“You’re… breaking up with me?” Ignis’ voice quavers, like he's not sure if he believes what he's hearing or not. It's the same tone of disbelief Gladio heard when he confessed to Iggy for the first time, like Ignis couldn't believe his luck, that somebody like Gladio would actually love him. Times were easier, then.
He remembers how, after they had their first kiss, Ignis asked him what this—their newfound relationship—would mean for their duties. How their duties would be affected. Gladio had only kissed him again and promised that it wouldn’t, that they could balance duty and love.
That was before he truly understood what his duty meant. That was before they left Insomnia. That was before the Niffs came. That was before his dad died and Iris was separated from him, miles away in an unfamiliar town.
That was before they went on a hunt and Noct was in danger and Gladio hesitated. He’d been too focused on Iggy, who had taken a bad hit earlier. Noct’s injuries were light and using a potion was over-kill but what if it was worse? What if he’d actually needed to use one, or an elixir? A phoenix down?
“Iggy, you have to understand,” Gladio says, even if he ain’t so sure he understands the words coming out of his mouth himself. “I can’t afford to hesitate. Not now. Noct needs me as his Shield more than ever. He’s a king now, for crying out loud. I can’t let anything distract me from my duty.”
“So that’s all I was to you?” Ignis spits. Venom laces his words and the temperature of the room seems to drop a thousand degrees. He's always had a special talent for making Gladio seem smaller than him and now, with Gladio laying on a bed with injuries that shouldn't even be there, he feels it more strongly than ever. “A distraction?”
“No!” Gladio says hurriedly, but it’s too late. He’s put his foot in his mouth, spoke too soon, wasn’t paying enough attention to just what the hell he’s saying. “Iggy, you’ve always been more than that to me. You’re everything to me. I love you, it’s just—”
“Love? Or loved, Gladio?”
Whenever Ignis said his name before, it sounded like a blessing, like home. Now, Ignis spits it out like a curse. Maybe he deserves it.
“ Don’t.” Ignis takes a deep breath and stands up in one smooth move. “Just… don’t, Gladio. I don’t want to hear it.”
“ Enough, Gladio,” he says, and it’s an order, a plea.
Gladio snaps his mouth shut. He should have done that long before.
Ignis stares at Gladio with an expression he can't quite read, then stomps to the door. He yanks the door open h e pauses, for a moment, like he's got something to say. Or he's waiting for Gladio to say something like "Please don't go."
Gladio doesn't say anything. Ignis leaves, the door slamming shut behind him. The sound of his footsteps grow faint, and in a matter of seconds, they’re gone.
( He’s gone).
This is what you wanted, Gladio tells himself. This is what you asked for. This is what you deserve.
Knowing that doesn't make it hurt any less.