(This story contains so many spoilers, all the way to the end of the game. Ye be warned.)
*Author's note: I think we can all agree that the ending to the game was bittersweet and many of us…ok, ALL of us cried. I am writing this in the semi AU that Noctis was only in the crystal for six months before he emerged stronger and managed to kill Ardyn. Banishing darkness from the world. All the characters are in their mid-20's and still, blessedly, alive. Everything prior to the crystal scene remains the same.
Rated for mature readers. Contains slash and all that entails. Vague references to my other stories here and there, but doesn't mess with the plot if you haven't read them.
SHED SOME LIGHT ON THINGS
It had been five years to the day since the sun rose over Eos after the months of lasting darkness and the world began to return to normal. Word spread that King Noctis had returned to the throne, backed by the Six and the power of the kings of old. He'd slain his corrupted ancestor once and for all, bringing light back into the world.
People started filtering back into Insomnia and the population had begun to rebuild. They were efficient about it too. Builders, masons, welders, artisans, and tradesmen from all over the continent came to lend aid. With the exception of some memorials that were set up around various parts of Insomnia, one would never have known that the city was once a warzone.
Insomnia was reborn, better than it once was.
King Noctis looked out at his city from the western throne room balcony. The sun was setting, glistening a myriad of colors across the city. His city. He looked down at his hand where the ring once resided. The price of banishing Ardyn from this world was that he would forever lose connection with the kings of old. The power had been spent.
He could still summon his weapons as could those who served the king, so at least there was that.
Niflheim, with its Emperor dead (by Ardyn's own hand) had lost its steam and retreated back to its homeland to lick its wounds. Noctis was certain he would have to deal with them again in his lifetime, but with the Six still on his side, even with the ring gone, the Nifs didn't seem like they would be attacking any time soon.
The sun finished melting into the horizon as he heard the sound of boots on marble echoing through the throne room behind him. "Is everything ready?" he asked.
"Yes, you're Highness," said Talcott. "Your change of clothes have been laid out as well."
The boy was growing into quite the established young man. While his grandfather may have served the royal family as a butler in his day, Noctis had granted him a slightly more prestige title of Personal Assistant to the King. The young man was very bright and had the courage of someone beyond his years. Noctis hadn't told anyone, but in time he may consider promoting the young man to Regent. But that was many years away. "I keep telling you Talcott, you don't need to address me formally when we're not in a social setting."
The young man stifled a bow. "Yes, you're Hi… Noctis."
Noctis regarded himself in the reflection of the elevator doors as it climbed toward the top floor of the Citadel. He was wearing a recreation of his old outfit. Similar to the one he wore back when the world had nearly come to an end. He'd shaved for the occasion too, but he couldn't quite get his hair to look the way it once did. It has lost its lift over the past few years, and honestly he'd outgrown the old spiky look.
The elevator slowed to a stop and the doors opened, revealing the newly finished project he'd commissioned after the Citadel's repairs were complete. The space that was once used for balls and social gatherings (Noctis never really cared for those anyway) had been converted to look just like a campsite in the wild. Glowing glyphs and all. The Coleman camping gear had already been set up like it always had been and the fire was burning. The only differences between this one and the one's he used to camp at was that this one was two-hundred stories in the air and there were several inches of padding on the floor of the tent. No more rock hard floor to sleep on. No matter how much it might ruin the nostalgia.
Suddenly the hairs on his neck stood on end. He was being stalked. The sound of fast footfalls coming from behind him warned Noctis of the imminent attack. He turned around to defend himself when he was tackled to the ground. The figure above him grabbed the sides of his face and came down close, the freckled face of Prompto coming into view in the dim light. "Oh my Gods! Noct, this looks amazing." He beamed before letting the kings face go. Noctis said something under his breath? "What was that?"
Noctis struggled for air. "Get off my chest," he wheezed.
"Oops, sorry," said Prompto standing up and giving Noctis a hand up. "Where are the others?"
"They should be here shortly." As Noctis' eyes adjusted to the dim light he noticed that Prompto was wearing a facsimile to his old attire as well. As of late Prompto had been in his uniform most of the time. Prompto's country of origin had not been made public, but with his background Noctis had given him the job of Refugee Liaison. There had been some complaints from the royal advisors, but Noctis had long since run out of fucks to give. Prompto was now an official member of the Royal Court, and that was final.
The elevator dinged again and the remaining two members of their party entered. Gladio, larger than life and mostly shirtless but for his jacket, carried a loaded cooler over one shoulder. He smacked Prompto on the ass with his free hand as he passed by them. "Party's here."
"Please tell me that wasn't our King you just smacked," said Ignis from the elevator. His eyesight had never recovered, but he could still get around the castle as well as anyone who could see. Somehow in that boundless mind of his he'd managed to memorize every hall, enclave, and entryway. So long as nobody moved the furniture around too much, he was fine. "The Commander of the Kingsglaive should have a little more respect-"
Prompto rubbed his butt. "Don't worry Iggy, I was on the receiving end of that one."
"Oh…very well then," said Ignis as he followed the sound of the crackling fire toward the camp.
Prompto pouted. "Not going to defend my honor, Specks?"
"No, and stop pouting. It's unbecoming."
Prompto's eyebrows shot up. "How do you know what face I'm making?"
"You whine at a certain octave when you pout."
A few moments later Ignis was warming up something on the camp stove while the others nursed some of the beers Gladio had brought. "This really is nice, Noct. If it weren't for the city view I'd think we were running around Duscae again."
"You think you could have a replica Hammerhead put on the roof of that skyscraper over there too?" Prompto pointed at a building in the distance.
Noctis smiled. "Maybe. You think Cindy might come visit more often if we do?"
Prompto swooned and leaned back in his chair. "That would be nice, wouldn't it?"
"Whatever you're cooking, it smells great," Gladio said to Ignis.
Ignis placed the food on a tray and slowly made his way around the fold up chairs. "It being so late in the evening I thought that dessert would be more suitable."
"Is that what I think it is?" said Noctis.
Ignis nodded. "Memory Lane Cake. I felt it was appropriate, given the company." They each took their own individual cake and took a bite. Noctis didn't think it was possible, but Ignis' cooking actually improved after he lost his sight. Noctis attributed it to Ignis' other senses picking up to fill the void.
"This is amazing. What's the new flavor?" he asked.
"A splash of amaretto."
Prompto finished his pastry first. "Iggy, I could kiss you. You make my inner fat kid so happy. I'm surprised the ladies aren't knocking down the kitchen door to get at you." He sucked some lingering icing off his thumb.
Ignis smiled in the dim light. "My work as Master of Ceremony keeps me plenty busy. I haven't the time for relationships at the moment. In time perhaps, but not now."
There was a brief silence as they all finished their treats. Noctis finished his beer and looked around the fire at his four brothers in arms. "I've missed you guys."
"You see me nearly every day," said Gladio.
Noctis shrugged. "Yeah, but there's always so many people around, things to do, formalities to follow. This…" he gestured around him, "…is what I miss."
"We all do Noct," said Prompto, nostalgically. "I still dream about riding chocobos for days on end with you guys."
"Driving in the Regalia," offered Ignis. He hadn't driven since the accident for obvious reasons.
"The crazy amount of time we spent gambling at the colosseum in Altissia," said Gladio. "I still can't believe they managed to get a red giant in there."
"Hey," said Prompto, "Do you remember the time that Tidal Grouper pulled you into the water? I wonder if I still have that photo lying around."
Noctis smiled and looked wistful. "Man, it's been forever since I've been fishing."
Gladio finished his drink and went back to the cooler. "Hey, guys, what was that stupid game we used to play when we had some downtime? Never… something."
"Never have I ever," offered Noctis.
"Yeah, that's it. While we're drifting down memory lane why don't we play? Might help us catch up." He shrugged, holding four fresh beers. "We all have the night off anyway."
"Technically the royal court never has a night off," said Ignis.
"You must be fun at parties," said Gladio, poking the side of Ignis' neck with the icy bottle. Ignis winced, but took the beverage.
Prompto groaned. "I don't really like that game. I really haven't done that much and I always end up watching you guys get hammered."
Noctis shoved his friends shoulder. "You've done plenty. Besides, nobody's stopping you from taking sips in between rounds."
"Oh, don't worry about that," said Gladio. "I've got a few I can aim your way later on in the game."
Ignis leaned forward in his seat, "Now I'm interested. Let us play. Who should go first?"
"You might as well go first, Gladio," said Noctis. "It was your idea."
"Okay. Let's start small." He leaned back and swung one leg over the other as he thought. "Never have I ever…hmmm…used hairspray." All three of the others drank. "You're turn, Highness."
Noctis thought a moment. "Never have I ever… gotten a tattoo." Both Gladio and Prompto drank. "Oh Prom, sorry I forgot, I didn't mean that…" he faltered. He just wanted to get Gladio to drink, he'd completely forgotten about the barcode on Prompto's wrist. He still kept it hidden, even when in uniform.
"Oh, no sweat man. I wasn't drinking for that one. Check it!" Prompto put his beer down and stood up, lifting his shirt. On his hipbones were a series of stars following the line of his abs. Gladio let out a laugh. "Got em last year." Noctis' eyes lingered on his friend's abs longer than he'd intended. Prompto cleared his throat. "Face is up here, Honey," he said in a joking tone before lowering his shirt and sitting down. "Your turn, Iggy."
"First tell me what Gladio is laughing at," said Ignis.
Gladio responded before Prompto did. "Prom got the male equivalent of a tramp stamp."
"Did not!" huffed Prompto and blushed a little. "Least I don't have a giant chicken on my back."
Gladio turned serious. "It's an eagle and you know it."
"Never have I ever," cut in Ignis, "crashed the Regalia."
Prompto frowned and drank. "It was just a fender bender! I'm starting to think you guys are picking on me."
"You didn't want to be left out," said Noctis. Prompto grumbled.
Gladio chuckled. "Alright, I'll go easy on you this round, but next round I won't pull any punches." Prompto seemed momentarily appeased as Gladio looked around the campfire, contemplating what to say next. "Never have I ever been yanked into the ocean by a fish."
Noctis drank before thinking of one himself. "Never have I ever… been able to tell the difference between different types of red wine."
Ignis was the only one who drank to that one.
It was Prompto's turn. He tried to think of a good one. "Never have I ever been a model for an adult magazine."
This time it was Gladio's turn to blush. He drank. "How do you know about that?"
"Dude, if you Moogle your name it's like the first thing that comes up under images."
"I didn't know you modeled," said Ignis.
"What magazine was it?" asked Noctis, surprised.
"DON'T fucking answer that," spat Gladio. "Oh, you are so dead when it's my turn."
Prompto took a big swig of his beer, relishing in the Commander's embarrassment while he could. "Might want to try and have that deleted before any of your subordinates find it."
Ignis couldn't help but hide the grin he had at the conversation around him. "Never have I ever," he started, "had a crush on Cindy." All three of them drank.
"Really? Never?" asked Noctis.
Ignis shook his head. "You're turn, Gladio. Drop the proverbial bomb." He took a large swig of beer before adding, "I want to hear this one."
Noctis wondered if Ignis was getting drunk already. He rarely ever saw the strategist drink.
The most devilish grin crossed Gladio's features as he reached into the cooler for a new beer. He handed it to Prompto before sitting back down, staring his prey dead in the eye. "Never have I ever had sex with Cindy."
Noctis' eyes shot to his best friend as a furious blush crossed those familiar freckles. Prompto hesitated before he lifted the beer to his lips. Noctis nearly dropped his drink. "Ho-ly shit." Noctis scooted his chair closer to Prompto, forgetting any regality he'd had mere hours before. "Details."
Prompto shook his head.
"There's a video," said Ignis smiling. Actually smiling as he finished his beer. Gladio handed him another one without being asked. "I've heard it in the wee hours of the night."
Prompto clenched his teeth. "Oh, this means war. You too, Ignis."
"Say what you will," said Ignis, "I am many things, but easily embarrassed is not one of them. Especially among you three." He sipped his fresh beer. "However, before things go any further I think we should all agree that what happens and is said at this camp, stays here. We don't want any personal information leaking to our staff and subordinates. That's the last thing we need." There was a general silence. "Agreed? Say the words, I can't tell if you're nodding."
"Fine," said Prompto.
"Alright," said Noctis.
"I guess so," said Gladio, finally.
Ignis leaned back. "On with the game then. Noctis, I believe it's your turn."
I had SO much fun writing this! The next chapter starts getting hot, I promise.
Reviews are always welcomed and appreciated.