Organic humans are rare these days. They rule Eos, the top 1% of the population, incredibly rich and privileged. They’re completely unique, special, because no one cloned them in a lab. They were in a womb, they had a mother and father, they are part of an ancient tradition long since compensated for by Magiteck.
He’s not an organic. He’s an Argentum. One of about a two hundred designs produced by the Magiteck company. He’s not even that special. He’s a generic companion, a glorified sex toy, genes selected to be purposefully androgynous so he and his siblings look good in male or female varieties. He’s something an organic fucks when they’re bored and then discards. Because organics are so rare organic matches are pretty special things and dating is hard. There isn’t a big pool of mates to chose from. So organics fuck Argentums. Keep them like glorified yappy dogs from two hundred years ago.
He’s been specially produced in a lab and grown in a facility. He has been weighed, educated and trained so he’s pretty and generic and just pleasing enough without customisation. That said if his organic keeps him for any length of time he will inevitably be customised in one way or another and he’ll just have to like it. He’s heard horror stories that some eccentric organics even have ten Argentums. The word ‘harem’ has been used but he doesn’t think that’s fitting. It’s the same as the crazy cat ladies of old. Just surrounding themselves with pretty stupid things in the guise of real companionship. Domestication.
Argentum N-iP01357-05953234 was bought yesterday. He’s been kept in a spare room at a luxurious organic estate since transport. He got food from a Glaive, a common generic grunt/worker bee design, but otherwise he’s been left to sit and ruminate. He’s been trained his whole life for this but he doesn’t think he’s ready for whatever’s coming. The organiser at his facility gift-wrapped him with a full set of accessories carefully packed in his bag so he knows he’s a present but other than that he has no clue what he’s in for.
He sits. He wrings his fingers. He allows himself a brief, horrible, moment to be sad and scared while no one is around to chide him. He must sit in that guest bedroom for hours. Totally forgotten, totally disposable. When the next Glaive comes for him the Argentum has managed to ascend to that special numb space that keeps his brain safe. He doesn’t need independent brain function. He doesn’t need to question or yearn. He just needs to be dumb, Zen.
The Glaive carries his bag and the Argentum follows up the stairs, down the halls, to the grand entrance of the estate where two organics are laughing and bickering. One is older, one is younger, and they both seem very relaxed. Music still plays idly in the other room, low and sweet, and the Argentum can smell real people food. He’s allowed pet food. Nutrient paste and distilled water and—
The organics are arguing about how late it is and the young one obviously wants to go home but the older organic gathers him into his side and gestures to the Argentum.
“Don’t want to leave without your birthday present.”
“You—” The younger organic moans, burying his face in his hands and laughs. “Oh my god Dad! You got me an Argentum? Seriously? Is this some—No, never mind, I don’t wanna know. Okay, yes, thank you very much for the present. You’re awful.”
The older organic just chuckles. “It’s nice to have company,” he counters. “I just thought your new place could use a pet.”
“That is not what most people use them for,” the younger organic snorts knowingly, “but thank you.”
“I got all the basic accessories but I know how fussy you are,” the older organic explains as the Glaive hands the younger Argentum’s bag for him to rifle through.
“I can buy more accessories. That’s fine.” The younger appraises as he digs through Argentum’s carefully sorted bag. “As long as you got all the basic care stuff its fine. Thanks Dad.”
“I’d buy you some nutrient kibble—”
“Oh my god, no.” The younger organic fusses. “You know how bad that stuff is? It’s all fillers and crap. Real person food is way better and they like it way more.”
“It’s an expensive habit, Noctis.” The elder organic laughs. “You’d save more money for your games if you didn’t spoil your inorganics so much.”
“They eat what I eat. It’s not a big deal. If you don’t want them to eat me out of house and home stop buying them for me.” The younger man, Noctis, snorts petulantly at his father. “Alright, enough, I’m going home. Nyx is already waiting in the car.”
“Are you going to name this one too?” Noctis’ father teases.
“Like you don’t name yours!” Noctis huffs, hefting Argentum’s bag over his shoulder.
“Not all of them!” The older man shoots back.
“Things need names,” Noctis huffs, reaching his hand out. “Come on little guy, let’s go home.”
Argentum, a little bashful, tries to be brave and take the organic’s offered hand. Noctis laces their fingers. Argentum’s trying not to get his hopes up but a hippy organic who feeds his pets real person food? Who names them? There are way worse things in the world. Frankly he’s counting his lucky stars he got someone so sentimental. He could’ve gotten an old woman with bunions and twelve other Argentums. He got a handsome young man with soft hands and pretty hair.
“Alright, night Dad,” Noctis waves. “Gladio come on, leave the snacks!”
An Amicitia, a big customised one, strides out of the adjoining room licking his thumb absently. Amicitia’s are very expensive models. This one’s huge. He would’ve cost a mint. They’re basically bodyguards, watch dogs, and this one’s been customised with a massive feathered tattoo Argentum can only see the edges off.
“He better not have eaten all my mini quiches.” Noctis’ father tuts.
“You shouldn’t have left them out,” Noctis sticks his tongue out with a cheeky grin. “Gladio can you take the bag?”
“Sure Chief.” The Amicitia promises helping Noctis ease the accessory bag off his shoulder and throwing it over his own like the full kit weighs nothing.
“Thanks,” Noctis smiles, patting one scared cheek fondly.
Tugging on their laced fingers Noctis pulls himself and Argentum out the front door the Amicitia opens for them. Gladio, the Amicitia, sticks close down the stairs and loads Argentum’s accessory bag into the trunk of the car.
“You get in the front with Nyx, big guy.” Noctis instructs Gladio as he opens the back passenger door and directs Argentum inside the convertible.
Nyx it seems is a named Glaive with customised service uniform and a braided Mohawk that must cost at least a hundred yen to maintain month to month.
“Anything good for your birthday, Noct?” The Glaive asks without prompt or command as Gladio takes his own seat in the car.
“Well we have company,” Noctis snorts, raising his joined hand to show off Argentum in demonstration.
“Need anything on the way home, Boss?”
“I’m good, Nyx, you hungry? You were waiting with the car for ages.”
“Can we get drive through, Boss?” Nyx asks fearlessly.
“Yeah sure.” Noctis promises, rounding on Argentum. “You hungry too little guy?”
Argentum fumbles, he’s not supposed to make decisions. Organics make decisions about him. They don’t consult with him. He shrugs weakly, unsure what to say, but Noctis seems to expect this.
“We’ll get you something too,” he decides. “Bet Dad fed you fucking kibble. Ugh.”
“We’ll stuff him up on Ignis’ home cooking in no time.” Gladio voices, again without invitation.
“Heh, true.” Noctis softens. “Okay, all strapped in. Floor it, Nyx.”
“Sick tunes or boring news radio?” Nyx offers.
“Sick tunes. Obviously.” Noctis scoffs like there’s any debate.
Noctis rubs his thumb into the back of Argentum’s gloved hand as they drive through the dazzling city. Argentum’s seen most of this through computer screens but he’s never really been wild in the world of Insomnia, glittering capital of Lucis. Argentum was made and grown in a facility in the mountains of old Nifleheim. It’s a cold, desolate, place where you cage rear factory stock for sale. It’s not a real world place. It’s a lab, a warehouse. Insomnia has so many lights, so many scents. Argentum has never seen so many inorganic types bustling along together in his life.
When they pull into the drive through Glaive Nyx asks for their order.
“Get whatever you want, Nyx,” Noctis invites, pulling his credit card out of his wallet. “Sundae for me. Get newbie a burger, chips and a soda. Basics.”
“On it, Boss.” Nyx promises.
“I’d kill for a burger.” Gladio remarks.
“You ate like twelve thousand quiches.” Noctis snorts but then continues; “Cheeseburger, not quarter pounder.”
“Deal,” Gladio consents.
Smiling Noctis hands over his credit card and Nyx leans out the window to slur their order with a casual saunter Argentum is woefully unfamiliar with. He’s seen organics saunter in movies and stuff but inorganics? Clones?
Nyx pays, hands back the credit card to Noctis, and then collects their order. Nyx and Gladio pass back their meal. Noctis makes a little pile in Argentum’s lap, forcing a soda cup into his hand, and starts scooping hot fudge out of his sundae.
“Eat,” Noctis encourages him, “it’s okay. You get proper food, promise.”
Argentum gawks for a moment, confused and flustered, but as Gladio and Nyx munch on their burgers in the front seat, driving through the cross-city tunnel, he picks up a handful of fries and shoves them into his mouth. He chews. He expects blandness, gruel. It’s all he’s used to. But there’s texture and salt and flavor. He crunches a fry in the corner of his mouth and thinks he might cry.
“What are you going to name the baby?” Gladio asks Noctis over his shoulder and Argentum realises, with a mouthful of burger, that they’re talking about him but he’s much too distracted to care.
“Hmm…” Noctis swallows a mouthful of soft serve ice cream and fudge. “Something nice. Can’t cock it up. Names are important.”
“You give good names,” Nyx assures.
“I might need to sleep on it,” Noctis admits, scraping out the last of the ice cream and trashing the empty plastic container in the paperback in the centre console. “Sorry, little guy. We’ll get you a name soon.”
Argentum just nods and chews his burger. He doesn’t trust his words. He’s not sure how to explain that he doesn’t care what his name is. He gets a name and real people food. He doesn’t care about the specifics. They could call him Garbage and it would be his name and he would love it anyway because it would be better than a barcode.
“Home sweet home!” Gladio announces to the back seat as they pull into a parking garage past a secure automatic garage door.
“Yay,” Noctis sings, clearing up Argentum’s ruble into the paper bag.
Nyx takes the refuse to go trash while Gladio gets Argentum’s accessory bag out of the trunk of the convertible. Noctis laces their fingers again and leads the way to the elevator. Like most organics Noctis lives in a penthouse. But, unlike most, he hums along to the elevator music and swings their joined hands like a child.
The penthouse is beautiful and modern. It’s warm and it smells like clean laundry. Argentum follows suit with the others and takes off his shoes in the entry way following behind Noctis like a lost puppy.
“Ugh, home!” Noctis celebrates. “Iggy! We’re home!”
Not ‘I’m home’ but ‘we’re home’ like Gladio and Nyx count in the equation. Noctis seems to speak a whole new language Argentum is unfamiliar with.
“Welcome home, Noct,” comes the reply.
Ignis is a tall Scientia. They’re another very expensive model of inorganic. They’re like the world’s best personal assistant. They can set schedules, do accounting, organise and micromanage whole worlds. They tutor, they remind, they keep a million things in their heads.
Ignis and Gladio are very, very, expensive models. Argentum begins to sense he was something of a gag gift; a joke. Like giving a bride a sex toy at her bridal shower. He’s meant to be funny. Noctis’ family can obviously afford to buy him much better.
Noctis crosses the floorboard and throws both arms around Ignis’ waist, burying his face in the Scientia’s clavicle. Ignis wraps his arms around the organic, rubbing between his shoulder blades, and Noctis eventually comes up for air to declare.
“Alright, introductions.” He turns in Ignis’ grasp. “Guys!” He hollers over Ignis’ shoulder summoning two more generic Glaives to the living area. “Alright, little guy,” Noctis reaches for Argentum and pulls him closer. “You’ve met Nyx and Gladiolus. This is Ignis. That’s Crowe and that’s Libertus.”
Argentum manages a smile and nods quietly to each of them. Crowe waves a little, Ignis gives an indulgent, half amused, smile. Argentum is flummoxed by the whole thing. Noctis has named all of them. They’re all customised. Ignis has glasses and hair gel. Gladio has that huge tattoo. The Glaive all have a unique uniforms. Ignis and Gladio are wearing off brand clothes.
“I didn’t expect we’d be getting an Argentum for your birthday this year,” Ignis remarks.
“Dad’s a funny guy.” Noctis snorts. “Doesn’t matter, could’ve been worse. Dad could’ve gotten me a girl and that… wow. Anyway,” Noctis turns back to Argentum, “it’s okay, we’re all very happy to meet you. Hopefully you’ll like living with us.”
Argentum manages another dumb smile. He doesn’t know what else to say or do. He’s beside himself.
“You can talk, right?” Noctis prods.
“Yes, sorry Sir.”
“It’s fine; Noct or Noctis is perfect.” He clarifies. “And you don’t need permission to speak, okay?”
“Okay,” Argentum swallows, taking a deep breath.
“You must be tired, Noct.” Ignis interjects. “You have classes tomorrow. Should we all to bed?”
“Yeah, sure,” Noctis agrees. “Okay, um—” He glances around, obviously trying to calibrate something in his head.
“Were would you like our new arrival?” Ignis prompts gently.
“Actually,” Noctis decides, “can you and Gladio takes the spare bed? I think he should probably be in the master with me tonight. You think?”
“I think so,” Ignis agrees.
Argentum frowns. Do Ignis and Gladio share the bed with Noctis? That’s insane. Sure most Amicitias stay on site but they’re built not to need much sleep and most curl up in a corner of their master’s room. Scientias are sometimes left at workplaces and put in inorganic barracks. It’s not necessarily weird that Noctis keeps his personal inorganics in his penthouse with him but to let them sleep in his bed? With him? That’s insane.
“You mind if we clock off for the night, Boss?” Crowe asks.
“Yeah, of course,” Noctis permits. “You guys go crash downstairs in the apartment if you’re ready. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
The Glaives have an apartment? Argentum’s head spins.
“Night Noct,” Gladio swoops in, arms locking around Noctis’ waist and hefting him off his feet as he presses messy kisses into his cheeks. Noctis laughs, squeezing his meaty arms under his fingers, and lets Gladio put him back down on the floorboards.
“Night Gladio,” Noctis smiles, pulling Ignis close again for an equally tender exchange. “Night Iggy.”
“Sweet dreams, Darling.” Ignis replies, kissing his forehead and brushing his hair back. “I’ll come wake you up in the morning.”
“Thanks,” Noctis kisses his chin, easing out of his arms and taking Argentum’s hand.
In the master bedroom there is an enormous bed. Ignis has already turned on the bedside lights and closed the curtains so all Noctis has to do is dump Argentum’s accessory bag on the end of the bed and look for his night clothes in the kit.
“Ugh, are these even cotton?” Noctis rues as he pulls out the plastic bag of night clothes Argentum comes with. “Here,” he tosses them over. “We’ll get you something nicer soon.”
It occurs to Argentum, perhaps a moment too late, that Noctis probably wanted him alone so they could have sex. That’s what his kind are for after all. It’s a primary function of their type. Argentum feels a wave of anxiety wash over him but swallows it down. Noctis is so nice. He can do this. Noctis is a nice organic. Even if he likes weird, gross, things then Argentum will do them because that’s what he was built for and it seems only a fair trade.
Noctis rifles through the wardrobe to find his own pjs and gets changed in the low light without so much as a coy glance at Argentum. Argentum changes quickly, pulling the itchy shirt over his head and pulling up the thin pants. You could rip the pants with your bare hands if you wanted to. That’s half the point. It’s all disposable. But Noctis? Noctis pulls back the blankets and tucks himself in without any ceremony at all. Maybe he’s just getting comfortable?
“Come on,” Noctis beckons warmly, “like I said; you can sleep with me tonight. Bed’s huge. Come curl up.”
“Yes Noctis,” Argentum fumbles, pulling back the covers and climbing into the warm, warm, bed. He’s slept on a thin cot mattress his whole life. He’s heard some Argentums sleep in kennels outside. He feels incredibly spoilt as Noctis plugs his phone in to charge.
Argentum sits there, waiting. He waits while Noctis turns the lights off and he waits while Noctis flops down on his side and he waits while Noctis curls up and nestles down and—
Is he just going to sleep?
Argentum feels a little dumbstruck. He’s a glorified sex toy and Noctis doesn’t even want to try him out? He’s a thing. Noctis can do whatever he wants to him without consequence. But Noctis snuggles down, perfectly content and breaths slowly like nothing at all is on his mind.
Argentum, feeling dumb and confused, shuffles to lie down in the bed with the blankets pulled up around his chin. He lays there, waiting and waiting, but eventually Noctis starts to snore softly and Argentum has to accept he really doesn’t have any intentions for the evening. He’s just sleeping.
Argentum can’t seem to find the power to close his eyes. He blinks up at the grey, dark, ceiling and feels amazed.
He must lay there for a good two hours, just trying to digest it, when the bedroom door creaks open softly.
He sits up a little, raising his head, and Ignis, the Scientia, presses one finger to his lips as he crosses the room. Argentum wonders if he should wake Noctis, if he should do something, but Ignis comes to sit on the edge of the bed by his knees and whispers;
“It’s hard to sleep the first night.”
“Yeah…” Argentum croaks.
“I know this is all very strange.” Ignis murmurs softly, obviously keenly aware of Noctis’ deep breathing. “I was raised in a facility too. We all were. It’s going to take time, but I promise you’ll adjust.”
“Is…” Argentum swallows. “Is he always like that?”
“Always,” Ignis whispers solemnly. “He’s the best thing that ever happened to us. You’ve gotten very lucky today.”
“I don’t…” Argentum doesn’t have the words. He doesn’t know where to begin. How can he compute all this? How can he digest it?
“I know,” Ignis assures with the same seriousness. Ignis understands this isn’t normal. Ignis understand this is insane and magical and miraculous. “Give it time, try and enjoy it, but don’t take it granted and don’t ever hurt him. If you hurt him; we’ll kill you. If you fuck this up you’ll wish you’d been sold to a penny brothel.”
Ignis voice is soft but razor sharp. He means it. He means it with every fibre of his being and maybe Ignis isn’t trained to kill or torture but Gladio is and both of them are bigger than Argentum. Both of them are better made. Both of them are stronger. Both of them are harder to break into pieces.
“Okay.” Argentum nods stupidly, quietly terrified but totally understanding of their position. If he had this beautiful life and someone threatened to change it he’d rip them apart with his teeth too.
“Try and get a little sleep.” Ignis pats his knee gently, barbed wire evaporated from his voice. “You’re going to love it here.”
“Thank you,” Argentum croaks in a thin whisper. He means it. He was so scared and so bitter about his life. This is more than he could’ve hoped for. He needed someone from his level to explain it, to assure him it’s real, and Ignis might be protective but Argentum totally understands that feeling. If someone in the facility promised him this kind of life he would’ve done literally anything to get it. He would’ve cut off his own arm, he would’ve done awful, awful, things to the other clones around him, he would’ve scratched and clawed for this.
He’s so lucky today.
He feels like he’s won the lottery.
Ignis squeezes his knee kindly through the blankets and eases up. He patters out of the room very quietly, careful not to wake Noctis, and lying there for another moment Argentum says a little prayer to whoever listens to clones thanking them.
Argentum doesn’t sleep much. He wakes feeling groggy and cotton mouthed but the bed is so comfortable he can’t be ungrateful. Ignis is on the other side of the mattress, stroking Noctis’ hair, kissing him awake. Argentum is shy but maybe in a little while he will understand the devotion.
“It’s time for breakfast,” Ignis whispers, hunched over Noctis.
“Dun wanna…” Noctis groans sleepily.
“I’ll make bacon,” Ignis promises, fingers carding through his hair and dragging down his back.
“Okay, okay…” Noctis yawns, sleepy fingers mapping the shape of Ignis’ jaw in the low light of the room. “Iggy…”
Ignis kisses his temple again and sits back a little.
“You awake, new guy?” He reaches over Noctis’ curled form to grasp Argentum’s shoulder gently.
“Yeah,” Argentum whispers, adding tentatively; “good morning…?”
“Mornin,” Noctis yawns back burrowing into Ignis’ chest.
In the lounge Gladio is doing push-ups. Argentum patters delicately into the main body of the penthouse, Ignis and Noctis close behind, and Gladio perks up to ask;
“Ugh…” Noctis moans, rubbing at his face with both hands. “I’m dead today big guy, too many drinks with Dad. Iggy schedule it in for tomorrow please?”
“Scheduling,” Ignis replies, whipping out a smart phone and traipsing into the kitchen.
Noctis collapses into a seat at the kitchen table and throwing his head back spots Argentum. Argentum wrings his fingers, awaiting a command, not sure where he slots in but Noctis pats the seat next to him and the blonde clone slips into the seat. Gladio rises off the floor, wiping himself down with a towel, and takes an opposing seat while Ignis busies himself in the kitchen.
Argentum watches Ignis’ back. He knows Scientia’s are amazing personal assistants but he’s never heard of culinary sciences being a specialisation option for the model.
“Iggy learnt to cook when I was in high school,” Noctis tells him with a lazy smile, chin in hand, elbow on the kitchen table. “I got Iggy when I was sixteen, Gladio too, they were another birthday present. Condition of me moving out into an apartment.”
A penthouse is hardly ‘an apartment’ Argentum thinks with a soft smile.
“I’ve never been a great cook but Iggy really took to it. Now he cooks all the time. Makes lunches and dinners…”
“Noctis sampled a dessert in Tenebrae during a family trip when he was ten.” Ignis elaborates as he returns with plates. “I’m keen to recreate it. That fascination spiralled into a hobby.”
“I just like real people food,” Gladio admits. “Used to just be gruel and protein powder at the facility.”
“Yes, well, under the circumstances I can understand us all being a little obsessed with food.” Ignis agrees.
They’re talking. They’re having a conversation. Just like regular people. Argentum wrings his fingers in his lap and nods keenly. Talking doesn’t come easily to him. He’s never been trained as a great conversationalist. His mouth hole is for stuffing full of cock apparently but he wants to participate so badly. He wants to be part of this fantastical bizarre world where clones are equals to organics.
“This looks so good, Iggy,” Noctis croons as Ignis hands him his cutlery.
“Glad to hear it,” Ignis sits. “Help yourself to drinks, newbie. Maybe steer clear of the orange juice for a few days. It’ll be a little acidic on your stomach at first.”
“Thank you,” Argentum smiles weakly. “Is… my stomach will get used to it?”
“It’ll take a few weeks.” Ignis nods. “Don’t get disheartened if you feel a little nauseous at first.”
“Most people,” Noctis begins around a mouthful of food, “have this stupid theory that clones can’t process normal food but they totally can. Like Iggy said; your bodies just take a few weeks to adjust, but I think everyone’s way happier once they’ve gotten used to it.”
“It’s certainly a great deal more enjoyable,” Ignis concurs.
“Fuck yeah,” Gladio grumbles with a mouth stuffed full of bacon.
Argentum is ravenous but he tries not to push himself. Everything is a flurry of new sensations in texture and flavor. It’s a bit distracting and it means he chews slowly but he likes it. Bacon, eggs and toast taste way better than gruel and nutrient kibble.
“Got to think of name for you,” Noctis hums. “Can’t just call you Newbie forever.”
“I’d love a name,” Argentum admits.
“Well… you can wait a few days for the perfect name or I can try and give you one right away?” Noctis offers.
“Right away,” he answers without hesitation. He’d kill for a name and some tiny part of him is worried Noctis will get satisfied with him not having one if they wait too long.
“Hmm…” Noctis sits back, thinking hard. “I think… How about Prompto?”
He nods keenly.
He’s only half heard it but he doesn’t care. He wants a name that’s his. He doesn’t care what it means or sounds like. Organic children don’t choose their names. He doesn’t care if he doesn’t get to pick his.
“Heh, Prompto then?” Noctis supposes.
“I like it,” Gladio salutes with his fork.
“I think he’ll grow into it.” Ignis encourages, pouring himself another half cup of coffee.
“Prompto,” Prompto repeats, knee bouncing excitedly. The smile that stretches across his face is stupid and not very pretty but its realer than any smile he’s ever managed and with a laugh Noctis returns it.
“Okay, I name thee Prompto.” He declares, resting the fork on each of Prompto’s shoulders like he’s knighting some olden time warrior.
“Your father’s Scientia emailed Prompto’s papers to your account last night.” Ignis chuckles to Noctis as Prompto bounces in his seat. “I can arrange the name slip for you to sign tonight?”
“Sounds perfect,” Noctis agrees, watching Prompto bounce excitedly with a wide grin. “We’ll put it through after classes or something tonight. Do I have another shitty fucking law lecture today, Iggy?”
“Unfortunately, yes.” Ignis consoles.
“Fucking worst.” Noctis scoops up a mouthful of eggs.
Prompto- he has a name- is still sizzling with excitement but he tries to contain himself enough to finish a portion of breakfast. He doesn’t clear his plate but when he slows down Ignis advises him not to push too much harder just yet.
“Lots of meals ahead of you,” Ignis promises as he picks up the plate. “We should all get dressed.”
“Just throw something from the accessories bag on, Prompto,” Noctis instructs as he stretches out of his seat. “We’ll buy you some new clothes as soon as we can. Actually—” Noctis hums, tapping his foot thoughtfully. “Iggy do you think he’d fit in my clothes? For now?”
“I suspect they’d be a little big on him but only fractionally,” Ignis appraises. “Your skinny jeans should fit him like a glove.”
“I couldn’t…” Prompto feels a tight band stir in his stomach. He can’t wear a real person’s clothes, can he? Like if Noctis buys him clothes that’s one thing but can Prompto borrow Noctis’ real person clothes? They’re his!
“It’s okay,” Noctis promises, grasping his hand and tugging him up. “Come on, I’ve got a graphic tee with your name on it. Oh!” He glances back over his shoulder. “Gladio wear a shirt today!”
“Smart shirt or regular shirt?” Gladio hollers back.
“Regular!” Noctis replies, escorting Prompto into the master bedroom. “Okay, okay…” Noctis fusses in the closet. “Let’s… Oh yeah, you’d look cute in this…”
Prompto is going to vibrate out of his skin either from sickened nerves or sheer delight he’s not sure. Noctis gets him dressed in skinny jeans, as promised, and a nice comfortable shirt. It’s not designer or anything but it doesn’t have to be. It’s comfortable and it was made for organics. There aren’t twenty thousand other Argentums wearing the same ensemble. It’s perfect to Prompto.
He’s playing with the pockets in the foyer while the others slip on their shoes and Noctis puts his bag over one shoulder.
“Going to be crowded in the car with Nyx, can you drive Iggy?” Noctis asks.
“Of course,” Ignis promises. “Are we bringing Prompto to your classes today?”
“I don’t want to leave him home alone, that’d be lonely and hard.” Noctis nods. “At least the guys have each other when they manage the building. Crowe, Libertus and Nyx always give each other a good laugh.”
“I’ll text Nyx that we’re taking you and Prompto to campus.” Ignis assures, phone out of his pocket again.
Noctis is twenty. He attends the only university in Insomnia to study law and politics. All his classmates are organics; rich and powerful and all in possession of several clones of their own. Prompto is told to sit quietly next to Noctis in the lecture hall and wait for the lecturer to finish. Noctis listens, Ignis takes notes on his other side, and at the back of the lecture theatre Gladio lingers with a handful of other Amicitias who are waiting for their own organics to finish the class.
Prompto notices almost every organic in the lecture theatre has a Scientia but none of them are as customised as Ignis. There’s one or two other Argentums, a handful of Glaive, and Prompto swears he can feel their jealousy stabbing into his shoulder blades from behind. Most of the other organic students haven’t customised their clones much and one boy’s even doodling on his Glaive’s surrendered face while his Scientia hurriedly takes notes looking nervous. Prompto sags down, next to Noctis, their shoulders bumping, and Noctis shoots him a calm smile Prompto can’t help but return with warmth. Noctis is so nice.
Down another row or two there’s another Argentum. A female. She’s been customised with MT brand accessories that make her look like a blow-up doll or a pet terrier depending on the angle. She fusses, unable to settle, and her organic hushes her roughly pushing her down to sit on the floor.
Prompto sags further in his seat, sinking, and rests his head on Noctis’ shoulder. That could’ve been him. He could’ve been given to anyone. Noctis laces their fingers, pulling Prompto’s hand into his lap, and Prompto nuzzles his shoulder. He’s starting to understand Ignis’ adoration. Noctis has been raised like all these kids. Clones are pets or machines. They’re nothing. They’re objects. But Noctis has somehow escaped this mindset. Somehow, against all odds, Noctis wants to treat them like people. Noctis wants to be their friend. Noctis is the jackpot. Prompto has a name and clothes and calm smiles. Prompto is so lucky he could just throw up. How did Noctis get to be so sweet? How is it possible?
Noctis rubs the back of his hand with his thumb, listening quietly to the law lecture while Ignis patters away at the laptop taking notes. Prompto closes his eyes, not really listening, just feeling Noctis warm hoodie clad shoulder under his cheek and thinks he’s never been more relaxed in his life. Two days ago he was in a facility. There were guards and defective models were destroyed. Now he’s safe…?
The lecture ends, as all things eventually do, and squeezing his hand Noctis shuffles up a little straighter under Prompto’s cheek.
“Come on Prom,” he squeezes, “got another class soon.”
Prompto raises his head, watching Noctis straighten his hair with one lazy hand, and smiles with a kind of frazzled gratitude Noctis doesn’t seem to understand but smiles back at regardless.
Ignis packs up the laptop and they make their way to the back of the lecture theatre where Gladio joins them. Gladio throws his arm around Noctis and Prompto falls back in step with Ignis. They can’t talk about anything big here. It’s not the time or place but Ignis shoots Prompto a knowing look and pats his shoulder.
Noctis has several more classes and tutorials across the day. Noctis is smart. He contributes to discussion with his classmates and makes good points. That said no one joins them for lunch and Noctis doesn’t seem to have anyone he sits with either. Noctis drifts between classes, participates, but he doesn’t seem to be friends with anyone in particular. His classmates say hello to him sometimes, interact calmly with him, but there’s a wall there. Distance Prompto can almost see if not feel.
He’s sitting in the back of a tutorial with other clones, Ignis taking notes, while Noctis participates in a class discussion. He must frown visibly because Ignis taps his shoulder and hands him his smart phone with a sentence written in the notes app.
It’s hard to make friends when you’re fundamentally different to those around you.
Prompto glances up at Ignis, Ignis meets his eye, and Prompto nods in agreement. Noctis isn’t like most organics as far as Prompto can see. He’s kind and sweet but he’s also a massive weirdo. He doesn’t fit in with his peers. It’s one of the best things about him but it must be horribly lonely on some level.
The day passes slowly but eventually they load up back in the car, Noctis tried and slack, and head back to the penthouse. Gladio drives because it seems Ignis needs a little break too. Prompto rests his head on Noctis’ shoulder, sticks close, and waits for them to pull into the parking garage.
In the penthouse the Glaive have tidied up the place and kept things secure. Noctis waves to a security camera like he’s greeting them and collapses on the couch.
“I’ll start dinner,” Ignis announces, “I have a feeling we’re all hungry.”
“I could sleep for twenty years,” Noctis laughs, sagging into the couch.
“I can give massages,” Prompto voices. “If… if that’d help…?”
There’s a beat of silence, the trio turning to him.
“That’s right,” Gladio appraises, “that’s like a basic Argentum feature, right?”
“I think I’ll be okay Prompto,” Gladio assures.
“I wouldn’t mind something for my shoulders,” Ignis hums.
“Do me first?” Noctis pleads, reaching for Prompto’s hip to tug him closer.
“You’re the boss,” Prompto laughs.
“I’ll make dinner, you go have a massage.” Ignis presses Noctis warmly.
“Bedroom?” Noctis supposes.
“Yeah,” Prompto nods. He’s been trained to give massages in several positions and scenarios but most of his practice was had on a bed.
Noctis nods, finding his feet and leading the way to the master where he shucks off his shirt and throws himself face down onto the bed. Prompto laughs, crawling onto the mattress, but—
“Is your back okay…?” He whispers by Noctis’ hip hand hovering over the lightning like forked scar running up his spine from his lower back.
“Accident. When I was little.” Noctis explains, folding his arms to rest his cheek on his forearms. “It’s okay. It hurts a little sometimes but you won’t hurt me. It’s all healed.”
“R-right,” Prompto hesitates for another second, shifting to straddle the back of one thigh.
Bringing his palms together he smooths his hands up Noctis’ back gently. It’s not really achieving much just getting the organic used to his touch. Noctis sighs, easing tangibly under him, and Prompto strokes at his shoulder bones to his hips. He rubs, he presses, he drags his nails—
“Oh fuck…” Noctis purrs, burying his face.
Prompto’s no massage therapist. He hasn’t been customised far enough to treat injuries or strains but he’s been taught to look for cues, to make his organic feel good, to alleviate pressure and stress. He’s practised on other Argentums, one of the few nice things they got to do in the facility, but they were never as vocal or as easy going as Noctis. They were scrawny and girlish. They weren’t subtly strong and scarred and handsome. Prompto’s hands linger.
Yeah, he’s definitely starting to understand Ignis’ devotion.
Prompto grips the back of Noctis’ neck in one hand for a second, hand releasing to extend up into his hair, blunt nails running against his scalp.
“Fucking—” Noctis laughs as Prompto freezes. “Don’t stop Prom, that feels amazing.”
Prompto returns with renewed confidence, hand carding through Noctis’ hair, chest pressed warm against the other’s back to keep him from getting chilly and maintain a sense of physical contact. Noctis sighs, arches, and Prompto experiments by stroking his scalp with one hand and dragging his opposing nails down the organic’s side.
“Oh…” Noctis buries his face again.
“I can do your front too?” Prompto offers.
“Yeah…” Noctis agrees groggily.
Noctis unfurls his arms and Prompto climbs off his thighs long enough to let the young man flip over. Prompto returns to straddle his hips, Noctis taking a deep breath as Prompto settles on top of him. Prompto was never great at this next part. Pampering the front is usually a slow descent into kisses and groping and cock fondling but for Noctis he’ll try and console all his years of training.
He rubs Noctis’ shoulders, feels up the sides of his neck, traces his ears, drags his nails down his chest—
“Ooh fuck…” Noctis murmurs throwing his arm over his eyes.
Prompto tries not to laugh but its stupidly endearing. Prompto counts his ribs, feeling the indentations of his trim waist, rubbing his stomach in a coy circle around his navel.
“I can do more?” Prompto offers.
“Huh?” Noctis peaks out from under his arm.
“I can—” Prompto finds his belt—
“No, no,” Noctis’ hand flashes down to grip his. “No, it’s okay Prom. You don’t have to do that. This is plenty nice.”
“But—” Prompto’s been trained to do this. This is his job. He was grown for this and if he has to do it then it would be kind of nice to do it with an organic as sweet as Noctis.
“Iggy’ll have dinner in a second,” Noctis manages through a strained breath, stilling holding his hand still. “I’m all good, really.”
Prompto pouts despite himself. Did he do something wrong?
Noctis shuffles onto his elbows, smiling.
“Thanks Prom, that was amazing.”
“Dinner!” Ignis calls from the kitchen.
“Coming!” Noctis hollers back from under Prompto. “Come on cutie, let’s go.” He prompts, directing Prompto off him and helping them both onto their feet. Noctis slips his shirt back on and takes Prompto’s hand and leads them back into the lounge-dinning area and its’ all… over.
Prompto frowns to himself.
Is Noctis not interested in that?
Prompto is thoughtful all night. Ignis’ dinner is delicious. Ignis and Noctis do some homework for Noctis’ classes and Gladio pulls Prompto onto the couch to watch movies. Prompto’s not familiar with the concept of taking a break but it’s nice honestly. Still he can’t help wondering why Noctis wouldn’t let him…
There’s showers in Noctis’ big bathroom with the nicest, foamiest, soap Prompto’s ever used. Then Ignis turns out the lights and there’s a discussion about bed.
“What’s the plan?” Gladio asks, hair still vaguely wet from his shower.
“I think…” Noctis hums. “I think we get Prompto used to the usual sleeping arrangements. He got a quiet bed last night, nice and easy, but usually…”
Prompto tilts his head, confused.
“Come on, Prom.” Noctis beckons.
Noctis hits the bed, pulling Prompto down into the middle of the mattress with him. Prompto shuffles a little closer at Noctis’ instruction and isn’t sure at first how this is any different until Ignis and Gladio start to join them. Ignis takes Prompto’s other side, not quite touching him, and Gladio throws an arm around Noctis’ waist forming his big spoon. Noctis sighs, happy, and Ignis switches off the last bedside light.
“Night Iggy, night Gladio, night Prom.” Noctis whispers.
“Night Noct,” Ignis replies.
“Run in the morning, Princess. Sweet dreams.” Gladio murmurs into Noctis’ hair.
“Night…” Prompto manages.
Prompto feels lost again, confused. Gladio and Noctis coil up together, snuggled down, and Prompto’s not sure what exactly he was hoping would happen but not this. Prompto watches Noctis’ face in the darkness, breathing deep, and startles when Ignis’ arm hoops gently around his waist.
“You alright?” Ignis whispers.
“He’s so nice,” Prompto whispers.
Ignis’ hand on his hip directs him to roll over. Ignis’ other arm slips under his neck, cradling his head, and Prompto rolls awkwardly into his chest to continue their illicit conversation.
“He won’t let me touch him.” Prompto stresses with a pinched frown.
“Give it time,” Ignis coaches. “He’s worried about you.”
“Me?” Prompto blinks.
“You’ve been through a lot and this is a huge transition. He doesn’t want to take advantage of you.”
“But it’s my job.” Prompto presses.
“Your job, right now, is to heal,” Ignis counters. “If you want to touch Noctis that’s different but he doesn’t want you to do it just because that’s what you were programmed to do.”
“But I’m a clone.” Prompto is so confused. “I’m supposed—”
“I’m not supposed to cook. Gladio isn’t supposed to read.” Ignis whispers. “Noctis wants us to be happy with him, be our true selves, and he wants you to grow into yourself too. He doesn’t want to have sex with anyone unless they genuinely want to have sex with him too. Do you genuinely want to have sex with him? Or is he nice and you feel like you’re supposed to?”
Prompto pauses, lips pursing.
“Give it time,” Ignis repeats gently. “Noctis isn’t going anywhere.”
Huffing Prompto buries his face in Ignis’ clavicle. Ignis’ hand rubs circles in the small of his back, soft and gentle, and despite himself Prompto realizes he’s falling asleep.
The next few weeks are a slow progress into a beautiful new life. Prompto’s not sure he’ll ever get used to making his own choices even if it’s just something small like if he wants to shower now or later or what topping he wants on his pancakes. Still Prompto adjusts to a lot of things. He gets used to his name, to his company, to the apartment, to the rhythm of Noctis’ days…
Noctis, Prompto discovers, is a Lucis Caelum. One of the ruling family of Lucis. An organic amongst organics. If most organics stand to inherit a King’s ransom? Noctis stands to inherit a god’s treasury. Still Noctis remains sweet and gentle in all things. He can be grumpy on occasion or stressed with his essays but he’s a genuinely laid-back guy with a good heart. He never says anything demeaning. He never picks on them or takes advantage of them. He always, in all things, treats them like his friends.
Ignis lets Prompto help in the kitchen and gives good, warm, cuddles when he’s not managing the whole world. Gladio is big and frightful but he’s a teddy bear really. He throws Prompto over his shoulder and tickles him and reads to him from beautiful old books about organic romances. Nyx, Crowe and Libertus drift in and out of Prompto’s awareness but are still fully developed people. Nyx is effortless swagger, Libertus is a swarm of bad jokes and Crowe is the strong silent type with disarmingly sweet smiles.
Gladio’s books are a revelation in some small way. Prompto’s been trained for sex but in Gladio’s books there is the innate rhythm of romance. Gladio reads to him about the push and pull of strong personalities and it’s all so complicated but so satisfying. Gladio tries to back away from the sex scenes but the first time he does this Prompto snatches the book and reads it out loud regardless. Gladio, surrendering, reads the sex scenes from then on and Prompto is mystified by the narration. Do organics really think and feel that much during sex? Is it that complex for them?
Prompto realises one day he’s been with Noctis nearly a month. He’s learnt all these new things. He’s seen all these new things. So many firsts have come and gone and he feels this deep, sickening, sorrow at it all. It startles him.
“Prom?” Noctis calls from the other side of the couch. “Prom, what’s wrong?”
Prompto’s head lurches up and he realises very suddenly he’s crying. Blinking thickly, sniffing, Prompto wipes at his eyes as Noctis pauses the video game and slips into the seat next to him.
“What’s wrong cutie?” Noctis repeats entreatingly. “Are you okay?”
“I’m just…” Prompto sniffs. “All these good things have happened but they all feel like a blur…”
He’s not sure he’s being very clear but Noctis seems to understand.
“I…” Noctis frowns. “You stay right here, Prom.” Noctis urges, squeezing Prompto’s shoulder and pressing a kiss to his temple as he pushes up off the couch.
Noctis is suddenly giving orders.
“Iggy go cuddle Prom. Nyx get the car. Gladio, jackets.”
The inorganics fly into action and Noctis hurries out of the apartment only to return an hour later with a shopping bag and fly into the lounge room.
Prompto sits up from where he’s been curled against Ignis while Noctis sits on the edge of the coffee table by his knees. Ignis pauses the show, Gladio peels off his jacket in the doorway, and Noctis hands the bag to Prompto.
“When people want to remember something they take photos.” Noctis informs, helping Prompto rifle through the bag. “So you can take photos and then it won’t be blurry. You’ll have a photo.”
Prompto feels another wave of tears coming on. He turns over the camera box, pushes aside the three SD cards, finds the book on photography and collapses into sobs.
Noctis climbs onto the couch and bundles him up and Prompto breathes deeply in the sweat of his hoodie.
When Prompto stops crying he feels much better, lighter somehow, and cuddling close to Noctis he’s not sure how to express himself more than to say ‘thank you’ over and over with varying inflections.
“It’s okay,” Noctis promises with a laugh, nuzzling his hair. “It’s okay.”
Prompto squeezes him too hard, buried in his neck, saying ‘thank you’ for the hundredth time.
So Prompto gets his camera.
His first few photos are a little blurry and muddled but Prompto takes so many he quickly starts to catch on. At classes, at home, down town… Prompto takes photos. When he wakes up till they go to bed Prompto takes photos. Noctis smiles indulgently. Ignis loads them onto their cloud storage and helps Prompto decide which ones to delete which starts off very difficult but gets easier as time goes on. Ignis never makes him delete a photo. Ignis makes suggestions, provides gentle guidance, but Ignis never pushes Prompto to part with one of his darlings.
Every night the camera charges. Every morning the SD card is ready for more.
Prompto wonders, more than once, if this is how Ignis fell into cooking or Gladio into reading. It just sort of happened. He needed it, like an anchor, and it makes him feel grounded and real. He likes it. Noctis scrolls through his camera reel in the car sometimes and Prompto always has a nice shot he wants to share.
“We’re going to have to make a photo album this year,” Noctis laughs in the car one day as they’re driving home.
“I’ll add it to the list.” Ignis assures.
“You’re getting good, Prom,” Gladio adds.
“Does it help?” Noctis wonders.
“Yeah,” Prompto nods. “Things aren’t so blurry. I have photos and… It’s nice. I don’t have to strain to remember all the good new things.”
“I’m glad,” Noctis beams.
Prompto knows now, for better or worse, this is his home.
Noctis is one of the good ones and, Ignis is right, they can’t let anyone or anything break his heart. Ever.
Prompto thinks he might—
No, he knows.
He loves Noctis with all his heart.
He hopes nothing ever changes.