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Just Skin and Bones

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They’re silent as they make their way through the prison cells in Zegnautus Keep. They’re all empty, but some cells are drenched in dried blood (some red, some black) and in others, Noct spots the remains of torn clothing and the gates to those cells ripped open. He looks into every one, even as his stomach begins to feel more and more sick—he can’t risk missing Prompto.

There’s no daemons and Noct’s thankful for that. He doesn’t have to worry about fighting anymore of them, even if he’s now got Gladio and Ignis by his side. He doesn’t have to worry about Prompto fighting any of them and he doesn’t have to worry if any of them are Prompto.

Ardyn’s gone silent over the intercom, too. Noct wants to be thankful for that as well, but the silence means he doesn’t know where Ardyn is, what he’s doing.

Even still, Noct has no choice but to go on, trudging past cell after cell with no sign of Prompto. He’s beginning to wonder if he’ll ever see Prompto again when a flash of blonde catches his eye. There, at the end of a corner, he sees a figure standing, arms spread wide.

Without telling Gladio, without waiting for Ignis to catch up, Noct gasps and runs forward. His footsteps echo loudly on the metal ground and as he gets closer, he sees— yes! It’s Prompto! Holy shit, it’s him and fuck, he’s not standing. He’s strung up on some metal contraption by his wrists like a goddamn ornament and he looks like absolute shit.

The gate to Prompto’s room is locked. Noct tries to pull it open, but the metal hardly budges. A lock holds it secure and refuses to move, even as he growls and curses and slams against the lock with his father’s sword. Prompto doesn’t react to all this noise. Hell, Noct can hardly tell if he’s breathing or not.

Move!” Gladio hisses from behind him and grabs at his shoulder, tossing him backwards. He bumps into Ignis and utters a quick apology as he watches Gladio slam down on the lock with his greatsword once, twice. It breaks on the third swing and Noct’s pushing past Gladio.

“Prompto!” Noct rushes to his side quickly releases him from his restraints. He drops like a puppet with its strings cut—Gladio’s there to catch him and he lowers Prompto to the ground, cradling him gently. 

Up close, Noct can easily see the bruises on Prompto’s skin, and there’s too many to count. Dried blood cakes his body and he’s dirty, pale. 

Prompto,” Noct says again. He carefully touches Prompto and his skin it’s—it’s cold to the touch. Ignis crouches down too, and touches Prompto’s arm. He gasps and recoils the second his hand makes contact with Prompto’s skin and Ignis grows ever paler. “No, no!”

Gladio breaths in, heavily, and runs his hands down Prompto’s skinny arm, ignoring the way it bends in ways it’s not supposed to. He presses down on Prompto’s wrist. Then he tries his other one. Then his neck.

Noct watches this all, his heart pounding faster and faster as Gladio—steadfast, strong—begins to shake, his fingers trembling as they move to the other side of Prompto’s neck. Nobody’s saying anything. Nobody needs to say anything. They’re all thinking the same thing and nobody’s brave enough to say it.

Slowly, Noct presses his palms to Prompto’s chest. There’s no movement at all.

He leans down, down, resting the side of his head against Prompto’s check. He can’t hear anything.

And, when Noct listens for Prompto’s breath, holding his own, there’s nothing.


 

Gladio carries Prompto on his back. Noct leads Ignis through the keep and when daemons or MTs approach them, it takes only seconds for him to kill them all with the Ring of the Lucii. So maybe he’s acting reckless—he doesn’t want to hear complaints from the other two.

He finds the machine that’s restraining his access to the Armiger and crushes it with his father’s sword. The crystal’s energy and magic immediately flow through his body, leaving him breathless as his exhaustion vanishes.

They have two Phoenix Downs left in the armiger.

Less than a minute later, they’re both used up.

Prompto doesn’t wake.