More Final Fantasy XV
...more Final Fantasy XV
fanfiction I can't actually write a useful summary for without spoiling the game. Curses.
Writing this presented a really interesting challenge! ...that, again, I can't actually talk about for spoilery reasons. Stupid Final Fantasy XV
Connection, DutyFandom: Final Fantasy XVRating:
Ignis hears a familiar voice.Warnings:
Spoilers for most of the game.
Ignis is preparing a meal, feeling through his spice containers, when he hears it: his prince’s voice, as clear as day. Whatever ‘day’ means by this point.
He turns sharply, still holding his bottle of Hulldagh nutmeg (short-necked, square-edged, not to be confused with its long-necked equivalent for Leiden pepper). “Who’s there?”
He’s in Takka’s diner; it’s where he does most of his cooking these days. Takka himself is elsewhere, probably talking to Cindy about shoring up Hammerhead’s defences; Prompto and Gladiolus are out in the wilderness, hunting for supplies. Ignis was rather hoping to back them up, but a wrist injury has made him clumsy with his daggers, and it’s yet to heal completely. So he stayed back to cook for their return, and now he’s alone in the diner with...
“Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten me already,” Noctis says, his voice amused and unmistakeable.
Ignis feels out the counter behind him, sets the nutmeg down with deliberate slowness.
And then he draws his daggers in one quick motion. “Ardyn.”
“What?” Noctis asks, sounding alarmed now. “No. Ignis, it’s me.”
Noctis is dead, or so Ardyn told them when they confronted him before the Crystal. Ardyn has not, admittedly, proved himself to be a trustworthy man, but they searched the keep for days afterwards and found no sign of Noctis. And he would have sought them out, had he lived. He would never have let them live these years under the weight of his absence.
So Noctis is dead, or he is being held captive by Ardyn. Ignis has spent many a sleepless night wondering what his prince might be enduring at the hands of the Chancellor, if he still lives.
Neither possibility makes it likely that Noctis is here now.
“If you are
His Highness,” Ignis says, “you had better prove yourself. It would be terribly embarrassing if I killed you.”
Noctis groans. “Fine. How do I prove it?”
“Keep your distance,” Ignis says, sheathing one dagger, keeping the other exposed. “Let me consider it.” He taps the counter again to get his bearings, ladles some of the stew into one of the bowls he set out beforehand. “In the meantime, if you must show up and emotionally compromise me, you might as well make yourself useful. Help me taste-test this dish.”
There’s no answer.
“Still there?” Ignis asks.
“I haven’t seen you make that before,” Noctis says, warily.
“Well, yes. I’ve expanded my repertoire. It has
been five years; I’ve had time to come up with a new recipe or two.”
“What’s in it?”
“Why not try it and find out?”
“Planning to fail before I’ve even begun to test you?” Ignis asks. “It isn’t very princely to turn one’s nose up at a meal.”
“That looks like carrot.”
“The finest Caem carrots, I assure you. Absurdly overpriced. Even more so, now that daylight is so scarce and transport so perilous.”
“Wouldn’t want you to waste all that money on me,” Noctis says. “And you told me to keep my distance. I’m not hungry, anyway.”
Ignis turns off the stove. He’s undoubtedly going to forget about it if he leaves it on for a moment longer, and he doesn’t want the stew to burn.
Not that that’s currently his highest priority.
“It really is you,” he says. His chest feels abnormally tight. “I thought I might never see you again.”
“Might never – you’re saying your eyesight came back?”
Ignis smiles slightly. “My choice of words was for my own amusement, I’m afraid.”
A pause. “That’s a really bad joke.”
Ignis holds out a hand towards his voice, a little uncertainly. Noctis grips it at once, hard, and then pulls him into an embrace.
“I missed you,” Noctis mumbles into Ignis’s shoulder. “All of you. Don’t tell Gladio.”
“Where have you been?” Ignis asks. “Did Ardyn have you?” It’s the answer he’s dreading; Noctis went to such lengths to bring Prompto back, and if the three of them left Noctis to the same fate for five years...
Noctis shakes his head. He still hasn’t let go. “It was the Crystal. It kind of dragged me in.”
It eases his guilt a little. There was most likely nothing they could have done. “How did you escape?”
“Oh, that smells good!
Ignis breaks out of Noctis’s arms at Prompto’s voice, suddenly selfconscious, although it’s absurd to be so. When he sees Noctis, Prompto will likely be too distracted to judge Ignis for a moment of sentimentality.
“Got you some garula,” Gladio says. “Still a few stomping around. Prompto wants to herd them back here so he can pet them.”
“Milk them,” Prompto says, aggrieved. “I thought we could milk
them. And breed them for more meat. And, okay, maybe
“We were gonna try bringing them back tomorrow. You want to help out, Iggy?”
Ignis, bewildered, reaches out in Noctis’s direction. Noctis taps him twice on the wrist. Still here. So why aren’t the others reacting to him?
“You looking for something?” Gladio asks.
“Guys?” Noctis asks, to no response.
Ignis shakes his head. “I was just... confused. I thought I heard someone’s voice. Is anyone else in the diner?”
“Just us,” Prompto says.
“And by ‘us’ you mean...?”
“You,” Prompto says. “Me. Some big guy with tattoos. I’ve never seen him before.”
There’s a light thud, followed by an ow
“I see,” Ignis says. “I apologise if I seem distracted. It’s rather a delicate point in the cooking process, actually. Could you leave me alone to concentrate for a moment?”
There’s a silence. Since losing his eyesight, Ignis has come to resent these silences, the times he knows Gladio and Prompto are communicating in a way he can’t see. An exchange of glances, perhaps? A shrug? As tight-knit as the three of them are, moments like these can still make Ignis feel like an outsider.
“Sure,” Gladio says. There’s the sound of the fridge door opening, a brief rustling, the door being closed again. “Garula’s on the top shelf, to the left.”
“Thank you,” Ignis says.
When he’s heard the diner door close, Ignis turns back to the stove and switches it on again. He stands for a moment with his hands on the countertop, preparing himself to speak. In truth, he’s afraid that Noctis might not reply.
“They don’t see you,” he says at last.
“I guess not.”
Ignis takes a deep breath. This isn’t a question he necessarily wants the answer to. “Are you real?”
Noctis is silent for a long moment. “I don’t know.”-
Ignis half-expects Noctis to vanish at any moment, but he doesn’t. They withdraw to talk after the meal, and Ignis attempts to ignore how clearly impossible this situation is, until eventually he braces himself and asks, “Purely so I know whether to prepare for it, are you planning to disappear?”
“Not unless you want me to,” Noctis says. “Don’t exactly have anywhere else to be.”
Ignis nods. “I’m happy for you to stay, in that case.”
Perhaps it’s not the healthiest response to a probable hallucination of his deceased friend, but it’s the only one he has the will to muster.
There’s a rustle of clothing as Noctis shifts. “I don’t know if you’ll stop hearing me again, though.”
“Again?” Ignis asks.
“You know how I said I was in the Crystal?” Noctis asks. “I think I’m still inside.”
Interesting. “And yet here you apparently are.”
“I can kind of... reach out, I guess,” Noctis says. “From the Crystal. I’ve been trying to talk to all three of you for a while now. I was starting to give up.”
“And then I heard you,” Ignis says.
“Yeah. I hoped it meant the others would too, but...” He tails off.
Ignis considers this. “Perhaps it’s because I’m blind. I need to focus more on what I can hear.”
“Why you were the first one who heard?” Noctis asks. “I thought maybe it was because you’d known me longest. You know me better than... pretty much anyone else.”
“Hmm,” Ignis says. “Perhaps suggesting that I’m more likely than anyone else to hallucinate you.”
“Maybe,” Noctis says. “I’m still not sure I’m not just making you up to keep me going. It’s not like there’s much to do in the Crystal.”-
Days pass, and Noctis stays. It’s difficult; it’s painful; it’s a constant reminder that the true Noctis is lying dead and unburied somewhere.
When Noctis is sitting on the countertop next to him, though, kicking his heels and making disgusted noises at the ingredients Ignis is carefully setting out, it’s hard for Ignis to imagine how he ever survived without it.-
“Prompto and Gladio are coming this way,” Noctis reports. “Looks like they’ve got something to say to you.”
Ignis nods slightly, but makes no other answer. He tries to be discreet about his interactions with the prince in the presence of the others; he imagines he would cause a certain amount of distress by apparently conversing with a Noctis who isn’t there.
A moment later, he hears them approaching: Prompto’s light footsteps, Gladio’s heavy ones. Heavier than usual, perhaps. Has something happened?
“We need to talk,” Gladio says, clapping a firm hand on Ignis’s shoulder.
“I’d be delighted to,” Ignis says.
Gladio begins to steer him... somewhere, and after a moment Ignis realises they’re going to the caravan. They end up seated on the beds inside, Ignis on one, Prompto and Gladio presumably facing him on the other.
And then Noctis sits next to Ignis, brushing against him, a quiet reminder that he’s still there.
“Sorry,” Prompto says, which doesn’t seem the most promising opening to a conversation.
“Prompto tells me you’ve been talking to Noct,” Gladio says.
Ah. He hasn’t been quite discreet enough, it seems.
“Sorry,” Prompto mutters, again. “I just thought it was weird. I didn’t know he was going to be scary about it.”
“I might occasionally speak aloud to myself to get my thoughts in order,” Ignis says. “I hadn’t realised there was anything unusual about that.”
“You call yourself Highness
?” Gladio asks.
“Only when I’m feeling particularly pleased with myself.”
“You’re talking to Noct,” Gladio says. “Prompto says it’s long conversations. He says you sound like you think he’s actually there. You think he’s there?”
“I hear his voice,” he admits. “If I’m manufacturing that voice in my head, I’m not doing so consciously.”
Gladio lets out a hard breath. “So you’re losing it.”
Is he hallucinating? It almost seems the only explanation. But Noctis was able to tell him that Prompto and Gladio were approaching before Ignis heard them himself. Was that only Ignis’s subconscious mind, somehow registering their footsteps before he truly became aware of them?
“He says he was absorbed into the Crystal,” Ignis says. “Is there any possibility he could communicate from within it?”
There’s an angry creak of bedsprings as Gladio stands up. “You’re living in fucking denial, Iggy. I wouldn’t’ve expected it from you. You’re supposed to be the one who’s got it together.”
“Hey, maybe you’re being a little harsh?” Prompto asks.
“What, I’m supposed to just let him live in his dream world?” Gladio asks. “Noct is dead
. We need to keep our feet in reality, or some daemon’s gonna send us straight after him.” Ignis hears him making for the door of the caravan. “I don’t want you fighting until you’ve sorted your head out.”
“Unfortunately,” Ignis says, pleasantly, “you have no authority to decide whether I fight or not.”
The door slams.
“I’m really sorry,” Prompto says. “He’s just worried.”
Ignis sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “I suppose he has reason to be.”
There’s a pause. “You... really think it’s true? Noct’s inside the Crystal? He’s talking to us? Well, you.”
“In all honesty, I think Gladio is probably right,” Ignis says.
“Mm,” Prompto says, unhappily.
“But I do feel Noct’s presence... exceptionally vividly. It seems hard to believe it isn’t real, at times.”
“But maybe it’s like the wasps,” Prompto says. “The ones that made our heads go all...” He tails off, and Ignis, with exasperated fondness, knows he’s trying to communicate with a gesture.
“Exactly,” Ignis says. “I wouldn’t know it for an illusion until it wore off. And it doesn’t appear to be wearing off any time soon.”
Does he particularly want it to wear off, even if it is
only an illusion born of loss? It’s a troubling question. What would he do if he lost Noctis for a second time?
“I’m not like one of those damn wasps,” Noctis mutters, and Ignis has to hide his smile.
A moment passes, and then Prompto awkwardly excuses himself and leaves the caravan. Ignis closes his eyes, although of course it makes little difference.
“Guess Gladio’s not happy to have me back,” Noctis says.
“He’d be very happy indeed to have you back,” Ignis says. “But you aren’t truly back, are you?”
“I’m as back as I could manage.”
Ignis nods. “I do wish the others could see you. It would be... reassuring, I feel, on the question of whether this is real.”
“Believe me, I wish they could too,” Noctis says. “It’s pretty tough, only being able to talk to one person.”
“No matter how exceptional that person might be.”
Noctis snorts. “Yeah, yeah.”
There’s a pause. Noctis shifts a little, still close enough for Ignis to feel him, just, against his side.
“You’re pretty much the only thing making me feel real,” Noctis admits. “It’s been all these years just... floating in a void. You kind of forget that you’re a person.”
“I’m sorry,” Ignis says, quietly. “If I could spare you those years, I would.”
“You’re helping. Just... being here. Talking to me.” He shifts closer, pressing their shoulders together. “Being something I can touch.”
Another silence falls. Ignis breathes slowly. He is making a decided effort not to think.
“Is it okay if I get closer?” Noctis asks.
He doesn’t mean that. He means... what does he mean? “How much closer do you imagine you could get?”
Noctis slips himself off the side of the bed; there’s the light noise of his feet touching the floor, and suddenly the pressure and warmth of his arm against Ignis’s is gone. Ignis is tempted to point out that this is technically getting further away
His back stiffens up as he feels Noctis’s hands on his shoulders. Noctis must be standing in front of him, he judges. In front of where Ignis is sitting on the side of the bed, with his knees slightly apart. He brings them together, almost without thinking.
“Is this okay?” Noctis asks.
“Highness,” Ignis says. “May I ask what you’re doing?”
Noctis swallows audibly. “I don’t know. I just... want to feel something.”
be a hallucination, Ignis concludes. The back of his neck is prickling, and none of this feels real.
And, if it isn’t real, surely there’s no harm in...?
“My duty is to attend to your needs,” Ignis says. “Feel free to do whatever you have to.”
And suddenly Noctis is letting go of his shoulders, moving sharply away from him. “That just... that just makes this sound really creepy. Don’t talk like you’re a piece of furniture.”
“Highness,” Ignis says, starting to his feet.
“If you don’t want this, don’t – ugh
. I can’t believe you’d—”
—” Ignis reaches for him – too sharply, overbalancing himself, and an instant later Noctis’s hands are on his sides, holding him steady, and Ignis kisses him.
Noctis breaks off after a moment. “What?”
Oh, dear. “I sincerely
hope I haven’t misread the situation.”
“You haven’t,” Noctis says. “Just – if you’re only doing this because I
“You are my prince, and I am your advisor,” Ignis says. “I couldn’t be seen to desire anything more than that. It would be unseemly. I assure you, I am not acting only for your sake.”
“Okay,” Noctis says. He kisses Ignis, hard, fierce, impossibly. “You think you can handle things getting even more unseemly than this?”
Ignis seizes his prince and bears him down onto the bed.-
This isn’t real, Ignis tells himself, lying in the aftermath. It felt
real, every clumsy, desperate second of it, more real than anything he’s experienced in a long time. It feels real now, Noctis sleeping sprawled across him, nothing between their two bodies.
But it isn’t real, and he can’t lose his grip on reality’s boundaries.-
“Hey,” Prompto says, tapping Ignis on the elbow. “Can I talk to you about Noct?”
For a terrifying second, Ignis thinks that he knows
, that he’s overheard Ignis moaning his prince’s name (or, on one occasion, his prince’s title
, leading to much mockery from Noctis). “What about Noct specifically?”
Prompt shifts audibly from foot to foot. “Is he here now?”
Ignis nods. “It’s safe to assume he’s here most of the time.”
“Yeah, still here,” Noctis says.
Prompto sighs over Noctis’s words. “I wish I could hear him.”
“You do know it’s most likely not real, don’t you?” Ignis asks. “It’s a fantasy. I’m imagining things.”
“Yeah, maybe,” Prompto says. “Still seems better than nothing. Can he hear me?
I mean, in your head? Noct?”
“I hear you,” Noctis says.
“He can hear you,” Ignis confirms.
“Really?” Someone seizes Ignis’s hands, startling him – Prompto, he realises. “Can I talk to him? You know, you tell me what he says?”
“It strikes me that Gladio wouldn’t approve of this,” Ignis says. “He says we need to accept reality. He may have a point.”
“Yeah, but how is it fair that you’re the only one who gets to not
“What you’re saying,” Ignis says, to be clear, “is that you’re envious of my hallucinations.”
,” Prompto says, with feeling.
“Let me talk to him,” Noctis says.
Ignis sighs. He can feel his defences beginning to crumble. “He wants to speak with you.”
“Seriously?” Prompto asks in delight. “Hey, Noct, what do you think about facial hair?”
the first thing you say to me?” Noctis asks. “After five years?”
“It’s important!” Prompto protests, when Ignis reports this to him.
“Facial hair in general, or facial hair on you?” Noctis asks.
“Well, it’s getting tough to get hold of fresh razors,” Prompto says. “And it got me thinking, maybe I should try something new out.”
There’s a pause.
“Don’t tell him I said this,” Noctis says, quietly, “but I really want to tell him to go for it, just so I can see if it’s a disaster.”
“I’ve never been so grateful to be blind,” Ignis says.
,” Prompto says. “What’s that supposed to mean? What did he say?”-
“We need to find the Crystal,” Prompto says.
“Huh?” Gladio asks.
“I think Ignis is right. I think Noct’s in there.”
“Right,” Gladio says. “You know the reason he thinks that is because his hallucination told him?”
“I’ve been talking to Noct,” Prompto says. “I think he’s real.”
“You’ve been – you’re hearing him too?”
“I’ve been acting as an intermediary,” Ignis says.
There’s a pause. “What you’re saying is you’ve been dragging Prompto into your shit.”
“Essentially, yes,” Ignis says. “But he does seem convinced.”
“I just think it’s worth a try,” Prompto says. “If there’s a chance he’s alive somewhere, we have to look into it, right? I mean...” He hesitates. “I mean, Noct didn’t give up when he was trying to find me.”
“Worth a try
,” Gladio repeats. “Ardyn took the Crystal. We go after it, we get ourselves killed. We don’t even know where to start looking.”
“It’s in Insomnia,” Noctis says. “In the palace. I can feel it.”
“It’s in Insomnia,” Ignis says.
“And I suppose Noct
told you that?” Gladio asks, scathing.
“If he’s a hallucination, it most likely won’t be there, will it?” Ignis asks. “No encounter with Ardyn; no harm done.”-
Their path through the palace is eerily quiet. It’s been years since Ignis last set foot here, and he’d thought it would seem different without his sight, but every inch of the place still feels so familiar.
He hears his companions inhale sharply as they enter the throne room. Hears weapons drawn, and follows suit himself.
“It’s here,” Prompto says.
“Yeah,” Gladio says. “So’s Ardyn.”
“So kind of you to join me,” Ardyn’s voice calls from above. Ignis realises, tensing with anger, that he must be sitting on the throne. “A little ahead of schedule, I feel.”
“What do you mean?” Gladio demands.
“Your beloved Noct,” Ardyn says. “He isn’t with you.”
Noctis is with them, of course, close by Ignis’s side. They aren’t touching, but Ignis can feel his warmth.
“Is that a surprise?” Ignis asks. “You told us you’d killed him.”
Ardyn laughs. “Oh, did I? Yes, that does rather sound like something I would do. I apologise. A childish cruelty on my part. But it seemed to me that you’d impede my acquisition of this fine crystal if you knew the truth.”
“He’s in there, right?” Prompto asks. Ignis hears the cocking of a gun. “Give him back!”
“It’s out of all our hands now, I’m afraid,” Ardyn says. “The Crystal has claimed him, and it will give him back only when he’s ready. Another... oh, five years, I’d say?”
“Wait,” Prompto says, suddenly breathless with hope. “You’re saying we’ll see him again?”
“Don’t trust him, Prompto,” Gladio says.
“You will indeed, if you survive the night that’s coming,” Ardyn says. “I look forward to your return when your little foursome is back together. Go and photograph Cup Noodles until then, or whatever it is that you do.” His voice darkens. “Come any closer, and I will kill you immediately.”
Gladio snarls and, by the sound of it, hefts his blade, but Ignis reaches out to stay him.
“You want to walk away from this guy?” Gladio demands.
“Don’t let him go for it,” Noctis says, urgently.
“If it means we all survive to see Noct’s return, yes,” Ignis says. “You know very well we can’t defeat him.”
“We can try,” Gladio growls, but the shift of his shoulder under Ignis’s hand tells Ignis that he’ll back down.
“Give the prince my regards, Iggy
,” Ardyn says as they retreat. His voice feels like light, dangerous fingers stroking down Ignis’s back.-
They don’t speak much on the way out of Insomnia. There’s a strange tension in the truck: elation at the knowledge that Noctis truly is still alive, frustration at the knowledge that the Crystal that took him is still in Ardyn’s possession. Prompto keeps fidgeting noisily, drumming his fingers and tapping his feet, and eventually, as they climb out of the vehicle at Hammerhead, he starts humming a bright little tune.
“What, seeing Ardyn put you in a good mood?” Gladio asks.
“Gladio,” Prompto says. “Noct’s alive
. And he’s going to come back
.” There’s a thudding noise that makes Ignis smile; it’s the little jump that Prompto only does when he’s really excited. “And he’s already kind of here! I mean, he hangs around Ignis, right? And that’s gotta be real. He told us he was in the Crystal! He told us where it was! There’s no way that was just a coincidence.”
“Huh,” Gladio says. There’s a moment where he apparently considers that. “Guess you’re right. Looks like I owe you an apology, Iggy.”
“It was real,” Ignis says, wonderingly, and then, in dawning horror, “It was all
He slept with his prince. He slept
with his prince
. No matter how much he may have wished for it, it’s an unthinkable breach of his duties.
“He told me the Crystal garbles his memories,” Ignis says. “If he tries to tell you anything about me when he returns, I wouldn’t listen.”
Noctis, beside him, begins to laugh.