sugar cookie and ends the argument then and there.

The actual movie is atrocious. Ignis catches Noct wincing throughout, and doesn't realize until halfway through, when Noct turns his way, that he's spent more time staring at the nursery school teacher than at the screen. Noct's smile is knifelike in the dark of the theater, and Ignis' chest feels strangely tight. He looks away and covers Prompto's eyes as one of the lady swords (how does that even work in this universe?) starts dancing suggestively.

Gladio is in a post-movie daze on Noct's shoulder when they leave the theater, and Noct helps Ignis strap the boys into their car seats.

"Thank you for joining us," Ignis says, giving Noct an apologetic smile from the other side of the car. "I know you just wanted to wind down from work."

"Nah, it's fine," says Noct. "Really."

Silence stretches out between them. Gladio wriggles in his car seat and makes the huffing whine that Ignis interprets as a temper tantrum in the making.

"I guess I'd better--" Noct starts.

"I have tea at the apartment." Ignis says at the same time, against his better judgment. The younger man looks at him oddly, his cheeks flushing pink in the late-afternoon light.

"I don't want to intrude," says Noct. He's wary, both hands on the roof of the car, giving Ignis a way out. Ignis plunges forward anyway. It's been months since he's had a conversation with an adult outside of work.

"Please," he says. "It's no trouble."

Noct gives him that half smile again, and pushes away from the car. "Alright. I'll follow you there."

Ignis gets in the car and buckles his seatbelt with shaking fingers.

"Is Mr. Noct gonna stay the night?" Prompto asks, from his seat next to Gladio. Ignis drops his keys and bites back a curse, scrambling under the seat for them.

"No, honey," he says. "He's just staying for tea, then he's going home."

Prompto sighs. "No fun," he says, and slumps down, legs kicking at the chair beneath him. "I like him. He makes me laugh."

"I like him, too, Prompto," Ignis says, and finds, to his shock, that he's telling the truth.


---


Gladio starts kicking up a fuss halfway through the car ride, with the usual complaint that he's too big for a carseat now, regardless of what Ignis or road safety laws say to the contrary. A stern count to three quiets him, but he's clearly unhappy--Ignis is sure that movie-theater popcorn and soda do not a healthy dinner make, so he'll have to throw something together quick if he doesn't want Gladio to spiral into a sulk again.

When Gladio sees Noct pull into the driveway, his demeanor changes immediately. Ignis is almost insulted. Who keeps you fed and clothed, he wants to ask. Him or me?

He enlists Noct's help in ferrying the boys to the apartment, and immediately starts apologizing for the mess.

"Don't worry about it," Noct says. "I saw worse in college." He's prevented from elaborating as Prompto and Gladio insist on showing him their room, and he gives Ignis a shrug as he's imperiously towed down the hall. Ignis laughs at the sight of his hunched shoulders disappearing out of view, and heads into the kitchen.

Noct returns carrying one of Gladio's favorite shield toys, nodding along as the boy goes on about what makes this shield different than every other mass-produced toy just like it on the market. Eventually, he gives the shield back to the boy and watches Gladio and Prompto make themselves comfortable in the living room, where they drag out a box of toys and start fighting over who gets to play with what.

"They go nonstop, huh?" he says, leaning on the kitchen counter next to Ignis, who is setting up dinner for the boys. "You need help?"

"I wouldn't want you to--" Ignis demurs, but Noct gives him a knowing look and takes over at the cutting board.

"It'll go faster," he says. Ignis blinks at him, then attends to the mess of veggies and meat he has frying on the stove. "Carrots, though? Gross."

Ignis laughs. "Don't tell Prompto you feel that way. If he had the chance, he'd eat nothing but rice and chicken."

"I knew he was a sensible kid."

Noct crowds Ignis in the small kitchen, but not uncomfortably so. They steal a small conversation about their respective times at college, Ignis' love for coffee, Noct's tendency to sleep in until noon on his days off. Noct has a dry, sarcastic sense of humor, and when Ignis succeeds in making him laugh for a change, it comes out low and almost rasping.

He ends up staying for dinner. Afterwards, Gladio drags him to the rocking chair, where he is volunteered into reading one of Gladio's favorite books. Ignis sits on the couch opposite them and listens to Prompto's elaborate account of the adventures his toys have gotten up to in his absence. Noct's reading voice is low and musical, drifting over Prompto's excitable babbling, and Gladio is asleep in his arms within fifteen minutes.

"He's a good kid," he says, later, after Ignis has ushered the boys through their bath and wrestled them into their pajamas. Gladio and Prompto wanted to stay up and talk to Noct, but Gladio was swaying on his feet, and his brother fell asleep as soon as he hit the bed. Ignis takes the chance to finally--finally--make Noct the cup of tea he offered in the first place.

"That's kind of you," Ignis says, "but I know Gladio's been causing trouble at school."

Noct bites his lip. "I don't know. I think it's too much for him, sometimes. Making friends can be hard when they come and go as often as they do at Little Stars. I'm a military brat, so I kind of know what it's like."

Ignis gives him an inquiring look, and he catches his meaning. "Army. We went all over. I kind of, uh, ran away a lot." He shrugs. "Dad was always so busy. I moved out when I was sixteen, started taking college classes early... That's why I'm working here at twenty."

"Good lord, you're a child," Ignis says, without thinking. Noct snorts.

"How old are you, grandpa? Twenty-three? Twenty-four?"

Ignis laughs. "Twenty-five, thank you. I apologize if that was rude--I just, I thought you were at least--"

"Yeah, I get that a lot." He takes a sip of his drink and looks about the small apartment as though it isn't the wretched mess that Ignis knows it to be, and there's something almost wistful in his eyes.

"This is nice," he says, at last. "We should do this again."

"Yes," Ignis agrees, smiling helplessly into his mug of tea. "Yes, I believe we should."


---

AN: Wowwww this is getting so domestic already, hahaha.
From: (Anonymous)
You say that like it's a bad thing, Author Anon! But I promise you, it isn't a bad thing at alllllllll. You have made me so happy.
From: (Anonymous)
Noct tells Ignis the truth that Saturday.

The two of them are wading in the shallow end of the public swimming pool, watching the boys bob about by the steps. Prompto is decked out in yellow shoulder floats and a chocobo-themed inner tube, and Gladio stubbornly clings to a kick-board as he paddles from one end of the pool to another. He's taken his new oath as an honorary Shield seriously: Not only is he trying to hold back his temper at school, but he's started to spend more time outside on the jungle gym, building up his justice defending muscles. Noct sees no harm in it, and Ignis is considering enrolling him in a martial arts course, just to see if this newfound discipline sticks.

Right now, though, all he can do is stare at the sunburned man at his side. Noct ducks his head and rubs the back of his neck, obviously uncomfortable by the heat of Ignis' gaze, but he's not getting away from it that easily.

"Caelum?" Ignis asks. "Like Regis Caelum? The President of Lucis?"

"Good old Dad," Noct says, a bitter edge to his voice. "You probably saw me at the inauguration. I was the guy everyone said looked half asleep, remember?"

Ignis tries, but he has to admit that he stopped paying too much attention to the news when parenting became a one-man operation. "Do you spend much time at the Citadel?" he asks.

"Not really. I go to dinners, sometimes, and there are photo-shoots every now and then. Prompto! Come back this way, please."

Prompto makes a Kweh! noise--He's a chocobo today--and furiously paddles a few feet closer. Noct sinks down in the water until he's leaning on the edge of the pool by his arms.

"I just wanted you to know," he says. "I mean, you have kids, and sometimes I do get a stray paparazzi or two. If it's too weird..."

"No," Ignis says, too quickly. "It's a surprise, I'll grant you, but I don't see it being a problem. Besides, the boys are starting to get used to you being around."

The smile Noct gives him is shaky enough that Ignis wonders how many times he's had this conversation before. How often have potential friendships been lost in his father's shadow? He remembers the conversation they had about Gladio's difficulty making friends, and something clicks in Ignis' mind. Impulsively, he places a hand on Noct's bare shoulder.

"This won't change anything," he says.

"Dad! Dad!" Gladio shouts. "Watch how long I can hold my breath!"

Ignis mutters a curse and starts to trudge after his daredevil of a son, and can hear the low peal of Noct's laughter behind him.

Things do change, but they have little to do with Noct's famous father. Noct becomes a regular fixture at Ignis' apartment, roughhousing with the boys, helping Ignis fix dinner, reluctantly being shoehorned into cleanup duty. He gives Prompto an instant camera, and the apartment is soon littered with the abstract art of a three year old who doesn't know how all the buttons work yet. Gladio decides that Noct is his new reading buddy, and all but orders him to the rocking chair or to his bedside in the evenings. They get through an entire book on pirates before Noct brings in a series about a teenage witch that takes over both Prompto and Gladio's lives for the next two weeks.

Noct starts bringing over groceries, too, since Ignis is always treating him to dinner. Prompto and Gladio accompany Noct on one such grocery run, and when they come back much later than expected, Prompto is squeezing a black chocobo toy in both arms, and Gladio has a sci-fi laser gun that makes an alarming amount of noise.

"Sorry," Noct says, when Ignis places a hand on his hip and looks at both toys in turn. "There was a claw machine."

They do laundry together, and when Noct admits sheepishly that he's usually in his work polo because it's the cleanest thing he has, Ignis insists that Noct bring a load from his own apartment now and then. He suspects that Noct's place--based on his tendency to leave dishes where they lie and his reluctance to clean up clutter--is messier than Noct lets on. A product of his leaving home so early, perhaps, but Ignis knows better than to pry. He doesn't want to disrupt what they have.

The fact that they might have something weighs on his mind for some time.

Then one night, when the boys are in bed, Noct takes out a piece of paper.

"I'm sorry if this is crossing a line," he says, and Ignis stiffens. "Gladio's been doing better in school--You know that--but something's been bothering me." He unfolds the paper and hands it to Ignis, who looks down at the crayon drawing of his family... and a large black smudge in the corner. Whoever drew this pressed so hard on the paper that a piece of it tore, and he can see chunks of wax crayon sticking to the mess.

"That used to be a woman," Noct says. He lifts both hands. "I'm not going to pry. I won't ask any questions. Honestly, Luna should be doing this, not me. But I thought you'd want to know."

Ignis sighs. "A woman, was it?" Noct raises one shoulder and shifts back, as though to give him some space. "It's my ex-wife, Aranea. No, no," he says, as Noct opens his mouth to object. "I'm fine talking about it. She left shortly after Prompto turned one. Her work keeps her busy, and the two of us... well. Sometimes a whirlwind romance can be more of a hurricane in practice."

"She wants to love her children," he continues, and part of him knows that he's still trying to convince himself. "But parenthood isn't for everyone, and when she comes to visit... It hurts her to see how far apart she and the boys are growing. So she keeps her distance. It hit Gladio the hardest, I believe. He cries for days when she has to go."

He knows he's saying too much. He should stop--He's likely scaring Noctis off, when the poor man only wants to make sure he knows that something is troubling his son. He makes to apologize, but Noct places a hand on his arm before he can get the words out.

"Hey," he says. "It's okay."

"It isn't," says Ignis. "But I appreciate the gesture."

The pressure on his arm a tentative touch, light enough that Noct can pull away at any moment. Ignis doesn't want him to.

"Ignis." Noct's voice is soft, almost a whisper. "I just... I know this is my first year teaching, so maybe it doesn't mean much, but Gladio and Prompto are great kids, the best in my class, and I... It's because you're also. Also great. Wait, no, I mean you're--"

"I get the idea," Ignis says, and leans down to kiss the stumbling words from his tongue. Noct lets out a small, surprised sound in the back of his throat and kisses him back.

And just like that, everything changes again.

They make out like teenagers, sprawled over the couch, desperately trying to keep their gasping breaths quiet in the echoing apartment. Ignis grinds down between Noct's legs as he yanks at the collar of his shirt, sucking at the skin below his neck. After an eternity of fervent kissing and the heat of their bodies rutting against each other, all it takes is Ignis' slender fingers slipping into Noct's briefs and around his length for the younger man to come. Then Ignis is kissing him again, open-mouthed and wanting, wanting, so close to his own release that he can barely breathe. Noct guides him through it, and they roll onto their sides on the couch, Ignis holding Noct's head to his shoulder. He runs his fingers through Noct's dark hair, and his sigh is shivery and far more vulnerable than he cares to show.

"Whirlwind?" Noct asks, in a breathless voice. Ignis laughs and shakes his head.

"Maybe," he admits. "But let's see where it goes."
From: (Anonymous)
THIS IS AMAZING!!!!!!! I'm addicted to this. Oh goodness it's wonderful and amazing and omg!!!
From: (Anonymous)
OP here. I literally cried a bit from joy. This is perfect. <3
From: (Anonymous)
When Noct comes in on Monday morning with Prompto and Gladio in tow, Luna gives him a look that could strike down a god. It quickly turns into a cheerful smile when she sees the boys staring, and she shakes hands with each of them in turn, asking them how their weekend was.

"It's great!" Gladio says, made chipper by the sudden change in his usual schedule. "Mr. Noct's been having sleepovers with Dad all weekend, and he's really good at reading, and he taught me how to count to thirty, and..."

Luna looks up over Gladio's head and quirks one eyebrow. Noct coughs into his hand. Prompto, asleep on his shoulder, makes a wet smacking sound with his lips and yanks on Noct's hair.

"Well," Luna says, as the four of them enter the school. "I'm very glad that you are learning so much. I'm learning a lot, too, you know." She fixes Noct with a glare like a laser. "I learn something new every day."

"Well!" Noct says. "That's great! We should go. You boys want to play with the stuffed animals before everyone else gets here?"

Gladio nods and takes his hand, and Noct beats a fast retreat from Luna's steadily growing disapproval.

He tries to avoid Luna as long as possible, but she corners him when Loqi, the receptionist and all-around gopher, walks the kids to lunch. Luna stands in front of Noct's desk and slowly braces herself on her hands, leaning over him.

"You know," he says, "You'd make one hell of a mobster."

"Noctis!" she cries. "A parent? How could you?"

"It's not against policy..." Noct says, but his voice comes out as a whine.

"Because I expect you to have common sense!" Luna sighs. "Noctis, I just... I hope you know what you're doing. I'm speaking as a friend. When you were in college--"

Noct stops her there. "I know what I did in college," he says. "That was me. I lived it. This isn't just me throwing myself at the first guy to look at me sideways, Luna. This is... Ignis. He's different."

"Uh huh."

"I'm honest," Noct says. "He's... Astrals, Luna, I think he's the--"

"Don't say it," Luna orders him. "Give it a few months, then tell me he's the one. You jump into things so fast, dearheart. It worries me."

Noct smiles up at her. For all that Luna can be hard as nails at times, she's still the closest thing he'll ever have to a sister.

"Love you, too," he says. She scoffs at him and walks off, leaving Noct to open the truly amazing lunch that Ignis has packed for him.

Knowing Luna has never steered him wrong, he gives it a few months. Then he tells her.


---


The first time Prompto and Gladio call Noctis papa, Ignis and Noct are standing at the Chocobo Post at the west end of the city, trying to figure out how the buckle on Prompto's saddle is supposed to work.

"I think you have the Floffles twisted," Noct says. Ignis gives him a stern look over the rim of his glasses.

"I'm fairly certain that's called a hobble strap."

Noct shakes his head. "No, definitely a Floffle. Right, Prom?" Prompto nods from atop his adolescent chocobo, fingers brushing through its fine feathers. "Watch out, Ignis, you're going to disrupt the Snorfle Fibulator."

"The stirrup," Ignis says, more than a little testily.

"Gladio, is that a stirrup?" Noct asks.

Gladio, who has already buckled himself onto the saddle of his bird, grins toothily. "Snorfle Fibulator," he says. Ignis throws his hands in the air.

"I'm surrounded by traitors," he cries, and Prompto giggles. "Beset on all sides."

Gladio ruffles the crest of his chocobo, and it lets out a soft kweh! and flaps its stunted wings. "Don't worry, Dad," he says. "Papa's just funning."

"Yeah," says Prompto. He turns to Noct. "Papa, watch me go, okay?" He pats his chocobo on the side and it takes off at a leisurely trot along the track, Gladio's bird following not far behind.

The two men stand in shock for a moment, watching them go.

"Did they just--" Noct looks at Ignis, who is trying very hard to hide a smile. He wraps an arm around Noct's waist and draws him in to his side, and kisses him chastely on the temple.

"I do believe they conspired on that one," he says. "I'm rather proud."


---


Prompto's birthday comes around, and Noct and Ignis work overnight to turn the house into a chocobo-themed nightmare of ribbons, banners, and manically grinning cartoon characters. Gladio takes one look at the living room and groans, but Prompto starts jumping up and down and squeaking, holding his black chocobo doll so tight it looks fit to burst.

"Happy birthday, little dude," Noct says, and hands Prompto a poorly-wrapped bundle. Prompto rips into it like a wild thing, and screams at the sight of a bright yellow hoodie with ruffles on the arms and hood to turn the wearer into what could be misconstrued to be a chocobo, if you squinted and thought about it hard enough.

"I love you," Prompto says, and Ignis has to turn aside in order to laugh, because Noct's eyes are threatening to spill over as he pulls the boy into a tight embrace.

"And now we're the same age!" Prompto yells at Gladio, who grins.

"Yeah, for a month."

"I'm four!" Prompto shouts, to no one in particular. He leaps out of Noct's hold and runs to Ignis. "I'm four! I can't wait for Mom to call so I can tell her I'm four!"

Ignis smiles and tells him that he can't wait, either, but Noct sees that Gladio's face has fallen into a scowl, and the boy's hands are stuffed in his pockets. Noct turns to him and raises a hand.

"How are you feeling, Gladio?" he asks. It's a question he asks all the students in his class at the start of the day, and Gladio responds out of habit. He tugs a hand free and makes a thumbs-down sign. "What'll make you feel more like this or this?" Noct asks, giving the "okay" sign and a thumbs up. "Do you need quiet time?"

Gladio shrugs. "Draw, maybe?"

"Okay. We can draw. Let's do it together." He suggests the idea to Prompto, who is over the moon about anything at the moment, and Ignis takes one look at Gladio and gives Noct a grateful smile. Noct brushes it off and sets the paper and crayons out on the coffee table. When he sits down, Gladio climbs into his lap, and Noct and Ignis share another look of concern. Gladio is independent to a fault--that he's seeking out comfort is a troubling sign. Noct stays with him all day, and when Aranea does call to wish Prompto a happy birthday, Noct takes Gladio out to blow bubbles on the front porch.

Gladio watches the bubbles drift out over the parking lot and snuggles up next to him, amber eyes glowing in the sunset.

"Papa?"

"Yeah?"

"You're staying the night tonight?" he asks. Noct hums and nods, and blows another stream of bubbles. "Can you..." Gladio's breath hitches, and Noct looks down at him in alarm, wrapping an arm around him. "Can you not go back?"

"Go back where?" Noct asks, with a smile.

"To your old place." Fat, heavy tears roll down Gladio's face, and he crawls into Noct's lap. "Don't go back. Stay here."

"I--"

"I don't want you to go," Gladio says, in a voice so small that Noct is fairly sure he can hear his heart breaking. He holds Gladio close and rocks a little on the steps, letting him cry himself out, and finally gathers the strength to speak.

"I'll talk to your dad," he says. "We'll all sit down and have a big talk about it, okay?"

"That's not a yes," Gladio mumbles, his voice thick.

"I know, but we can't decide anything without your dad, right? How do you feel?"

Gladio waves his hand in the air. Okay.

"That's better. Let's go back in."

He carries Gladio through the front door and is instantly beset by a shrieking, laughing Prompto.

"You'll never guess, Papa!" he shouts. Noct gives Ignis an inquisitive look, and sees that the older man is visibly apprehensive and shaken, trying his best to put a good face over the beginnings of panic.

"What is it, Prom?" he asks, warily.

"It's Mom!" Prompto shouts. "Mom's on her way to Insomnia! Mom's coming home!"
From: (Anonymous)
*screaming* IM DYING THIS IS TOO ADDICTIVE I NEED MORE OH MY GOODNESS!!!
From: (Anonymous)
OP here! I don't know who you are nonny but I want to send you a big box of chocolates. You have seriously made my day. I do some fills on here, but I never had anyone fill my request before. And you are doing such an amazing and perfect job... I just love you. <3
From: (Anonymous)
A!A

Thank you, OP! Can you believe this was originally going to be a one-shot mini fill? Haha whoops, the prompt was just too good! <3
From: (Anonymous)
A!A, as someone with a nephew and a job working at schools, I want to tell you that you write kids WONDERFULLY. I can always tell if someone's been around kids (or at least done good research) and lemme tell you, this is great.

Also, Ignis and Noctis' relationship is so heartbreakingly sweet. I love its progression and how they interact. It feels very natural.

Man, OP is luckyyyy!!!!! You are such a talented writer?!!!!!!!! Thank you for sharing with us!!!!!
From: (Anonymous)
It takes two days for the apartment to descend into chaos.

Noct tries not to comment when Ignis places his glasses in the fridge in lieu of the milk, or when he tries to call his phone from his phone at seven in the morning. He discreetly fishes dryer sheets from the washing machine, re-portions plates at dinner, and breaks up a worrying number of fights between the boys. He takes over the bedtime routine after Ignis keeps forgetting to turn the hot water on, and one morning, the morning it all comes to a head, he makes Ignis stop the car so he can drive them to the school.

"I'm perfectly capable of making it to Little Stars on my own, Noctis," Ignis says, and Noct raises his eyebrows to the street sign to their left. It's been ten minutes, and they've barely made it out of the neighborhood. Ignis' cheeks color a mottled red, and they drive the rest of the way in silence.

Noct bribes Loqi into putting on a movie for the kids while he drags Ignis to the parent-teacher office. He locks the door after them and turns, arms crossed.

"Alright," he says. "Let's have it, Ignis."

"The nerve of her!" Ignis spits the words as though they hurt his teeth on the way out, and he whirls on Noct with both hands grasping the air. "Nearly a year, and she drops in unannounced? Not only that, but she doesn't go through me, she goes through Prompto? I have to find out from my son?"

"I thought she said it was a work thing," Noct says. Ignis glares, and he backs up. "Not defending her. Just making a statement."

"That's another thing," Ignis says. "She won't even visit on her own? She has to be dragged here? Do you know how long it took me to get Gladio to eat a full meal after she left, last time? Weeks, Noctis."

"Hey. Ignis." Noct pulls Ignis into his arms. Ignis lets himself be held, but his jaw is clenched tight, and when Noct cards his fingers through his hair, he shivers. "Don't forget that you're not alone, this time."

Ignis closes his eyes and presses his head to the slope of Noct's shoulder, breathing heavily. "Let me be angry about this, Noct."

"Fine," Noct says. "But Prom and Gladio are catching on."

"I know." Ignis finally relaxes, settling in a full-body slump against the younger man. "Gods, it'd be nice to let myself be a wreck just once."

"That's what I'm here for," Noct says, with a self-deprecating smile. "I don't mean to brag, but I'm kind of an expert on the subject."

"On being a wreck," Ignis says, dryly.

Noct kisses him, slow and deep, and there's such fondness in Ignis' eyes that he has to lean back in for one more.

"Sure," he tells him. "Good thing I'm around, huh?"

"Humble, too," Ignis says, and drags him close by the nape of the neck. They stagger into the wall, and Ignis laughs as Noct kisses him with dramatic flair, mock-swooning against the starry wallpaper of the office.


They have their big talk with Gladio and Prompto that evening, while Noct tries to hide his vegetables under a pile of rice and Prompto watches in scandalized fascination.

"You know that Papa's been spending a lot of time here, of late," Ignis begins, steepling his fingers. He and Noct have a whole script planned, looked-over in part by Luna, who was only happy to give Noct more unsolicited advice. "Sometimes, when two people--"

"Is he staying?" Gladio asks. Prompto looks up from the vegetable-based drama unfolding on Noct's plate and squints at his father.

"He isn't?"

Ignis' mouth hangs open. Noct looks from one boy to another, scrambling for the carefully worded tips Luna had given him.

"Of course I'm staying," he says. "We just want to make sure that you know that we--"

"Oh," says Prompto. "Okay."

"Good," says Gladio. "Dad, you know how I said I wanted a bike for my birthday? I changed my mind."

Ignis, who not only has a bike jammed in the backseat of Noct's car, but is desperately trying not to grin at Noct's look of absolute bewilderment, puts his head in his hands and laughs until he cries.


---


The day before Aranea is due to arrive at the airport, Noct gets a call from his father's head of security, Nyx Ulric.

"Hey, Nyx," he says. Prompto and Gladio, who are throwing mulch at each other in the playground, hit another child in the blast radius, and Ignis gets up with a sigh to prevent another fight. "Been a while."

"Yeah? Whose fault is that?" He likes Nyx well enough--the man's not nearly as stiff as most of the men who work under him, and Noct is fairly sure that when the fight over Noct's choice to distance himself from the Citadel went down, he was one of the few voices of reason on Noct's side.

"Look, kid, there's some kind of big-shot visiting tomorrow, and your dad wants you there for the photo op." Noct groans, and Nyx laughs softly. "Yeah, thought you'd like that."

"Tell Dad no," Noct says. "I'm meeting my boyfriend's ex-wife tomorrow."

There's a long silence on the other end of the line. "I'm gonna hold off on asking when you were going to tell your dad that you have a boyfriend, but... Most people would want out of meeting their partner's ex," Nyx says.

"Yeah, well, this is important."

"It'll be one hour, tops."

Noct rolls his eyes. "It's never one hour," he says. "Fine. Let me talk to Ignis."

"That's your boyfriend."

"Yeah." He sighs. "Nyx. You know how Dad'll take the news."

Nyx grunts noncommittally. "Did I say I'd tell him? We'll see you at the gate at 11 sharp, kid."

"Glad to know free will's so highly prized in this country," Noct says. "No promises." He ends the call and looks up at Ignis, who is watching him from the swing-set.

For once, Regis Caelum's plans don't completely ruin Noct's life. Ignis informs the rest of them that afternoon that Aranea has a trip planned for Gladio and Prompto, and the timing coincides pretty well with Noct's visit to the Citadel. Gladio's apprehensive and jittery, and Prompto doesn't get to sleep until nearly midnight, but Ignis is almost hopeful.

"She never takes them out," he says, as Noct rolls into his side in their Queen bed, dragging most of the blankets with him. "Maybe this will be a change for the better."

"Maybe," Noct concedes. He hooks his fingers in the other man's briefs and tugs at the elastic. "But Ignis, the last thing I want to talk about right now is--"

"Will you tell your father?" Ignis asks, and Noct groans. "About us?"

"Yes," says Noct, and buries his face in Ignis' chest. "I wanted to do it face to face anyways. But Ignis. Ignis." He closes a warm mouth over his skin, and receives a gasp in response. "I really. Really. Don't want to talk about it right now." He pulls at the briefs, yanking them down Ignis' thighs.

"Duly noted," Ignis says. "We'll have to be quiet, Noct."

"I can manage that," Noct whispers, and lowers himself onto his lover as Ignis laughs in acute disbelief.


----

AN: The drama approacheth!
From: (Anonymous)
Poor Iggy is falling apart and Aranea is going to fuck things up.... and now I am worried.
From: (Anonymous)
The Citadel is about as oppressive as Noct remembers.

Grey stone walls slope in a curve along spiral hallways, which are arranged between offices, receiving rooms, and control rooms like a complex web that ends at the Spire, one of the most useless pieces of architecture Noct can think of. He's already promised the boys a trip to the top of it, one day, but aside from the view of Insomnia's smog at an elevated angle, the only purpose the Spire serves is as an impressive symbol to wow foreign dignitaries.

Noct's father's office is at the base of the Spire. Nyx and a small team of men and women accompany Noct through the web, resolutely refusing to speak to him as they go. It's another thing Noct hates about the place: He can be surrounded by people, and yet go days without any real human interaction. He wonders how Ignis is doing back at the apartment, whether Prompto and Gladio have met Aranea yet.

Gods, Gladio. Noct's stomach twists at the thought. Gladio's been clinging to Noct and Ignis lately, and here Noct is, heading to a useless photo op for a father he barely knows, while Gladio is being dragged to an outing by a mother he... barely knows...

Noct grimaces. It's bad enough dealing with these issues as an adult, when there's a lifetime of experience to put everything in context. But for a kid, who doesn't understand all the nuances of estrangement, but can feel the effects all the same? Noct curses himself for ever agreeing to this. He should be with the boys, not here, where all that awaits him is an hour of pained smiles and another hour of slowly kicking down the closet door. Again.

"Brace yourself, kid," Nyx whispers, as they reach Regis' office. Noct forces a smile and pushes open the door, feeling out of place in his worn grey suit and hastily combed-back hair.

He gets one look at his father, standing by the fireplace with an easy grin on his face and his hands in his pockets, when he hears it.

"Papa!"

Noct stops in his tracks. Regis turns to him, brows furrowing slightly. Nyx makes a strangled sound that could be a nervous laugh, and a white-haired young woman in military braid quirks one eyebrow as Prompto and Gladio fling themselves at Noct's waist.

"Hey, guys," he says, and drops to a knee.

"Papa?" Regis asks.

"I thought you weren't coming!" Gladio says, his face pressed to Noct's jacket. He holds on tight, and Noct pets his hair absently. Prompto places a foot on his knee and practically climbs him, wrapping chubby arms around his neck in a vice grip.

"Mom!" he says. "This is Papa, the one I was told you about on my birthday."

The white haired woman looks down at Noct with a cool, appraising eye. "I figured," she says, and Noct risks a smile.

"Nice to meet you," he says, and jerks back under Prompto's grip.

"Papa?" Regis asks, again. The President of Lucis is squinting at the boys, then at Aranea, and back to his son, trying to make sense of the past disastrous minute.

"Oh, no," Aranea says. "We're not a thing, Mr. President. He's the step-father. Sort of."

Noct chokes, but only partly due to the four year old dangling from his neck. The official camerawoman of the President snaps a picture, and Noct frowns.

"No photos of my boys, thanks," Aranea says, to his relief. The last thing Ignis needs is a picture of his kids plastered all over the internet.

"Can I see?" Prompto asks, and the woman smiles. "Papa, can I?"

"Sure," Noct says. "Ow. Ow. Easy, buddy." He pries Prompto loose, and only then realizes that the boy's mother is right there, listening to a total stranger give her son permission to do something. He casts her a look as he stands, but her expression is carefully bland.

Regis pulls Noct into the most stilted embrace of his adult life. Gladio shuffles to the side, holding on to Noct by the back of his jacket, and Noct huffs a little as Regis' hand slaps hard on his shoulder.

"You're always a wellspring of surprises, aren't you, son?" Regis asks. "How's Lunafreya, these days?"

"I'm still gay, dad," Noct says, without thinking. Regis' hope that Noct could settle down with someone respectable--and above all, socially acceptable enough for mid-term election season--has been a cornerstone of their handful of conversations over the past few years.

For a second, Noct sees Aranea grinning over Regis' shoulder, but by the time the President releases him, the woman is back to her expressionless mask. Noct can't help but be a little impressed. He could have used that skill, growing up.

What follows is the strangest Presidential photoshoot Noct has been subjected to. Regis explains that Aranea was chosen as a subject because of her children, who are Insomnian citizens, and who better to pose with her than the son of the President, who just happens to be her children's school-teacher?

"So you knew I was their teacher," Noct says, through gritted teeth, "but you didn't know I was dating their father."

"I could have known, son," Regis grits back.

"What a weird-looking statue," says Aranea, turning aside. "Hey, kiddos. Take a look at this thing."

When the official photo is taken, Aranea takes his hand and winks.

"Iggy sure knows how to pick 'em," she says, and Noct's wide-eyed look of surprise is immortalized on film.

Regis insists on having a moment to catch up with his son, but Aranea puts her foot down.

"Sorry, sir, but I'm the mom," she says. "Mom makes the rules. Your son promised me a tour, and I'm taking him up on it." Noct gives her an inquisitive look, and she steps on his foot, hard. "Say goodbye to the President, little bros."

"Bye, Mr. President," Gladio says, from behind Noct's legs.

"Bye, Grandpa Regis!" Prompto shouts. Noct and Regis make twin expressions of shock, and Aranea cackles. She drags the lot of them out of the room and into the safety of their security escort.

"So," she says. "Thought you needed an out."

"Thanks," Noct mumbles. He looks down at Gladio and Prompto, who are whispering to each other and bumping shoulders, and says, "You know, if you did want a tour..."


---


Noct shows Aranea and the boys to the private mess hall, which has, among other things, a fully-functional self-serve ice cream station. Aranea goads Gladio into piling his with almost every candy on offer, while Prompto, whose sweet tooth is more reserved, sticks with gummy bears and banana slices. Noct grabs a cup of soft-serve for himself, and the four of them slip into a booth at the far end of the hall.

“Well,” Aranea says. “I’ve never seen a man try to spontaneously combust before.”

Noct laughs. “Gods, I almost feel sorry for him.”

“Don’t,” Aranea tells him. “He should be lucky to have these nerds as grandkids. My boys are fucking angels.

Mom!” Prompto squeals, with a giggle.

“Shit, right. Don’t repeat what Mommy says, baby.” Prompto gasps. “Oh, come on.

Noct smiles to himself and leans over to wipe off a bit of ice cream from the table. “Someone needs a swear jar.”

“In the military? We’d be broke in half a day.” She looks at Gladio, who is swirling his ice cream into a maelstrom of chocolate and candy pieces. "Hey, little man. What's goin' on in there?" She taps his forehead, and he shrugs.

"Who's gonna sleep where?" he asks. Aranea tilts her head. "In the house. Is Dad gonna sleep on the couch, like he used to, or...?"

"Oh." Aranea shifts uncomfortably. "No, honey, I'm only here for a few days, remember? Because of the treaty."

Noct flinches.

"Not because of us," Gladio says. His ice cream has reached stone soup territory, now. "You didn't want to come."

Noct slides out of his seat. "Prom, you need to use the bathroom?"

"Not really."

"Bet you do. Come on, buddy, it's a long walk back to the exit." He takes Prompto's hand and heads for the family bathrooms in the corner, giving mom and boy some space. He doubts that anything will be settled today, but he can tell by the look on Aranea's face that she wants it to work.

By the time they return, Gladio is sitting next to his mom, taking deep, measured breaths while she rubs his back with her free hand. He stays at her side for almost half the walk to the exit, and even though he does latch on to Noct in the end, it's something. Noct says goodbye to them at the gates, promises he'll be back as soon as he has a talk with his dad, and turns into the dark halls of the Citadel.

"Well," he says to Nyx. "It was nice knowing you."

Nyx shrugs. "It was okay."

"Wow." Noct is led down another path through the web this time, and ends up in a small office set aside from the main one used for signings and photo-ops. Regis is there, his face a stormcloud, hands clasped together on the desktop.

"Leave us," he says to the security team. They scatter, taking up position behind the doors, and Noct is left on his own in the center of the room.

"Miss you, too, Dad," he says.

"Noctis," Regis says, and stops. He takes a breath. "I wonder if it crosses your mind what level of scrutiny is placed on the presidential family."

"Not much on my end," Noct says. "I'm boring. There's like, one paparazzi these days, and if I buy him pizza every now and then, he doesn't c--"

"You bribe the tabloids?"

"Pizza isn't a bribe, Dad."

Regis swipes a hand over his face, and Noct feels a pang of pity, thinking of the exhaustion that lay so prevalent in Ignis' features lately.

“Son, you know I’ll support you no matter who you choose to love—“

“But,” Noct says.

Son.

“No, you were about to say, but…

Regis turns aside. He's nervous, Noct thinks. He knows whatever he's about to say next will start a fight. “Can you wait to… progress things… until after the mid-term elections? The royalists are up in arms about re-establishing something that looks dangerously like a feudal system, and a scandal is all they’ll need to drum up support.”

“Scandal?” Noct asks. “What scandal? That your son’s gay? That he’s dating a man with kids? That his life is stable for the first time in decades? Yes, Dad! What a scandal!

“There’s no talking to you when you get like this, Noctis.”

“Yeah? Go to hell.”

The words slip out before Noct can stop them, and he knows he’s passed straight through the point of no return and out the other side. “Dad, wait. I—“

"You may leave," Regis says, in a voice that practically shakes with anger.

"Dad, no."

"If you're so eager to divest yourself of your family, Noctis, you may leave."

Noct stays where he is, staring down his father, thumbs jammed hard on the line of his jacket pockets. He looks up at the photos displayed behind Regis' head. All formal pictures of Noct in school, of Regis and his late wife, of men in military uniform standing against a grey backdrop. Noct thinks of the photos in Ignis' house, like the one of Prompto and Gladio in the bath, faces barely visible through a mountain of bubbles. The one of Ignis walking Gladio through his first steps. A later photo, taken by a fumbling four year old, of Ignis' hand on Noct's knee as the two of them watch Gladio play with his shield in the background.

"It must've been hard," he says. "Raising a kid on your own."

"Noctis, this isn't the time--"

"No, I think it is." Noct drags an antique chair in front of the desk and sits, resting his hands on his knees. He looks up at his father, and beyond the hard scowl and the proud eyes that always makes anger twist in his chest, Noct can see that Regis is tired. And so is Noct. It's time they bring this to an end.

"Dad," he says. "Let me tell you about Ignis Scientia."


From: (Anonymous)
I don't hate Aranea, but I am still worried how everything will go. Keep going Author Anony!
From: (Anonymous)
This part's rough, but it'll get better! Divorce aftermaths are messy.


---

The last time Ignis drank, Gladio was almost two years old, and Aranea was directing the movers to each item of furniture that was to be put into storage while she was deployed overseas. She’d even put yellow stickers on some of the toys, for godssakes. Ignis stood against the wall of the condo they called home for the past five-odd years, twisted the cap off a beer with his palm, and tried not to think. Even then, even when she barely looked at him as she passed, Ignis had half a mind to break down and beg. But he and Aranea were both too proud, and all he could do was watch the way her hair swirled over her shoulders and feel the fierce heat of years of bitterness, regret, and last-ditch chances form a hard knot in his chest.

He’d never love anyone as fiercely as he’d loved Aranea. He wanted to break something, to set the condo on fire and move the boys across the city, where there was no trace of her. Ignis took another swig of the beer.

“Better not make a habit of that shit,” Aranea said, as she towed out a microwave that was most certainly his.

“Go play at war, Ara.”

“A shame the boys will have to grow up seeing the mess you’re becoming,” she said. “Used to be that you were civilized, Ignis.” She stormed into the condo like a goddamn angel of divine fury. Ignis threw down the bottle. Curse her. Let her take everything. Ignis was past the point of caring, now. He could start new, he could start with nothing. He had a responsibility to his boys, and he was damn well going to do right by them. He’d been out too long, anyways—his uncle was a good sort, but he didn’t know how to handle children, and Ignis didn’t feel right leaving them in his care for more than an hour.

He’d been a fool to think he’d have a chance to say goodbye.

He stepped into the grey and white station wagon he’d bought for the family when Prompto was born. It smelled like disinfectant, and one of Aranea’s old jackets was balled up on the floor of the passenger’s seat, soft and silky and glittering with threads of silver.

Ignis turned on the ignition. He switched the radio to a station he and Aranea hadn’t listened to since she was pregnant with Gladio, gripped the steering wheel in both hands, pressed his forehead to his whitening knuckles, and screamed.


---


Now, standing in the grocery store while Aranea takes the boys on their super secret fun trip with Mommy, Ignis stares at the selection of wine on hand and tries to will himself not to fall apart at the seams.

Oh, he’s sure that Aranea will be nothing but charming to Noctis, when they meet. She may attempt a snide remark here or there, but Noct has a subtle sarcasm etched into his bones, thanks to his father, and can handle himself. It’s what happens after that worries Ignis. Inevitably, Aranea’s going to bring up The Subject again.

He steps away from the liquor section and examines the artisanal cheeses instead.

Ignis dreads Aranea’s bi-annual visits, because every time, she finds a new reason to suggest changing their custody arrangement. He can’t be certain if she means it. He knows that if he calls her bluff—“Here, Ara, take the boys, raise them for a few years,”—She’ll balk and explain how the fast track in the Niflheim army keeps her so busy these days. But she likes to use the threat of it whenever she finds something she wants to pick apart in Ignis’ parenting style.

Last year, it was allowing Gladio to eat candy on the solstice. This year? It goes without saying that her objection is bound to be Noctis.

Ignis leaves his half-filled basket on the counter by the cheese display and walks out of the store in a daze.

When he gets back, Aranea’s rental car is in the driveway, and Ignis can see that the light in Prompto and Gladio’s room is on. He goes to the door to find it unlocked, kicks his shoes off in the foyer, and shouts a greeting to the boys.

“Hey, Dad!”

“H’Dnnnd!”

“No wrestling your brother, Gladio,” he says, automatically, and hears a cry of complaint. At the kitchen counter, where she’s nursing a sparkling water and looking like she stepped out of a painting, Aranea raises her brows.

“Nice guess,” she says.

“Years of practice,” Ignis tells her, and her face falls. “How was the secret trip?”

“Lovely,” Aranea says. She runs a finger over the lip of the bottle and looks up at Ignis under her impossibly long lashes. “Met that boy toy of yours at the Citadel.”

Ignis pauses in the act of unbuttoning his jacket. “Excuse me?”

“That skinny little president’s son,” Aranea explains. “Your main squeeze. Sugar daddy. Or is it sugar baby, if the one with the power is younger? I can never remember—“

“He’s a teacher,” Ignis says. “And he’s a full grown adult, Ara.”

“Really, Iggy?” She raises an eyebrow and tilts her head, and Ignis hates her and wants her all at once. “Is he old enough to drink, yet?” Ignis hesitates, and she laughs. “Gods, Ignis. You are something else.

“This isn’t an appropriate conversation to have with the children in the other room,” Ignis says.

“The fuck it isn’t,” she says, and Ignis knows that this isn’t just about Noctis. Not anymore. There’s something else making Aranea’s voice go hard and her eyes steely and dark. But he isn’t the person who can ask her the right questions anymore, and he can tell that tonight is going to be an echo of what had come during the divorce, when all hope of reconciliation burned between them.

He turns aside and pulls out his phone.



Noctis gets the text just as he’s leaving the Citadel, dry-mouthed with too much talking and desperate to take off his ill-fitting suit. It’s from Ignis, and all it says is:

Mayday. Keep boys out of the house.

Thinking of the witty, well-intentioned woman he met just a few hours ago, Noct admits to feeling a little conflicted about this. But Ignis would know, so he throws his jacket into the back seat, loosens his tie, and guns the gas towards home.

When he sees Gladio and Ignis sitting on the front steps of the apartment, a cold weight sinks into his stomach.

“Hey, guys,” he says. “How about we go to Kenny Cro—“

“Shh,” Gladio hisses, and points a thumb at the door. Noct can hear raised voices, Ignis’ only barely restrained, Aranea’s full-blown and breaking. Prompto is a ball of misery at Gladio’s side, and for a moment, Noct wants to charge in and knock both Ignis and Aranea’s heads together.

“Don’t go in,” Gladio says, as though he can see it in Noct’s face. He probably can. After a day like this, Noct isn’t sure he can trust himself to hide his emotions.

“You come here for a treaty,” Ignis is saying, his voice dulled through the wood of the door, “and you visit your sons as an afterthought, but I’m the bad father for, for being in love?

“You can’t love anyone, Ignis. You’re incapable.”

“Keep your voice down, Aranea.” Ignis’ voice is clipped and cold. “For Astrals’ sake, do you want the boys to hear?”

“Might was well! They should know what a pathetic excuse for a—“

“Alright,” Noct says. “Come on, guys.” He takes Gladio’s hand and hauls him up, and reaches for Prompto. Prompto huddles in the side of the door frame, biting at the base of his fingernails. “Prom?”

He shakes his head.

“Are you not Prompto today?” Prompto nods. “What are you, huh? Puppy? Kitty? Chocobo?”

Prompto shakes no to each one, and tucks his knees up under his chin. “Don’t know,” he says, and his voice is almost drowned out in the muffled shouting behind him.

“Come on, Prom,” Gladio says. He climbs back onto the doorstep and hugs his little brother around the shoulders. “We can go to Kenny’s and get fries.”

Prompto sighs and gets to his feet, and Noct takes both of their hands and leads them to the car.


He lets the boys order whatever they want, which means Prompto gets an egg with a chocobo sticker jammed through it on a toothpick, and a plate of fries covered in a sea of ketchup. Gladio gets meat skewers—Noct doesn’t want to call it steak, knowing Kenny Crow diner fare—and Noct reveals to them both his dislike of all things green and picks all the veggies off his burger. This inspires a grin from Gladio, but nothing from Prom, who picks at his egg with his fingers. Noct sighs and cuts it up for him.

“Mom’s not coming back,” Prompto says, twirling the toothpick around. Noct sets down the knife and looks to Gladio, who nods.

“It’s her work,” Gladio tells him. “She’s being deployed again.”

“Oh.” Noct sits back. “Did she say where?” According to the treaty, Niflheim isn’t supposed to be deploying troops out of the country. But maybe Noct read the news wrong—surely no one would be reckless enough to break the provisions of a treaty before it’s ratified.

Neither of the boys know where their mother is headed, and Noct holds in a sigh. “Maybe you can write her letters,” he says. “My dad was deployed, when I was a kid, and we wrote back and forth all the time.”

“I can’t write,” Prompto informs him, with a superior air. Clearly, Noct should know this. Noct’s lips quirk a little, but he manages to keep his expression steady.

“Well, maybe that’s how we’ll learn.” He glances around the diner—There’s a family in the back, and one or two people hunched over coffee mugs, but otherwise they’re alone. He digs in his back pocket and drops two dollars on the table.

“Want to see if the jukebox works?” he asks. Gladio jumps up.

“I know how to do that,” he says. “Dad taught me.” He grabs the bills and slips out of the booth. Prompto lets out something between a whimper and a keening whine, and looks at Noct beseechingly. Noct stands as well, and takes Prompto’s hand.

While Gladio and Prompto fight over how many times they can get away with playing the Chocobo song without anyone getting mad, Noct sends a text to Ignis.

At Kenny Crow’s, traumatizing diners. You surviving?

Ignis texts back immediately.

Barely. Ara left. Coming over now.

Don’t come angry. Noct texts, and puts his phone away just as Prompto and Gladio have decided on eight repeats of the Chocobo song and one of “The one with the grey-haired guy on the cover.” Noct peers at it and smirks.

“One-winged Angel,” he says. “That’ll wake everyone up. Come on, troublemakers.”

By the time Ignis arrives, half the diner has fled the endless plunking sounds of the Wiz Chocobo Post theme song, and Noct has ordered a giant basket of fries to share. The fact that Ignis doesn’t protest when he sees what they’re having for dinner is a testament to how disastrous his fight with Aranea turned out. He apologizes profusely to Gladio and Prompto, who make him swear never to raise his voice again.

“Even if we get kicked out of Kenny Crow’s,” Gladio says. Ignis looks to Noctis in alarm.

“Why would we—“

The Chocobo theme dies away, and quickly starts back up again. At the back of the diner, someone screams.

“No reason,” Noct says, and for the first time since the fight, Prompto smiles.
From: (Anonymous)
Oh man, Aranea... go for the jugular, why don't you... :/ I mean,!divorce is messy but that is just cold. But, yeah... it definitely makes sense.
From: (Anonymous)
MOOD WHIPLASH, but I lived through 6+ years of divorce hell, so I'm good with it only lasting two chapters in this fic. Back to the fluff!

-----------

It's three weeks after Aranea Highwind departed for Gralea, the pizza delivery van is due to arrive at the apartment in thirty minutes, and Noctis Caelum is not helping matters by any stretch of the imagination.

"Noct," Ignis whispers. "We need to get the boys home in fifteen minutes."

Noctis sits back on his knees, looking up at Ignis in the dark of the Little Stars Nursery storage closet.

"We'll be fine," he says, and his lips twist in a smile as he swallows his lover down, pressing his tongue to the underside of Ignis' length as he goes.

Admittedly, this is a terrible idea. But the storage closet is out of the way, and they haven't had a night to themselves in weeks with Gladio and Prompto taking up the bed in the wake of Aranea's disastrous exit. And truly, Ignis can't help it, can he, when Noct gives him that look over his shoulder and...

"Oh," Ignis says, startled out of his thoughts as Noct hollows his cheeks on the way back up. "Noct, I--"

He reaches for him, and their fingers twine together at Ignis' sides. Noct is looking up at him, and there's reassurance there, tied up in the way his thumb traces over Ignis' knuckles, the hum of pleasure in his throat, the slight quirk of his lips. It's too much, and Ignis bites down on his cheek as he is pulled into a swift and powerful release. Noct stays there a moment longer, still gazing up at him, and slowly pulls away. He works his throat a little, and Ignis releases his hand to run warm fingers along his jaw.

"Alright, love?" he asks.

Noct pulls the hand still wrapped in his to his lips and kisses Ignis' knuckles. "Yeah," he says, softly. "We should go. Pizza'll be there any minute."

"Oh, you think?"

Noct grins, Ignis rolls his eyes, and the spell is broken. They hurriedly pull themselves together and try not to sneak out of the closet like unruly college students who just... had sex in a closet. Well. Ignis sighs and adjusts his collar, and can tell by Noct's sideways grin that his cheeks are turning pink again.

Luna, her cousin Stella, and her brother Ravus are all at the apartment when they get there, watching Gladio, Prompto, and their nursery school friends scream and chase each other in the backyard. Luna kisses Noct on the cheek and gives him a suspicious look regarding his ruffled hair, Stella whispers that she might have gone overboard with Gladio's birthday present, and Ravus looks exceedingly uncomfortable. That, Noct assures Ignis, is his normal state of being, and Ignis directs the man to his uncle, who shares that particular quality. The two of them end up spending most of their time in the kitchen, avoiding the children at all costs.

Gladio and Prompto wave hello to them for all of half a second before running back out to play.

"How very needed we are," Ignis says, dryly, and Noct snorts.

Gladio's bike is a glossy black with a shooting star decal and detachable training wheels, and Prompto bursts into tears within five minutes of watching Gladio pedal about the parking lot. Ignis picks up Prompto and gives him a speech on waiting your turn and you had a birthday just a few weeks ago, and Luna discreetly takes a picture.

Gladio has just made his twenty-third lap around the lot when a long, black limo pulls up to the drive.

"Oh, hell," Noct says.

President Caelum steps out of the car with a swarm of security guards. Noct and Ignis exchange helpless looks and go to meet him.

"What's this?" he says, when he sees Prompto's snot-covered mask of misery. "Something go wrong?"

"Gladio won't let me ride the bike," Prompto says. Regis nods sagely.

"Yes, I can see how that is a problem. May I?" He holds out his hands to Prompto, and Ignis looks to the boy. Prompto shrugs, so he hands him over.

"You're big!" he says. "How old did you say you were, again?"

"Four."

"Four! You're practically a man! Excuse me son," he says to Noct, by way of greeting, and tows Prompto over to Gladio, who is staring at them in abject shock.

"I believe the president of Lucis just kidnapped our child," Ignis says.

Noct hides a smile behind a fist as Prompto drags at Regis' hair, begging to be let down. "You know? I think he just did."

Regis can only stay for an hour, but he endears himself to the boys immediately. Part of it is the novelty of him being the President! but Noct admits to Ignis that he likes to think that part of it is just Regis, as well. His father also takes a moment to speak to Ignis, pulling him aside in the living room.

"Noctis said some very flattering things about you, back at the Citadel," Regis says. He sounds a little awkward, and Ignis recognizes it to be the same, slightly stilted way that Noct speaks when he's having a hard time getting his emotions across. The thought is comforting.

"Thank you, sir," he says. "I can only hope half of it is true."

Regis smiles, and claps a hand on his shoulder. "You should all visit the Citadel sometime," he says. "I know Noctis hates the fuss and bluster of it all, but..."

"I'll bring it up to him," Ignis promises, and Regis looks so pleased that Ignis' heart aches in sympathy.

Aranea does call Gladio that afternoon, with a brief pause for her and Ignis to exchange the most uncomfortable apology either of them have ever made, but Gladio is too thrilled by the appearance of the President to let it drag him down for long. Then Stella reveals her and Luna's joint gift, and Noct and Ignis know that the apartment may never recover from the events of the day.

Gladio picks up his new foam sword with all the reverence of Arthur claiming his birthright as king.

"Prompto gets one, too," Luna says, and Prompto grabs at the hilt of a smaller sword.

The boys look at each other.

"No fighting in the house!" Noct and Ignis cry in unison, but it is far too late.


---


That night, Ignis lies back on the bed as Noct runs idle fingers through his hair. Prompto is sleeping upside-down between them, and Gladio is draped diagonally across Noct's legs, still holding his new sword in his arms. In the distance, the fridge chugs away, stuffed full with leftover cake and too much pizza, and a twist of a paper banner drifts across the bedroom floor with a soft scraping sound.

"We did alright today," Noct whispers, and his smile is soft and unguarded, his eyelids slack with exhaustion. Ignis leans in to his touch and sighs. At Noct's feet, Gladio shifts, and the foam sword squeaks against the fabric of his pajamas.

"I believe we did," Ignis whispers back. Noct's fingers go still in his hair, and his eyelids flutter shut. Ignis watches him for a moment, and eases onto his back again.

Tomorrow, there will be work to do. They'll have to clean the apartment, prep lunches for the week, set up lesson plans and office work. Endless piles of laundry will need to be tackled, bruises and cuts mended, fights to break up and swords to eventually confiscate. There will be fallout from Aranea's deployment to handle, and the complex web of the Citadel to navigate. But right now, here in the dark with his family sprawled around him, he feels nothing but peace.

Ignis breathes out.
From: (Anonymous)
OP here. Thank you so, so, so, so, so much. I am so sad to see it end, but it was beautiful and perfect and I sincerely love you, Anon. Really, I do. This was everything I hoped for and so much more. <3
From: (Anonymous)
Oh my god, this was such a fantastic ride! The best thing I have read in looong time, thank you!!!
From: (Anonymous)
Ugh just the fact that everything is going to keep on going but noct and Ignis got each other is pulling at my heart strings man. I loved everything about the dynamics, Noct being so empathetic and understanding as well. I loved it!

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