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'There's nothing.'

'It's dark here.'

'And cold.'

 

He didn't remember when the last time he dressed and eat properly, have a nice bath or simply smiled happily. He lost count of the day, being pushed over and over until he can't even tell the difference if he used to it or too tired to think about it. Here he is, laying on the dirty floor, clothes long discarded, limbs not working as he wished. His body full of bruises, neck purpled by bite marks and his mind screamed nothing but pain, fresh tears wetting his cheek again. All he can do is staring blankly to the closed door. The only way out.

~◇◇◇~

He still remembered how he spent his childhood, his father supposed to be a good man but everything just crumbled down since his beloved mother passed away when he was 8 years old. He missed her, a lot. Why she have to leave? Wouldn't everything will be better if she stayed? Or…take him with her at least?

"You are different! Just look at you! Too smart for your own good!" His father shouted him as he gulps down the third bottle of alcohol. "I should never marry her!"
The little boy knew he is different, people said so. He had no friends and no one want to play with him. So, he chose to spend his childhood with all the books he could find. At the age of 12, his father handed him over to Niflheim in exchange for lots of money. They abuse him, force him to work or do whatever they want. He was a slave to them and he wasn't the only one, some of them can't stand Niflheim anymore and chose to end their own life, some starved to death or worse. At the age of 15, he couldn't tell what has he done when two men just pushed him into a van, tied his hands and cover his eyes once they start up the van. "They will pay high for this, he is unique." A man said as he nudged his stomach. "Yeah, they will throw their money over this one, that's what Insomnians do."

'Insomnians? They take me to Insomnia?'

Once they reached their destination, he could only hear their exchange of words and money. They surely pay high for him. Then, the worst nightmare started.

It's been 3 years since then. He wished everything just over, he can't take it anymore. He tried to escape, his effort simply useless. Once they have him back, their punishment even worse.

~◇◇◇~

He manage to get some sleep before awakened by sound of opened door, he heard someone walk in, "There, he is the only one available for now."

'No no no… They will do it again…'

He whimpered, only to be kicked but manage to shield himself. "Sorry, have to make sure he behaved. Just… be gentle with him." The man said with a hint of mocking. Another man showed up and started to undress.

'Please please please stop…'

 

The next time he opened his eyes, the man is on-call then rushing out leaving the door wide open, the man seems to pay no attention to him as he left. He stared blankly at the door.
'Should I leave it be? Is this another chance? Or this is a trap? Will I manage to survive this time? Will I…be free this time ?'
He questioning himself for a while.

'No holding back now.'

"…Mom, maybe I can be with you this time…" he whispered, wondering what kind of punishment will he receive once they have him later.
He pushed himself up, his hand trembling badly, he put on his dirty white shirt and buttoning it as fast as he could, but he couldn't find his trouser, the shirt long enough to cover most part of his lower hips will do for now.

'I've got not much time.'

It's difficult to walk in his current state. Slowly, he peeked outside the door and found no guards. He spotted a window at the end of the hall and it's unlocked which is cause him almost cry.
Gently pushing the window, he climb through it and close it back. He couldn't tell where he has to go, surrounded by bushes and trees confused him even more and it's not helping at all. He decided just to move, wherever he goes he didn't care, just as long he can get the hell out from here is enough.

"There he is!! I found him!!"

He froze, turned around only to spot two men stomping towards him, they also bring a rope which is not good at all. Fear consumed him at once, he watched them in terror.

'No, I can't let them have me this time.

I can't go back.

I don't want to go back.

Please…'

He has to move. Run. Run. Run. His legs hurt, begging everything to stop and praying that his mother will take him with her soon. His vision blurred by tears and its too dark to see. Whenever its a curse or a blessing, he tripped and rolled down the cliff, that was not too high, but enough to send him off to the roadway.
He barely push himself up when he realized a car drove toward him.

'So, this is it… At least, I'm not dying in that room…'

He closed his eyes, thinking about how sweet when everything will be over. Just a bit more, he will be with his mother. Just a little while…
He heard the car screech and brace himself for the impact… which is never happen. He counted a few good seconds before he opened his eyes, the car stopped an inch away from him, dare to say it never touch him. Before he could process what had happened, his whole body shook from the pain, his legs trembling badly, moving them is impossible for now.

"Hey, are you alright--?!"
A man asked him as he panicking got out from the car, he approached him and kneeled before him, he seems just to notice all the bruises and marks on his body, not to mention only wearing a shirt. "Shit- you okay?"

He kept trembling while he stared at the well-built man, the man has a beautiful pair of golden-brown eyes. Even so, he wanted to shout to him 'Why did you stop the car?!' But, he didn't believe himself to form a word right now. True to his own words, he opened his mouth only manage to whimper. The man's eyes widened, "He- hey, it's alright. It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you."
They heard a sound, only to spotted two men who chased him all the way back there, walking towards them. One of them demanded, "Hey big guy, he's ours. Hand him back will ya?"

'No… they are here… They will take me back…
No, no, I don't want… I don't want'
He started to panic and put so much effort to crawl away from them, but his body shook so much, lifting his hands and everything just hurt.

"Sorry, I don't think I can hand him back."

He heard the man by his side said so, he turned around only to see the man stand protectively between him and that two men.

One of them barked out a laugh, "Listen, stay the hell outta here and we will pretend that we never see you. Don't regret it later, this is your last chance."

"Oh yeah? It seems its too late now." The man growl.

Before they could go far, "Shit-- hey, let's go. Leave them." One of the two men tried to pull his friend away. "What are you doing?! We can't let him have what is ours! Boss will have our heads!"
"Forget about it! He's a Crownsguard, you idiot!"
Once the other realized it, they scrambled away.

 

'…Crownsguard?'

Sighing, the man kneeled down again. Softly he told the scared one in front of him. "Hey, it's okay. I have no idea what you have been through but I'm not blind and you needed help. Pretty rough, huh? I'm not gonna hurt you."

'Can I trust him? He might be lying, like the others.'

Tears keep bursting out from his eyes, he can't feel his legs anymore. He is cold, hurts, tired and starving. Why this man stopped his car? Wouldn't everything will be easier now? He supposed to be by his mother's side right now, not waiting for what kind of his next torture is.

The man shushed him softly, "My name is Gladiolus Amicitia, you can call me Gladio."

'Well, that's new… No one ever introduce themselves before.'

He hiccuped, rubbing his eyes as he cried. He felt something drape over his shoulder. The man, Gladio, has taken off his jacket and wrapped it around him.

'I beg you…please stop.'

He cried until he sobbing. Gladio said nothing for a while, but then he felt something over his head. When he managed to see what is it, Gladio caressed him softly, shushed him and told him he is safe now. It helped him calm down.


……
'All right… please help me.'

"…Ignis…" he sniffled. "My name is… Ignis Scientia."

Chapter Text

It's a rough day for Gladio at least. Driving for almost 24 hours all the way from Insomnia to Lestallum then Cape Caem and heading back to Insomnia was really beyond tired. Nice bath and warm food are something he looking forward right now then he will pass out for the rest of the night.
His phone buzzed in his pocket, fetch it out then check on it, his sister called him. Gladio is about to scold her for hadn't stayed in the bed at this hour.

"WHERE ARE YOU??!" His little sister screamed instead. Gladio can't help but chuckle. "I'm almost there, I can see the Wall from here. Around 20 minutes I'll reach the capital."
"You better hurry! Dad spent his night at the citadel tonight."
"I know and it's almost midnight. What are you doing? It is past your bedtime."
"Gladdy! I'm old enough for that!"
Galdio laughed but abruptly stopped when he saw something roughly shoved to the roadway. "Shit---" he throws his phone to the side seat and hit the brake hard. The car screeched loudly but stopped in time before he could hit whatever it is.

"Gladdy?! Gladdy! Answer me!" Gasping, Gladio picked his phone, "Hey, I'm here."
"Thank Gods! What happened? You alright?" Iris sounds worried, "I thought I lose you for a second, you idiot!"
"It's okay, I'm fine. It just something--" before he could say more, he saw the 'thing' moved and it's not really a thing, his eyes widen when he realized it. "--I'll call you back okay?" He threw his phone away didn't wait for his little sister's reply.

He unlocked his seatbelt and door, "Hey, are you alright--?!" rushed out only to find a young man trembling on the road. Gladio shocked, the young man wore nothing but shirt.
'Hell, he must be freezing.' It's hard not to notice all the bruises… is that a bite mark? "Shit- you okay?"

He received a report a few months back about missing people and how they end up being sold inhumanly as slaves, guinea pigs, or 'people's toys'. Used and tossed around as they like. Maybe there's a hidden place or the "human warehouse" as they called around here, exactly outside of the capital city, that's why Cor couldn't find anything all this time. And he must be damned if he leave this young man alone.

Slowly, the pair of emerald eyes meet his golden-brown one. Gladio swear he just saw the most beautiful pair of eyes in his life. But, the terrified look the young man gave him is enough to warn him. "He- hey, it's alright. It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you." He has to do something, the poor young man looks sick, he's skinny and trembling badly.

Then two men approached them, they out of nowhere and not looking so friendly anyway. Bingo, there must be something around here. Gladio reminds himself to tell Cor as soon as he can. When they demanded the young man to come with them, that is a big no for Gladio of course. Grow up to protect, trained since he was a little boy. King or not he can tell who needed him.

 

"Forget about it! He's a Crownsguard, you idiot!"

 

Ah- glad one of them still has some brain left. Gladio grinned as he watch them scramble away. He has no time to deal with them, he is tired, yes. But, that will not stop him if he needed to fight. What concerned him is this young man needed help as soon as possible.

He kneeled in front of the poor young man. "Hey, it's okay. I have no idea what you have been through but I'm not blind and you need help. Pretty rough, huh? I'm not gonna hurt you."

'Hell, if anything hurt you now, they have to face me first.' Gladio growl internally. The young man's eyes were puffy and wet, Gladio has to grit his teeth and told himself to not give the young man a bear hug for comfort. The young man's heart might instantly stopped if he did that. He shushes him softly, "My name is Gladiolus Amicitia, you can call me Gladio." He smiled, hopefully can calm the trembling guy.

He saw the emerald eyes flicked up to him, but it only a flash moment before he stared back at his lap. Then, a tiny sound that wretched Gladio's heart. The young man hiccuped and cried hard. Gladio take off his jacket and wrapped it over the young man. He can't stand to look at him shivering to his bone anymore. The poor young man cried and cried, his voice wretched Gladio's heart more. He reached out with his hand over the young man's hair and caressed him, to show him comfort and he is safe. A simple gesture that he learned from his mother, helped him through a lot when he was a little boy anyway. "It's alright. You are safe now, I'll not let anything happen to you. I'll protect you."

The serial hiccups and sobs slowly turn into sniffs and Gladio didn't stop caressing him. Patiently to gain this young man's trust.

 

"…Ignis…" he sniffled. "My name is… Ignis Scientia."

 

~◇◇◇~

 

Gladio smiled, "All right, Ignis. Let's get you somewhere warm now. We can't stay here for too long. I'm not sure if I can handle them if they come back with more friends." Ignis only stared at him, he still sniffing softly, eyes confused like he has no idea with what to do or where to go.

Gladio got up and walked around the car, opened the back seat door then moved a few stuff to the front seat. Once everything settled, "Can you walk?"
Ignis tried to move his trembling legs, but unable to do anything besides lifting them a bit. Fear washed over him once more and he began to whimper again.

'Oh shit-' Gladio cursed internally, he moved and kneeled by Ignis' side in flash. "Hey, hey it's okay. I'm not gonna leave you." Ignis sucked a deep breath, pushing his panicking mind away.
'It's okay. Not now. I can't lose my mind now.'

"Listen, I mean no harm. I- I'll carry you, alright? It is okay?" Gladio asked. It's terrifying if he casually lifted Ignis up without asking and scare the shit outta him.

Ignis stiffen, 'Or maybe not…' clutching the jacket over his shoulder tightly. 'Will I be alright? Where will he take me? But, I can't move anymore…'
Everything just tiring for Ignis, he closed his eyes taking a few deep breaths, 'I'll be fine.'
When he opened his eyes, he managed to give a weak nod.

Slowly, Gladio slid his arm behind Ignis' back and the other under his legs. Ignis flinched at his touch but went still, Gladio want to remind him to breathe but didn't want to make Ignis more uncomfortable. He silently lift Ignis and carried him to the car.

Once Ignis settled, Gladio heard him let out a breath. Gladio said nothing and fetch a blanket out from the trunk, thanks to Iris so he and his father had to left blankets in the trunk. He draped it over Ignis and make sure his legs are covered. He moved into the driver seat, starting up the car and turn on the heater. He checked on Ignis one last time before they off, only to find Ignis struggled to keep his eyes open.
"You… are a crownsguard?" Ignis croaked out.
Gladio lift his eyebrow, didn't expect Ignis will ask him something. "Yeah, the best of the best." He chuckled.
Ignis was silent for a moment, his eyes stared nothing ahead. "Where…will you take me?"
Gladio watched him, he can't blame Ignis for being too guarded even he is safe with a crownsguard. After everything had happened to him, trusting the wrong person is the last thing he needs now.
Gladio can't stop himself before he realized it, he caressed Ignis' hair again, Ignis didn't flinch away.
"Somewhere safe inside the Wall and you are pretty lucky because the brat--I mean the Prince of Lucis is my friend. I'll make sure those bastards who hurt you will pay the price." Gladio could see how Ignis' lips trembled and how teary his eyes.
"You can rest now."

Trusting Gladio's words, Ignis close his tired eyes and sleep within a few seconds. Gladio keeps caressing him for a while before he starts to drive.
He reached out for his phone and hit a few buttons, in only a few seconds, "What is it, Gladiolus?"
"Cor, I think I found something outside the Wall. Not too far, but this might be what we have been searching for all this time."
"…you mean, the warehouse?"
"Yes. I also found someone. He might can help. I'll report to you as soon as I reach the citadel."
"All right. Meet me up tomorrow Gladiolus, get some rest first and also, ask the guards to bring the outsider somewhere safe."
"Nah, I'll take care of him. I'll make sure he will not make any fuss."
Cor gone silent for a few seconds. "All right, but make sure of it. Good work, Gladiolus."

~◇◇◇~

Arriving at the Amicitia mansion, Gladio pulled over his car then checking on Ignis who is still sleeping. Gently shaking his shoulder but it only make Ignis snuggling into his jacket. Gladio smiled and guess he didn't have a choice besides carrying him. Getting out of his car and opening the back seat door, somehow he managed to have an arm full of Ignis. The poor young man just sleep all the way. Gladio sighs, making sure Ignis' legs bundled up with the blanket, he walked to the mansion.

"GLAD--" Iris happily welcoming her big brother but stopped and cover her mouth immediately, gasping and wide-eyed her brother. Gladio shushed her and jerk his head to the sleeping figure in his arms.
"Jared, can you please prepare something warm and light to eat?" Jared, servant of House Amicitia who stands behind Iris nodded, "Of course, in a moment." "Thanks, Jared. And you, help me prepare the guest room." Iris nodded happily and helping her brother all the way. Ignis didn't even stir as they place him on the soft bed. When Gladio tried to pull his jacket back, Ignis grunt and clutching tightly refusing to let Gladio's jacket go. Iris just giggled then help to tuck the blanket.

Rummaged his father supply, Gladio fetch an elixir and used it on Ignis, all bruises and marks healed within a second. Ignis let out a gasp and seems fully comfy. Gladio caressed him one last time before he left the room.

 

"So, who is he???" Oh, here we go, Gladio knows that Iris will never head straight to her bed without questioning her brother.
"Found him on the way back" Gladio answered her tiredly as he walked down the stairs. "That one when we were on call?" Iris asked. They reached the kitchen where Jared still preparing the meal and smiled at them when he sees them.
"Yup, he's hurt. Can't just leave him there." Gladio said after he gulps down a glass of water.
"From the outside?! Dad will be mad, Gladdy!" Iris pouted. "Iris, it's late now. I will talk to Dad later about this. Besides, if I leave him outside, he might be dead by now." Gladio said tiredly.
"I didn't mean it bad! He seems a good person too…" she trailed off.
Gladio watched his sister, he knew his sister didn't mean it bad. He sighed "Sorry, Iris. Go to bed now alright? We will talk again tomorrow."
"Okay… Good night, Gladdy." Iris pouted.
Gladio ruffled her hair and shoo her out from the kitchen.

"Master Gladio, I've made porridge. Do I need to serve it to our guest?" Jared asked him.
"Thank you, Jared. Leave it to me. You should get some sleep too." Gladio said.
"Alright, Master. Good night."
"G'night."

Gladio take a shower and have something for his stomach. He didn't have a heart to wake Ignis when he checked on him again, half of Ignis' face buried to the pillow he hugged, blanket tangled around his lower half, breath softly and Gladio seems can't have his jacket back yet. His jacket trapped between Ignis and the pillow. Gladio chuckled and let Ignis sleep a bit more. Leaving the guest room, Gladio walked to his room, he will wake Ignis later to eat the porridge and settle everything up with his father tomorrow. For now, he needs some sleep for himself.

Chapter Text

'Warm…'

'Safe…'

'I feel safe…'

'Is this heaven?'

 

'Is…everything over now…?'

 

Ignis refused to do anything, everything just too good and comfy. He felt like floating, too cruel if this is just a dream but, he will enjoy the moment. He felt he hugged something, he grabs whatever it is and squeezes, he smiled when it's just a fluffy pillow. Ah- he is on a soft bed. Yes, a very soft bed. Surrounded by fluffy pillows, blankets to keep him warm. It felt heavenly, when was the last time he felt like this?
He slowly opened his eyes, stretched and yawned softly then looked around before-- Wait a minute--

'Where am I-?'

Frantically, he jumps out of the bed. He scanned his surroundings, then himself. He still wore his dirty shirt for sure then his mouth fell open as he noticed how smooth his pale skin, no bruises, no scratches or anything.

'Someone healed me? How?'

He touched his neck, no more bite marks and it didn't hurt at all. 'Oh goodness…'
Slowly, he took a few good steps, he felt light. He could jump and run as fast as he wants, nothing hurt. Then he saw Gladio's jacket.

'Gladiolus… he did help me…? Where is he now...?'

He grabbed the jacket and draped it over his shoulder, somehow feel safe and warm.

"…Gladio…?" He whispered. It's not too dark here, but he felt uneasy alone in the room. Reminds him of that...room. He shook his head and took a deep breath. He stared at the door wondering if it's locked. Will he end up locked up like before? He told himself to give it a try before he starts to panic with his mind repeating of what-ifs.

He reached the door, slowly turned the knob. It's unlocked. Ignis sighed in relief, pushed the door and slowly stepped out, gingerly glancing around. He left the door open as he stepped out, silently putting much effort to walk without drawing any sound. From the second floor, he saw a big door that had a different shape than the other doors, he assumes that is the way out.

'Maybe I should leave… I don't know what will they do to me later. And…while I have a chance.'

He found the stairs and walked down straight to the door, but before he reached it, he spotted the kitchen. He hasn't eaten anything besides a few pieces of bread or anything they gave him back there. They never properly fed him anyway. He felt pathetic but just can't help it. He's starving.

'I'll have something and leave.'

 

~◇◇◇~

 

Clarus Amicitia, the sworn Shield of the King of Lucis is a loyal and honest man. He never complained about his job, he loves his king and his children, but being a single parent isn't easy and it's a rare moment for him to spend the day with his family. He told his daughter, Iris that he will spend the night at the citadel, somehow everything just done and he can go home then have a day off tomorrow. What a joy blessed by the Astrals.

 

2:10 am.

Once he arrived at the Amicitia mansion, he quietly unlocks the front door, he didn't want to wake anyone up, they deserve some sleep in this hour. He locked it back up when he gets inside, takes off his shoes and hangs his coat. They always left the mansion lights on even at night. Well, he is not expecting someone awake by this time but he notices there's a sound and someone in the kitchen when he was just about to walk up the stairs. 

He peered into the kitchen, wishing to catch Iris rummaging food for herself. But, neither Iris nor Gladio, a young man only wearing a shirt and jacket munching an apple in front of his opened refrigerator is the one welcoming his view.

'Thief? But, how could he get in? Into the Amicitia mansion?!'

Clarus stepped out and barked loud, "Who's there?!"

The young man yelped and frantically looked around, he got to his feet once he saw Clarus. It didn't take long before the young man leaped out from the kitchen and scrambled his way to the front door.
"Noo! You aren't going anywhere!" Clarus shouted and tried to reach for the young man. But, he easily dodges Clarus and does some acrobatic jump in the air. Clarus was stunned but mentally slapped himself. 'This is not the time to be awed over something.'

He chases the young man. Before he knew it, they were actually running, leaping, dodging around the living room like some actors in the movies. He snorts at himself somehow finding everything just funny. Clarus will never use his sword against this young man. He seems unarmed and only focused on getting away. Stumbled a bit by the sofa, the young man almost loses his balance but was fast enough to balance himself before he throws the jacket over his shoulder to Clarus, to distract him awhile. 'Wait, isn't this Gladio's?'

Clarus easily catches the jacket and looked at it to confirm his suspicion. 'Well, yes. This is Gladio's'
Clarus sighed, he has told his son to not bring any hook-ups home. He gathers his thoughts then looks at the young man who has successfully distracted him and is now desperately trying to open the front door. It's useless, Clarus has locked it by the way and the key is safe in his pocket. But, the young man keeps pushing, turns and banging the door. Clarus starts to worry that he will hurt himself there. "Have you done there?" Clarus asked as he walks toward the young man. He's about to grab the young man's arm to stop him banging the door, the rest of the mansion probably awoken by now.
He's stunned as the young man crawled away from him to the corner behind the coat hanger, he squeezes through somehow fit without knocking the hanger, pulling his knee to his chest and hugged himself tightly then starts crying. Terrified and small.

"No, please please, please… I'm sorry, I'm sorry…" he pleaded, desperately shielding his face with his arms as if Clarus will hurt him. 

Clarus has no idea what just happened, he tried to get closer, "Hey, it's okay. I'm not gonna hurt you. Calm down."

But, the young man keeps pleading and apologizing, cried harder that it must be hard to breathe by now. 'Well… this is not normal.' Clarus told himself. Carefully studying the young man's reaction. 'Some kind of trauma? This is dangerous.'

 

"Ignis!" Clarus heard his son cry from the second floor. He watched as Gladio practically ran down the stairs and stopped once he was in front of the young man-Ignis. Gladio seems shocked by Ignis' state right now. Iris is also awake, only watching everything from the second floor with Jared, they look worried.

"Ignis. Ignis, look at me. Hey, it's me, Gladio. Remember?" Gladio desperately gains Ignis' attention and reached to shake his shoulder lightly. Ignis stiffens at the touch, he'd tried to peel Gladio's hand off with his shaking hand then hugs himself tighter. Gladio backs off and glared at his father. Clarus lifts his eyebrows, his son never glares at him unless he did something very bad. Clarus' mouth gaping unsure what to say.

"What have you done, dad?" Gladio asks instead.

"I- I thought I caught a thief, I didn't know he's a friend of yours, son," Clarus answered him dutifully.

Troubled, Gladio turns his attention back to Ignis. He whimpered between his sobs, clutching tightly his chest, gasping for air. "Ignis, it's okay. Calm down, no one's gonna hurt you." Gladio said as he placed his hand on Ignis' knee, all of them shocked when Ignis actually screamed in terror once Gladio touched him. Gladio yelped, pulling his hand back as quickly as possible.

Clarus' fatherly mode kicks himself back to reality, he crouches down level to Ignis on the floor, softly he speaks, "Ignis. It's okay. We aren't going to hurt you or do anything to you. We are trying to help." Clarus reached for Ignis but never actually touched him, he closes his eyes and there's something shining flowing out from his hand to Ignis. Clarus moved and placed his hand on Ignis' hair, when Ignis didn't give any response besides whimpers and sobs. Clarus pull him gently out from the corner, Ignis unconsciously followed. Clarus shushed him and pet his head with his other hand, while the other firmly grabbed his shoulder telling that he isn't alone. It's working. Slowly, Ignis has gone lax, shoulder relaxed, breath deep but not gasping for air anymore. Gladio sighed, they stay like that for a few minutes. Clarus releases him when he feels Ignis relaxed enough.

"Can you stand?" Clarus asked him softly. Ignis burrowed his eyebrows, just stare blankly to the floor never looking at Clarus. Clarus nods to his son, Gladio took the hint and help Ignis to stand. Once Ignis is on his feet, they wait for Ignis to say something or anything, it took him a few seconds to process what just happened. Slowly, Ignis walked towards Gladio and hid behind him, weakly clutching Gladio's sweater.

Clarus' eyebrows can't go any higher, he stared at his son with that 'care to explain anything, son?' look. "I remember I have told you about- to not bring any hook-ups home, yes?"

Gladio blushed, he tried not to jump with Ignis behind him, "What-?! No! Dad! It's not like that. Ignis is-- I--"
"And at least, give him something proper to wear." Clarus snapped. Gladio glanced at Ignis, then face-palming himself when he realized Ignis wore nothing but a shirt to cover himself, thank the Astrals the shirt is long enough to cover his manhood.
Iris giggled, "Oh no, Iris my girl, go back to your room." Clarus sighed as he gestured Jared to take Iris back to her room. "And son, I'll wait for you in the kitchen."

Gladio nods to his father then gives his full attention to Ignis, "What are you doing down here? Are you hurt?" He asked worriedly. Ignis said nothing only looked at him with kicked puppy eyes, his growling stomach is enough to answer Gladio's question.
"Shit, sorry. I should have woken you before." Gladio felt like an asshole now. Ignis drop his gaze, "I'm sorry…" he whispered.
Now, Gladio felt more than an asshole. "N-No. It's not your fault." Gladio runs his hand through his hair, "Come, you need something to put on first, alright? Then, we will have something for your stomach to settle." Ignis nodded and follow him silently.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

Three of them sat at the dining table, Gladio and Clarus face to face while Ignis dressed in Gladio's old t-shirt and shorts took a seat beside Gladio nursing a bowl of porridge. It's almost sad to see how he ate like porridge is the best thing in the world. Clarus poured a glass of water and placed it in front of Ignis, silently told the young man to eat slower.

"So…" Gladio starts, "How should I put this. I…was on my way back to the capital, almost hit him with my car." He smiles sheepishly while Clarus just stared at him with fatherly serious expression. Gladio clears his throat, "I- I can't just leave him outside, dad. He--",

"Outside? Outside the Wall?" His father demanded.
"Yes-",  "Gladiolus, you know the rules about bringing an outsider into our Wall."

"Dad, like I said. I can't just leave him, he is injured alright? Badly. I had to use an elixir on him or maybe he would not have made it." Gladio's voice grew higher. Ignis stiffened beside him, slowly stirring the porridge.

"There's something around where I found him. It just- there. I'm sure of it." Gladio said as he tried to regain his composure. 
"And what is it?" Clarus sighed.

Glancing towards Ignis, Gladio quiet for a few seconds, unsure how to say it. "I found him, full with bruises and…" Gladio trailed off then gesturing with his hand pointing to his neck. Even Ignis doesn't look at Gladio, he stopped eating, just staring at his bowl. 
Clarus seems to understand and asks, "Have you reported to Cor?"
"Yes. He asked me to meet up tomorrow." Gladio answered dutifully. Clarus closes his eyes and sighed.

"Apologies… I…" Ignis said as he look at them.
Both the father and son are startled by him. But, as soon their eyes meet with the emerald pair, Ignis closed his mouth and dropped his gaze to his lap instead.

Clarus' eyes soften 'He has been through the worse', he glanced at Gladio who just gives him a pleading look. 'I must be damned for thinking about kicking this young man out.' Clarus kicks himself internally. "Ignis, yes?" Ignis flinched. "Y-yes, sir?"
"You are from Tenebrae?" Clarus asked as he stands up and walks to his large refrigerator.

Gladio noticed that Ignis is getting nervous, but still answering his father. "Yes, sir." 
"Figured it out by the way you speak." Clarus said, still rummaging his refrigerator. "Have some friends from Tenebrae back then. When we grow old, everyone just…gets busy with their own life now." Ignis stared at Clarus, obediently listening.

"How old are you?" Clarus took out a beer.
"…18, sir."
Whatever Clarus was doing, he stopped and gave Ignis a stern look. Ignis felt his heart leap out, he gripped his shorts afraid of saying something wrong. Gladio cursed beside him.
"And how long have you been…there?" Clarus asked more. Ignis bit his lower lip.

 

'I shouldn't be here… I shouldn't be here…'

 

"I…I apologize for the inconvenience. I shouldn't be he--"
Clarus lifts his hand gesturing Ignis to silence. "You didn't answer the question, my boy."
Ignis swallows. Hard. "I-if I'm not…mistaken...I was handed to Nilfheim when I was 12 …" Ignis could feel his eyes starts to burn. "Then, they sent me to…that …to there for about three yea--" Ignis clamp his mouth, he suddenly felt dizzy and sick.
Clarus stared at him, letting Ignis to regain his composure "Handed? By whom?"
Ignis closed his eyes, head bowed as he fought his nausea. "…my father."

Clarus closes his eyes and takes a deep breath. 'Who is his goddamn father, I'm gonna rip his throat.'  Gladio turns to Ignis with a face could kill. "Your father?!" He roared loudly.
Ignis jumps slightly and scrambled off the dining chair a few feet away from Gladio, knocking off the chair in the process. "Shit-sorry. I didn't mean to scare you."

Ignis looks up at him, a single tear falls from his eye.
"What will happen to me now? Is it…there will be a punishment?" Ignis asked voice cracked at the end. Before Gladio and Clarus speak, Ignis blurt out, "Please… at least, if there's a punishment. Can I…at least have something to eat once each day?"

Gladio felt his anger boiling, he sucked a deep breath, hands clenching and gritting his teeth. Clarus clears his throat. He put his beer on the counter beside the refrigerator. He walked to Ignis and give him a light pat on the shoulder, assuring him "Ignis, first of all. We have to tell you that, there is no punishment. No one will do anything to you. You have my word, you are safe here. We will make sure of it and also, we do want to help you. It doesn't matter if you are a stranger or outsider. The Astrals could come down and kick my ass if they wanted to. You have no place to stay, then stay here. If you are hungry then eat. Just tell us if you need anything. We will help you."
"Dad is right." Gladio speaks up. "And I will protect you." 

Ignis is left speechless. He wipes his tears and sniffs softly.

Clarus smiled "I'll be in my room if you need me, go get some rest, boy." Then he turns to Gladio, "You know what you have to do, yes?" Gladio nods, "Good night, dad."

Clarus smiled to both of them, then with his beer retreats to his chamber.

 

Once they are left alone, Gladio offers his hand to Ignis.
"Let's clean you up." Ignis nods.

 

'I'll be okay now, mom.'

Chapter Text

Ignis didn't understand what had happened. Everything was just ridiculous. Who are they? There's no punishment? They fed and helped him? There must be something they want from him. Right? Or…maybe it's just his insecurities. No, he can't let his guard down. There must be something.

But, no one ever treats him like this. Everything is just new to him.

 

He likes it, feels safe somehow. He would love to stay. 

 

Then, Gladio.

 

He isn't lying.

 

Ignis keeps telling himself that he could trust the man. He wants to. Everything is gonna be okay. But, something in his mind screamed at him 'don't'. Leaving is the best choice for now. There is something he can do. But, they will not let him and the panic attack isn't helping either. He is also questioning himself. What will he do when he manages to get out from here. What if… 'they' found him again, he will back to that room, right?

Cold, tired, starving, they will keep punishing him for something he never did or whatever the reason.

 

Ignis shivered as he thought about it.

'No, I don't wanna go back. I don't want--'

 

"You okay?"

 

Gladio's voice snapped him back.

He blinks at Gladio, reminds himself where he is right now "I-I'm fine."

Gladio hums, "Is it too cold? I'll add more warm water."

 

He knew Gladio could turn his back anytime on him, leave him all alone and miserable. It hurt to think about it. It was selfish for him to beg for this and only this time,he wants to feel safe. Living his own life. To be loved---

His breath hitched, Ignis felt his eyes burn so he forced himself to calm down.

 

He blinked.

'I will be okay...'

 

~◇◇◇~

 

He found himself standing in front of Gladio as said person prepared a bath for him. The tub filled with warm water, smelling of fresh soap ready for him. It looked relaxing.

"Okay, I'll leave you by yourself now. Think you can manage?" Gladio asked as he fetched a towel to dry his hand then throw it to the basket.

Ignis clutching his t-shirt, unsure where to begin. "I think, I can manage." He said instead.

 

Gladio smiled at him, "Here, I'll leave some towels for you, if you need more there are some in the cabinet over there and this," he pats a hoodie folded neatly beside the sink. "Uhh… also my old stuff. But, still good and pretty comfy."

 

Ignis nods. "Thank you."

 

"Alright." Gladio walked out from the bathroom and closed the door behind to give Ignis some privacy.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

The last time Gladio felt burned inside out by anger was when his little sister Iris had gone missing at the Citadel. He was so worried and couldn't help but blame himself. 

He takes a deep breath and counts to ten. There's no need to shout or scream or punch the innocent wall. Report about the human warehouse he has read enough to make his mouth twitched in disgust. Seeing in person a victim like this is a whole different matter. It is awful. It hurts to see.

Ignis. Right. He will help him. No matter what.

 

Even as his anger subsided, his heart still clenched. Gladio closed his eyes. He was about to count to ten again when the bathroom door was roughly shoved open revealing Ignis both hands deathly gripping the doorknob, eyes wide and terrified. Gladio yelped in surprise but more surprised when he saw Ignis.

But soon, Ignis seemed to calm down when he noticed Gladio, his eyes softened and slowly loosened his grip.

 

Gladio was about to ask if there was something wrong, but before he could, Ignis turned back inside the bathroom leaving the door open. Gladio stared at him, confused. When Ignis started to undress, Gladio slapped himself internally. He reached for the door to close it but was stopped by a surprised whimper this time. Ignis clutching tightly at Gladio's borrowed t-shirt at his chest like that thing was his lifeline, his big emerald eyes desperately looked at the door.

Cute. Wait, now Gladio slapped his face with his own hand.

 

"Uhh… Can I help you?"

He can see how tense Ignis is. "Please… could you, leave the door open?"

 

'Huh? That's weird.'

"Uhh, sure." Gladio awkwardly stood there, "But, how about you? You don't mind if someone sees you?" He gestured with his hand up and down at his own body.

Ignis shook his head, "No, I don't mind."

Gladio opened his mouth but close it again, speechless for a while. "You scared to be alone?"

Ignis' eyes dart around. "No…"

Gladio furrowed "Then, why shouldn't I close the door?"

 

Ignis looked distressed. He was afraid of something.

Gladio waited for his answer for a while, "It's alright if you are scared. How about, I leave the door open but only a peek." Ignis perk up and tilting his head. "And I'll just sit here, guarding the door for you. We can talk while you bathe." Gladio said.

 

He was caught off guard when he saw Ignis' mouth curve as he seemed to be smiling, but quickly disappeared behind his borrowed t-shirt. Ignis nodded happily.

As promised, Gladio closed the door enough only for a peek and sat on the floor. He heard nothing at first, then the sound of water splashed as Ignis slid down the tub.

 

"Feels nice, isn't it? Don't stay too long, alright?" Gladio told him. Ignis hum in response, sounded content and fully relaxed. Gladio chuckled.

They stay silent for a minute as Ignis happily bathed himself. "You… wanna know something?" Gladio asked.

 

Ignis blinked. "About?"

 

"Anything. If you have a question."

 

Ignis looked around. He stayed silent for a while.

"Gladiolus?" Ignis asked.

"Yeah?" Gladio answered him as he stared at the wall in front of him.

"That's…a flower." Ignis trailed off.

Gladio was silent for a few seconds before he realized what Ignis meant, he chuckled. "Have you seen my little sister? Her name is Iris. Our mother loved flowers, so that's how our names came from." Gladio said with a smile.

"It suits you." Ignis breaths, Gladio almost didn't hear him. 

"My dad said so." He agrees.

 

Ignis had gone quiet for a few moments, considering what should he ask next, "Gladio?"

"Yeah?" Gladio acknowledges with a nod.

"You said… you're a friend of the Prince?" Ignis asked, he hoped he didn't go too far asking that kind of question.

Gladio seemed to be smiling, "You mean that brat? Trust me, he is only a royal pain in the ass."

Ignis blinked, he didn't understand what  Gladio just said. Then, Gladio laughed, "I'm just joking, yeah that kid is my friend. I'm his Shield by the way."

Ignis was surprised, "Apologies, but is it alright for me to know that much?"

"Huh? What's the prob? It's not like you are gonna walk out and put him in danger, is it?" Gladio snorted.

Ignis look at Gladio's back, slowly he smiled. "Thank you…" he saw Gladio make a confused gesture.

"Huh…? For?"

Ignis turned his gaze to his own hands, "For trusting me."

 

Gladio doesn't say anything, but Ignis is sure Gladio was smiling there. Ignis drew his knee up to his chest and rested his chin on it. "Is it… alright for me to stay?"

Gladio almost snaps his neck to face Ignis but immediately stopped when he remembered what Ignis was doing right now. "Until you find a place for you to settle? I don't mind, Dad neither."

Ignis nodded, "Alright…"

 

Gladio clears his throat, "You up to talk tomorrow? We might need your statement in detail."

Ignis blinked slowly, he stared at nothing then closed his eyes. "I'll try. But, I'm afraid I can't help much."

Gladio was confused. Ignis bit his lower lip, "They…always locked me in a room. I couldn't peek outside, whenever I managed to look around, it was always surrounded by trees and bushes. They also moved me around carefully while they covered my vision or when I'm unconscious."

 

"Don't worry about the location. How many people around there?" Gladio glared at the wall.

"A few men, there are also some women. They are the guards and…" Ignis trailed off.

Gladio took the hint and sighing, "You don't have to tell me if you are not ready. It's okay."

 

They fell silent, Ignis turned to look at Gladio, even with just a peek outside the door, he could see the bulk body breathing, guarding him. "Will you… be there tomorrow?"

After hearing Ignis' question, Gladio smiled softly, "I've a promise to keep, didn't I?" He said without glancing at Ignis.

A warm feeling slowly fluttered in Ignis' chest, he hopes this man will never betray his own words. Ignis isn't sure if he will able to breathe if Gladio did.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

"You let him go?!" The man shouts. 

Both men startled. "We are sorry, sir! We had no choice--"

"Is it hard to keep an eye on him? All of the slaves why. Must. Him?!"

They shifted, nervously telling the truth to their boss even if it was useless. "But, sir! There were Crownsguard! We can't--"

"Silence! There was only a Crownsguard! What are you afraid of?! Now, Nilfheim is gonna have my head because of both of you! Out of my sight right now!" He shouted.

 

As soon as the other men leave, he drops himself to the sofa and takes a long deep breath. "Guess, I have to move on my own now…"

There's a sound of footsteps echoing, walking towards him with such a graceful calmness and hint of playfulness. "Well, well, my friend. What makes you look like a starving behemoth that is ready to swallow the whole garula?"

The man snarled, "What do you want? If you are going to mock me, you'd better not do that today."

The other laughed cheerfully, "Oh well, my friend. Don't be so rude, that hurt my feelings." He reaches for a glass and pours some drink for himself. "I have to tell you. That what has concerned you now, has its place inside the Wall."

"What concerned me more is what if they find out? What if---" He stood up from the sofa, spat at the other man but, abruptly cut off by a glance.

 

"You know what we have to do." The other said as he calmly sips his drink.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

After he dressed in Gladio's hoodie and shorts, Ignis was secured by Gladio to the guest room again.

Gladio gently nudges him to get in the bed, which is Ignis obliged. Once again he is surrounded by pillows and a warm blanket, he sighed in content.

"Still got a few hours before the sunrise, rest will ya? You need it." Gladio told him and made sure Ignis is comfy and warm.

Ignis hesitated, "Will I…be okay?"

Gladio's eyes soften but, his lips pull into a tight line. He slowly sits on the side of the double bed, "What makes you think you aren't?"

Ignis looked at his lap, he watches his fingers clutching the blanket. "What if they are looking for me?"

Gladio can't help himself, his own hand will be damned because he reached out and pets Ignis' hair again before he realizes it. "This maybe sounds cheesy but, I'm here aren't I?"

Ignis let him pet his head, it feels nice by the way, feels different from random people showing up every night when he was in that room, theirs felt awful.

 

'I'll be okay here. They aren't here… It's alright.'

 

"Hey, don't think too much. Just get some rest, no one is gonna take you away." Gladio chuckled.

"Okay..." Ignis snuggled himself between pillows, Gladio pulls his hand away and stands up.

"Good night, Ignis."

"Good night, Gladio."

 

Ignis watched Gladio from the bed as he walked towards the door, opening the door then-- 'Oh no..'

"Gladiolus." Abruptly, he sits up.

Gladio stopping in midway closing the door, "Yeah?"

Ignis looked around, eyes darted around for something as if it was gonna show up somewhere. Gladio swings the door open and stared at him.

 

Gladio thinks about how little Iris scared if a goofy monster from kid's imagination jumps out from the dark and he has no choice but to stay with her until she falls asleep. Looking at Ignis right now, he's pretty sure they wore the same scared expression, but it's not like he's scared about the goofy monster.

"Alright, you have to tell me something. I can't help you if you don't tell me." Gladio started.

Ignis lifts his knee up to his chest, grabbing the blanket tightly as he murmured, "I'm sorry…"

"No. You didn't do anything wrong, okay? You told me you aren't scared being alone then I shouldn't close the bathroom door and this. There's something else." Gladio speaks calm and soothing as he can.

Their eyes met, Gladio felt bad for Ignis, he looks like he's about to cry, again. "…they locked me." He whispered. Gladio patiently waiting for him.

"I was always locked in that room." Ignis looks at his lap. "I'm…scared…of being locked in."

 

Gladio stood still, even inside he wanted to run to Ignis and hug him, assure him until he believes what Gladio had told him that he is safe is true. Gladio steps back inside the room and closed the door, he walked to the couch placed beside the bed attached to the wall. He lay down on the couch, "Is this okay?"

Ignis blinked, trying to process what happened, "What are you doing?"

Gladio blinked back to him as if both of them having blinking competition. "Accompanying you? Get some sleep now" Gladio closed his eyes and yawned trying to find a better position for himself.

He hears Ignis let out a breath, then some rustling and nothing.

 

Gladio asked himself for what the hell he is doing right now. When the first time he met the future king, he was only 12 while the little future king clutching at his father's side. Gladio's father told him that he will become a strong shield and as a brother for the future king. Yes, he wants to protect the future king. To fulfill his calling with pride and honor as an Amicitia. He swore an oath to protect and stay by the future king's side for the rest of his life. 

He has his reason to live.

 

Then, he met Ignis just roughly 6 hours ago, but he felt the same for him like how he felt for the future king. He wanted to help, he wants to protect and hold him.

 

It's not fair he thinks, for himself and Ignis.

 

 He waits for a few seconds before he peeks to check on Ignis. 'He's supposed to be asleep now.'

Yet, he is wrong. The emerald pair stare at him. Gladio almost choked on his own. "Aren't you supposed to sleep by now?"

Ignis lay in the bed while hugging the same pillow his head propped on, innocently he stared at Gladio.

 

If the one who is having trouble right now was Iris, he would lay in the same bed or tell her some stories. But, this is Ignis.

"You will be here when I wake up?" Ignis asked.

On the uncomfortable couch? "Yeah, I can stay with you for the night," Gladio told him.

Then, it happens again. The strange feelings like when they were in the bathroom. Ignis' eyes soften then close. Even his face half-buried in the pillow, Gladio knows, 'He just smiling…'

Gladio wonder why it felt good to see him smiling.

 

He closed his eyes and slept.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

Gladio was woken up by muffled giggles. He rubs his eyes and sat himself up. 'I'm not in my room.' He realized as he looks at the bed and found no Ignis. Frantically, he jumps out from the couch, "Ignis?"

Then, there's a giggle again, sounds like Iris. He padded out from the guest room and headed to the kitchen where he heard another sound, that must be Clarus. To his surprise, somehow Iris manage to get Ignis to cook with her. He watched from their backs as Iris shows Ignis how to flip the pancake on the pan while Ignis curiously follow her instruction.

 

"No no! Not like that!" Iris giggled. "Here, like this."

Gladio watches them fondly, it's nice, really. Not every morning they gonna start the day like this.

"Good morning, son." Clarus greets him from the dining table stirring a cup of coffee, Gladio also saw someone else sat with his father, a glaive. Jared nodded at Gladio while he washed the dishes. Iris turns her attention to his brother, Ignis did the same but said nothing as Iris cheerfully "Gladdy! Good morning!"

Gladio had to bite his lips to suppress his laugh when he saw their faces. His little sister was covered with flour while Ignis shares the same suffering as well, but evidently Iris' doing judge by how the flour covering his left cheek and his nose. He swears Ignis just let the little girl do anything without complaining. "You two seem to be having fun." He settles himself in the dining table.

 

"What are you doing here, Nyx?" Gladio asked the glaive. "Morning' big guy, order from His Majesty. Sent me here to make sure everything is alright." Nyx jerked his head towards Ignis and laughed, "Or make sure they didn't burn down your kitchen."

Clarus clears his throat. Nyx yelped then hastily gulped down his cup of coffee.

"Cor must be worried so he sent you." Clarus said.

Gladio burrowed, "Why he send a glaive instead of a Crownsguard?"

"You didn't hear anything about last night, big guy?"

"Huh? Something happened?"

 

Clarus answered the question for him, "Once Cor received your report, they tracked down your phone so they know the location, Cor himself with a few guards did the  search."

"Cor himself?" If the Marshal himself makes a move, there must be something not right.

Clarus glanced at Iris and Ignis, both of them still busy with the pancakes. "We knew some of them are Nifs, just want to make sure there are no spies or threats" Clarus said.

"And it's too dangerous because they are really near the Wall all this time, not to mention it is actually an abandoned area" Nyx continued. "And…the stranger. I'm afraid I have to escort him to-"

"Wait, what do you mean?!" Gladio asked sternly.

"Calm down, Gladiolus. We just have to do a full scan and make sure there are no trackers or such that can harm our kingdom. I hate to say this but, we have no choice." Clarus told him.

 

Gladio sighed, "Fine, but I'm going with him."

Nyx silently followed their conversation. Clarus sips his coffee, "We will go to Citadel within 30 minutes, you go report to Cor. I'll go with Nyx and take Ignis to the medical wing."

Gladio was about to protest but Clarus lifts his hand and told him that's final. Gladio huffed.

Nyx stared at him with a suspicious look. Gladio glance at him, "What?"

Nyx gave him shit-eating grin, "Nothing."

 

A moment later, Iris placed a plate full of pancakes on the dining table. Most of it is in undescribed shapes. Clarus shoved it immediately into his mouth and told Nyx to do the same. Nyx isn't sure at first but, he didn't have the heart to decline by the way Iris looked at him with a hopeful smile, so he tried. Comically, his eyes widen and stare at Iris in shock at how good it tastes then told her that this is the most delicious pancake he ever had and ended up having three more pancakes for himself. Gladio watched Iris cheering then share some pancakes with Ignis plus extra whipped cream while Jared poured each Iris and Ignis a glass of milk.

Ignis took a cautious bite. When he managed to place a piece in his mouth, he freezes and stared at Iris. Gladio wonders if what he just witnessed in Ignis is a short-circuit.

When Ignis be able to move again, he took another bite and another then another. Gladio can see how Ignis' eyes tear up. Gladio took a bite for himself, he saw Nyx also watch them with an unreadable expression. 

 

'This is what they called a threat...'

 

Once again, Gladio huffed.

 

~◇◇◇~

 

After rummaging his own wardrobe to find suitable clothes for Ignis and do some cleanup, they made their way to the Citadel. Ignis didn't say much beside nods and yes, obediently trailing behind Gladio. 

Gladio wants to stay with Ignis while they examine him, but his father has told him enough and there is no room for argument. 

"I'll make sure he will be okay, big guy." Nyx pats Gladio's shoulder seems to understand Gladio's tension.

Four of them made their way to Clarus' car. Gladio and Ignis settled themselves in the back seat, while Clarus driving and Nyx sat beside him. 

 

Insomnia is a big city, tall buildings, traffic, vehicles and citizens. Everything about Insomnia just breathtaking. For Gladio who's grown up in it, that is a normal sight every day. He's seen for a hundred times today, there is still a few minutes before they arrive at the Citadel. He tells himself he should explain a few things to Ignis. He just hopes his father and Nyx know exactly what are they doing. He doesn't want anything about last night to happen again.

"So Ignis, I need to tell you-" his words died down when he lays his eyes on Ignis. He thought Ignis was staring at him but he isn't. Ignis big wide curious eyes stare out through the window beside Gladio. Nyx glance at them after a moment, "Hey, you guys good?"

Ignis keeps staring, eyes jumping to every window to window in the car like an excited kid's first ride. 

 

Gladio snapped his finger in front of Ignis' eyes. "You okay?" 

Ignis blinked, "Y-yes."

Gladio chuckled, "Enjoying the view, huh?"

Nyx didn't say anything as he turns to focus on the road again.

"Listen, Ignis. Dad and Nyx will take you to do some check-ups." Gladio told him, "Nothing to be worried about, just follow them."

Ignis look at him, Gladio isn't sure but, is…there is a hint of disappointment on his face?

Ignis didn't say anything but he nodded.

 

When they arrived at the Citadel, there are a few guards waiting for them. So, they really saw Ignis as a threat huh, as expected. Gladio mentally cursed. They get inside the elevator, he will head to Cor's office so, they parted. He didn't say anything as they got out first from the elevator, just casually says 'see you later'. He has a bad feeling once he looks at Ignis. There's an unreadable expression. But, he pushes it aside and assures himself he's just worried.

 

The elevator chirping 'bing' tells him he has arrived at the office section. He turns around to the hallway then stopped in front of Cor's office. 

He knocks and receives a signal to come in.

"Gladiolus, I've been waiting for you. Please, have a seat" The Marshal said without looking up from his paperwork and picks up another report, he shoves it to Gladio. "This is what we found last night."

Gladio took the report and read it, "What the… what does this mean?!"

 

"We found the warehouse but, we found no single soul within it. They seem to have immediately cleaned out the place once you showed up." Cor began, "there are signs of people having been there. Oddly, no one is around, like they just mysteriously disappeared. We tried to track them down but, we can't find anything."

Gladio glared at the report, unintentionally tightening his grip. Cor remained calm and stern as ever, "I believe they are examining…this someone you found right now?"

Gladio clears his throat, "Yes. His name is Ignis."

"We need his information as soon as possible, he might know where their hiding place is. Did he show any threatening signs?" Cor asked.

Gladio lowered the report in his grip, "No sir, so far I believed he is just a victim. I found him last night injured badly while he tried to escape."

Cor nodded, "For now, we will take care of him. Can't let outsiders wandering around the city without a guard watching him."

Gladio almost growled, almost.

Their conversation was cut off by Gladio's phone ringing,

"Excuse me." He said as he took out his phone.

 

'Huh? Nyx called me?'

 

He hit the answer button, but before he could say a thing all he hears is someone screaming.