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Nothing Without A Soul

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There used to be a time when Bran Bal was a place full of life; full of people and full of wonder. People would flock from all around the continent to behold the perfectly crystalline lake in its very center, its water glowing from the light emanating from the shining blue trees that surrounded the village, to travel up the deep blue mushroom shaped rocks toward the old castle of a royal line long since passed, or to walk around its thriving market place where they’d sold all manner of things from all across the globe.

But that had been decades ago. The once proud castle now laid in ruin, and the people had left when it became clear that their once fertile soil had abandoned them, and when the plagues took their children from them, leaving behind only a small handful of people who believed themselves above the sickness. And while they survived, they soon realized that even they had not gone through unscathed. For it wasn’t just the soil that had grown infertile… they had as well.

Unable to either bear or sire children, the few survivors sought to counter the effects that they had been struck by. This led them to the creation of the so-called “Genomes”; bio-engineered humans meant to help repopulate Bran Bal. They all resembled the original inhabitants of the village, from their blonde hair and blue eyes down to their long, slender tails. While it began as a noble goal, at first, the Genomes all suffered from one major—possibly even fatal—flaw; they were “born” without souls.

No matter what they tried, they were unable to fill the Genomes with souls.

As the Genomes’ creators met their own inevitable end, others caught wind of the Genome project, and they saw a whole other use for the Genomes. Instead of forming the foundation for the resurrection of Bran Bal’s population, the soulless puppets were created and then sold to the highest bidder, as slaves, servants, or even just “pleasure dolls”.

It had been nearly a century, and at this day and age, Bran Bal was known only as the center of commerce for Genomes. Or, more accurately, a modern day “slave market”…

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

…pto… Prompto, wake up!

‘Mm…huh…?’

Don’t open your eyes yet…’ the familiar voice echoed through his head. ‘They’re still watching us…

‘O-okay… What’s wrong?’

…they took Toby out.

‘Not Toby…! Where did they take him?’

Likely to his buyer… or to… well, you know…

Of course, Prompto knew what he meant; they called it the “Room of no Return”. Genomes would go in, and would never come out again. They knew what the room was for well enough; Genomes that weren’t bought before reaching their 18th year would be… “disposed” of. After all; what use did they have for a slave that simply wouldn’t be bought?

‘…should be almost our time, too, huh?’ the voice murmured in his head suddenly.

‘What should we do, then, Zidane?’

‘…we don’t have much of a choice…if we can’t get bought today…we’re gonna have to make a run for it.’

‘How, though? Our master is always watching us.’

‘Not when he’s counting his cash… If I can get close enough then, I can snag the keys and then we can get the hell outta this dump.’

‘Good idea. Though I’m still hoping that someone buys us first…’

‘Would be nice…’ There was a pause then, as they caught the sound of a familiar whirring sound. ‘Sounds like they’re draining the tubes. Shops should be opening soon, then…’

‘Yeah. Let’s hope for the best, Zidane.’

As the tubes drained and the fans above them dried them down entirely, the two Genomes opened their eyes finally. ‘Right…ready to never come back here again, Prompto?’

‘Completely ready.’

‘Then let’s get out there.’

With those words, the two of them followed their master as they, along with the other Genomes of their group, headed out toward the stall, their tails snapping lightly at the air, unseen by anyone.

 

X*X(Noctis)X*X

The sleek black car drove through town, making its way to the “slave market”, with a young man with black hair at the wheel. In the passenger seat sat his friend, a young blonde woman, who was joining the man to the market to see if they could find themselves each a companion.

“Looks like we’re getting close,” she commented.

“Looks like,” the man murmured as he turned the wheel, following the road into what seemed to be a parking lot. He wasn’t sure what it had once been before then, but no one else seemed to care. “What a waste of historical property…” he mumbled softly under his breath.

“Indeed,” his friend sighed, and waited until they were parked and the ignition had been shut off before unbuckling her seatbelt and stepping out of the car.

After closing the door behind him, the man sighed as he put the keys in his pocket. “Right…let’s go. And see if we can prove the rumors to be true at the same time, hmm?”

“Let’s,” the woman smiled slightly, and the pair made their way into the marketplace.

The area they walked into must’ve once been a bustling street at one point, but now it was little more than a long—almost endless—corridor of numerous stalls. Each stall had a number of human-sized glass cases, each one holding a single, blonde human with a long, similarly colored tail. The biggest difference between the various stores around them seemed to be solely based on the gender and ages of the Genomes. Certain stalls only sold female Genomes, while others only sold males, whereas a third variety would sell both, but between the ages of 10 and 15. There were also a few where the Genomes seemed to be as young as 7, but given their origin, they more than likely weren’t anywhere near that age.

There were plenty of people of various regions walking around, examining the Genomes in a way that was similar in the way one would shop for a new couch or some new crockery. Every now and then, a shout could be heard over the din of the place as the shopkeepers tried to sell their “wares”, making the blonde woman cringe internally as they walked down the large street.

Eventually, as they walked through, she paused when she saw something that caught her eye at one of the stalls. “Noctis, wait.”

“Hm?” Pausing in his steps, the man turned to regard his friend. “What’s wrong, Luna?”

“I thought I saw something…” Luna murmured, approaching the stall and lightly tugging Noctis along with her. She looked at the Genomes lined up there closely, taking her time, and when she got almost to the end of the line, she found what she’d seen. She quickly turned to Noctis, whispering to him, “He has a soul.”

“What? How do you figure?” Noctis asked, though he turned to regard the Genome she’d pointed out anyway.

While Genomes were known to be created without souls, rumors had begun to circulate about there being Genomes that DID possess a soul of their own. No one had ever provided proof, but it didn’t stop the rumors from flowing. And that was exactly what had drawn the two friends there in the first place.

“You can see the emotion in his eyes,” she answered quietly, and then looked at the Genome with a warm smile. Noctis frowned a little, before he regarded the Genome she’d been looking at. Like most Genomes, he was well-built, with a definite hourglass shape around his hips, as subtle as it might’ve been. His hair was long and hung down his face and his back. And while he didn’t shift his gaze away from whatever he was looking at, there was definitely something else there that the other Genomes were clearly lacking.

Humming, Noctis turned his head to the Genome beside that one, curious if it was just this one or if there was a chance of there being another one. Though really, how big was that chance? What he found was surprising, though he wasn’t sure if it was in a good way or not. There was a swirl of fearful emotions in those blue eyes, a lock of his unruly blonde hair hanging to the right side of his face. Light freckles adorned his cheeks, making him that much more unique.

Noctis frowned curiously as he moved to stand in front of the Genome, looking him over in the same way he had earlier. He was a little taller than the one Luna now had her eyes on, but his build was roughly the same, and the form-fitting clothes he wore did little to hide that. One of the other things he noticed, though, was that his tail appeared to be shivering, as if it was struggling not to twitch at random.

With a small hum, Noctis raised his head and looked at the Genome’s face again. This time, however, there was a flash of panic in those blue eyes, making the raven want to help the Genome, to ensure the panic and fear didn’t show themselves for this one anymore.

Noctis kept his eyes on those of the Genome for a moment more, before he looked to his friend. “Have you decided yet, Luna?”

“Yes,” she nodded. Gaining the attention of the shopkeeper, she went over to him, explaining that she’d like the purchase the Genome she’d been looking at.

As Noctis followed her to inform his own purchase, neither of the pair noticed how the Genome Luna had been looking at shifted his gaze to follow them, even though he didn't move, nor did his expression change.

‘…I think we may just be getting out of here today, Prompto.’

‘You really think so? But…what if they’re not going to be good to us?’

‘Well…then we’ll just have to make ourselves scarce. Can’t possibly be worse to escape them than it is here, after all.’

The shorter of the two blondes continued to watch their “buyers” as their Master informed them that the pair of them were available for a special price.

‘…crap. They better be willing to put the money down… Sounds like they’d already prepped our one-way tickets…’

‘I really hope you’re right, Zidane.’

Luna nodded, pulling out her checkbook, much to the pleasant surprise of the two Genomes, as did Noctis.

‘…wow. Did you see that, Prom?’

‘Barely. They’re buying us?’

‘Looks like…oh crap…! Don’t look now…but the jackass’s coming over again’

‘Not now! Not when we’re about to get out of going to the Room of no Return…!’

‘Just play it cool…and let’s hope our buyers won’t back out…’

The two Genomes watched with bated breath as a large, well-built man with short, silver hair stalked over to the shopkeeper.

“Oy, old man!” the man called out, just as the shopkeeper passed both Luna and Noctis a set of keys. Luna looked up, surprised, and narrowed her eyes suspiciously as the man got closer.

“Ah, Mister Loz. What can I help you with?” the shopkeeper asked, giving a falsely pleasant smile.

Noctis frowned in suspicion as well, before he shook it off and tugged Luna away. “C’mon…let’s just get them and go,” he murmured, getting out of the man’s way and heading back toward the line of glass tubes.

As the pair checked the key-rings they’d been given, looking for the one labeled “1”, the man—Loz—said (though it was more like demanded), “Brother wants those two Genomes prepared for pickup in an hour. Suggest you get on it, stat.”

“I apologize, Mister Loz, but I just sold them to these lovely customers,” the shopkeeper informed Loz.

“Say wha…?!” Loz started to say, before he turned around, just as Noctis and Luna slipped the corresponding keys into the slots on the sides of their respective Genomes’ enclosures before turning them. This made the case outer casing slip away, which gave them space to continue on.

“First come first serve, Mister Loz,” the shopkeeper smirked.

“Right… I think the second key goes over here to the side,” Noctis said as he stepped a little closer to the Genome and slipped the key into the socket to the side of his throat. As Luna copied this and they turned the keys half a turn, the chain that was attached to the Genomes’ collar slipped out from the wall, before it produced what looked like the end of a leash on a hook. “…okay…?” the raven murmured as he reached out and pulled the leash off of the hook. “That was a lot easier than I expected it to be…”

“Let’s just hope there’s no strings attached,” Luna shrugged, and pulled the leash off her Genome’s hook.

“Let’s hope,” her friend agreed, as he stepped back and lightly pulled the slightly taller Genome off of his pedestal. But just as Luna had gotten the other to do the same…

“Oy! You two!”

This quickly grabbed Luna’s and Noctis’s attention, and they frowned at Loz.

As the pair turned toward Loz, the two Genomes exchanged a glance with each other, unseen by their buyers.

‘Moment of truth…’

‘I hope they stick with the purchase…’

“Look, whatever ya paid for those gits, if you boys hand ‘m over, you’ll be paid double that price in turn.”

Noctis blinked at the sudden offer, before the actual phrasing dawned on him and he frowned darkly. After all; it was more a demand than an actual offer.

“No thank you. We bought them first, and like the shopkeeper said, first come first serve,” Luna huffed, narrowing her eyes. “And besides, if you call them ‘gits’, then they’re clearly not going to be treated well wherever you take them.”

Loz growled dangerously, but before he could say anything else, Noctis intervened. “Whatever your intent is with these two, get it elsewhere. Let’s go, Luna.”

“Right,” she nodded, and the pair left, guiding their newly purchased Genomes along with them. As they walked off, the one Luna was leading looked over to the other, and this time his lips briefly curled up into a half-smirk. The relief in the taller Genome’s eyes was now evident, but his expression sill didn’t change otherwise.

Once they reached the Regalia—Noctis’s car—the raven reached into his pocket for his keys and clicked the button to unlock it. After pulling his hand back out, he opened the backdoor and turned to the Genome he was still leading. “Go ahead, take a seat.” His Genome complied, taking a seat without a word. He wasn’t quite sure what to do just yet. Should he even show any emotion?

“You can sit with him,” Luna told hers. Hers did so without a word said, settling himself next to the other. Like the taller Genome, his expression didn’t change at all as he leaned back against the seat, his tail curling around him to drape down over the edge.

Once both were seated, Noctis and Luna closed the doors and moved to their own sides.

As they reached for the door handles, the shorter Genome blinked once.

‘Almost out of here…’

‘Let’s go already!’

However, just as Noctis pulled open the door to the driver’s seat, someone came up behind him and slammed it back shut again. “Just a moment…”

‘…ah shit…!’

‘Not now!’

Turning around to the man who had just come up, Noctis frowned darkly as he immediately recognized the silver hair. While this guy was definitely less bulky than the other guy, there was no doubt that they came from the same “branch”.

“…What do you want?” he asked simply, attempting to remain somewhat polite.

The man didn’t respond right away, but his sharp, green eyes were watching Noctis like a hawk.

“I believe there may have been a misunderstanding…”

“And what misunderstanding could that be?” Luna very nearly growled.

“You see, what Loz has forgotten to say, is that our brother had reserved these two well ahead of time,” the man said calmly, but with a cold undertone to his voice. “However, it would seem that the person who arranged this was not present today. Hence I’d request you to reconsider your earlier purchase.”

‘Son of a bitch…! This jackass is lying out his ass…!’

“We already paid for them, and the shopkeeper mentioned nothing about any reservation,” Luna hissed, becoming irritated.

“Like I said; a simple misunderstanding, due to a change in shifts,” the man said smoothly. “So, I ask again; won’t you reconsider?”

‘Please, please don’t do it!’

“No thanks,” Noctis said firmly, right before he shoved the man away firmly. “If you’d reserved them, you should’ve come earlier. Good day.”

With that said, Noctis opened the door and climbed in without another word.

‘Oh thank god…’

‘That…was TOO close…’

‘WAY too close for my liking.’

Noctis said nothing else as he put the key in the ignition and started the engine, before he turned to Luna. “You ready to go?”

“Yes,” the blonde woman nodded, and then looked back at the Genomes with a warm smile. “Are you both ready for your new home?”

‘…let’s wait until we arrive, alright?’

‘We’ll have to see it before we can really consider it home…’

‘Right…’

The two Genomes didn’t respond vocally to the question. Instead, they each gave a small nod, their expressions remaining as impassive as a rock.

Noctis frowned at this for a moment, before he shook the matter off for the time being, and soundlessly pulled out of the parking lot. And then they were on their way home with their new purchases in tow.

Chapter Text

When the group arrived at the castle, Ignis and Ravus were awaiting them. Ravus was frowning, concerned, when he saw the two Genomes in the backseat. Ignis’s expression mirrored his, but his was more perturbed. As soon as Noctis parked and turned off the ignition, Ignis started.

“Noctis, why would you go and purchase a Genome out of the blue like this?” he demanded coolly. Meanwhile, Ravus waited until Luna had stepped out of the Regalia before he spoke to her.

“Lunafreya. Are you sure about buying a Genome?” he asked her, the concern in his voice plain to hear.

“Yes, I’m quite certain, Ravus,” she said, frowning at him. “You’re not the first person today who has given us trouble over these two, and I will ensure you’re the last.”

“Nothing ‘out of the blue’ about it," Noctis said in response to Ignis’s question as he helped the tallest Genome out from the backseat. “I’ve been considering this for a while now.”

“Why, though? Why in the world would you want a Genome? They have no souls, Noctis, you know that,” Ignis persisted.

“Your point being?” Noctis asked simply. He wasn’t about to spoil the surprise of their purchases just yet.

“You’re being ridiculous,” the sandy blonde grumbled. “Do what you will.” And with that, he left back into the castle.

“Sister, I’ll trust you in having made the right decision. But if this Genome of yours doesn’t bode well for you, then I’ll have to ask you to dispose of it,” Ravus sighed.

“You’ll do no such thing,” Luna huffed. “He’ll be just fine. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we need to get inside.”

Noctis snorted at Ignis’s departure, before he turned to the Genome he’d just helped get out. “C’mon, let’s get you two inside.”

“Yes, let’s,” Luna smiled at hers, helping him out of the backseat as well before she and Noctis led their Genomes by their leashes into the castle, Ravus stepping aside for them. As they entered, the taller Genome’s jaw nearly dropped at the extravagance of the castle’s interior. However, he forced himself to keep his expression neutral as he followed after the raven. “Now, I think we should at least get them cleaned up, right Noctis?” Luna suggested to her friend.

“Good idea… And some new clothes while we’re at it,” Noctis commented, gesturing for the skin-tight white clothes both were still wearing. “Can’t have them walking around in that all day, huh?”

While the two of them talked, the shorter Genome briefly glanced around, as his tail tip twitched. ‘Damn…! Look at the size of this place…! These guys must be loaded!’

‘Yeah, really! Or have some really good connections,’ the taller Genome agreed, glancing around as well. Luna then looked back at her Genome.

“Looks like we’ll be splitting up for a bit. We’ll see you at dinner, then?” she asked Noctis, giving the short blonde behind her a reassuring smile.

“Sounds like a plan,” Noctis agreed with a nod. “We’ll see you later.”

With one more nod, the two friends went their separate ways…not noticing how the two Genomes exchanged a worried glance before following their respective “owners”. As the taller of the two Genomes was led down the hallway, he couldn’t help but start to panic on the inside. He and his friend hadn’t been separated since…well, for as long as he could remember. So it was rather scary to be away from him.

Since Noctis was leading the Genome by the leash, he didn't notice the panic now visible in his eyes. Rather than that, he was a little more focused on some of the servants giving said blonde some strange/dirty looks, which, after a nasty glare from Noctis, were gone just as quickly as they hurried out of the way.

Eventually, they reached one of the bathrooms and Noctis lead the Genome in, shutting and locking the door behind them. On instinct, the blonde’s tail fluffed up a bit nervously, as the sound of the lock clicked into place.

As Noctis turned to the Genome, he noticed the fluffed up tail and quickly put things together. Rather than comment on it immediately, though, he walked up to the blonde and made him raise his chin a bit. “Right…so where…?” he murmured as he ran his fingers along the heavy metal collar surrounding the blonde’s neck.

The Genome shivered involuntarily at the touch, waiting patiently until the raven found the last keyhole on the collar, and then a tiny whimper escaped him as it was unlocked.

As he slipped the contraption off, Noctis allowed a small smile as he looked at the Genome. “I’m not gonna bite your head off, yanno?” he said teasingly.

‘Can’t blame me for being nervous,’ the Genome thought to himself. He did, however, relax slightly when the collar was removed.

After tossing the collar aside, Noctis briefly rubbed his hands over the Genome’s throat. “That feel any better?” Hesitantly, the blonde nodded, not wanting to speak just yet.

“Good,” the raven said with a smile, before he walked over to the bathtub. “Come over here,” he called out to the Genome as he opened the faucet. The smaller of the pair walked over obediently, his gaze on the floor.

Once the blonde was standing by Noctis’s side, the taller male reached out and began to examine the suit that the Genome was wearing. As he tugged on the material, he quickly realized that the material was elastic, for which he was glad, since it’d make removing the suit that much easier. Without a word said, he began to tug the suit off of the boy’s shoulders and then down his arms.

‘Aw, man…’ the Genome thought, tensing.

“Easy now,” Noctis murmured as he sensed the blonde tensing up under his fingers. And as he began to tug the suit further down, he added, “Can’t get you cleaned up where you’re fully clothed now, can we?”

‘Guess not…’ the blonde conceded, forcing himself to relax.

Once he had gotten the blonde out of the suit, Noctis moved toward the tub and closed the faucet again, briefly checking the temperature. “Alright, should be good. Go on; get in,” he urged the Genome. Said smaller male obeyed, stepping into the water and lowering himself until he was seated in the tub.

Once he was seated, Noctis moved to the side to collect a washcloth and a bar of soap. He knew they usually had servants for things like this, but Ignis WAS always complaining about him taking responsibility for his actions, so he figured he could start with this.

After lathering up the washcloth, he moved over and quietly started to wash the Genome, starting at his shoulders. The smaller male almost shivered at the touch, but found himself relaxing at the wonderful aroma of vanilla from the washcloth. If Noctis noticed this, he didn’t say anything about it, as he gently moved the cloth over the skin, tugging the Genome’s arm from the water so he could clean those as well.

The blonde allowed himself to be cleaned, contemplating on whether or not he should speak to his new owner. He wasn’t sure if this guy would even WANT him to talk.

“Hey,” the man suddenly said, drawing the blonde’s attention. “Do you have a name?” Immediately, the Genome’s eyes went wide, before he bit his lip nervously. Well, if the raven wasn’t sure about him having a soul before, his reaction certainly confirmed it just now. Hesitantly, he managed to answer.

“…P…Prompto…” he whispered, his voice cracking from lack of use.

“Prompto…” Noctis repeated, letting the name roll off his tongue, before he smiled. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Prompto. My name is Noctis. You can just call me Noct, if you want, though.” Prompto nodded, still uncertain if he’d made a mistake by telling his master his name.

As Noctis finished cleaning him, he stood up straight and hummed in thought. “Right,” he murmured finally. “I’ll be right back; I’m just going to get you something easier to wear, okay?” Again, the Genome nodded, the tip of his tail flicking anxiously.

Noctis gave him another small smile, before he headed off, leaving through a door that Prompto hadn’t even noticed in his earlier panic. The smaller male sighed shakily, absently wondering how his friend was fairing with his new master. Now that Noctis knew he could speak, however, he had a feeling he was going to have to be more verbal now.

It took Noctis only a few minutes to come back, carrying a small stack of (mostly dark) clothes, that he set on a nearby countertop, before he picked up a towel and walked over. “Alright, let’s get you dried off and dressed, okay?” Prompto nodded, and stood from the water, a faint blush appearing on his face from being fully exposed.

Noctis didn’t comment on this as he helped Prompto out of the tub before he started to dry the blonde, rubbing firmly yet gently. The smaller male shivered lightly at the cool air on his drying skin, but once he was dried, he couldn’t help but grab at one of his arms nervously.

Noctis frowned a bit at the gesture, before he reached over and placed a hand on the Genome’s shoulder, squeezing softly. “Hey, relax. You’re safe here. I promise.”

Prompto exhaled his held breath, forcing himself to relax again. “S-sorry…”

“Don’t be,” Noctis said with a smile, squeezing one more time, before he moved over to collect the clothes he’d picked out earlier. “I don’t know what it was like back there, but I can hazard a guess…” Shaking it off, Noctis unfolded the items. “Anyway, since you’re obviously not static, how about you help me get you in these things, huh?” he chuckled out.

The blonde nodded, and helped his owner in getting himself dressed. He couldn’t help but feel a bit of relief about Noctis’s words from before, that he was safe here. Safe. It wasn’t a word he was familiar with feeling. Soon, he was fully dressed, though, even his tail being able to slip through a small slit in the back of the pants.

“Alright, looking good,” Noctis chuckled as he looked Prompto over.

He’d opted to give the boy some of the clothes he didn’t wear as often, even though they were all in black (as most of his clothes were, since that way they didn’t clash too much). The shirt was a dark gray with the pants being full black, and the simple leather jacket added an extra touch to the look.

Satisfied with how the Genome looked, Noctis nodded. “Okay, so let me show you around your new home while we wait for dinner to be served.”

“O-okay,” Prompto nodded, and followed Noctis out of the bathroom, hoping his fellow Genome’s own bathing session was going/had gone well.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

Luna led her new Genome companion to her bathroom in the castle, occasionally glancing back and catching him marveling at the interior of the massive building. She found it quite endearing, to be honest. When they reached her bedroom, she smiled warmly at him before guiding him to the bathroom.

“Now, let’s get you cleaned up, shall we?” she giggled, the sound similar to crystal bells chiming.

The slightly shorter blonde turned to her at the giggle, but his face remained completely impassive. Much like his friend with Noctis, he still wasn’t entirely certain how he was expected to act around his owner. As kind as she was at the moment, he’d seen plenty of people from within his glass confinement in Bran Bal to know that there not everything was as it seemed.

So, rather than respond verbally, he gave a miniscule nod, though he almost winced when his chin hit the collar still secured around his neck.

“But first we’ll get that collar off. I’m sure it’s painful,” Luna murmured when she noticed, pulling out the key-ring from her pocket and finding the keyhole. Once it had been unlocked and she gently removed it, she frowned darkly at the contraption. “I can’t believe they’d keep such heavy things on a Genome. Or anyone, for that matter.”

The Genome didn’t respond to the words, and even though he was tempted to reach for his throat to ease the ache the collar had been causing him, he forced his hand to remain by his side, just in case it wasn’t acceptable to do so.

Smiling softly as she noticed his hesitation, Luna turned on the tap for the bathtub before she gently rubbed at the sore-looking spots on his neck and throat from the collar. “There we go. Don’t be afraid of me, okay? You’re safe here. Both of you are.”

He blinked his eyes at her, his impassive mask slipping for a brief moment as the pain along his neck was eased gently, but all he really did was nod his head slowly. He couldn’t stop his tail from snapping to the side, though.

“No need to be nervous,” the woman smiled kindly. She gazed into his blue eyes, her genuine feelings of warmth and kindness shining loud and clear in her gaze. The Genome tried not to frown, before he nodded one more time. Despite her reassurance, he couldn’t help but remain cautious of the whole situation. The young woman smiled once more at her companion, before checking the bath water. By now it was a good, comfortable temperature, so she turned off the tap, and then looked at the shorter blonde.

“You can undress yourself, if that makes you feel better. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable,” she urged.

This comment actually made the Genome tilt his head a fraction, before he glanced over to the bathtub. After a moment of consideration, he figured he may as well do as he was told. Reaching up to his shoulders, he pushed against the material letting it slide along his skin and down his arms. Once he was fully undressed, Luna nodded.

“All right, in you go. I hope you like the scent of strawberries,” she giggled.

‘…strawberries…?’

Though he wasn't sure what she meant by that, he silently climbed into the tub, involuntarily jumping at the shift in temperature even as he settled down in the water.

“Is it too hot?” his owner asked, concerned at the flinch. “I can always add some cool water.” He briefly glanced over at the words, but in the end he shook his head once to show it wasn’t bad. “Okay, good. I’ll get you cleaned up.”

Luna then picked up her strawberry-scented body wash and a washcloth, before lathering up the cloth with a dollop of the body wash. Once she had, she then began to gently wash the Genome, starting with his shoulders. As she went along, washing his upper body for him, she decided to at least try and find out his name.

“Can I at least know your name? I’d like to be able to call you it, without having an improper name for you,” she questioned softly. “You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.”

That last part actually had the Genome looking at her with startled wide eyes, before he turned away as he tried to get himself back under control again. If that wasn’t a sign of him having a soul, Luna wasn’t sure what WAS.

“…Zi…Zidane…” he got out, his voice slightly hoarse from disuse.

“Zidane…” Luna murmured, liking the sound of his name. “I like it. It’s a lovely name. My name is Lunafreya, but everyone except my brother calls me Luna.” The praise actually made the Genome fidget for a moment, as he was unsure how he was meant to respond to that. Was he even allowed to? “You’re free to speak around me, Zidane, if that’s what has you concerned,” Luna smiled.

Zidane glanced up at her then, but he still didn’t speak. In fact, he kept his lips firmly pressed together, as if he was still afraid of a rebuttal.

“I won’t harm you, I promise on my life,” she whispered, noticing how he still seemed uncertain. “I would never hurt someone in my care, especially a Genome.”

Zidane didn’t respond to the words, but the tension that had been present in his every muscle until then seemed to fade away as he let himself relax (even if only marginally).

“There we go,” Luna praised, feeling her companion start to relax. “How does this feel?” she inquired, starting to gently wash his upper back.

The shorter blonde almost jumped at the touch to his back, flashes of a past memory filled with pain rushing back into the forefront of his mind, but he pushed them away swiftly. It wasn’t painful…nowhere near it, in fact, but he wasn’t sure he liked the mixed emotions it caused. And so he remained quiet, though his hands clenched in the water.

Noticing the clenching of Zidane’s hands, Luna paused. “It’s okay,” she soothed. “Would you prefer to clean your lower half yourself? It’s okay if you do, I won’t be offended or mad or anything.”

Zidane turned his head a fraction as he regarded Luna from the corner of his eyes, before he looked ahead again, after which he gave a small, almost imperceptible nod.

“Okay. Go ahead and finish cleaning up. I’m going to get you some clothes. After all, we can’t have you getting back into that old outfit, now can we?” she teased lightly, smiling at him. And with that said, she stood and headed back to her room, seeking out an outfit she had once had made for herself when she was a bit younger, only it was a very tomboyish look, so it would suit Zidane well. When she returned, she saw he was done cleaning himself, and had rinsed off, too.

“Perfect. Let’s get you dried and dressed, shall we, Zidane?” she said softly, grabbing a plush towel from the rack and setting the clothes on the counter.

At those words, Zidane gave another nod before he climbed out of the tub, briefly shivering as his feet touched the cold tiles. As he was dried off, he couldn’t help but relax a little more. He still wasn’t entirely sure what was and what wasn’t allowed, despite Luna’s earlier words, so he did his best to remain as impassive as he could for now.

“Don’t fret so much, Zidane,” Luna soothed, finishing up with drying him off. “I hope you’ll come to trust me, because I want you to see me as a trustworthy person. You’re already worthy of my trust, after all.”

The Genome didn’t respond to the words, though his impassive expression seemed to slip just slightly, and this time Zidane didn’t seem prepared to do anything about it.

“All right, let’s get you dressed. I apologize, I don’t actually have any men’s clothes in my closet, so I had to find a tomboyish outfit I had…” Luna admitted, and showed her companion the clothes. It consisted of a pair of dark blue bootleg jeans and a gray t-shirt with a lightning bolt on the front.

There was no immediate reaction to the clothes from Zidane, but, eventually, he reached out and lightly took the clothes from her. As he moved to put the jeans on, though, he briefly tensed as his hair slipped over his shoulders to hang in his face, and he bit his lip to stop whatever sound was trying to escape.

Noticing his reaction, Luna frowned in concern, before grabbing a hair tie from the bathroom counter. “Let me tie your hair back for you, Zidane. That should keep it out of your face,” she offered.

As Luna did just that, Zidane watched her curiously, but he quickly wiped the expression away again as she stepped back, clenching his jaw. Was he supposed to express thanks now? That was how it went, right? At least…he assumed it was, he really wasn’t sure.

“You can speak when you're ready to,” Luna assured him, smiling kindly. She could tell he was VERY unsure of everything, so she decided to tell him the few rules. “There are only a few rules I’d like for you to go by, but other than that, you’re free to do as you please. The first rule is to please tell me where you’re at or where you’re going. That way I don’t worry so much about you being gone. The second rule is to respect our guests, but if you can sense or tell there’s something wrong, please let me know. And the third rule is to just be yourself.”

‘…“be myself”? Hell I don’t even know for sure who I am yet…’

Of course, Zidane didn’t say any of that. Instead he just nodded his head once as he got dressed in the clothes Luna had provided him, glad that she’d had the foresight to cut a hole in the back for his tail to go through.

“I’m sure you’ll start to show your true colors with some time, Zidane,” Luna told him. “Until then, that third rule can wait. For now, how about we meet with Noctis and your friend after a tour of your new home?” At the concept of seeing the other Genome again, Zidane managed to relax, and he nodded his head in confirmation.

 

-later-

Prompto followed Noctis throughout the castle, still amazed that the place was even inhabited by so few people, it seemed. His owner had already told him the rules, and he understood all but the third, seeing as he wasn’t sure HOW to be himself.

“…Okay; last place. This is personally my favorite. C’mon,” Noctis said just then, leading Prompto through a large glass door off to the side. The blonde followed the raven closely, trying not to step on his heels in the process. He stopped, however, when he saw the beautiful sight on the area they’d just gone into.

They’d just walked into a huge indoor garden, the dirt paths lined with various shades of flowers of various different kinds. There were a number of benches scattered around here and there, but they were fairly limited and didn’t distract from the flora surrounding them.

Noticing the look, Noctis smiled. “You like?”

“Yeah…” the smaller male breathed, unable to stop looking around. However, his attention was soon drawn to the footsteps approaching them, and he looked to see Zidane with his owner, the shorter Genome appearing awed by the garden as well.

‘It’s beautiful, huh Zidane?’ Prompto asked his friend.

At the telepathic question, Zidane glanced over to Prompto, before he returned his attention to the garden. ‘Yeah…this whole place is. I’m probably gonna get myself lost around here at least twice, I just know it…’

When he noticed where Prompto’s attention was, Noctis turned to his friend and smiled. “Hey, Luna. Finished your own tour?”

“Yes, we have,” she smiled back. “And I’ll bet dinner is ready by now. Shall we head to the dining room? We can always come back after eating.” The last part was directed to Zidane, who she noticed was just looking around the garden, awed.

When Zidane realized she was talking to him, he turned to her for a moment. Before responding, though, he looked around the garden one more time, before he turned back and nodded his head quietly.

Noctis chuckled. “Right…let’s see if your brother and Iggy have cooled down a bit, eh?”

“I highly doubt Ignis has, but Ravus might have by now,” Luna giggled. “I would like to think he’d respect my choices by now.” And with that, the two owners led their Genomes to the dining room. As they walked, however, Prompto conversed with Zidane via telepathy.

‘My owner managed to get me to tell him my name, but he was really kind about it. What about yours?’ he asked.

‘Same here,’ Zidane admitted, glancing toward his owner behind her back. ‘She seems nice…nicer than what you hear from the masters' gossiping, anyway…’

While they were mostly surrounded by other Genomes, the pair of them had often listened in on the shopkeepers’ conversations (without their knowledge, of course). Whenever they came together to talk, they would talk about the horror stories some buyers would tell them…like how one buyer came back to demand a refund when one of Genomes “broke down”.

Which wasn’t something that was very good for the pair’s (hidden) anxieties.

‘…oh yeah; she said I could just call her “Luna” rather than…yanno, the usual. How ‘bout you?’

‘He told me I could call him Noctis or Noct,’ Prompto answered. ‘I’ll be honest, I have a feeling we might be in for something good here.’

‘Here’s hoping…’ Zidane said back, just as they stepped into the dining room. ‘Aaand it’s gigantic. Why’d I expect anything else?’

‘I dunno. Better than small and cramped, though,’ Prompto pointed out, snickering through their connection.

‘Like another place we know,’ Zidane ‘chuckled’ back, before his attention shifted briefly. ‘Oh great… Specs and Grumps are here, too…’

‘Well, hopefully they don’t give our owners too much trouble this time…’ Prompto mentally sighed. As they approached, however, it seemed that ‘Specs’ intended to give them just that.

“Noctis. I’ve already informed your father of your purchase,” he stated coolly, while Ravus looked to Luna.

“There’s no changing your mind, hmm?” he asked her, already knowing the answer.

“No, there’s not,” she replied.

“Then I’ll respect your decision, Lunafreya,” he conceded.

“Thank you, Ravus,” she smiled, hugging him briefly.

“Not surprised…” Noctis snorted softly.

‘…Specs doesn’t seem to like us much, does he?’ Zidane asked through his link with Prompto.

‘Maybe if he knew we have souls, it would help,’ the slightly taller blonde suggested.

‘Let’s not risk it just yet…they might just cart us off then, anyway.’

‘Yeah, but I remember Specs here telling Noctis about how we have no souls.’

‘True, but—…hm?’

Zidane slightly turned his head to the side as he heard some sort of clicking noise coming down the hall to the side. Prompto looked as well, just in time to see an older man enter the dining room, his cane being the source of the clicking they’d heard.

“Ignis, go easy on my son,” the man chuckled. “Though his decision may have seemed rash, he doesn’t do something without good reason.”

“Yes, Your Majesty,” Ignis murmured, bowing respectfully.

“Hello, King Regis,” Luna greeted with a smile.

“Hello, Lunafreya,” he chuckled. “I’d like to see these Genomes of yours. They must be special for you to each purchase one.”

Noctis nodded his head briefly, before he turned to Prompto, who was still standing a short distance behind him and Luna alongside Zidane. “Prompto, can you come over here for a moment?” The Genome nodded, joining his owner, and Luna looked at Zidane.

“Come on over, Zidane,” she smiled. Unlike Prompto, Zidane didn’t nod; he just soundlessly walked over to stand beside her.

“This is the Genome I chose,” Luna told Regis, placing a hand on the shorter blonde’s shoulder to calm him. “His name is Zidane.”

“And this one is the one I picked,” Noctis said as he placed an arm around the taller Genome’s shoulders. “He’s called Prompto.” Said blonde had to repress a shiver at the touch. Regis looked at them both closely, especially into their eyes, before he smiled warmly.

“Well, you both made excellent choices. Their souls are beautiful,” he smiled, making Ignis and Ravus jolt with shock at the news.

“They both have souls?” they uttered at the same time.

Noctis rolled his eyes with a small snort. “After what I’ve seen, I have no doubt of it,” he said calmly.

“Definitely,” Luna nodded.

“…Then I must apologize,” Ignis sighed. “I had assumed they had no souls, which to me would seem to be a pointless thing, to own a Genome without one, but now it makes more sense.”

‘…this guy is sharp…’ Zidane said to Prompto.

‘Him and the old guy,’ Prompto agreed. ‘We’re just that obvious when people look into our eyes, huh?’

‘Guess so…’

Noctis merely smirked at Ignis’s apology, but that was it.

“How come they’re not talking, though?” Ravus asked, curious.

Noctis frowned and looked to the pair. “Not sure…might be the new environment…” he murmured, before he turned to Prompto. “Hey, if you have something to say, don’t hold back, alright?” The blonde nodded, still unsure, the tip of his tail flicking.

“Same for you, Zidane,” Luna told the shorter blonde, smiling softly. Said Genome glanced over, seeming to think, but finally nodded, his tail lightly swaying behind him.

“Well, how about we have some dinner, shall we?” Regis finally suggested. “I’m sure our new arrivals are quite hungry by now.”

“I’ll have it out in a moment, Your Majesty,” Ignis nodded, before he disappeared into the kitchen.

When he returned, he wasn’t alone, as a few of the castle’s servants brought out a dish of food for each person in the dining room. Luna took a seat across from Noctis, Regis in between them at the head of the table, and motioned for Zidane to sit by her. Zidane tilted his head briefly, clearly curious, but he said nothing as he moved over and climbed onto the chair next to her.

Noctis chuckled, before he gestured for Prompto to come over and take the seat next to him as well. His Genome did so wordlessly, sitting by his owner. Then the servants placed a plate in front of each of them, and lifted the domes off, revealing a delicious-smelling bowl of green curry soup. Immediately, Prompto’s eyes lit up, as he had a thing for spicy food, despite hardly ever having it before.

Zidane cocked his head at the sight, briefly sniffing the aroma, before he glanced over toward Luna in question.

“You don’t have to wait to eat. Go ahead,” she urged. With the okay given, Zidane quietly reached out and picked up his spoon to start eating.

Noctis, in the meantime, chuckled as he noticed the look on Prompto’s face. “Well? What are you waiting for?” he quipped, making the Genome look over. “Go ahead and dig in.” Prompto couldn’t help but pick up his spoon and taste the soup eagerly, quickly loving the taste. And this sight, naturally, made the raven chuckle, even as he began to eat his own meal.

While Zidane didn’t show the same enthusiasm as Prompto at the taste, the tip of his tail was lightly curling every so often.

‘…oy, Prompto.’

‘Hmm?’

‘…did you hear what Specs called the old guy?’

‘Yeah, so that means… Holy crap! We’re in the presence of royalty!’

‘Exactly…no wonder they weren’t persuaded before…’

‘Well, I’m certainly not gonna complain right now. It’s nice, to know that we have somewhere we can actually be safe and call home.’

‘Same here, but…let’s not push our luck TOO much…we never know what might happen next…’

“…? Something wrong?” Noctis asked when he noticed the slight shift in Prompto’s behavior. Startled, Prompto looked at him with wide, surprised eyes, before shaking his head, wordlessly assuring him he was fine.

‘Think they’ll ever catch on to us having telepathy?’ he asked.

‘They might…but as long as we’re careful, they probably won’t,’ Zidane said with a shrug disguised as him simply rolling his shoulders.

‘I still don’t think we should have to tip-toe around them, though. You heard their rules, and as long as we don’t break them, I’m sure we’ll be fine,’ Prompto pointed out.

‘…I suppose…’ Zidane admitted, pausing with his spoon halfway to his mouth. ‘…just…guess I’m still worried about what became…you know…when they realized he was different…’ Luna noticed the pause, and looked at her companion, concerned.

“Are you all right, Zidane?” she asked softly.

The Genome looked over from the corner of his eyes, and he was about to nod…but then he changed his mind. And then he did something that no one at the table had expected him to do; he spoke.

“…I’m fine.”

Luna smile kindly at him, but concern still showed in her eyes. “All right. If you want to talk, though, I’ll be available anytime to listen. I always will.”

Prompto was glad the Zidane had worked up the courage to finally speak, and he knew he’d end up having to do the same with Noctis, but for now, he’d rather enjoy the quiet. Noctis allowed a small smile at the exchange, but he kept silent as he focused back on his own dinner.

Eventually, the group finished their meal, and Luna and Noctis bid Regis goodnight before they headed out to the hallway, where they were to split up for the night in their respective pairs.

‘I’ll see you in the morning, Zidane, I guess…’ Prompto sighed mentally. They hadn’t been apart in so long, after all.

‘Yeah…g’night,’ his friend said with a small nod to the other Genome.

“We’ll see you both in the morning. Try and get some sleep, okay?” she said, directing the last part at Prompto, who realized she must have known he’ll probably stress out without Zidane nearby.

“Don’t worry; the night will be over before you know it,” Noctis chuckled. “Just relax and take it easy, alright?”

Zidane didn’t say anything to Noctis, but he did give a small nod. With that said, the pairs split off to their respective rooms, Prompto’s tail tip twitching anxiously as they got closer to Noctis’s room. He couldn’t possibly be expected to sleep beside the prince, could he?

Thankfully, as they entered the room, Prompto quickly spotted that there were two beds now set up, one of them at the far end of the room, as far away from the window as possible, and one further to the wall.

“Ah, good,” Noctis said with a smile. “Looks like they already set everything up.” Prompto frowned, confused as to which was his, as they both seemed the same to him. He almost looked like a lost puppy with the expression his wore.

Noctis laughed at the expression as he walked toward the closet and pulled out some sleepwear. “Don’t worry so much. Here,” he said as he handed the clothes to Prompto. “You can use these to sleep in. They were getting too small on me anyway.”

“Wait, what?” the smaller male uttered as he held the clothes, now REALLY confused.

Noctis hummed as he cocked his head. “Something wrong? If it’s about the pants, you can just tear a hole in them.”

“Never changed clothes to sleep before…” Prompto explained quietly.

That actually made Noctis stare at him in surprise. “You…didn’t? Wait…where DID you sleep, actually?” The question made the blonde fidget a bit awkwardly.

“In um…in tubes…” he answered softly.

“…” Noctis’s expression darkened considerably, then, and he curled his hands into fists, before he shut his eyes and rubbed at his temples in a clear sign of aggravation. The Genome watched him nervously, hoping he hadn’t upset his owner too badly.

After a long moment, though, Noctis took a deep breath and released it heavily. “Might have to look into that…” he grumbled, before he turned to Prompto again. “Anyway, here, we wear some lighter clothes to sleep in. It’s more comfortable than sleeping in something that clings to your skin.”

“O-okay,” the blonde nodded, not sure if he was allowed to change in the bathroom or not.

As if catching on to the blonde’s anxiety, Noctis smiled. “If you want, you can change in the bathroom. This is your room as much as it is mine, now, but that doesn’t mean we need to be attached at the hip all the time.”

“Thank you…” the Genome murmured, before scurrying into the bathroom to change. As he did, though, he couldn’t help but feel grateful to his new owner, seeing as the raven had pretty much saved his life. He would have ended up either with those silver-haired bastards or heading to the “Room of no Return” had he not been bought by Noctis. Sighing shakily once he was dressed, he then stepped out of the bathroom to see Noctis.

When he did, Noctis had already changed into his own sleepwear and was sitting on the bed furthest away from the window, checking something on his phone, before looking up. The Genome’s tail tip flicked back and forth as he made his way to what was now obviously his bed, before he crawled under the blanket. He was pleasantly surprised at how much more comfortable it was than ‘sleeping’ in the tubes, and he felt that same gratitude again for the raven.

Noctis laughed as he watched the Genome get comfortable. “You ready?”

“For what?” the smaller male frowned, puzzled.

Instead of answering, Noctis scooted over further onto his bed, set his phone aside, and then placed his hand on a small switch. “This,” he said simply before he flicked it, effectively killing all the lights in the room. The sudden darkness drew a startled squeak from Prompto, but he soon adjusted, scooting down further under the blanket, but still propped up by the pillows.

“G…goodnight, Noctis,” he whispered, getting himself comfortable.

Noctis chuckled in the darkness, as the Genome could hear the prince’s covers be moved over him. “G’night, Prompto,” came the calm, almost casual call, before the silence of the night befell them both. Soon, Prompto found himself starting to drift off, lulled to sleep by the faint sound of Noctis’s deep, even breaths.

Chapter Text

Before long, morning had come again, and at the crack of dawn, Zidane’s eyes flickered open. As the surroundings seemed unfamiliar to his still half-asleep brain, he bolted up, until his memories from the day before came back to him and he sighed in slight relief. One glance around the fancy room revealed that his owner was still asleep…which was good.

Moving slowly and quietly, Zidane slipped out of bed and swiftly changed clothes. Once he had done that, he silently made his way to the door, turned the key as quietly as possible, and then slipped out of the room, his tail tugging the door shut behind him.

With almost practiced ease the Genome ducked in and out of the shadows, out of sight from the few servants already up, until finally he reaches the room he’d been looking for. Pressing a hand against it, followed by his forehead, he shut his eyes and focused.

‘…Prom…Prompto…PROMPTO!’

‘Huh? Wha?’ Prompto thought back tiredly.

‘Get out here, will ya? Got something to show you.’

‘O-okay.’ Soon after, Prompto quietly slipped out, closing the door silently behind him. ‘What did you need to show me?’

‘This way,’ Zidane said as he gestured down the hall, before hurrying ahead, sticking to the shadows whenever he could.

‘We better not get in trouble, Zidane…’ the taller blonde thought as he followed. Zidane didn’t say anything as he led the way for his fellow Genome. There were times where he would stop and look around, thinking, before he moved on ahead again. Which eventually brought them back to the garden. ‘The garden?’ Prompto questioned his friend.

‘Close…’ the shorter Genome said as he moved ahead. ‘There was something here that you might find interesting.’ As he said that, he was sniffing at the air as he walked, with his tail continuously moving behind him as he went.

‘And that would be…?’ Prompto pressed, quirking a brow as he followed, his own tail waving.

But Zidane didn’t answer immediately. Finally though, Zidane stopped and took a deep whiff of the air, after which a small smirk crossed his face. ‘Smells like…’

Prompto copied him, sniffing deeply, and then he caught it. ‘Chocobo!’ he grinned, recognizing the scent from their days at the stall where some potential customers rode Chocobos into the market.

‘Let’s go!’ Zidane urged, hurrying ahead. ‘Chop-chop, Prompto!’

‘There in a jiffy!’ the taller Genome yelped, hurrying after.

Before long, the pair cleared the garden, and after a short jog, they reached an enclosure that their owners hadn’t included in the tour; Chocobo stables.

‘Wow…look at how many there are!’ Zidane got out, his lips twitching into a small grin.

‘They’re so cute!’ Prompto gushed, unable to keep his own grin off his face. The Genomes stepped up to the fence, and for a while, they just stood there and watched the large birds walk back and forth, their tails lightly swaying, showing just how relaxed they really were.

After a while, though, Zidane smirked as he looked over from the side of his eyes. ‘You wanna get in there?’

‘But…won’t we get in trouble?’ Prompto frowned, his blue eyes wide.

‘What? You scared?’

‘Wha? No, I’m not!’

‘Well come on then!’ Zidane quipped, slipping through the fence and moving over to the Chocobos. Prompto was quick to follow, really hoping he wouldn’t get in trouble for this.

‘I’d rather let them come to us, that way we’re not chasing them, at least,’ he pointed out, watching Zidane move closer.

‘Not saying we should “chase” them,’ Zidane pointed out, as he slowly walked along the enclosure, watching the Chocobos regarded him curiously.

‘Whatever you say,’ Prompto shrugged, and slowly walked over to the Chocobos as well.

Suddenly there was a curious “Kweh?” followed by a push to Prompto’s back. Said blonde jumped slightly, a little startled, before turning to see one of the Chocobos watching him curiously. Smiling brightly, the Genome reached up and gently petted the bird’s neck.

“Kweh~” the bird chirped, leaning into the touch happily.

“Like that, huh?” Prompto murmured aloud, already liking this himself.

“Kweh~!”

“Wah! Hey, hey! Watch the tail there!” Zidane called out, before he yelped as the Chocobo began to rub its face against him. This made the Genome laugh as he moved to pet the Chocobo’s head.

‘Trouble, much?’ Prompto teased his friend, snickering out loud.

‘Nope. You?’

‘None at all.’

Chuckling, Zidane patted the Chocobo’s neck, before he hummed in thought, and then he moved around and climbed on the bird’s back. This made the Chocobo chirp curiously, before it gave a happy “Kweh~” when Zidane patted his neck.

‘I thought they needed saddles to be ridden?’ Prompto questioned, before he looked at the Chocobo he’d been petting. Before Zidane could answer, though, the Chocobo suddenly moved around him and pushed its head under the Genome, scooping him onto its back. He gave a startled yelp, but soon relaxed, smiling at the bird and petting its neck.

Zidane allowed a chuckle, his tail swishing behind him. ‘You up for a race, Prom?’

‘You’re on!’ Prompto smirked.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

Luna rushed through the halls to Noctis’s room, very worried now. Okay, that was an understatement. She was incredibly worried, as she had woken up to Zidane being gone. She had a feeling Prompto was gone as well, and when she reached her friend’s bedroom, she was right.

“Noctis, wake up!” she hissed, shaking his shoulder urgently.

“Buh-whuh…?” Noctis got out as he sat up sleepily, blinking at his old friend. “What…? What happened?”

“Zidane and Prompto are gone!” she told him, worry evident in her expression.

“What?!” Noctis choked out, awake in an instant, before he snapped his gaze to the other bed in the room. “Dammit!!” he hissed as he lunged from the bed.

“Where could they have gone?” Luna wondered, pacing the room in her panic.

After swiftly pulled some clothes on, Noctis ran his hands through his hair, thinking swiftly. “Did you check the garden, yet?” he asked. “They seemed to be very interested in the garden yesterday.”

“No, not yet. Good idea. Let’s go check,” she nodded, and the pair hurried to the garden. It took them only a few minutes to reach the garden, where they began to hurry along the dirt paths, looking around in worry. Suddenly, Luna paused. “Wait. Do you hear that?” she asked, listening carefully.

Noctis blinked, before he paused and listened.

“Kweh~!”

“…the Chocobo stables!”

Nodding at each other, the pair hurried in the direction of the stables. When they arrived, they were surprised to see the two Genomes riding on two of the Chocobos, apparently finishing a race as the two birds skidded to a stop. The pair was laughing happily, grins on both of their faces as their tails waved, showing just how happy they were.

“The hell…?” Noctis breathed out as Zidane gestured to Prompto in silence, though he was still grinning.

“They look so happy,” Luna smiled, feeling better now that she knew where they were. “We should at least make our presence known, though. It feels strange to be watching them without them knowing.”

“Yeah, let’s,” Noctis said as they walked over.

As they did, though, Zidane’s caught sight of them, and his eyes widened in alarm. ‘Oh crap…!’

‘Do you think they know we have telepathy now?’ Prompto wondered, almost cowering nervously as he climbed off the Chocobo he’d been on.

‘I dunno…’ Zidane admitted as he slowly slipped off his own Chocobo.

‘I guess we’ll find out…’ his friend sighed.

“How come you both disappeared on us this morning?” Luna asked. “You worried us.” Zidane didn’t answer the question immediately, keeping one hand to the side of the Chocobo’s neck, as if that would help somehow.

“You do know you didn’t have to run off without saying something, right?” Noctis asked with a small smile. Prompto blushed, embarrassed, uttering a quiet apology.

Noticing that the pair still didn’t speak too much, Noctis frowned in question. He knew he'd locked his door from the inside last night, leaving the key in the lock. And yet Luna had come in as if it had been left unlocked. Which meant Prompto must’ve unlocked it and he suspected Zidane had done the same with Luna’s door…but how had they orchestrated leaving the rooms at roughly the same time in roughly the same way? And without waking either him or Luna?

“On a totally different note,” he said, deciding to bring it up, “how did you guys know to leave at the same time?” Immediately, Prompto paled, but decided it would be best not to lie.

“We… Well, Zidane got me, but…we can…use…telepathy…” he explained softly, internally cringing.

“Prom!” Zidane hissed out sharply, even as their owners stared in slight surprise.

“You…can use what?” Noctis choked out.

“Hey, I didn’t wanna lie!” Prompto defended himself.

“So that’s why you’ve both been so quiet with us,” Luna realized. “It’s okay, you know.”

“It’s fine if you don't want us to know everything and you want to talk privately,” Noctis added, before he went back to the original point. “But we really would want you to tell u before you leave the room to go anywhere, alright?”

Zidane didn’t answer that immediately, though his tail was still lightly swaying behind him.

“Sorry…” Prompto mumbled, the end of his tail flicking anxiously. ‘I told you we were gonna get in trouble, Zidane!’

‘Oh shut up!’ Zidane grumbled.

“Now, let’s go and get some breakfast, shall we?”  Luna suggested, smiling.

“…Sure,” Zidane said after a moment of thought, briefly nodding his head.

“Good idea… I’m hungry now,” Prompto agreed, and the two Genomes followed their owners to the dining room. Ignis was waiting for them with breakfast, and he smiled slightly as they arrived.

“I hope you like omelets,” he told the Genomes.

“…no clue,” Zidane said with a small shrug.

Noctis frowned at the simple words. He figured that they wouldn’t be used to ‘fancy’ foods, but omelets were pretty common, still.

“What’s an omelet?” Prompto asked, confused.

“Didn’t you two ever eat before we got you?” Luna frowned, looking at the pair in concern.

Zidane hummed before he and Prompto shared a look, silently asking each other about who was gonna speak up. Finally though, Zidane said, “Not in the way you’re thinking of, no.”

“We were fed through the tubes we slept in so our keepers didn’t have to waste their time and money feeding us real food,” Prompto added. Even Ignis frowned at this, perturbed by the information.

Noctis had to resist the urge to growl at those words. “That…is despicable.”

Prompto sighed. “It’s not exactly something that can be changed overnight…” he pointed out. “Especially since not all Genomes have souls to begin with.”

“Let’s just dismiss the matter for now,” Luna said. She was upset, too, but didn’t want to dwell on it. “For now, we’ll have some breakfast.”

“Right…” Noctis murmured, trying not to let it bother him as much as it did. But that was easier said than done.

“Have a seat, and the omelets will be out soon,” Ignis told them, and the group complied, taking the same seats as they had last night. As they waited, Prompto looked at Noctis.

“Are you still mad that we left without saying anything before, Noctis?” he asked softly.

Noctis blinked at the question, before he sighed. “I’m not mad, just…don’t run off again without saying something first, alright?”

“I won’t,” the smaller male promised, smiling slightly. The last thing he wanted to do was disappoint his kind owner now.

“Are you okay, Zidane?” Luna asked, noticing her companion’s silence.

“I’m fine,” the shorter blonde said as he spun his fork between his fingers, not even looking as he moved it along them over and over.

Noticing the movements, Prompto frowned. ‘Zidane…what’s really on your mind? At least tell me so I can be aware.’

Zidane looked up from under his bangs to Prompto. ‘Just thinking on how to pass the day, really,’ he admitted, still spinning the fork around his fingers.

‘I’m sure Luna and Noctis have something planned,’ the other Genome shrugged. Just then, right as their breakfast was getting served to them, a tall, muscular man entered the dining room, making his way to Noctis.

“Hey Noct, ready to train today?” he asked with a light grin. He hadn’t even seemed to notice the two Genomes.

“Gladio,” Noctis greeted with a chuckle. “Really, couldn’t you wait until after breakfast?”

Zidane quietly regarded the new arrival, before he quietly started on his breakfast. ‘Well this guy’s been in a scuffle and a half, ain’t he?’

‘You got that right,’ Prompto replied, tucking in to his own breakfast.

“Nope,” the man, Gladio, smirked. “Besides, if I wasn’t here to remind you, you’d slack on it.” Noctis merely rolled his eyes with a chuckle.

A mischievous glint suddenly in his eyes, Prompto snaked his tail down, and tapped the heel of Gladio’s foot with it, causing the man to jump and yelp, startled by the touch. That’s when he noticed the two Genomes sitting at the table.

“Well, seems you guys got yourselves a Genome each, huh?” he chuckled. “Gotta ask: I take it they have souls? Considering you wouldn’t have bought them otherwise.”

Noctis snorted in response. “Of course.”

Zidane smirked at his fellow Genome, but just as he was about to take another bite, an idea of his own came to him and he smirked. “Yanno…” he said, his tail swaying lazily behind him, “for such a big guy…you sure can squeak.

Prompto snickered at the comment, while Gladio turned a bit red in the face before he spluttered indignantly. Even Luna giggled at her companion’s remark.

Noctis, in the meantime, was trying (and failing) to hold in his amused chuckles. “He’s got a point,” the prince managed to get out.

And Zidane merely gave a small, cheeky grin in response.

Gladio snorted as he smirked at Noctis. “Then I’m gonna train you hard today for that shit,” he chuckled. Prompto’s eyes widened, and he looked at his owner, surprised.

“Wait what?!” Noctis choked out.

However, before Gladio could say anything else, he suddenly got hit in the cheek with a piece of omelet. And upon turning his head, Zidane was once again spinning his fork around his fingers almost casually, but the look on his face was, again, perfectly neutral.

Prompto, having seen what his friend had done, burst into a fit of laughter, unable to help himself. Luna was giggling at Zidane’s antics, in the same boat as Prompto. Noctis quickly covered his mouth to avoid bursting out in laughter just as much as the others. He was in enough trouble already, after all.

“Seriously?” the brunette frowned, wiping the piece of omelet off his cheek. “You want me to train you until you collapse, too?”

Zidane didn’t respond immediately…but then he smirked cheekily. “Well…it’d give me something to do,” he said simply.

“Cheeky little shit,” Gladio grumbled, before looking at Noctis. “Hurry up and finish eating, and then we’ll train.” Noctis sighed heavily, knowing there was no way out of this now, and he gave Zidane a small look. Said Genome merely shrugged his shoulders. “Relax, I won’t be that hard on you today.”

“You always say that…”

“Can…can I watch, Noctis?” Prompto asked suddenly.

The prince blinked at that question, before he allowed a small, half-hearted smile. “Sure.”

“I’m sure you’ll be fine,” the blonde smiled.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Later that evening, Prompto felt bad for his owner. Poor Noctis had taken a beating during training that day, and the Genome wasn’t sure what he could do to help. They sat in his room, the raven lying flat on his back in his bed, with Prompto sitting on the edge by him.

“Sorry Zidane made your training suck today,” he apologized.

Noctis groaned softly, before he rolled onto his side. “How did he even get back up after that?” he grumbled. “Gladio must’ve knocked him down at least five times…”

“It’s…part of our own training, I guess you could say,” the smaller male mumbled.

Frowning, Noctis looked up at Prompto. “What are you—…no, never mind…don’t tell me…” he groaned as he dropped back again. “I’m just going to get angry again…”

“Sorry…” the Genome sighed, the end of his tail flicking nervously on the bed.

“Don’t be. It’s not your fault…” Noctis sighed out. “I just can’t believe some people would be so…cruel to other people…”

“Remember, not everyone sees us as people, though. Hardly any of us have souls in the first place,” Prompto reminded him.

“But you’re alive…just like everyone else,” Noctis pointed out.

“Yeah, well… Not everyone sees the world the same way… You and Luna just happened to be the good kind of people we could end up with,” Prompto replied, smiling slightly.

Noctis sighed heavily as he placed an arm over his eyes. “…were you the only ones?”

“No, fortunately and unfortunately. We know personally of another, but I’d rather not tell you without Zidane’s permission… He’s involved,” the blonde answered.

Noctis glanced up from under his arm curiously. “Involved?”

“They…know each other better than I do, let’s put it at that.”

“…Okay…?”

“I can’t say much more, Noctis, or else Zidane’s gonna be really mad at me,” Prompto whined.

“Okay, okay…I’m sorry…” Noctis said as he pushed himself up on the bed properly, hissing at the pain in his arms. “If it’s a sensitive subject, I’ll just leave it.”

“It’s not so much a sensitive subject for me as it is for Zidane. I just don’t want him pissed off at me for sharing without permission,” the blonde explained, before he looked at the raven’s arms. “Are you sure you don’t wanna take something for the pain?”

“I’ll be fine,” Noctis murmured as he rotated his arms and then reached up to rub at his shoulders. “I’ve had worse…”

“…Would it help if I massaged your shoulders? You’re gonna be sore as hell tomorrow otherwise…” Prompto offered, his face dusted a light pink.

Blinking in surprise at the offer, Noctis turned to the Genome in question, before he allowed a small smile. “Do you mind?”

“No, especially if it’ll help.”

Noctis chuckled. “Thanks, Prompto… ‘preciate it.”

“Of course,” the smaller male smiled, moving to sit behind the prince. “I hate saying this, but…you gotta take off your shirt so I can.”

“Ah, right,” Noctis murmured, as he worked on removing his shirt, which took a bit of effort with his aching arms, before he tossed it to the side.

The Genome then began to massage Noctis’s shoulders, gently yet firmly pressing the heels of his palms in all the right places to provide the taller male relief from the aching. The pressure on his sore muscles made the prince groan lightly, as his muscles gradually loosened up and relaxed under the Genome’s expert hands. Prompto continued this for about ten minutes, before he paused.

“Feeling better?” he asked.

“Mhmm…” the prince hummed softly, nodding his head a bit. This made the smaller male smile, before he withdrew his hands.

“I think we should get some sleep,” he chuckled.

“Mm…maybe for a little bit…” Noctis agreed as he settled on the bed lazily. Prompto laughed softly, before he slid off Noctis’s bed and began to pad over to his own.

“I’ll see you later, Noctis,” he smiled tiredly.

“Mmyeah…later…” Noctis mumbled tiredly. And with that, the two fell asleep in their own beds.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

“So, Zidane, how were you able to keep going with that training session with Gladio? He’s not exactly a lightweight,” Luna asked as she sat on her bed with Zidane.

“I’m fine,” Zidane groaned as he sat cross-legged on the bed, twisting his upper body and arms over and over, lightly hissing whenever his joints cracked or his muscles complained at the motion. “I’ve had worse; lil bit of sore muscle’s not gonna stop me.”

“You’ve had worse?” she frowned.

“Yeah…” the blonde groaned as he stretched out his arms above his head. “Nrgh! Guy’s tough…but eh, ‘s not like he was beatin’ us to an inch of our life.”

“Zidane…”

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” the Genome quipped as he flopped back, moved his hands over his head to press next to his head as he raised his knees, before pushing his back off the bed, making the joints crick in multiple places, which had him let out a sharp groan. “Argh…! Phew! Needed that one!” he said as he practically threw himself back upright.

“I still don’t understand how people get away with treating you, Prompto, and other Genomes so badly…” Luna sighed.

Zidane lightly shrugged his shoulders—with a small crack from his right side—before he answered. “Guess they think it’s fine ‘s long as there’s nothing in there,” he said almost calmly.

“Do you know of any others like you two? With a soul?” she asked, genuinely curious.

There was no immediate answer from the Genome that time, as he seemed to consider the question. “…there was one other in our group, yeah…”

“Would you mind telling me about that one? If you don’t want to, I won’t make you,” the blonde woman questioned.

Zidane glanced over from the corner of his eyes, clearly thinking, before he sighed and spun around, flopping down on the bed on his stomach. “Not sure if it’d matter…he was ‘bought’ like…7 years ago now?” He paused to think before he nodded into his arms. “Yeah, 7 years…sold for a ridiculous amount, too…”

“Why’s that?”

“…he was…different,” Zidane murmured. “Not entirely sure if they figured he had a soul, too…but I think even you guys would’ve been hard pressed to put down the money for him.”

“Oh?”

“Would you’ve paid 5 mille for one Genome?”

“If it meant freeing a Genome with a soul from what he’s been through, then yes,” Luna smiled.

“…huh…” Zidane mumbled. “Wish ya could’ve been there 7 years ago…”

“Look at it this way, Zidane. We saved you and Prompto when we did. If we had been there seven years ago, you wouldn’t be where you are now,” she pointed out.

“…Suppose that makes sense,” Zidane conceded with a small shrug, as his tail lazily curled at the air above him as he lifted his legs and lightly kicked at the air.

“…Can I at least know his name? You never know, one of us may see him sometime,” the blonde woman inquired.

“…” The blonde Genome didn’t reply for a long moment, before he sighed. “…rather not…sorry.”

“That’s okay. I understand,” she nodded. “It’s something I can respect.”

“…Thanks…” Zidane murmured softly.

“Of course. Now, get some rest. I’ll wake you when dinner’s ready,” she urged.

“Mhmm…” the Genome hummed as he got comfy on Luna’s bed, his tail curling along the covers. “Dun mind if I stay right here, then…”

“That’s fine. Sleep well, Zidane,” Luna murmured, remaining with her companion as he slept.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“…they were sold?” a solemn voice questioned upon hearing the news from the phone he now held to his ear.

“Yes, sir…just yesterday,” the other side said solemnly.

The owner of the first voice silently shut his eyes, taking a deep breath as he attempted to keep himself calm. Not the easiest feat in the world at this particular point. He held his breath, and then let it out before he opened his eyes again. “And the shopkeeper was less than helpful, I assume?”

“Correct, sir.”

Upon the confirmation, he reached up and pinched the bridge of his noise, counting to ten (backwards) before he felt he could be calm enough to speak again. “Find out who bought them. Find out where they are, and see how much their new owner wishes to be compensated to take them over.”

“Understood, sir.”

And then the connection was cut and he put the phone back down on the table. The man released another heavy sigh as he rubbed at his eyes in his hidden-though-obvious aggravation. It wouldn’t do to lose his temper, after all.

With a heavy breath, he reached out and picked up his teacup, taking a long sip from the dark liquid before he stood up and walked to the window, gazing outside in silence. ‘The time was almost up…they should’ve been sold for a high amount…who would take them both when their price has almost doubled?’ Spinning his teacup quietly, he frowned at his own reflection as he tucked some of his silver hair behind his ear. ‘No matter… I’ll see them returned soon enough.’

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Week Later)X*X

“Good goddess, I thought that meeting would never end,” Luna sighed as she and Noctis headed to the garden to rejoin with their Genomes. The two blondes had been left in the garden to enjoy themselves while Luna and Noctis had to attend a meeting.

“No kidding…that took much longer than it should’ve…” Noctis agreed. “Hope Prompto and Zidane managed to keep themselves entertained…”

“I’m sure that with the Chocobos, they did,” she giggled.

“Good point. Let’s go get them, then,” Noctis chuckled out. When the pair arrived at the Chocobos’ area, they weren’t surprised to see both Genomes each on a Chocobo’s back, and they looked like they were searching for something.

“What are you two doing?” Luna called out, giggling.

Zidane blinked as he looked up, before he grinned, his tail snapping out at the air. “Chocobo Hot ‘n’ Cold.”

“Chocobo what now?” Noctis chuckled out with a smile.

“It’s a scavenger hunt on Chocobo!” Prompto explained with his own child-like grin, his tail waving with the end flicking excitedly.

Noctis allowed another chuckle as he leaned on the fence, watching as the two Chocobos trotted along the enclosure, occasionally pecking at the ground with a curious “Kweh~”

Suddenly Zidane’s Chocobo gave a louder “KWEH~!” and began to dig its beak into the ground rapidly. This drew Prompto’s attention to his friend, and he watched as the Chocobo dug the little hole. Luna laughed quietly, watching their antics.

Finally, the Chocobo pulled its head out again and tossed up the item, which Zidane caught as it came down with a laugh. “Gotcha!” he quipped as he held up the potion bottle the Chocobo had dug up.

“Man! How are you beating me?!” Prompto complained, pouting. Zidane merely stuck out his tongue cheekily, making their owners laugh softly.

“Are you two getting hungry? I’m sure Ignis will have lunch prepared for us by now,” Luna asked, and Prompto’s stomach growled at the mention of food, making him blush crimson.

“Sounds like a plan…before Prom’s stomach decides to eat itself up!” Zidane laughed, as he made his Chocobo trot over to the fence, where he hopped off casually, patting the bird on its neck as he straightened up.

“Hey!” the other Genome huffed, climbing off of his own Chocobo. He petted the bird on its neck as well before turning to Noctis.

Noctis chuckled. “Right, let’s get going then, shall we?” the prince said, still smiling. Prompto was quick to follow his owner, feeling a curl of warmth in his heart at the sight of that smile. Already, he loved to see Noctis smile. It was something that made him feel good, especially when Prompto was the cause behind the smile. However, the taller of the two Genomes was fairly certain it was too soon to bond to the prince.

As they walked, Zidane caught the look on the other’s face and frowned, before he reached out. ‘Oy, Prompto. What’s that look for?’

‘Just…I’m happy that Noctis is smiling. Makes me feel good,’ he shrugged nonchalantly.

Prompto was half expecting Zidane to berate him for being too lax or too trusting of their owners (as he had done on more than one occasion), but this time the shorter blonde said no such thing. ‘I see…’ he murmured, as he looked back ahead, though his gaze briefly moved toward Luna as he did.

‘Same for you with Luna, huh?’ he asked.

‘Yeah…’ Zidane admitted. ‘I know we probably shouldn’t, but…I dunno. It just happened like that, yanno?’

‘Yeah, same here. But as long as they feel the same about us, I think it’ll be good. After all, they want us to be happy, right?’ Prompto pointed out.

‘…which reminds me… Fun as it is with the Chocobos…I’m actually getting a little bored cooped up in here…you?’

‘Kinda, yeah. We’ll see if Noctis and Luna have anything planned first, though,’ the taller blonde replied as they arrived at the dining room. Ignis was, of course, waiting for them, and he gave a slight smile at their arrival.

“It’s peppery daggerquill rice for lunch today,” the sandy blonde informed them. “Should be out momentarily.” As they sat down, said dishes were brought out, and Prompto found himself almost drooling at the aroma. The spice was amazing, he decided as he took a bite.

As the group began to eat, Noctis eventually decided to ask something he was somewhat curious about. “So…how are you two enjoying yourselves here?” he asked.

Zidane paused with his fork still in his mouth as he looked to Noctis, before he glanced to Prompto, cocking his eyebrow in question.

“It’s nice, but…we feel kinda cooped up…” the taller Genome answered. “Is there any chance we could go out?”

“I think we can arrange that,” Luna smiled.

Zidane hummed curiously, looking over to Luna, but it was Noctis who answered with a chuckle. “Thinking of hitting the arcades, huh?”

“You know it,” she giggled.

“Arcades?” Prompto frowned, confused.

“What are those?” Zidane added.

Noctis smirked. “Oh you’ll see when we get there.”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

The Regalia pulled into the parking lot of the arcades, Noctis at the wheel with Prompto sitting by him in front and Luna and Zidane in the backseat. Prompto shifted slightly in his seat, not the most comfortable with his tail tucked inside of his pants. It wasn’t like Zidane and he could have their tails out, though. Especially since they’re Genomes with souls. Someone would realize it pretty quick.

After turning off the engine, the group climbed out of the car. As they did, Zidane hissed as he hopped a little on his feet. “Gaaah! This is SO not comfy…” he grumbled, referring to his tail being tucked away, naturally.

“I know, right?” Prompto mumbled, resisting the urge to rub at his backside.

“You’ll be able to have them out once were home again, but it’s for your own safety, guys,” Luna pointed out.

“Yeah yeah, we know…” Zidane said with a sigh.

Noctis chuckled at the pair’s words, before he said, “In any case, let’s head inside and have some fun, shall we?”

“…inside?” Zidane asked as he followed after Noctis and Luna with Prompto. “I thought we left the castle to get outside?”

“You don’t always have to be outside to have fun away from the castle,” Luna smiled. That’s when they got inside, and both Genomes stared, wide-eyed, at the various games and such all over the sides and even in the middle of the large, spacious room.

Smiling at the looks of awe on their faces, Noctis led the others further into the building. “Alright…so what should we do first?”

“How about a shooter game?” Luna suggested.

“Shooter game?” Zidane asked with a small frown.

“Heh, why not?” Noctis quipped, leading the way to one of the booths. Prompto followed, confused as well. When they got to the booth, the taller blonde eyed the gun attached to the cord for the game fishily.

“Here,” Noctis said as he lifted one of the guns and passed it to Prompto, “Once the game starts, you use this to ‘shoot’ at the enemies on screen.” As the blonde took the item, Noctis added, “Just hold it out and pull the trigger,” as he put two coins in the machine and picked up the other gun.

“O-okay,” Prompto nodded, and as soon as the enemies began to appear on the screen, he began to ‘shoot’ them, not missing a single shot.

Noctis was doing slightly less well; he got a good number of shots in, but he wasn’t able to take them all out. Thankfully Prompto was there to catch those he hadn’t. Zidane and Luna just watched, with the Genome of the pair watching curiously as they shot at every enemy coming at them.

As they played, the blonde felt a bit of a thrill running through himself at every shot he got in. It was exciting to know he was doing that well. Before long, they managed to reach the “Final Boss” of the game, which they barely managed to get through because of all the bullshit the guy threw at them. And of course, as they cleared the game, Prompto had the highest score of the pair.

Zidane laughed at that. ‘Nice one, Prom!’ he said, instinctively going back to telepathy.

“Thanks!” Prompto grinned, speaking aloud. This confused Luna for a split second, before she realized the pair had used telepathy briefly.

“So how does this thing work?” Zidane asked suddenly as he took over the laser gun from the other Genome, aiming it at the screen. Unlike with Prompto, who held the gun as if it was second nature, his grip seemed almost clumsy.

“No clue, but that was fun,” the taller Genome chuckled. “Maybe you should give it a shot.”

“Good idea,” Luna smiled. “Zidane, want a turn with me?”

“Hm? Oh yeah, sure,” the shorter Genome quipped with a shrug.

Once Luna had taken over the laser gun from Noctis, the prince slipped two more coins in, and the game began anew. This time, Luna took the lead, shooting as best as she could, but it still wasn’t as good as Prompto. Said blonde watched his friend in amusement as the shorter blonde struggled to keep up.

Noctis regarded Prompto for a moment and chuckled quietly at the amusement that was evident in the Genome’s eyes. Sometimes it was hard to imagine that the first few days the two blondes had been so closed off from everything and everyone that he wondered if they hadn’t been switched out at one point. Then again, he couldn’t even begin to imagine what they had been through before he and Luna got them out of Bran Bal.

Shaking it off, he turned back to the game as both Luna and Zidane groaned as they got killed right before reaching the boss area.

“Oh come on! SO close!” Zidane groaned.

“Guess we’re not naturals like Prompto,” Luna sighed, making the taller Genome blush shyly.

“I just did what came naturally to me…” he muttered, looking down with heated cheeks.

Noctis laughed at those words. “Well, whatever the reason, you did better than they did.”

“Oh hush u—…!!”

When Zidane suddenly stopped talking, the others turned to him immediately.

‘…Prom?’

‘What is it?’ Prompto demanded urgently.

‘Look behind you…’

‘Wha…?’ the other Genome thought, before looking, and his face paled as he saw the silver-haired man walking into the arcade.

‘And where there’s one…SHIT! There they are!’ Zidane hissed mentally, gritting his teeth as the two men who had attempted to buy them from Noctis and Luna in Bran Bal walked in shortly after.

Upon realizing what was going on, Noctis turned as well, and the moment he saw the three men, he realized what was happening and frowned darkly.

Luna noticed at the same time Noctis did, before she whispered, “We need to somehow sneak out.”

Noctis nodded. “Let’s go around,” he whispered, beginning to steer the others in the opposite direction as the three men were going. Prompto allowed himself to be guided away, biting his lip hard to prevent any fearful noises from escaping him.

Zidane noticed and quickly patted his friend along his arm, a small, silent sign to let him know it would be okay, even though he stayed as hidden as he could behind Noctis and Luna.

Noctis, in the meantime, tried to keep track of where they were all going, but the problem was that they had split up at one point, which was only making things that much harder. “Dammit…” he hissed softly.

“What do we do now?” Prompto asked quietly.

“Can’t we just whack ‘m upside the head or something?” Zidane asked.

“No, we can’t,” Noctis pointed out. “Least of all in public.”

“But…”

“It won’t bode well for any of us if we resort to fighting,” Luna told her companion. Zidane growled, but he said nothing else on the matter.

After a lot of ducking and weaving, and a few close calls, the small group reached the doorway, finally—but just as Luna was about to go out, Zidane’s eyes widened and he lunged forward, grabbing her by the back of her dress and pulling her back. Prompto grabbed Noctis by the back of his pants, swiftly tugging him back as well.

“Prompto! What the hell?!” Noctis hissed out.

“Zidane?” Luna uttered, frowning in confusion.

“…there’s FOUR of ‘m…” the blonde hissed softly. “And the last one…the oldest…is the worst of the lot…” He paused then to point outside. “And he’s out there at his car.”

“…are you kidding me?!” Noct snarled softly.

“Now what should we do?” Prompto whimpered quietly, looking to Noctis.

Noctis growled as he looked outside. He hadn’t seen who it was Zidane was talking about when they were about to exit, but both Genomes seemed to be extremely rattled by the man’s appearance. He wanted to get them to safety, but they couldn’t go through the front door if the guy was right there.

‘And just when you think you’d seen the last of the ass…!’ Zidane snarled telepathically, curling his hands into fists.

‘Just our luck…’ Prompto agreed sadly. ‘We gotta figure something out…’

Noctis tries to keep a level head, but it's certainly not easy. Even though the two Genomes weren’t talking, their expressions were enough to hint at that they were definitely conversing with each other.

Suddenly, someone bumped into him as they passed him by. “Ah, woops. Beg your pardon,” the man said almost casually as he tipped his hat at the small group.

As the man made to leave, though, he turned back to them with a hum. “Something wrong? You seem a bit…what’s the word? Ah, right…‘distraught’.”

Noctis frowned in suspicion. Something about the guy felt…off, but he wasn’t sure what it was. “No, thank you. We’re fine.”

‘…I don’t like this guy…’ Zidane pointed out.

‘Same,’ Prompto agreed, scooting slightly closer to Noctis.

“Oh?” the man said in a way that was almost lazy. However, his behavior had the two Genomes on edge immediately. “Well…if you’re certain,” he said at last. However, as he made to go, he gave a small “ah,” as though he'd just remembered something. “Can I request one favor, by the way?”

Noctis frowned softly, before he said, “Depends on the favor…”

“Oh, no need to get all defensive on me,” the man chuckled. “If you happen to spot someone of the staff, would you kindly inform them that their escape door has been left unlocked?”

And then, without waiting for a response, he tipped his fedora and walked away leisurely. Once he had left, the small group turned to each other as they considered the man’s words.

“Should we try it?” Prompto asked softly, looking at the raven.

“It may be our best chance,” Luna murmured.

“Unless we wanna go out there,” Zidane mumbled.

Noctis growled softly, before he nodded. “Let’s go…might be our only option.” With that said, the group cautiously snuck their way to the escape door, and tentatively, Luna pushed open the door, and was pleasantly surprised when she found the alarm didn’t go off.

“Let’s go,” she whispered.

Noctis nodded and went ahead of the others, leading the way out of the arcade, and moving around the parking lot, keeping a careful around them, just in case. Upon reaching the Regalia, the group immediately climbed in and then locked the doors.

“Whew…” Zidane breathed out as he leaned back. “Just when you thought you’d seen the last of those asshats…”

“I’m just glad we made it to the car,” Prompto sighed, relieved.

“I…think we should wait on the excursions out of the castle for a while, then,” Luna murmured. “I don’t want anything bad to happen to any of us, after all. Or we could ask Gladio to come with next time.”

“Might be smart…” Noctis sighed out, as he started up the car.

“Darn it…” Zidane grumbled, but he clearly understood the reasoning.

“I’m sure we can find stuff to do, Zidane,” Prompto said optimistically, but he personally couldn’t think of anything off the top of his head.

Zidane merely shrugged his shoulders as they pulled out of the parking lot, looking out the window quietly. “…mm?” Frowning, Zidane turned in his seat and looked backwards.

“What is it?” Luna asked before Prompto could, looking back upon hearing the hum.

Zidane didn’t respond immediately, though he did frown. After a moment, though, when they’d taken a turn, Zidane scrambled over and tapped Noctis on the back. “Oy, Noct. Left next turn.”

“Wha…? But we have to go—”

“Just go left, alright?!”

Startled by the half-shout, Noctis frowned, but didn’t question it and, at the next junction, went left instead of going straight (like they should’ve been going). And as he did, Zidane moved back to his seat, looking back again.

And then…

“…godDAMMIT!” the Genome hissed.

“Someone’s following us, huh?” Prompto guessed, biting his lip nervously.

“Yeah…”

“Then we need to lose them,” Luna said firmly. “Noctis, I’m going to call Gladio and have him meet us at the front of the castle, just in case.”

“Right,” Noctis snarled, as he turned the Regalia into another corner, onto the highway, while Zidane kept his eyes on their followers. Meanwhile, Luna pulled out her phone, quickly calling Gladio. He answered after the first ring.

“Luna?” he said, sounding a bit confused. “Is everything okay?”

“No. We ran into a bit of trouble at the arcade, nothing we caused, but now they’re following us, and we’re trying to lose them,” the blonde woman said into the phone. “Can you, Ravus, and Ignis wait for us out front just in case?”

“Yeah, we’ll be waiting,” the brunette growled. “How many people are there?”

“Two.”

“I’ll grab Cor, too, just in case,” he told her. “Be careful, all of you.”

“We will,” she said, and then ended the call. Looking at the prince, she told him, “He’s going to get the others, even Cor.”

“That’s good,” Noctis mumbled softly as he pushed down on the gas pedal further. Zidane, in the meantime, kept his eyes on the car still following after them.

“It doesn’t look like those assholes from the arcade…” Prompto commented, seeing the silhouettes of the two people in the car. They were different in stature, from what he could tell.

“…seems like it…” Zidane murmured thoughtfully.

“If that’s the case, who could they be, then?” the taller Genome frowned.

Noctis didn’t bother to respond to the words, as he finally reached an exit that would lead them to the castle. However, he waited until the last moment to take it, which didn’t give the car tailing them the time to do the same. “There,” he said as he took off down the road toward the castle.

Zidane shifted briefly, watching as the car zoomed by, frowning as he tried to see who was in the car. Unfortunately, the tinted windows didn’t allow for that in the least. Prompto frowned as well, unable to see either, but he was worried about it now. Why would anyone other than those assholes from Bran Bal follow them? It just didn’t make the slightest bit of sense, at least to him.

Now that they weren’t being followed anymore, they made good time in getting to the castle, and Noctis had never been more glad to have the gates shut behind them than at that point.

“Thank goddess,” Luna sighed as they parked and Noctis turned off the ignition. Like he’d said, Gladio was waiting for them, along with Ravus, Ignis, and Cor. The group got out of the Regalia, and Prompto was quick to walk close to Noctis as they approached their ‘greeting party’.

“I take it you managed to lose your tail?” Cor asked.

“Just barely…” Noctis sighed out. “Got them thinking I was going straight and went right instead.”

“Did you catch the license plate?” Ignis inquired.

“No…was a little too focused on trying to shake them…” Noctis admitted.

“TR-9312-KY,” Zidane suddenly said, making everyone look at him. “…what?”

“Geez, I wasn’t even paying attention. Good one, Zidane,” Prompto told him.

“That’s a Treno license plate,” Ignis frowned. “What was it doing here, though?”

“I’m not sure, but we’ll need to be more careful if we go out anytime soon,” Luna said.

“People from Treno need a visa to get in the Crown City…” Noctis murmured thoughtfully. “Think there’s a way to figure out who it belongs to?”

Meanwhile, Zidane was frowning in thought. ‘Treno…aren’t those the Ruffles?’

‘Yeah, I think so,’ Prompto replied, also frowning.

“We can certainly try. In the meantime, you should all stay on the castle’s property, within the gates,” Ravus advised.

“Right,” Luna nodded.

Noctis nodded before he turned to the others. “Well, let’s get inside…and then we'll figure out what to do with the rest of our day afterward.”

“Well, ‘s better than standing out here,” Zidane conceded with a shrug. The larger group then headed inside, Prompto keeping himself close to Noctis as Zidane walked close to Luna.

Chapter Text

X*X(A Few Days Later…)X*X

As the days passed them by relatively quietly (much to Zidane’s chagrin), the four friends tried to find something new to do every day, but they were steadily running out of things to do. Not to mention Noctis had to get back to his studies.

Which brought them all to the library 4 days after their failed trip to the arcades.

“…boooooring,” Zidane groaned as he flopped down on the table with the book he’d been trying to read flopping on his face.

“You’ve been saying that every fifteen minutes for the past two hours, Zidane,” Prompto snickered. “Now you’re just gonna annoy yourself.” Luna couldn’t help but giggle at the remark. Zidane peeked out from under the book dryly, before he tossed the book aside and moved back into his chair with a heavy sigh.

Noctis didn’t even look up from writing down some notes, too focused on what he was doing. Now curious, as he’d been occasionally watching the raven jot down his notes every now and then, Prompto wanted to know just what his owner was reading. He was tempted to ask, but didn’t want to break the prince’s concentration, so he tried to look over his shoulder, his tail tip flicking back and forth with his curiosity.

The book Noctis was reading from seemed to be some sort of foreign policies book, with a lot of technical terms in it that wouldn’t make any sense to someone who hadn’t studied these things for as long as the prince had. The notes that he was writing down seemed to be mostly about the various policies utilized in other cities and nations.

“…urgh…” Zidane groaned out as he stood up and headed for the bookcase (for like the 10th time in the past half hour) to search for a new book to TRY and read.

“You’re ridiculous,” Prompto chuckled, seeing what Zidane was doing.

“Maybe you should try imagining yourself as one of the characters in a fiction novel,” Luna suggested. Zidane didn’t respond to that as he walked past the shelves, his tail swaying lazily behind him as he did. Suddenly, the door to the library opened, and Ignis came in, gaining the friends’ attention.

“Hello Ignis,” Luna greeted.

“Hello,” he nodded. “I have some news regarding that license plate. I managed to track down who owns the car.”

At that, Noctis actually looked up curiously. “Really?” he asked as Zidane came over at the news.

“Yes. It’s registered to a person named A. Coral,” Ignis informed them.

“That’s…a very unusual name,” Noctis murmured. “Do we know anything of him?”

“Only that he’s on a business trip, and he works for the Treno Auction House,” the sandy blonde sighed.

“The Auction House…?” Noctis questioned, frowning. “Isn’t that owned by the Kiryu family?”

“Yes, that’s what makes it strange…” Ignis admitted.

“Who’s the Kiryu family?” Prompto asked, curious.

“They important?” Zidane added to the question.

“Kind of…” Noctis admitted. “They’re one of the more influential families in Treno…though they’ve avoided public eye for the past four years.”

“I wonder why…?” the taller Genome hummed. “Seems kinda weird, if you ask me.”

Noctis hummed softly, rubbing at his chin. “Is there a chance to find out?” he wondered, mostly to himself.

“Well how ‘bout we pay him a visit then?”

“Ooooh! Good idea!” Prompto grinned.

“Wait, what if they try and do something to us, though? Or even you two?” Luna pointed out.

“So?” Zidane asked immediately. “We go in a big enough group and we’ll be fine. Right?”

“It’s up to you, Noctis. Zidane makes a good point of the larger group idea,” Luna admitted.

“…” Noctis threw one look at Zidane, and then sighed heavily. “Fine. I can just imagine you running off on your own if we don’t.”

“Hey!” Zidane exclaimed with a slight huff.

“He’s got a point, yanno,” Prompto sniggered.

“Who asked you, anyway?” Zidane grumbled.

“No one, but I felt the need to put in my two gil,” his friend smirked.

“We’ll leave tomorrow, and I’ll ask Ravus about coming with. Noctis, do you mind asking Gladio?” Luna asked him.

“That’ll mean there won’t be enough room in the car, though…” Prompto pointed out.

Noctis nodded as he stood. “Yeah, I can do that…but Prom has a point… How do we fit everyone in the Regalia?”

“We don’t,” Zidane said simply. When they looked at him, though, the blonde was grinning cheekily. “Prom, you thinking what I’m thinking?”

 

X*X(The Next Day…)X*X

“Yahoo!!!” Prompto crowed as he and Zidane rode on their Chocobos, following the Regalia as Noctis, Luna, Ravus, and Gladio rode in it.

“C’mon, slowpokes!” Zidane shouted with a laugh as he rushed after Prompto. “You’re falling behind!!”

Noctis chuckled as he watched the two Genomes having fun as they rode on ahead. “Well, at least they’re having fun.”

“Indeed,” Luna giggled. “Zidane had a good idea with the Chocobos.”

As they drove on down the road, the two Genomes were crowing with laughter as they alternated between darting around the Regalia, trailing behind and running ahead, never really straying too far away from the car. It was a long road to Treno from the Crown City, but the blondes definitely didn’t give a shit about that. They were just happy to be out in the open.

Noctis merely shook his head as he followed the road. “Let’s just hope we can keep things civil in Treno… Last thing we need is to start a scandal.”

“Yeah, which means keeping our tempers in check,” Gladio pointed out.

“No promises there…but I’ll try,” Noctis murmured.

Little did the group know, though, that there was something waiting for them further along the horizon. Along the top of a heavy mountain, three men sat on top of their motorcycles, their poisonous green gazes surveying all that lay before them. Dressed fully in black, with the wind lightly blowing through their silver hair, there was no denying that they were very imposing to any who actually saw them at that time.

“Saaaaah…so when will they be here, Kadaj?” asked the man on the left—the same man who had attempted to persuade Noctis when he and Luna had bought Zidane and Prompto.

“Soon enough, Yazoo…be patient…” said the third of the group--Kadaj, as he was called—as he adjusted his hair calmly. “He’s assured us that they will pass this way to ‘keep up relations’, after all…”

“Ch…I still don’t trust that damn fed-wearing punk,” said Loz from where he was perched along his motorcycle. "Who’s to say he ain’t lying, huh?”

“Who can say?” Kadaj said with a soft chuckle. “However, Brother seems to put good faith in him. So I suppose we should give him the benefit of the doubt.”

“What? Are you worried, Loz?” Yazoo almost cooed with a sickening grin on his face, making Loz snarl at the other man.

But before he could say anything, Kadaj’s gaze shifted to the side and he chuckled. “Ah…there’s our prey.”

As the other two looked over, they quickly spotted the car speeding along the practically deserted highway, with two Chocobos darting around it with loud chirps that could even be heard from their distance. As they came ever closer, Yazoo and Loz exchanged a look and a cold grin, before they revved up their engines.

“Alright then, boys,” Kadaj said as he pulled out a dark orb from his coat. “Go fetch, will you?” he quipped, right before throwing the orb forward.

And just as the orb exploded into a wave of darkness, both Loz and Yazoo kicked off and were off right after the wisps of darkness, while Kadaj merely watched and laughed softly.

Suddenly, the two Genomes felt a shift in their Chocobos as they ran, right before several daemons appeared, aiming directly for the pair. The Chocobos squawked, terrified, before fleeing from the beasts, Prompto and Zidane clinging to them for dear life.

“Zidane!!” Luna cried out, watching helplessly as their Genomes were carried off towards a canyon with the daemons in hot pursuit.

“Prompto!!” Noctis shouted out in alarm, slamming down on the brakes as he swiftly parked on the side of the road. “Dammit!! We have to go after them!”

“All right, but we need to be careful, Noctis!” Ravus cautioned.

“He’s right, we all do,” Gladio added.

“We need to go now, or they’ll be killed!” Luna yelled, practically leaping from her seat and taking off after the pair, Noctis right behind her and the others in hot pursuit.

As the group rushed after the Chocobos, Zidane finally managed to right himself along the bird’s back, and he snarled as he managed to steer clear of a daemon snapping at his head. “Oh that’s IT!!” he snarled, before he reached in his travel bag…and then snapped his hand out as another daemon lunged, a flash of red cutting through the air as the sound of metal whistling in the wind was the precursor to the daemon’s screech of pain.

“When the hell did you get that?!” Prompto yelped as he clung to his Chocobo’s neck, seeing the dagger.

“I had a feeling we’d run into trouble so I came prepared!” Zidane pointed out, reaching into his bag again. “Catch!!” he shouted, tossing something towards the other Genome. Instinctively, the taller blonde caught the item, and was pleasantly surprised to discover it was a gun. He smirked, and then adjusted himself on the Chocobo’s back before aiming and firing at three different daemons, killing them instantly.

“You always think ahead!” he yelled to his friend.

“I try!” Zidane shouted back, pulling out a second dagger and snapping the weapons out left and right, even going as far as to spin around until he was sitting backwards on the Chocobo to knock away the daemons coming at them.

Prompto shot at several more, still keeping one hand on his Chocobo so as to keep himself steady and actually on the bird’s back so he wouldn’t fall. As the birds ran for their lives from the daemons, however, they were rapidly approaching a canyon with a dead-end, with nowhere left to escape to.

Zidane was first to notice this and his eyes widened in alarm. ‘Shit! As if things weren’t bad enough!’

‘What?!’ Prompto yelped, looking as well, and he narrowed his eyes. ‘Come on, if we hurry and kill them all, we’ll be okay!’

‘I’d feel a lot better about that if they didn’t keep multiplying!’ Zidane called back with a snarl, spinning himself around and hooking his legs around the Chocobo’s neck so he could stab his daggers into a daemon the bird had just jumped over. Once he’d righted himself again, dealing with a number of more daemons, a peculiar sound reached his ears. ‘Wait…! You hear that?!’

‘Yeah, it sounds like…engines?’ Prompto frowned, shooting six daemons with three bullets.

‘I’m starting to think this isn’t beasts just looking for something to eat here!’ the shorter of the pair said as he tore through five more daemons with a few well-aimed swings.

‘Shit! We’re out of time!’ Prompto wailed upon noticing they’d reached the canyon.

‘Crap…!’ Zidane hissed, as the birds staggered in alarm realizing they were now effectively trapped, almost knocking the Genomes off from the force. ‘Dammit! We’re gonna have to dismount and deal with this or we’re never getting out of here!’

‘Right!’ Prompto nodded, jumping off of his Chocobo and firing at another dozen of the daemons. Leaping off of his own Chocobo, Zidane lunged for the nearest daemons, tearing through them and spinning out of range whenever they lunged for him. The taller Genome shot a few more of the daemons, and then they heard the engine noises become much louder.

Just as Zidane knocked back another daemon, there was a loud bang and the blonde yowled in pain as he was flung back across the ground, hitting his head against a rock. “OW!! FUCK!!” he howled out, reaching for his head before he nearly choked on a scream at the pain now shooting down his arm.

“ZIDANE!!” Prompto screamed, but right after the name left his mouth, he was struck down by a powerful blow, a choked, agonized cry escaping him.

“Prompto…!” Zidane got out, hissing from the pain as he clutched his right shoulder, trying to staunch the bleeding that was beginning to soak his shirt. “F-fuck…!”

“Aww, look what you made us do,” an all too familiar voice chuckled mockingly. “And here we were willing to be ‘nice’…”

“Low-life pieces of shit!!” Prompto snarled furiously from where he lay, giving a whimper of pain after speaking as he tried desperately to not show how bad he really was hurting.

Zidane growled as he rolled over, forcing himself back up to his feet as he grabbed one of his daggers. His tail was shaking minutely, but the shorter blonde forced himself to keep standing. “Fuckin’…bastards…!” he hissed through his teeth, fingers curling around his weapon as he tried to stay steady.

Shockingly, the daemons had disappeared almost immediately, but not before scaring off their Chocobos.

‘Prom…can you stand?!’

‘I…I think so…’ Prompto answered, and shuddered heavily as he forced himself to get to his own feet, still gripping his gun firmly.

‘Good…coz I dun think I can do this on my own…’ Biting his lip against the pain, Zidane snagged up the other dagger, gripping them in his hands tightly in an attempt to distract from the agony rushing through his shoulder. ‘Mind covering my ass for me?’

‘I’ve got you, always,’ the taller blonde replied, trying not to collapse from his own pain.

Loz snorted with a cold grin. “Right…let’s play, then,” the man taunted as he flexed his hands, the iron knuckles curling around his fists, as Yazoo brought up his gun.

‘Right…going all out! Here we go!’

And then, with a snap of his tail, Zidane rushed forward, just barely avoiding Yazoo’s shot as Loz lunged at him.

As Loz moved, however, Prompto brought up his arm and fired his gun at Yazoo, striking his shoulder.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

“Just how far did those damn daemons chase them?” Luna hissed as they continued to follow the trail.

“Too far…” Noctis snarled as he moved as fast as he could. “Dammit…! Those idiots better be alright!”

“It’s not their fault, Noct,” Gladio pointed out. “Any Chocobo would be terrified of a horde of daemons chasing them.”

“We just need to focus on getting them back safely,” Ravus agreed.

“I know, I know!!” Noctis snarled softly. But before he could say anything else…

BANG

Luna gasped sharply, before running ahead, crying out for Zidane. Noctis froze in alarm briefly, before he sprinted after her, snapping his hand to the side to summon his Engine Blade. He wasn’t sure what was waiting for them, but he was NOT going in there unprepared.

“Lunafreya!” Ravus called after his sister, taking off at a sprint to follow the two friends.

“Noct, wait up!” Gladio yelled.

Just as the pair rounded the corner, it was just in time to see Zidane leaping over Loz’s fists and snapping out a pair of intricate red daggers at the silver-haired male, only to be punched in the gut and flung off to the side with a choked cry. And at the same time, Yazoo spun out of the way of Prompto’s fire, before countering with a single shot at his leg. The taller Genome cried out as well, crumpling to the ground in agony.

“ZIDANE!!!” Luna screamed, horrified.

“PROMPTO!!” Noctis screamed at the same time, before he snarled and threw his sword toward Loz.

Just as the man looked up, Noctis had already warped into his face and snapped out at the much taller man, forcing him back. Gladio immediately summoned his broadsword, lunging for Yazoo and swinging powerfully at him to keep him occupied. Meanwhile, Ravus guarded Luna as she rushed to the two collapsed Genomes.

“Zidane! Prompto!” she gasped, seeing how extensive their injuries were. Zidane’s arm was covered in blood, while Prompto’s leg was actively bleeding while he was unconscious. The shorter Genome groaned as he tried to push himself back up, and this made the once clotted blood along his shoulder break, making it bleed anew. But the blonde ignored it as he struggled to stand.

“Zidane, stop! You’re going to do more harm to yourself!” Luna pleaded, placing a hand on his uninjured arm.

“I’m... fi…” Zidane choked out, before his eyes rolled back in his head and he flopped forward, the blood loss finally catching up on him.

“Dammit!” the blonde woman hissed as she caught him. “What can we do, Ravus? They need to be treated!”

“I only have a few potions, but that should keep them alive until they receive proper treatment,” Ravus said, and quickly pulled out a couple of potions.

“Give one to Prompto, and I’ll focus on Zidane,” she said firmly, and her brother nodded, moving to the other Genome and carefully getting the potion in him without making him aspirate it. The blonde coughed as the liquid touched his tongue, the unpleasant taste instinctively making his unconscious body try to eject it from itself.

“Easy, Zidane… It’ll help,” Luna soothed, gently smoothing her hand along his throat to help stimulate him to swallow the medicine. Ravus was doing the same with Prompto as the taller Genome subconsciously tried to fight taking it as well. Thankfully, that seemed to help, as the Genomes began to swallow the liquid in large gulps, coughing after each one until the potions were completely emptied.

“That should at least keep them stable until we can get them treated in Treno,” Ravus murmured, before glaring at the silver-haired brothers that were fighting Gladio and Noctis. Looking back at Luna, he asked, “Will you be all right while I assist them?”

“Yes. The sooner they’re gone, the better,” she nodded. Nodding as well, Ravus unsheathed his rapier, and then leapt into the fray with their friends.

In the meantime, Noctis was exchanging blows with Loz, who, despite his large frame, was still ridiculously fast and mobile. Not that that helped him any; Noctis could easily warp aside to dodge the blows thrown at him. He wasn’t about to test just how strong this guy really was, though, as he lashed out after dodging another punch.

At the same time, Yazoo jumped back and away from Gladio, arming his only good arm and firing several shots at the other man. The brunette growled as he quickly blocked the shots with his broadsword, before swiping the large blade at him again.

When Ravus joined the fight, though, he aimed for Loz, slashing at him much too quickly for the larger man to avoid. Loz gave a half-cry at the slashes, before Noctis suddenly smashed into him from the side and threw him to the side. At the same time, Yazoo attempted to dodge the swipe from Gladio, but the blade still clipped him on the arm, making him cry out as he was thrown back.

Gladio then backed up briefly before swinging his blade down at Yazoo to try and finish the fight, Ravus trying to wrap up the fight with Loz alongside Noctis. But just before their weapons could hit, a surge of dark energy rushed past the two men, and the moment the weapons came down, they had disappeared.

“What the hell?!” Noctis snarled furiously, looking around, before his gaze snapped up.

“They’re not alone here,” Ravus cautioned.

Sure enough, as they lifted their gaze, they quickly spotted the third member of the small group, poised almost casually on the back of his own motorcycle, dark energy spiraling around his arm. The man regarded the group for a moment, a haughty look upon his face, but he said nothing as he snapped his arm sideways, dismissing the energy around his arm. And then, without so much as a word, he revved up the engine, and took off.

Noctis blinked, twice, before he sighed heavily…right before he whirled around and hurried toward where Luna was watching over the two Genomes.

“Go,” Gladio told him. “He needs you.”

Noctis didn’t even respond as he reached Luna’s side and dropped down next to Prompto, lifting the Genome up carefully. “Shit…!” he hissed softly as he looked down at the unconscious blonde.

“They need treatment,” Ravus informed him as he and Gladio joined the small group. “Lunafreya and I gave them each a potion earlier, but they need more help.”

“Right…” Noctis agreed, dismissing his blade as he wrapped his arms around the Genome, lifting him up in his arms. “Let’s go! We need to get them to Treno!” Ravus carefully picked up Zidane from his sister’s hold, wordlessly assuring her the short blonde was safe with him. And with that taken care of, the group rushed back to the Regalia, and from there, to Treno.

Chapter Text

When Prompto felt himself coming back to consciousness, a stab of pain shot through his leg, drawing a whimper from him.

Barely a moment after the sound had escaped him, a familiar presence moved over to beside the Genome, and then there was a gentle touch on his shoulder. “Easy, Prom…take it easy…”

“N…Noctis…?” the blonde breathed, opening his eyes slowly. He was so relieved the raven was with him. The last thing he remembered was fighting the silver-haired brothers, or rather, starting to, and then collapsing from the pain in his leg. “What…happened?”

“You were in a fight with those ‘ass-hats’, as Zidane calls them. Just relax, you’ll be fine,” Noctis said as he settled on the bed. “We’re in Treno. You boys have been unconscious for most of the day.”

“I…I’m sorry…for scaring you…” Prompto whispered, tears forming in his bright blue eyes.

“Don’t be…” Noctis assure him, reaching out and taking his hand. “It wasn’t your fault…you couldn’t know this would happen…”

“I was so scared… All I could think of was trying to make it out alive…” the Genome whimpered, the tears starting to fall.

Upon realizing where this was going, Noctis stood up and moved closer, before he pulled Prompto up against himself, shushing him softly. “It’s okay… You’re fine…you are alive and you’re just fine… It’s okay…” The smaller male began to cry against his owner, just relieved to still be alive and still be able to be with Noctis. Suddenly, he gasped.

“What about Zidane?!” he demanded, his tear-filled eyes wide as he looked at the prince.

“He’s just fine, don’t worry,” Noctis reassured him, rubbing his shoulders. “Luna’s with him…not sure if he woke up yet, but he’s okay.”

“Oh thank goddess…” Prompto sighed, immense relief washing over him. “How did we all get away? Didn’t those guys try and fight you, too?”

“Yeah, well…not much they can do when it’s three to two, eh?" Noctis said with a chuckle, before he frowned. “Unfortunately, they got away before we could finish them off… I’ve no idea where they went after, but they let us go either way…”

“I just hope they don’t do anything like that again on the way home…” the blonde sighed shakily, before wincing from the pain in his leg as he shifted slightly.

“Damn…!” Noctis hissed, before he reached off to the side, grabbing a glass of water and some pills, passing them to the blonde. “Here; these’ll help with the pain.”

“Thanks,” Prompto murmured, before taking the medication. The raven had taken such good care of him, and made Prompto feel truly happy and at home in the castle thanks to Noctis. “Have you heard anything about the Kiryus or that Coral guy?”

“Ravus is looking into the Auction House. He hasn’t called yet,” Noctis said as he leaned against the headboard. “Think you’ll be able to walk later?”

“I’ll probably limp a bit, but yeah,” the Genome replied. “I hope he’ll call soon, then.”

“I’m sure he will…he’ll likely call Luna, though,” the prince chuckled softly.

“Good point,” Prompto agreed, smiling. He leaned against Noctis a bit as he rested, before asking, “How come the doctors haven’t questioned about us being Genomes?”

“Ah…the Kiryu family actually helped pass a law recently that permits medical treatment for Genomes,” Noctis explained. “They insisted that Genomes not be treated as objects. And, if people still refused to view them as people, they are to treat them as pets, at the very least.”

“At least people are kinder to Genomes here than back in Bran Bal,” Prompto remarked, smiling a little more.

“Yeah, Treno’s always been a little more progressive than most,” Noctis said with a nod. After a moment of just sitting there in silence, he asked, “Are the meds helping?”

“I think so,” the blonde murmured, moving his leg a little, and not wincing. “Yeah, it’s helping.”

“Good,” Noctis said with a small smile.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

When Zidane managed to regain consciousness, he blinked a few times, trying to wake up properly, before he instinctively reached up with his arm to rub at his eyes. And the moment he moved his arm, he almost howled in agony as he grabbed hold of his shoulder.

“Easy, Zidane!” Luna gasped, taking his hand and getting it off of his shoulder. “You’ll make it worse. Come on, I have some medicine to help.”

The Genome was taking quick, hissing breaths through his teeth as Luna brought over the medication, and he was quick to swallow the pills before downing the water in three large swigs. “Gah…shit…that hurt!”

“I know, and you lost a lot of blood from that gun shot wound,” Luna murmured. “They had to do a transfusion to ensure you wouldn’t…” She trailed off, not wanting to say the word.

“Ouch…” Zidane hissed as he settled back. “Pleasant thought…”

Suddenly something dawned on him and his eyes widened in alarm before he shot up with a shout of “Prompto!” before he cried out and reached for his shoulder again.

“He’s okay. He’s with Noctis, and he was better off than you were by the time we got you both here,” Luna assured him, moving to sit on the bed with her companion. “I’m sure he’s awake by now.”

That news seemed to help, as Zidane managed to calm down enough to settle against the bed with a sigh. “Right…cool. That’s…that’s cool…”

“…I’m sorry we couldn’t keep you both safe, Zidane,” Luna apologized in a soft voice, still feeling guilty for the damage they’d been dealt.

Zidane looked over curiously, before he sighed. “Oy…don’t,” he mumbled. “Wasn’t your fault…if it was anyone’s, it was mine for suggesting me and Prom go by Chocobo…so…sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry yourself. Gladio had made a good point before, that any Chocobo would be terrified of a horde of daemons chasing them, so it’s really no one’s fault except for those bastards who attacked you,” she replied, clenching her fists lightly in her lap.

Zidane watched her do this for a moment, before he reached his good hand over and enclosed it around one of Luna’s, squeezing softly. Her blue eyes widened, pleasantly surprised, before she smiled softly at him. “Thank you. I just…I felt so guilty being unable to do much myself, other than get you and Prompto to drink those potions earlier…”

“And how is that not helping?” Zidane pointed out with a small chuckle as he rubbed his thumb along the back of her hand. “If you hadn’t, I might not have been here at all. So…thank you.”

“You’re welcome, Zidane,” she smiled softly. “Goddess…I can’t even begin to imagine if something were to happen to you…”

“Oyoy, let’s not get TOO depressed here, shall we?” the Genome chuckled adjusting his hand so that their fingers were interlaced. “We’re still alive and we’ll be bouncing back around in not time. You’ll see.”

“You’re right, as usual,” the blonde woman giggled, lightly squeezing his hand.

Zidane merely chuckled in response as he settled a little better against the pillows…and then he blinked as his entire body suddenly felt like it was tingling for a brief moment. It lasted for barely two seconds, but it was enough for his tail to curl up under the blankets and for the tip to twitch almost erratically. ‘…okay what the hell? What was all that about?’

Luna hadn’t noticed a thing, though, merely thinking he was getting antsy when she saw his tail move under the blankets. “Will you be okay later?” she asked. “Ravus should have some news for us soon regarding the Kiryus and that Coral man.”

The blonde waited a moment with responding, as he tried rolling his shot shoulder. “I’ll be fine; think the meds are kicking in now. I just gotta not move that arm as much for a while.”

Suddenly, Luna’s phone began to ring, and she was quick to answer it when she saw it was Ravus. “Hello, brother,” she greeted. “Did you learn anything?”

“Not much, but I managed to get Kiryu to agree to meet with you and Noctis, as well as one bodyguard only,” Ravus answered. “He was very…strict, and insisted on both of you.”

“I wonder why…” his sister murmured. “What time?”

“In two hours,” the pale blonde replied. “It at least gives us a bit of time. Would you like me to let Noctis know? Or would you rather tell him yourself?”

“I’ll tell him and Prompto. Zidane’s awake now, too,” she said, and Ravus sighed in relief.

“I’m happy for you, Lunafreya. I know he’s very important to you,” he told her, and she smiled softly, a very faint blush forming on her cheeks.

“Thank you, Ravus. I’d best get going, but please be careful coming back. I’d like for you to come with us, and Gladio stay with Zidane and Prompto,” she murmured, and he chuckled.

“Of course, Lunafreya. I’ll do that,” he smiled slightly. “I’ll see you soon.”

“See you, Ravus,” she said, and then they ended the call. Looking at the shorter blonde, she explained, “Kiryu wants to meet with Noctis and me, only allowing either Ravus or Gladio to come with.”

“Oh,” the Genome quipped, blinking once. “Well…better than nothing.” As he said that, the blonde moved back and sat up, hissing a little as he did. “Aagh…! My back’s all stiff now from all that lying around not doing anything.”

“Think you can walk? That should help, and we can go see Prompto and Noctis, too,” she offered.

“Yeah, I’ll be fine,” the blonde said as he slipped out from the bed. “Last thing I need right now is to be sitting still.”

“All right, just take it easy, though, okay?” she murmured, and the pair headed down the hall to wear Prompto’s room was, and they could hear Prompto speaking with Noctis.

“How long am I gonna be here, anyway?” he was asking, and then Luna walked in, Zidane right behind her. “Zidane!” he exclaimed, more than relieved to see his fellow Genome.

“Heyo,” the shorter Genome quipped with a wave and a cheeky grin. “Sup people?”

Noctis allowed a chuckle at the words. “Well you bounced back quickly.”

“No point wasting time moping around, right?” Zidane chuckled out.

“True,” Prompto agreed with a smile.

“Ravus called me with some news,” Luna told Noctis, getting straight to the point. “Kiryu has agreed to meet with only you and me, Noctis, as well as one bodyguard, in two hours. I already asked Ravus to come with, since I’d rather have Gladio stay here to watch over Zidane and Prompto.”

Noctis frowned silently, thinking on that for a while. “…yeah, might be best,” he finally said. “Did he say anything else?”

“Not that I’m aware of. Apparently he was strict, but insisted on you and me going,” she murmured.

“Hmm…”

“So wait…we’re not gonna be stuck inside again, are we?” Zidane asked after a moment.

“Unfortunately. We need you both to stay here for your safety, and so you can continue to recover,” Luna told the two Genomes.

“Awww…” Prompto pouted.

“Can we at least explore the town a bit?” Zidane asked. “Dun mind if Grumps comes with, but I really don’t wanna waste away inside again… My back’s gonna be like a plank of wood by then!”

“I’m not sure… I just don’t want to risk anything…” the blonde woman admitted.

Noctis sighed heavily. “Luna…” he said, making her look over. “You KNOW he’s gonna sneak out alone if we don’t humor him.”

“Damn straight!” Zidane laughed, making the others laugh.

“May as well let them go with an escort, right?”

“All right, but please, please stay with Gladio,” she conceded, looking at Zidane.

“I will, I will, esh. I just got my arm shot; I’m not gonna risk getting shot AGAIN.”

“Thank you,” she murmured.

“I’ll make sure he stays close,” Prompto assured her.

“Anyway, we have two hours…maybe we should get you two some new clothes in the meantime,” Noctis suddenly said. “Your old clothes are…a bit torn and soaked now.”

“…True.”

“Yes, and this time, you can pick out your clothes, as long as they’re appropriate,” Luna giggled.

“Cool!” Zidane said with a small grin.

“Awesome!” Prompto agreed, grinning as well.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Prompto emerged from the changing room, dressed in his new outfit, which consisted of a black sleeveless shirt with white, almost digital-like lines on it, a black vest with a dark red flannel shirt attached underneath, pants with a faint leopard pattern, black boots lined with white fur, and black, fingerless gloves that exposed part of the back of his hands near the wrist. He’d already gotten approval from Noctis, and the dark colors of his owner’s wardrobe had really grown on him over the time he’d been at the castle.

“I like this outfit,” he smiled lightly, looking at his reflection in the mirror and drawing a chuckle from Noctis.

“Then that’s what we’ll stick with,” Noctis said with a chuckle, before he looked over as Luna and Zidane walked over.

The shorter Genome, unlike his friend, had chosen sky blue pants with pockets on his thighs, just above his knees, heavy white and gray boots that would probably let him dish out some nasty kicks, a sleeveless white shirt with an equally sleeveless silk-looking jacket over it that barely passed his midriff, with a cravat secured around his neck, a leather backpack resting easily on his back, and a pair of cuffed gloves protecting his hands.

“Nice, Zidane!” Prompto grinned, impressed by his friend’s outfit.

“You’re not looking too shabby either,” Zidane chuckled, his tail lightly swaying behind him. “Still surprised no one’s looking at us funny for our tails…”

“No idea, but I’m not gonna question it too much,” the taller Genome shrugged, his own tail waving.

“Well, it’s almost time to meet with Kiryu. Noctis, are you ready to meet with Ravus and head over there?” Luna asked.

Noctis nodded his head. “Yeah…we may as well get this over with.”

“Be careful, Noctis,” Prompto said suddenly, his brows furrowed together. “I just…I have a bad feeling, is all.”

“You as well. Both of you,” Noctis said, looking to the Genomes in turn. “We don’t know if they’re still here, so stay on your toes.”

“Yeah, yeah, we get it already,” Zidane chuckled.

“Okay, then they’re in your hands, Gladio,” Luna nodded, looking at the brunette, who had also joined them.

“No sweat, I make sure they’re okay,” he promised. “Ravus is waiting by the Regalia.”

“Okay. We’ll see you guys soon,” Luna nodded, and she and Noctis headed off to the Regalia, where Ravus was indeed waiting in the backseat. “Let’s just hope Kiryu can explain what’s going on,” she murmured as she got into the passenger seat while Noctis climbed into the driver’s seat. Noctis nodded as he started the car and then drove off, heading for the Treno Auction House.

 

X*X(Zidane & Prompto)X*X

‘Wow, look at all this stuff!’ Zidane said telepathically as the three of them looked around the synthesis/antique shop.

‘Yeah, it’s all so cool!’ Prompto agreed.

‘…Hey, look at this thing,’ Zidane said suddenly as he lifted up some sort of dark blue sphere, engraved with peculiar, light blue scribbles.

‘I wonder what it is?’ the taller blonde frowned curiously.

Zidane hummed as he turned it around and around. ‘…wait… “Bran Bal Restoration project: Codename ‘GENOME’”?!’

‘WHAT?!’ Prompto yelped, visibly jumping in place out of surprise. Zidane didn’t say anything, but he passed the object to Prompto to show him as well. ‘What’s this supposed to mean, though?’ the taller blonde frowned, confused.

‘I dunno…do know one thing, though…’ Nodding briefly, Zidane moved over to Gladio. “Yo Gladio!”

“Hmm?” the taller man hummed, looking at Zidane as he came over. “Sup, Zidane?”

“Was thinking of getting this doohickey as a souvenir,” the Genome said as he held up the orb. “You mind?”

“No, but what the hell is it?” Gladio replied, puzzled by the item.

“No clue. Just thought it was cool-looking,” Zidane said casually with a half-shrug. Prompto had to mentally praise his friend for his acting, since Gladio bought the item and Zidane’s story.

‘Nice one, man,’ he snickered.

‘Heheh. Maybe I should take up an acting job, then,’ Zidane joked. The taller blonde nearly laughed aloud, but managed to hide it as a small smile. Once Gladio had given the sphere back to Zidane, he smiled slightly.

“Where do you two wanna go next?” he asked.

“Let’s just walk around,” Zidane quipped with a shrug as he put the orb in his bag.

“Sounds good,” Gladio chuckled, and the trio went outside of the shop. Prompto stretched his arms over his head, his tail flicking at the end happily. He then perked up when he heard some noise approaching them.

Before his friend even had the time to ask what was going on, he yelped as something suddenly darted through his legs, making him bend over to look after whatever it had been before standing up again, looking back at…whatever that had been. “The heck?” he mumbled as he saw something small ducking into a dark alleyway.

“What was that?” Prompto frowned, quirking a brow.

“Dunno, but let’s find out,” Gladio shrugged, leading the two Genomes over to the alleyway. As they stepped up to the alley, they didn’t immediately see anything, since it was pretty dark. Zidane, however, seemed to have spotted something. “Hmm… Hey, you guys mind staying here for a bit?” he asked as he stepped into the alleyway.

“Uh, sure,” Prompto nodded. ‘Just keep me in the loop.’

“Be careful, though,” Gladio warned.

“Hmhmm…” Zidane hummed as he slowly walked along, hands on his hips as he looked around slowly. As he walked along slowly, he kept his ears open, as his tail swayed lightly behind him. As he passed a few old cardboard boxes off to the side, though, he suddenly stopped and he hummed. Prompto watched curiously, his eyes adjusting slightly as he watched his friend in the dark alleyway.

After a moment more, Zidane sighed and turned around, shrugging. “Guess we missed whatever it was…”

However, Prompto perked up again when he heard muffled giggling, and he went into the alleyway this time, tracing the sound.

However, Zidane held up his hand, stopping Prompto from walking in. “Don’t bother, man…there’s nothing here,” he said, as he began to walk over, not seeming to notice the sound…

....that is until he suddenly snapped out to the side and dragged something out with a squeal. “Gotcha!”

“I knew I heard something!” Prompto exclaimed, looking at whatever it was that Zidane had grabbed.

Squirming in the Genome’s hand, wailing and punching, was a little kid, about four years of age if he had to make a guess, with bright silvery curled hair and wide, terrified purple eyes. “Waaaah! Lemme go!” the boy wailed out.

“Nope!” Zidane quipped. “Not without an apology for bumping into us back there.” As the boy squirmed in Zidane’s grasp, though, Prompto caught a glimpse of the tip of a silver-furred tail just barely sticking out of the end of the boy’s pant leg. The taller blonde frowned inwardly.

‘A Genome? But that’s impossible…he’s too young…’ he thought to himself. While Genomes were genetically engineered to be various ages, there was still a set minimum age limit at which they were permitted to be sold; which was 7 years old. It was considered to be both immoral and vile for Genomes to be sold at any age below that.

“Papa says not to talk to strangers!” the boy whined, punching at Zidane’s hands with his own chubby little hands.

“Oh yeah? Well maybe he should’ve taught that if you bump into someone, stranger or no, you’re supposed to apologize,” Zidane pointed out, before he suddenly flipped the boy upside down.

“Waah!”

“So?”

“Lemme go!”

“Wrong answer. Try again.”

“Just apologize, and you’ll be fine, kid,” Prompto urged. He was still perturbed that this kid was clearly a Genome, but it was clear the boy was trying to keep his true identity hidden, if the tail in his pant leg was anything to go by.

The boy whined with an unhappy pout, before he squeaked out a tiny, “Sorry…”

“For…?” Zidane asked with a cocked eyebrow.

“…bumping into you…”

“…Good,” the blonde Genome said with a grin as he flipped the boy right side up and put him back on the ground. “That wasn’t so hard was it?”

‘Zidane,’ Prom suddenly thought to his friend, gaining his attention. ‘He’s a Genome. I saw his tail, and it’s hidden in his pant leg.’

‘…wait what?!’

‘I don’t know how, but don’t let him leave!’

Just as the boy was about to run off, Zidane had an epiphany and his own tail snapped out and curled around the boy. “Now hold on just a second, there.”

“H-hey!”

“What’s going on in there, you guys?” Gladio called, his back to them as he guarded the entrance to the alleyway in case anyone else decided to run in.

“We’re okay, just give us a few minutes!” Prompto called back.

“Question, kiddo; aren’t you a little too young to be running around alone?” Zidane quipped.

“Papa says I'm not—”

“Okay, fine then,” the Genome said simply as he spun the boy around and dropped down to his level. “Name’s Zidane,” he said thumbing his own chest with a grin, before he gestured to his friend. “And his name’s Prompto. See? Now we’re not strangers anymore.”

The boy blinked, confusion in his eyes as he looked back and forth between the two Genomes.

“It’s okay, kid,” Prompto assured him, getting down on one knee so he was on the boy’s level. “What’s your name?”

“Um…” the boy stammered, shuffling one foot against the pavement. “Yo…Yoshiya…but Papa calls me Joshua.”

“Joshua, huh?” Zidane asked, before he grinned. “Good name; your dad think of that one?”

“U-uh-huh!”

“Well, Joshua, how come you’re out on your own? Zidane’s right; you’re a bit young to be running around without someone,” Prompto asked pointedly. He was trying to see if this kid could point them in search of answers.

“Um…I…I was bored,” Joshua admitted, and Prompto could see the tail tip in his pants leg squirming uncomfortably under the fabric. “Bigg ‘n’ Wez didn’t wanna play.”

“That’s still not good you ran away, Joshua. I’m sure your dad is worried about you,” Prompto soothed, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. He assumed the two people the boy mentioned were his sitters. “Would you mind if we take you home?”

Joshua didn’t seem to be too sure, before he finally nodded his head. “Kay…”

“Okay, cool,” Zidane said as he reached out and lightly tapped his tail against the boy’s hand. This made Joshua jump, blinking curiously, before he gave a small smile and took hold of the blonde tail. “No squeezing that, alright? That doesn’t feel good in the least.”

“Uh-huh!” Joshua chirped with a nod, before he toddled after Zidane as he walked back to the entrance. Prompto followed after, and Gladio was surprised when he saw Joshua with them.

“Who’s this tyke?” he asked.

“His name’s Joshua, and he took off from home ‘cause he was bored. We’re taking him back,” Prompto answered. Looking at Joshua, he said, “Gladio’s our friend. He’ll help in case something bad happens.”

Joshua took one look at Gladio, and immediately scampered to hide behind Zidane, peeking around his legs cautiously. This made Zidane laugh, before he turned to the boy. “So…where’s your home, Josh?”

“Um…it’s past the water and…and the big statues! There’s lots of big statues on the way home!” Joshua chirped excitedly.

“That’s the way to the richer residential area of Treno,” Gladio commented. “I know how to get there.” And with that said, he took the lead, making sure he kept a slow enough pace for Joshua to keep up.

The pair of Genomes and the boy followed close behind, with Joshua still holding Zidane’s tail as he went, occasionally giggling when the limb would wriggle in his little fingers.

While no one really looked up at them as they made their way through the streets, though, Zidane couldn’t help but feel like something was off. ‘Oy, Prom? You feel that, too?’

‘Yeah. Someone or something’s watching us,’ Prompto nodded minutely, his bright blue eyes darkening slightly.

‘Was afraid of that…you snuck out the gun, right?’

‘Of course. I’ve got it in the back of my pants. Safety’s on,’ he replied.

‘Good…’ Zidane said with a small nod, ‘here’s hoping we don’t need it…but just in case…’

“Um… Mister Zidane?” Joshua suddenly chirped, tugging on the Genome’s tail, making Zidane look over.

“Hey, no need for that; just Zidane is fine, kay?” the blonde quipped with a grin.

“O-oh…okay!” the boy said with a smile, before he sobered. “Um…are you from…from Brabal?”

“You mean Bran Bal?” Prompto inquired, forcing a curious smile on his face.

“Tha’s what I said!” Joshua called out with a small huff, making Zidane and Prompto laugh.

“Haha... Yeah, we are. Why d’you ask?” Zidane asked.

“Well um…is…is it really blue?” the boy asked curiously.

“Yeah, it is,” Prompto answered, wondering how the boy knew of it at his age.

“Um uh…there’s also big shrooms too, right?”

“Oh those things? Yeah…there’s not a lot of trees anymore,” Zidane answered. “We got those to provide enough air.”

“Wooow…” the small boy breathed out in awe, his eyes wide in his amazement.

“Why do you ask, Joshua? Have you heard of Bran Bal?” Prompto asked.

“Uh-huh!” the boy confirmed with a nod. “Papa says it’s a scary place…but Ara says it’s pretty and blue and-and everything’s really big and—”

“Okay we get it, kiddo!” Zidane laughed, before he turned serious. “Though…why does your dad think it’s scary?”

“Coz…coz he says they do bad things to us there…”

“What do you mean by ‘us’?” Prompto inquired, becoming suspicious of who this boy’s father could be.

“Gennies,” Joshua said quietly. “Papa doesn’t wanna go there anymore and-and he says I can’t eithers…”

“Might be be—!!”

Suddenly Zidane stopped walking and frowned.

‘Zidane?’ Prompto asked, starting to reach for his gun.

‘…get your gun out,’ he said firmly, as he swiftly tugged his tail loose and coiled it around Joshua's shoulders. “Gladio!” he called out as he reached back in his bag.

“We got trouble, I can feel it,” Gladio growled, summoning his broadsword. As he spoke, Prompto swiftly pulled out his gun, ready for a fight.

“…Z-Zidane?” Joshua squeaked out, clinging to the Genome’s pants.

“…Prom, can you look after him?” Zidane asked softly.

“Yeah,” the taller blonde nodded, wrapping his tail around Joshua’s shoulders now. Joshua yelped, but he allowed himself to be pulled against the taller blonde as Zidane pulled out his daggers. Right as Prompto and Gladio readied themselves for the fight, Prompto tried desperately to sense where they would come from.

Zidane quietly fell into position, his tail swishing back and forth for balance as he spun his daggers between his fingers, looking around slowly. And as soon as he caught sight of their assailants, he jumped into action almost immediately, kicking off and blocking the baton that had been aimed at his friend’s head.

Prompto steadied himself with a deep breath, watching carefully as Gladio brought up his sword, blocking another baton. Knocking one of their assailants back and into the water, Zidane somersaulted back, snapping his tail out and yanking another’s leg out from under him. The shorter Genome spun around then and slammed his foot into the next man's jaw, sending him skidding. Prompto waited for the right moment, and then shot at a trio of guys approaching Zidane from where he couldn’t see them.

‘Thanks, man!’ Zidane called out as he ducked under a swing, and then head butted the guy into the water again.

Joshua whimpered as he held on tightly to Prompto’s leg.

‘Anytime!’ Prompto nodded, before firing at another two of them, while Gladio swung at four. However, just as suddenly, there was a loud bang, and then there was a sharp pain in Prompto’s chest as he was thrown back.

“Prompto!” Zidane cried out, before a second bang echoed through the air and the shorter Genome screamed as he was thrown forward, flat on his face. Gladio gasped, looking to see the two Genomes knocked out cold, and he snarled, trying to figure out where it was coming from. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the chance, as a third bang echoed over the water and hit the taller man square in the chest. Gladio collapsed, soon fading into unconsciousness as he heard Joshua screaming.

Chapter Text

The Auction House was one of the biggest buildings in Treno, second only to the Arena in the center of the town, and it was a large bustle of activity when Noctis, Luna and Ravus arrived. Many noble men and women made their way in and out of the building, going in with what they assumed to be heaps of cash, and coming out with various works of art or other rarities. It also appeared to be one of the eldest buildings in the city.

“Well, here we are…”

“Let’s just hope we get some results,” Luna murmured, climbing out of the front seat, Ravus doing the same out of the back.

“We’ll just have to keep our guard up,” he pointed out.

“Agreed,” Noctis said as they walked over, ignoring some of the stares they were receiving.

As they entered, Noctis made his way over to a woman who was handling the desk up front, looking more than a little annoyed to be there. When he stopped in front of her and she refused to look up, Noctis cleared his throat.

She sighed heavily and looked up. “Yes, can I help you?” she asked, but the friendliness sounded extremely forced.

Ignoring the blatant hostility, Noctis said, “I apologize if we were disturbing you, but we had an appointment with Lord Kiryu. He should be expecting us.”

“Huh? What are y—!!” As if suddenly realizing who she was looking at, she choked and quickly stammered, “O-oh! U-um I-I apologize, Your Highness! U-uh...! Pl-please this way,” she said as she swiftly stood and gestured for them to follow her as she began to walk.

“Funny how titles change everything, huh?” Luna commented in a soft voice to her friend, unheard by the woman.

Noctis allowed a slow smirk as they followed the woman, towards a room in the back. Once they reached the doors, she turned to them and bowed swiftly. “Please wait here for a moment, Your Highness. I will inform Lord Kiryu of your arrival,” she said, before she moved over, knocked twice, quickly, and then peeked inside almost cautiously. “Um Milord?”

“Yes, Lani?” a calm man’s voice called out from the back of the room.

“Um... y-your guests are here, sir.”

“…Ah, right on time. Please, show them in, will you, dear?”

“Yes sir!” she said with a swift nod, before she opened the door and turned to the trio. “Please, enter.”

“Thank you,” Noctis said politely as he stepped past the woman. Luna and Ravus merely dipped their heads in acknowledgement, passing the woman and entering the room. The siblings remained on their guard as soon as they walked in, keeping a calm exterior.

As the woman—Lani, they believed her name to be—closed the door behind them, the man sitting behind the desk stood up, setting aside some papers before he walked out from behind the desk. “It is a pleasure to meet you, Your Highness,” the man said with a graceful bow.

"The pleasure is mine, Lord Kiryu," Noctis said politely as he regarded the man.

He’d never actually met the Lord of the Auction House before then, but he’d heard from his father that he was rather…eccentric. And given the man’s dress code, his father hadn't been far off. While the coloration of gold with purple was nothing new in Treno, and the ruffles made it an obvious outfit originating from the city, but what struck him as odd was the amount of skin it actually showed. One curious thing about the man was his black hat. Now he knew it was fairly common for people to wear their hats indoors, what made his so strange, was that the white feather like ornaments almost appeared to be attached to his long, silvery-purple hair, rather than the hat itself.

The man allowed a warm smile as he rose somewhat, and then turned to regard Luna. “Lady Lunafreya,” he greeted with another bow. “It is an honor to have you in our humble auction house, Milady.”

“The pleasure is mine, Lord Kiryu,” Luna murmured, bowing her head politely. Ravus merely watched from behind her.

As Kiryu rose up again, he turned to Ravus and hummed. “And am I safe to assume you to be her Ladyship’s older brother, Sir?”

“That I am,” Ravus nodded. “My name is Ravus.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance, Milord,” the man said with a polite half-bow. “Please,” he said, as he gestured toward a number of plush chairs and couches set up around a fireplace installed in the far wall, “have a seat. Would you care for a drink?”

“Ah, no, that’s alright. Maybe later,” Noctis said with a small shake of his head.

“I’ll decline as well, thank you,” Luna agreed. Ravus politely shook his head.

“Very well,” Kiryu said as he briefly shrugged his shoulders, before he led the way to the fireplace, seating himself in one of the heavy armchairs. “Now then,” he said as Noctis and Luna sat side by side on the couch, with Ravus standing at the ready behind them, “while I’m certainly honored you would grace us with your presence, Milord, Milady, I must admit I am not certain what we have done for you to choose to do so.”

Luna bit her tongue, trying to keep herself in check so as not to snap at him. He had to know that this Coral man’s car had tailed them!

Noctis clenched his fist along his knee briefly, taking a deep breath, before he spoke. "Our reason for being here is a simple one, Lord Kiryu," he said simply. "We merely wish to ascertain that there is no connection between an event that has transpired in the Crown City and one of your employees."

“Oh?” Kiryu asked with a small hum, placing his fingers to his chin (which brought to light that the man’s fingernails were actually painted a light purple). “I fear I cannot say to know what you mean, Your Highness. I’ve certainly a number of employees under my wing, but even I do not keep track of where they wish to spend their days off.”

“One of your employees was tailing us in Crown City,” Luna finally said, keeping her tone even, despite feeling irritated already.

The man’s eyebrow went up in slight question with a small hum. “Oh? You seem quite certain of this, Milady. May I ask why this is?”

“We watched him follow us closely. He was almost tailgating us,” the blonde replied coolly.

“Oh my…” the man breathed. “That is…quite disconcerting. To pursue a member of the Royal Family…” He paused to click his tongue, shaking his head as though in disappointment. “Certainly, that is not something that may easily be excused, yet I would like to know how you believed he was an employee of our establishment.”

“As you are well aware, despite relations between the Crown City and Treno being amicable, it is a requirement for all people coming from here into the Crown City to apply for a visa, whether it is through travel by airship or merely by car. It was only a matter of time before the license plate was traced back to a person by the name of ‘Coral’. His listed occupation was a guard of the Auction House.”

“…Coral, you say?” Kiryu hummed. “Hm…most peculiar…” he murmured, holding a hand to his chin. “While I most certainly requested of him to travel to the Crown City for me to collect some items, I would not have guessed he would make an attempt to tail the heir of Lucis.”

“Do you know why he would have?” Luna asked, frowning.

“Honestly, I would not be able to tell you, Milady…” Kiryu admitted. “I believe there is only one person who would be able to tell you of his reasoning.”

“And who might that be?” Luna frowned.

“Why, Coral himself, naturally, Milady,” the man chuckled softly as he moved his bangs out of his face, before his expression sobered up. “Unfortunately, he has not yet returned from his last assignment. While I am expecting him to be back any moment, I wouldn’t want to waste your time by having you wait here for him.”

“We have time,” Noctis assured. “We don’t mind waiting for him.” Luna and Ravus nodded, agreeing wordlessly.

“Ah…well, I can see I will not be able to convince you otherwise, so I’ll not waste my breath,” Kiryu sighed softly, though he had a small smile playing on his lips. “Since we will be waiting, then, are you sure I cannot interest you in a drink, hmm?”

Noctis hummed for a moment, before he turned to Luna silently.

“I’m fine,” she said evenly.

Lord Kiryu lightly shrugged his shoulders, just before there was a ringing sound from his desk, making him look up with a hum, before he sighed. “Of course…” he murmured as he stood. “Please excuse me a moment,” he said as he walked over to his desk.

Noctis frowned as he watched the man walk over, his pace calm and even. He certainly didn’t seem to be in a hurry to answer the phone, but he supposed that might just be the man’s entire persona; he didn’t seem like someone who either hurried or got himself too worked up over something trivial. Of course, that could just be the way he was holding himself in the presence of royalty, which wouldn’t be anything new, really.

Finally, the man picked up his phone from where it rested, and he blinked. “Oh, well speak of the devil,” he chuckled out, before he tapped the screen and brought it to his ear. “Amarant, dear, we were just speaking of you.” Luna frowned curiously, wondering what was going on. Ravus, however, remained neutral.

“…hm? Yes, he is, why?” Kiryu asked calmly. As he listened, however, his expression darkened. After moving the phone away from his ear, he turned back to them and asked, “If I may, Your Highness, was there one of your Crown’s Guard with you as well?”

At those words, Noctis blinked in surprise, before he asked suspiciously. “Yes, there was…why?”

“Well, while I do not wish to be the bearer or potentially bad news, your guard was just found by the shopping district, unconscious.”

“…!!”

“What?!” Luna gasped. Looking at Noctis, she began to worry about Zidane and Prompto. “What about…?”

"Was there anyone else there?" Noctis asked swiftly.

Kiryu turned back to the phone and relayed the prince’s question. After a moment of silence, he turned to them, the phone still to his ear this time. “No. There were no others.”

Ravus tensed, as did Luna. “What could have happened?” she wondered aloud, looking at her friend in a panic. Noctis shook his head slowly, showing he didn’t know.

“Hm?” Kiryu hummed as he listened to the phone again. “…Ah, he’s awake? Ask him what happened, will you?”

There was a moment of tense silence then, broken only by the crackling fire and Kiryu’s nails drumming along the surface of his desk. “…an ambush…for what?” Kiryu asked then. “…Is he conscious enough to talk over the phone? …Good. Pass it to him, then.” With that, Kiryu walked back to the others, and passed the phone to Noctis. “Your Highness,” he said as he did.

Noctis nodded and brought the phone to his ear. “Gladio?”

“They’re gone, Noct! Some assholes took them…!” Gladio growled weakly into the phone.

Noct gritted his teeth to prevent himself from saying anything obscene, but his fingers curled into the fabric of his pants. “Was it them again?” he asked.

“No, there were too many for it to be them,” Gladio rasped.

Breathing in sharply, Noctis shut his eyes and struggled to keep his rage in check, before he asked, “What did they look like?”

“Dark clothes, that’s all I remember.”

“Dammit…!” Noctis hissed, before he breathed out heavily. “Gladio, can you make it here?”

“Yeah, I’ll be there soon,” he nodded.

"Right," Noct said, before he passed the phone back to Kiryu.

Said man held the phone to his own ear for a moment, as the person who had found Gladio spoke to him again, and his own expression darkened considerably. “…I see. Ensure he makes it to the Auction House in one piece, dear,” he said firmly, before he cut the connection and sighed heavily, rubbing at his temples as he shut his eyes. “Of all nights…”

“In one piece?” Luna frowned.

Kiryu sighed as he moved to sit back in his seat, a tired expression coming over him. “I suppose it would do little good to avoid the matter…” he murmured, more to himself than the others. “I fear that Treno has been…suffering some unacceptable—and illegal—activities as of late,” he said finally. “While I do not know who was with your guard, I fear they may have gotten wrapped up in this mess of ours…and for this, I sincerely apologize.”

“What matters are we speaking of?” Ravus finally asked, narrowing his eyes slightly.

“…” Kiryu didn’t respond immediately, before he took a heavy breath, and then exhaled slowly. “An illegal slave market…”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Ugh, my head…” Prompto grunted, holding his head as he came back to consciousness. Looking around, he saw Zidane, also waking up, as well as little Joshua. ‘Zidane! Are you okay?’

‘Define “okay”,’ Zidane groaned as he pushed himself up, grumbling angrily—right before he hit his head. “OW!! The heck!?” Looking up, the blonde blinked to get used to the darkness around him, before his eyes widened and he looked around in alarm. ‘…oh fuck…!’

Looking around, Prompto whimpered. ‘No… We can’t be trapped…! Not again!’

‘Dammit…!’ Zidane growled, before he blinked as he heard a tiny whimper, turning his attention to Joshua. Frowning sadly, the Genome scooted over and pulled the small boy into a hug. “Sssh…it’s okay, Josh…it’s okay, sshhh…”

“I dun like the dark…” Joshua whined sadly. “I wanna go home…!”

“We’ll get you out, I promise,” Prompto murmured, joining the hug. “We’ll all get out.”

Joshua whimpered, before he shakily nodded his head, cuddling against Zidane, who gently patted his head and curled his tail around the boy. ‘…it’s just us…they musta left Gladio…’

‘Probably ‘cause he’s not a Genome…’ Prompto thought.

‘Figures…’ Zidane glanced around carefully, as his eyes grew accustomed to the dark. ‘…I don’t hear anyone else here…Genome OR human…think they left us here to wallow a bit before…whatever happens?’

‘Probably,’ the taller blonde sighed, already missing Noctis. He really wished he knew how to bond with him, but it was too late now. ‘What do you think they want with us?’

‘…My guess? Since there’s an actual Auction House in this place…they probably plan to sell us off…’

‘Fuck…’ Prompto hissed, sighing heavily aloud.

Suddenly, there was a loud screech of metal being forced aside, and a ray of light hit them and the three of them cried out in surprise as they shielded their eyes from the light. Once they could see again, they realized that they were on some sort of stage, with rows upon rows of seats set across from the stage; an auctioning room.

“Oh, awake now, are we?” came a voice from the doorway. One that they recognized…

Zidane stared at the man in alarm, before he snarled furiously, protectively wrapping his arms around Joshua, who was whimpering in fear.

Prompto growled furiously. “What are YOU doing with us?!” he spat.

The man gave a small smile that seemed intended to be sincere, but all the two Genomes could see was a venomous snake about to pounce and they instinctively backed away toward the back of the cage they were in, as if that would help them. The man’s red hair was mostly covered by the fedora and hidden by the high collar of his long trench coat. In Insomnia, he had fit in just fine…but here in Treno, he stood out like a sore thumb. His dark appearance just didn’t fit with the colorful clothes seen throughout the majority of Treno.

“Ah, but I haven’t done anything yet, now, have I?” the man said calmly, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “I’m merely here to ensure you’re all comfy before the show starts. Wouldn’t want to give people the wrong impression, now do we?”

Zidane didn’t even say anything; he just clutched Joshua close to him, as the boy was now visibly shaking in his arms.

“What show?” Prompto growled.

“Ah, I’m sure I don’t need to explain that,” the man said, and it sounded almost taunting. “And besides, wouldn’t you rather have it be a surprise, hmm?” Prompto snarled viciously instead of speaking, furious about this sick bastard.

“Well, no worries,” he said calmly with a chuckle. “It will start shortly. So just relax for now, hmm? Ta-ta.”

And then the man walked back out through the door, shutting it behind him and letting darkness descend upon the room again.

‘…Goddammit, I KNEW there was something bad about that guy!’

‘Yeah, I know,’ Prompto grumbled. He sighed heavily, wrapping his tail around Joshua to try and comfort the boy. The poor kid was terrified, after all.

‘Thankfully, he’s an idiot, too,’ Zidane said suddenly, as he scooted closer to Prompto for a moment. “Josh…stay with Prompto for a moment, ‘kay?”

“Wha…b-but...!”

“Don’t worry…we’re about to get out of here,” Zidane promised softly.

‘What are you doing?’ Prompto asked, curious.

Rather than answer his friend, Zidane moved to the other side of the cage and began to move his fingers along the outside of it. After a little bit of fidgeting in the dark, he found it; the padlock keeping the cage shut. Smirking, he reached for his cravat and pulled loose its decorative pin, scooting a little closer still.

Without ever being able to see, he brought up the pin and after only a moment of fumbling, stuck its sharp ends into the lock. And once it was firmly in place, he began to wriggle it slowly and silently, listening for the telltale clicks to inform him if he was achieving his goal or not.

And then, after barely a minute…

Click

“And we are…” Zidane began as he removed the padlock and pushed open the cage door, “out of here!”

“Nice one, Zidane!” Prompto grinned.

“I try,” Zidane chuckled as he crawled out first, then turned to the others and whispered, “C’mon…let’s get the hell outta here.”

“Right,” Prompto nodded, and helped Joshua out first, passing him to Zidane before crawling out as well.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Gladio arrived at the Auction House within ten minutes after the phone call, and he looked like he felt incredibly guilty, unable to bring himself to even look at Noctis.

“I’m sorry… I should have been able to keep them safe…” he mumbled.

Noctis sighed as he reached up to rub at his temples. He wasn’t even sure what he was supposed to say. On one hand, he didn't want to pin the blame on Gladio for failing to keep Zidane and Prompto safe, but on the other, he was tempted to shout and demand how he could’ve let this happen, mainly because of the news Kiryu had just revealed to them. If they really had been taken by people who sought to use the pair for this illegal slave market, which seemed focused on Genomes from what Kiryu had told them, then there was a huge possibility that they would be soon sold to the highest bidder, much like they had been in Bran Bal. Only this time, they would be reduced to an object…

Kiryu regarded the prince in silence, his own expression empty, before he turned to the man who had escorted Gladio to the Auction House. “Have you found any leads before you found him, Amarant?”

"Unfortunately not, sir," the man said. He was a tall man; just a little shorter than Gladio, with almost sickly pale skin, but his hair was a blood-red color, styled into numerous dreadlocks the hung in his eyes (effectively hiding them in the shadows) and down his back. “However, the description of the perpetrators does match the earlier sightings we’ve had.”

“Yes…I was afraid of that,” Kiryu sighed as he pinched the bridge of his nose.

“I thought you were all in the shopping district when we left,” Luna said to Gladio curiously.

“We found some kid, and we were on our way to take him back home. Said his name was Joshua, but they had to have taken him, too,” Gladio explained.

The moment he said that, the man beside him snapped to face him, a look of horror on his face for some reason, before he slowly turned back toward Kiryu.

Said man’s expression had just gone completely blank, and he didn’t even appear to be breathing for a moment. After a long, tense moment, he spoke, “I apologize… I fear I may have misheard that last part. Would you mind repeating that for me, sir?”

Noctis blinked at the sudden iciness that lined the Lord’s voice, not certain he liked where this was going.

“We found a kid named Joshua, and we were taking him home when they attacked,” Gladio repeated, noticing the Lord’s reaction.

“…this boy…” the man murmured, seemingly thoughtful…if not for the iciness that lined the words and the obviously tensed jaw. “What did he look like?”

“Silver, kinda curled hair, violet eyes. Looked around four years old,” Gladio answered without hesitation.

“…oh crap…” Amarant hissed out, as he saw Kiryu’s eyes darkening before they slipped shut, and the man's entire frame began to shake as his hands curled around the armrests, nails digging into the material.

“Are…are you quite all right, Lord Kiryu?” Luna asked hesitantly, noticing his reaction.

“…” Lord Kiryu didn’t respond to the question immediately, as he took deep, even breaths. But finally, he hissed in a breath and exhaled sharply. “Your Highness, Milady…please forgive me for what I am about to do,” he said without looking up, before he stood, breathing deeply, before he walked to a contraption on the wall, quietly pushing a number of buttons on it.

Noctis frowned, recognizing the small console as a comms device used to communicate with people wearing earpieces. They had them at the castle as well, and they allowed the Commanders in their offices to relay orders to soldiers on the other side of the castle without leaving the office.

Kiryu lightly tapped his nails along the machine as it sought to connect to whoever he was trying to reach…and the moment two voices called in their greetings…

“WEDGE AND BIGGS!! GET YOUR SORRY ASSES TO MY OFFICE THIS INSTANT!!” Kiryu fairly bellowed into the comm, resulting in a pair of startled yowls, followed by some stammered confirmations, before he slammed his fist down on the disconnect button. Even Ravus was…more than a bit startled by the Lord’s shout, and Luna stared at him, wide-eyed, unable to help it. Gladio would have found maybe a bit of amusement in the shout, had it not been for the situation. Noctis was staring as much as his old friend was, but Amarant had merely winced at the shout, his expression one of worry and apprehension.

“Amarant!” Kiryu suddenly half-shouted half-said.

“Yes sir?” the redhead asked, clearly trying not to let his apprehension be known.

“Go get Aranea.”

“Of course, sir,” he said (perhaps a little too swiftly), before he left the room again.

Shortly after he’d left, a different man stumbled into the office. “Y-yes, Lord Kiryu?” the man fairly squeaked out.

At the words, Kiryu frowned dangerously, before he hissed, “Where is Wedge?”

“A-ah, um... h-he should be here soon, sir! I-I believe he was in the um... ahem! I believe he was in the restroom, sir.”

“Oh really?” Kiryu asked slowly, before his eyes narrowed dangerously. “Are you sure…he’s even on the premises, Biggs?”

“Uh… As s-sure as I am of m-myself being here, sir.”

Kiryu didn’t seem the least bit convinced, and Noctis couldn’t blame him; the man was stammering far too much for it be even remotely believable. Luna, upon listening to the conversation and hearing Lord Kiryu’s reaction, assumed that they must have been watching Joshua, and they’d clearly let the boy get away. And from what she could tell, it sounded like possibly this Wedge man was searching for Joshua.

Noctis frowned as he listened, watching the Auction House’s owner as he seemed to be practically shaking, his violet eyes darkened to a dark purple, indicating just how angry he was.

“Very well, then,” the Lord said then, as he walked back to the comm.

“In that case, I will ask him to bring Joshua with him when he comes, then.”

“…!! A-ah! No!!”

Kiryu stopped silently, before he turned around, clearly struggling to keep his expression neutral, but his anger was starting to bleed through. “‘No’?” he got out, his teeth now visibly ground together.

“U-uh…! Th-that is uh…! H-he’s asleep! He-he was really tired s-so we—”

“Biggs.”

“Ulp!”

“…Where is he?”

“Um uh…w-well…he um…”

“Sorry, did I stutter?” Kiryu asked coldly. “Well, then; let me articulate…” And then his expression turned positively livid as he snarled, “Where. Is. My. Son!?”

Noctis’s eyes widened in alarm at that news. ‘Oh…crap!’

“Shit…” Gladio muttered, having not known. If he’d known that Joshua was Lord Kiryu’s son, he would have called Noctis instead of walking the kid home.

“Um-uh… He-he um…” Biggs stammered, before he gulped. And finally, he managed to squeak out, “Th-that is…w-we…we lost sight of him, sir…”

Despite how Kiryu had clearly already known about it, the actual confirmation only made his anger spike, even though he struggled to keep it in check as he pinched the bridge of his nose. Before he finally seemed to think ‘Screw it’.

“You…pathetic, worthless, empty-headed IDIOTS!!!” he nearly screeched. “I gave you ONE job!! ONE JOB!! And you can’t even do something as simple as keeping an eye on a single child?!”

“I-I-I…!”

“Get out!!” Kiryu shouted, and when Biggs tried to speak, he roared out, “I said GET OUT!! GET OUT AND DON’T COME BACK UNTIL YOU’VE FOUND HIM!!”

“Yessirbyyourleavesirforgiveussir!!” Biggs rattled out before he rushed out off the door as fast as his legs could carry him.

When the door had shut again, Kiryu stalked over to the couch where Noctis and Luna were sitting. “Excuse me, Milady,” he growled out softly, as he pulled out one of the loose pillows she had been leaning against. Before she could ask about it, though, the man stepped away breathing heavily, before he took a deep breath and then pushed the pillow into his face as he released a furious scream into the fabric. No one dared to utter a word, waiting for the Lord to calm down somewhat.

After a few long moments of just standing there, breathing heavily, Kiryu finally lowered the pillow and released what sounded like a tortured sigh. He ran his hand through his hair under his hat, shutting his eyes softly, before he turned to his guests again.

“I apologize you had to see that, Your Highness,” he said sincerely as he bowed. “That was…undignified of me.”

“No, no, it’s fine, Lord Kiryu,” Noctis assured him.

“Do we have any idea of where this slave market may be?” Luna inquired.

“No…no, we do not, Milady,” Kiryu admitted with a heavy sigh. “Or at least…we ‘did not’.”

“What do you mean?” Ravus frowned.

“I am not certain yet, but I do hope…”

“Yo, Lord Kiryu,” came a chipper voice suddenly as a young woman almost casually walked into the room without knocking, drawing everyone’s attention. “You rang?”

She was a well-built woman with light white hair and dark reddish-brown eyes. She was dressed in some loose clothes that were the typical Trenan design, in the colors purple and blue. Ravus gazed at her, curious, as did Luna, both wondering who this woman was.

“Aranea…any other day I would request you to knock before entering,” Kiryu said solemnly, “but I’ll let it slide for now to discuss a more serious matter. Tell me; did you go through on your earlier promise?”

“Hm? About Joshy, you mean?” the woman asked with a small smile. “Amarant already warned me, yeah. And yeah, I did. Kid was actually very thrilled with his new watch.”

“…Aranea, dear, I could kiss you right now.”

“Well, maybe later, eh?” the woman giggled.

Kiryu allowed a small chuckle of his own, before he turned to the others. “It would seem we have our lead.”

“Well, let’s go find them, then,” Luna said, starting to get up.

As Noctis rose to his feet as feet as well, Kiryu turned to Aranea. “Would you mind, dear?”

“Not at all. One moment, sir,” she said chipperly as she pulled out her phone and began tapping away, humming merrily. “Searching the GPS aaaand…there we go! He’s—…?” Rather than finish, Aranea blinked. “…right here with us?” After a few moments of thought, however, Ravus gasped.

“They must be underground!” he hissed.

“Best place to hide something illegal,” Noctis agreed with a small snarl, before he turned to Kiryu. “Do you know if there’s anything below us, Lord Kiryu?”

Kiryu hummed softly as he thought quickly, before something hit him. “There used to be an underground hall used for auctioning off especially rare artifacts…but records claimed it had collapsed under its weight during an earthquake,” he said before he started out the door, with the rest of the group quickly following after him and Aranea, who was working on enhancing her tracker. “The entrance was in one of the store rooms. We may have to break a wall to get through, though… Can we count on you for that, Sir?” he asked of Gladio.

“I got it,” Gladio nodded.

“Perfect,” Kiryu said with a smile as they moved swiftly down the halls.

Before long, the descended into the store room, which was filled with rows upon rows of various different items ready to be auctioned off. As Kiryu walked past the rows of items, he murmured, more to himself than anyone, “I believe this was once a security room to ensure no one had run off with particular items of value…but that doesn’t matter now.”

Eventually he stopped by a wall, where a heavy cupboard was leaning against it. “Aranea, dear?”

“Yeah, I got it,” the woman said as she moved over and effortlessly pushed the cupboard aside.

“Thank you, dear,” Kiryu said, before stepping away and looking to Gladio as he gestured to the brick wall. Nodding, the brunette summoned his broadsword, and then swung at the brick wall, easily knocking it down.

“Let’s go,” he said, and Luna and Ravus nodded. Noctis nodded as Aranea went ahead of them, flicking on the flashlight in her phone as she went, with Kiryu following close behind, with the others shortly after.

‘Prompto…just hold on…we’re coming for you…’

Chapter Text

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

‘Do we even know where we’re going, Zidane?’ Prompto asked, keeping Joshua close to him as they snuck along.

‘No…but I’d rather not sit still…wait.’ Zidane paused as he looked at the wall of the nearby corner. Or more specifically, the small “X” that had been carved into it. ‘We just went in a circle. Okay so right is out; left or straight?’

‘I say…left,’ the taller Genome replied.

‘Right…or, “left”, actually,’ Zidane said, leading the way quietly. Joshua was clinging to Prompto, whimpering softly, though he was clearly trying to keep himself quiet.

“Don’t worry, Joshua, we’ll be out of here in no time,” Prompto whispered, gently stroking the boy’s hair. Zidane looked back briefly, before he focused back on the road ahead. And then he stopped.

‘…crap! Someone’s coming!’ he hissed mentally, looking around quickly, before he took notice of a door to the side. Which, of course, was locked when he tried it. Though certainly not for long as he crouched swiftly and used his pin to once more pick the lock. ‘Inside, hurry!’

Prompto nodded, and hurriedly ushered Joshua inside, lightly covering his mouth just in case as the trio hid inside the room.

Zidane closed the door as silently as he could, and then pressed himself against the door with his ear, listening as his tail snapped at the air. After a long moment of silence, Zidane nodded and looked over. ‘They’re gone…but let’s wait in here for a while longer. Just to be safe.’

‘Right.’ Prompto turned his attention to Joshua as the boy trembled. “You gotta be strong for a bit longer, Joshua. We’ll be out of here soon enough.”

Joshua sniffled as he clung to the taller Genome’s leg. “I’m scared…” he whimpered, “I want my Papa…!’

“We know, and we’ll get you back to your dad if it’s the last thing we do,” Prompto promised.

‘Though I would certainly hope it’s NOT the last thing we do…’ Zidane said mentally, if only to not upset Joshua any further. As he looked around the room, though, he hummed curiously, before he walked toward one of the racks.

‘It won’t be! And what are you looking at?’ the taller blonde frowned.

Zidane didn’t respond immediately. Instead, he reached out and lifted what appeared to be a spear of some kind…but upon closer look, it became clear it actually consisted of two large blades on both ends, with an intricate handle connecting the two blades. ‘It’s not daggers…but it’ll do in case of.’

‘If only I had my gun, too,’ Prompto grumbled.

Zidane didn’t respond, before he reached to the side and picked up something from the desk, holding it up for Prompto to see.

“Yes!” the taller Genome grinned, keeping his voice down, and then took the gun from his friend. ‘Think we’re safe to sneak out again?’

‘Let's check…’ Zidane murmured as he moved over and leaned against the door, listening briefly. Finally, he nodded and carefully eased the door open. ‘Let's go.’

‘Gotcha.’ And with that (mentally) said, the three Genomes continued on.

As they slowly shuffled down the halls, with Zidane up front, and Joshua clinging to his tail with his little hands while Prompto covered the rear, they remained deathly quiet. When they reached another crossroads, Zidane quickly checked the walls and then nodded.

‘We haven’t been here yet…we’re making progress… I hope…’

‘I’m sure we are. Try being a bit more optimistic, would ya?’ Prompto pointed out.

‘Trying…’ Zidane said back with a small frown, looking around slowly. ‘Let’s try straight for now. C’mon.’

‘Coming.’ Prompto listened carefully as they walked on, keeping his senses on high alert for any abnormal sounds.

Zidane kept a hand to the wall as he walked, trying to judge how the walls were curving to get a picture of the place in his head. He wasn’t the best at it, and he wouldn’t lie and say he never got lost, but he was making a very conscious effort to not end up going in circles forever and ever.

Just then he froze in alarm as a shout came from down the hall, one that sounded suspiciously like “They’ve escaped!!”

‘Crap!!’ Snarling, Zidane reached out with his tail and lifted up Joshua (much to the boy’s surprise), holding him against his back. “Hold on, kiddo; we gotta run!”

“Let’s go!” Prompto hissed, and the two older Genomes took off, Joshua clinging to Zidane’s back. Just as they turned a corner, though, they were forced to skid to a halt as they saw what was waiting for them, their eyes wide in alarm.

“Are those…Magitek?!”

“Yeah, they are!” Prompto yelped. Narrowing his eyes, he frowned. “If they’re blocking this way…maybe this is the way out!”

“Well guess we got no choice then…take over Josh, will ya?!”

“Of course!” With that taken care of, as Prompto took the boy and placed him on his own back, Zidane leapt into action.

The shorter blonde easily ducked and weaved around the Magitek soldiers, avoiding their blades and the machine gun fire as he bounced off the wall and leaped over them. As he spun horizontally through the air, his blade ripped through the skulls and shoulder of several of the machines. That didn’t necessarily finish them off, but it left them weakened and slowed enough for Prompto to shoot them through their heads and finish the job. Zidane then ducked through a Magitek’s legs, snagging its ankles with his tail and making it crash to the floor, after which the blonde somersaulted backwards before he drilled the blade into its chest and then ripped off its skull.

Meanwhile, Prompto was firing several shots off at the soldiers, his gaze darkened as he did. Fortunately, thanks to Zidane, he was able to remain stationary while he shot the Magiteks.

Joshua whimpered at the loud bangs and the screeching of metal being torn asunder, ducking his head into Prompto’s back as he squeezed his eyes shut.

Zidane ducked under another swing, before he spun his weapon around and tore the limb off, which he snagged quickly before abruptly whacking the Magitek to its face with its own arm, knocking it sideways. ‘How many are there!?’

‘Who cares?! Just keep killing them!’ Prompto snapped, shooting another dozen.

Thankfully, not even that long after the small bickering, the last of the Magitek soldiers fell to the ground in a heap. Zidane nodded swiftly and turned to Prompto. ‘Let’s go!’ he said. But before they could, run off, there was a loud bang, as a hole was punctured in the nearby wall.

“Oh I wouldn’t suggest leaving just yet, boys,” a familiar voice quipped.

‘…FUCK!!’

‘Are you shitting me?!’ Prompto swore, he was gonna kill this fucker.

The two Genomes snarled as they regarded the fedora-wearing man angrily, their fingers curled tight around their weapons. Unlike last time, he wasn’t alone, though; he'd brought a handful of guards along, each one dressed in the same way as the people who had ambushed the Genomes in the shopping district.

“Come now; let’s be reasonable now, shall we?” the man said calmly as he adjusted his hat. “If you were that opposed to the upcoming show, you could’ve merely said so.” The smile on his face was far from a pleasant one. “In fact…if you come along nicely, I can assure that you won’t even have to join… We already have a few people highly interested in all three of you.”

‘…if he’s talking about who I think he’s talking about I’m gonna pummel his face into the goddamn wall!’ Zidane threatened mentally.

‘I’d do it regardless. Fucker’s a sick piece of low-life shit,’ Prompto agreed, his tail fluffed up.

Just then, a sound from behind Zidane made him glance over, and he cursed as he saw a number of new Magitek soldiers appearing from…wherever they came from. ‘Just our luck…where’s backup when you need it?!’

“Now; be good boys, and—”

But before the man could finish, there was a deafening sound of metal being ripped apart as one of the Magitek soldiers in the back was thrown forward. Alarmed, Prompto snapped his head up, looking to try and see what was going on.

As the other Magitek soldiers turned to face what had happened, a blade slammed through the head of one of their heads, before it was thrown aside, allowing the Genomes to see who it was. “Prompto! Zidane!!”

“Noctis!” Prompto gasped. He was really here!

“Dude! Are we glad to see you, man!” Zidane breathed out with a grin. “Mind giving us a hand here?”

“Do you have to ask?”

Then Gladio and Ravus began to take out the rest of the Magiteks, quickly wrapping up the job, while Luna hung back towards the back of their search party.

Zidane grinned as he ducked under a Magitek soldier’s swing, before he suddenly snagged it by its ‘collar’, dropping his blade as he heaved the metal soldier over his head with a roar, and right into a number of the guards blocking the opposite end of the hall, though he missed the redheaded asshole.

Prompto snarled as he shot several more of the Magiteks, his gaze darkening as he tried to aim for the redheaded fucker.

Sadly, Prompto had to also keep an eye on the man’s guards as they tried to fire more paralyzing shots at them, though he was thankfully able to knock their guns off course with a well-aimed shot of his own. And throughout it all, Joshua was whining and whimpering as he held on fast.

“Coming through!” Zidane shouted as he leaped over a Magitek soldier and buried his blade into its back, ripping its circuits out sideways with a grin on his face as he spun around to land effortlessly on the ground.

Suddenly, Luna screamed, terrified, as someone or something grabbed her from behind. Looking behind herself, she managed to catch a glimpse of silver hair, and her eyes widened in horror.

“LUNA/LUNAFREYA!!” the group shouted in alarm as they watched Loz with his arm coiled around her neck, almost cutting of her air. And to make matters worse, Yazoo was there as well, his gun placed firmly at Luna’s temple.

“I would suggest you stop…” Yazoo crooned with a cold grin as he pulled the hammer of his gun back. “Wouldn’t want there to be an…‘accident’, would we?”

“…!!” Zidane tensed in alarm as he watched the pair holding Luna at gunpoint, a surge of unfiltered anger rushing trough his entire being, all the way to the tip of his tail. “…you…fuckers…!!” he hissed, not realizing how his eyes were darkening in rage…as a light red glow began to encircle his eyes.

Gladio snarled furiously as Ravus watched his sister helplessly, but Prompto noticed the change in his friend.

“Zidane? Are you okay?” he asked worriedly.

The shorter Genome didn’t even seem to have heard his friend’s question, as his tail was snapping out at the air sharply…but Prompto would almost swear the fur along the limb almost seemed to be glowing.

“Oh my, what a predicament…” the redhead on the opposite side of the hall drawled out with a sigh as he raised his hands in a shrug. “However will we resolve this properly? And without loss of life, no less? Hmm… I wonder…”

Zidane didn’t even hear the man’s words; the only thing he heard was the blood rushing through his veins, as his pulse picked up to the point where he could almost feel it pulsating against his throat. His fingers tightened around his weapon as his whole body shook from his rage building up in his entire being.

“Let her go!!” Noctis shouted out at the two brothers.

“Put down your weapons, first,” Yazoo said firmly, as Loz chuckled icily, tightening his hold on the woman in his arm.

The brothers’ words were like the final straw for Zidane, the reddish glow around his eyes extending further as he snarled furiously. Before anyone could stop him, the shorter Genome shot forward. Noctis choked and was about to cry out—before there was a sudden burst of reddish-white light that briefly blinded everyone there.

By the time Yazoo had blinked the stars from his eyes, he just barely caught sight of a blur of red bouncing off of the wall to his side, right before he got a knee to his face, throwing him back with a cry of pain. This made Loz stumble back with a choked sound of surprise, before he screamed as there was a surge of energy that slammed into his face and catapulted him back and into the wall.

Before Luna could fall to the ground, though, she was caught by an arm around her waist, keeping her upright.

“Zidane…? Is it really you?” she asked softly, looking at the owner of the steadying arm.

While the person holding her up did look like Zidane to a degree, what made her hesitate was the now glowing red hair that didn’t just frame his face, but the similarly colored red fur that covered his arms, legs, and the majority of his torso, which completely replaced the clothes he had been wearing only moments ago. His eyes were glowing a pure blue color and were brimming with anger as his gaze fell on the redhead across the hall, who, much like everyone else, was staring at him in shock, as he stumbled back.

Snarling from the back of his throat, the Genome set down Luna on her feet, he kicked off from the ground and he was on the other side of the hall in an instant. Before the man even had the chance to back off, Zidane slammed his palm into his chest, detonating a surge of blue energy against him and throwing him all the way down the hall to slam into—and then THROUGH—the wall.

Prompto’s and Luna’s eyes were wide, both blondes watching the Genome as he attacked the sick bastard who had captured Prompto, Zidane, and Joshua in the first place. Prompto was quick to shield Joshua from watching as Zidane did this, not wanting the poor boy to be scared of the other Genome who had helped him.

Thankfully, Joshua had kept his eyes shut during the vast majority of the fighting, so he hadn’t actually seen it happen, but it was still better to keep the poor boy in the dark for the moment.

While the remaining guards by the man’s side had snapped out of it by then, it was already too late as Zidane let out a scream, a wave of fiery energy erupting around him and throwing each and every one of them backwards, some of them screaming as they tried to put out the flames licking at their clothes.

Snarling, Zidane turned toward where the man was struggling to get up from amidst the remains of the wall. However, before he could lunge for him again, his arm brought up with energy brimming along his palm, someone grabbed him by his wrist to stop him.

“LET GO OF ME!!”

“That is enough, Zidane.”

Upon that voice, the Genome froze in alarm, as his anger cleared momentarily. When he looked over, his eyes widened, and he looked like he wanted to speak, but he couldn’t bring anything out.

And Kiryu merely watched him quietly, his hand still firmly gripping the shorter male's wrist. “Enough. It’s over,” he said simply.

“……” Zidane breathed heavily for a few moments more, before he wearily nodded, the energy in his hand dissipating…before he collapsed into the Lord’s arms, the glow disappearing from around him as the fur was almost instantly replaced with his clothes again.

“…what the hell?” Noctis breathed softly, still a little unsure of what had just happened.

“It’s called Trance,” Prompto murmured, still stunned as he gazed at his friend, collapsed in Lord Kiryu’s arms. He knew who the man really was, but didn’t want to voice it when they weren’t out of the woods just yet. When Noctis looked at him curiously, he explained. “We’d only heard of it as being a legend, through the shopkeepers in Bran Bal. I don’t know how Zidane managed to tap into going Trance, though. Maybe because Luna was threatened, but I’m not entirely sure.”

Noctis tilted his head briefly, even as Kiryu lifted the shorter Genome and quietly walked over. “Lady Lunafreya,” he said as he reached her, “would you be so kind as to look after him for a moment?”

“Of course,” the blonde woman nodded immediately, holding her Genome close as Kiryu set him with her. As she wrapped her arms around him, though, Joshua squirmed against Prompto, trying to get loose from the Genome’s grip.

“Joshua? What’re you doing?” the taller Genome asked, trying to keep him still.

Upon the question, Kiryu stood up and turned his head toward Prompto silently, before he turned completely, took a few steps, and then crouched down. And just as he did and held out his arms, Joshua managed to squirm loose and scrambled toward the silver-haired male.

“Papaaaaaa!!” he cried, just before he jumped into the man’s waiting arms, where he was immediately pulled into a hug.

“Ssshh…hush now, Joshua…hush…it’s fine… Papa’s here…sshh…” he murmured as he ran a hand through the sobbing boy’s hair. Prompto couldn’t help the fond smile, even as he approached.

“Told ya we’d get you back to your dad,” he chuckled.

Joshua sniffled as Kiryu stood up with the small boy in his arms, gently rubbing his back as he watched Aranea drag the guy Zidane had knocked through the wall up again. “Aranea, be a dear and take Ardyn up, will you? I’ll deal with him properly later.”

“You got it, Boss,” the woman chuckled as she dragged the man after her (after knocking him unconscious).

Sighing softly, Kiryu turned to the others. “Let us return topside, shall we?”

Noctis frowned, before he nodded, dismissing his blade again, before he walked over to Prompto. “Are you okay?” he asked of the Genome as he placed a hand on his shoulder.

Instead of replying immediately, Prompto hugged Noctis tightly, not wanting to let go for fear of this all being a sick, twisted dream to make him think he was free. Noctis flinched in surprise, before he sighed softly and wrapped his arms around the blonde to ensure him it was okay, and that he wasn’t just dreaming.

After about half a minute, though, the blonde felt a sudden tingle run through his body, and he pondered it for a split second before shaking it off and murmuring, “I am now.”

Noctis smiled softly, gently rubbing his shoulders before he stepped back. “C’mon…let’s go.”

“Yeah,” the smaller male nodded, his tail drooping out of exhaustion as the group began to head back to the surface. Ravus carried Zidane for Luna, as his sister followed closely.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Once they exited the underground auction house, they returned to Kiryu’s office, though the man briefly paused to address Lani, requesting her to prepare a drink for Joshua, who was still clinging to his father’s chest. Upon entering the room, Kiryu sighed and gestured for everyone to take a seat wordlessly. Prompto sat close to Noctis by the fireplace, while Luna remained with Zidane on the sofa. Ravus sat next to Luna, and Gladio merely stood by Noctis and Prompto, due to the lack of seating at this point.

“…Is it really you?” Prompto finally asked the Lord.

“…” Kiryu didn’t respond right away from where he was seated in his own chair, Joshua settled upon his lap, still sniffling on occasion. But finally, the man smirked softly and said, “It’s been a while…Prompto.”

At those words, Noctis’s eyes widened and he turned to Prompto and then to Kiryu. “You…know each other?!”

“Yeah, but I didn’t know he was going by Lord Kiryu now,” Prompto smiled slightly. “It’s been what? Seven years since we saw you?”

“More or less,” Kiryu chuckled out, as Joshua finally calmed down enough to look around. “I’m glad to see you both doing well… I’d not have expected you boys to catch the eye of royalty, though.”

“And I never expected you to have a son,” the blonde replied.

“What’s going on here? How do you guys know each other?” Gladio demanded, bewildered.

“Bran Bal…that’s how,” came a familiar voice from the sofa. Luna gasped, and then looked down to see the familiar blue gaze, albeit a very tired one, looking at her.

“Zidane! Oh goddess, I’m so glad you’re okay,” she breathed, holding him close.

“Gah! O-oy! Easy there easy!” the Genome got out, his tail snapping out rapidly. “I still need to breathe, yanno?!”

“Sorry! I was worried about you…” she murmured, but loosened her grip on him somewhat.

“Yeah, I get it, sorry,” Zidane said as he sat up properly, stretching briefly.

“Good morning, sleepyhead,” Kiryu chuckled out.

“Oh buzz off, Kuja! ‘s Not even morning yet,” Zidane grumbled in annoyance.

“‘Kuja’??” came the chorused question from the others.

‘Lord Kiryu’ chuckled casually at the confused response, before he said, “Ah, yes, my bad. I fear I’ve not even properly introduced myself before,” as he reached up and calmly removed his hat from his head…revealing that the feathers they’d believed to be part of the hat actually were coming out from his hair. “My name is Kuja Kiryu, as it has been for the past 5 years since I was accepted as part of this family,” he said calmly.

“It’s nice to see you again, though, Kuja,” Prompto chuckled, settling into Noctis’s side. “It’s been far too long. I still can’t believe I couldn’t tell Joshua was your kid, considering he’s a Genome, too. He’s almost a carbon copy of you.”

“Wait… ‘Genome’?!” Noctis got out in surprise.

Kuja merely smirked as he shifted forward a little, before a long, silver-furred tail slipped out from behind him, waving at them as if it was greeting them.

“Yeah…really shoulda figured that…” Zidane said with a chuckle. “He’s just a lot cuter than you are.”

“Charming as always, aren’t you, Zidane?” Kuja chuckled out.

Meanwhile, Joshua blinked as Prompto and Zidane talked about him, looking back and forth between Prompto and his father. “…Papa? You know them?”

“Yes, I do, dear…they’re…well, I suppose you could say they are your uncles, Joshua.”

“I’m flattered, Kuja,” Prompto snickered. “But he’s a good kid. You’ve raised him well so far.”

“So this is the other Genome you told me about, Zidane,” Luna realized, looking at the shorter blonde.

“Yeah, this’s him,” Zidane quipped with a chuckle.

“Speaking of…” Kuja murmured, as he reached for the back of Joshua’s pants. After a little bit of wriggling, he finally got the small boy’s tail out from his pants, which made the limb wag happily behind the small boy. “There we go. Better?”

Joshua giggled as he nodded his small head.

“Always nice, huh?” Prompto chuckled. “So, Kuja, what about the first two years after we last saw you? You said you’ve been here for five, right?”

“Six,” Kuja corrected, ruffling his son’s hair as the boy got himself comfy. “I merely took on the name five years ago.” Before he could continue his tale, though, there was a knock on the door. The man hummed briefly, before he called, “Enter.”

Lani did, stepping inside with a tray with a single, steaming cup on top of it. Nodding briefly in respect, she walked over to Kuja and lowered the tray to the small boy in the Lord’s lap. Joshua smiled happily as he reached out and carefully took the cup off. “Thank you, Lani!” he chirped. The woman merely nodded, before she left the room again.

Once the door was closed again, and Joshua was happily sipping from whatever drink had been prepared for him, Kuja continued. “As for what happened that first year…that isn’t important.”

“Oy, Kuj…” Zidane mumbled with a frown.

“It isn’t, Zidane,” Kuja reiterated.

“…Okay fine. Suit yourself,” the other Genome mumbled.

Prompto shrugged. “No point in dwelling on the past. What matters is the here and now,” he said simply, but then yawned as he rested against Noctis.

Kuja chuckled at the yawn. “I believe Prompto has a point; it is getting late. Perhaps we should continue our conversation in the morning,”

“How can you STILL be sleepy?” Zidane questioned of his friend with a laugh. “We just woke up barely an hour ago!”

“We went through a lot today,” the taller blonde pouted at the shorter male.

Noctis chuckled softly. “Perhaps we should head back to the hotel, then…”

“Ah, actually, if you wish, you may also spend the night here,” Kuja offered just then. “While I likely cannot provide the same comfort you are used to within the walls of the Citadel, I like to believe that we do provide more than the hotels we have here.”

The prince frowned a bit. “Are you sure? We don’t mean to intrude…”

“You aren’t, I assure you, Your Highness,” Kuja said with a smile. “Plus, I would feel much better with these two troublemakers within my sights so shortly after escaping trouble again.”

“Hey!!” Zidane and Prompto cried out simultaneously.

Luna smiled in amusement, relieved that Zidane was back to normal. “Don’t worry, we’ll keep them in line,” she assured Kuja.

“I'm sure you will, Milady,” Kuja murmured…but there was something to his voice that made the Genomes look at him oddly. “In any event…” he said as he rose to his feet. “If we are all in agreement about the arrangements, allow me to show you your chambers.”

Chapter Text

Prompto yawned widely as he settled himself in the large bed he and Noctis were to share for the night.

“You coming to bed soon, Noctis?” he called out to the raven. Despite his prior panicked thoughts of sharing a bed with Noctis, he was quite comfortable at the moment.

Noctis chuckled softly. “Yeah, yeah, give me a moment…”

However, before he could join his companion, there was a knock on the door.

“I wonder who it is…” Prompto murmured.

“I can hazard a guess…” Noct murmured, moving to the door. After undoing the lock and opening the door, he almost snorted as his guess was confirmed. “Lord Kiryu,” he said with a brief nod.

“Your Highness,” Kuja greeted politely in return. “I apologize if I was interrupting…but there is a very important matter we need to discuss.”

“Oh, well…sure. In that case—”

“In private, actually,” the Genome said as Noctis was about to step back and allow him to enter.

“Beg your pardon?”

“I’ll be okay, Noct. Kuja’s fine,” Prompto assured the prince, lying back on the bed to get more comfortable.

Noctis regarded Prompto for a moment, before he nodded. “Right…I’ll be right back,” he promised, before he stepped out of the room. After he nodded to Prompto one more time, he shut the door and turned to Kuja. “I assume you’ve arranged a room for this, correct.”

“That I have, Your Highness,” Kuja admitted with a nod. “But before we go there…”

Rather than answer, he began to walk further down the hall. Noctis frowned as he followed after, and then watched as Kuja knocked on another door. Which he recognized as Luna and Zidane’s door. Luna opened it, and blinked, surprised, when she saw Kuja and Noctis.

“Lord Kiryu,” she smiled. “How can I help you?”

“Lady Lunafreya,” Kuja greeted with a polite nod. “I apologize if I am disturbing you, but I was wondering if you could spare some time to speak in private?”

Upon those words (almost a perfect mirror of what was said to him), Noctis seemed to realize what this “private matter” was about.

“Not at all. Let me just leave a note for Zidane, or else he’ll worry,” she nodded, and quickly wrote out a note, telling Zidane that Kuja needed to speak with her, and she would be back soon. Once she was done, she set it on top of the bed, where Zidane would see it. She then left the room, shutting the door softly behind her.

“Yes…he does worry about his companions quite a lot,” Kuja murmured, a small smile on his face.

After shaking the matter off, the older Genome gestured for the two Royals to follow him, and they did so without a word. Before long, this brought them to a simple door at the end of the hall, which Kuja opened quietly before stepping aside and beckoning the pair to enter first.

Luna looked at Noctis, curious, and then entered the room first, followed by the raven shortly after.

It was a fairly simple room; in fact, it didn’t seem the least bit different from the other guest rooms they’d seen, except for the obvious personal touches here and there.

Once they were inside, Kuja stepped inside and shut the door. “Right, I do apologize again for—” Suddenly Kuja stopped mid-sentence and blinked, before he snorted and quickly covered his mouth to muffle his chuckles.

And when Noctis and Luna looked over, they realized why he had done so.

Noctis bit back a small chuckle of his own, smiling as he took in the small, sleeping boy curled up in one of the heavy armchairs. He was dressed in his sleepwear already and was holding fast onto a big stuffed Moogle with both his arms and tail, though the poor plush looked like it was about to fall to the ground at any moment.

“How precious,” Luna smiled softly, keeping her voice down so as not to wake the young Genome.

“Sneaky little rascal is what he is,” Kuja murmured, before he moved over and gently lifted the boy up from the armchair, catching the Moogle before it could hit the floor. “But I suppose it’s only reasonable…” he added softly as he briefly kissed the sleeping boy’s forehead. “After all that’s happened today…”

Noctis didn’t say anything, but he did clench his fist briefly at the reminder, before shaking it off. ‘It’s fine…’ he thought to himself. ‘He's fine... they’re all fine…’

Luna shivered lightly herself, reminded of what had happened, too. Shaking it off, she asked, “What did you need to speak with us in private about, Lord Kiryu?” she asked.

Kuja took his time to respond, gently running his fingers through his son’s hair. But finally, he spoke, though he didn’t turn to face them just yet.

“I do believe…I owe you an apology.”

“An apology?” Noctis questioned with a suspicious frown.

“For Amarant’s pursuit of you in the Crown City.”

“So you did know about that? Why did you have Amarant follow us?” Luna frowned.

“Not necessarily you, Milady…” Kuja said as he turned around. “More so your companions.”

Noctis’s eyes widened in surprise, before the whole situation began to dawn on him, as well as Kuja’s reasoning for having Amarant follow them. “Zidane and Prompto?”

“Correct,” the Genome said as he moved over to the bed and tucked his son in. “You are likely aware that…not everyone is as kind to Genomes as they should be.” After running his hand along the boy’s head one more time, he walked back. “Upon receiving news that they had already been purchased, I requested Amarant to look into their new ‘owners’… and also to see if there was a need to take them over.”

“And we’ve been good to them, as you’ve seen,” Luna assured him, slightly irritated by the idea of Kuja taking Zidane and Prompto from them.

“Yes, I am aware of this now…but please keep in mind, Milady, upon first hearing of their purchase, this knowledge was unknown to me,” Kuja said, remaining polite despite the clear hostility aimed at him. “As much as I am opposed to the buying and selling of fellow Genomes—your companions included—it was a sacrifice I was prepared to make if it would ensure their safety. I am well aware this does not excuse the hassle I have caused through this, yet I feel that an apology is the least I can do.”

As he finished saying this, he shut his eyes and bowed deeply from his waist.

“Luna…” Noctis whispered softly as he took hold of her hand, squeezing briefly before letting go and turning to Kuja. “We understand…losing one’s family is certainly no small matter, and I can respect your desire to see them safe…but was there no other way?”

“From my own experiences…there were very little, Your Highness,” Kuja admitted without lifting his head. “Had owners like yourselves been more prominent, perhaps I would have reacted differently…but as things are…well…” He shook his head softly. “Please forgive this old fool’s grievous errors, Milord, Milady.”

“As long as you know they’re well off with us, then all is forgiven,” Luna smiled faintly.

“Thank you, Milady,” Kuja said, bowing only a fraction deeper, before he finally straightened up. “Now that that is out of the way… I believe it is best to come to the point.”

“Right,” Noctis agreed, as he and Luna moved over to a pair of arm chairs while Kuja took the one he had just lifted Joshua from.

“Before I start, let me ask you…are you aware of what the Genomes were originally designed for?”

“They were designed to aid with fertility issues, weren’t they?” Luna guessed.

“Correct,” Kuja confirmed with a small nod as he locked his fingers together. “Unfortunately, during the earliest stages of its development, it was never confirmed if this was actually accomplished, due to the earliest Genomes being born without a soul. Because of this “fatal” error, there was never the opportunity to test this…”

Noctis hummed softly as he considered the words. “But I suppose it’s safe to say that part of the development was successful. Correct?”

“…Yes…and no.”

“Hmm? What do you mean?” the blonde woman frowned.

“While it is true that I was able to sire a child, I fear this is not universally shared on default,” Kuja explained calmly. “In order for a Genome to become fertile…certain factors must be met.”

“And I assume one of these is to have a soul, hmm?” the prince of Lucis asked.

“It would help, yes, but it isn’t necessarily required.”

“It’s not?”

“What other factors are there?” Luna questioned, now curious.

“It isn’t possible for Genomes to bear or sire children with other Genomes. They can only do so with normal humans,” Kuja said solemnly. “This may just be an engineering error…or this may have been deliberate, but I truly cannot say for certain.” He waited for a moment for the pair to absorb that knowledge, before continuing. “However, the most important factor into ensuring fertility…well, I simply refer to it simply as a ‘bond’, between a human and Genome.”

“…a bond?”

Luna frowned curiously, but the Genome had their full attention.

“This is basically a connection formed between human and Genome, but only Genomes will be aware of it forming…that is, if they know what to look for,” Kuja said with a small shrug. “It usually takes a little more than a minute to form, but it takes only a few seconds to complete. As such, it’s easily missed.”

“…While we appreciate the info…is there a reason you’re telling us this?” Noct asked.

Kuja didn’t respond immediately before he said simply, “Because I believe Zidane has already formed a bond with Lady Lunafreya.”

“Wait, what? Why do you believe that?” Luna asked, confused.

“Simple; do you remember when you were in danger below the auction house, what happened to Zidane? What his anger turned him into?”

“Yeah. Prompto said he went ‘Trance’,” Luna nodded, remembering.

“Correct. What he may not have known, however, is that Trance is something that is triggered through a powerful surge of emotion…one that is enhanced through a bond.”

“What does this mean for him, though?” the blonde inquired, now somewhat worried for Zidane.

“Very little behavior wise, I assure you,” Kuja said calmly. “However…there may be some…‘involuntary responses’ that he’ll be unfamiliar with.”

“Oh god…” Noctis groaned, putting a hand to his face. “Is this going where I think it’s going?”

Kuja merely smirked at the response, not seeming the least bit affected. “Down south, and rather swiftly, Your Highness.”

“I was afraid of that…”

Luna blushed a pretty shade of pink at the words, but then asked, “But what about Prompto? Is there any way to tell other than forcing him into Trance?”

Kuja hummed thoughtfully, putting a hand to his chin, before he shrugged with a small smirk playing on his lips. “Well, I suppose the easiest way in this particular situation would be to get him pregnant.”

At those words, both royals spluttered in alarm and stared at Kuja incredulously. “I-I beg your pardon?! But he’s a—”

“Oh I’m well aware what he is, Your Highness…but the researchers of Bran Bal took no chances,” Kuja said with a chuckle. “They considered every angle…so, yes, male Genomes are in fact capable of both siring and bearing children.”

Luna stared at Kuja, before looking at Noctis, wondering if he even saw Prompto in that way. If he does, great, but what if he doesn’t want to be with him? Prompto would probably be crushed, seeing as he’s so close to the raven.

“That is, of course,” Kuja said suddenly, his expression sobering up, “IF a bond already exists… As I said; only the Genome would be able to tell, but it’s such a minute feeling, that it’s easily dismissed.”

“…And if there is?" Noctis asked after a moment. “How high is the chance that he’d…be impregnated?"

“Difficult to say,” the older Genome admitted. “Most Genomes seem to run on ‘periods’, much like most human females do…but they don’t seem to have as many indicators of when it starts or ends.”

“…I see…” the prince murmured thoughtfully, considering what Kuja had just told them.

If what he was saying was the truth and he and Prompto had formed a bond, then it would mean that the blonde would be able to bear a child. The main questions regarding that, though, was how he felt about the Genome, and was that something he was prepared to deal with?

He wasn’t sure about being a father just yet (he was barely 20 for god’s sake!), and as for his feelings for Prompto…well, he wouldn’t lie and say there wasn’t affection there for the freckled blonde. But was that enough to justify an actual relationship?

“He clearly adores you, Noctis,” Luna murmured. “I’ve watched how you two interact, and to me, it’s like you’re his world.”

“…I know,” Noctis murmured in turn.

Kuja allowed the pair to digest the information for a few moments, before he decided to speak again. “I am aware that this is a lot to take in, and I am sure that you might be unsure of what to do, but I believed it to be better to inform you of this matter sooner, rather than later.”

“Right… Thank you, Lord Kiryu, we appreciate it.”

“Thank you,” Luna nodded, before standing with a tired sigh. “I’d best return, or else Zidane will worry, I’m sure…”

Noctis nodded as he followed her lead. “Right… I’m sure Prompto’s also wondering what’s taking so long…”

Kuja chuckled as he rose to his feet as well. “I’m sure they are……Ah, right. One more thing; about Ardyn…”

“Ardyn?” Noctis questioned.

“Oh, you know…the ‘kind gentleman’ Zidane used to wreck a wall?” Kuja chuckled softly.

“What about him?”

“I just wish to reassure you that I’ll see to the man's punishment myself, Milady,” Kuja said with a smile. “I’ll make sure he won’t dare to attempt such foolishness ever again.”

Noctis blinked, before he frowned. “Wait…you aren’t planning to…?”

“Kill him?” Kuja said with a chuckle, before he waved his hand. “Oh no, no, Your Highness. Death is too swift and too easy a punishment. Besides; what will one learn from being given death, hmm?”

“…I suppose you have a point…”

“As long as we’re ensured safety from him, that’s what I care about,” Luna huffed.

Kuja smiled and then bowed graciously at her. “You have my word, Milady. He shall be of no more bother to either yourself or your companions.”

“Thank you, Lord Kiryu,” Noctis said with a firm nod. While he was still not sure what Kuja had in store, perhaps it was better he didn’t know…

Luna was on the same mindset, but thanked Kuja anyway before leaving back to her room, and Noctis back to his.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Once Noctis and Luna had left the room, shutting the door behind them quietly (for Joshua’s sake, no doubt), Kuja’s expression turned absolutely livid, as a pale red glow began to surround his eyes. He breathed heavily for a few moments, before he exhaled and regarded his sleeping son. The poor boy was still fast asleep under the covers, still cuddling with the oversized Moogle plushy that Kuja had bought him a few years ago.

Any other day, Kuja would’ve been gushing about how cute the little boy was, and how much he inadvertently acted like his mother by snuggling against a much larger “pillow”, but that particular night, the feeling was overshadowed by an overwhelming sense of relief, simply for having his son be there at his side. Pushing his rage aside, Kuja walked up to his little boy and sat down softly. He watched him for a moment, before he reached out and gently ran his fingers through the boy’s curly hair. Joshua gave a small mewling sound, before he smiled and snuggled his face further in the plushy.

Kuja managed a small smile as he watched his son continue to sleep, before he slowly rose to his feet and quietly headed for the door.

“…Papa?”

He froze, hand on the doorknob, before he sighed softly and walked back to the bed, smiling apologetically. “I’m so sorry, sweetie,” he murmured as Joshua rolled over, rubbing at his eyes. And as he sat down, he asked: “Did I wake you?”

Joshua shook his head, even though Kuja knew he probably had. “Papa… where are you going?”

“Papa needs to finish one small thing, dear,” Kuja said kindly as he reached out and ran a hand through his hair. “I’ll be right back, I promise. Do you want me to leave the light on for you?”

Joshua shook his head again. “…come back soon?”

“Of course I will, dear,” Kuja promised, moving in and lightly kissing his son’s forehead. “Now go on; close your eyes and rest,” he said as he gently tucked the boy in, taking the Moogle and moving it around in front of him. “‘Good boys need their sleep or they’ll just waste the day’s light away, kupo,’” he said with a slightly higher voice to simulate a Moogle’s voice (or what he assumed to be a Moogle’s voice, anyway) as he wriggled the plush around, and Joshua giggled. “‘C’mon, Joshy; let’s take a nice, looong nap while Papa works, okay kupo?’”

The small boy nodded as he reached out and grabbed hold of his plushy again. “Love you, Papa.”

“I love you, too, sweetheart,” Kuja murmured as he gently rubbed the boy’s head. “Now… go to sleep, and I’ll see you in the morning, kay?”

“Kay… night, Papa.”

Once the boy had shut his eyes, Kuja rose to his feet and turned on his heel again, a furious glare coming over him as he walked out the door. Once it was shut, he pulled out his phone and dialed the first speed dial option he had. It took only a single ring for the other end to pick up.

“Yeah, Boss?”

“Have you finished the preparations, Aranea?”

“Sure thing, sir. Want me to help?”

“No,” Kuja said simply as he turned a corner, moved a tapestry aside, and stepped into the hidden entrance. “I will deal with this personally. Get some rest, dear. You’ve earned it.”

“Aaawww, thanks, Boss~” Aranea gushed over the phone. “You have fun, love.”

“Oh I plan to,” Kuja said as he descended the stairs, a cold, malicious smirk breaking over his face. “I plan to enjoy this very much. Good night, dear.”

“Night night~”

And then he hung up again, flicking his phone to silent before tucking it back away, his smirk almost turning into a downright evil grin as the red glow around his eyes grew more and more intense until almost the entire hallway was alight because of it.

The room was dark as Kuja entered, even with the few candles scattered around, but they still allowed him to get his bearings properly. And it allowed him to spot Ardyn easily; hooked up as he was to the large Y-shaped construct, arms above his head and a metal ring secured around his waist, keeping him trapped against where he was. The jacket had been discarded, as had that ridiculous fedora, and the shoes, as well.

This would make his job much easier.

Smirking icily, eyes alight in a combination of manic glee and rage, Kuja stepped up to the man. “Oooh, Aardyyyyn~” he crooned as he reached up, dragging his long fingers along the man’s cheek. When there was no response, his smirk grew as he pulled his hand back. “Rise and shine~”

SMACK

The man gave a sharp cry when Kuja’s hand struck him across the cheek, startling him back into consciousness. “Wh…wha…?”

“Good morning, sunshine~” the Auction House’s Lord said with a small, evil smirk along his face. “Sleep well?”

Adryn blinked his eyes open, before he seemed to recognize the man before him and he tried to smirk… until he noticed his restraints. Startled, the taller male tried to break free of the restraints, but they wouldn’t budge an inch.

Kuja resisted the urge to smirk even wider than he already was, placing an arm across his waist and placing the other along his chin and jaw, merely watching as Ardyn fought against his bindings a moment longer. Finally, though, he stopped his pointless struggling, and Kuja was half-expecting the man to panic, to get enraged, or simply react in a violent matter like so many others before him… but no such thing happened.

“Ah, well… it’s been rather pleasant,” the man said with a half-shrug (as best as he could). “The wakeup call was much less so.”

This comment should’ve angered him… should’ve made him snap and lash out… but Kuja found himself fighting a cruel, evil smirk. ‘Yes… play it up, Ardyn… let’s see how long that lasts, hm?

“Oh? Well, you were being very lazy. Was I to let you sleep the day away, hm?” the Genome fairly purred out.

Ardyn actually chuckled at the comment, a small smirk of his own on his face. “I suppose that would be a waste, hm?” he said calmly. “Though I must ask, Milord; what brings you here, hm?”

Kuja could feel a twitch of anger in his temple, but he did well to keep his face perfectly composed. “Is it not obvious, dear?” he drawled slowly, his smirk expanding into a grin. “You broke quite a few rules today alone… and it seems you have for a while already…” He let those words sink in for a moment, before he began to lazily list the rules broken. “You went behind my back and auctioned off items that the rules state are illegal. You know; weapons, addictive substances… I’m actually shocked you got hold of those here, but I digress… slaves, which were primarily Genomes. And you know very well of the rules stating that neither of these are permitted to be sold upon these grounds. And whether or not you took it underground, you still did it on the grounds of the Auction House, making them viable to breaking the rules.” Once he had finished that, Kuja allowed a slow smirk. “So… taking all that into account, I believe it’s only fair you’re justly disciplined, hm?”

“Aaahh,” Ardyn drawled out as well, smirking absently. “I see… so you will be my executioner then? Quite the honor, Lord.”

Kuja couldn’t help himself then; he laughed. But it was not a happy laugh; this was a cold, heartless laugh. “Executioner? Oooh no, no, dear,” the Genome murmured as he stepped forward, and then reached out and lifted Ardyn’s chin. “I believe death to be too easy… too swift… hardly a suitable punishment for someone who’s broken as many rules as you have.”

While Ardyn’s attention was on his face, Kuja reached to the side and picked up the item that Aranea had set ready for him. He made a mental note to properly reward the woman for her hard work later.

“Oh?” He tried to act cool, but Kuja could feel the subtle tremble along his chin. “Intriguing… so what is the plan, sir?”

“I’m glad you asked~”

Riiiiiiiip!

Ardyn—understandably—yowled at the cold steel that just barely graced his skin as Kuja dragged it up, tearing through the fabric of his shirt. It didn’t draw blood, but it certainly rendered his shirt as good as useless. And even more so when Kuja snapped his hand out again, tearing through the sleeves, making it slip down to hang along the man’s waist.

The silver-haired Genome smirked as he slid his thumb along the flat of the knife’s blade he was holding, just barely not chuckling openly. “You know what I’ve learned over the years, dear?” he said as he set the knife against the man’s belt, and then slipped it under. “No matter how much you physically hurt someone…” he purred as he snapped the knife up, cutting through the leather almost easily, “eventually… it’ll lose its effectiveness. Pain… only gets you sooo far before it becomes useless.”

“O-oh…?” Kuja wanted to laugh at the slight stutter from Ardyn, but he suppressed it as best as he could. “Well then… how do you intend to do this then, hm?”

“Why, by taking a few lessons with me from my country of birth, clearly~” Kuja crooned as he slipped the knife against the thin string of the pants’ button. “Did you know… in Terra… it’s always been forbidden… to draw blood, even during capital punishment?” And with one smooth upward stroke, the button went flying across the room. “Such a silly notion, really… but this allowed them to learn a very valuable lesson…”

The smirk that came across Kuja’s face then, accompanied by the red glow surrounding his now glowing violet eyes, was nothing short of predatory.

Pain can be overcome… pain can be ignored… pain is something you can bear if you have the strength of will… but pleasure…” A coldly amused chuckle rumbled from the Lord’s throat as realization dawned for his captive and an inkling of dread spread in his face. “So… Ardyn~” he purred as the knife bit into the material of his pants, “let’s see how long you can last, ne?”

Chapter Text

When Luna returned back to her room, she looked for Zidane, expecting him to be on the bed waiting for her, which he surprisingly wasn’t. Then she noticed the door to the balcony open, and she went over to see the shorter blonde out there.

“Zidane?” she murmured. The Genome in question didn’t seem to have heard her, as his gaze was aimed at the city beyond the window. He was leaning on his elbows on the railing, wearing just some loose pants to sleep in, as his tail swayed and curled around his feet. “Hey,” she said, this time a little louder as she stepped up to stand beside him.

Zidane hummed as he glanced over briefly, before he turned back to look ahead of him. “Hey…” he said after a moment.

“You look like you have something on your mind,” she murmured. “Wanna talk about it?”

“…Ah, ‘s nothing, really,” Zidane said with a small shrug of his shoulders. “Just taking in the sights…yanno?”

“Zidane…”

“It’s fine, don’t worry ‘bout it.”

“I can’t help but worry, especially if you’re not being yourself or your energy is forced,” she chided.

Zidane didn’t answer immediately. But finally he said as he straightened up and turned to face Luna with a smile, “Really, it’s nothing. I’m just fi—…”

But just as quickly, his smile faded and he fell silent.

“I’m here for you, Zidane, you know that. Please, just tell me what’s going on,” Luna pleaded softly.

“…” Zidane didn't say anything for a long moment; he just stared at her in silence.

However, before she could ask again, he brought up his hand and reached for her neck, pushing lightly against the skin there. A small, pained gasp escaped Luna, and she realized that when she had been grabbed earlier, she had been bruised.

The gasp instantly made Zidane’s expression darken in a brief flash of anger, but he just as easily shook it off. Instead of saying anything about it, though, he took Luna by her wrist and walked back inside, lightly tugging her after him.

“Zidane…?” Luna murmured, concerned. The Genome didn’t say anything as he walked over to the bed, where he gently pushed her down to sit on the end. Once she was seated, Zidane wordlessly pointed down to the ground, giving her a slightly pointed look, before he speed-walked toward the bathroom, his tail snapping out behind him in a clear display of anger, even when his face displayed nothing.

“Zidane…” Luna whispered, not sure what he was doing.

After some brief sounds of the Genome rummaging around in the bathroom, he came back out, this time carrying a small tube in his right hand. As he reached her again, he still refused to speak a word as he uncapped the tube (which appeared to be some type of ointment) and tipped it over to pour some of its contents in his other hand. Before Luna could asked about it, he took over the tube in his tail, briefly spread the ointment over both his palms and fingers, before he stepped up until one knee rested on the bed beside her. And then he reached out and began to gently rub the ointment along the darkened skin.

Luna’s breath hitched slightly at the touch, before she relaxed, remaining still for him. Even as he spread the ointment over his skin, alternating between using his full hands to just using his fingers, Zidane refused to speak a word. He curled his hands fully around her neck, rubbing lightly as his fingers twirled around the back of her neck in small circles.

…but finally;

“…fun fact…”

“Hmm?” Luna hummed, looking at her companion curiously.

“If Prompt was here…he’d tell me to shut up and calm down.”

This drew a light laugh from the blonde woman. “Surprising, considering you’re both oftentimes hyper.”

“Not when I’m screaming bloody murder up in here,” Zidane said simply as he reached back and tapped his own temple.

“I’m sorry, Zidane…” Luna murmured.

The blonde Genome didn’t respond immediately, before he went back to rubbing her throat. “…don’t be…” he said finally. “…that’s my line…”

“You have no reason to be sorry. It was out of your control,” she pointed out.

“Yes I do, and no it wasn’t…” Zidane said solemnly, rubbing along her shoulders. “Who was the one insisting upon leaving the hospital?”

“Still…”

“Don’t,” Zidane murmured, moving his thumbs along her collarbone. “Just…don’t…”

The blonde woman shivered lightly at the touch, before looking at her companion. “Okay. I won’t dwell any further on it as long as you don’t.”

Like that, they stayed for a few silent moments, with Zidane continuing the rub the ointment along the skin tenderly.

Eventually, though, the silence seemed to finally be getting to the blonde and he had to break it.

“So…what’d Kuj have to say?”

“He wanted to apologize for Amarant, that Coral man, for chasing us in the Crown City. He wanted to ensure that you and Prompto had been brought into a good home, and if not, bring you both to him,” she explained.

That actually made Zidane snort on a chuckle. "Yeah, wouldn’t put it past him to do that…” he mumbled. “Took his sweet time explaining it, didn’t he?”

“He was being thorough, and Joshua snuck in to sleep, so we were being quiet for his sake,” she replied.

“Ah. That explains that…” Zidane murmured as he moved back a bit, though he kept his hands on her shoulders. “Feel any better?”

“Yes, it feels better now, thank you,” Luna smiled warmly.

For a moment, Zidane looked like he was about to say something, but he almost choked as he felt his heart suddenly skip a beat, before it picked up its pace, as if to make up for the second it had just wasted. Somehow, he was barely able to keep his breathing even, but his tail instinctively curled up tighter—resulting in the ointment being squirted out all over them. “Ah shit!” Zidane yowled.

“Ah!” Luna gasped, instinctively shielding her face with her hands to keep the ointment from getting in her eyes.

“Sorry, sorry!” Zidane apologized quickly, before he ran into the bathroom to collect a washcloth, tossing the stupid tube in the trash before he hurried back and began to clean off the ointment. “Didn’t mean to do that…”

“It’s okay,” she assured him. “Are you okay, though?”

“I’m fine,” Zidane assured her, as he dabbed at her face to remove the ointment carefully. “Was just thinking I still gotta whack Kuj up the head for keeping us waiting…”

“Keeping you waiting?” Luna repeated, puzzled.

“He said he’d get us out when he was bought…so yeah, he kept us waiting.”

“Well, it all worked out in the end, though,” she pointed out.

“I guess…” Zidane mumbled with a shrug as he wiped some ointment from her cheek…and then he paused. Luna blinked slowly, watching Zidane curiously.

The Genome remained standing there like that for a long moment, watching Luna with an off look that was difficult to place. And, unbeknownst to her, his heart was once more pounding in his ribcage, but this time his breathing actually did pick up marginally.

‘Wha…what the hell…? What is…?’

“…Zidane?”

He tried to speak, but, for some reason, his voice wasn’t working like it should, so his mouth was just opening and closing like that of a fish. For some reason his hands were feeling exceedingly clammy, and his mouth felt as dry as parchment, making it even more difficult to speak as his pulse raced within his throat.

Yet amidst those confusing feelings, he was struck by a strange urge he’d never had before, as his eyes flicked down a little before snapping back up.

“…hey, Luna?”

“Hmm?”

Zidane opened his mouth one more time, before he shut it, lost in thought. Eventually, he dropped the washcloth and reached out, placing both his hands on Luna’s shoulders. “If…I do something really stupid…would you do me a favor…and just slap me?”

“What? Why?” Luna yelped.

“Just…promise…?”

“O…okay…”

“…kay…cool…” Zidane murmured, as he leaned forward a little, once more putting one knee on the bed beside her as he curled his fingers a little around her shoulders. The blonde woman watched the shorter male, having a feeling his bond’s urges were taking effect, like Kuja had warned.

No sooner had that thought processed in her mind, Zidane suddenly closed the distance between them and firmly locked their mouths together, his eyes shut just as firmly. Luna, although she’d been expecting this after Kuja’s talk, was still surprised, but found she liked the kiss. So, closing her own eyes, she kissed Zidane back.

When Luna didn’t show any displeasure over the kiss, Zidane relaxed slowly, before he adjusted his position slightly, moving one of his hands from her shoulder up to the back of her head, tilting his head as he moved his mouth slowly against hers, as his tail coiled around her leg slowly.

Luna kissed Zidane back slowly, putting all the love she had for him into the kiss. She shivered lightly at the hand on the back of her head, and at the feeling of his tail around her leg. A small purr-like sound escaped the Genome’s throat as he slipped his lips apart and then licked at Luna’s.

She gave a small shiver, and then parted her lips willingly, slowly wrapping her arms around the Genome’s shoulders. With a small groan, Zidane let his tongue slip past the woman’s lips, his fingers curling his fingers in her hair as he began to explore her mouth slowly. Luna gave a soft moan in response, holding Zidane close.

Just as suddenly, though, Zidane suddenly gasped and pulled away, pushing himself away from Luna at arm’s length with his gaze aimed down as he gasped for breath.

Once Luna had caught her own breath, she looked at Zidane, confused and concerned. “Are you okay?”

“…I…I um…”

“Zidane, it’s okay,” she soothed. “I liked it.”

Zidane slowly raised his head, but when his eyes met hers, she realized that they had darkened significantly. “I…s-sorry…!” he choked out, before he spun around and made to dash off.

“Zidane, wait!” Luna gasped, grabbing his wrist. While he did stop, he didn’t look back at her.

“Zidane, I promise it’s okay, I truly did like it,” she promised in a soft voice.

“……” Zidane didn’t respond to the reassurance, but Luna could feel that he was shaking subtly.

“Zidane. Please look at me?” Zidane didn’t answer verbally; he just shook his head softly. The blonde woman sighed, before forcibly turning the Genome towards her, and then quickly spotting what was wrong, and she blushed a pretty shade of pink.

“Zidane…it’s okay,” she murmured, despite her blush. The Genome still refused to look at her, but when she tried to look under his bangs, she could see quite clearly that the blonde was just as (if not more so) embarrassed about the situation than she was. “I promise, it’s okay,” she soothed, reaching up with her free hand and caressing his cheek gently.

At those words he finally managed to look up, watching Luna with an odd look, his own blush almost going down his neck. “Ho-how is th-this o—”

Luna then pulled him close, initiating her own kiss with him and effectively shutting him up. Zidane barely managed to get a small, startled noise out, his tail coiling in surprise, before he swiftly shut his eyes as he brought up his hands to her shoulders, as if to push her off. This never happened, though, and instead his fingers clasped on firmly but gently, as his tail coiled around her waist and pulled her closer.

She kissed him lovingly, wrapping her arms around his shoulders so he would stay with her. Thankfully, running seemed to be the furthest thing on his mind at that point as he moved one hand to the back of her head once again, while the other slid down her arm before it moved to rest on her hip. And as his tail coiled around her tighter, he lightly nipped on her bottom lip.

Luna parted her lips willingly, allowing him entry, and she tentatively moved her tongue along his. Zidane let out an indistinguishable sound as he let his tongue ‘battle’ with Luna’s before he shifted his foot forward to push against her own. She compliantly moved back to the bed, tangling the fingers of one hand in Zidane’s hair with a small moan.

This made Zidane let out a small moan of his own as his fingers undid her hair to let it tumble onto her back, as he moved his other foot forward, making her take another step backwards. And as he did this again while cradling her head in his hand her heel touched the end of the bed.

Luna fell back on the bed, pulling Zidane with her, and feeling his hardness against her hip, making her blush again. The Genome pulled back then for a moment, breathing heavily as he regarded her for a breathless moment, his eyes darkened with lust.

“…you’ll…” he struggled to get the words out properly. “…you’ll slap me if I do anything stupid…right?”

“You’re perfectly fine…Zidane, but yes,” she replied softly, pecking his lips. Those words made Zidane visibly relax, as he nodded his head, briefly returning the gesture before immediately moving to place kisses along the rest of her face. Meanwhile, his hands were moving through her hair and along her clothed stomach.

Luna sighed, her eyes closing in bliss, and she ran her hand down along the Genome’s spine, caressing his bare back. The touch to his back had the shorter blonde moaning softly against her skin, hissing in his breath. After a moment of simply breathing, he moved to place kisses along the side of her neck, right as the tip of his tail slipped under her shirt and slid along her bare skin.

This drew a shiver from Luna, and she moaned softly at the kissing to her neck. She continued to trail her fingers along Zidane’s back, though. Eventually, when Zidane deemed he didn’t have enough space to work with, he moved back briefly, slipping both hands under her shirt and pushing the material upward.

Luna moaned a little louder at the touch, looking up at the Genome with her own eyes darkened with lust. Meeting the gaze silently, Zidane uncoiled his tail from her waist, only for the furred limb to slip past the material of her skirt, pushing the material down as he tugged her shirt up over her head.

Now almost completely exposed as the skirt fell to the floor and her shirt came off, with only her bra and underwear remaining, Luna shuddered under Zidane’s intense gaze. The blonde Genome merely watched her for a moment, his breath heavy and uneven. He wasn’t even sure what the HELL he was doing, but he found he couldn’t bring himself to stop…and what scared him the most about that was that he didn’t even want to stop.

After a brief, shaky breath, he leaned down and attached his mouth to her collarbone, beginning to bite and suckle along the skin there as his hands played along her sides and his tail coiled firmly around her leg. Luna trembled slightly from the biting and suckling along her collarbone, and soon, she found herself wanting more.

Feeling her trembling under him, Zidane paused briefly, though he didn’t move his lips from where they rested against her flesh, regarding her through his eyelashes as his fingers slipped up and then around to her back. She then gave a small gasp as she felt Zidane’s deft fingers unclasp her bra.

Once it was, his fingers slipped up along her back to her shoulders, as his tail shifted slightly. And as his thumbs slipped under the straps, the furred limb pressed firmly along her panties. Luna shifted her hips slightly, and moved her arms so her bra could come off.

“Zidane…” she whispered, her voice a breathy moan. The sound made Zidane pull back briefly to regard her, but only briefly as he absently tossed her bra aside before he moved in again, placing wet, open-mouthed kisses along her collarbone and gradually moving downward slowly. And through it all, his tail began to rub along the outside of her panties as one of his hands moved down to her hips.

The taller blonde shivered at the touches and kisses, before she moved her hands to the hem of Zidane’s sleep pants, tugging down gently. When he felt her doing so, he moved his head up a little to give her easier access, just as he closed his mouth around her right nipple.

Luna gave a sharp gasp before moaning louder at the sensation. Zidane, in turn, gave a small groan as he reached up and began to fondle her other breast while he licked and sucked on the right. And at the same time, his tail curled around and slipped past the hem of her underwear. The taller blonde shuddered heavily from all the attention Zidane was giving her, before she reached her hand down to his crotch, and palmed his erection.

The sudden touch immediately had Zidane breaking away with a gasp, hips instinctively bucking into the touch, before he bit his lip to stifle a heavy moan, resting his forehead against her collarbone as he tried to keep himself in check. Luna’s other hand moved his hip, caressing the skin there soothingly.

“Lu…na…” the shorter blonde managed to choke out breathlessly, just before he managed to get one hand to move past her panties, slipping two fingers inside her hot, leaking core.

“Ahh…!” she moaned, tossing her head back against the bed, her hands on Zidane’s crotch and hip loosening as she shuddered.

Zidane was gasping for his every breath as he shifted slightly so his mouth was on level with her ear, and choked out, “I…I can’t…I…I need you…please…”

“Then take me…” she breathed, every fiber of her being wanting every part of Zidane. Zidane bit his lip to stop the whimper begging to be let out, reducing it to a small whine, as he removed his hand and used his tail to remove her panties, tossing them away with a quick flick of the furred limb. He pushed off from the bed just a little, watching Luna’s face through half-lidded eyes as he continued to gasp for much-needed air.

And meanwhile, the taller blonde watched him through her own darkened, half-lidded eyes, as she scooted further onto the bed so they would be a bit more comfortable. The Genome wordlessly followed her, and then lifted one of her legs, positioning himself between them with his other hand placed softly on her other thigh.

Luna then nodded to him, wordlessly telling him to move through her own harsh breathing. Returning the nod with his own, Zidane moved forward, and, in one smooth motion, slid into the woman with a half-choked cry. She gave a small cry of her own, unused to the filling sensation Zidane was giving her. Her hands moved to grip Zidane’s shoulders instinctively tight, and her gaze focused on the shorter blonde’s face.

Once Zidane managed to collect himself again (somewhat), he looked down at Luna, before he reached for one of the hands on his shoulders, lifting it and placing small kisses along the inside of her palm, before he moved out and then back in again. Luna felt her heart swell at the kisses to her palm, before she gave a pleasured cry when Zidane began to move inside of her.

His motions were a little uneven at first, as the Genome fought to actually establish a rhythm, but once he had, he entwined his hand with Luna’s and placed it by her head, leaning down to firmly lock their mouths together again, his tail coiling around the leg not held up by his other hand.

Luna kissed him back eagerly, finding that she loved how possessive her now-lover was being, as his tail curled around her leg. She moaned into his mouth, wanting Zidane to know that she truly wanted this as much as he did.

After breaking away for air, briefly, Zidane lifted her leg higher and then moved faster, managing to keep the rhythm going even as he started to kiss and lick along Luna’s neck again, a purring-like sound rumbling from his chest.

The taller blonde shuddered heavily at all the sensations going through her body, moaning and even crying out from all the pleasure. While Zidane had done well to keep most of his own sounds at bay, as the pleasure continued to build up layer upon layer, he found that he couldn’t hold them back and he was moaning amidst his gasps as his hands and tail tightened their grip on Luna. Then he bit his lip sharply as his rhythm almost broke from his own pleasure, before he gave a cry as he tipped over the edge.

As Zidane came inside of her, Luna felt her own orgasm crash over her in pleasurable waves of ecstasy, drawing small gasps and pants from her as she squeezed her eyes shut tight before the orgasm’s effects began to fade. The Genome gasped for breath as he began to come off of his own high, moving back and out of her before he collapsed sideways next to her. Throughout that, though, his tail refused to let her go.

Weakly, Luna reached out and brushed Zidane’s bangs out of his face, smiling tiredly at him. “I love you, Zidane,” she whispered.

Zidane lifted his tired gaze up at her, a hint of curiosity in his still darkened eyes. He’d heard of the term before, of course; it came up in some of the books he’d read (or had attempted to, anyway) back at the Citadel’s library. It tended to just be a bunch of cheesy words and over exaggerated descriptions of feelings so Zidane had quickly opted out of that kind of story. He’d actually consulted a dictionary on it at one point (not that anyone knew that), but that had given him even less of an insight in it. The most that told him was that it was basically affection for another person, only several times stronger than that.

He DID feel very strongly about Luna though…the thought of someone hurting her or doing something to make her cry made him feel strangely protective. And at the same time he wanted to bash the heads in of whoever had tried to do just that. Hell, he actually wanted to go back in time and just beat the hell out of Yazoo and Loz even more than he already had, just so they knew not to get anywhere near Luna.

…it took him a few seconds to realize he was actually using quotes from one of those ‘over exaggerating’ books in his head.

“…is…that what this is…?” he asked slowly, his tail wrapping more firmly along Luna’s leg. “I…don’t know what it’s like…”

“How do you feel about me, Zidane? I can help you to figure out if you love me, too,” Luna smiled softly. She wasn’t upset that he was questioning himself, no. In fact, considering the way he was ‘raised’, she wasn’t surprised he was confused.

Zidane hesitated for a moment, not sure how to even begin to explain himself. Until then, he’d only ever had Prompto to confide anything to, since they were like the only Genomes of their group with actual souls. Laying himself bare to someone new was…a little terrifying if he was brutally honest.

“…I…I don’t want to see you hurt…” he started, unsure if he was doing it right. It was SO much easier with telepathy… “I want to…see you smile at me…want you to…to be happy…with me…” As he spoke though, something in the back of his mind sparked and filled him with a slight wave of panic that made his eyes spark. “…I don’t want to leave you…I don’t want you to leave me…I…” He paused then, unsure if he should continue…but he did it anyway. “I…I want to stay with you…”

“Then I would say that’s love,” Luna assured him, smoothing her thumb along his cheek. “And I would never make you leave, Zidane. I want to be with you, too.”

Looking up to the slightly taller woman, Zidane brought his hand up and rested it over hers on his cheek, breathing lightly for a few moments. The words seemed to have lifted a great weight off of his shoulders, letting him breathe easy again.

“…is it really…?” he asked slowly. When Luna nodded, Zidane shut his eyes with a small, content sigh. If this was love…well, he could get used to that. “Then…I…love you, too…”

“I’m glad,” she whispered, moving in and kissing the Genome softly. When she pulled away, she smiled tenderly. “Zidane, don’t ever worry about me leaving you, okay? I can’t imagine ever being away from you, especially now.”

This made the Genome chuckle softly. “No promises there…but I’ll try anyway.”

“As long as you try, then that’s what matters to me,” she giggled, before yawning tiredly she curled close to Zidane. “Let’s get some sleep…”

Zidane hummed as he rested his forehead against her shoulder, his tail coming up to wrap itself securely around her waist. “Sounds like a plan…”

“Goodnight, Zidane,” she hummed, kissing the top of his head softly before beginning to drift off.

“Mmm…g’night…”

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

Noctis stretched his arms over his head as he stepped into the room, briefly running a hand through his hair before he shut the door.

“Hey, Noct!” Prompto grinned when he heard the raven come in. "What’d Kuja need to talk to you about?”

For a moment, Noctis debated on just saying what they’d been talking about, but he wasn’t entirely sure how well the news would be received. So instead, he went for the safe route. “He wanted to apologize for Amarant tailing us back in the Crown City. You know, that ‘Coral’ guy.”

At this, Prompto snorted a laugh. “Of course he would be behind it. Any reason why?”

Noctis chuckled. “You and Zidane, actually,” he said as he walked over and settled on the bed, starting to remove his shoes. “He heard you got sold and asked Amarant to look into us. And, if needed, to buy you from us.”

“Seriously? God, that is SO Kuja,” the blonde snickered.

“Is it?” Noctis asked with a small chuckle of his own.

“Yeah, he wanted to make sure we were safe, and he promised to get us out of Bran Bal once he was bought, but I like where Zidane and I ended up much better,” the Genome replied, before frowning slightly. “Did he talk about anything else? You guys took a while, is all.”

“Well, we had to be quiet; Joshua snuck in.”

“That’s understandable,” Prompto nodded. He then gave a longing sigh. “Someday, I’d like a kid… After seeing Joshua with Kuja…I’m kinda jealous, to be completely honest…” He then looked at Noctis with wide eyes. “Is that bad?”

Noct couldn’t help it; he laughed at the Genome’s innocent question. “Why would that be bad?” he asked once he could stop. “I’m sure every reasonable person would want to pass on their genes at one point.”

“Well, it’s not just that… I just like the idea of having a kid, and raising one…” Prompto murmured, looking down at his lap shyly. Noctis smiled and reached out, abruptly ruffling Prompto’s hair. “Gah!” the blonde yelped, swatting the offending hands away with an indignant squeal.

The prince laughed at the sound as he moved away from the hands. “Don’t worry so much,” Noct pointed out. “I’m sure you’ll be able to have your own child at one point.”

‘If what Kuja said is true…’

“You really think so?” Prompto asked, feeling torn for some reason. Like he wanted a child, but for some reason, it was like his heart wanted Noctis more. He wasn’t sure what to think of that feeling.

“Sure I’m sure,” Noctis said with a nod. “And I’m sure you’ll be great parent, too.”

“Thanks, Noct, that means a lot…” the smaller male murmured with a small smile, his heart aching a little. He didn’t understand that reaction, but hopefully he would in due time.

“Anyway,” Noctis murmured as he scooted back on the bed. “It’s getting late. Let’s get some sleep, shall we?”

“Yeah,” the Genome agreed, curling back up under the blankets. “Goodnight, Noct.”

As Noctis lay down and made to go to sleep, he paused suddenly, frowning at the ceiling. He hadn’t noticed before, but he just realized that, until just recently, Prompto had always addressed him as “Noctis”, despite being given the okay to just call him “Noct”. And now, all of a sudden, it was always “Noct”.

‘…could it…be part of the bond Kuja mentioned?’ he wondered absently.

His last thought before going under was that he had to speak to Kuja in the morning.

Chapter Text

When Prompto woke up the next morning, he found himself in a very comfortable and warm position in the bed, and didn’t want to move away from the warmth. Sighing tiredly, he snuggled closer to the source, not even thinking twice. As he did, his “pillow” gave a sleepy grunt, right before the warmth spread to his back.

Immediately, the blonde’s eyes snapped open wide, and he realized he was curled up against Noctis, cuddling against the raven like he was a warm stuffed animal. Prompto found he couldn’t move away, however, due to the arm around his back. Noctis didn’t even seem aware of their sleeping arrangements, still fast asleep with one arm below his pillow and the other keeping Prompto close.

The Genome was tempted to wake Noctis just so he wouldn’t be upset by their positioning, but decided against it due to the comfort he felt just lying against him. After all, Noctis didn’t seem to mind while he was sleeping like this.

Sadly, all good things come to an end, as there was a knock on the door. “Oy! Prom! Noct! Time to get up, guys!”

Prompto pouted mentally, wanting to curse his friend out for disrupting his sneaky cuddle session, but the poor guy couldn’t have known what he’d done wrong. Instead, he feigned sleep, waiting for Noctis to wake up first before he ‘woke up’, too.

Noctis groaned in annoyance, lifting his arm from around Prompto to rub at his eyes, cursing lightly under his breath, before he sat up, stretching with a barely suppressed yawn. ‘Dammit…it’s way too early…’

After running a hand through his hair to straighten it out somewhat, he reached out and lightly shook Prompto by his shoulder. “Oy, Prompto…wake up.”

“Ugh… Don’t wanna…” Prompto whined, covering his head with the blanket.

Noctis rolled his eyes, tugging at the blanket. “C’mon, man; we gotta get up.”

“Fiiiine…” the smaller male groaned, sitting up and yawning widely. “Do I really have to?”

Noctis looked at him dryly, before he turned to the door. “Hey, Zidane!” he shouted. “I think Prompto doesn’t want to get up!”

There was no immediate response, before they heard a heavy sigh.

‘Prom, do I gotta get in there and MAKE you get up, dude?’

“Shit!” the taller blonde yelped, jumping out of bed. He knew Zidane’s tactics to wake him up were none too pleasant, especially with telepathy in play. “I’m up, I’m up!”

Noctis laughed as he got out of the bed. “Well that took about 10 seconds…”

Prompto pouted at Noctis, before glaring at the door irritably. ‘I was nice and comfy until you had to wake us up!’ he grumbled to his friend.

‘Yeah, well, deal with it! Kuj’s got breakfast ready! Move it will ya?’ was the swift response. Prompto merely stuck his tongue out in Zidane’s general direction instead of replying.

Noctis laughed after pulling on his shoes and standing back up. “What are you? 12 years old?” he quipped as he lightly hit Prompto on the back. “Come on, let’s go get some food.”

“Fine… Food does sound good,” the smaller male conceded, pulling on his boots once he got close to the door.

As they stepped out of the door, Zidane was leaning back against the railing, arms crossed and his tail swaying behind him. When he spotted them, he smirked and stood up straight. “Morning!”

“Good morning,” Noctis said with a chuckle.

“Mornin’,” Prompto smiled brightly. He then noticed something…different with his fellow Genome. He seemed…light, almost. ‘You seem happy, considering yesterday.’

‘Hm? Do I?’ Zidane asked with his head tilted slightly.

‘Yeah. Did something happen last night? And be honest.’

Zidane didn’t respond to those words immediately, before he smirked. ‘Maaaaybe.’

He didn’t give Prompto the chance to question it, though, before he said, “Right! Let’s get a move on, shall we?” and turned around to head for the stairs.

Noctis hummed in question, regarding Prompto in silent question.

“He seems happier, considering yesterday,” the taller Genome said simply, shrugging before following his friend.

Noctis seemed to consider that, before he followed after. As they approached the stairs, though, he blinked. “Hey, Zidane?”

“Yeah?”

“Did you change your hair tie?”

Zidane hummed curiously, reaching back for his ponytail. “Did I? …Huh…may’ve grabbed Lu’s tie by mistake.”

“‘Lu’?” Prompto repeated, before he finally realized what may have transpired between his friend and Luna. ‘Did you guys have sex?!’  he demanded, becoming excited for his fellow Genome.

Zidane regarded Prompto for a moment, before a smirk passed over his face. He didn’t even bother to answer as he, instead, hopped onto the railing. “Catch you guys downstairs,” he quipped, right before he slid down along the railing with a laugh.

“…Well he’s in a good mood for sure…” Noctis agreed. Prompto nodded, the unspoken answer making a swell of happiness course through him. Zidane deserved Luna, and she clearly made him happy. She was now officially closer to the shorter Genome than Prompto was, which was different for him, but he was still incredibly happy for his friend. He just hoped that maybe, just maybe, he and Noctis could somehow get to be that close.

Prompto wouldn’t lie, he liked Noctis a lot. After all, the raven had saved his life, taken him in to his home, cared for him so well, and shown him the most kindness anyone ever had besides Zidane. And not only that, but the taller male was attractive. Who wouldn’t be attracted to Noctis? He was handsome, powerful, rich, smart, and strong. Not that some of those things mattered to Prompto. He likes Noctis for who he is, not what he has.

As they reached the bottom of the stairs, Zidane was waiting for them at the door to the dining room, motioning for them to hurry before he disappeared inside. Noctis merely snorted as he followed with the other Genome. They each gave their greetings to the others who were already present, before they took their seats at the large, round table.

Kuja quietly looked up from his phone when they entered, before he swiped across the screen and then tucked it away again. “Good morning,” he said finally with a small smile.

“Good morning,” Noctis said in return with a nod. “Work?”

“Oh, no, merely some leftovers from last night. Nothing majorly important, I assure you.”

“If you say so, Kuja,” Prompto chuckled, sitting in an open seat. This left Noctis with the seat between Prompto and Kuja, which Prompto wanted. He liked that his owner and his old friend were getting to know each other more. After all, Kuja had been good to himself and Zidane when they’d last seen him, and was still good to them now.

As Noctis took his seat, Zidane looked over from where he was munching on a cheese stick.

‘This gotta do with that ass-hat?’ he asked through the link.

‘I’ve no idea what you're talking about, Zidane~’

‘I’ll take that as a yes,’ Prompto smirked, snickering through the connection.

Kuja didn’t reply, but there was a hint of a smirk along his own lips.

‘Good,’ Zidane said instead as he popped the remainder of the cheese stick in his mouth. ‘How long you been busy?’

‘Hmm… I do believe he’s going on 9 hours now.’

‘Damn…’

‘I don’t feel the least bit bad for him. He had it coming after kidnapping us and Joshua,’ Prompto sniffed, helping himself to some food. ‘Speaking of which, how’s Josh doing today?’

‘Better,’ was Kuja’s solemn response as he glanced over sideways over his drink watching the small boy eat his own breakfast, talking animatedly to Luna, sitting next to him, with his tail wagging happily. ‘I’m sure it’s left a mark…but he’s strong like his mother. I’m sure he’ll be fine.’

‘As long as he’s safe and he’ll be okay, then I feel better for when we go home,’ Prompto smiled softly, watching boy as he interacted with Luna like he’d always known her, despite being told not to talk to strangers by Kuja before, a thought that made him almost laugh aloud.

“So, Lord Kiryu, what about those two silver-haired assholes from yesterday? What are you doing with them?” Ravus inquired, genuinely curious. He wanted to make sure those bastards wouldn’t try to go after his sister or their friends again.

“Hm? …Ah, yes, them,” Kuja said absently, as if he’d completely forgotten about them. “I’ve actually left that up to Aranea. She said she needed something to do.”

“That’s the lady from yesterday, right?” Zidane asked curiously.

“Correct.”

Noctis hummed as he ate quietly. As he finished, he said, “She does seem like the type who would volunteer for that.”

“Well, as long as they and their ‘brothers’ are done messing with us, I’m content,” Prompto nodded.

“Aranea’s type of punishment… I wonder what it will entail if she’s going to ‘convince’ those fools to leave us be,” Ravus murmured thoughtfully. Gladio nodded his agreement, almost tempted to just ask her outright to try and find out for any future incidents.

“Oohh, I’m not so sure you truly want to know, Milord,” Kuja said with a small chuckle.

“He’s right on that…” Zidane pointed out. “You reeeaaally don’t.”

“Yeah, really,” Prompto chimed in with a nod. “Especially if Kuja’s warning against it. He says what he means, and doesn’t hold back.”

Noctis regarded the Genomes curiously, but he didn’t question it. He was going to be wise and believe the pair when they said they didn’t want to know.

“So, when do we plan on heading back to the Citadel? And how are these two gonna be travelling when their Chocobos bolted?” Gladio asked, looking at Noctis as he gestured to the two blonde Genomes.

“Hm…good one, actually…” Noctis murmured.

“Well, if it’s all the same to you, Your Highness,” Kuja said politely, “I could lend them Nova.”

“Nova??” Zidane and Prompto chorused in shock/confusion.

And for good reason; Nova had been one of the caretakers that had looked over them back in Bran Bal. Unlike the other caretakers, though, she would often speak to the Genomes in the tanks as she believed them to be sleeping. She was also the first to realize that the three of them had souls, but she’d never said a word to the shopkeepers about it.

The last they’d seen of her was when she had attempted to smuggle them out from Bran Bal once. They never even managed to leave the shop…

“Who or what is Nova?” Luna asked curiously, looking up from her conversation with Joshua at the surprised voices.

Upon hearing the name, Joshua’s eyes widened in awe as he turned to Kuja. “Can I see Nova too, Papa?”

Kuja chuckled softly at the question. “Of course, dear. As for who she is…well, you’ll meet her soon enough.”

“That would be awesome, Kuja!” Prompto grinned. “Haven’t seen Nova in years!” Looking at Zidane excitedly, he thought to him, ‘I’m just relieved she’s okay!’

‘Actually… I don’t think—’

“Unfortunately, Prompto,” Kuja said with a solemn look, “this isn’t the Nova you’re thinking of. I merely gave the poor dear her name out of respect.”

“…so the original Nova is…?” Noctis asked slowly.

“Unknown, actually… Perhaps she lives, perhaps she doesn’t…I really cannot say,” Kuja admitted, taking a sip from his drink.

“Oh… Well, I just hope that wherever she is, she’s happy. Even if that means she’s not exactly with us anymore,” Prompto murmured, sighing. He’d honestly thought Kuja meant the Nova they’d known from Bran Bal. But knowing there was another like her, even with her name, made him happy, too.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Once breakfast had concluded, Kuja led the way through the Auction House, going all the way to the back of the building to, oddly enough, the garden at the far end.

“Now then…I’d like to request of you all to stay by the entrance for now,” Kuja informed them. “I’m afraid the poor dear’s a bit skittish around new faces. She might get frightened.”

“No offense, Kuj…but that’s who’s supposed to get us home?” Zidane asked skeptically, his tail swishing lightly.

“Just trust Kuja, Zidane,” Prompto said, hanging back a bit next to Noctis, his own tail waving casually. “He hasn’t let us down yet since we’ve been here. I’d like to think we can still trust him after all this time.”

“I guess…” Zidane murmured. Noctis hummed in thought, before he nodded quietly.

“Joshua, you as well.”

“Awww…!”

Kuja merely chuckled as he walked out into the garden, reaching into his pocket for a moment. He stopped in the middle of the garden, and then produced a pure silver whistle from his pocket, placed it between his lips and blew. The sound echoing from the whistle was unlike anything they’d ever heard; it rattled and screeched as much as it whistled, and as Kuja adjusted his rate of breathing out, the sound shifted into an almost chirping noise.

And as Kuja lowered the whistle, a roar echoed out along the garden.

“What the?!” Noctis choked out as he almost stumbled back, and Zidane yowled as he almost jumped out of his boots. Prompto yelped in alarm as Luna gasped sharply and gripped Zidane’s upper arm out of surprise. Ravus and Gladio even jumped about a foot off the ground, startled by the roar.

Kuja, however, smiled as he tucked the whistle away and lifted his head as a sudden gust of wind ruffled up his clothes, watching a large, glowing silver dragon circled the garden, releasing another roar as it looked down from high above.

“Come here, Nova…” he called out, holding out his arms as if to catch the dragon in her descent. “Here girl, come here…” The dragon roared again as it descended upon the garden, but Kuja didn’t flinch as the dragon landed down before him, stepping up and placing tender hands upon the beast’s snout. “How’s my little girl, hmm? Have you been good, sweetheart?” he murmured as he gently rubbed her nose, making the dragon release a growling noise almost like a purr.

Joshua was almost bouncing on his little feet as he watched his father caress the dragon’s scaly hide, before he couldn’t stop himself anymore and hurried over. “Nova!!” he called out as he came into range.

The dragon looked over as Kuja moved back, and then lowered its head to let Joshua pet her as well, still ‘purring’ contently.

“Uh…THAT is Nova?” Zidane asked slowly.

“But…Nova was human…” Prompto uttered, remembering her.

“Oh I know, dear,” Kuja chuckled as he gently caressed the dragon’s long neck. “Don’t worry; she’s quite sweet. Just a little skittish really.” The dragon looked at him and gave a small growl at the Lord. “Oh don’t deny it, darling; you are certainly skittish.”

“Zidane! Prompto!” Joshua called out. “Come on! She’s really nice! Honest!”

Zidane didn’t reply immediately before looking to Prompto skeptically. ‘Well? Go ahead.’ Remembering his earlier words to trust Kuja, Prompto scowled at his friend.

‘Ass,’ he growled. ‘If I die, I’m haunting you forever.’ And with that mentally communicated, the taller Genome approached Nova, going at a slower pace so as not to scare her. Once he was close, he looked into the dragon’s eyes, seeing a gentle spirit behind that gaze. It reminded him of Nova herself, and with a small, soft smile, he reached out to let her get used to him by smelling him first.

Nova regarded Prompto through narrowed eyes, a soft growl rumbling from her throat, before Kuja tapped her neck. “Be nice, dear.”

The dragon seemed to snort, before she raised her snout and sniffed at the blonde Genome’s hand. After taking two more whiffs of his scent, she raised her head fully and stuck her snout almost in Prompto’s face.

Kuja chuckled softly. “Go ahead, dear; pet her.”

Glancing briefly at the older Genome, Prompto nodded minutely, still smiling softly, before reaching out and gently petting her snout and murmuring, “Hi, Nova.”

Nova purred in response to the soft touch, leaning into the blonde’s palm.

“…wow…” Noctis murmured.

“She’s beautiful once you see her like this,” Luna breathed, loosening her grip on Zidane’s arm so she was simply keeping him close.

“You are sweet, huh?” Prompto chuckled, petting her. “You’re as sweet as the original.”

“And now you see why she’s named as she is,” Kuja chuckled softly, before he looked to Zidane and cocked his eyebrow curiously.

“…Ah, what the hell,” Zidane mumbled, slowly walking over. Luna came with, keeping close to her Genome. She wanted to meet Nova properly, too, especially after seeing Prompto with her.

As they step up to Nova, the dragon looked over curiously. “Hey there…” Zidane mumbled softly, slowly raising one hand for the dragon to smell.

She repeated what she’d done with Prompto, though she seemed to frown at one point. Eventually, however, she prodded Zidane to his stomach, making the Genome choke briefly, before he chuckled and began to rub her snout like he’d seen Kuja do earlier.

Luna smiled warmly, raising her hand for Nova to sniff as well. With Luna, Nova merely sniffed her once before she allowed the blonde woman to pet her, purring still.

“Huh…is she more affectionate towards women?” Noctis asked curiously.

“Not per se…” Kuja murmured, but there was a small smirk playing on his lips. “Though I can hazard a guess why she’s the way she is with Lady Lunafreya…”

Zidane threw the taller Genome a small glare at those words.

‘Probably cuz she smells like you, dumbass,’ Prompto snickered through their connection. He then looked back at the prince. “Hey Noct, wanna come pet her? She really is nice.”

‘Oh shut up,’ Zidane growled, even as Noctis shrugged and slowly walked over. As he stepped up to stand beside Prompto, Nova gave a small growl as she tried to move away.

“Oh, not skittish, are we, dear?” Kuja teased softly, making the dragon growl, before she settled again, turning to Noctis quietly.

The prince merely gave the dragon a small smile as he held out his hand palm-up. Nova moved her snout over and sniffed him once…and then bumped his hand, purring a little.

Prompto merely blinked in surprise, but continued to pet Nova, running his hand towards her jaw line. “Guess she likes you, too,” he smiled, looking at the raven with an amused smile.

“Guess so,” Noctis chuckled as he gently rubbed her snout.

Joshua giggled as he curled up around the dragon’s leg, tail swishing about happily.

“So…does she have your approval, Your Highness?” Kuja asked calmly.

Noctis allowed a small smirk as he nodded. “She seems harmless enough. I’ll just have to warn Father of her arrival before we leave, though…”

“Ah, well, perhaps it would be wisest that you ride on her back, Your Highness,” Kuja said with a smile.

“Beg pardon?”

“Surely…they wouldn’t dare harm her if she’s carrying the Crown City’s crown prince, hmm?”

“…Okay, you have a point.”

“I’m sure she’ll be great,” Prompto smiled optimistically. “I’ll even ride with you, Noct.”

“Well, then I guess Zidane and I will ride in the Regalia with Gladio driving,” Luna said, shrugging slightly.

“Sounds like a plan,” Zidane said with a nod and a small grin.

Noctis allowed a chuckle as he nodded. “Think you can handle that, Gladio?”

“You and Ignis aren’t the only ones who can drive, so yes,” Gladio snorted from where he and Ravus stood by the entrance.

“When should we head out?” Ravus asked.

“We should probably return as soon as we can…” Noctis murmured thoughtfully. “There’s something I actually need to discuss with my father.” This caught Prompto’s attention, and he looked at his owner curiously.

“Oh?” he said, wordlessly inquiring.

Noctis shook his head at the look. “Don’t worry about it. …Oh, right.” Turning to Kuja, he said, “Lord Kiryu, may I speak with you for a moment?”

“Hm? Oh, certainly, Your Highness,” Kuja said with a small chuckle. Prompto pouted, wondering what just was going on as he watched the raven and silver-haired Genome walk towards the end of the garden.

Once the pair were well out of hearing range from the others, Kuja turned to face the prince. “I don’t like to make assumptions, but would this happen to be about the bond again, Your Highness?” he asked with a small smile.

Noctis wasn’t going to ask how Kuja immediately figured out what this was about, and instead he just rolled with it. “It is… I have a few more questions that I didn’t think of earlier.”

“Very well…ask away, Your Highness.”

Nodding, Noctis asked, “If a bond is formed, can it be broken and then reformed with another?”

“No,” was the immediate answer, and the look on Kuja’s face fell at the same time. “If a bond is formed, it is for life, and the only way for it to end is for one of the two to die.” After giving Noctis a few moments to digest that, Kuja added, “It is also impossible for the Genome to sire/bear children with anyone else but the one they have a bond with.”

“…You’re sure of this?”

“Very much, Your Highness,” Kuja confirmed with a nod, a silent “I tried” underlining his words.

“…I see,” Noctis murmured. “…Last question; is it possible a Genome’s speech patterns change upon forming a bond?”

Kuja hummed, frowning a little. “Well…if my own bonded is to be believed, then yes, it IS possible…but the Genome in question will not realize they’re doing anything different.” He shrugged. “I certainly didn’t.”

Noctis nodded his head, trying not to bite his lip in worry. If what Kuja was saying was true, then…

“Right. Thank you for clearing things up, Lord Kiryu.”

“You’re welcome, Your Highness. …Though if I may be so bold,” he added as Noctis made to walk away. When Noctis turned back, Kuja chuckled and said, “You needn’t constantly address me as ‘Lord’. I believe we’ve reached grounds where you can simply call me by my name.”

That surprised Noctis for a moment, before he smirked. “Fair enough…meaning you’ll have to stop calling me “Your Highness” in turn.”

“Now just a moment—”

“No? Well, fine, I’ll just keep using your title then, Lord Kiryu.”

Kuja snorted and then laughed, covering his mouth with his hand. “You drive a hard bargain…but very well. You win this round…Noctis.”

“Thank you, Kuja,” Noctis said simply with a small victorious smirk before the pair began to walk back again.

“Is everything okay?” Prompto asked as soon as they were back. Looking at Kuja, he asked, ‘What was he asking about?’

‘Political business, dear,’ was Kuja’s immediate response with a small smile.

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Noctis said with a nod, as he stepped up to Nova and petted her head again. “So…does she have like a saddle or something?”

“I’m afraid not,” Kuja said with a small shrug and smirk. “I have yet to be able to find anyone skilled enough to make one who isn’t afraid of the poor dear.”

“Woohoo! Bare back riding!” Prompto grinned, petting Nova’s snout again. “She’ll be great!”

Zidane laughed as Kuja moved over to assist Noctis and Prompto to climb on Nova’s back, instructing them where to sit without it bothering her. Once they were seated, Kuja moved to address Nova.

“Okay, dear; you remember the Crown City, don’t you? You need to bring these boys there for me, kay? They’ll tell you where you can land when you get there, so be nice, you hear?” Nova merely gave a small cry. “Good girl. Now go on,” Kuja urged with a gentle tap on her neck, before he gestured for everyone to back off.

And once they had, Nova spread out her large wings, bent through her legs, and rose into the air with a single clap of her wings. And then, with a cry, she took off into the skies. Prompto clung to Noctis’s back as they flew, his arms wrapped firmly around the taller male’s waist so he wouldn’t fall. Eventually, he managed to look around without feeling nervous, and he grinned excitedly at the sight of clouds around them.

“Awesome…!” he breathed, amazed by the sight.

“Yeah,” Noctis breathed out as he looked around as Treno became little more than a speck far below them, before it disappeared on the horizon as Nova began her flight toward the Crown City.

“I’ll be honest, I’m gonna miss seeing Kuja and Joshua…” Prompto admitted, already missing their friends.

Noctis laughed softly at the words. “We can always visit them again, you know? Or they can come visit instead.”

“Yeah, you’re right,” the blonde nodded, and then laughed. “I bet Joshua would get a kick out of the Chocobos.”

“I’m sure he would,” Noctis chuckled out. “If he’s anything like you and Zidane when it comes down to it, anyway.”

“True,” the Genome agreed with a smile. “He’s a cute kid. Kuja’s lucky to have him…”

Noctis looked back over his shoulder to Prompto at those words. “…You REALLY want to have a kid of your own, huh?”

“Well, yeah, but I’m in no rush…” the smaller male mumbled, blushing. Noctis chuckled softly, before he turned back ahead to watch the surroundings. “I’ll be honest, Noct… I know Genomes were meant to help with fertility issues…but I don’t even know how to go about it…”

“Hm?” Noctis hummed as he glanced over again. “Does it matter? I’m sure you’ll figure out what to do when it’s time.”

“I know… I guess I can’t help but worry about it,” Prompto shrugged, leaning a bit closer against the prince.

“Well don’t,” Noctis pointed out. “Worrying isn’t going to help you figure it out any better.”

“All right…” the blonde conceded. “Thanks for listening to me, Noct.”

“Anytime, Prom,” Noctis chuckled. At the nickname, Prompto felt his heart warm, and he immediately loved the feeling from being called ‘Prom’ by the raven. Unable to help himself, he held himself closer to the taller male, comforted by the familiar warmth. Noctis noticed, of course, but he didn’t say anything; focusing instead on the ‘road’ ahead of them.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

The others were driving back to the Citadel in the Regalia, having said their farewells to Kuja and Joshua before leaving. Gladio was at the wheel, with Ravus in the passenger seat, and Luna and Zidane in the back with Zidane’s head resting in Luna’s lap. Ravus looked back at the pair curiously more than once, and finally, Luna sighed.

“Ravus, it’s perfectly fine,” she assured him.

“And if you got something to say, just come out and say it, will ya?” Zidane chuckled as he propped up his feet against the door.

“Fine then. Are you two a couple?” the pale blonde asked.

“Yes, we are. Is that a problem?” his sister huffed.

“Not at all. I’m just relieved to know my sister is happy with someone good for her,” he smirked. Zidane merely shrugged his shoulders a little, his tail resting along his stomach with its tip flicking at the air occasionally. However, after a moment, he also gave Luna a slightly cheeky look. The blonde woman looked down at him curiously, wondering just what he was thinking.

However, the Genome merely shook his head with a smirk, before he shut his eyes with a small hum. Rolling her eyes in slight amusement, Luna began to run her fingers through her lover’s hair.

Chapter Text

X*X(A Week & A Half Later)X*X

It had been a week and a half since they’d returned home from Treno, and from seeing Kuja again and meeting his son, Joshua. Ever since then, it had been clearly obvious to Prompto that Zidane had bonded with Luna, and they were a couple now, too. Granted, they never said anything to Noctis and Prompto, but to the blonde, he just knew. Now if only he could figure out how to bond with Noctis… After all, he really cared for the raven, and was happy simply being by his side.

He was tempted to ask Zidane about it, but didn’t want to make his fellow Genome worry about him, so he decided against it. Then again, he was also sorely tempted to somehow contact Kuja about the subject, but he had no way of doing so. He regretted not asking while they were in Treno. He sighed heavily while deep in his thoughts from where he sat in the library with Noctis, the latter of which being there to study.

Suddenly, hands clasped down on his shoulders at the same time as a voice called out, “Whatcha doin’, Prom?”

“Just waiting on Noct to finish studying,” the taller Genome shrugged. “What are you doing in the library, though? Luna got you looking for something, or what?”

“That’s my line, dude; why’re you in here?” the other Genome questioned as he moved around and plopped down in the seat across from his friend. “You wanna tell me what’s going on?”

Prompto glanced VERY briefly at Noctis, who was focused fully on his studying, before he sighed quietly. ‘What’s it like to bond?’ he asked through their connection.

Zidane hummed curiously, tilting his head. ‘Bond as in…be in a relationship, you mean?’

‘No, like how we’re able to,’ Prompto mumbled. ‘I wanna bond with Noct, but I don’t know how… And it’s obvious to me that you and Luna have.’

Zidane didn’t respond for a long time, before he shrugged his shoulders. ‘It just happened. One minute it wasn’t there…and suddenly there it was. I really dunno how it works…just that it does.’

‘Ugh… That’s no help…’ the taller Genome grumbled, lowering his gaze to the floor. ‘I really do like him… Whenever Noct calls me “Prom”, I feel warm inside, and it makes me happy. I want to be around him all the time, even if he’s doing boring stuff…like studying.’

Zidane regarded his friend in slight surprise at those words, before he suddenly chuckled. ‘Wow. You reeeeaaally got it bad, huh?’

Prompto pouted at his fellow Genome's words. ‘Not like I can do much about it, Zidane. I don’t even know if Noct would see me in that way…’

‘And what’s moping gonna do to help that?’ his friend asked in response. ‘You gotta start taking a few chances, man.’

‘And how should I even start? I’m scared he won’t feel the same…’

‘Initiating a kiss might be a good start.’

‘Don’t you think that’s starting off a little too strong?’ Prompto retorted with a snort as he gave his friend a disbelieving look.

‘Worked for me,’ Zidane pointed out with a shrug.

‘Well, still. Maybe it worked for you, but it probably won’t work that well for me. I don’t even know how Noct feels about me other than he cares about me, as we both saw back in Treno,’ the taller blonde argued.

‘So figure out if he does! C’mon man! Take some initiative or something or just…I dunno, try skirting around the subject and figure out if he likes someone! Just quit the endless moping! This ain’t like you.’

‘You think I don’t know that? I even mentioned on the way back with Noct about how I’d like a kid someday, and he didn’t say much in regards to it other than he knows I’d make a good parent,’ Prompto growled, frustrated.

‘So try again! Don’t stop after just once or twice or three times and not figuring it out. You gotta keep at it!’

‘Fine! Just… I need a bit of time, Zidane. Sorry…’ Prompto sighed, before abruptly standing and heading to his and Noctis’s room. Once there, he curled up in a ball in his bed, closing his eyes to try and sleep and hence, escape reality for a while.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

 

Stupid little idiot!’ Zidane cursed at his friend as he hurried down along the stairs, trying to figure out where the hell Noctis’s lessons were being held at, since the prince in question had left sometime during his and Prompto’s discussion to get to another lesson elsewhere in the castle. Even after all this time, he hadn’t been able to (or hadn’t bothered to) memorize the prince’s schedule. He was sure Prompto had by now, but hell if he was going to ask the other Genome. ‘All that moping and whining isn’t going to change shit! Urgh… guess it’s gotta be ALL on me again…

After what felt like an hour, Zidane managed to spot Noctis through one of  the windows from where he was now hanging on the outside of the castle by his tail. Luna hated when he scaled the castle like that, and the guards had threatened to chop his tail off on more than one occasion, but hell, it helped keep his muscles in shape and alleviated boredom whenever the Chocobos didn’t cut it. He’d normally fetch Prompto to go a round around the castle, but eh.

Shaking the matter off, Zidane looked around the room if there was a teacher around or whatever. Once he was sure the prince was alone, he craned himself forward and knocked on the glass, twice, clearly startling Noctis by the way he jumped and whirled around.

“Yo!” he chirped with an upside down wave.

Zidane!” the raven exclaimed as he came over swiftly and opened the window. “You know you’re not supposed to climb the outer walls!”

“Yap, yap, yap, I get it, man,” the blonde said as he swung himself into the room once Noct had moved. “Teach gone?”

“For now… why?”

“Okay, cool. Look, dude, you gotta have a word with Prom, alright?”

Noctis blinked in alarm, before he frowned. “Prompto? Why?”

“Well, the guy’s not feeling too hot… and unfortunately he ain’t talking to me, so you’re the next best thing.”

“Oh, well, thanks,” Noctis said sarcastically. He knew Zidane meant well, but his wording definitely needed work.

“Try to get him to talk, alright? Or this thing’s gonna eat him up alive,” the Genome said, completely ignoring the sarcasm as he went for the door.

“…? Wait… you know what it is already?”

“I’m like 95% sure I do… can never be too sure, though.” Zidane shrugged as he put his hand on the doorknob. “Anyway, he shoulda gone back to your room. I’m counting on you dude!”

And then he was out the door again.

Noctis sighed in slight annoyance, shaking his head before going back to his studies. Unfortunately, he found he couldn’t get back in the zone again now that Zidane had delivered him the news that he had. Worry began to gnaw at his mind as he thought of the taller of the two Genomes and what could possibly be wrong.

But the longer he thought on it, the more he began to lean toward a single cause; his bond.

He’d noticed Prompto began to get more and more clingy over the days, and he seemed to be happiest when Noctis was around him. Once it would’ve been Zidane who could get him to let loose, but with the other’s time now being almost exclusively reserved for Luna, it was clear that Prompto was starting to feel left out of the loop.

Which, given how long those two had been together, wasn’t really so strange.

At the same time, he pondered his own feelings for the Genome. Now that they didn’t have to worry so much about being chased down, they’d been able to go out on more than one occasion, and the more time they all spent out there, the more he began to realize that his feelings for Prompto were much bigger than “mere affection”.

But was it love?

That was the one thing that Noctis did not have an answer to. And that just so happened to be the most important question that needed answering. Sure, he wanted to see Prompto happy and safe, but he felt the same for Luna, and he definitely only saw her as a sister since she and her brother had moved into the Citadel. He would rush to both their aids if one of the two was in danger, and he certainly didn’t want to place a higher value on either one’s life, because he wouldn’t know what to do.

Noctis sighed in annoyance as he cradled his head in his hands. This was so frustrating…

After a moment longer of just sitting there, thinking, he took a deep breath and let it out heavily. Deciding to try a different angle, he tried to imagine what he’d do if Prompto actually did die. Not a pleasant thought, but…

Noctis wasn’t prepared for the jab of agony that shot through his chest, so hard that it actually tore a choked gasp from his throat, or the burning sensation in his eyes, making him blink rapidly… causing tears to trickle down his cheeks.

“Shit…” he gasped out, swiftly reaching up to wipe the tears away. However, as he did, he gave a small, mirthless chuckle. “Wow… guess I’ve got it worse than I expected… huh?”

He then made a mental note to get to his room the moment his studies were finished.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Prompto wasn’t even sure how long he’d been laying there, but he was shaking from his lamenting and moping when Noctis walked into the room. “Prom?” he called out as he walked over to the bed.

“Hmm…?” Prompto mumbled.

“Are you alright?” Noctis asked as he sat on the Genome’s bed. “Zidane said you weren’t feeling too well.”

Prompto stiffened, before mentally cursing his friend out. He then sighed heavily. “…I don’t want things to be awkward or weird between us…” he finally muttered.

“Why? What’s wrong?” the prince asked, clearly worried for the blonde. However, the small Genome had no idea that in the back of his mind, Noctis already had a feeling what this was about.

“…” The blonde was quiet, torn on what he should or even COULD say. He didn’t want to makes things worse.

“Prom…” Noctis urged, moving so he was sitting cross-legged on the bed in front of him. “C’mon…talk to me. How am I supposed to help if you won’t say anything?”

That familiar warmth again at the nickname… Finally, Prompto slowly sat up, before looking at Noctis with a nervous expression on his face, as though he was afraid to be hurt. “…I…I’ve been feeling so…dependent on you lately, Noct… I don’t like to be away from you, even if you’re just studying, I enjoy being close to you, and whenever you call me ‘Prom’…I feel warm inside…and it makes me happy…”

‘Knew it,’ Noctis thought to himself, smiling a little in response to the boy’s nervous words. “Wow…so why do you think that is?”

“I…I don’t know, but I just…I can’t bear the thought of being too far from you, Noct… I just…can’t…” Prompto murmured, beginning to feel the sting of oncoming tears in his eyes. He didn’t know how to even begin to explain a bond to Noctis, and besides, he was still puzzled by it himself.

“Hey…” Noctis called out softly as he reached out to wipe the tears away before they could start to fall. “It’s okay… I think I know what this feeling is…” The Genome lifted his gaze, looking at his owner curiously yet nervously.

‘Tell me... this ‘warmth’ you mentioned… Where do you feel that? Here?” Noctis asked as he placed a hand on Prompto’s forehead. The blonde shook his head. “No? Here?” the prince asked as he moved the hand from his forehead to the Genome’s chest. The smaller male nodded timidly, not entirely sure where Noctis was going with this.

“Thought as much…” Noctis said with a small smile. He scooted a little closer, and the prince rested his arms on his knees. “So…if I sit here like this…what do you want to do?”

“…Just be close to you…” Prompto whispered.

Noctis didn’t say anything immediately. But then he smirked. “So what’s stopping you?”

“I…I don’t…I thought you…wouldn’t feel the same…” the Genome whimpered, his tail tip flicking anxiously.

Noctis merely chuckled softly. “Hey, c’mere,” he said, gesturing for Prompto to scoot closer. Prompto complied, heeding his body’s desire to be closer to Noctis. Once he was in range, Noctis smirked and abruptly wrapped an arm around Prompto’s shoulders and pulled him up against him. This drew a startled squeak from the smaller male, the fur of his tail fluffing up in surprise.

After a moment of just holding the Genome close like that, Noctis asked, “Better?”

“Y…yeah…” Prompto nodded, blushing. He was still confused, as he hadn’t gotten outright denied, but he also hadn’t been told if Noctis feels the same.

Noctis was silent for a moment as he ran his hands slowly over the blonde’s back tenderly, waiting for his tail to “unfluff” before speaking again. “Do you know what we call that feeling?”

“No…what?” the Genome asked softly.

Noctis waited a brief moment, before he said, “We call that feeling ‘love’.”

“L…love?” Prompto repeated, not familiar with the word.

“Yeah. It’s when you want to be with someone else until the end of your days. Grow old with them, raise a family with them… When you want to stay by their side forever.”

Prompto thought about that for a moment, before he returned his gaze to meet Noctis’s. “Do…do you love me, then, too?” he asked nervously.

Noctis didn’t immediately respond to those words, his expression turning pensive. “…I wasn’t sure at first…” he admitted, but before Prompto could worry, the prince smiled warmly. “But then I wondered… ‘what if something happened? What if you suddenly died on me?’” Noctis took a heavy breath, trying to push the thought away before he started crying again. “Just the thought was… I don’t even want to consider the possibility…”

Prompto whimpered softly, trying to keep his own tears at bay. He wasn’t sure if they were relieved/happy tears, or concerned/sad tears, but all he knew was that Noctis felt similarly about Prompto compared to how the blonde felt for the raven.

“So…let me just say it properly…” Noctis said then, placing his hand on Prompto’s chin and lifting his face up. “I love you, Prompto.”

“I love you, too, Noct,” the Genome breathed, before going completely on instinct and pressing his lips to Noctis’s firmly. And Noctis responded in kind, resting a hand on the back of the blonde’s head while pulling him closer with the arm still around his waist, adjusting his head to get a slightly better angle.

As they kissed, Prompto felt his heart swell with emotion, and he moved his arms to wrap around Noctis’s torso in a loving embrace. He hadn’t felt this happy and relieved before about anything, not even when Noctis had arrived on the scene back in Treno to save them. And to know that the taller male genuinely felt the same…it was a huge weight off his chest.

Noctis hummed pleasantly against Prompto’s lips, before he slid his lips open and flicked his tongue out at Prompto’s teasingly. Going on instinct, the smaller male parted his lips and tentatively slid his tongue along with Noctis’s, giving a small moan at the taste.

Noctis swept his tongue through Prompto’s mouth teasingly, briefly closing his lips around the shorter male’s tongue before he pulled back again to let them both breathe. As he opened his eyes again, he smirked. “Happy?”

“You have no idea,” Prompto murmured, leaning into Noctis’s hold on him.

“Good,” Noctis murmured as he moved back to lay them both down on the bed, with Prompto lying on top of him. “You know, you really had Zidane worried… He actually climbed the outside of the castle to come looking for me.”

“We do that sometimes, but I’m surprised he hunted you down like that,” Prompto admitted, already loving the position they were in. “Guess I owe him an apology, and a thank you.”

Noctis merely chuckled. “Yeah, you do…”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Once dinner was ready, Prompto had to (regretfully) get up from where he was lying with Noctis, the two having simply been kissing and cuddling ever since they had admitted their feelings to each other. The blonde pouted about having to get up, but he soon latched himself to Noctis’s side as they headed down to the dining room.

When they ran into Zidane and Luna on the way there, though, Prompto lowered his gaze, feeling almost ashamed for his behavior earlier, and for dragging Zidane into his mess.

Zidane, however, didn’t say anything when he saw the other blonde clinging to Noctis’s arm. He just watched them approach in silence, and even when they stopped by them, he kept quiet.

“Hey, you two,” Noctis said in greeting.

“Hi,” Luna smiled, feeling happy for her friend and his companion when she saw how Prompto was latched onto Noctis.

“…Sorry, Zidane…” the taller Genome mumbled, his guilty blue gaze flicking up to look at the shorter male.

“…” Zidane didn’t say anything, though his tail did flick at something behind him. And then he suddenly walked up to Prompto and whacked him upside the head. Prompto yowled at the blow, before whining as he rubbed his head.

“What the hell?!” he demanded.

“THAT was for being a little idiot, idiot,” Zidane pointed out.

“Did ya HAVE to hit that hard, though…?” Prompto grumbled, pouting. “I was GONNA say thanks, too, but never mind that now!”

“‘You’re welcome’, idiot,” Zidane almost snarled out.

“Hey guys, guys! Stop arguing, will you?” Noctis called out to try and stop things from getting too far.

“Who’s arguing?” Zidane asked simply, before he turned on his heel and headed for the dining room. As he did, however…

In all seriousness, though…’ Zidane’s voice called out. ‘Don’t worry me like that again.’

Rolling his eyes, Prompto sighed before he replied, tucking himself into Noctis’s side again. ‘I won’t, now that everything’s okay.’

Noctis allowed a small smile as he followed after Luna and Zidane, silently heading to their usual seats. Prompto pouted briefly when he had to leave Noctis’s warmth again, before sitting in his seat by the raven. Soon after they had all taken their seats, their food was brought out to them. As they ate, Prompto looked up as Zidane started talking about the Chocobos.

“…I think Sora’s eggs might be hatching soon,” he suddenly pointed out. “She was really fawning over ‘m yesterday.”

“Really? I can’t wait to see when the chicks hatch!” Prompto grinned excitedly.

“Actually, I’ve been meaning to tell you two about something,” Luna piped up, gaining the Genomes’ attention. “There’s an event coming up, called the Moogle Chocobo Carnival, and I thought you both would be interested, considering how much you love the Chocobos.”

“Really?!” Prompto yelped, and when she nodded, he looked at Noctis pleadingly. “Can we go, Noct? Please?”

Noctis laughed at the blonde’s excitement. “Of course we can.”

“Alright!” Zidane cheered with a laugh.

“Awesome!” the taller Genome crowed, feeling super excited now, as was evident by him bouncing in his seat.

“Perfect. Then I’ll make sure to get our passes, and we can go next weekend,” Luna giggled. And for the rest of the meal, that was all the two Genomes chattered about, the possible Chocobo-related things they would find at the carnival.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Finally, when they got their room for the night, Prompto had gotten changed, but when it came for him to get into his bed, he hesitated. He really wanted to sleep in Noctis’s bed, that way he could stay close to the taller male, but he wasn’t sure if Noctis would be okay with it.

Thankfully, he didn’t have to think long as Noctis came over from taking a quick shower. “Well? Are you coming in, or what?” he asked with a small chuckle as he tossed the blankets aside. Relieved, Prompto smiled as he joined his owner in the bed, curling close to the raven’s warmth. Noctis smiled as the Genome cuddled close, before he reached over and flicked the light off. “G’night, Prom.”

“Goodnight, Noct. Love you,” Prompto whispered, unable to resist pressing a chaste kiss to Noctis’s exposed collarbone.

Noctis allowed a small laugh as he settled. “Love you, too, Prom.” The blonde smiled softly as he felt that familiar, pleasant warmth in his heart, before he fell asleep against Noctis.

Chapter Text

X*X(The Following Weekend)X*X

The group of four was on the boat to Altissia, heading to the Moogle Chocobo Carnival. Luna and Noctis watched, amused, as their companions looked around excitedly at their surroundings, and at Altissia itself as they got closer and closer. As they arrived in the harbor, Prompto piped up.

“This is gonna be awesome!” Prompto grinned at Zidane.

“No kidding! Look at that!” the shorter Genome called out as he pointed at the giant Chocobo and Moogle balloons that framed the entrance of Altissia. Prompto’s grin became wider at the sight, and he looked back at Noctis with an eager look on his face.

“Wait until you see the fireworks, though,” Luna giggled lightly.

“‘Fireworks’??” Zidane repeated curiously.

“Want to tell them, Noctis?” Luna smiled, looking at the raven.

Noctis chuckled. “I think it’d be much more interesting if they saw it themselves.”

“Oh come on!” Zidane whined.

“Nooooct!” Prompto whined as well, his bright blue eyes pleading.

“Nope, Noctis is right. Wait until then,” Luna laughed lightly, making the pair groan comically. “It’ll be well worth it, I promise.”

Zidane almost pouted, but eventually he sighed and turned back to the front as they finally got to shore. When the group stepped off the boat, both Genomes looked around in awe at their surroundings, stunned by all of the Moogle and Chocobo themed decorations, merchandise, and stuff in general around them. However, Luna cleared her throat, gaining their attention again.

“I was thinking we could split into our respective couples, and make this sort of a date for us all,” she told them, and Prompto looked at Noctis, his eyes wide with surprise.

Noctis shrugged his shoulders casually. “Unless you two don’t want to…”

Zidane frowned, before he looked to Prompto. ‘What do you think?’

‘I think it would be nice. We can bond with our bonds,’ Prompto replied with a smile.

‘Touché,’ Zidane smirked before he nodded. “Alright, sure, let’s do that.”

“Sounds good. Then we’ll go this way, Zidane,” Luna giggled, hooking her arm with the shorter blonde’s, and heading off. This left Prompto with Noctis, and he smiled brightly at his bond.

“Where should we go first?” he asked. “You probably know the layout better than me.”

“Well, how do you feel about going for a race?” Noctis chuckled out.

“Really? By Chocobo, right?” the blonde questioned, making sure.

“Of course,” Noctis said with a chuckle, leading the way down the streets. Prompto was quick to follow, sticking close to his bond.

“That would be awesome!” the smaller male agreed eagerly.

Soon enough, they reached the racing tracks. “Ah, looks like they’re already going,” Noctis murmured, leaning on the railing as he watched the Chocobos rushing through the water of the canals. Prompto watched from the prince’s side, his eyes wide with fascination as he watched the racers guide their Chocobos through large rings made of spheres.

“How come they gotta go through those rings?” he asked.

“The rings dictate the course and are there to test the riders’ skills at turning the Chocobos at ‘impossible’ angles,” Noctis explained calmly. The blonde nodded his understanding, and watched until the race was finished.

“Can we try now?” he inquired, bouncing in place from his excitement.

“Hahah. Alright, alright,” Noctis laughed as he headed for the receptionist. “Let’s go.” An excited laugh was emitted from Prompto as he followed after, waiting impatiently for Noctis to get them set up for the race. Thankfully, Noctis made it quick and he then gestured for Prompto to follow after him. The Genome was quick to follow, pep in his step as he walked.

After getting set up with one of the Chocobos each, Noctis smiled as he patted the bird’s neck while the other racers joined them. Prompto petted his own Chocobo’s neck, and he couldn’t help but hope for the win. He looked at Noctis, happiness shining in his bright blue eyes. Noctis chuckled, nodding wordlessly once everyone was ready.

And as soon as the whistle sounded to start the race, Prompto swiftly took off on his Chocobo with a whoop, easily guiding it to the first of the rings. Noctis laughed, right behind him, swiftly leaving the other riders behind. As Prompto got close to the first ring, he guided his Chocobo into jumping through it, which the large bird did with a cheerful “Kweh!”

From there, he focused on the track and the rings, or rather, making it through the rings just right. There was another “Kweh!” from behind him, as Noctis guided his own Chocobo through the ring as well, beginning to catch up to Prompto. The blonde growled softly, but was determined to try and win. So, he nudged his Chocobo onward, urging it to go faster, which the bird did with a loud chirp before darting through the next two rings with ease.

Noctis chuckled as he nudged his own Chocobo along, chasing after Prompto still. The smaller male laughed joyfully as they continued through the rings, not noticing how Noctis was creeping up on him until they were approaching the last ring before the finish line. Glancing behind him, Prompto yelped when he noticed, and then spurred his Chocobo into an even faster pace.

Noctis smirked as he made his own Chocobo hurry on along, and it chirped as it rushed off after Prompto. Prompto’s Chocobo, sensing the presence of Noctis’s Chocobo as it gained on them, gave a determined “KWEH!!” before bursting forward, jumping through the last ring before bolting for the finish line.

Smirking, Noct lightly kicked his Chocobo, and made it chirp loudly as it sprinted after the Genome and his own Chocobo with a sudden burst of speed. And as the pair approached the finish line, it came down to them reaching it at the exact same time. Prompto’s Chocobo skidded to a stop, and the blonde clung to the bird’s neck so as not to be thrown off.

“Awww! I wanted to win!” he groaned. He thought about it for a moment, but then turned in his saddle to look at Noctis. “At least I can say I’m as good as you are with Chocobos!”

Noctis laughed. “That you can,” he chuckled.

The smaller male beamed before hopping off of his Chocobo, and then practically bounded over to Noctis once the raven had dismounted as well. “Now what can we do?”

“Hmm…well…let’s head north of Altissia. I THINK there’s something there you want to see…”

“What is it?!” Prompto questioned eagerly.

“Oh you’ll see,” Noctis chuckled out. “C’mon.” Before long, they reached the area Noctis was talking about…and then he got behind Prompto and covered his eyes.

“Ah! Noct, what’re you doing?!” the blonde yelped.

“Keeping it a surprise,” Noctis chuckled, lightly moving Prompto ahead. The smaller male whined pathetically, but otherwise didn’t protest as Noctis guided him to…wherever he was taking him. Eventually, Noctis stopped them, but he didn’t remove his hands just yet. But before Prompto could complain, he caught it:

“Kwih kwih kwih!”

“…!!” Prompto gasped, and then tried to pull at the raven’s hands, wanting to see what was making the sounds. Noctis chuckled, and finally let Prompto remove his hands, lightly pushing him toward the pen they were now standing by.

“Awww!! They’re so cute!” Prompto gushed, looking into the pen where there were several little Chocochicks chirping and wandering around and chasing each other. The prince smiled as he stepped next to Prompto, watching the chicks waddling about, chirping happily as they went about. “Is this what Sora’s chicks will probably look like?” the blonde asked, looking at his bond curiously.

“Most likely… I doubt they’ll be much different.”

“Then I’ll bet they’re gonna be adorable, just like these cuties,” Prompto smiled.

“I’m sure they will,” Noctis murmured as he placed an arm around Prompto’s shoulders. The Genome leaned into the hold, smiling happily. In the back of his mind, he absently thought about kids of his own, but knew that since he was bonded to Noctis, it just wasn’t feasible. He soon dismissed the thought, though, in favor of enjoying his time with his bond.

As if sensing the shift in the boy, Noctis looked over. “What’s wrong?”

“Just… Remember how I said I’d like a kid someday?” the blonde murmured. At the raven’s curious nod, he continued. “It’s not gonna be possible since I’m bonded to you now… Don’t get me wrong, Noct, I love you, and very much so, but the thought of not having the chance at being a parent…”

Noctis didn’t say anything immediately, but after a while, he smiled and moved over to kiss his temple. “Don’t worry,” he assured him. “We’ll work something out… I promise.”

“Thanks, Noct. I really hope so…” Prompto smiled slightly, kissing Noctis lightly.

Smiling, Noctis finally said, “Well…shall we go explore a little more?”

“Yeah,” the smaller male nodded, and the couple left to check out the next attraction. As they went, though, Noctis frowned a little in thought. He knew he’d have to tell Prompto eventually…but he wasn’t sure when or even how. He just hoped he’d have a proper explanation ready by the time it came to that.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Prompto looked around as night began to fall, a confused look on his face. He had yet to see these ‘fireworks’ Luna and Noctis had mentioned, and wasn’t sure what to even look for.

“So why are we on these…gondola-thingies?” Zidane asked as he looked around the lake on the other side of the Leville. It was definitely a cool sight, but nothing really noteworthy.

“You’ll see soon enough, just try not to be too startled by the noise,” Luna answered cryptically, a smile on her face. Prompto, hearing her warning, pressed himself closer to Noctis on the gondola, a small, nervous whimper escaping him.

“It’s okay, Prom,” Noctis assured him as he rubbed the Genome’s back. “I’m sure you’ll love it.”

“I’m starting to have my doubts…” Zidane murmured softly, a frown on his face as his tail flicked nervously behind him.

Suddenly, the first of the fireworks started to shoot off, the loud pop as it was shot out of its casing startling the two Genomes. Prompto’s eyes were wide and his tail fluffed up in his surprise as he watched the glow from the source of the pop shoot skyward, right before it exploded into colored sparks and a Chocobo pattern.

The other Genome jumped at the sound of the explosion as his own tail fluffed up instinctively, before the next shot flew up into the air, exploding into a Moogle pattern in bright yellow-white sparks.

“These…these are fireworks,” Luna smiled, looking briefly at Zidane as the next shot was launched off in a series of colored explosions. Prompto was awed, his expression reflecting this perfectly as he leaned against Noctis. Noctis smiled as he held the Genome close, before he turned to watch the fireworks going off in the sky, reflecting off of the lake to create a beautiful myriad of colors.

“W…wow…” Zidane breathed out, his eyes focused on the fireworks, just like Prompto, and the bursts of color were reflected off the blue of their eyes in the same way as they did with the lake.

Luna took Zidane’s hand in hers as they watched, simply wanting the contact during this special time. Noctis smiled as he rubbed Prompto’s shoulder, watching from the corner of his eyes as Zidane’s tail curled around Luna’s waist even as his eyes remained trained on the sky.

Eventually, the big finale started, and Prompto’s eyes widened in pure amazement as the biggest fireworks began to launch off, creating large Chocobo and Moogle patterns for them to see.

“Ho…ly…!” was all Zidane could get out, his mouth open in awe as the sparklers in the water jumped to life as well.

“Awesome…!” Prompto breathed, feeling something in him shift a bit as he watched the fireworks explode and the sparklers shoot their sparks. However, he was unable to tear his gaze from the sight. Zidane was equally entranced by the sight, watching with baited breath and not even daring to blink for fear of missing anything of the show, even as he instinctively leaned up against Luna.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and after what felt like far too soon to the two Genomes, the fireworks stopped, signaling the end of the show.

“Awww…” Prompto pouted, but he soon smiled brightly. “That was amazing!”

“Whoever thought that was a good idea is a damn genius!” Zidane laughed with a bright grin.

Noctis laughed at the pair’s excitement, before he said, “Right, so shall we go back to the hotel?”

“Wha…? Already?” Zidane asked, very close to pouting now.

“It is getting late, and it’s too late to take the boat back home just yet,” Luna pointed out.

“It’s not THAT late, yet, though…” Zidane pointed out.

“I beg to disagree…” Noctis chuckled. “C’mon, let’s go.”

And with that said, the couples returned to the Leville, where they parted into their respective pairings for bed. As Prompto and Noctis headed to their room, though, the blonde felt that shift in him from before, this time making him feel a powerful wave of passion for his bond. He wasn’t prepared for it, but did at least try to keep himself contained until they were in their room. As soon as they were, however…

“…? Prom?” Noctis asked as he turned to the blonde curiously, noticing how erratic his tail was suddenly moving. “You okay?”

“…” Prompto found himself unable to speak, before he pressed himself against Noctis, kissing him and making his intentions very clear.

Though the sudden show of affection initially startled him, he spent only a moment worrying about it before he wrapped his arms around Prompto and began to kiss him back. The smaller male shivered lightly, before he slid his tongue along Noctis’s bottom lip slowly.

Noctis chuckled softly as he opened his mouth and slid his tongue into Prompto’s mouth, reaching up to curl his fingers in the Genome’s hair, pulling him up closer, still. As Prompto moaned softly into the raven’s mouth, his tail snuck around to the back Noctis’s pants and hooked into the belt loop before tugging down a little.

Sadly, the material didn’t budge too far down, but it did make Noctis aware of the limb’s motions. As he pulled back from the kiss briefly, he asked with a small smirk, “And just what do you think you’re doing?”

“What do you think?” the Genome whispered teasingly.

“Oh is that how you wanna play?” Noctis asked with a slow smirk…right before he grabbed Prompto by his ass and easily lifted him off the ground. Prompto gave a small yelp as he was lifted, but then wrapped his slim legs around Noctis’s hips. Noctis smirked cheekily, before he abruptly locked their mouths together again, lightly nipping and licking along the blonde’s lips.

The smaller male parted his lips willingly for his bond, moaning softly as his tail twitched behind him. Smiling against the blonde’s lips, Noctis opened his eyes so he could see where he was walking, carrying Prompto toward the bed…before he abruptly threw him onto the plush mattress. The Genome gave a breathless laugh as he bounced on the soft bed, before looking up at Noctis with lust-darkened eyes.

Noctis smirked softly at the look, toeing off his shoes before he climbed on the bed as well, positioning himself over the blonde, moving the Genome’s bangs out of his eyes. This softened the look on Prompto’s face as he looked up at the raven lovingly, and he reached up and brushed his lips against the prince’s. Humming hotly against Prompto’s mouth, Noctis began moving his hands along his arms, caressing gently before he reached the edge of the jacket and began to tug it off. The blonde leaned up just a little to assist Noctis in the jacket’s removal, a small, needy whine escaping him.

“Don’t be so impatient…” Noctis murmured, gently beginning to kiss and lap at every inch of Prompto’s face. This made the Genome settle down a bit, as he relaxed at the show of affection. But soon enough, his tail slipped around and tugged at the raven’s own jacket. A soft chuckle rumbled from the prince’s throat as he moved back slightly and slipped out of his jacket…and then reached down to pull off his shirt, tossing it after his jacket to be forgotten.

Immediately, Prompto felt his mouth go dry at the sight. Noctis’s upper body was pale, yes, but that didn’t matter. The sight of his well-toned abdomen, however… Prompto shivered. Noctis smiled softly at the look on the shorter male’s face, before he tugged on Prompto’s shirt with a cocked eyebrow.

The blonde was quick to remove his shirt at the tug, tossing the article off to the side and even pulling his pants down and off, leaving him fully exposed, much to Noctis’s pleasant surprise. The prince gave a small chuckle, before he moved in and locked their mouths together again, running his fingers along the Genome’s sides, teasing and rubbing along his bare skin.

Prompto’s eyes closed in pure bliss, giving a small moan into the kiss and shuddering lightly at the rubbing and teasing. Noctis nipped and sucked on the boy’s mouth, even as his fingers trailed further down, playing along his thighs and coming close, but never close enough. Even so, despite his desire to have his bond take him, he looked up at Noctis as he pulling away from the kiss, feeling a bit of nervousness fluttering in his stomach.

“N…Noct…you want this…as much as…I do…right?” he couldn’t help but ask.

Noctis regarded Prompto for a moment in silence, before he smiled and kissed him gently. “If I wasn’t…would I be doing this?” he murmured, as his fingers slipped down and teased at the Genome’s sensitive flesh. This drew a startled gasp and moan from Prompto, and he arched his back at the touch.

“Feels good?” Noctis murmured softly.

“Mm-hmm…” the blonde hummed, bucking his hips involuntarily from the pleasurable touch. He was immensely relieved that Noctis wanted him just as bad, as he didn’t think he would have been able to deal if the raven wanted to wait.

“Good,” Noctis murmured with a smirk, before he curled his hand along the Genome’s cock firmly and began to pump his hand. Prompto cried out as this happened, his hips thrusting into Noctis’s hold on his cock involuntarily.

Smirking at the noise, Noctis moved over and firmly kissed the blonde, moving his hand in a steady pace, though his grip either tightened or loosened at random intervals. The poor blonde moaned into Noctis’s mouth incessantly, barely able to focus on kissing back due to Noctis’s grip on his erection. Soon, though, he felt the coil of heat in his stomach tightening, and he desperately tried to hold off his release.

Noctis wasn’t having it, though he kept on moving his hand swiftly and firmly, pushing his tongue along Prompto’s palate. This did the smaller male in, and he came with a cry muffled by his bond’s mouth over his, his cum coating Noctis’s hand. Chuckling softly, Noctis pulled away and looked at the small blonde cheekily. Breathing heavily and face flushed, making his freckles almost blend in, Prompto was the perfect look of post-coital bliss, his chest rising and falling rapidly as he tried to catch his breath.

Noctis smiled as he ran the back of his fingers along the boy’s cheeks, before he placed another kiss to his lips. The Genome kissed back eagerly, almost purring into the kiss. Despite his recent orgasm, Prompto wanted more. He wanted Noctis to take him, and desperately so.

As if sensing what the blonde wanted (though the tail wrapping around his leg helped), Noctis pulled away slowly, before he placed his fingers against Prompto’s lips. Prompto gave his bond a puzzled look, but took the raven’s fingers into his mouth anyway, swirling his tongue around each digit.

Smiling a little at the Genome, Noctis used his free hand to work on his own pants, lazily kicking them off before he tugged his fingers away again. This time, when Prompto looked at Noctis’s body, he felt his mouth water at the sight of the bulge in the prince’s underwear, and he felt a tremor of excitement run through him.

Noctis chuckled, as he moved over to whisper in Prompto’s ear. “See something you like?”

“Definitely,” was the groaned response.

“Then open your legs…” Noctis murmured softly. Prompto complied with a small nod, parting his legs for Noctis to have room to work. Chuckling softly, Noctis brought his soaking hand down, trailing the fingers along his thighs briefly, before slipping lower. This drew a startled gasp from the blonde, as he felt a slick finger pressing against his entrance before slipping inside. His first instinct was to tense up, which he did.

“Sssh…just relax…” Noctis murmured, pausing his motions. “It’ll feel good, I promise.”

“I trust you,” Prompto whispered, inhaling deeply, before exhaling and relaxing fully. Smiling gently, Noctis moved his finger steadily in and out, gently rubbing the pad along the inner walls as he turned his finger around and around. The Genome gave a soft moan at the sensation, unused to the feeling, but certainly not disliking it.

Just then, as he pulled his finger out, Noctis curled his second finger, and then slipped both into the Genome. Prompto gave another moan, this time a bit louder, his eyes squeezing shut. He whimpered quietly, wanting more.

After a few more moments of simply stretching the blonde’s entrance gently, alternating between turning and thrusting, Noctis finally pulled out and swiftly removed his underwear before moving in closer. Prompto shivered in anticipation, spreading his legs a little wider, and gazed at Noctis with trusting, loving eyes.

Reaching out slowly, Noctis placed a hand on Prompto’s cheek and briefly kissed him, murmuring “I love you,” before he moved those final inches forward. Prompto’s eyes widened at the feeling of Noctis’s girth filling him, and he gave the smallest of whines from the twinge of pain that shot up his spine.

“Sssh…” Noctis hushed softly, running his fingers through his hair. “Just relax… ssshhh…it’s okay…”

The Genome’s tail had gone rigid when Noctis had entered him, but upon hearing those soothing words, even it relaxed, beginning to flick back and forth at the tip eagerly. Prompto soon managed to relax, finding the beginning stirrings of pleasure through the diminishing pain, and he looked up at Noctis gratefully.

“M-move,” he stuttered, unable to wait much longer. Smiling with a small nod, Noctis took a deep breath, moving out slowly, before he thrust back in, keeping the pace slow and steady for now. As the raven began to move inside of him, Prompto moaned, already loving the feeling of his bond’s cock rubbing against his inner walls. He didn’t know why they hadn’t done this sooner, but he definitely wasn’t going to ponder it now.

Unfortunately, he knew this wasn’t going to get either of them to their climax, so, trying to focus his gaze on Noctis, he stammered, “F…faster, Noct…!”

Nodding breathlessly, Noctis reached down and lifted up one of Prompto’s legs, locking it over his shoulder as he pulled out…right before he slammed in again. A choked cry was emitted from Prompto’s throat, feeling the head of Noctis’s cock slam against something sweet deep inside of him. Whatever it was, it made him see stars.

“Wh…what…?” he panted, not knowing what it was. Noctis smirked at the reaction, before he did it again as he grabbed hold of one of Prompto’s hands. The smaller male cried out again, shuddering heavily into the bed in response. As Noctis thrust into him harder and faster, the blonde moaned loudly, over and over, crying out in pleasure with every strike to that ‘sweet spot’. The hand held by Noctis squeezed the taller male’s firmly, and everything in this moment just felt right to Prompto.

And it was about to get even better, as Noctis reached out with his other hand, curling his hand around the boy’s cock and began to pump it in time with his thrusts. Prompto very nearly shrieked at the added stimulation, feeling his release rapidly approaching.

“N…Noct! I-I’m gonna—AH!! NOOOCT!!” Prompto screamed, unable to hold back any longer. His body clenched around his bond’s cock as his cum coated Noctis’s hand again and their stomachs, his tail spasming like mad beneath him.

Noctis groaned as his lover tightened around him, managing only a few more thrusts before he gave a choked cry as his own release hit him hard, filling the boy beneath him with his seed.

Prompto gave a pitiful whine, shivering beneath Noctis as the raven’s white hot seed filled him, and then went limp, exhausted. Noctis breathed a bit unsteadily for a moment, before he slowly moved back and then settled next to the weary Genome. The blonde gave his bond a dazed smile, barely managing to cuddle closer in his current state.

Smiling, Noctis pulled him up against him, using one hand to rest Prompto’s head against his chest, fingers lazily running through his hair. As they rested, Prompto soon sighed happily, perfectly content to just stay like this.

“Love you, Noct,” he whispered, pressing his lips to the raven’s chest lightly.

Noctis smiled as he kissed the Genome’s forehead softly. However, after a moment of just laying there, enjoying each other’s company, Noctis frowned in thought (not that Prompto saw with his head against his chest).

And finally, he sighed softly.

“…hey, Prom?”

“Hmm?”

“…There was one other thing that we discussed with Kuja…”

“…What? You mean that night after you guys saved us?” Prompto asked, his attention fully focused on his bond now.

“Yeah.”

“Well, what is it? Don’t leave me hanging,” the smaller male whined.

Noctis took a deep breath, considering how to say this properly. In the end, he decided to just be blunt. “Male Genomes…can both sire and bear.”

Prompto went quiet for a few minutes, absorbing this new information. He’d never known that male Genomes could sire and bear in order to have children. He only knew that they could sire, especially when he’d seen Joshua and Kuja. But now that the possibility of having a child with Noctis was real…he was relieved and happy to know.

“Prom…I’m…I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner…I just…I wasn’t sure how—”

He was cut off with a loving kiss, Prompto’s lips pressing against his firmly. When the blonde pulled back, he was smiling brightly.

“Thank you for telling me,” he murmured. “You have no idea how happy I am to know that I—no, we—can actually have a child together.”

Noctis smiled at the other’s obvious happiness, before he leaned forward and kissed the Genome’s forehead. “Yeah, that we can,” he murmured, gently massaging Prompto’s scalp. “Let’s get some sleep. We have a boat to catch in the morning.”

“Kay,” Prompto smiled tiredly, resting against his bond’s chest again. “G’night, Noct.”

“G’night, Prom,” Noctis murmured softly, smiling as he settled on the bed quietly. And with that, the pair fell asleep, Prompto more than pleased by the news Noctis had given him.

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Week Later)X*X

Prompto and Zidane were in the garden, hanging out with the Chocobos while Noctis and Luna were in a meeting again. The taller of the two Genomes sighed, bored out of his mind, when he suddenly remembered something.

“Hey, Zidane?”

“Yeah?” the blonde murmured from where he was laying next to Sora, who was still sitting on her eggs, fast asleep.

“Remember that orb we found back at the antique shop in Treno?”

“…Oh yeah,” Zidane quipped as he sat up, reaching back into his bag, pulling the orb out. “Forgot about that thing coz of all the hassle…”

“Same here,” Prompto admitted. “Maybe we should look into it while Noct and Luna are at their meeting?”

“Would give us something to do, yeah,” the shorter Genome murmured as he turned it around a few times. “…Question is, how does this work?”

“I dunno. Let’s try the library, maybe?” the taller blonde suggested.

“Sure, let’s go,” Zidane said as he stood up.

“We’ll be back later, Sora,” Prompto smiled, lightly petting the Chocobo before they left for the library. When they got there, Prompto paused. “Where to start…?" he wondered aloud.

“Good one…history books, maybe?” Zidane murmured as he absently pushed on some of the circular sections of the orb.

“Might be our best bet,” he agreed, and they made their way to the aforementioned section. As they walked by the history section, they soon realized that there really weren’t any books on the history of Bran Bal. The only time they could find anything about it was in small fragments in the bigger books.

“Dammit! This ain’t helping!” Zidane growled, curling his hand around the orb and burying his thumb into another circle.

Ssshhingg

“Abuh?!” Zidane yelped as he looked down at the orb, realizing that all the circles he hadn’t yet pushed in were now pushed in anyway. “…What did I just do?”

“No clue, but don’t do anything that might break it!” Prompto exclaimed, and they watched the orb carefully.

Zidane looked at his friend dryly, before he put his other hand on the orb and began to lightly wriggle it, realizing soon that he could actually turn the top hemisphere. “I wonder…”

And then he turned it all the way and the orb burst open along the seams, pure blue energy surging out from it and beginning to fill the entire room.

“What is all this…?” Prompto murmured curiously, his tail flicking back and forth as he looked at what appeared to be notes and blueprints, or even just one massive blueprint.

Zidane was equally confused about what the hell was going on, watching the notes and words in the old Terran dialect flying through the air. After a moment of looking through things, though, his eyes widened. ‘This is…the blueprint for Genomes?!’

‘What?!’ Prompto yelped, looking and seeing what Zidane was seeing. ‘But how did they end up like this?’

‘Maybe…maybe this belonged to the ones who thought it up?’ Zidane offered after a moment. ‘You know…the guys that were…left behind.’

‘Good point…’ the taller male murmured. ‘Let’s see what we can find out from this stuff.’ The pair walked around through the library, moving about through the holographic notes and blueprints, studying all they could before anyone walked in.

‘…Hey, it does say here that male Genomes can sire and bear, like you said Kuj was saying.’

‘Well, I wasn’t about to doubt Noct, especially with something that major,’ Prompto chuckled. ‘But it’s good to verify, I guess.’

‘Always nice to be sure, yeah,’ Zidane murmured as he flicked a few notes away. ‘…Oh hey, I got a name of one of the designers here!’

‘Who?!’ Prompto demanded, hurrying over.

‘‘Mikoto Tribal’,’ Zidane said, tapping on the name, This brought up a photograph of a young, blonde-haired woman with two ponytails resting on her shoulders, a pair of solemn blue eyes staring right into the camera. ‘She was in charge of ensuring Genomes were fertile.’

‘Wonder what happened to her in the end…’ the taller Genome murmured.

‘Well…it’s been years ago, so my guess? She’s already dead…’ Zidane mumbled as he walked around again. ‘Let’s see if we can find the others, huh?’

‘Good idea,’ Prompto nodded, and the pair continued to look around. Despite knowing what they were looking for, it took them a little while to find another one.

‘…Oh hey, listen to this one,’ Zidane suddenly called out. ‘‘Body structure has been redesigned slightly to permit for maximum fertility.’ Huh…’ Looking down at his own hips and his definite hourglass figure, the shorter of the two mumbled, ‘Guess that explains these, huh?’

‘Sure does,’ Prompto snickered, knowing about his own figure. After all, he’d be the one who eventually becomes pregnant, not Zidane. Imagining Zidane as a father, though…the idea made him laugh.

‘What’s so funny?’ Zidane asked with a suspicious look.

‘Just trying to imagine you as a dad,’ the taller snickered.

‘Oh shut up,’ Zidane grumbled as he turned back to the data point. ‘Let’s just see if we can figure out who—aha! ‘Head of structural engineering; Ku’—!!’ And Zidane froze, his eyes going wide as he stared at the name at the bottom of the point.

‘Wait, what? Who is it?’ Prompto yelped, hurrying over to look.

Zidane didn’t speak; he just pointed to the lettering floating in front of him.

“Kuja Tribal”

‘Oh. My. Goddess.’ Prompto was in shock. The old legends of them replacing the former residents of Bran Bal were true? Then what about himself and Zidane? With a shaking finger, Zidane tapped on the name, bringing up the photograph that belonged with the name.

The image that came up was that of an aging man, much older than the Kuja they both knew, but the long, silver hair and sharp violet eyes, half hidden by a pair of reading glasses as they were, made it easy for them to see the similarities between the two.

‘What…the actual hell!?’ Zidane choked out finally.

‘He looks just like Kuja, just old!’ Prompto yelped. ‘Does that mean…there’s older versions of us in here, too?’

Zidane bit the side of his thumb in thought, eyes darting from side to side, before he moved his fingers down and snapped something up; a search window. Against what had to be his better judgment, the shorter of the two swiftly typed in his own name, before he hit search.

The results came up with a number of different reports, each one talking about the status (and failures) of souls connecting with the Genomes created. And all were written by a single person:

‘‘Head of crystal/soul bonding; Zidane Tribal’…’

‘You guys were all related…?’ Prompto breathed, shocked. ‘This part here might explain how Genomes get souls, Zidane!’ he exclaimed, pointing at the article of notes.

‘Y-yeah…maybe…’ Zidane managed to get out, opening one of the articles.

‘Batch 7-9-4-2 has failed to bond through the Crystal’s aid as well. Despite our redoubled efforts, the Crystal is not prepared to release the souls of those it has taken from us. The batch functions…but they without souls, they are no more than mere machines moving to the bidding of their ‘creators’. Argentum is currently attempting to siphon the souls out by force. Much as we are meant to treasure the Crystal, if we do not at least take the chance…we will all die.’

‘Argentum?’ Prompto repeated, confused. ‘Wonder if…’ He then slid Zidane over a bit, and then typed in his name. After a few moments, about fifty-odd-something blueprints were brought up, each one plans for the machines that had clearly been utilized to create the Genomes in the first place.

And the person who’d written them all was called “Prompto Argentum”.

‘…!’ Prompto was shocked. The person he was based off of seriously came up with Genomes in the first place?! As much as he was curious, the mere thought of finding out more scared Prompto. ‘Maybe…maybe we should stop…’ Then one question popped into his head. ‘Wait, just in case…’ He then began to look up how long a Genome’s pregnancy should be, and he discovered his answer: six months.

‘Just six…? That’s…three months less than a normal one, right?’ Zidane murmured. ‘Shit…they must’ve been REAL desperate to rebuild…’

‘Well, if you were about to be part of a dying species, you’d want to repopulate faster, too, right?’ Prompto pointed out. ‘Let’s stop before we find something bad…’

‘R-right…’ Zidane agreed, twisting the orb shut again and making the entire thing be sucked back into it.

‘Should we even tell Noct and Luna about this? ‘Cause I know Noct’s gonna be skeptical if I tell him how long I’m supposed to be pregnant for, whenever it happens…’

‘Do you…REALLY wanna explain that?’ Zidane asked, referring to the part where they were (technically) reincarnations of the very people who had devised the Genome Project.

‘No, but I can’t just tell him if he asks and expect him to not ask me how I know…I didn’t even know I COULD become pregnant until Noct told me…’ the taller male sighed.

‘Then why would he ask you?’ Zidane pointed out. ‘If you didn’t even know that, how are you supposed to know about the duration?’

‘That’s what I’m saying! I don’t like to hide things from him, and I’d rather not leave him playing a guessing game…’

Zidane didn’t say anything about it, though he bit his lip in obvious thought. ‘…what about Kuja? He DID know…maybe he knows the duration, too?’

‘Good thinking…but how can I pretend that I contacted him to find out?’

‘Don’t,’ Zidane said with a small smirk, before he reached into one of his pockets, producing a small rectangular object.

‘We can call him?’ Prompto asked, surprised. ‘Quick, call him now!’

‘Sure.’ Zidane turned to the phone and briefly tapped in a few things, before he swiped across it and tapped one button as he hopped on a chair, holding up the phone as began to beep as it tried to connect to the other side. Prompto waited as patiently as he could, practically dancing in place as the phone rang.

Finally, there was a click, followed by a casual, “Yes, dear?”

“Yo, Kuj! Sup?” Zidane said with a grin.

“Hello to you, too, Zidane,” Kuja’s voice chuckled out. “Nothing out of the ordinary has happened, I’m afraid. What of yourself?”

“Oh we’re doing fine. But seriously though; we got something ask you.”

“Oh?”

“How long does a Genome’s pregnancy last for?” Prompto inquired.

“Oh is that it?” Kuja inquired with a chuckle. “Six months, dear.”

Zidane grinned and looked at Prompto.

“You’re not gonna ask how I know I can become pregnant?” Prompto asked, ignoring Zidane’s smug look. “I didn't even know I could…”

“Dear, I’ve seen how you were clinging to the prince back in Treno. You weren’t being very ‘subtle’,” Kuja pointed out, and Zidane almost burst out laughing at that.

“Shut. UP!” Prompto snapped at his friend. “Kuja…! Why didn’t you at least talk to me about it?! I was scared he wasn’t gonna like me in that way in the first place!”

“Now where’s the fun in that~?” Kuja nearly purred out with a smooth chuckle.

“Ass…” the taller blonde pouted.

“I love you, too, dears,” the older Genome laughed out cheekily, and Zidane chuckled, before he turned serious.

“Hey, Kuj? How DO you know all that stuff, anyway?”

“Yeah, really,” Prompto nodded.

“Oh, that? Well…funny story; I used to have this neat little trinket that had all the secrets…but I’m afraid someone ran off with it a few years ago.”

Zidane’s eyes widened and he looked to Prompto in alarm/surprise.

‘Should we tell him?’ Prompto asked.

‘He’s gonna find out one way or another…’ Zidane pointed out. “Speaking of trinkets…wanna know what we found back in Treno?”

“Hm?”

“Some weird blue sphere,” Prompto said.

“…you found what?”

“Yeah, I think we might’ve bought your little trinket from whoever snatched it up,” Zidane pointed out.

“…huh. Imagine that…” Silence befell them for a moment, then, before Kuja asked, his voice serious, “Did you open it?”

“…Yes.”

“What’s wrong with us opening it?” Prompto frowned.

“I believe you know exactly what is wrong with that, Prompto,” Kuja said solemnly. “There…hm? One moment.”

Kuja’s voice was suddenly muffled, as if he was covering the microphone, but they could still hear him calling out. Finally, though, he came back on with a sigh.

“We’ll talk later…something just came up. Toodles~”

click

Zidane blinked once and then turned to Prompto silently.

“I hope we don’t get in trouble for that,” Prompto mumbled.

“Here’s hoping…”

“Prom? Zidane? You guys in here?” a familiar voice called out.

Zidane hummed curiously, before he smirked. “Sounds like the meeting’s over.”

“Yes!” Prompto hissed, before he and Zidane headed over to the source of the call, Noctis, where he was standing with Luna. “Hi Noct!”

“Hey you two,” the prince chuckled before he turned serious. “Why were you two in here?”

“Oh, just passing time, really,” Zidane said, waving the matter off casually. The taller Genome pressed himself into Noctis’s warmth, smiling.

“How’d the meeting go?” he asked.

“Ah, well enough…” Noctis said, but there was a hint of worry underlining his voice. “I think we managed to pull things off okay.”

“I hope so,” the blonde murmured, before he looked up at Noctis again. “What would happen if it didn’t go well?”

“Let’s not think on that for now…” Noctis said, before he smirked. “Because I believe there was someone back at the pen calling for you."

“Who’re you—…wait. Sora?!”

“Ahh! The eggs are gonna hatch! C’mon, Zidane!” Prompto yelped, and tore off for the garden. The other Genome was right behind him, much to the amusement of their bonds. However, before Prompto could run down a hall, Zidane grabbed him by his tail to stop him.

“Not that way! C’mon!” the shorter Genome called out, right before he threw open the nearest window and leapt out. “SHORTCUT!!”

Prompto took off after him, climbing along the outer walls of the castle.

Zidane!” Luna yelled after them. “You know I hate when you do that!”

Zidane merely laughed as he swung from a ledge by his tail, rapidly scaling the walls with Prompto close behind him.

Noctis snorted at the Genomes’ eagerness to get back to the pen, before he nudged Luna. “C’mon, let’s go join them, shall we?”

“All right,” she nodded, and the two owners headed for the garden. When they arrived, Prompto and Zidane were already there, of course, out of breath from their climbing. Not that that stopped them, because when they heard the familiar “Kweh!” from the pen, the pair immediately turned and hurried toward it, vaulting over the fence to hurry to the Chocobo’s side.

“Sorry, sorry!” Zidane called as he reached up and patted the girl’s beak as she chirped happily upon seeing the pair. “Didn’t mean to be late there.”

“We’re here now, though,” Prompto chimed in cheerfully. Sora chirped happily, before she nudged them over and they both laughed before they moved to huddle around Sora’s nest, where the first of her five eggs was already cracking. Prompto tried to hold still as he watched the chicks start to hatch, already super excited to see the Chocochicks.

As Noctis and Luna stepped up to the pen, the two of them merely watched from a distance as the two Genomes had their full focus on the eggs as the chicks began puncturing holes through the shells, before their tiny beaks poked through with little chirps.

“Ah!” Prompto gasped, watching in awe and amazement as the Chocochicks started to break out of the eggs. The beaks occasionally retreated to peck at the shell, but when it took too long, Sora trotted over and starting tugging at the shells with her beak, allowing the chicks to crawl out. And the two Genomes merely continued to watch with baited breath and large smiles on their faces as their tails swished about behind them.

And finally, the damp Chocochicks stumbled out of their shells, chirping occasionally, making Prompto want to squeal happily, but he managed to not do so.

Zidane looked like he wanted to say something, but he bit his lip to keep himself from saying anything. Instead, he reached out slowly once Sora had huddled the five chicks together gently, and slowly ran a gloved finger along the head of one of the Chocochicks. The small chick gave a tiny “Kwih!” as it tried to lean into the touch.

“Aww, I think it likes you!” Prompto cooed, also reaching out to pet one of the chicks as well. The chick Prompto chose to pet also chirped softly trying to lean its head up, but it was still very tired from breaking out from the egg.

“Hahah, look who’s talking,” Zidane quipped cheekily.

“Well, they’re super adorable, Sora,” Prompto smiled at the new mother, ignoring his friend’s quip. Sora gave a merry “Kweh!” before she stepped over and, after making sure the chicks were all together, settled down over them gently, letting the small Chocochicks rest for now. “I say they’re cuter than the ones at the carnival,” Prompto declared, looking back at Noctis.

Noctis laughed at the quip. “Well that’s good to know,” he said with a chuckle.

“What do you think, Zidane? They’ll be good fun later?” Luna asked the shorter Genome with a giggle.

“I would assume so,” Zidane said as he stood up, lightly petting Sora’s neck, making the bird chirp softly.

“I’m sure they’ll be awesome,” Prompto smiled brightly. He then petted Sora as well. “Get some rest with them, Sora. You’ll need it.” Once she chirped softly again, the blonde returned to Noctis’s side.

Zidane followed shortly after, before he hopped over the fence again. “Right…so, we good for lunch yet?”

“Yes, I believe Ignis should have lunch ready by now,” Luna smiled. Hooking her arm in Zidane’s, she said, “Shall we?”

“Sounds like a plan!” Zidane said with a grin, as Noctis took hold of Prompto’s hand, before the two couples made their way to the dining room.

Chapter Text

X*X(3 Weeks Later)X*X

It had been a month since Prompto and Noctis had had sex, and to say the least, the blonde missed having Noctis with him like that. He wanted to be pinned under Noctis again, with the raven’s cock deep in his ass, hitting that sweet spot deep inside him… His face flushed crimson at the thoughts running through his mind, and he pushed himself up from where he’d been lying on his and Noctis’s bed. They had shared Noctis’s bed ever since they became a couple, so it wasn’t a big deal that he was in it while Noctis had to study. Zidane was with Luna, so Prompto was left to his own devices.

Sighing heavily, the Genome’s tail flicked as he thought about how to keep himself busy until his bond returned. That’s when it clicked. Maybe he could tempt Noctis somehow… Smirking with his plan in place, Prompto looked at the clock, seeing that the raven would be done in ten minutes. Now would be the best time to start, he realized, and headed to the bathroom to get ready.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Roughly 15 minutes later, Noctis walked back into the room, sighing softly as he rubbed his temples. That had been a particularly annoying study session, and he really just wanted to lay down a while until dinner. Or maybe he should take a shower before that…

What did worry him though, was that he couldn’t find Prompto in his usual spots. He’d kind of been hoping to find him in the room, but he appeared to be absent here, too.

‘…Whatever. Guess I should take a shower, then…’ he thought with a shrug as he walked to the bathroom, ditching his shirt as he went. When he got close, however, he could hear the shower running, as well as soft moans and groans, which immediately caught his attention.

“Hm?” Frowning softly, Noctis walked the last distance and quietly pushed the door open and peeked inside. And the sight that greeted him was a very erotic one, to say the least.

Prompto was in the shower, eyes closed in bliss as he rocked his hips back on his fingers, four of the slender digits in his ass, twisting and scissoring. He had his other hand bracing himself against the shower wall, and he didn’t appear to have noticed Noctis’s presence yet.

Noctis almost gasped at the sight, blinking, twice, before a small smirk played on his lips. He soundlessly stripped off the rest of his clothes, and slowly snuck up on the Genome. As he came up behind him, though, he curled his hand around and slipped his own index finger in along with Prompto’s four.

Prompto nearly jumped out of his skin, startled since he hadn’t heard or sensed Noctis come in. He moaned, however, at the addition of the pale finger, before he looked back at the raven, breathing heavily.

“Took you…long enough…” he panted. Noctis merely smirked as he leaned in and closed his lips around the blonde’s earlobe, while still moving his finger along with Prompto’s. The smaller male moaned softly, rocking his hips back still.

Chuckling softly, the prince slowly pulled both his own and the Genome’s fingers, before pulling him back and pushing up against the blonde, nipping along his throat as he slipped his cock along the shorter male’s ass, teasing it along the twitching muscle.

“Noct…please…” Prompto pleaded in a whimper.

“Please…what?”

“Please…fuck me…Noct…!”

Noct smiled softly at the cry, before he took one step back, and then, without giving Prompto a moment to lament, he slipped his cock inside of the Genome. Since he’d been so thoroughly stretched, Prompto barely made a sound, a tiny whimper being the only noise that escaped him.

Knowing that the blonde was more than ready, Noctis barely waited before pulling out and then slamming back into him harshly. A choked, drawn out moan was emitted from Prompto, and he braced himself against the shower wall as Noctis thrust into him powerfully.

Laughing breathlessly, Noctis adjusted the blonde’s hips, while also lifting up his tail, making it easier for him to see what he was doing, slamming into him harder and harder before he arched up. Prompto gave a pleasured cry as that sweet spot inside of him was struck, and he clenched automatically around the raven’s cock.

Hissing sharply, Noctis moved forward and nipped and sucked along the back of Prompto’s neck, as he let one of his hands slip along the boy’s front to start stroking his neglected cock. The Genome let out a startled shriek at the added stimulation, before his hips bucked into the touch, moans and cries escaping him. Noctis gave a groan at the loud shriek, before smirked as he nibbled along his ear shell.

“Do you want to cum, Prom? Do you?” he purred, flicking his thumb along the head of the Genome’s cock.

“Yes! Please, let me cum, Noct!” Prompto begged.

Laughing breathlessly, Noctis murmured softly, “Then cum, Prompto.”

And with a scream of the prince’s name, he did. The blonde clenched around Noctis’s cock as his cum spattered onto the shower wall, his body trembling. A deep moan rumbled from Noctis’s throat at the feeling of the Genome clenching around him, making it difficult to keep moving. He managed only twice more before his own climax hit him and he released in the blonde with a choked scream of his own.

Prompto was breathing heavily, weakly bracing himself against the shower wall as he whined quietly, shuddering as he felt Noctis’s cum fill him. The prince was breathing just as heavily, needing a moment to compose himself, before he pulled back and kissed Prompto’s temple. The blonde shivered as Noctis pulled out, allowing himself to be held close.

“You could’ve said something, yanno?” Noctis murmured softly.

“What’s the fun in that?” Prompto chuckled. Noctis merely smiled lazily, before he shut off the water and lifted the blonde up easily, heading back to the bedroom. Prompto cuddled close in the raven’s arms, allowing himself to be carried back to their bed.

“Love you, Noct…” he murmured as he was set on the soft mattress.

Noctis laughed softly. “Love you, too, Prom,” he murmured as he settled next to him. “I’m assuming you wanna stay here until dinner, huh?”

“We shouldn’t have to leave at all,” the Genome pointed out tiredly, cuddling close to his bond.

“If you want to eat nothing until breakfast, sure,” Noctis chuckled softly.

“Good point…” Prompto agreed with a small laugh.

Noctis merely chuckled as he ran a hand through the blonde’s hair. “You little dope…”

“But I’m your dope, and you love me for it,” the smaller male replied with a cheeky grin.

“Hmm… Suppose so,” Noctis murmured, kissing the blonde’s temple gently.

As they cuddled, Prompto asked, “…Do you think I’ll get pregnant this time?”

“I don’t know…maybe…” Noctis murmured softly.

“Would you be happy if I do?”

Noctis chuckled. “Aren’t you eager?”

“Yeah, but I wanna know if you’d be happy, too…” Prompto insisted.

The prince allowed a small smile, before he moved in and gently kissed him. “Yes, I would be.”

“Good,” Prompto smiled softly, kissing Noctis back. And that was how they remained until dinner, simply kissing and cuddling.

 

X*X(1 Month Later)X*X

Prompto grinned excitedly at Noctis as they made their way to the main entrance to meet with their guests, who were almost there, according to the posts at the gates.

“I can’t wait to see Kuja and Joshua again!” he practically cheered as they went.

Noctis laughed softly at the Genome’s excitement. “Really? I couldn’t tell…”

Zidane merely chuckled as he followed after Luna, hands in his pockets.

“Come on, Zidane! Aren’t you excited, too?” Prompto asked, looking back at his fellow Genome, making Luna giggle.

“Not as much as you, looks like,” Zidane laughed out as they walked outside. And just as they did, there was a familiar roar from above, just as Nova descended from above, the tremor barely noticeable despite her size.

“Hi Nova!” Prompto called to the dragon as they approached. Luna laughed lightly at the taller Genome’s energy. Ever since two weeks ago, he’d had a lot more energy and pep to him, as well as a larger appetite, which they’d all noticed. The energy was welcome, but the larger appetite was a bit puzzling.

Nova chirped as the small group came over, as she lowered down, and allowed Kuja to effortlessly slide off of her back. Once the silver-haired man stood on his feet, he set down the small boy he’d been holding. And once Joshua was on his feet, the boy scrambled over with a laugh.

“Prompto! Zidane!!”

“Hey there, little man!” Zidane laughed as he caught the boy in his rush at them, picking him up easily. “How’ve you been, huh?”

“I’m okay!” the boy chirped as Kuja came over, chuckling.

“Hi Kuja,” Prompto smiled brightly. “How have you been?”

“Well enough, thank you, dear,” Kuja said with a smile. “Yourself?”

“Hungry, that’s what,” Zidane laughed out as Joshua scrambled over his shoulders with a giggle.

“Hm?”

“Shut up, Zidane. I’m fine!” the taller of the blondes huffed. Luna and Noctis joined them then, and Prompto was quick to tuck himself into Noctis’s side, as usual.

“Yeah, with twice the appetite!” Zidane pointed out, still chuckling.

“He has a point, Prom,” Noctis chuckled. This made Prompto pout, but he didn’t argue it any further.

Kuja hummed softly, seeming to think about that for a moment, before he smiled. “Curious…” he murmured, before he turned to Nova. “Nova, dear, go ahead and wait for us, okay?”

Nova gave a small cry, before she took to the sky again.

“It’s good to see her again,” Prompto commented as she flew off.

“She hasn’t changed a bit,” Luna agreed.

Kuja merely smiled as he watched Zidane set Joshua back down on the ground again. “In any event, shall we move this inside?”

Noctis chuckled. “Let’s, why don’t we?” With that said, the group headed inside, all the while, Joshua chattering away with Zidane as Prompto watched fondly from Noctis’s side.

‘Prompto.’

‘What’s up, Kuja?’ Prompto asked.

‘How long have you had an ‘appetite’?’

‘Umm…about two weeks now. Why?’

‘…I see…’ Kuja hummed softly, a thoughtful frown on his face.

‘Kuja…! Don’t leave me hanging!’

‘Later, dear; after the meeting.’

‘Maaaan…’

Noctis didn’t seem to have realized the conversation was going on between the two, as he turned to Prompto and Zidane. “Prom, Zidane, do you mind keeping Joshua busy?”

“Yeah, sure, no prob,” Zidane chuckled.

“I appreciate it, dear,” Kuja said with a smile.

“No sweat! He’s good with us!” Prompto grinned. “Wanna see something cool in the garden, Joshua?”

Joshua blinked curiously, before he smiled brightly. “Uh-huh!!”

“Awesome, then off we go!” the taller blonde crowed, before he and Zidane walked the small boy to the garden.

Kuja chuckled as the Genomes hurried along, before his expression turned serious. “…If I may, Noctis,” he said suddenly.

“Hm? What is it?”

“…I may just know why the dear’s worked up an appetite…”

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

“Have you seen a Chocobo yet, Josh?” Prompto asked as they got closer to the pens.

“The big birdies, right?” Joshua asked with a curious blink, before he smiled. “In books! They’re cute!”

“Really? So you know how big they are?” Zidane chuckled.

“Uh…this big?” Joshua asked, holding his hands about a foot apart.

“Nope, bigger,” the taller Genome smiled.

“This big?” Joshua asked, holding his hands a little further apart.

“Nope,” Zidane laughed, before he turned the boy around. “That big,” he said, and the boy gawked in awe.

“Wooooooow!!”

“This is Sora,” Prompto chuckled. “She became a mom almost two months ago to some adorable little Chocochicks.”

“Choco…?” Joshua began, just before there was a high-pitched “Kwih Kwih!” from by the taller Chocobo’s feet, and Joshua gasped. And then he almost squealed. “Daaaaawww! So cute!!” he cheered as the chicks waddled around their mother happily.

“Hi guys,” Prompto called to the chicks, bending down and gaining their attention. The chicks immediately started chirping happily and crowding around Prompto, hopping about cheerily.

Joshua looked like he wanted to walk over, but he wasn’t sure if he should. Zidane noticed, of course, and chuckled as he lightly pushed him ahead. “Go on, kiddo.”

The small boy seemed a bit unsure, before he scurried over.

“It’s okay, they’re all really sweet,” Prompto assured Joshua as he joined him. Scooping one of the chicks up, he showed Joshua it, and gently pet it, showing how to pet the little one.

“Um…h-hi…?” the small boy chirped, reaching out to pet the chick.

“Kwih!” the chick chirped, trying to push its head into the boy’s hand…and the other four chicks immediately started chirping and crowding around the boy. “Wah!”

“Looks like they like you, too,” Prompto laughed, watching as the chicks all demanded attention from Joshua. Joshua giggled as he plopped down and started to pet the chicks in turn.

Zidane laughed at the boy enjoying himself so much, even as Sora relaxed in her nest, still watching them, but not seeming too worried. Prompto was glad he’d thought to bring Joshua here, as he clearly enjoyed being with the chicks, and Sora seemed to like him, too.

‘Hey Prom? You feeling okay?’ Zidane’s voice suddenly called out.

‘Yeah, I’m fine. Why?’ Prompto asked, curious.

‘Just checking… You’ve been sneaking in a lot of snacks behind everyone’s back. And don’t try to deny that one!’ Zidane frowned a little. ‘You sure you don’t feel funny?’

‘I feel fine, Zidane, I swear!’ Prompto snorted, resisting the urge to huff.

‘Okay…if you say so…’ Zidane said, though he didn’t sound convinced. Prompto suppressed his annoyed growl at the shorter Genome’s words, instead focusing on the chicks still demanding attention.

“Wah!” Joshua yelped as one of the chicks suddenly fluttered up to land on his head.

Zidane blinked a few times at the sight, looking back and forth between Joshua and Prompto, and then he laughed. “Wow! You two actually look like brothers, now!”

“Huh?”

“Zidane! My hair does NOT look like a Chocobo butt!” Prompto protested. Joshua blinked, before he laughed along with Zidane. “Guuuuuys!!”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Well that tuckered him out, didn’t it?” Zidane laughed as he watched Joshua sleeping against Sora after what felt like hours of playing with the chicks.

“Yeah. I bet Kuja’s gonna appreciate that,” Prompto agreed.

“So I do,” came a familiar voice from the pen’s entrance.

“Oh hey Kuj!” Zidane quipped.

“Hi Kuja,” Prompto chimed in, watching as the silver-haired Genome approached.

Kuja merely smiled as he came over and then sat himself down by the other Genomes. “So, I assume you’ve been holding up well?”

“Well enough, yeah,” Zidane said with a nod.

“Yeah, and with Sora’s chicks around, the days definitely aren’t boring,” Prompto agreed.

The older Genome nodded with a small hum. ‘Ah, right, Zidane? You still have the orb with you?’

‘Oh yeah, here.’ Zidane reached back into his bag and pulled out the orb, tossing it to Kuja casually.

‘Thank you.’

‘So, Kuja, how did you get that orb in the first place?’ Prompto asked, curious.

‘Through a lot of difficulty, let’s keep it at that,’ Kuja replied simply, but the dark look on his face said enough.

‘Sorry I asked…’

‘So hey, Kuja,’ Zidane suddenly said. ‘You got any ideas on why Prom’s suddenly got a huge appetite?’

‘Zidane! I’M FINE!!’ Prompto fumed.

‘Actually, I believe I know exactly what is wrong,’ Kuja said, not even seeming to care about Prompto’s outburst.

‘Wha? …Wait, is this where you’re gonna tell me why my appetite increased two weeks ago?’ Prompto frowned, becoming frustrated.

‘You’re pregnant,’ Kuja said simply in response. Immediately, Prompto stiffened, as that answer was completely unexpected for him. He remained silent for several minutes, trying to digest this information, despite it being just two simple words.

‘Prom…? Oy, Prompto!!’ Zidane called out, reaching out to shake him by the shoulder. Prompto jolted a bit, shaken out of his thoughts, before abruptly standing.

‘S-sorry, guys, but I need some time,’ he told them, and then vaulted the fence before taking off for Noctis and his room.

‘Prompto!!’ Zidane called out, but Kuja stopped him before he could give chase. “Kuja!”

“Leave him, dear. It’s fine.”

“But—”

“Don’t worry; I’ve assured it’ll be fine.”

“…what did you do?”

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

By the time Prompto reached his and Noctis’s room, he was breathing heavily, on the verge of a panic attack as he closed the door behind himself. His tail tip flicked anxiously as he pressed his back against the heavy wooden surface and slid down to the floor, desperately trying to keep the tears at bay as he buried his face against his knees.

He knew this could happen, and he wanted it, as did Noctis, so why was he panicking so badly? Then it hit him: he was scared of the unknown. He had no idea what to expect in a Genome’s pregnancy whatsoever, and it scared him to no end.

Before the thoughts could go too far, though, there was a gentle touch on his shoulder. The blonde jumped, still startled, and looked up with tear-filled eyes to see his bond crouched in front of him.

“Hey…” the prince murmured softly, reaching out and moving his thumb past his eyes to wipe away the tears. The smaller male whimpered, before lowering his gaze to the plush carpet.

“Prom…c’mon…look at me…” Noctis urged softly, scooting a little closer.

“…Did…did Kuja…tell you?” Prompto whispered, looking briefly at the raven. His expression was one of emotional torment, which was painful to see on the normally cheerful Genome.

“…Yeah…” Noctis murmured softly. “He said you’d probably not want to be alone for this…”

‘Damn, Kuja’s good,’ the blonde admitted to himself. “I…I’m s-sorry…” he stuttered, before practically throwing himself at Noctis in a comfort-seeking hug. Noctis didn’t complain; he merely wrapped his arms around the Genome and held him close, tenderly rubbing his back and shushing him softly, assuring him that it was going to be okay and that he was okay. Feeling the comfort Noctis was providing him when he needed it so badly right now, Prompto broke down, sobbing into Noctis’s shoulder.

“I…I-I’m s-scared…Noct…!” he wailed.

“Sssshhh…it’s okay, it’s okay…ssshhh…c’mon, Prom… Breathe. Steady breaths… Breathe in…breathe out…” his bond tenderly shushed him. Prompto eventually managed to do as Noctis was telling him to do after a few minutes, his sobs quieting down to whimpers and eventually to nothing but sniffles and hiccups as he continued to cling to Noctis.

Smiling softly as he realized he’d calmed down, Noctis reached out and lifted Prompto in his arms, taking him to their bed and settling on the end, with the Genome settled in his lap. Prompto kept his arms around the raven’s neck, though, his face buried into the taller male’s chest.

“…anytime you wanna talk,” Noctis breathed softly, running a hand through the shorter male’s hair, “I’m here for you…I’m here to listen.”

“I’m sorry…Noct… I love you…” the blonde whispered.

“It’s okay, Prom…” Noctis assured him, gently kissing his forehead. “I love you… and I’m never leaving you…promise.”

“I know you won’t… Thank you,” Prompto whimpered, curling closer. Noctis merely smiled softly as he held the Genome close, rubbing his back and running a hand through his hair soothingly. He didn’t say anything; instead he waited for Prompto to speak first.

“…Noct…?”

“Yes?”

“…I’m sorry for…freaking out so bad…” Prompto mumbled.

“Sssh…it’s okay, Prom…it’s okay…” Noctis murmured softly.

“I just… I don’t know what to expect, and it scares me…” the smaller male admitted.

“I know, Prom…I know…” Noctis whispered, kissing his forehead.

“I’m so glad and relieved that I have you, and…I love you so much,” the blonde babbled on, unable to stop.

Noctis gave a soft sigh, before he moved Prompto’s head up and then abruptly kissed the blonde. The Genome immediately melted into the kiss, just simply grateful he had Noctis. He was also thankful to Kuja for having the raven be here for him, especially during this emotional time. He needed to thank the silverette later. After what felt like a short eternity, Noctis finally moved back and rested his forehead against Prompto’s softly.

“Thank you…” the smaller male whispered, snuggling against his bond.

“Anytime, Prom…”

Chapter Text

After remaining on their bed for a few hours, simply kissing, cuddling, and enjoying each other’s presence, Prompto eventually realized he would have to face a probably very worried Zidane, but he didn’t want to just yet. He just hoped Kuja had calmed him down a bit.

“You ready to head out?” Noctis asked softly when dinnertime rolled around.

“I guess… I just hope Zidane won’t be mad at me for worrying him again…” the smaller male mumbled.

Noctis smiled softly at the Genome’s worries, before he stood up, helping Prompto back up as well. “Shall we go?”

“Yeah…” Prompto murmured, and tucked himself into Noctis’s side as they left, heading for the dining room. As they finally walked through the doors, Luna, Zidane, Kuja, and Joshua were already at the table, making some light conversation. Zidane was the first to spot the pair walking in, and he almost jumped up from his seat, but Kuja threw him a look, and the blonde quickly settled back in his chair.

‘Sorry for worrying you, Zidane…’ Prompto apologized softly in a timid voice. After all, last time he’d worried his friend, the shorter Genome had whacked him on the head.

Zidane looked like was going to do something similar this time, but instead he just gave a small sigh. ‘I do hope you’re not making a habit out of this…’

‘Not trying to, but I was scared,’ Prompto replied, giving his friend a meaningful look.

The other Genome didn’t respond with words to that, but he did nod his head to show he understood.

“Prompto?” a small voice suddenly called out, as Joshua peeked around his chair to the blonde. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m better now, Joshua,” Prompto assured the boy with a tired smile.

“…really?” the small boy asked worriedly.

“Really,” the blonde chuckled. “Sorry for not being there when you woke up after playing with the Chocochicks.”

Though Joshua still seemed to be hesitant about it, he only nodded his head with a little smile. And Kuja, in the meantime, was finishing something on his phone before tucking the item away again.

‘Thank you, Kuja, for telling Noct, and having him be there for me,’ Prompto murmured.

‘You’re welcome, dear,’ Kuja replied solemnly. ‘We do have some things to discuss later, though…’

‘I understand, but still…thank you…’

Kuja merely nodded, even as Joshua called them both over to take their seats, trying to stay cheery despite his worries. Prompto led Noctis over to their seats, and they sat down with their friends. Luna looked at the blonde, already knowing the news from when she was with Noctis and Kuja earlier.

“So, Prompto, are you excited now to be a parent?” she asked with a smile.

“Y-yeah,” he nodded shyly. “Just a bit nervous, too, but I guess that’s to be expected.

“No kidding…” Zidane mumbled, while Joshua blinked curiously as he looked back and forth in confusion.

“Zidane… I said I was sorry,” Prompto muttered.

Zidane merely hummed, his tail flicking briefly.

“Huh? What, what? Papa, what’s going on??” Joshua asked.

“You’ll have to ask Prompto, dear.”

“Promptoooo!”

“I’m gonna have a baby, Joshua,” Prompto told him with an amused smile.

Joshua’s eyes immediately widened and his mouth dropped in awe, his tail stilling entirely. And then it picked up again as the news registered in full. “Really?! That is so cool!!”

Prompto chuckled, smiling at Joshua’s excitement. “Thank you, Joshua,” he told him kindly.

“Joshua, you’ll wag your tail off,” Kuja pointed out calmly.

Joshua pouted, but he reached back to stop his tail from wagging.

“It’s okay for him to be happy, ‘cause I know I am,” Prompto smiled, looking at Noctis. Noctis merely chuckled softly, just as their dinner was brought in. They ate in a peaceful quiet, Prompto simply wanting to go back to his and Noctis’s room for the night for some quiet time. After all, he couldn’t be blamed for wanting that.

Joshua seemed like he wanted to say something, but his father merely shook his head whenever he wanted to, making the boy pout a bit unhappily. Zidane, in the meantime, didn’t seem prepared to bring up the subject that was clearly on everyone’s minds.

Noctis glanced over from the corner of his eyes, before he reached over and gently placed a hand on Prompto’s knee. This made the blonde look at him briefly, a content smile on his face.

Luna, noticing Zidane’s evident worry, placed her own hand on his knee, silently assuring him that Prompto would be fine. Zidane glanced over from under his bangs, before he sighed and touched her hand with his tail, lightly curling it around her wrist in thanks.

Noct merely nodded at the blonde, before he went back to his dinner. Eventually, they finished eating, and Prompto and Noctis bid their friends goodnight before the blonde remembered Kuja’s words from before, that they needed to talk. He looked at the silverette curiously.

‘Did you want to talk now, Kuja? Or would you rather wait until tomorrow?’ he asked.

Kuja regarded him quietly, before speaking. ‘The sooner the better, I would say.’

“Hey, Noct?” Prompto said softly, looking at his bond.

“Hm?”

“Kuja needs to talk to us,” he murmured. Realizing what this was about, Noctis nodded simply in response. The pair then led Kuja off to a nearby room while Luna and Zidane stayed with Joshua. Prompto sat with Noctis, while Kuja sat across from them. “I guess we need to talk about what to expect, huh?” the blonde asked.

“Indeed,” Kuja said solemnly. “Another factor to keep in mind, though…is ‘how many?’”

Noctis tensed briefly in surprise, eyes widening slightly

“You mean…I could have more than one?” Prompto questioned, surprised.

“Exactly…” Kuja confirmed. “As you may be aware, Genomes were created to solve a ‘repopulation’ problem…so it stands to reason that Genomes are made to be, at the very least, twice as fertile and more likely to bear multiple children at once, regardless of gender.”

“Right…” Prompto murmured, nodding his understanding. “What else should we know? I remember you telling Zidane and me about how the pregnancy will last six months…”

Noctis glanced at Prompto curiously, but Kuja nodded his head solemnly. “That’s true… You’ve already noticed that you’ve got a bigger appetite, which may increase even more if you’re, indeed, carrying twins…or more.”

“…makes sense…” Noctis murmured. “More mouths to feed…”

“Any other symptoms that I’ll go through?” the blonde asked.

“You might become a little more emotional than normal,” Kuja pointed out, “but most ‘normal’ symptoms were toned down during the Genomes’ creation. Even so, it is, of course, not without its risks.”

At this, Prompto tensed. “What risks should I watch for?” he inquired.

“One of the biggest issues is if the infants aren’t turned properly. This is dangerous in and of itself…but it can be particularly dangerous with Genomes if left unchecked.”

“I understand,” Prompto nodded.

“Now…I don't know if you’ve anyone nearby who could assist with labor, but if need be…I may know someone who could be of assistance.”

“Who?” Prompto asked curiously.

Kuja allowed a small smirk. “I believe if you see her, you may remember her from Bran Bal, dear.”

“Really? But…I only know of you, me, and Zidane having souls…” the blonde uttered, confused. His tail flicked in his confusion.

“Trust me, dear,” Kuja assured with a chuckle, “you’ll know her.”

‘You should’ve seen her name in the blueprints already.’

‘Ah! Mikoto?’ Prompto nearly gasped aloud.

‘Correct.’

‘But…how did you find her?’

‘I managed to…‘persuade’ one of your pursuers to hand her over, dear.’

“…Prom?” Noctis asked after a moment.

‘Jackasses…’ the smaller male growled. He then looked at Noctis. “Sorry, Noct, habit…”

Noctis blinked once, before he nodded softly. “No problem. I understand.”

“If needed, I can have her brought over later this month,” Kuja said calmly. “She can also ensure the child…or children, are in their proper position at all times.”

“If you could, please.”

“Thanks, Kuja. You’re the best,” the smaller Genome smiled gratefully.

“I try,” Kuja said with a small smirk.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Later on, Noctis and Prompto had returned to their room, and the blonde was getting undressed to change into his pajamas when he noticed something in the bathroom mirror. He looked closely at his side profile in the mirror, and realized he was just barely showing. Kuja was right; he was probably carrying twins or more.

“Hey, Noct?” he called.

“Hm?” Noctis hummed, before he walked over. Though he briefly froze at seeing Prompto completely nude, he shook the thought aside to ask, “What’s wrong?”

“I think Kuja’s right, in saying that I’m carrying twins or more,” the smaller male told him, smoothing his hands along his stomach. The gesture caused him to shiver lightly, though, as he didn’t realize how sensitive the skin there had become.

“You think?” Noctis murmured as he walked over, reaching around the Genome and gently running his fingertips along the slight bulge there. This drew a full shiver from the blonde.

“Y-yeah,” he stuttered.

“…? You okay?” the prince asked in concern.

“Y…yeah. J-just sensitive,” Prompto admitted, blushing.

At those words, Noctis regarded him curiously…before a small smile spread over his face. “Really?” he murmured, applying a little more pressure. This time, a small moan escaped the Genome as he shivered a little more than last time.

“Feels good?” Noctis murmured softly, moving over and lightly nipping on the Genome’s ear. Prompto could only manage a weak nod. This made the prince chuckle as he slipped his full hands over the sensitive skin then. Prompto’s response was a full-out moan, as he shuddered this time.

“So…” Noctis purred softly, “what do you want me to do, Prom?”

“M…make love…to me…” the smaller male whimpered, feeling and seeing himself become aroused when he glanced at the mirror. Chuckling softly, Noctis reached down and easily swept the Genome off his feet, carrying him back into the bedroom. Prompto shivered lightly at the chuckle, allowing himself to be carried back to the bedroom.

Once there, Noctis set Prompto down on the bed, right before he kissed him deeply. Immediately, Prompto responded, kissing back with fervent passion. He would never tire of Noctis’s kisses; they were too damn addicting. With a deep groan from the back of his throat, Noctis parted his lips as his climbed over his lover, licking along his lips while he massaged the shorter male’s shoulders and arms.

Prompto eagerly gave Noctis entry, entwining his tongue along with the raven’s as he moaned into his mouth. After almost five full minutes of merely kissing, Noctis finally pulled away, only to latch onto the Genome’s throat, nibbling and suckling as his fingers played over his sides.

The smaller male moaned at the teasing, but, wanting more, his tail reached around and tugged at the back belt loop from Noctis’s pants.

“Don’t be so impatient…” Noctis purred out softly against the skin, rubbing his thumbs along the Genome’s hourglass shaped hips. The blonde whined pitifully in response, wanting skin-on-skin contact with his bond. After one small nip at the skin, Noctis moved back and removed his shirt, letting it drop to the floor before he moved back in again, immediately latching onto the blonde’s nipples.

“Ah!” the pregnant male yelped, shuddering beneath the raven. Chuckling around the nub as he twisted the other lightly between his fingers, he lapped at the one between his teeth, before he suckled on it. This caused Prompto to arch into the contact, moaning and whimpering. Moving back briefly, Noctis adjusted briefly, before he repeated this motion with the other side.

The Genome’s tail writhed off to Prompto’s side, as his body became almost overwhelmed by just the contact to his nipples alone. Humming softly, Noctis let his free hand slip down, tenderly caressing the skin along his stomach. Prompto cried out, shuddering heavily from the added touch to his sensitive stomach.

Smirking softly, Noctis splayed his fingers along the skin, gradually moving them further down, as he pulled slightly back and then exhaled along the wet bud. Goosebumps immediately rose up on the blonde’s skin around the bud, making Prompto shudder again.

“N…Noct…! I…I can’t take much more!” he whined. Smirking softly, Noctis sat up quietly, briefly wetting his fingers before slipping them down and gently pushing against the blonde’s entrance.

The pregnant male relaxed as he felt this, allowing Noctis to penetrate him with his fingers. Smiling softly, Noctis turned his fingers slowly around, carefully stretching the Genome’s passage as he scissored his fingers. Prompto exhaled shakily, his body feeling warm all over, and his belly feeling that oh-so-familiar coil of heat feeding into his groin as he started to become achingly hard.

Finally, Noctis moved his fingers away, easily discarding his pants and underwear, before he moved into position. Prompto grasped at the raven’s shoulders, wordlessly pleading for his bond to hold him close as they made love. Nodding softly, Noctis bent down, and then locked their mouths together, his arms wrapping around the blonde’s back, before he moved in.

The pregnant male moaned into the prince’s mouth at the smooth entry, enjoying the feeling of being held close like this. Noctis hummed softly against the shorter male’s lips, before he gently reached out and took hold of the boy’s hand, and he slowly began to move.

“L-love you…Noct,” Prompto whimpered against his bond’s lips. Tears of joy started to flow freely down his cheeks as he felt the immense amount of love the raven was putting into every move against him, and with every touch given to him.

Noctis briefly pulled away, whispering “I love you, too,” before he locked their mouths together again, continuing to move slowly and tenderly. The blonde moaned and shivered, his tail coiling around one of Noctis’s legs possessively. Entwining his fingers firmly with those of Prompto’s for a moment, Noctis released one of his hands to gently pump the Genome’s flesh in time with his thrusts. A soft cry was emitted from Prompto’s throat, and he shuddered heavily beneath Noctis as his eyes closed in bliss.

Moving back from kissing Prompto, Noctis increased his pace just marginally, altering his angle just so, whispering over and over again, “I love you” as he moved in and out. Prompto felt the happy tears flow a little faster at the whispered words, and he moaned softly at the slightly increased pace.

Noctis moved over, gently kissing the tears away, though he never stopped moving, or whispering, his grip on the blonde’s hand tightening softly. Prompto had never felt so loved or treasured in his entire life, and with the way Noctis was treating him right now, he felt just that way.

Finally, though, Noctis once again connected their mouths together, speeding up just a little more, both with his thrusts and with his hand. The pregnant male kissed back lovingly, giving a small purring sound in response.

Finally, Noctis pulled away, and murmured, “I love you so much, Prom…”

“I…love you, too…Noct…!” Prompto gasped out, before his release hit him, and he came with a pleasured cry, releasing against their stomachs and clenching around his bond in response.

Noctis groaned softly, before he gave a sharp gasp, his own release hitting him hard despite how slowly he’d been moving. As he came down from his high, he exhaled heavily, before he rested his forehead against Prompto’s collarbone, holding himself up on his elbows.

The Genome’s tail slowly loosened its grip on Noctis’s leg, and went limp against the bed as the blonde himself struggled to catch his breath. Once he’d collected himself, Noctis pulled back, collected the blankets, and tossed them over themselves before he settled next to the Genome and pulled his lover up against him.

Prompto slowly curled up against his bond, just simply content to remain there with the raven forever, if he could. Noctis smiled, gently kissing his forehead, before he murmured as he settled, “Goodnight, Prom.”

“G’night, Noct…” the smaller male whispered, before falling asleep against his lover.

 

X*X(2 Weeks Later)X*X

Prompto had finally managed to get his own cell phone to keep in contact with Kuja and Joshua with after they’d left, thanks to Noctis. The raven had reasoned it would be best for him so he wasn’t concerned or worried too often until Mikoto arrived, who the group had learned Prompto’s midwife would be. She was due to be arriving any day now, since Kuja and Joshua had left a few days beforehand, the small boy pouting at not being able to see the Chocochicks for a while. He had hugged Prompto tightly before leaving, even going as far as telling him to be careful, which made the blonde laugh, much to Joshua’s slight annoyance.

But regardless, Mikoto should be arriving on Nova any time.

Just as that thought processed in his head, Noctis sat down next to him and wrapped an arm around his shoulders. “Hey…you alright?”

“Yeah, just waiting on Mikoto to show up,” Prompto smiled lightly.

Noctis allowed a small smile as he pulled Prompto closer. “You do know she could just as well be here tomorrow, right?”

“Well, I still wanna wait,” the blonde insisted, leaning into the hold. Suddenly the pair heard a familiar roar from outside, making them both look up curiously.

“…Speak of the devil.”

“Nova!” Prompto gasped, and he waited by Noctis, despite his eagerness to meet the new Genome.

As if noticing his excitement, Noctis smiled. “Shall we go see her?”

“Yeah,” the smaller male nodded, sticking close to Noctis as they headed to the entrance of the castle.

As they arrived, it was just in time to see Nova touching down. Once she had settled, she gave a small cry and allowed her rider to slide off her back. The female Genome now standing by the dragon’s side looked almost exactly like the picture Prompto and Zidane had seen in the blueprints, only younger.

“Hi there! Mikoto, right?” Prompto called in greeting. “Thanks for bringing her in safely, Nova!”

Nova gave a small cry, while the Genome turned around to regard him quietly as she rubbed Nova’s neck. She didn’t respond immediately, before she nodded her head. “…hello… Prompto, was it?”

“Yeah. Nice to finally meet you,” he smiled, holding out his hand as he and Noctis got closer. Mikoto regarded the hand for a moment, before she quietly reached out and shook it.

Noctis, meanwhile, took a moment to regard her. She was wearing some light, easy clothes, and while the color suggested it’s from Treno, the style was a little more subdued than Treno’s endless ruffles. And he also noticed that there was a pink ribbon secured around her tail. He wondered if that was a female Genome trait or just something Mikoto did.

“Oh, sorry, this is Noctis. He’s my bond,” Prompto told her, tucking himself into Noctis’s side again.

Mikoto wordlessly glanced over to Noctis, taking him in for a moment, before she nodded and bowed politely. “Pleased to meet you, Sir.”

“Hey now,” Noctis chuckled softly. “You don’t have to be so formal with me; just call me Noct, kay?”

“…As you wish…Noct.”

‘Well, at least she catches on quick.’

“So, how was the trip? Not too windy, I hope,” Prompto inquired with a small laugh, reaching over and petting Nova’s neck.

“It was fine,” Mikoto said simply, as Nova purred at attention, bumping her head against Prompto’s shoulder.

“Haha! Easy, girl! I missed you, too!” the pregnant male laughed, petting her cheek. Mikoto merely watched him as the blonde petted Nova, before her gaze fell to his stomach and she frowned deeply.

“…? Something wrong?” Noctis asked with a hint of worry in his voice.

“…how far along are you, Prompto?” Mikoto asked, rather than respond.

Pausing in his petting of the dragon, the blonde looked at her curiously. “A month and a half, why?”

“…” Mikoto didn’t answer and instead stepped up to his side, briefly patting him down with her hands. The blonde stiffened at the touch, but remained still anyway. After a moment more of this, Mikoto stepped back again. “…Triplets, at minimum,” she says solemnly.

“Wait…how can you be sure?” Noctis asked with a small gasp.

“…he’s too big for twins at this point.”

Prompto nearly paled, unsure of how or if he could even handle triplets, and he looked at Noctis with an almost panicked expression.

Noctis cursed mentally, before he walked over quickly and wrapped his arms around the Genome. “It’s okay,” he murmured, rubbing his shoulders. “It’ll be okay, I promise…”

Nova, as if she also sensed his distress, gave a small whine and nuzzled her snout against him. The blonde gave a strained laugh, petting the dragon’s snout gratefully. “I’ll be okay, just…gotta figure things out, I guess.”

Mikoto didn’t respond immediately. She gave Prompto a few more moments to digest the information, before she said, “We’ll work it out.”

“She’s right,” Noctis pointed out, kissing Prompto’s forehead. “It’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

“I know, just…a bit hard to believe. I guess I’ll believe it when I really start to show, huh?” the smaller male sighed.

Noctis merely nodded. After a moment, though, he said, “Anyway, what say we head inside. I’m sure Zidane would want to meet you, too, Mikoto.”

“…I suppose,” the girl said slowly, her tail only marginally swaying behind her. With that said, Prompto, Noctis, and Mikoto bid Nova a safe return, and then headed into the castle as the dragon took flight. As they walked along the halls, they soon spotted Zidane as he moved along the halls, though he didn’t seem to have noticed them yet.

“Zidane!” Prompto called out, a smile on his face.

“Huh wha?” the blonde got out as he turned around to face them. “Oh hey. ‘Sup?”

Noctis frowned a bit at those words. The other Genome seemed a bit…rushed.

“Hey, what’s going on? You okay?” the taller blonde frowned, noticing the same thing.

“Huh? Oh, yeah…yeah, I’m fine,” Zidane said (a little too quickly). “Something you needed?”

“Zidane…”

“Honest, I’m fine,” Zidane said, absently waving his hand.

Noctis, though frowned as he saw what he was holding in his hand. “What’s that you have there?”

“Hm?” Zidane looked at the bottle he was holding before he shrugged. “Ah, just some meds for Lu. She wasn’t feeling too good this morning, so…”

“What medicine is it? And what’s wrong with Luna?” Prompto frowned, concerned.

“Nothing’s ‘wrong’, Prom. She’s just feeling a bit sick, that’s all,” Zidane said simply. “Anyway, if there’s nothing else…”

“Actually, we were bringing Mikoto to meet you,” Prompto huffed, becoming irritated with his friend for his rushed behavior at the moment.

“Huh?” Zidane blinked, before looking around Prompto. “Oh hey.”

Mikoto didn’t seem to mind him being so rushed, however. She merely nodded her head once in greeting.

“Anyway, I’ll talk to you guys later, alright?” the blonde quipped, before he turned tail and hurried off.

“…the hell?” Noctis murmured.

“I wonder…hmm,” Prompto murmured, before glancing back at Mikoto. Mikoto noticed the look and glanced over silently. ‘Hey, Mikoto? Would you be able to tell if Luna’s pregnant with Zidane’s child or children?’ Prompto asked her.

‘…And Luna is…human?’ Mikoto asked calmly.

‘Yeah.’

‘Then it may be difficult…unless she’s a few weeks along.’

‘Okay. Then we’ll play it by ear. It might just be a fluke, but we’ll see,’ the taller blonde murmured. Mikoto nodded quietly as she followed the pair further inside.

Chapter Text

X*X(2 Weeks Later)X*X

Luna coughed up her dinner from the night before, feeling completely miserable. This was getting to be ridiculous, as she hadn’t ever been sick like this before. The vomiting had been going on for two weeks now, and nothing medicine-related was helping.

“Lu?” Zidane called out as he walked over, bending down next to her and rubbing her back. He wanted to ask if she was alright, but that was probably a very stupid thing to ask. “Do I need to fetch you something?”

“No, nothing’s been working, anyway…” she grumbled, before looking at him with a sigh. “Sorry, Zidane…”

“Hey, no worries; stomach problems make you grumpy,” Zidane said with a small smile. “You want some water to…yanno, wash it away?”

“That would probably be a good idea… I need to keep hydrated, after all…” she murmured, sitting on her feet when she was sure she was done. “You don’t think I could be…pregnant, do you?”

Zidane looked over from where he was pouring her a glass of water, blinking, before he thought about it. “I…dunno. Is this normal, then?” he asked as he moved over with the glass. “I mean, Prom wasn’t having any issues like this, right?”

“No, I know, but his symptoms are probably different, since he’s a Genome… With human women, we typically experience morning sickness with pregnancy in the beginning, sometimes throughout the entire pregnancy,” Luna explained, accepting the offered glass, and sipping from it.

“Oh…” Zidane said as he settled next to her. “Sooo…you wanna check to be sure?”

“It would be a good idea,” she nodded. “I’ll need a pregnancy test from the pharmacy…or even the medical ward…”

“Want me to go get one? I could ask Specs to fix you something while I’m at it, too,” Zidane offered.

“That would be great, thank you,” Luna smiled tiredly, before starting to get up with a small grimace.

“Ah, here, lemme help,” Zidane said, easily lifting his bonded up, despite their difference in height, and carrying her back to the bedroom.

Luna allowed herself to be carried back, and softly kissed Zidane’s cheek as he set her on their bed. They had been sharing Luna’s bed ever since they’d come back from Treno, much to Zidane’s relief, as he’d admitted to being afraid they wouldn’t after the events in Treno.

Once Luna had settled on the bed, Zidane said simply, “I’ll be right back,” briefly pecking her on the cheek…and then leaping out through the window again!

“Zidane! Not through the window again!” she yelled after him before groaning in slight frustration.

Zidane easily made his way along the outside of the Citadel, looking around through the windows, before he finally made it to the kitchen and slipped inside through the window, though he remained on the windowsill. “Yo Specky!” he called out.

“Gah!” Ignis practically yelped, nearly throwing the knife he had been using to cut veggies with at Zidane. “Zidane! I’ve told you time and time again, don’t—”

“‘Scare you while in the kitchen,’ I know,” Zidane chuckled out, before he turned serious. “In all seriousness though…think you can make some time to get Lu something to snack on?”

“That depends. What are you thinking?”

“Something she can keep down like…um…oh! How ‘bout that stew you made last week when Iris was feeling sick? That um…what’s it called again…?”

“I know the one you’re talking about,” Ignis smirked. “I’ll send a bowl up to her.”

“Great! Thanks, Specs!” Zidane quipped, before he hopped up onto the windowsill in a crouch. “Anyway, still got something to get sooo…later!”

And with that said, the Genome back flipped out of the window.

“Do be careful, will you?” Ignis called after him.

If Zidane had heard him, he didn't bother to respond. Said Genome was already halfway across the wall before he finally reached medical and easily slipped inside.

“Yo Miko!” he called out.

Mikoto solemnly turned around (unlike everyone else who almost jumped out of their shoes). “Good morning, Zidane,” she said calmly.

“Yeah, yeah. Morning and all that…look, can I ask a favor?” the blonde asked.

“Hm?”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Luna sat in her bed, waiting for Zidane’s return as she ate at the stew Ignis himself had brought up for her. She hoped the Genome hadn’t gotten in trouble for trying to get a pregnancy test…

“Back!” Zidane’s voice suddenly called, as the blonde in question climbed in through the window.

“I was almost expecting a call from someone saying they’d found you on the pavement,” Luna sighed.

“Hey, I got five limbs to move around on, I’m fine,” Zidane chuckled out as he walked over, plopping down on the foot of the bed. “You feeling better?”

“Yes, thanks to Ignis’s stew,” she smiled. “Did you get a pregnancy test?”

“Yep,” the Genome quipped as he held up the test he'd been holding in his hand.

“Thank you,” she murmured, taking the test from him. “I guess I’ll use it in a bit, once I’m done eating…”

“A’ight…” Zidane said as he leaned back on his arms. “Want me to get you something else?”

“No, I’m okay for now. Just need to take the test…” she sighed, finishing off her bowl of stew. “I’ll be back,” she told Zidane as she got up, heading to the bathroom.

“Okay…” Zidane said as he plopped back down onto the bed, hands behind his head, thinking.

Luna padded into the bathroom, and set up the pregnancy test while her bladder was full. Once it was set up, she peed on the test stick, and then set it out to wait. Five minutes went by, and she checked it. Her blue eyes widened with surprise, and even though she’d been expecting it, she was still surprised to see the little ‘+’ in the window, indicating she was, indeed, pregnant with Zidane’s child. She slowly stepped out of the bathroom, immediately drawing the Genome’s attention to her.

Zidane hummed as she came out, before he sat up and turned to her. He didn’t say anything, but his twitching tail made it clear that he was curious.

“…We…we’re going to have a baby…” she whispered, sitting with the shorter blonde on the bed.

“…” Zidane didn’t say anything initially. He just blinked a few times as those words sank in.

The blonde woman looked at Zidane, an almost worried look on her face. “I…I don’t know what to think right now…”

“…Well…” Zidane finally said as he turned around so he was sitting on the bed cross-legged and facing her. “Let’s focus on something else then… What do you wanna do?”

“I-I don’t know…” she stammered, her nerves gripping her as she began to tremble out of fear. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to be a mother, but she certainly wasn’t going to give up the baby or abort it. She knew it deserved a chance with its parents.

Noticing this, Zidane propped himself up to his knees and pulled Luna in for a hug, holding her up against him without a word said. Luna hugged Zidane back, clinging to him as though she needed him like she needed air.

“I’m not sure if I’m ready for this, Zidane,” she whispered.

“Ssshh,” he soothed her, rubbing her back gently. “It’s okay…we’ll work something out…” he assured before he lightly kissed her forehead. “…you know…we don't have to—”

“Zidane, I’m keeping it,” she murmured, her tone firm despite the shakiness in it. “I’m going to give our baby a chance to live and have us as its parents.”

Zidane didn’t answer immediately. But after a few long moments, he smiled and hugged her tighter. “Okay,” he said as his tail coiled around her waist. “That’s cool.”

The pregnant woman gave a small laugh. “It’s more than cool, Zidane. I’ll be honest, I want a baby with you, but I just didn’t think it would be this soon.”

“Well, life is full of surprises,” Zidane laughed out, before he turned serious. “There is one thing I worry about, though…”

“What?”

“Whether or not your bro’s gonna skin me for this.”

“I won’t let Ravus hurt you,” she giggled. “He might try, but I won’t allow it.”

“Great!” Zidane quipped with a grin. “That’s one load off my back!”

“Noctis might try, too, though. We’ve been friends wince we were children, but I’m sure he’d be more understanding.”

“Hey, he’s got no room to talk; he got to it first!” Zidane pointed out.

“True,” Luna agreed with a laugh. “I’d best tell Ravus now, then, before he finds out on his own…”

“Want me to come with you?”

“Probably would be best. Unless you don’t want to, of course,” she added hastily.

“What? You think I’m just gonna send you off on your own? No way!” Zidane said before he hopped off the bed. “Shall we mosey, then?”

“Yes, let’s,” she smiled. And with that said, Luna and Zidane headed off to meet with Ravus in his room. When they got there, she knocked on the door, calling out, “Ravus? It’s me.” Zidane said nothing as he leaned against the doorpost, tail swaying lightly behind him.

“Come in, Lunafreya,” the pale blonde’s voice replied. Luna lightly squeezed Zidane’s hand before she went inside, leading Zidane after her. Ravus looked up from his book as they came in.

“Ah, Lunafreya, Zidane, how are you?” he asked.

“Well, thank you,” she smiled.

“Yeah, doing perfectly fine,” Zidane added with a nod and a small grin, hands behind his head casually.

“What did you need to talk about? Something seems to be weighing heavily on your mind, Lunafreya,” Ravus noted, concerned.

“Zidane and I came by to tell you…that we’re going to have a baby,” Luna murmured, her voice softening at the end. Ravus was silent for a few minutes, before he glanced at Zidane.

“And you plan on keeping the child?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Then I have no issues, and wish for the child to be healthy,” he smiled, enjoying how Zidane squirmed a bit under his intense gaze.

“Thank you, Ravus,” Luna smiled kindly. “You know how much your opinion matters to me.”

“That I do. Take it easy for a while, sister. You’ll need all the rest you can get. And Zidane?”

“Yeah?” Zidane asked, trying not to let his nerves get to him (or his tail) too much.

“Treat my sister well during this time, or I’ll see to a suitable punishment,” Ravus warned casually, but there was a deadly glint to his eyes.

“Got it,” Zidane said (a little too quickly).

“Ravus, he’ll be just fine,” Luna chided her brother. “Anyway, we’d best head to the dining room, or else the others will worry, too.”

“True. Are you going to tell everyone over breakfast?” the pale blonde inquired.

“Probably. It would be best so Ignis knows to adjust my meals accordingly,” Luna agreed. “And besides, I’m sure Prompto will be excited, too.” This was said with a light laugh.

This made Zidane laugh. “I’m sure it wi—huh?” Blinking, Zidane looked to his pocket, before he reached in and pulled out his phone from where it had been buzzing. “The hell, Kuj?” he mumbled softly before he swiped across the screen to answer. “Yeah, ‘sup?”

“What’s going on?” Luna asked softly so as not to interrupt the call.

“…wha? No, Prom’s not here. …Kuj, we ain’t even had—… Yeah but… Look, can we at least…I know that but… H-hey hold on what are you—”

Zidane blinked, before removing the phone from where he’d held it to his ear and looked at it strangely. And then he looked to Luna.

“…He hung up on me.”

“I wonder what’s wrong?” she frowned. “Let’s get to the dining room and see if anyone else has heard anything.” Zidane nodded and hurried after her to the dining room.

“Morning!” Prompto greeted the trio as they came in, slightly surprised that Ravus had come in with them. Normally the pale blonde came in separately. He then noticed something off with his fellow Genome. ‘What’s going on?’ he asked.

‘Later…after breakfast,’ Zidane told him seriously.

“Hey, Luna,” Noct said with a nod. “You feeling any better?”

“Yes, actually,” she smiled softly, and she stood close to Zidane as she next spoke. “I actually found out why I’ve been feeling sick in the first place. I’m pregnant.”

Prompto’s jaw dropped, and then he practically squealed out of excitement. “That’s awesome! Congrats, you guys!” he grinned.

While Noctis had seemed as surprised as Prompto, he chuckled softly at the blonde’s squeal. Turning to his friend, he nodded his head. “Congratulations, Luna, Zidane.”

Zidane just gave a half-shrug with a small smile.

“Thank you,” Luna smiled. She and Zidane took their usual places at the table, and soon after, Ignis brought out their breakfasts. The group proceeded to then eat in a peaceful quiet, except Prompto was wondering what Zidane was keeping from him. Zidane noticed the look and glanced up briefly, before he mouthed a single word between bites.

“Kuja.”

‘What’s wrong with Kuja?’ the blonde frowned.

‘No clue…he didn’t say. He wants a word with us after breakfast.’

‘Okay? Well, I’m available.’

Zidane merely nodded softly as he continued to eat as if nothing was going on.

Once breakfast was over, Prompto looked at his bond. “I’ll be back, I need to talk with Zidane in private.” Though Noctis was obviously a bit surprised at the words, he didn’t question it and just nodded in understanding. And after Zidane had excused himself as well, the two Genomes headed off to find someplace private to talk.

‘Any idea on what Kuja wants?’ Prompto asked as they headed to the garden.

‘No idea…but he sounded kinda frazzled…’ Giving his friend a look, he added, ‘And you know him; he never gets frazzled.’

‘Right…’ the taller Genome nodded. They soon reached the garden, and sat down near the Chocobos, namely Sora and her growing chicks. Prompto greeted them all while Zidane started the call with Kuja. Instead of putting it on speaker like last time, though, Zidane pulled out some ear buds and handed one to Prompto after putting the other in his own ear. The pregnant male put the one handed to him into his ear, and patiently waited until Kuja answered.

Which took only two rings.

“That took you forever!”

“Damn, man! Hello to you, too,” Zidane almost snarled. “Who snapped the door shut on your tail?”

“We were just having breakfast, Kuja, calm down,” Prompto agreed, frowning.

“Yes, yes…all nice and cozy, but we have a problem.”

“‘We’, or ‘you’?” Zidane asked dryly in response.

We, Zidane.”

“What’s the problem?” Prompto asked, concerned now.

“Do you remember your two pursuers?”

Zidane groaned in annoyance. “Do you have to remind us?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“They’re Genomes.”

“…wait WHAT?”

“Then why the FUCK were they so insistent on purchasing us?!” Prompto demanded in a low snarl.

“They’re what I call ‘SG Genomes’; the “second generation”. Meaning, those born from a relation between a human and Genome,” Kuja said simply.

“…you mean like Joshua?”

“Precisely. Only whoever their parents are, they went through excruciating lengths to hide this.”

Zidane looked at Prompto for a moment, before he dared to ask, “How’s that?”

“By surgically removing their tails.”

In response to that, Zidane hissed sharply and his tail coiled around his own waist instinctively. Prompto whimpered and wrapped his own tail around his waist as best as he could with his swollen belly.

“So…this’s a problem…how?” Zidane asked after a moment.

“Because I may just know who their mother is…and if it is…” Kuja trailed off slowly.

“…What?” Prompto asked, frowning again. “Don’t leave us hanging, Kuja!”

“…she may just wish us dead.”

“What?! Why?!”

“Who are we even talking about here?!” Zidane added.

Instead of a vocal response, there was a beep from the phone, making the two Genomes jump, before Zidane realized Kuja had sent them a picture. When he opened it, both blondes blinked.

The image on screen was the mug shot of a young girl around 10 years with short, silvery hair and deep green eyes that were FAR too familiar to both of them.

“Who the hell…?”

“Who is this, Kuja?” Prompto questioned quietly.

“So you haven’t read her bio yet, then?” Kuja asked instead.

“Her…bio?” Zidane repeated.

“If you mean the information from that sphere, then no. We never even saw this girl in there, just stuff on the versions of you, us, and Mikoto,” Prompto answered.

“I see… Well then…”

There was another beep, as another image was sent there way. This was obviously an excerpt from a file on the sphere, given that it was in the Terran dialect.

Zidane frowned as he tilted it a little so they could both read.

J370-V4 is developing slowly, but she is adapting to her soul piece by piece. We will need to keep a close on her still, to ensure she does not lose any progress.

“‘J370-V4’?” Zidane repeated.

“That was the official name, yes…but she was more commonly called “Jenova”.”

The name actually made Zidane shudder, a cold shiver going down his spine, and he blinked, surprised. ‘The hell…? What just…?’

Prompto shuddered as well, his more visible than Zidane’s. “What does this mean, Kuja?” he asked hesitantly.

Rather than respond verbally, there was another beep. And again, it was a picture, clearly taken from the sphere again. When Zidane opened it, though, the two Genomes stared in surprise.

It was a group picture... and from the look of it, it was of the actual designers of the Genome Project, and it was easy to see who was who. Kuja was sitting in a wheelchair (shockingly), glasses and all, wearing a pale white and blue lab coat. A much taller Zidane stood halfway behind and beside him, but his hair was much longer and rested over his right shoulder, reaching his waist easily, though his bangs remained cut short, and he was dressed in a dark green/blue uniform of some sort. Mikoto stood next to him, only a foot shorter than the other blonde, wearing a similar, though clearly more feminine, uniform. On Kuja’s other side stood, obviously, Prompto, just as tall as Zidane and Mikoto, and looking mostly the same, aside from the small goatee along his chin, as he wore a slightly heavier black uniform/suit.

And in front of and in between them, with Mikoto’s hand resting on her shoulder, was Jenova.

“Jenova was…or perhaps ‘is’, still…the first Genome ever to be born with a soul.”

“Oh my goddess…” Prompto breathed, shocked. “But…why would she want us dead?”

“According to the reports I’ve read…her soul might have been corrupted at some point,” Kuja said solemnly. “I’m not sure through what or how, but she began to display clear signs of hatred toward her…‘creators’.”

“We only LOOK like them, though! We’re not actually them!” Prompto whimpered.

“Maybe so…but she clearly does not agree with that sentiment,” the older Genome said simply. “It seems she’s the one who’s been ordering these boys to hunt you down…they’d only just gotten their hands on Mikoto through illegal means…before we caught them.”

“But wait…the project’s been going on for…like…DECADES!!” Zidane suddenly pointed out. “How is she still alive!?”

“…Genomes have a very high longevity, Zidane. They’re designed to grow twice, if not thrice, as old as humans.”

“This is insane… So, what should we do, Kuja?” the taller blonde asked worriedly.

“Stay indoors. Do NOT go outside for whatever reason. You boys are safe in the Citadel; they won’t dare touch the Royal Family of Lucis. Do you understand?”

“…wait…what about you and Joshua?!”

“Yeah, really! How are we supposed to stay here, knowing she could target you guys?!”

“We’ll be fine, don’t worry,” Kuja assured them. “I’ve people keeping tabs on them, so I’ll know when they try to make a move for us.”

“But…”

“I’ll be fine, Zidane. I promise.”

“Dammit…Why can’t we just be safe without worrying about danger at all?” Prompto whimpered. Then he realized something. “Shouldn’t we tell the others? Otherwise Noct and the others might become suspicious if we refuse to go outside whatsoever.”

“Perhaps not the smartest decision…they may decide to go on the offensive instead. Leave it for now; I’ll see if I can deal with it through more subtle means.”

“…Just don’t do anything stupid.”

“Or else we’ll kick your ass ourselves,” Prompto agreed with a small growl.

“Scaaary~” Kuja chuckled, before he turned serious. “I’ll be careful. You just watch yourselves.”

“We will,” the pregnant male promised.

“Good. Take care.”

“You too,” Zidane said, before they hung up. “As if things weren’t bad enough already…”

“Dammit… I hate this so much… We’ve been through so much shit already, so why does this Jenova freak think she can make our lives even more of a hell?” Prompto wondered aloud, his voice despairing.

Zidane reached over and took hold of his shoulder, squeezing firmly. ‘It’ll be fine. We’ll just have to wait this out for now…’

‘And hope beyond hope she doesn’t try and have them get to us inside the Citadel…’

‘I don’t think they’ll manage to even get past the gates..’ Zidane admitted. After a moment, he stood up and helped Prompto back up. “C’mon… let’s get you back to Noct, shall we?”

“I hate keeping secrets from him… And he’s gonna know I’m upset…” Prompto whispered.

“…Let’s just admit that Kuj got news that the other douche bags are likely gonna try something…” Zidane said softly. “Not a complete lie…and it’d explain your worry. Sound good?”

“A-all right,” the taller Genome agreed, and they headed back to the dining room. As they returned, Noctis and Luna were just leaving, and they immediately turned to the pair. Noctis, immediately, noticed the tension in both Genomes, and he frowned. “What’s wrong? What did Kuja say?”

“Oh, well…you know those douche bags that were after us initially?” Zidane offered with a small sigh. “Apparently…the other two are prepping something…Kuj ain’t sure what yet…but, yeah…he says we should probably stay indoors for a bit. Just in case, yanno?”

“I understand. No excursions until this blows over,” Luna nodded as Prompto went to Noctis’s side, seeking comfort.

Noctis sighed in slight annoyance at the news, before he placed an arm around the blonde’s shoulders. “Are you going to be okay?” he murmured softly.

“Once this is over with, yeah…but until then, I’m gonna be a nervous wreck,” the pregnant male admitted softly.

Noctis frowned slightly in worry at those words. Zidane notices the look as he steps up to Luna. “Might wanna get ‘im to Miko. All that stress can’t be good for the little ones, yanno?”

“He’s right,” Luna agreed as Prompto nodded. “Let us know if you need us. I’m going to lie down for a bit myself. Coming, Zidane?”

“Yeah…I feel like I need to rest my head too… Think I got a headache coming on from all the bullshit…” Zidane mumbles, before he follows after Luna, waving Prompto and Noctis goodbye. ‘Hang tight, alright?’

‘I’ll try,’ was the soft response. Zidane merely nodded, before he disappeared around the corner.

“Hey…” Noctis murmured, drawing Prompto’s attention. “It’ll be okay…” he promised, hugging the Genome gently. “Everything will work out.”

“I really hope so, Noct… I don’t want anything to happen to the triplets…” the smaller male whispered.

“I won’t let that happen,” Noctis promised him, gently holding him closer. “C’mon…let’s go see Mikoto, okay?”

“Kay…” Prompto nodded, and the pair headed to the infirmary.

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Month Later)X*X

Prompto lay on the infirmary bed a month after getting the news from Kuja about Jenova, letting Mikoto touch and feel where she needed to in order to make sure the triplets were growing at a safe rate. Noctis stood beside him, patiently waiting on the news. Finally, she finished her touching, and stepped back.

“They seem to be in place…but I still want to be completely sure,” she pointed out, before she turned to Prompto and Noctis. “Do either of you object to an ultrasound?”

Noctis shook his head. “Not at all. Prom?”

“If it lets me see the triplets, then I’d love it,” Prompto smiled slightly. After the checkup a month prior, where he’d been scolded on stressing himself out, he’d been trying to keep himself in check. Fortunately, Noctis had been around to help distract him, especially during his needy times.

Mikoto nodded and moved to collect the ultrasound machine, rolling it over. She then took the gel and began to rub it along Prompto’s stomach. The pregnant male hissed at the cold feeling of the gel on his sensitive stomach, grasping at Noctis’s hand instinctively. Noctis lightly squeezed back, while Mikoto only offered a quick apology as she continued spreading the gel. Once she was satisfied, she turned the machine on and picked up the small rod, pressing it lightly against Prompto’s stomach.

Prompto waited anxiously as Mikoto moved the rod around on his stomach, checking his unborn children, and he listened to the sound of their heartbeats through the ultrasound machine to keep him calm.

After a few moments of checking the screen and moving the rod quietly, Mikoto finally stopped nodded her head. Then she reached for the screen as she said, “Looks like you are definitely expecting triplets,” before she turned it around to show the couple. Prompto’s breath caught in his throat at the sight of the triplets on the screen, everything suddenly seeming incredibly surreal now. Noctis smiled as he ran a hand through Prompto’s hair, as he squeezed his hand softly.

“…Do you want to know the genders?” Mikoto asked after a moment.

“Yes, please,” the taller blonde nodded eagerly.

Mikoto regarded the screen for a moment, before she said, “Two boys and one girl.” Tears welled up in Prompto’s eyes at the reveal, and he looked at his bond happily.

“Happy?” Noctis asked with a small smile.

“You have no idea,” the smaller male whispered, before looking back at the screen.

Once she had their attention again, Mikoto said simply, “It looks like everything’s good. They’re also keeping their tails to themselves…”

“I’m just glad they’re okay,” Prompto murmured, still staring at the screen until Mikoto turned off the ultrasound machine. As he lay back against the bed again, still holding Noctis’s hand, he suddenly jumped a little as he felt something.

“Prom!?” Noctis cried out in alarm.

Mikoto didn’t bother to say anything; she already saw what had happened. Prompto blinked, unsure, but when he felt it again, he smiled before taking his bond’s hand and placing it on his swollen stomach.

Though Noctis looked surprised at the motion—before he felt the light bump against his hand, making him gasp. When he realized what had happened, he smiled softly.

“They’re kicking,” Prompto breathed, smiling softly as well.

“So they are…” Noctis murmured. Mikoto allowed a small smile…before she suddenly whipped around toward the window.

“Mikoto? What’s wrong?” the pregnant male frowned, noticing her sudden movement. Before Mikoto could say anything though, the pair caught a familiar roar from outside…but there was something wrong with it.

“Nova? …Something’s wrong,” Prompto murmured, before starting to sit up. Mikoto and Noctis helped him to sit up, before they all headed for the entrance. Once there, they nearly ran into Regis, who was also waiting there, having heard the familiar roar as well.

“I take it you heard the roar as well?” he asked.

“Yeah…something about it didn’t sound right…” Noctis admitted. “Were we even expecting Lord Kiryu?”

“No. I haven’t heard anything from him,” Regis said, shaking his head.

“I hadn’t heard anything, either,” Prompto added.

Just as they said that, though, Nova came into view, but it was obvious, even from a distance, that something wasn’t right. Which was even more obvious when she came into range and actually stumbled along the ground before she hit the ground with a pained cry, almost throwing the people on her back off…if they hadn’t jumped off in time.

“Aranea? Joshua!” Prompto gasped, hurrying over. “What happened?! Where’s Kuja?!”

Aranea didn’t say anything, as Mikoto hurried to Nova to check on the dragon, who gave a small cry of pain as Mikoto gently patted her, while Joshua appeared to be trying very hard not to cry. Though that didn’t seem to work, especially considering his red, puffy eyes and the tears still welling up in his eyes.

“P-Promptoooo!!” he wailed, reaching for the other Genome.

“Come here, sweetie,” Prompto murmured, taking the miserable boy from Aranea and holding him close. “I’ve got you.” Looking at Aranea, he asked, “What happened to Kuja?” Aranea didn’t respond immediately, frowning softly as Joshua clung to Prompto, wailing.

“…I don’t know…” Aranea admitted. “…but there was an attack on the Auction House.” Prompto resisted the urge to swear, especially since Joshua was in his arms.

“…Was it Sephiroth and Kadaj?” he asked lowly, stroking the wailing boy’s hair soothingly. The woman didn’t respond, but the look on her face said enough.

Noctis frowned darkly, clenching his fists tightly.

‘Dammit… He told us he would be fine!’ the blonde thought in frustration. He then focused on the silverette in his arms. “Joshua, are you hurt?” Joshua shook his head, but it didn’t lessen his sobs at all.

“Let’s take this inside, where it’s safe. Mikoto, will you need help tending to Nova’s wounds?” Regis asked her.

Mikoto shook her head as she gently rubbed Nova’s neck. “…though if you can send Iris with some supplies, I would appreciate it.”

“I’ll see to it,” the King nodded, before leading the others inside. Prompto motioned for Aranea to come with, even as he still held Joshua close.

“Can you text Luna and have her and Zidane join us in the meeting room?” he asked Noctis while Regis called Iris and had her get the medical supplies for Nova. Noctis nodded and did just that. When they arrived, Luna and Zidane were there, waiting for them. Prompto nearly felt on the verge of tears himself because of Joshua’s wails and sobs, but he kept strong so as not to upset the boy more.

The moment Zidane saw the boy, his eyes widened in alarm and his tail tensed up, before his expression darkened as the entire situation hit him in full.

‘Don’t tell me…’ he said slowly to Prompto.

‘They attacked the Auction House. Mikoto’s treating Nova, but Kuja…wasn’t with them…’ Prompto mumbled in answer.

“What happened?!” Luna gasped, seeing Joshua and hearing his sobs.

“The Auction House was attacked,” Noctis said, trying to keep his voice calm but finding it to be very hard.

“No…! But…where’s—”

“He’s not here,” Prompto said quickly, not wanting to upset Joshua any further by having him hear his father’s name said. “Joshua?” he murmured, looking at the four-year-old. The small boy sniffled, shaking his head and burying his face in the other Genome’s chest firmly.

‘Fuckin’…!’ Zidane snarled out, grinding his teeth together to prevent himself from making any actual noise.

“Joshua, I need you to look at me, okay?” Prompto whispered, kissing the top of his head. Joshua sniffed, before he slowly raised his head, tears rolling down his cheeks and his nose running as he bit down on his bottom lip to keep from crying any louder. “There we go, sweetie,” the blonde smiled. “Do you want something to help you sleep for a bit?”

The boy sniffled, trying to breathe so he could speak again. “Ho…hot cocoa…?” he asked slowly.

“Absolutely,” the pregnant male chuckled, before looking to Noctis. “Mind texting Ignis?” Noctis nodded, pulling out his phone and sending a quick text to the spectacled man. “Thanks.”

“What are we going to do?” Luna asked nervously.

Zidane didn’t say anything, before he looked to Aranea. “What happened?”

Aranea sighed as she rubbed her temples. “We got this shipment in…black diamonds, they claimed. Boss had a few people checking the origins and the purity, just in case…and suddenly these black daemons were EVERYWHERE…” She paused to wave her hand. “Tried to get them out, but Boss had me take Joshua to safety. Said he’d be right after us…”

“Kadaj,” Prompto growled. “He pulled a similar stunt when we were first coming to Treno, I’m sure. Sent a hoard of daemons after Zidane and me while we were riding Chocobos.”

“That sneaky little…” Zidane snarled softly, curling his fingers into a half-fist along the table. At that moment, Ignis came in, holding a large mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows in it for Joshua.

“Thanks, Ignis,” Prompto murmured, and lightly nudged Joshua in his lap. “Hey sweetie, hot cocoa’s here.”

Joshua sniffled as he reached up and rubbed at his eyes, before he shakily accepted the mug from Ignis with a shaky ‘thank you’, taking slow, generous sips.

“There we go. Better?” the pregnant blonde asked with a soft smile.

“Ignis, I’d like for some soldiers to be sent out to the Auction House to assist them. Can you arrange that?” Regis asked.

Zidane looked to Regis in slight surprise, but he didn’t say anything of it. In fact, he seemed somewhat relieved.

“That’d be a load off our back, that’s for sure…” Aranea said with a small nod.

“Of course. I’d like to find out if Lord Kiryu is okay, as well,” Regis nodded.

“I’ll send them out at once, Your Majesty,” Ignis nodded, bowing slightly before leaving. Prompto felt the triplets moving inside of him as he held Joshua close, grabbing the young Genome’s attention. The small boy yowled at the sudden bump, almost spilling his hot chocolate as he looked at Prompto’s stomach in confusion.

This drew a genuine laugh from Prompto. “Don’t worry, Joshua. It’s just the babies kicking,” he explained. Joshua looked at him strangely, before he put his hand to the blonde’s stomach. That’s when the triplets all three kicked around Joshua’s hand.

“Wah!”

“I think they like you, Josh. You’re gonna have some loving cousins soon enough,” the pregnant male chuckled. Joshua blinked, before he was finally able to manage a watery smile.

Zidane just watched the whole thing for a moment, a deep frown on his face, before he sighed and held his head, shutting his eyes.

“Zidane? Do you want to feel them, too? I'm sure they’d like that,” Prompto offered. ‘Besides, you need a distraction.’

Zidane glanced over for a moment, seeming to consider it, before he sighed, shaking his head as he stood up. “Sorry, I…I think I need some fresh air,” he said solemnly, before he left quietly.

Before he disappeared out the door, though…

‘In advance…sorry.’

And then he was gone.

“Zidane!” Luna called after him.

‘What are you doing, Zidane?! Luna needs you, too!’ Prompto demanded after him. He wanted to take off after his friend, but knew that he didn’t stand a chance in his current state. There was no response; the blonde was already out of telepathic reach AND range of hearing.

“…this can’t be good…” Noctis murmured.

“I don’t know what he’s doing, but I have a bad feeling about it,” Prompto sighed.

“I just hope he doesn’t do anything foolish…” Luna whispered.

“Here’s hoping…” Noctis agreed.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Zidane…?” Luna called out into their room when she got back from the meeting room. Sadly, Zidane wasn’t in the room. However, after looking around closely, it took her only a moment to realize that one of his supply bags was gone from the (opened) closet. And the daggers he’d used to train with were also missing from their usual spot if he wasn’t actually training.

On top of that; the window was left wide open.

“No…!” Luna gasped, before hurriedly pulling out her phone and calling Noctis. “Noctis…! Zidane…he took off!”

“What?!” Noctis cursed several times before he snarled, “That little idiot… How does he intend to leave the city?!”

“I don’t know! Maybe he took one of the Chocobos? We have to go to Treno and find him!” Luna whimpered.

“What happened?!” Prompto demanded from Noctis’s end of the line.

“Zidane ran off,” Noctis explained to Prompto, before going back to Luna. “Luna, it’s better for you to stay in the Citadel with Prompto. I’ll get Gladio and Ravus to get him back. Promise.”

“But what about you? Prompto needs you, too. You need to stay here, just in case,” she pointed out. “I trust Ravus and Gladio to get him.”

Noctis bit his lip, turning to Prompto. He hated to admit it, but she had a point. As much as he wanted to help, he couldn’t.

“Sorry, Noctis…” Luna murmured, knowing how he felt. She’d felt the same during the incident in Treno with Ardyn. “I’ll call Ravus, and you call Gladio. We’ll have them and Cor go to Treno and the Auction House to find Zidane, and hopefully, Kuja, too.”

“Right…let’s hope he doesn’t do anything stupid…”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Night had fallen by the time Zidane arrived in Treno, well after Regis’s soldiers had arrived to check things out. Unlike the soldiers, though, Zidane stuck to the shadows, his Chocobo moving as stealthily as possible, given its yellow feathers.

Eventually, he dismounted and gestured for the bird to be quiet as he they moved further along Treno’s edges.

“Kweh!”

“Gah! Chichiri! Sssh!!” Zidane hissed to the Chocobo. “We’re trying to sneak here!”

The Chocobo gave a small chirp, before moving after Zidane as he moved on ahead. Eventually, this brought them to the back of the Auction House.

‘Place’s definitely seen better days…’ Zidane thought to himself before he looked to Chichiri. “Hey, I need a boost, buddy,” he whispered.

Chichiri chirped and lowered his head, and then, as Zidane put his foot on his head, knocked him up, allowing him to grab the ledge up above and clamber inside.

Once he was there, he peeked out. “Wait here, Chichiri.”

“Kweh!”

Satisfied with that, Zidane disappeared inside with a flick of his tail.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Well, we’re here. Too bad Cor’s making sure the Citadel stays safe with Iggy. Would’ve been nice to have some backup,” Gladio grumbled as he and Ravus got out of the Regalia once they had parked about half a mile from the Auction House.

“That Zidane is going to get a good smack upside the head when I find him…” Ravus growled. “Especially for making Lunafreya worry like this.” He could still hear her terrified voice from her phone call in his mind.

“I’m sure Prompto’s gonna give him an earful, too. At least wait until we’re back before you maim him,” Gladio advised, and the pale blonde gave a stiff nod before they headed to the scene.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Zidane was scampering along the halls, staying well out of sight and barely making any noise as he padded along the carpeted floors. Thus far, all he’d dealt with were the same dark daemons that had attacked him and Prompto on their first trip there. Which only confirmed that Kadaj was probably behind this thing.

He’d tried reaching out to Kuja through their link, but somehow that had spawned even more daemons, so he was avoiding doing that again for now. The blonde wasn’t sure if they were still in the Auction House or if they’d already fled, but he shook it off quickly. Jenova wouldn’t waste the chance to lure them in…

Suddenly he froze.

‘Wait…how do I know that?! I've never even—’

“Agh!” Zidane cried out, much louder than intended, as he grabbed his head to try and ease the pounding headache suddenly coming on. “What…the hell…?”

Shaking it off, Zidane continued on. The headache could wait; finding Kuja came first.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Gladio and Ravus were hurrying over to the Auction House, and as they got closer, they saw Amarant dealing with a few daemons outside of the building.

“Shit,” Gladio growled, summoning his broadsword. He then charged over to the daemons while Ravus unsheathed his rapier and followed after. The pair swiftly took out the daemons without difficulty, and then turned to Amarant.

“Long time no see,” Ravus commented.

Amarant hummed as he turned to the pair. “So Aranea’s made it to safety, then?” he asked instead of responding to the greeting.

“Yeah, he’s with Prompto,” Gladio confirmed.

“We’re here to retrieve Zidane. He came here to save Kuja on his own,” Ravus explained.

“Zidane?” Amarant questioned, curious. “I’m afraid I haven’t seen him… Are you sure he’s here?”

“Yes. Lunafreya discovered he left, and the only place he would have gone is here…to save Kuja,” Ravus answered.

Amarant hummed briefly, before he nodded. “I understand…though if he’s here already, then he hasn’t come through here.” Shaking it off, he then said, gesturing for the Auction House. “The boss should still be inside. Not sure if he needs saving, though.”

“What do you mean?” Gladio frowned. Amarant merely snorted, before he headed inside without another word said. “Amarant, seriously! We need to know so hopefully Zidane will quit this bullshit!”

“Boss can hold his own,” Amarant said simply. “Not sure why Zidane believes the boss needs the help…”

“Probably because of who we’re dealing with,” Ravus retorted.

“Hm?”

“Sephiroth and Kadaj. They’re part of the group that wanted Prompto and Zidane so badly in the first place,” the pale blonde elaborated.

“Oh?” Amarant snorted briefly at that. “Again, not sure what—hmm?”

Suddenly he paused walking and listened. “…do you hear that?”

“Hmm?” Ravus hummed, curious. Then he and Gladio listened carefully, before catching the sound of something like a slight whistle.

“…Not sure where it’s coming from, but let’s move on.”

“Right, Gladio agreed, and he and Ravus followed after the man.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Nnnnrrrrgh…!” Zidane hissed out as he clutched his head, the whistling in his head starting to become unbearable. It had started out very minor, but now it was starting to hurt SO bad that he almost wanted to rip his ears off, if only to stop the noise.

As he staggered through the halls, he began to gasp for breath, trying to keep moving, until he noticed motion from one of the rooms.

‘Is that…?’ He frowned as he walked up to the room, pulling out his daggers, just in case. He opened the door quietly, peeking inside…before he gasped.

“Kuja!!” he cried out, hurrying inside the auction room and dropping down next to the collapsed figure in the middle of the room.

The older Genome was collapsed onto the side, seemingly unconscious. He wasn’t injured (or didn’t appear to be), but he was definitely not in good shape.

“Kuja! Kuja, wake up!! C’mon!!” he cried out, shaking the man’s shoulder, but there was no response from the man. “Shit…!” he hissed, trying to move Kuja, before he froze as he caught a motion from ahead of him.

And as he looked up, his eyes locked onto a pair of empty, poisonous green eyes, and the whistling in his ears increased to the point where he could hear nothing else…yet he couldn’t look away.

“…! A-ah…?!” he choked out, before he fell over onto his side.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“I hope Zidane’s okay, or else Lunafreya’s going to kill me,” Ravus frowned as the three men made their way through the hallways.

Amarant didn’t bother to say anything as they walked toward the auction halls. “…hm?” Frowning, the man clenched his fists briefly, before he abruptly kicked in the door to the nearest auction room. Gladio and Ravus readied themselves for a fight as he did, just in case. The first thing the men noticed, though, were the two Genomes laying collapsed in the middle of the room.

“What the he—!!”

Amarant froze as his gaze fell on the stage ahead of them.

Standing there, were two men, each with silvery hair and sharp, but empty, green eyes. The one on the left was Kadaj, carrying a double-bladed katana, while the other man had much longer hair, standing a foot taller than Kadaj. The katana he was holding was almost twice his own height, but the way he held it made it seem less cumbersome than it would’ve been for anyone else.

However, what stood out more, was the woman beyond them. She looked like a frail, old woman, seated in a wheelchair, her face mostly shrouded by the long silver tresses, though her eyes appeared to be glowing eerily from under the silvery strands.

“Oh…?” Kadaj murmured with a small smirk. “Seems we still have some work to do…”

Gladio growled lowly, furious. These assholes weren’t going to finish their ‘job’, whatever it may be. The brunette wouldn’t allow it. His friends were relying on himself and Ravus to get Zidane and Kuja back safely. But he couldn’t help but admit to himself that he wished Cor was there, just for some extra help.

Ravus glowered at the pair, knowing there was something off about this situation. He couldn’t quite tell what, but he just knew there was something.

The woman didn’t say anything in response to the new arrivals. However, her mouth did move briefly, even though no sound came out.

“…Very well…” the taller man murmured, as he brought up the large blade and fell into position.

Kadaj merely chuckled as he readied his own blade as well.

“Ch…!” Amarant snarled, snapping his claws along his wrists. Gladio quickly summoned his broadsword, while Ravus swiftly unsheathed his rapier.

“Get ready,” he hissed. Amarant hummed, right before Kadaj kicked off from the stage and was right in their face, lashing out with speeds that shouldn’t be possible for normal humans. As soon as Kadaj was within range, Gladio swung his broadsword down at the silver-haired bastard while Ravus dashed around to slash at him from behind.

However Ravus’s blade instantly met that of Sephiroth’s, and with a measly flick of the wrist, the man threw Ravus backwards and away. The pale blonde managed to catch himself before he smashed into something, and darted back at Sephiroth while Gladio defended against Kadaj.

Kadaj was laughing as he lashed out at Gladio and Amarant, while Sephiroth was barely moving his wrists in order to knock the man away over and over. Becoming frustrated, Gladio summoned his shield, and then smashed it into the ground, creating a powerful shockwave that knocked both silverettes off balance, giving Ravus and Amarant an opportunity to strike. Ravus was swift to take advantage, lunging and slashing at Sephiroth.

Amarant didn’t waste the chance either; closing the distance between himself and Kadaj and slicing with both claws at the silverette, tearing through the cloth of his jacket before he had the chance to block. However, Kadaj quickly snapped back into it, lashing out and blocking the following blows.

Sephiroth, on the other hand, dodged to the side and raised his katana.

“…cut.”

And suddenly his blade moved so fast it was like a flurry of white slashes.

Ravus cried out in pain, unable to avoid the flurry from Sephiroth’s katana. Meanwhile, Gladio raced over, defending Ravus with his shield and successfully blocking the flurry.

Sephiroth snorted as he threw Gladio and Ravus back with a single flick of his blade, while Kadaj slammed into Amarant and threw him to the ground.

“Hey you ASSHOLES!!” a voice suddenly screamed before the pair could rush back in, making the silverettes turn toward the source immediately. And when they saw what had happened, Kadaj’s eyes widened in horror, while Sephiroth glared icily.

“MOTHER!!” Kadaj cried out.

“Don’t move!” Lani threatened, keeping her blade primed at the prone woman’s throat. “One false move and this bitch’s head will roll!”

Ravus and Gladio watched, tensed for anything bad to happen.

“Get away…” Sephiroth snarled.

“No! YOU get away!” Lani cried, pushing her sword a little firmer against the woman’s throat.

“Be careful, Lani…” Ravus warned lowly.

“Get the Boss outta here, Amarant!” Lani hissed out.

Amarant nodded briefly, swiftly moving in and grabbing both Kuja and Zidane, leaping away before Kadaj or Sephiroth could try to target him. Ravus and Gladio then joined him, the brunette taking Kuja from the other man, preparing to escape if necessary.

“Go! I got this!” Lani shouted.

Amarant frowned, but nodded anyway as he ushered the other men out of the room swiftly. Gladio and Ravus followed wordlessly, keeping their guard up for any danger as they went. Thankfully, the only things getting in their way were the daemons, which were easily taken out despite the numbers. They soon managed to escape the Auction House, and Ravus led the way to the Regalia, where Gladio and Ravus climbed in, Ravus taking the backseat with Kuja and Zidane so he could keep an eye on their status.

Once the two Genomes were secured, Amarant stepped back. “Get them out of here,” the redhead said. “I’m heading back for Lani.” And then he turned and ran back toward the building.

“Wait! Amarant!” Gladio yelled, but Ravus stopped him before he could go after the dreadlocked man. “He’s right, we need to get these two back to the Citadel, now.”

“…Fine. Hang on, then, I’m speeding back,” Gladio growled. And with that said, the brunette pulled away and sped away. As he drove, however, Ravus noticed one of the Chocobos from the castle following after, and he realized Lunafreya was right; Zidane had actually ridden to Treno on Chocobo again, this time successfully. He refocused his attention to the Genomes in the backseat with him, and sighed heavily.

‘You had best be okay, Zidane, for Lunafreya’s sake,’ he thought.

Chapter Text

When the group of four returned, Kuja and Zidane had yet to wake up. They were greeted at the entrance by Regis and Luna, the latter of which had her hand over her slightly swollen stomach. She soon spotted Zidane in the backseat, and she gave a cry as she tried to get to him. Ravus, however, stopped her.

“Hang on, Lunafreya. Let us get him and Lord Kiryu to the infirmary, and then you can stay with him,” he told her, and she nodded her understanding.

“Gladiolus. I expect a full report on what happened at the Treno Auction House,” Regis told the brunette as he got out of the Regalia.

“Understood, Your Majesty,” he nodded, bowing slightly out of respect. “If you’ll allow me to assist Ravus in bringing Lord Kiryu to the infirmary…”

“Of course. We’ll speak afterwards,” the King agreed. With that said, the group made their way to the infirmary, where they met up with Prompto, Noctis, and little Joshua.

“What happened?!” the pregnant male demanded when he saw his friends.

“We found them like this, but I’ll explain after they get some help,” Gladio assured him.

When Mikoto came over and saw them, her eyes widened in slight alarm, before she wordlessly gestured for Gladio and Ravus to put the pair on the cots.

“Papa!!” Joshua cried, trying to reach for his father.

“Easy, Joshua,” Noctis murmured as he held the small boy in his arms.

“He’ll be okay, sweetie. Mikoto’s going to help him feel better, okay?” Prompto soothed, watching sadly as Luna sat by Zidane’s cot worriedly. Meanwhile, Gladio and Regis stepped out into the hallway, closing the door behind them.

Joshua whimpered softly, huddling against Noctis’s chest and Mikoto began to work on the other two Genomes. The female Genome didn’t say anything as she pulled open one of Zidane’s eyes, shining a light into it as the other remained completely motionless.

‘Zidane…you better be okay…if not for my sake, then Luna’s and your baby’s, most importantly,’ Prompto thought to the shorter Genome in frustration, despite him being unconscious. He leaned against Noctis as he dwelled on what could have possibly happened to the pair. What put them in this state in the first place? There were no marks on them, as far as Prompto could tell.

As Prompto moved his gaze from Zidane to Kuja, though, he suddenly noticed something; the older Genome was clutching a familiar orb in his left hand…with a strip of paper wrapped around it.

“Hmm?” the blonde hummed curiously, before reaching out and taking the orb and the paper strip from Kuja’s hand. Holding onto the orb, he unwrapped the strip from it and then looked at the paper.

The text on the paper was all in the Terran dialect, so it would make little sense to most, but to Prompto, it was as clear as day. It gave him the sequence to open up the orb, and then mentioned a specific file that had to be then searched for through the search window.

Noctis regarded the note for a moment, before he frowned. “What kind of writing is that?” he asked. “It looks like random scribbling…”

“It’s in Terran dialect,” Prompto murmured, before following the sequence with the orb, opening it. He wasn’t going to leave his bond in the dark on this.

The moment the surge of energy rushed out from the orb, filling the entire room and bringing up the entire blueprint and the notes on the Genome project, more than a few people jumped in surprise.

“Wh-what the…?!” Noctis choked out.

Joshua, however, merely blinked and looked around curiously. “Oooh! Papa’s shiny stone!”

“I didn’t know you’d seen it yet, Joshua,” Prompto smiled lightly, before looking at Noctis. “This orb contains the entire blueprint and all the notes on the Genome project. Kuja’s note told me what to search for in all of this.” As he spoke, he went over to the search window, before typing in what he was supposed to search for and hitting on the search option.

What came up, was a single file. Unlike the previous files Zidane and Prompto had viewed, or even the excerpts that Kuja had sent them, this one appeared to be an audio log. As Prompto tapped on the file, it took a moment to load in, before a voice filtered out from all around them.

Audiolog 8-3-7-0-1…” said a voice that sounded…somewhat familiar. “Jenova has…gone insane. I’m not sure what has happened to cause it, but any progress we’ve made seems to have gone down the drain…

“I…I recognize that voice…” Luna whispered, shocked. “But…how?”

“Don’t be too alarmed, but…” Prompto sighed, before typing in Zidane’s name into the search option.

As the search results came up, and Prompto tapped on the name, he brought up the photo of Zidane Tribal, looking silently into the camera with his long ponytail hanging along his shoulder, and his expression being almost unnaturally serious.

“Wh-what…?” Noctis breathed in alarm.

Joshua blinked, twice, before he said, “Why’s Zidane looking so weird…?”

“There’s more. I’m in there, as are Kuja and Mikoto. We were based off of the original Terrans, including the creators of the Genomes project,” Prompto explained. “Apparently, the original of myself created the blueprint for the machine to make Genomes.”

“Wait…what?” Noctis got out in surprise.

“You’re all in there?” Luna asked, confused.

“I can show you later, but we need to hear the rest of that audio log,” Prompto mumbled, before going back to the audio log and playing it again.

…down the drain… Perhaps her soul was corrupted when we extracted it from the Crystal, but we were all hopeful that we could make it better. …No, no, I’m wrong… we weren’t ‘hopeful’…we were merely ‘delusional’…” There was a heavy sigh then, and the owner of the voice clucked his tongue. “We should have never been trying to tamper with the Crystal…that was our biggest mistake… It will never give up the souls of those who’ve rightfully passed away again…their place here has—

Suddenly there was the sound of a door slamming open and the man yowled in alarm when a voice (equally familiar yet not) shouted out; “Zidane!!

Oh for…! PROMPTO! Could you NOT?! I swear this better be important or I—

The pregnant male exhaled shakily as goosebumps formed on his arms as he listened to his former self’s voice. Luna blinked, shocked, as everything Prompto had told them finally became real in her mind.

It’s…it’s Kuja…! H-he’s…!

Noctis’s eyes widened as he heard ‘Zidane’ gasp in surprise, before speaking again. “Kuja!? What happened!?

He…he tried…Je…Jenova has—

Wha…!? N-no way…!

And then the recording cut off.

“It…feels like I should know what happened…but I don’t remember…” Prompto whispered, shuddering as he sank into a chair. Luna looked pointedly at the prince, silently telling him to comfort the Genome.

Noctis didn’t even need to look at her for that as he moved up next to Prompto. And Joshua noticed as well, as he pouted, before tugging on Noctis’s shirt. The prince nodded as he set Joshua on the blonde’s lap, before he wrapped his arms around his bond’s shoulders, hugging him from behind with Joshua hugging him as best as he could as well.

The pregnant male placed one hand on one of Noctis’s arms, while he hugged Joshua back with his other arm, grateful to have such amazing support with him.

“Just who is this Jenova, anyway?” Luna asked after a moment.

“She’s the first Genome to be ‘born’ with a soul, during the time of the Genome project,” Prompto explained. “She’s still alive, and is wanting Zidane, Kuja, and myself dead, at minimum, since we’re based off of her ‘creators’. And she is also the mother to Sephiroth, Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, which would mean they’re Genomes, too.”

“But…how is she still alive after so long…?” Noctis asked, frowning.

“…The original Genomes were made with a longer lifespan than humans…” Mikoto said, finally speaking up for the first time. “They have the potential to age to three times a normal human’s life…”

“I had no idea…” Luna whispered, looking at Zidane. “But, if those four are Genomes, how come they have no tails?”

“They were surgically removed to hide the fact that they’re Genomes,” Prompto muttered, shivering at the thought. Joshua whimpered softly at the news, cuddling closer to Prompto with his tail wrapping around his own leg a few times.

“…But why does…hmm?” Noctis frowned as he realized something just then; Zidane’s eyes were open (halfway, anyway) and he was staring up at the ceiling silently. Luna and Prompto were quick to look at well, and Luna put her hand out on Zidane’s shoulder.

“Zidane…?” she whispered. The blonde didn’t answer or respond to the touch; he merely remained where he was, silently staring up.

Mikoto frowned softly, worry obvious in her eyes. “…Zidane. Can you sit up?” she asked.

“…”

Without a word, Zidane moved his arms, and then slowly sat himself up, his expression never changing.

“Zidane, what’s going on?” Luna asked, concerned.

“……” Zidane didn’t answer. He just remained where he was sitting.

“…Zidane,” Mikoto said firmly. “Say something.”

“…Something…”

“No… No, no, no…” Prompto whimpered as it finally clicked, what had happened to Kuja’s past self and now to Zidane and probably Kuja now, too. “Those idiots broke his soul…!”

“What?!” Luna gasped, horrified.

“They what?!” Noctis got out, before he ground his teeth together to keep himself from saying anything vulgar (Joshua was still there, after all…).

“Pa…Papa’s hurt?” Joshua whimpered out.

“We’ll…we’ll figure it out, sweetie, I promise,” Prompto swore, hugging Joshua briefly, before starting to get up with a grunt.

Mikoto sighed heavily as she regarded Prompto. “Do you want me to look through the blueprint?” she asked. “Perhaps there’s an answer to this in there…”

“Yeah, look through Zidane Tribal’s file. He was the expert of crystal/soul bonding,” the pregnant male nodded, leaning back into Noctis’s grip again.

Mikoto nodded as she took over the orb. “Alright. You should get some rest. You look like you’ll need it.”

“I’ll take you up on that,” the taller blonde chuckled softly. “Just let me know when you find out something.”

“I’m staying here with Zidane,” Luna murmured. Mikoto didn’t tell her she couldn’t. She merely nodded.

Joshua looked up to Prompto, before he tugged on his shirt. “I wanna stay with Papa…”

“No problem, sweetie. Just be good and patient while Mikoto tries to figure things out, okay?” Prompto smiled at the boy. He then looked at Luna. “I hope you don’t mind watching over him…”

“Of course not,” the blonde woman smiled slightly. Once Joshua was comfy with his dad, Mikoto ushered the pair out as she began searching through the numerous files while making Zidane lay down again.

“I really hope we can help Zidane and Kuja…” Prompto whispered as he and Noctis headed to their room.

“I’m sure it’ll be fine…” Noctis murmured, rubbing the blonde’s shoulders.

“I just…I don’t want to think about Joshua practically losing Kuja like this…” the smaller male whimpered.

“I know…” Noctis whispered, gently kissing the Genome’s temple. “We just have to have faith in Mikoto…”

“Right…” Prompto nodded, relaxing at the kiss.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

The next morning arrived, and with it, tentative hope for Prompto. He carefully sat up, feeling the triplets moving about a bit inside of him, making him smile softly. Just three more months, and the little ones would be born.

As awareness caught up, he soon realized Noctis was already up, typing something on his phone before he turned to Prompto. “Mikoto wants to see us in the throne room.”

“Okay,” Prompto nodded, getting up from the bed and getting dressed. He then linked his fingers with Noctis’s before they left for the throne room. It took them only two minutes to reach it, and when they did, Luna and Mikoto were already waiting there, as were King Regis and Ravus. “Did you find anything out?” the pregnant male asked, looking at his fellow Genome.

Mikoto nodded, and as he looked closer he realized she actually had black circles under her eyes. “I have…”

“What did you find, Mikoto?” Regis inquired.

Mikoto opened her mouth to speak—only to quickly cover her mouth to suppress a yawn. “Ah…apologies, Your Majesty,” she apologized. “I was able to find a number of notes describing the effects of a broken soul. These also speak of a…rather simplistic solution. Unfortunately, over time…this solution failed them.”

“And what was this solution?” the King frowned.

“Bring those afflicted before Bran Bal’s Crystal,” Mikoto said solemnly. “The Crystal’s light was said to be able to heal a broken soul and restore it to its former glory. Sadly, the Crystal abandoned Bran Bal when they attempted to extract the souls from the deceased from it to give them to the Genomes.”

“…so they couldn’t do anything when it happened to Kuja…” Noctis murmured softly.

“Wait…but, how are we supposed to help them now, though?” Luna asked worriedly.

“…Would Insomnia’s Crystal perhaps help them?” Regis asked Mikoto curiously, making the others perk up.

“I am unsure…but it would be our best bet, Your Highness,” Mikoto confirmed.

“Then we should try it!” Prompto exclaimed.

“Yes, we should. If it gives us a chance at getting back Zidane and Lord Kiryu, then we must,” Regis agreed. “Let’s bring them in here, and then we’ll take them to the Crystal.”

“As you wish, You Majesty,” Mikoto said, before she headed off to collect Kuja and Zidane.

Noctis smiled as he wrapped his arms around Prompto. Regis noticed this, and he smiled warmly at his son and Prompto.

“How long until they’re due, Prompto?” the older man inquired.

“Three months, Your Majesty,” the blonde whispered shyly, blushing.

“And they’ll be Genomes, correct?” he asked.

“Yes, Mikoto saw their tails on the ultrasound yesterday,” Prompto nodded. “We’re having two boys and a girl.”

“I’m happy for you both. I can’t wait to meet my grandchildren,” Regis chuckled.

“They’re kicking now, if you’d like to feel…”

“I’d love that.” The King then approached Prompto, and placed his hand gently on the Genome’s swollen belly. Sure enough, all three of the triplets kicked at the touch. “Strong and active already, just like their parents.”

Noctis allowed a small chuckle. “Yeah, no kidding…”

Shortly after, Mikoto came back, with Zidane and Kuja both following close behind, while she held the still sleeping Joshua in her arms. Both male Genomes were walking after her listlessly, their expressions empty and eyes half-lidded and dark.

Prompto shivered, not liking the empty looks on their faces. It was unsettling after knowing them for so long.

“Let’s get them to the Crystal, now,” Regis said firmly. As they stepped through the door, the first thing that hit them was the light, pale blue energy emanating from the Crystal. It seemed to pulse lightly, almost like a heartbeat, as it hovered above the pedestal.

Regis activated the Crystal using the Ring of Lucii, making the Crystal respond to it by pulsing slightly faster. Luna then went over to the two Genomes.

“Go up to the Crystal,” she told them softly. Zidane and Kuja didn’t even hesitate, stepping closer to the Crystal soundlessly. In response to that, the Crystal seemed to pulse even heavier, as if it understood what was wrong. Prompto watched with Noctis and Luna in awe, as the Crystal seemed to react to their presence.

Suddenly, there was a heavy pulse of energy that slammed into the two Genomes, making them stumble back from the force. Their eyes began to flicker and then glow with the Crystal's light. The waves of energy now seemed to focus on the two Genomes, pulsing and swirling around them…right before they were both hit with a blast of energy, which threw them both back to land on their back on the floor.

“Zidane!” Luna cried out, running over to her bond in a panic. Ravus, meanwhile, hurried over to Kuja, making sure the older Genome was okay as well. The shorter of the two blinked slowly, his eyes still glowing from the Crystal’s glow. After a moment, though, he slowly lifted his head to face Luna. “Zidane? Are you okay?” Luna asked softly.

“…” Zidane blinked once, slowly. And then... “…define… ‘okay’…”

“Oh thank goddess…! You’re back!” Luna whimpered, before holding the Genome close as she struggled not to cry, but it was a losing battle.

“…? Ba…ck…?” Zidane barely got out.

Kuja, in the meantime, groaned as his eyes flashed briefly, before he reached a hand for his head. “…ah…that…was u…unpleasant…”

“Your souls were broken after whatever happened to you in Treno,” Prompto told them softly. “Thanks to the King and the Crystal of Insomnia, we got you guys back.”

“…o-oh…” Zidane got out slowly.

Mikoto allowed a small smile, before she gently shook Joshua, making the boy whine, blinking awake. “Huh…?”

“Time to wake up, Joshua.”

“…Papa…?” the boy got out as he tried to wake up fully.

“He’s back to normal, sweetie. He’s okay,” Prompto told the young Genome, smiling kindly at him as he gestured to Kuja. “Go and see him.”

Joshua blinked as Mikoto set him down on his feet. “…Papa?” he called out.

Kuja lifted his head and turned to face Joshua slowly. A small, weary smile spread over him as he pushed him up carefully. “Yes, dear…?”

Joshua bit lip briefly, before he ran for the silver-haired Genome. “Papaaaa!” he cried, jumping into the man’s arms, almost making him fall back if Ravus hadn’t held him up.

“Ah... I’m sorry, dear…” Kuja got out slowly, holding his son close. “Sshh… It’s okay…it’s okay…”

Glaring at Zidane, Prompto growled, “You’re so lucky you’re not feeling good right now, or I’d whack you upside the head for taking off like you did. You scared and worried us all! Especially Luna! What would she have done if your soul hadn’t been able to be repaired?!”

Zidane groaned as he tried to sit up properly. “Ow…I…what was I…urgh…” he groaned, holding his head.

“Don’t you remember? You snuck off to save Kuja from Jenova,” Luna reminded him.

“…Je…nova…?” Zidane choked out, slowly…before his eyes widened as a flash of color shot across his irises. “Ah…!”

‘Seems she’s not lost her insane streak…hmm?’

‘Ya think?! Ugh…!’

“I told them everything, because they deserve to know. They all know about Jenova now, and not only that, but they know of our past selves,” Prompto told Kuja and Zidane, frowning. “They know everything, and they heard that audio log in that hint you left for us to find, Kuja.”

“…Good,” Kuja said solemnly as he attempted to get up, though he was still a little shaky on his feet. “I was hoping to keep this contained…but good.”

Zidane merely groaned as he struggled up to his feet. Luna helped him up, staying close to his side.

“Well, it’s not like we could handle it completely on our own,” Prompto pointed out. “We need help.”

“How long have you known about all of your origins, Lord Kiryu?” Regis inquired.

“About us, Your Majesty? Oh, I’d say…maybe a year or so?” Kuja said with a small shrug. “It isn’t something one would shout from the mountains, so I’ve never deemed it necessary to bring up.”

“He’s got a point… When Zidane and I discovered that stuff on accident, we were pretty…shaken,” Prompto agreed.

Zidane merely groaned, holding his head for a moment.

“Understandable…” Kuja murmured. “Such knowledge is a lot to take in…”

Noctis frowned at the words for a moment, before he spoke. “Question is…now what do we do? Are they still coming after us?”

“Amarant and Lani should have dealt with them by now,” Ravus piped up, drawing everyone’s attention to him. “Lani basically had Jenova at blade-point, threatening to cut off her head should Sephiroth or Kadaj do anything foolish, which allowed for us to escape. However, Amarant went back in to help Lani, ordering us to go on without him…”

At those words, Kuja frowned, even as he managed to adjust his hold on Joshua. “…I’m not sure if they would have…dealt with them properly…” he murmured.

“What?” Ravus frowned, but Regis spoke up then.

“Let’s leave the room with the Crystal for now. Hopefully we won’t need its power anytime soon…” the King said, and the group made their way out into the throne room.

‘You’re gonna get it from me once you’ve recovered, dumbass,’ Prompto growled at Zidane. ‘You have NO idea how much you made Luna and me worry, and with her and your baby, that’s not good. Don’t you EVER leave her again.’

‘…I know…’ Zidane said slowly. ‘I just…didn’t want to lose Kuj again…’

‘You’re gaining back your past self’s memories, aren’t you?’ the pregnant male asked, noticing the ‘again’ part. Based off of the audio log, their past selves had lost Kuja once before, by Jenova’s hand.

‘…I…guess…?’ Zidane said slowly as the walked out and headed for the meeting room.

‘Just…don’t abandon Luna like that again. I’m surprised she’s not mad at you, honestly,’ Prompto mumbled, pressing himself close to Noctis as they walked. Once they arrived at the meeting room, everyone took a seat, with Joshua still huddled up against his father and Luna still clinging to Zidane’s arm, while Noctis rubbed Prompto’s arm softly.

Regis took his seat at the head of the table, while Noctis sat to his father’s left, Prompto sitting by the raven. Luna stood by Zidane, refusing to let go of him, even as he sat across from Prompto. Ravus, however, sat a few seats down from the short Genome.

“Lord Kiryu,” the older man said once everyone was seated. “What did you mean before by what you said?”

Kuja took a moment to think on how to best explain, before he sighed softly, rubbing Joshua’s back. “Jenova…may seem like she’s weak and frail…but she’s still much more dangerous than she appears to be on the surface.” He paused to tap his mind. “As you may already know, Genomes are telepaths by nature, and it grows stronger as they age. Given Jenova’s age…her mental strength is…‘worrisome’, to say the least.”

“What does this mean for us?” Prompto asked, his tail flicking worriedly.

Kuja didn’t reply immediately, as he rubbed Joshua’s back. “What it means…is that her mind might be strong enough to, potentially, harm a non-Genome…”

“…Then Amarant and Lani are quite possibly in trouble, is what you're saying,” Ravus guessed.

“…Yes,” Kuja admitted.

“Is there any way to help them without putting anyone at risk?” Regis questioned.

“…That, I'm not sure of…”

“Then what CAN we do?” Prompto frowned, looking at his barely visible lap in frustration.

“…What if…” Zidane murmured softly.

“Hm?”

“…What if we could…‘block’ her?”

“What do you mean?” Prompto asked, curious.

“If we could…somehow stop her from using her mental powers…wouldn’t that…stop her?”

Kuja blinked, before he hummed in thought, one hand to his chin. “…it would make certainly make things easier…”

“But how can we stop her? I don't even know how we can be blocked ourselves!” Prompto grumbled, confused.

“On our own…we likely can’t…however…” Kuja murmured thoughtfully.

“What are you thinking, Kuja?” Luna asked softly.

“Perhaps…if we make something to block her mental power…like, say…a headpiece…”

Noctis frowned in thought. “It would make sense…but how would we get it on her?”

“Good point…” his bond sighed.

“…Perhaps we should work on one thing at a time…” Kuja pointed out.

“Agreed,” Prompto nodded.

“We at least have an idea of what we aim to accomplish…” Kuja said solemnly. “We just need to figure out how to progress from here on…”

“Yes, and hopefully we can end this before it’s too late,” Luna nodded.

Noctis nodded his head quietly. “Agreed…let’s just hope they don’t have anything else up their sleeves…”

“Right…” Prompto nodded, taking Noctis’s hand in his.

Chapter Text

It had been a few days since Zidane’s and Kuja’s souls had been restored, and ever since then, Luna had noticed the shorter Genome becoming more and more distant with her. This morning, he wasn't even in their room, though. After searching for an hour, the pregnant woman found her bond in the garden, or rather, in the Chocobo pen.

“Zidane…?” she called out, gaining his attention. Zidane looked up quietly from where he was rubbing Chichiri’s neck, but he didn’t say anything, his tail only moving a little bit.

“What’s going on with you? You vanished on me this morning…” she murmured. “You’ve been so distant ever since your soul was restored…”

“…sorry…” Zidane murmured, as he lightly petted Chichiri’s neck, the bird chirping softly. “I just…have a lot on my mind…”

“If you want to talk, I’m here to listen, Zidane. Keeping everything bottled up inside isn’t healthy, and it will only hurt you more…”

Zidane didn’t answer immediately, focusing on Chichiri for a moment, before he sighed softly and moved over to sit against the side of the pen.

Luna carefully sat beside him, being sure to sit without hurting herself or the baby. “I’m here for you,” she reiterated.

“…I don’t want to be a bother, Lu…” he murmured.

“You’re not a bother,” his bond scoffed. “You’re far from it.”

“…” Zidane didn’t look up for a while, his tail tip flicking lightly.

“Zidane…please, just tell me what’s on your mind, please?” Luna pleaded softly, placing her hand on his thigh comfortingly. The shorter blond didn’t say anything immediately after that, though his tail slowly moved over and curled around her wrist lightly. Finally, though…

“…I’m sorry…”

“For what?” Luna frowned, puzzled.

“…for running off without saying anything…”

“Zidane, I’m not mad at you for that. I was worried and scared more than anything. I don’t want our baby to be without his or her father…” she explained, leaning lightly against him.

Zidane peeked over from the corner of his eyes, and his hand twitched briefly, but he didn’t move just yet. “…I don’t want it to be either…but…I still messed up…I shouldn’t have…”

“But you’re here now, that’s what matters. Don’t focus so much on what could have happened, just focus on the here and now,” Luna murmured, just wanting the Genome to smile again.

“But I—”

Luna kissed him, cutting him off immediately. When she pulled away, she whispered, “As long as you’re happy and healthy, that’s what matters to me. But you’re not happy right now, and it makes me sad.”

Zidane blinked slowly, a bit unsure…before he managed a small smile. “…how is it you always know what to say?”

“Because I know you. I’m your bond, after all. What kind of bond would I be if I didn’t know how to help you?” Luna smiled softly.

“…heh…” Zidane chuckled softly as he finally allowed himself to relax and lean up against Luna. “I guess you’re right…”

“I love you, Zidane,” Luna murmured as they simply rested there.

Zidane hummed slightly, smiling lightly. “Love you, too…”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Prompto woke up that morning feeling weird. He was almost feeling as though something was…off. Yawning, the blonde snuggled closer to Noctis to try and sleep some more, when he felt those warm arms wrap around him instead, holding him close like a stuffed animal. Not that Prompto was complaining.

Noctis groaned sleepily, before he slowly blinked his eyes open. “…hmm… morning already?”

“No, so let’s sleep some more,” the pregnant male snickered.

“Mm…sure…” Noctis murmured, shutting his eyes again as he pulled Prompto up against himself firmly. The Genome sighed happily against Noctis, loving the feeling of being cuddled against him, even with the triplets kinda being in the way.

Just then, the triplets each gave a particular hard kick, and Noctis groaned, peeking out. “Seriously…?”

“Guess they want breakfast,” Prompto sighed, giving a small yawn.

“I guess so…” Noctis sighed out as he slowly sat up.

“Ugh, and here I was hoping for more sleep…guess it’s too late for sleeping in now,” Prompto mumbled, sitting up as well with a grunt.

“That’s new…” Noctis chuckled. “You’re usually not one for sleeping in…”

“When I’m halfway through my pregnancy with triplets, I’m tired. You would be, too, if you had the same thing going for you,” the blonde pouted, folding his arms defensively.

“Fair point,” Noctis chuckled as he climbed out of bed.

Prompto smiled lightly, though, as he slid off the bed, too. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Once they were dressed, the couple started making their way for the dining room, with Prompto tucked against Noctis’s side. As they came close, though, they ran into Luna and Zidane.

“Ah, morning,” Noctis called out.

“Morning,” Prompto chimed in.

“Good morning,” Luna smiled, appearing much happier than she had been since Zidane’s soul had been restored. Zidane didn’t say anything initially, but after a moment, he stepped away from Luna and walked up to Prompto.

“…Well?”

“Huh?”

“Don’t you something to give me?”

“Nah, I think you berated yourself enough, but if you insist…” Prompto chuckled, and smacked Zidane on top of the head.

Zidane barely made a noise at the hit, and for a few seconds, he didn’t move, before he grunted. “Thanks…I needed that one,” grumbled, rubbing the area he’d been hit.

“Damn straight. You scared us all, man!” the taller Genome growled.

“I get it already! Esh…” Zidane mumbled.

“He does, Prompto. We talked about it this morning,” Luna confirmed.

“Good. As long as that’s resolved, then I’m happy,” Prompto nodded, smiling lightly as he tucked himself into Noctis’s side again.

Noctis allowed a small laugh at the exchange. “Alright; if we’re done with this, how about we get breakfast, huh?”

“Good idea; I could do with some grub!” Zidane quipped with a small (familiar) grin.

“Same here, Luna agreed.

“Yeah, the triplets woke us up ‘cause they want some, too,” Prompto chuckled.

Zidane laughed at that. “Well, why are we still standing here, then?”

“Right,” Luna giggled, and hooked her arm with Zidane’s as the group headed to the dining room. When they entered, Joshua and Aranea were already inside…but Kuja wasn’t around.

Joshua looked up curiously, before he smiled and waved at the group as they walked over.

“Good morning, Joshua,” Prompto smiled at the boy in greeting as the four took their usual seats.

“How did you sleep?” Luna asked kindly.

“Okay…” Joshua said slowly. “I didn’t bring Stilzkin…”

Aranea smiled softly and lightly patted the boy on his head.

“I’m sure we can find you something as a temporary substitute, sweetie,” Prompto assured him.

“Yes, I think I still have some of my own plushies from when I was young,” Luna added, thinking.

“Can’t we just go home?” Joshua asked.

Aranea frowned softly, before she sighed and ruffled his hair. “Not yet, kiddo; your Pops needs to fix some things, first.”

“Speaking of…where is Kuj, anyway?” Zidane asked as they took their seats.

“Ah, he said he was going straight to work,” Aranea said with a shrug.

“I wonder what that’s supposed to mean,” Prompto frowned, and then Ignis brought out their meals, two plates at a time. He even gave Joshua a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows, which brought a smile to the boy’s face.

Zidane hummed as he started eating, before he looked over to Prompto. ‘Think it’s about that ‘headpiece’ he was talking about?’

‘Probably. I would have thought he’d need our help for it, though, based off of what he said before,’ Prompto shrugged, popping a piece of bacon in his mouth.

‘Knowing him…he’s just sketching up ideas at this time…’

‘Fair point,’ the pregnant male agreed as he took a bite of his pancakes. He had a sneaking suspicion that the pancakes, bacon, hash browns, and eggs were to help Joshua, especially since the boy’s pancakes had chocolate chips and whipped cream on them, and a strip of bacon to make a smile on them.

And thankfully, it seemed to help, since the boy was giggling as he munched on his pancakes, with his tail happily wagging behind him. Aranea merely chuckled as she watched the boy eat.

Idly, Prompto wondered if Aranea had requested the special touch to Joshua’s breakfast, seeing as she seemed to care deeply for Joshua, almost like she was his mother. Obviously she wasn’t, since she wasn’t Kuja’s bonded, but he couldn’t help but think the woman had taken on the role of Joshua’s mother.

Luna was thinking along similar lines, but she almost wished that Kuja could re-bond, and do so with Aranea, considering how close the two adults were with each other.

While Noctis also regarded the woman from under his bangs, he didn’t seem to think too deeply on the matter, as he quietly ate his own breakfast. Zidane, meanwhile, wasn’t even paying attention to the woman’s behavior.

“…ne, Prompto?” Joshua suddenly called out. “How long ‘til the baby’s here?”

“It’ll be three months until they’ll be here. And there’s going to be three little babies,” Prompto answered with a chuckle.

“Three?! Really!?” Joshua asked, his small face brimming with excitement.

“Yep,” the blonde laughed lightly. “I’m having two boys and a girl.”

“That is so cool!” the boy chirped with a big smile, his tail waving almost erratically, making Aranea laugh as it bumped her arm.

“Easy, kiddo.”

“Oh! Sorry!!”

“And I’m sure you’ll be an amazing older cousin to them,” Prompto smiled after swallowing a bite of hash browns. Joshua giggled happily at the news, and Zidane briefly looked up to the boy. The blonde didn’t actually say anything, though he did smile before he took another bite of his breakfast.

When the group finished their breakfast, Prompto leaned back in his seat, satisfied. Even the triplets had settled down, barely moving inside of him. Luna giggled at the content look on the pregnant male’s face, almost envious of how Prompto was able to feel his and Noctis’s children moving inside of him already. But she knew it would only be a couple months longer until she was feeling Zidane and her baby moving and kicking inside of her.

Noctis chuckled at the look on Prompto’s face, before he stood up. “So…shall we go? Can’t waste the day just sitting around, huh?”

“True. Would be nice, though,” the smaller male smiled lazily, before getting to his feet with a grunt. Luna stood as well, without as much difficulty, and the group of four waved to Joshua and Aranea before heading into the hallway.

As they exited, though, they quickly spotted Mikoto, waiting just a little outside the room. “…Good morning,” she said solemnly.

“Oh hey, Miko. ‘Sup?” Zidane quipped.

“Good morning, Mikoto,” Prompto and Luna greeted at the same time.

“Did you need us?” Prompto inquired.

Mikoto nodded briefly. “Kuja asked me to get you…he needs to talk to you.”

“And by that he means me and Prompt, huh?” Zidane guessed.

“Yes.”

“All right. I’ll find you in the garden when we’re finished, Noct?” the pregnant male said to his bond.

Noctis nodded. “No problem. Try not to overdo it, alright?”

“Gonna be hard with Kuj involved, but we’ll try,” Zidane quipped, before he nodded to Luna. “We’ll try to make this quick, kay?”

“No worries, we’ll be waiting,” the blonde woman smiled. And with that settled, the three Genomes headed off to meet with Kuja.

As they reached the room where Kuja was in, it was easy to tell that Kuja had likely been up all night, since the desk in front of him was sprawled with dozens of notes with calculations and what appeared to be designs.

“Geez! Been busy much, Kuj?” Zidane chuckled.

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, dear,” was the simple reply.

“It’s obvious you didn’t even sleep, and you know that’s not good for you, Kuja,” Prompto chided.

“I can do without the lecture today, dear,” Kuja said simply as he turned to face them, tapping his pen against the desk. “I’m well aware it’s not ‘good’ for me, but I do believe we’ve more important issues to worry about, hmm?”

“I know, but I don’t want you overdoing it. Especially when you’ve worried Joshua so much already…” the taller blonde sighed.

Kuja sighed at that and lightly rubbed his temple. “If you don’t want me overdoing it then, be a dear and grab a chair and come over here.”

“Hoo boy…we’re gonna be busy for a while, huh?” Zidane grumbled.

“Hey, if it helps, then I’m all for it,” Prompto shrugged, snagging a chair and seating himself beside their fellow Genome. Zidane sighed as he dragged over a chair, spinning it around and seating himself backwards in it. Mikoto hovered by them as well, remaining quiet as Kuja pulled out a few notes from the stack to his right.

“This feels familiar,” Prompto commented as he settled in his seat.

“Hm…well it has been a while since we were all together like this…” Kuja pointed out.

Zidane hummed as he picked up a random note from the ones Kuja had just picked up. “…isn’t this calculation off?” he questions, pointing.

“I don’t know, dear, is it?” Kuja chuckled.

“Prom?” Zidane asked as he handed the note to him. The pregnant male looked at it briefly, before he picked up a pen and scratched out the incorrect part, and then wrote in the corrected piece.

“There we go,” he smiled.

Kuja looked it over for a moment, before he gave a small ‘ah’. “Right, of course…”

Humming, Zidane sat up on his knees on the chair and grabbed the paper, looking it over. “…huh, so these measurements are correct?”

“From what little I’ve seen of Jenova today, yes, these are correct.”

The shorter blonde hummed again, his tail waving slightly behind him, before he grabs a piece of empty paper and starts to take notes, scribbling rapidly. “So the headpiece is gonna fit where? Just the top her head or around her jaw?”

“I would say around the top…but I’m not sure how to ensure it doesn’t come off…”

“Hmm…” Prompto hummed, before snatching up a pencil this time and swiftly sketching out some ideas on Kuja’s ‘blueprints’.

Noticing the sketching, Zidane peeked around Kuja, blinking, before he pointed out to the side. “Maybe put these pads over here…should put them over the temples and make it easier to stimulate the brain.”

“Make it a little higher,” Kuja corrected, tapping just a fraction higher from where Zidane was gesturing. “She’s always had a high forehead…”

“Right…”

Prompto nodded, adjusting his pencil’s position a bit so as to correct the design further.

Like that, the group of Genomes worked solemnly, exchanging notes and ideas, theories and designs to get what they needed on paper properly. Mikoto occasionally helped out, but only by asking questions about things that they hadn’t initially thought of before, making them reconsider certain aspects of the design.

After a long time of just working, Zidane finally spoke outside of their ‘work’. “So…what’s up with you and Aranea?”

“…beg pardon?”

“Ooooh, good point. You guys are pretty close,” Prompto nodded, snickering.

Kuja frowned slightly at Prompto, before he snorted and went back to his notes. “I don't see how that’s important right now, Prompto.”

“Oooooh! Hit a nerve, didn’t we?” Zidane laughed, noting how Kuja was addressing Prompto by name rather than an endearment.

“Aww, come on, Kuja! I approve of her, really! She’s nice, and treats Josh really well,” the pregnant Genome insisted with a grin.

“Prompto…” Kuja said in a way that was meant to be warningly, but of course, Zidane didn’t care as he prodded Kuja with his pencil, making the older flinch away.

“Oy, c’mon, dude; dunno what happened to your bond…but I think Josh deserves to have someone to fill the gap, yanno?”

“I’m well aware of that…” Kuja pointed out.

“So what’s stopping you?”

“Besides, you deserve to have someone, especially after all the shit we’ve been through in our lives,” Prompto chimed in.

“They have a point, Kuja,” Mikoto pointed out, and Kuja looked at her with a small frown.

“Et tu, Mikoto?”

“Just make a move, Kuja, okay? It’s obvious you guys are close,” Prompto urged.

Kuja sighed heavily. “Fine, fine…if it’ll get you kids off my back,” he mumbled. “But later.”

Zidane regarded Kuja for a moment, before he smirked over to Prompto. ‘You thinking what I’m thinking?’ he asked (making sure Kuja didn’t hear).

‘Hell. Yes.’ Prompto grinned, making sure Kuja didn’t see. Zidane grinned as he moved his arm around behind Kuja’s back, fist extended. Prompto was quick to fist bump his friend, before he returned to their work.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Several hours later, the group of Genomes finally managed to get the basis of the headpiece down that they were intending to use on Jenova. While they still had no idea how to get it on her, at least they had the ideas prepared. All that remained was to construct it and get the remainder of the plan figured out.

Fiiiinaaally!” Zidane called out as he leaned back in his chair, stretching out his arms above his head.

“Yeah, really… I’m tired from that… And my head hurts, too…” Prompto mumbled, yawning widely.

“…Let’s take a break, then,” Mikoto said with a small nod.

“Great! Let’s do that!” Zidane exclaimed as he hopped up.

“You have way too much energy for me to keep up right now,” Prompto commented, eyeing his friend as he stood. Zidane merely stuck out his tongue as Kuja gathered all their collective notes into a folder.

“In any case, let’s see if we can find someone who can aid in constructing this.”

“Maybe the King has a suggestion?” Prompto offered.

Kuja hummed softly. “Perhaps…you two can head to your bonds, if you wish. I can—”

“Oooh no you don’t!” Zidane said immediately, snagging the folder from Kuja’s arms. “YOU need to get some rest! We’ll go ask the King ‘bout it!”

“Zidane!”

“He’s right, Kuja. You’ve got bags forming under your eyes. Besides, I’m sure Joshua’s waiting for you,” Prompto pointed out.

“I most certainly do not,” Kuja nearly snarled.

“Actually, you are,” Mikoto pointed out.

“Thank you, Miko!” Zidane quipped with a grin. “Hey, can you make sure he gets to his room?”

“Sure.”

Which made Kuja glare at him darkly.

“Well, we can’t have you sneaking off to do other stupid shit!” Prompto grinned cheekily.

“How dare you assume—”

“C’mon, Kuja,” Mikoto interrupted, and she started to push Kuja off down the hall. “Let’s go.”

“H-hey! Mikoto!”

Zidane laughed as Mikoto effortlessly got the much taller Genome to move, before he looked to Prompto. “Shall we go see the King?”

“Yup!” Prompto nodded, and the two Genomes headed off to Regis’s study to see him. Once they arrived, Zidane listened at the door for a moment, before his rapped his knuckles against it.

“Enter,” Regis’s voice called from within. The pair did as told, and the King smiled at the sight of them. “Hello Prompto, Zidane,” he greeted.

“Hello, Your Majesty,” the pregnant male smiled back.

“Good…” Zidane paused briefly to look at the clock on the wall, “…afternoon, Your Highness. We were wondering if we could have a moment of your time to discuss some things surrounding our recent hassle.”

“Oh? And what would you like to discuss?” Regis asked, curious.

Zidane didn’t answer immediately. Instead he briefly gestured for Prompto to take a seat, before he flipped open the folder he was holding. “Well, you might remember me suggesting we ‘block’ Jenova’s power and Kuja mentioning this headpiece idea…” He paused to place the blueprint they'd been working on down on Regis’s desk. “This is basically what we eventually cooked up for that.”

“Yes, I remember,” the older man murmured, looking at the blueprint. “So, you need someone to construct your headpiece, correct?”

“That’s correct, Your Majesty,” Prompto confirmed with a nod.

“Then I have just the man in mind,” Regis chuckled, handing back the blueprint. “His name is Cid, and he works at a garage a few miles northwest of here. I’m sure once I contact him and explain the situation, he’d be willing to help, even if he is crass about it.”

“Great,” Zidane said with a small nod. “The sooner we can get this set up, the sooner we can put this whole mess behind us, I believe…”

“I agree. I’ll contact Cid while you two go get some rest. You look tired,” the King chuckled. “I’ll let you know when you can bring the blueprint to him.”

“Thank you, Your Majesty,” Prompto smiled. “We’ll get some rest now.”

“Please do,” Regis replied kindly.

“Might be wise, yeah… Let’s go, Prom,” Zidane said as he helped Prompto up.

After bidding the King good day, they left the room.

“So!” Zidane exclaimed once he’d shut the door, turning to Prompto with a grin. “You wanna get Noct and Lu and start up the ‘other plan’?”

“Hell yes,” the taller blonde nodded eagerly. And with that said, the pair headed off to see Noctis and Luna about their ‘plan.

Chapter Text

“Come on, Aranea! Go hang out with Kuja and Josh! The Chocochicks are really cute, and I bet you’ll fall in love with them!” Prompto pleaded. Zidane and Prompto were trying to convince Aranea to hang out with Kuja more, as part of the little plan to get the two together.

Aranea laughed at the Genome’s plea, before she shook her head. “All nice and cozy, kid, but I don’t have time to be loafing around, kay?”

“Aw c’mon! You can afford like one hour off your schedule, right?” Zidane complained with a small groan.

“Hon, I don’t even have a minute.”

“Oh come on!!”

“You deserve to take a breather, Aranea,” Prompto pointed out, changing tactics. “Besides, you’ll get to see how excited Josh gets with the chicks.”

Though she seemed prepared to decline again, when Prompto mentioned Joshua, she seemed to hesitate. In the end, though, she shook it off. “How long has he been here now?” she asked. “I’m sure the novelty’s worn off by now…”

“Actually, wasn't Josh beggin’ his Pops if he could take one home?” Zidane suddenly asked of Prompto, a small smirk threatening to break through.

“Nice job on remembering that! I totally forgot!” Prompto nodded, smiling. “I’m sure he’d love one.”

“Yeah…ya think he’s figured out which he wants, yet?” Zidane wondered, while peeking out from under his bangs to Aranea, whose fingers were twitching against her spear, now.

“I dunno, that’s Joshua’s choice,” Prompto shrugged innocently.

“True…hey Ara—…aaaand she’s off,” Zidane laughed.

“I’m good like that,” Prompto grinned.

Zidane chuckled as he looked over to his friend. “Lu and Noct were at the pen already, right?”

“Yup. Let’s let ‘em know she’s en route,” the pregnant male nodded, pulling his phone out and texting Noctis.

“Nice!”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Papa! Papa! Look!” Joshua cried out, one of the Chocochicks settled on top of his head.

Kuja chuckled as he looked up from his notes. “Cute, dear, just be careful they don’t tug your hair out.”

“They won’t!”

“They really seem to have taken a liking to you, huh Joshua?” Luna giggled.

Joshua giggled happily as the chicks all huddled around him, while the one on his head got comfy. Noctis allowed a chuckle as he watched the boy have fun…just as his phone suddenly vibrated in his pocket.

“Hm?” Pulling it out, he briefly swiped the screen to read the message he’d just received.

‘Aranea’s on her way! Better clear out!’ Prompto’s text read, with a smiling Chocobo emoji at the end.

Smirking briefly, Noctis typed back, ‘Just make sure you don’t miss it.’

Once he’d put it back in his pocket, he turned to Luna with a sigh. “Mikoto’s looking for you. Said she wants to check on the baby.”

“Right, of course she does,” Luna laughed lightly. “I don’t know why she insists, but I guess since it’ll be a Genome like Zidane…” Looking at Kuja and Joshua, she smiled. “We’re going to head out. We’ll catch you later, okay?”

“Aaawww…kay,” Joshua said with a small pout.

Kuja merely hummed as he finished one of his notes. “Very well…give Mikoto my regards.”

“Of course,” Noctis said as he led Luna away from the pen quietly. Once they were out of earshot, he whispered, “She should be here soon.”

“I figured as much,” she whispered back, an amused smile curving her lips.

Just as Luna finished that, they heard the familiar clicking of Aranea’s armored boots hitting the paved path, which immediately had them ducking into the bushes to avoid her. And just in time as she silently walked over, her spear lightly slung over her shoulders.

“And there she is…” Noctis murmured.

“And now to watch,” Luna breathed.

Just as she said that, there was a tap on her and Noctis’s shoulders, making them glance over. “Are we late?” Zidane whispered softly.

“Nope. Right on time,” Noctis said with a smile.

“We just managed to avoid her,” Luna added.

“Awesome. Now to wait for the perfect timing,” Prompto smirked.

“I’ll get in position, then!” Zidane whispered with a grin, just before he scaled one of the nearby trees.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Kwih kwih!!” the Chocochicks chirped as they hurried on after Joshua as the boy scampered around the pen, giggling happily.

Kuja merely smiled as he occasionally looked over even as he continued writing his notes.

“Busy, Boss?”

“Hm?” Looking up over his shoulder, he raised an eyebrow curiously. “Oh? And what brings you here, dear?”

“Oh nothing much,” Aranea said with a light chuckle. “May I sit?”

“Go ahead, dear.”

Prompto, meanwhile, readied his Chocobo whistle while he occasionally glanced at Zidane. As Aranea plopped down on the bench next to Kuja, who was still taking notes on occasion, Zidane scooted along a branch on his stomach, his tail curled around the branch to keep him in place. Joshua was still playing and was now going over to Sora and petting her on the neck gently as the chicks crowded around.

Smirking, Zidane reached into his collar and pulled out a small Chocobo whistle, placing it between his lips lightly. ‘Get ready, Prom…’

‘Ready when you are,’ the taller blonde smirked back, his own whistle ready at his lips. Smirking lightly, Zidane watched for a moment longer, before he took a deep breath…

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Kid seems happy, hmm?” Aranea murmured as she set up her spear so it was well out of the way.

“Hmhmm…” Kuja hummed as he scribbled something down. “He wants to take one of them home, too,” he said with a small sigh.

“Oh? That a bad thing?” Aranea chuckled.

“‘Bad’. No,” the Genome admitted. “However, I fear the dear doesn’t yet realize that raising a Chocobo is hardly as easy as he believes it to be.”

“Oh I’m sure it’s not that hard, love,” the pale-haired woman murmured, and Kuja merely hummed at the endearment.

“I beg to disagree…” he murmured…just as a peculiar sound reached his ears and he looked around. ‘What…? A whistle…?’

Sora immediately snapped to attention, and suddenly put her head under Joshua’s legs, making the boy yelp as he was suddenly lifted up on her beak as she stood up. “Whoa!”

Choking in slight alarm, Kuja almost immediately put down his notes and stood up, with Aranea not far behind. “Joshua!”

Prompto then blew on his whistle, drawing the attention of Chichiri.

“…! Kweh!” the other Chocobo chirped as he trotted over as Aranea vaulted over the fence, whereas Kuja moved through the actual entrance of the pen.

“Kiddo, get off of there!” Aranea called out as she held out her arms to Joshua.

“But it’s so nice up here!” Joshua giggled with a smile.

“Yoshya Kiryu!” Kuja called out firmly, and the boy flinched. “This is not a joking matter! So just—wha?!”

“Whuh—WAH!” Aranea yowled as she moved to catch Kuja, only for them both to end up on the floor with cries of surprise.

“Wah! Papa! Ara!!” Joshua cried in alarm as he looked down. “Are you okay?”

“Nrgh… I suppose that depends on what one considers ‘okay’…” Kuja hissed as he pushed himself up to his arms.

“Ow…yeah, definitely…”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Zidane almost burst out laughing, barely managing to cover his mouth to keep the sound from escaping.

Noctis was able to hold himself together a little better…though only a little bit. Luna giggled quietly, while Prompto bit his lip to keep himself from snickering.

Grinning widely, Zidane looked over to the others. ‘Ready for the last phase, Prom?’

‘Ready and waiting!’ Prompto nodded eagerly.

‘Right! On three…two…one…!’

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Ugh…ya alright, Boss?” Aranea asked as she pushed up on her elbows.

“Hm? Am I alright?” Kuja questioned curiously, head tilted to the side. “I believe the question should be—”

But before he could finish the question, a pair of whistles resounded and as Sora curled her neck, making Joshua yelp as he rolled down her neck, Chichiri dipped his head down and shoved it against Kuja’s back pushing him down and making his arms slide out from under him as he gasped in surprise.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

‘SCORE!’ Zidane cried out mentally, using both hands to now cover his mouth and stop himself from laughing.

‘We are geniuses!’ Prompto crowed through their connection as he buried his face in his arm to stifle his giggles. Noctis had to actually cover his own mouth as his shoulders shook from his attempt to stifle his laughter. And Luna did the same, trying desperately not to laugh out loud.

While Joshua was trying to right himself again, Kuja and Aranea could only stare at each other, their eyes wide in shock, before Kuja swiftly pushed off from the ground and away, breaking the ‘accidental kiss’ rather abruptly. “I…well…that was…” He paused to clear his throat. “Apologies for that, dear,” he said as he helped Aranea to sit up.

“Ah, no sweat…” she quipped, her cheeks still more than a little red. “That…was a bit awkward, though…”

“And a little too well timed…” Kuja murmured with a small frown as he stood up, pulling Aranea up with him.. Once Joshua had righted himself (having completely missed what had just happened), blinking at the pair in confusion as Kuja rubbed his temples. And then he took a breath and shouted, “ZIDANE TRIBAL AND PROMPTO ARGENTUM!!!”

“Oh crap!!” Zidane hissed. “RUN FOR IT!!”

“Shit!” Prompto hissed, and the group swiftly took off, fleeing the scene as fast as they could manage, considering Prompto’s and Luna’s current states.

“I swear, when I get my hands on those little rascals…” Kuja snarled softly.

“…Papa?” Joshua asked cautiously from Sora's back. “Is…is something wrong?”

Kuja regarded his son for a moment, before he glanced to Aranea. Said woman looked back with a raised eyebrow and a small, cheeky smirk on her face. This made Kuja sigh theatrically before he moved over and lifted Joshua up. “No, dear, nothing’s wrong.”

“…sure?” Joshua asked slowly.

“Oh sure he’s sure, kiddo. See?” Aranea quipped cheekily as she grabbed Kuja by his collar and suddenly yanked him in into another kiss before he had a chance to react. Which, of course, had Joshua staring for a while before she pulled away again.

Kuja blinked, twice, before he said simply, “Well…that was sudden.”

“Oh? Do I hear a complaint?”

“Hmm…Joshua, dear?”

Joshua blinked in surprise, unsure why he was being addressed, before it clicked and he smiled, rapidly shaking his head. “Nuh-uh.”

“Well, that answers that…” Kuja said with a small shrug—right as his tail suddenly coiled around Aranea’s waist and pulled her in with a yelp. Not that that sound lasted long.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“…okay, I don’t think he’s actually following us…” Zidane gasped out after a while.

“Holy shit…! This is why…I shouldn’t…run while…pregnant…” Prompto panted as he leaned his back against a nearby wall.

“Same…” Luna agreed tiredly, bracing herself with her hands on her knees. Once Noctis had caught his breath, he moved over and gently rubbed his bond’s shoulders.

“Well…” Zidane gasped out as he wrapped an arm around Luna. “At least the plan worked!”

“Yeah, really,” Prompto nodded.

“Right, so…” Zidane started with a grin, “shall we tell Miko bout it?”

Noctis laughed at those words. “I’m sure she’d want to know, yeah.”

“Definitely,” Prompto and Luna smiled. With that decided, the two couples made their way to medical, where Mikoto was working quietly (as she always was). When she noticed them coming, she immediately seemed to notice something was off and she sighed exasperatedly.

“What did you do?” she asked.

“Hey! What makes you think we did anything?!” Zidane asked with a mock-pout.

“Lucky guess.”

“We set up Kuja and Aranea to kiss,” Prompto smirked, and Luna giggled at the memory.

“You did…?” Mikoto started, before she groaned and put her hand to her forehead…but they could tell she was smiling regardless. “Was that necessary?”

“Yes,” Zidane and Prompto said in unison and matching grins.

Mikoto merely chuckled softly. “I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to attack you for it…”

“Who says he didn’t?” Zidane said with a grin.

“Oh for…”

“Don’t worry, Mikoto. I’m sure everything will be fine,” Luna assured her.

“Given that he hasn’t chased us this far, I’d say that’s a given,” Noctis added with a chuckle of his own.

“…you boys are all impossible,” Mikoto chuckled out, before she turned serious. “In any case…now that you’re here, do you want to check on the children?”

Zidane hummed, before he looked to Luna.

“That would probably be a good idea,” Luna nodded. Prompto nodded as well. Mikoto nodded and gestured for Prompto and Luna to come over and settle on the cots. Once they were lying down, Mikoto began to move her hands gently but firmly along their pregnant bellies.

Zidane and Noctis, in the meantime, moved over to settle on chairs beside the beds. Prompto waited patiently as Mikoto did her exam, and when she moved over to Luna, he felt the triplets kick, making him smile. Luna did the same, remaining still for the Genome as she felt around on Luna’s stomach, too. Once finished, the pair looked at her.

“How’d everything check out, Mikoto?” Prompto inquired.

“Well, aside from the constant kicking on your end, Prompto,” she said, looking pointedly at his stomach as if the kids could actually hear her, “all five of them seem to be holding up fine.”

Zidane blinked twice at those words, before he asked, “Oy, Miko…did you just say…?”

“I did.”

“We’re…having twins?” Luna breathed, shocked.

“Yes,” Mikoto confirmed solemnly. This made Luna look at Zidane, a soft, warm smile on her face.

“Sounds like you guys aren’t too far behind us, now,” Prompto chuckled.

“Oh yeah, laugh it off and we’ll see who’ll be having the most trouble,” Zidane laughed out, before he reached out and took hold of Luna’s hand in his own, squeezing it lightly. Prompto took hold of Noctis’s hand himself, and lightly squeezed it, too.

Noctis smiled as he squeezed right back, giving him a small nod, before he mouthed silently (without anyone noticing), “I love you.”

“Love you, too,” Prompto whispered back.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

That night, at dinner, Regis entered the dining room with a pleasant surprise for the group. He came in with a man that appeared to be as old as the King himself, but looked more aged because of the wrinkles adorning his face. He wore a mechanic-like outfit, and his cap covered most of his gray hair.

“Everyone, this is Cid,” Regis announced. “He’s the man who will be constructing the headpiece to block Jenova.”

Cid allowed a small half-grin as he tipped his cap slightly in greeting. “Charmed, I’m sure,” he said casually.

Zidane blinked with his fork still in his mouth, while Noctis hummed curiously as he regarded the man. He faintly remembering hearing his father mention Cid before, from his days before becoming King, but he’d never actually met him until that point. He seemed nice enough, though. Prompto gave a small wave, seeing as he had a mouthful of food he was chewing on.

“Nice to meet you, Cid,” Luna greeted, seeing as she had been the only one without food in her mouth.

“He’ll be staying on the ground floor near the parking garage so he can work on the headpiece. If you have any questions for him, don’t hesitate to ask,” Regis told them.

Zidane took a moment to swallow the bite he still had his mouth, before he quipped with a small smirk, “Sure it’s gonna be alright? It’s not the easiest thing to make, yanno?”

Though Noctis looked over in slight alarm, Cid laughed at the slight taunt. “Oh just you wait, boy; I’ll have your little hat ready before you know what hit you.”

Prompto swallowed his own mouthful, before he smiled at Cid. “Thanks for making it. You’re a huge help.”

“Heh, save yer thanks for when I finish up, arrite?”

Noctis nodded his head, while Zidane merely grinned, his tail swaying slightly behind him.

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Month Later)X*X

Prompto surveyed the triplets’ nursery from the rocking chair he sat in, smiling at the comforting atmosphere the colors and décor provided. There was no shortage of plushies for them, either. In fact, there was even a medium-sized pile of them in one corner of the room. And to top off the collection, each crib had its own plushie for the triplets to sleep with.

There was one pink crib, with a pale pink elephant in it. The other two cribs were blue, but one was baby blue, while the other was midnight blue. The baby blue crib had matching stuffed cat, and the midnight blue one had a midnight blue puppy in it.

“Hey there,” a familiar voice murmured just then. As Prompto looked up, Noctis stepped up behind him and wrapped his arms around the blonde’s shoulders. “Still here?”

“Yeah, just looking to see how the nursery looks. I can’t wait for them to be born…” Prompto admitted with a small smile, placing a hand on Noctis’s arm.

“Try to be patient for two more months, Prom,” Noctis chuckled out. “You’ll not have enough arms to hold them all when they’re finally here, though.”

“True,” the blonde conceded with a small laugh, chuckling as the triplets kicked.

“They kicked again, huh?” Noctis chuckled.

“Yup. Probably getting impatient, too,” Prompto smiled.

“Gee, I wonder who they get it from, hmm?”

At this, Prompto stuck his tongue out at his bond teasingly. “Smartass.” Noctis merely chuckled as he leaned down and kissed his bond quietly. Prompto kissed back lovingly, simply enjoying the moment. Humming softly, Noctis finally pulled away, resting his head on Prompto’s.

Suddenly…

‘Yo, Prom!’

‘Hmm? ‘Sup?’

‘Cid’s finished the headpiece. You coming to check it out? We need to make sure it functions properly.’

‘Sure, just don’t make me the guinea pig,’ Prompto replied. Sighing, he looked up at Noctis. “Zidane says Cid finished the headpiece.”

Noctis cocked an eyebrow, before he nodded. “That’s good… So I’m assuming it needs to be tested, huh?”

“Yep. Already told him I refuse to be the guinea pig, though,” Prompto chuckled.

That made the prince laugh softly, before he helped Prompto up to his feet again. “Well, shall we go?”

“Yeah, let’s go,” Prompto nodded, and the pair headed off to the garage.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Once they came to the garage, Zidane met them at the entrance, and he nodded, before he headed over to where Kuja was already talking with Cid as he held the completed headpiece in his hands.

“Yo people!” Zidane called out as they approached.

“So, have we figured out how we’re going to get it on her?” Prompto asked as he and Noctis got close.

“Not yet, I’m afraid,” Kuja admitted, tapping his nails along the headpiece. “We’d first have to be able to get close before anything…”

Cid hummed in thought as he crossed his arms. “That might prove a bit rough. And you’ll have to test your lil hat, too, hmm?”

“Naturally…”

“I’m sure we’ll figure it out. But as for testing it, I’m not being the guinea pig, and I already told Zidane that,” Prompto said firmly.

Kuja merely looked at Prompto for a moment, while Zidane rolled his eyes in mock-exasperation. “Alright, alright, esh…gimme,” the shorter of the two Genomes said as he stepped forward.

After taking the headpiece from Kuja, he turned it around properly and put it on his head. “This thing is WAY too big for my noggin…” he mumbled as he pressed it down against his temples firmly.

“Well?” Prompto asked, watching his friend.

“…It’s uncomfortable is what it is now,” Zidane mumbled.

“Well, it isn’t meant for ‘comfort’, dear,” Kuja said as he rolled his eyes and looked to Prompto. “Ask him something through telepathy.”

‘Can ya hear me, dumbass?’ Prompto questioned, smirking.

Zidane didn’t respond to the words, still trying to keep the headpiece pressed properly to his head.

“…Well?” Kuja asked.

“…Well what?” Zidane questioned.

“It works!” Prompto laughed.

Zidane blinked curiously, but Kuja shook his head briefly. “One way, yes. Zidane, try telling us something.”

“Sure,” the blonde murmured, briefly shutting his eyes, before he gave a cry and ripped the headpiece off. “GAH! DAMN THAT SMARTS!!”

“NOW it works,” Kuja quipped with a chuckle. Prompto couldn’t resist the laugh that escaped him. Cid allowed a laugh of his own, as Zidane rubbed at his head with a hiss.

Noct was able to hold his own laughs in, before he spoke. “So, now all we need to do is figure out how to get it on her, correct?”

“That is correct, yes,” Kuja said simply.

“I’m sure that’ll come to us with some more brainstorming. But for now, I don’t think Zidane’s brain can handle that,” Prompto snickered.

“Oh shut up,” Zidane grumbled, much to everyone’s amusement.

“One thing we know for sure, though,” Kuja said solemnly, “if we wish to deal with her, we’ll likely need to deal with her four children, as well…”

“Wait, I thought you—…oh right,” Zidane sighed as he remembered that Jenova, Kadaj and Sephiroth had orchestrated an attack on the Auction House. Meaning they likely had Loz and Yazoo back.

“That is, of course, if they’ve managed to undo Aranea’s work,” Kuja added almost casually, but the icy smirk on his face said otherwise.

“Oh? She manage to turn ‘em around, huh?” Cid chuckled out.

“Hmm… Something like that~”

“Well, I guess only time will tell if everything turns out in our favor or not. We just need to hope for the best,” Prompto sighed, leaning lightly against Noctis. Noctis rubbed the Genome’s shoulders lightly, while Zidane and Kuja hummed softly.

Cid, though, chuckled. “Well, it’s all a matter of bait, ain’t it?”

“…‘bait’?” Noctis repeated curiously.

“Ooooooh no. Nope. No, no, and NO. I refuse to let anyone be bait,” Prompto frowned.

Kuja frowned a little, arms crossed over his chest. “…it would be easiest, though…”

“Kuja, you can’t be serious!” the pregnant male huffed.

“Well he has a point,” Zidane said with a small shrug. “It WOULD be easiest…”

“But…who would it be? I don’t want to see you guys put your lives on the line like that…”

“That’s what we need a proper plan for,” Kuja said simply. “We just need to know exactly what we need to do.”

“Lovely…” Zidane sighed.

“I’m not taking part in this. I refuse to let any of you put your fucking lives on the line like that!” Prompto hissed, glaring.

“Prompto, dear, calm down, alright?”

“Don’t TELL me to calm down, Kuja!” Prompto growled. “Zidane’s got twins on the way, and you have Joshua to care for, and I’m pregnant with triplets! It’s not happening!”

But before Kuja could say anything, someone suddenly cleared their throat from behind them, making the group look over.

“…If I may,” Mikoto said simply.

“Miko??”

Prompto went quiet, having a bad feeling she was going to volunteer.

As Mikoto approached, she said simply, “They already ‘captured’ me before…they would likely not hesitate to do so again. However, they also know I am…‘less active’. They shouldn’t be expecting anything from me.”

“…you intend to approach her and then put the headpiece on her, aren’t you?” Kuja said solemnly. It wasn’t really a question; more like stating the facts.

“It is the most efficient way.”

“But…Mikoto…” Prompto whimpered, before he frowned darkly. “I don’t want to lose you all again. Not after everything we’ve been through…” With that said, he stormed off, heading straight for his and Noctis’s room.

“Prom!!” Noctis called out, quickly following after him.

Mikoto didn’t say anything else, even as Zidane sighed and shook his head. Kuja merely hummed, saying nothing else.

When the blonde reached their room, he barely even made it through the door when Noctis caught up to him, tears already streaking down the smaller male’s cheeks.

“Prompto…” Noctis whispered, wrapping his arms around the blonde from behind.

“I can’t…lose them…again…” Prompto choked out, managing to turn in the raven’s embrace and hug him back.

“Ssshhh…it’s okay…it’s okay…” Noctis murmured softly, rubbing his bond’s back slowly. “It’ll be okay…you’re not going to lose anyone…I promise…” This time, the blonde found himself unable to respond, and he just allowed himself to be held as he sobbed into Noctis’s chest. And Noctis just held him, gently shushing him and rocking him like a child, kissing his temple and forehead lovingly as he murmured words of comfort.

And this helped immensely, as eventually, Prompto’s sobs steadily quieted down to sniffles and hiccups, and he looked up at his bond, a small whimper escaping him.

“What would I do without you…?” he whispered.

“Break down in a heap, I suppose,” Noctis murmured teasingly, before he moved Prompto over to the bed and laid him down upon it before joining him.

“More like I wouldn’t be here and pregnant with triplets in the first place,” the Genome pointed out. “Which is why I’m so glad you figured out I have my soul, even though I was scared that day.”

Noctis smiled softly. “It wasn’t that hard to figure out…though, admittedly, Luna saw it first.”

“Yeah, with Zidane,” Prompto nodded. “Still, thank you for finding and choosing me. To be honest, Zidane and I were going to escape that night had you guys not bought us.”

Noctis cocked an eyebrow curiously at those words. “Escape…? Why?”

“Because we knew we were going to end up being taken to a room we called the ‘Room of No Return’…” Prompto explained. “If a Genome isn’t purchased by its 18th year or so, then they get taken to that room…and never come out. And Zidane and I were next.”

Noctis’s eyes went wide at that news, unable to believe what he was hearing, before his eyes narrowed dangerously. “And I thought I knew the worst of that place already…” he snarled softly.

“It’s unfortunately how it is… But I’m glad we didn’t have to escape…and that you and Luna bought us when you did,” Prompto murmured, pressing his lips to the raven’s.

Noctis sighed softly into the kiss, moving slowly against the blonde’s mouth before he pulled back. “Yeah…small miracles,” he murmured softly.

“Like our children will be,” the Genome pointed out with a small smile…right before the triplets kicked, reminding their father of their presence.

This made Noctis laugh as he placed a hand on the blonde’s stomach. “Yeah, I haven’t forgotten about you, don’t worry…”

“I don’t think they’ll let you forget, either,” Prompto chuckled, feeling the movement from the trio.

“Highly unlikely…” Noctis said with a small smile as he settled back. Prompto cuddled up against his bond as best as he could, closing his eyes happily.

“Love you, Noct,” he murmured.

“Love you, too,” Noctis whispered, lightly kissing Prompto’s forehead again.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Regretfully, the couple had to leave their room when dinner rolled around, and Prompto didn’t really want to go, considering his mood swing earlier, but he knew he had to. When they got there, he sighed, noticing his fellow Genomes’ gazes on him.

“Sorry for leaving like I did earlier…” he apologized softly.

Zidane merely shrugged his shoulders, while Kuja hummed. “Quite alright, dear; it is a pretty bitter pill to swallow, I admit.”

“Ya think?” Prompto snorted, sitting by Noctis at the table.

“What do you mean?” Luna asked, confused, and this made Prompto glare at Zidane.

“You haven’t told her?” he frowned.

Zidane sighed heavily, running a hand through his hair. “The plan right now…is to use bait to lure Jenova out.”

“You’re not going as the bait,” was her immediate response.

“He’s not,” Kuja confirmed as he picked up his glass. “Mikoto’s offered to be the bait.”

“Which I’m still not happy that we’re using anyone as bait in the first place,” Prompto muttered into his own glass.

“I agree. Is it absolutely necessary?” Luna questioned.

“If you have a better idea, Milady, then please share it. We’re as eager as the next person to put ourselves in the line of fire,” Kuja said simply.

“Fair enough…” Luna sighed. “So…what’s the plan?”

“There are two things we need to consider here,” Kuja said, splaying his fingers along the table top. “The location…and whom we will be dealing with. If we need to contend ourselves with all four of Jenova’s children, this will be much trickier to pull off.”

“But if Aranea’s dealt with Loz and Yazoo properly…it should only be her oldest two we’ll have to worry about,” Zidane added. “Going along with that assumption, we need to figure out where they are and ‘plant’ Miko there, along with the headpiece.”

“Thankfully, Mikoto’s learned to block her thoughts, so they should not be able to tell she has anything planned until she’s in front of Jenova…at which point the knowledge will not aid them.”

“Then from there, what do we do?” Prompto asked.

“Well…since Jen should be too focused on her killer headache…that just leaves us with dealing with Kadaj and Sephiroth…whiiich I'm not looking forward to…” Zidane admitted.

“And I’m obviously of no help, considering my current state…” Prompto sighed.

“Well, with Jenova out of the way, perhaps we’ll stand a better chance even without your aid,” Kuja said, a cold smirk playing along his face as a slight red glow seemed to emanate from around his eyes.

“Oh I know THAT look…you’re gonna throw an Ultima on their face, aren’t you?” Zidane grumbled.

“Maaaybe~”

“Just don’t hurt yourself, Kuja,” Prompto pleaded softly.

“I’ve no intention to do so,” Kuja assured.

“Better not…” the pregnant male muttered as Ignis and some of the castle staff brought out their meals. As they ate in a somewhat tense silence, Prompto thought to Zidane, ‘Promise me you won’t do anything reckless or stupid?’

‘Already promised Lu I wasn’t gonna leave the Citadel until the twins are born already. So even if we find ‘em, can’t get out there and help anyway…’ Zidane said back.

‘Well, I’m glad you’re not going. Too much is at stake with this load of bullshit…’

As they ate, Noctis decided to address something he had noticed earlier, but hadn’t bothered to bring up until then. “If I may…where’s Joshua and Aranea?”

“Ah, Joshua said he wanted to see the Chocobos being fed, so Aranea proposed a picnic,” Kuja said easily with a light shrug.

“At least it leaves him uninvolved with this mess, for the most part,” Luna smiled lightly.

“Which is only good,” Zidane said with a nod. “Kid doesn’t need to know his auntie’s gonna do some dangerous stuff…”

“Precisely,” Kuja agreed. As he was about to take another bite, though, his phone went off in his pocket. “Hm?” Curious, Kuja pulled it out and checked the caller…at which point his eyes went wide. Rather than say anything, though, he swiped the screen and then put the phone to his ear with a blunt, “Kiryu.”

“Who is it?” Prompto frowned, his voice soft, curious and concerned now.

Kuja didn't reply to the question; he merely listened, but the man’s expression turned darker by the minute.

“…oy, Kuj?” Zidane managed to get out.

Again, Kuja didn’t say anything in response. However, finally, he said: “…understood. Watch your back,” before he hung up.

“Who was that?” Prompto questioned.

But rather than respond, Kuja tapped in something on his phone and then put it to his ear again, rapping his nails along the table.

“…Aranea, be a dear and take Joshua inside. Please don’t ask questions, love, just do it and then meet me at the roof, kay? Thanks, dear.”

“Kuj, what the HELL is going on?!” Zidane questioned, becoming annoyed now.

“…Amarant just called.”

“What?! What did he say?!” the pregnant male demanded.

Before Kuja could respond, however, there was a loud explosion that rumbled through the entire building, right before the alarms blared to life.

“…That we have unwanted company.”

“Oh crap…are you KIDDING me?!” Zidane choked out.

“No! It’s too soon!” Prompto wailed, gripping Noctis’s hand tightly. Luna whimpered, grasping for Zidane’s hand.

“Zidane. Noctis. Take your bonds to safety. Now!” Kuja urged as he stood.

“Right!” Zidane said as he shot off of his chair and moved over to help Luna, while Noctis went over to Prompto.

“This will be a rush job…so I apologize in advance for any unforeseen damages caused because of this.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Noctis snarled as he grabbed his phone and quickly texted Gladio. “Gladio will meet you up top.”

“Much obliged,” Kuja said sincerely, before he walked, making one more phone call as he did. Prompto allowed himself to guided to safety, as did Luna, the pregnant bonds sticking to their counterparts like glue.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“Do you have the item?” Kuja whispered as he and Mikoto headed for the elevator. Mikoto merely nodded, not saying anything else, her expression completely empty.

“Good…”

Gladio joined them then, nodding to the pair in silent greeting, steeling himself for a tough fight again. Sephiroth and Kadaj wouldn’t be easy to fight, but they would have to do their best.

As they stepped into the elevator, Kuja murmured, “I’ve no time to explain the plan in full…but do not be alarmed if Mikoto does things that may seem…different.”

“Understood. Ravus is already on the roof, waiting for us,” Gladio nodded.

“I see… I will not even be able to explain this much to him…just so you know…” Kuja said as the elevator began its ascent.

“He won’t question it if we’re not. He knows how to play along,” the brunette assured the Genome.

“Good…” Kuja murmured. And with that said, the trio arrived at the roof, where they stepped out, anticipating what was to come.

Chapter Text

The roof was like a warzone when they arrived; the guards and Crowns’ Guards that had been sent out to deal with the intruders were all thrown aside, their injuries ranging from a multitude of shallow cuts to a select few but much deeper gashes. But either way; they were serious injuries.

Only Ravus was still standing, facing off against Sephiroth and Kadaj at the same time. Gladio growled, running over to support his friend, and summoning his broadsword to defend against the brothers’ attacks.

Sephiroth merely snorted as Gladio joined Ravus, a cold smirk playing along his lips as he arched his sword left, almost knocking Ravus’s blade from his grip even as Kadaj rushed for Gladio with a sickening cackle. Gladio was quick to block the cackling silverette, summoning his sword just in time, and knocking him back, while Ravus lashed at Sephiroth again with his rapier.

While the pair was fighting against the two brothers, Kuja’s eyes darted around the roof, a small hum in his throat. He knew she was there…but where…?

Then there was a faint whistle at the back of his head and he winced. ‘Ah, there she is…’ he murmured. He waited until the sound got a little louder, but not loud enough that it was painful, and then let himself collapse to the ground, as if it was the sound that had caused that.

Mikoto merely watched in silence, regarding the older Genome only briefly, before she slowly began to walk, completely ignoring the battle still going on.

Ravus lunged at Sephiroth again and again, completely ignoring Mikoto and Kuja, instead focusing completely on the elder of the two brothers. Meanwhile, Gladio slashed his broadsword down on Kadaj while he was trying to regain his balance from having been knocked back by Gladio's shield.

As the pair continued their struggle, Mikoto silently moved along, as if she wasn't seeing all this carnage around her. After a minute of simply doing so, she stopped as she stepped around one of the pillars.

Her expression remained empty as she regarded the frail-looking woman in her wheelchair. Anyone looking at her from afar would think nothing of her, with the way she was slouched forward, like a puppet with its strings cut. But she knew better...

However, before she could even come close, Jenova’s head lolled back and then to the side, until her poisonous green eyes were locked onto Mikoto’s blue ones. Even with her mental blockade up, Mikoto could feel Jenova slamming against the blockade, seeking to tear it down and to (most likely) tear her to shreds mentally.

It took a lot of effort for her to keep her expression empty when she wanted to cringe from the force exerted on her mind.

‘…no choice…I have to move now or we’ll lose…!’

Kadaj barely managed to dodge the sword from slicing him in half, while Sephiroth easily dodged the attacks thrown at him. However, just as the elder raised his sword in a familiar way to Ravus, a scream of agony pierced the air.

Taking his chance, as he knew the scream hadn’t come from Mikoto, Ravus leapt forward with his rapier, slashing Sephiroth across his chest. Gladio, in the meantime, also attacked Kadaj, powerfully slamming him to the ground with his shield and knocking him out cold.

While Kadaj was effectively out of the fight now, Sephiroth was far from done. Snarling furiously, lips curled back, he snapped his sword up, sending a wave of energy at Ravus and throwing him backwards against Gladio.

Ravus glared at the brothers as he and Gladio both struggled to stand, desperate to keep fighting. They couldn’t afford to lose, yet they didn’t have the strength to keep fighting…!

But before they had even risen to their feet or Sephiroth had the chance to raise his sword…

“Flare Star.”

The moment the words were uttered, five orbs of what looked like crystallized fire appeared around Sephiroth, before they slammed into him and tore through his sides, three times, before slamming into him and detonating in an explosion of fiery magical energy that threw him back with a cry of pain.

Kuja clucked his tongue as he casually walked over, waving his fingers beside his face where a white crystalline orb hovered. “I’m afraid playtime’s over, dear…” he said coldly. Gladio’s eyes widened, as did Ravus’s.

“Are you…even okay to fight?” Ravus asked breathlessly.

“Perfectly fine, dear,” Kuja said simply as he continued to lightly wave his fingers to make the orb hovering beside him gently spin around on its invisible axis.

Despite the obvious burns his coat had gone through, Sephiroth himself seemed less than impressed by the display. In fact, he simply tore his burning coat to shreds as he stood, his expression cold and vicious as he regarded Kuja. “…you will regret your actions, worm…”

“Oh, will I?” Kuja countered almost casually. Ravus tensed, watching the pair as they stared each other down. Gladio, however, watched with a slightly relaxed posture.

And then, without so much as a twitch, Sephiroth’s blade arched through the air and straight for Kuja’s neck. But the Genome spun halfway and curled his back while tossing his head back, the blade whizzing harmlessly past the very tip of his nose…and then he kicked his feet off the floor and crossed his arms across his chest as he looked to Sephiroth, floating on his back a couple of feet above the floor.

“You missed~” he crooned with a cheeky little smirk. Ravus and Gladio gawked at Kuja, shocked to see him hovering in the air.

Sephiroth seemed just as surprised for a split second, before he sliced downward. However, Kuja easily flipped himself around the blade and lightly kicked off against the floor with just the tip of his right boot, remaining suspended in the air as he brought his hands up, orbs of crystalline energy materializing around him from nothing.

“You missed again~” he chuckled again…but the smirk was downright vicious now as red energy began to form around his eyes. “My turn~”

In the span of a second, the orbs surrounding him launched themselves at Sephiroth, colliding with such force it knocked the breath out of him. And Kuja merely laughed almost maniacally as he moved his hands, guiding the orbs as if on strings to slam into Sephiroth over and over.

Ravus watched, almost awed yet shocked at Kuja’s power. He’d had no idea what the silver-haired Genome had been capable of this whole time. Gladio’s thoughts ran along the same lines, but he hoped Kuja wouldn’t push himself too far, whatever happened.

“Come dance with me~” Kuja suddenly cackled, as the orbs slammed into Sephiroth erratically, before they collided into him as one and launched him up with a cry of pain. Kuja kicked off against the ground, and he was within range of the other man in mere seconds. Energy gathered in his palms as several of the orbs came together in his palms, before he threw them forward…

However, shockingly, Sephiroth managed to spin around to avoid the explosion from the orbs startling Kuja enough that he didn’t have the chance to dodge the uppercut slash from Sephiroth’s katana, making him scream in agony as he was flung backwards to smash into a nearby pillar.

With a gasp, Ravus forced himself to his feet, before launching himself at Sephiroth, his rapier primed to deliver a lethal blow. Gladio was right behind him, his broadsword summoned and ready for action.

However, Sephiroth easily blocked them both, knocking Ravus away first and then Gladio, snorting coldly before he turned to where Kuja was now laying on the ground, nursing the deep gash along his chest.

However, before he could go for him, his gaze snapped up and he leaped back, just in time to avoid Aranea’s spear and feet colliding with his face.

“Careful…!” Gladio growled out in warning from where he lay, weakened.

Aranea merely snorted as she flipped her spear between her fingers, keeping her attention on Sephiroth. “No prob there, hon,” she mumbled, before she rushed for Seph again. Ravus and Gladio watched, powerless to help, as Aranea attacked Sephiroth in swift, powerful movements.

Aranea dodged under a swing from Sephiroth’s blade, and then jumped and came right back down spear first, but Sephiroth almost easily blocked it and knocked her away. Thankfully, she managed to get out of immediate danger, knocking aside the blade as well. As she rushed back in, again, though, Sephiroth raised his blade in a way that Ravus recognized, though…

“Aranea! Get back! You won’t be able to avoid it!” Ravus shouted.

“Whuh…?”

However, before Aranea could move, Sephiroth snapped his blade out, catching Aranea’s shoulder, and she screamed as the following hits ripped through her armor and skin almost easily.

“No…!” Ravus gasped, both himself and Gladio powerless to help her. Unable to dodge the assault, Aranea was sent rolling across the ground, her body covered in deep gashes, blood beginning to coat the ground as she gasped and wheezed in pain.

“…pathetic…” Sephiroth snarled, raising his blade, energy sparking along the blade, right before he lashed out, sending a massive wave of energy rushing straight for Aranea.

However, before it come close…it bounced off of some sort of shield and was ricocheted straight back at Sephiroth.

“Tsk, tsk, tsk…” a familiar voice said. “Did your Mommy not teach you…that it’s impolite to hurt a lady?”

Ravus and Gladio looked in shock to see Kuja, appearing similar to how Zidane had back in Treno during Ardyn’s horrible plan, and realized he had gone Trance, too.

As Kuja moved some of his bangs out of his eyes almost casually, it became clear the Genome’s eyes were glowing a deep violet hue, while the red energy flowing along his limbs seemed to be coiling at the air in waves, and there was no denying that the Genome was furious.

“Well…” Kuja purred icily, “guess I’ll have to re-educate you…”

Before Sephiroth even had the chance to respond, Kuja raised his hand, as the air above Sephiroth rippled before breaking open, raining down orbs of pitch black orbs of energy on top of and around Sephiroth, exploding as massive domes of energy.

Ravus and Gladio watched in shock and awe as this occurred.

As the energy finally dissipated entirely, the area itself was scorched and cracked, but more importantly; Sephiroth lay unconscious amidst the wreckage.

Snorting coldly, Trance still crackling around him, Kuja turned and floated toward Aranea, crouching beside her swiftly and extending his hands to her, holding them above her. “…Curaga,” he murmured then, allowing green energy to siphon from his hands into the injured woman.

Using his broadsword as a makeshift cane, Gladio approached Kuja. “Will she be all right?” Kuja didn’t respond as he focused on Aranea, watching as her injuries gradually healed up again.

Ravus then joined them, watching as her injuries did heal. “She’ll need rest, but she’ll be okay,” he murmured. Once the injuries had healed, Kuja breathed a little easier…right before his eyes slipped shut and he collapsed sideways as his Trance ended. Gladio caught him just in time, and then looked at Ravus.

“Check on Mikoto,” he told the pale blonde, who nodded, and went to check on Mikoto. Just as Ravus made to walk around one of the pillars, though, Mikoto stumbled out from behind it, holding her head in one hand as she leaned against the pillar.

“Are you okay, Mikoto?” he asked, placing a steadying hand on her shoulder.

She nodded softly. “Just…head…hurts…” she managed to get out.

“And Jenova…?”

“Sc…screamed herself…unconscious…”

“Take it easy, okay? We can’t lose you. Should I…finish her?” Ravus asked softly.

Mikoto slowly nodded her head, before she collapsed in exhaustion. Ravus gently propped her against the pillar, before he went around the pillar Mikoto had emerged from to find Jenova. He raised his rapier, and one he found the older Genome, he gazed over her unconscious form before slashing his sword across her throat, severing her jugular and killing her. Once he was sure she was dead, which he confirmed by feeling for her heartbeat, which he didn’t feel, he nodded to himself, before going back out, scooping up Mikoto, and rejoining Gladio.

“Is she dead?” Gladio asked, referring to Jenova.

“Yes. Severed her jugular,” Ravus nodded. “Let’s get these three to the infirmary to rest and recover.”

“And Sephiroth and Kadaj?”

“Cor and Ignis can take them to the cells for keeping for now,” the pale blonde answered, pulling out his phone and calling Cor. Once he’d explained what was going on, the King’s friend told Ravus he would be there soon with Ignis. Shortly after, the summoned pair arrived, and they collected the unconscious brothers before leaving with them for holding.

“Let’s go,” Gladio murmured, and lifted Kuja and Aranea while Ravus carried Mikoto, and the pair made their way to the infirmary.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

When Gladio and Ravus arrived at the infirmary, they were surprised to find Prompto, Noctis, Luna, and Zidane there, waiting.

“We felt the fighting stop,” Prompto explained. “Zidane and I felt Kuja go into Trance, and Jenova’s death… Did he kill her?”

“No. I did,” Ravus murmured.

“…Makes sense…” Zidane murmured. “Doubt Kuj would’ve been able to do that anyway…”

“Hm? How so?” Noctis asked, curious.

“Coz Terran laws prohibit physical punishment or death, even with capital punishment,” Zidane explained. “It was believed to be too easy a way out.”

“Good point, I almost forgot that one,” Prompto nodded. “At least it’s finally over, though…”

“Yes, and we can move on…” Luna agreed.

Finally, yeah,” Zidane sighed out, leaning back in his seat.

Noctis nodded before he watched Ravus and Gladio passing their friends to the medical personnel. “So how are they?”

“It’s mostly mental at this point. Mikoto was against Jenova before she got that headpiece on her, and Kuja healed himself and Aranea, so they just need rest,” Gladio replied. “Sephiroth and Kadaj were taken into custody, and Cor and Ignis took them into the cells for holding.”

“Hoo boy… My guess is Kuj is gonna want to have a ‘word’ with them later, too…”

Noctis looked to Zidane and asked, “Is this going to be similar as with the other two?”

“More than likely,” Prompto shrugged slightly, leaning against Noctis.

Zidane hummed softly, before he hopped off his seat. “I’ll be right back; gonna get Josh. He’ll probably wanna see his dad, too.”

“Good thinking. We’ll be here,” Luna nodded, her hand on her swollen stomach. Zidane nodded as he headed out the room to get the boy in question.

Noctis chuckled softly, before he wrapped an arm around Prompto gently.

“I’m so glad it’s over…” the pregnant male whispered, closing his eyes.

“I know…” Noctis murmured, lightly kissing his temple.

“Do you think we’ll have to worry about Loz or Yazoo?” Luna wondered aloud.

“Nah, otherwise they would have been here with Sephiroth and Kadaj,” Prompto pointed out.

“Makes sense…” Noctis agreed, just as Zidane came over with Joshua in tow.

“Hey sweetie,” Prompto greeted the young boy. “Your dad’s over here.” He then stood and guided Joshua over to Kuja’s bed, where the older Genome was still unconscious.

As Prompto lifted Joshua up to sit on the bed, the boy pouted sadly, before looking to the taller Genome. “Papa’s gonna be okay…right?”

“Course he is!” Zidane chuckled out.

“He’s just tired, but after some rest, he’ll be just fine,” the pregnant Genome assured him.

“Did you want to stay with him?” Luna asked kindly. “I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you when he wakes up.”

“Can I?”

“Of course, Joshua,” Noctis confirmed with a nod. “No one’s going to make you leave.”

This made Joshua smile happily. “Thank you!” he chirped, before he moved over to lay himself down next to Kuja.

“There we go,” Prompto smiled softly. “Do you want a blanket? We don’t want you to get cold or anything.”

“I’m okay!” the boy assured.

“All right. Let any of us know if you need anything, okay?” Luna told him, leaning against Zidane as he sat down with her again.

“Kay!” Joshua chirped, before he got himself comfy.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

It had been a few hours since the group had received the news about Jenova’s death, and the two couples had gone to hang out and relax with the Chocobos while they waited for Kuja, Aranea, and Mikoto to wake from their exhaustion after the fight. Joshua had fallen asleep by his father, curled close to the older silverette’s side, which made for an endearing sight as the four had left.

“Do you think they’ll wake up soon?” Luna asked, concerned, even as she petted one of Sora’s Chocochicks. Which, by the way, had been starting to get bigger lately, beginning to grow up.

“I’m sure they will,” Zidane said from where he was lying sprawled along Chichiri’s back. “It’s just in their head, so they just need a bit to wake up.”

Noctis hums softly. “Shouldn't take much longer…you weren’t out very long either after Trance.”

“True…”

“I just hope I never have any reason to go into Trance,” Prompto murmured as he rested against Noctis. Now that the danger was gone, though, he shouldn’t have any reason to.

“Let’s hope…” Noctis agreed as he ran a hand through Prompto’s hair.

Zidane hummed softly as he finally rolled off Chichiri’s back. “Yanno…I wonder what would’ve happened…had the laws not prevented Jenova's execution.”

“No idea, but I doubt we’d be where we are now,” Prompto replied, snuggling closer to Noctis.

“True…” Zidane mumbled as he settled next to Luna without invading her personal space (too much). “…can’t help but wonder, though…” he mumbled suddenly, “…if we even had a chance of saving Bran Bal…”

“You never know…” the taller Genome shrugged, his tail flicking absently in thought.

Noctis looked back and forth between the two Genomes for a moment, before he hummed thoughtfully. “…Say, Prom, Zidane?”

“Yeah?” the pair said simultaneously.

“I’m curious…what was Bran Bal like…before the disaster?”

Zidane blinked in surprise. “You…wanna know what the place was like?”

“I’m also curious,” Luna chimed in, looking at Zidane with wide eyes.

“…You wanna start?” Prompto offered, looking at his friend after a moment of hesitation.

Zidane blinked once, glancing between everyone a few times, before he sighed. “Well…okay…pff…where to start, though?”

“I guess at the beginning,” the pregnant male suggested, placing his hands on his stomach when he felt the triplets moving.

“Right…let’s see…”

Chapter Text

X*X(200 Years Ago)X*X

Bran Bal had always been an active city; many would claim it was a city that never truly slept. The light blue lights on the streets would bounce off the deep blue buildings, their light blue decorative markings seeming to glow from the light. People were walking across the street in a seemingly endless stream, either walking or running, but never bumping into anyone else as they went.

Now, however, the city seemed to be much livelier than ever before. As several workers were busy with hanging up the traditional crystalline decorations, some people would stop briefly to regard the workers, smiling absently before pressing on again. It wasn’t so strange, though; the Crystal Commemoration only happened once a decade, after all.

“That time again, already, huh?” Zidane murmured as he walked down the streets, before he stepped onto the automatic path to the right. “Doesn’t even feel like a decade…”

“Time flies when you’re having fun,” Prompto chuckled as he walked alongside his friend.

“No kidding…” the other man said as he absently braided his hair along his shoulder, just to have something to do. “How old were we last time at the Commemoration? Nine? Ten?”

“We were ten, and yeah, now it feels like it’s really been a long time, when you put it that way,” Prompto agreed.

“…Damn, I feel old now…” Zidane laughed softly, expertly dodging a woman who had paused to check her holographic watch for details on her next meeting.

“Hey, Kuja’s probably feeling worse,” the taller blonde pointed out. “Remember, he’s in a wheelchair.”

“True…very true,” Zidane admitted as they stepped off the automated path and moved further down the busy streets. “Speaking of…I think he’s finally…yanno, doing a little better…a ‘little’.”

“Yeah, steadily,” Prompto sighed softly.

After a moment of letting that subject hang, though, Zidane quickly switched topics. “Anyway! Moving away from that subject…” Here he paused to look at Prompto, tapping his temple. ‘How’s that last project of yours going? Making any leeway?’

‘Yeah, some. Still working on the blueprint for the fertility-increasing machinery, but it’s coming along slow,’ the taller male admitted.

‘Cool. Hope you don’t mind Miko insisting on being first…’

‘Nah, that would be fine. I’d rather not test it on her, though. Goddess forbid if something were to go wrong…’

‘Yeah, that’s the last thing we need…’ Zidane admitted, before he stopped as he reached a house. “Right; guess I’ll see you tomorrow at the Commemoration, huh? Same place as last time?”

“Yup, see you then,” Prompto smiled, before they parted ways.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

It was just after dawn the next morning, and Prompto was waiting for Zidane at the plaza where the Crystal resided. He knew they needed their spot saved, hence why he’d come so early.

“Yo Prom!!” came a familiar shout, and as the taller blonde looked over, he quickly spotted Zidane walking over. And a little further behind were Kuja and Mikoto, the latter pushing the former’s wheelchair as Kuja went through a few of his notes. And, of course, close behind that was Mikoto’s mate; a man slightly younger than she was (slightly shorter, too), with long black hair and wearing a bright blue robe, a pointy hat resting on his head. Just from his apparel, it was easy to say he wasn’t originally from Bran Bal, and the lack of tail only confirmed that.

“Hey guys!” Prompto called in greeting, waving to his friends.

As they approached, Zidane shrugged as he said, ‘Sorry ‘bout Kuj; said he had to finish some work before tomorrow.’

“Hello, Prompto,” Mikoto said with a warm smile.

“Uh, h-hi, Prompto,” her mate said with a small wave.

“Hey Vivi, Mikoto. How are you guys doing? I see Kuja’s as busy as ever,” Prompto smirked, casting the older male a sly look.

‘Watch your mouth, dear,’ Kuja’s voice echoed through his head. ‘Wouldn’t want something to happen to you, would we?’

‘Aww, you know you wouldn’t do anything to me. You care too much to hurt me,’ Prompto chuckled.

Kuja looked up form over the rim of his glasses dryly, before Zidane broke it up. “Okay, okay, people; we’re all here to have fun, so no punishment threats and what not, a’ight?”

“I was just having fun!” Prompto defended himself, before smiling lightly at Kuja.

Kuja rolled his eyes. “Sure, dear, sure you were…”

“Okay, enough of that!” Zidane said suddenly as he grabbed the orb Kuja had been holding and spun it shut to pull the holographic image back inside.

“Zidane!”

“Nope! We’re not here to work; we’re here to have fun. So that’s what we’re doing,” Zidane laughed as he tucked the orb in his pocket.

“He’s got a point, ya know. Today’s a fun day! And work’s no fun,” Prompto grinned.

Kuja sighed heavily, crossing his arms across his chest as he leaned back in his chair. “Very well, if I must…”

Mikoto merely giggled, before she moved Kuja over a little more.

The plaza was a massive gathering place, with many shopping streets on all sides, and people were gradually starting to gather from all around, laughing and joking and simply having a good time. Like the rest of Bran Bal, the pavement was made of glittering blue stones, which perfectly reflected the shining golden light that was released from the large, golden Crystal that hung suspended high above the very center of Bran Bal, along a blue, crystalline web-like structure, spinning steadily on its axis. Its light played off of the crystalline decorations around them, casting a wide array of rainbow lights across the entire plaza.

“Beautiful as ever,” Prompto commented as they traversed the plaza.

“U-uh…” Vivi started suddenly, getting their attention. “D-did you hear the rumors…? A-about Insomnia?”

“Oh? You mean about a treaty between Bran Bal and Insomnia, right?” Prompto asked.

“U-uh-huh.”

“Hm…” Kuja hummed softly as he pushed his glasses a little further up his nose. “It does seem like it’s very likely to happen…should the council decide to come off their high horse, finally…”

“Would make sense… Insomnia’s getting pretty big…” Zidane pointed out. “It wouldn’t do to get on their bad side…”

“Would be nice to not have to worry about the danger they could impose, yeah?” Prompto said.

“That would definitely be nice, yes,” Mikoto said with a nod.

Just then, there was a pulse through the area, which was a familiar thing for them all, making them look up even as the lights of the city began to dim enough so that only the light of the Crystal filled the plaza.

“Here we go,” Prompto murmured.

As the whole plaza fell silent, the Crystal spun slightly faster, its light pulsing faster and brighter, before it gave one final pulse and a wave of golden energy spread across the plaza and ever outward. And as the energy passed over them, all those gathered there began to cheer and applaud, the energy soaking through their bones and granting them a small part of the Crystal’s divine light.

“Always amazing,” the taller blonde smiled, looking at his friends.

“Definitely,” Zidane chuckled.

Kuja merely hummed, while Mikoto leaned against Vivi, who had wrapped his arms around her waist, despite that he kept looking around nervously, as if he was afraid of what everyone thought of him doing that.

“Dude, seriously; chill out,” Zidane laughed. “No one’s gonna bite your head off, yanno?”

“You guys make a good couple, so don’t worry about what others think,” Prompto assured Vivi.

“U-um…th-thanks…” Vivi almost squeaked out, making Mikoto giggle as she snuggled up against her mate.

Kuja regarded them for a moment, before he hummed and turned to watch the Crystal quietly.

‘You okay, Kuja?’ Prompto asked, noticing the older male’s quiet.

‘…something felt…off…about the Crystal…’ Kuja replied softly. ‘…something’s not right…’

‘What? What do you mean?’

‘…I’m not sure…just…watch yourself…’

‘O-okay…’ Prompto frowned slightly, concerned. He wondered how the Crystal would seem off, especially after the display during the festival.

“Hey, Prom! You listening?” Zidane suddenly called out.

“Huh?”

“I said let’s go check out the shops and see what silly overpriced trinkets they have for sale this time,” the shorter male chuckled out.

“‘Overpriced’, huh?" Kuja murmured with a chuckle. “You certainly didn’t seem to care last time, dear.”

“Yeah, well that wasn’t my money, was it?”

Kuja actually laughed at the audacity. “Touché, dear. Touché.”

“All right, let’s go,” Prompto laughed. “We’ll buy our own stuff this time, though, right Zidane?”

“IF we see anything worth buying, yeah,” Zidane confirmed with a grin.

Kuja clucked his tongue as he shook his head. “Very well…may as well move along, hmm?” he said as he tapped along the small pad along his armrest, before letting his wheelchair roll ahead.

“Righto!” As he started walking after Kuja, Zidane turned and called to Mikoto and Vivi, “You two behave while we’re gone, ya hear?!”

“A-ah! R-right, of course!” Vivi got out.

“Don’t worry, we’ll be back soon, unless Zidane’s mind gets stuck on something,” Prompto snickered.

“Oh shut up, you ASS!” Zidane laughed, lightly whacking his friend upside the head as they followed after Kuja.

“You know it’s true!” Prompto retorted.

“Would you dears quit your arguing and move along?” Kuja called out just then. “You’re holding everyone up.”

“Okay, okay! Esh!”

“We’re coming, Kuja! Don’t worry about us!” the taller blonde assured the older male. Kuja merely snorted, tapping the pad again to move his wheelchair along again.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Much later in the day, the men were starting to finish their ‘rounds’ of the festivities. And Zidane DID in fact buy one item he seemed particularly interested in, though he did haggle with the shopkeeper for a discount.

“Did ya HAVE to haggle with him? It wasn’t THAT much,” Prompto teased lightly as the three of them headed back to rejoin Mikoto and Vivi.

“Oh shush you,” Zidane laughed…only for the sound to die as he noticed his sister’s worried look as she and Vivi regarded a nearby tree. “…? Miko? What's wrong?”

Mikoto didn’t respond immediately, though she did glance over briefly, before turning back and pointing up at the tree. And when they looked up, it didn’t take them overly long to realize that the branches were hanging and that the leaves were now much duller than they had once been.

“…the hell?”

“What’s with the tree?” Prompto murmured, frowning.

“…It looks like…” Kuja murmured, frowning darkly, “it’s dying…”

“But…how? Especially after today!” Prompto exclaimed.

Zidane frowned as he bit his lip in worry. “This…can’t be good…”

“…No it cannot…” Kuja agreed softly.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

And they weren’t good; as the days passed them by, more and more people began to realize that all the life was draining from the plant life around them. Worse still, it was draining from the soil as well, leaving their crops to wither and die. And as if things weren't bad enough, an unknown sickness began to spread among the population of Bran Bal. It began to claim the lives of hundreds of people, including most of their council, leaving them with a fractured juridical system.

Years passed, and nothing seemed to improve, with more and more people leaving Bran Bal behind, never returning, or simply perishing along with the land around them.

“…It’s so quiet…” Zidane murmured softly from where he sat on the bench by the plaza.

“Nothing like how it used to be…” Prompto agreed, sighing quietly.

The shorter blonde sighed heavily, watching the empty streets with an almost longing look. “…I don’t get it…what did we do wrong? Why is everything hitting us at once?”

“I don’t know, but we need to do SOMETHING, or else we’ll all die…” Prompto replied, shaking his head.

“Yeah but WHAT? What CAN we do?” Zidane questioned. “I mean—”

Just then, his watch beeped loudly, making him look over in surprise, before alarm came over him. “Oh no…” he breathed, before he tapped the watch, activating the call. “Yeah.”

“Zidane, get back here this instant! We have a problem!!”

Zidane wanted to ask what was going on, but then he caught the distraught screaming in the background…belonging to his sister. “Oh shit…! I’m on my way!!”

“What’s going on?!” Prompto demanded as soon as the shorter blonde hung up.

“If…if I’m getting this right…” Zidane hissed out. “Then Vivi’s…!”

He didn’t even finish what he was about to say, and instead bolted off. Prompto nodded, before taking off after his friend, terrified for Mikoto and Vivi.

The pair made it to the Tribal household in record time, and Zidane almost threw the door into the wall from the speed with which he opened it. He could already hear his sister’s wails from the entry way, and the noise only got worse as he got closer. Prompto entered the household, too, grief gripping his heart at the sound of Mikoto’s wails.

Zidane immediately ran toward the back of the house, where the sound was coming from. He passed Kuja on the way, who looked at him with a slightly haunted look, but said nothing else. The younger male simply nodded before moving to his sister’s side where she was bent over Vivi’s unmoving form on the bed, gripping at her mate tightly as she cried.

“Miko…” Zidane murmured as he stepped forward and crouched to her level, placing his arm around her shoulders. Prompto followed close behind, pausing at the doorway before joining his friends, mourning the loss of the shy youth they’d had as a friend.

Mikoto whined when Zidane tried to move her, trying to fight back against her brother, before he managed to pull her into a hug, holding her tightly with his tail wrapping protectively around her waist. She whimpered softly, before she clung to her brother with an anguished wail, her entire body shaking. And Zidane continued to shush her as he ran his hands over her back, before he looked over from the corner of his eyes.

‘Prom…can you…?’

The taller blonde nodded silently, before approaching them, and hugging Mikoto as well, wordlessly offering his support. Mikoto whimpered as the two men hugged her firmly, but she couldn’t stop crying to be even remotely thankful. Zidane shushed her over and over again, quietly watching as Kuja rolled his chair over and, quietly, moved the blankets over Vivi’s body.

Prompto mentally sighed; why Vivi? Mikoto didn’t deserve to lose him, as they were an amazing couple. However, he grieved to himself while comforting Mikoto, knowing she needed their full support at the time.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

“This is really a stupid question given…well, everything…but…are you okay, Miko?” Zidane asked as he sat with his sister on the couch, his arm around her shoulders.

“…no…”

Kuja sighed softly before he looked to Prompto. ‘Would you mind making some chamomile tea for her?’

‘Not at all,’ Prompto nodded, before heading to the kitchen and making the cup of tea at the dispenser. He then returned to Mikoto’s side, kindly offering her the mug of tea without a word, but he did offer her a reassuring smile. Mikoto slowly nodded at him as she took the cup from him, taking slow sips from the drink, while Zidane continued to rub her back. Prompto sat by her, unsure of what to say. He wasn’t even sure if there was anything he COULD say in this moment, to be honest.

After a long moment of silence, Kuja finally spoke up to break it. “As depressing as this all is…this does give us a little more insight in what is happening…”

“Huh? What do you mean?” Zidane asked.

“…It doesn’t seem to be a sickness limited to those born in Bran Bal, like we originally believed.”

“Just to those residing here, right?” Prompto guessed.

“That seems more likely…” Kuja murmured, placing his fingers along his jaw as he leaned his elbow on his armrest. “Though it doesn’t tell us about what it is…it gives a little more insight in the whole situation…”

“What do you think is the cause of all this, Kuja?” Prompto inquired.

“…I really can’t say…” the silver-haired male murmured, his tail tip swaying slightly by his leg. “I’m actually more surprised that none of us are affected…”

“Let’s not jinx it, dammit,” the taller blonde grumbled.

Zidane nodded. “Yeah…that’s the last thing we need…”

Mikoto wasn't even part of the conversation, silently sipping her tea.

“I just don’t know what we can do to save Bran Bal…” Prompto sighed, running a hand through his hair.

“…perhaps…” Zidane murmured suddenly, frowning in thought.

“What are you thinking, Zidane?” Prompto questioned, looking at his friend curiously.

“…I know this may sound…disrespectful…but what if we…examined a blood sample of…?”

“That’s Mikoto’s decision,” Prompto replied immediately.

“I know, I know…” Zidane murmured, before he turned to his sister. “Miko…?”

Mikoto didn’t reply immediately, but, finally, she nodded her head softly. Zidane frowned sadly and reached over to hug her against his side. Prompto reached behind her and rubbed her back soothingly, knowing that that wasn’t an easy decision to make.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

Another year passed them by like that, and while, thankfully, the number of deaths finally ground to a halt, the news did them little good when their once proud community was reduced to a mere shadow of its former self. The small group of friends worked tirelessly to discover the source of the illness…but in doing so, discovered something else that could spell the end of Bran Bal, regardless.

“…no way…am…Prom, am I reading this right…?”

Prompto joined him, and looked over the report, before he paled. “Y…you’re reading it right…” he breathed, horrified to discover that everyone who remained in Bran Bal was no longer fertile.

“That…how does that…” Zidane started, running a hand through his bangs before starting to fiddle with his ponytail. “So even though we lived through the sickness…in the end it’s not going to MATTER?!”

“Fuck…” the taller blonde hissed. “There must be SOMETHING we can do to prevent us from practically going extinct!”

“…Wait…!” Zidane’s eyes widened as he whirled on Prompto. “Did you ever finish that fertility machine?”

“It’s almost finished, yeah, but I don’t think it’ll help until we test it. And I’m afraid of it doing more harm than good…”

“Then don’t test it on us,” came a calm voice from behind them. As the pair whirled around, they were met with Kuja’s calm gaze. “If you’re concerned about our well-being, then don’t.”

“But Kuja…!”

“Instead; let’s start from scratch.”

“…huh?”

“What do you mean?” Prompto frowned.

“Simple;” Kuja said as he leaned his head on his right hand, “instead of making our bodies fertile again…we simply make new bodies to become fertile for us.”

“…no way…you’re planning to just…genetically engineer new inhabitants for Bran Bal?!” Zidane choked out.

“It’s really the only way I can see it working, Zidane…” his friend admitted. “Think about it: if we’re not able to pass along our genetics now, we need another solution. And Kuja’s idea might just work.”

“Well…yeah, I know that, but…” Zidane took a moment to breathe, before he sighed and asked, “What about the Crystal? Would the Crystal even give them the souls they’d need to function?”

“…Only one way to know for sure, hmm?”

“We gotta try, or else we’ll never know,” Prompto reasoned.

“…right,” Zidane sighed out. “Guess it’s our only option, huh?”

“That it is…” Kuja murmured. “So…we're all in agreement?”

“…Yeah.”

“Then let’s get started,” Prompto said, his bright blue eyes shining with determination.

“Very well, then.”

And thus began the Genome Project…

 

X*X(Present Day)X*X

“…I STILL wonder what the hell caused all that shit to go down…” Zidane murmured as he leaned back on his hands.

“I don’t know, but I think things turned out well in the end, don’t you think? Even if it DID take a couple hundred years,” Prompto shrugged.

“I guess…” Zidane murmured.

Noctis sighed softly, pulling one knee up. “Either way; Bran Bal sounds like was very technologically advanced…perhaps more so than the Empire. I would’ve loved to have visited it in those days.”

“Yeah, you guys woulda loved it… It was…peaceful, yanno?” Zidane sighed out. “How many incidents were there the year before the Commemoration again? Like…maybe four in the whole year?”

“I dunno, it’s just been that long,” the pregnant male murmured, curling closer to Noctis.

“Well, I’m with Prompto. I’m glad you’re all where you are today, or else things could have been drastically different,” Luna smiled.

Noctis nodded his head. "Agreed, let's not worry about that for now."

“Yeah, sure…” Zidane murmured, but his tail flicked at the air a bit anxiously. ‘…hey Prom?’

‘Hmm?’

‘Do you think Miko remembers... about…?’

‘I’d be surprised if she didn’t, but if she doesn’t then we won’t try and pry. After all, Vivi and Mikoto were so close as a couple back then…I just can’t help but wonder if Vivi’s soul somehow made it back, too,’ Prompto replied.

‘That would be nice…maybe then she can FINALLY have the kid she wanted so badly…’ Zidane murmured.

‘Yeah…’

“Kweh!” one of the chicks suddenly chirped as it abruptly plopped itself down on Zidane’s lap.

“Hey what the?! I’m not your mom’s nest, dummy!”

Luna giggled at her bond’s reaction. “Seems this one really likes you,” she smiled.

“Ya think?” Zidane grumbled, much to everyone’s amusement as he tried to get the chick to move.

“Aww, come on, Zidane! Don’t make it move, it’s comfy!” Prompto laughed.

“Yeah well I’m not!”

“Grumpy-pants,” the pregnant Genome snickered.

“Oh shut up.”

“Having fun there, dears?” a familiar voice suddenly chirped, followed by a small giggle.

“Kuja…! You okay?” Prompto asked, looking at the silverette as his tail waved slightly.

Kuja chuckled from where he was leaning on the fence, as Joshua crawled under it and came running over to play with the chicks again (obviously). “Well enough, dear,” he said with a small smirk.

Noctis allowed a smile, before he frowned. “What of Aranea?”

“Oh, don’t worry,” Kuja said with an absent wave of his hand. “She’s decided to start ahead of me. You can imagine she wasn’t very pleased after that whole ordeal…”

“…Oh geez…yeah, you two are PERFECT for each other,” Zidane chuckled out.

“Very funny, Zidane.”

“He’s got a point,” Prompto snickered.

“We’ll probably not see Aranea for a while, hmm?” Luna guessed.

“Most likely…I would wager about…oh, 5 to 6 hours…minimum.”

“…Do we even wanna know?” Noctis asked slowly.

“Nope,” Zidane said quickly.

“Definitely not,” Prompto agreed.

“…Okay, I’ll take your word on it, then.”

“Good idea,” the pregnant male chuckled, nuzzling Noctis’s shoulder. Luna leaned lightly against Zidane, smiling softly.

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Month Later)X*X

Prompto sighed, watching as Zidane and Luna left to the arcade and get out for a bit. He would have enjoyed going any other day, but he was a month away from having the triplets, and Noctis had his studies today. Which meant he was to stay with him.

‘I just hope they have some fun,’ he thought to himself.

 

X*X(Meanwhile…)X*X

Ravus drove the Regalia for Luna and Zidane, considering Luna was pregnant and Zidane couldn’t drive to save his life.

“Excited to try the arcade again, Zidane?” Luna asked her bond.

“Yeah, especially now that we don’t have to worry ‘bout being hunted down, yanno?” Zidane chuckled out. “That really put a big damper on things last time…”

“I know, but Aranea ensured our safety, thankfully,” the pregnant woman giggled.

“True…very true,” Zidane chuckled. Luna smiled softly as she placed her hand over Zidane’s on the seat between them, a content sigh escaping her. Zidane merely smiled as he reclined back, turning his hand to let their fingers intertwine.

“We almost there?” he asked after a moment.

“Just about,” Ravus replied, before he turned into the parking lot for the arcade. “Here we are,” he announced once they were parked. “I’ll wait out here, but call if you need me,” he told Luna.

“I will, but we should be fine,” she assured her brother, climbing out of the Regalia carefully.

Zidane easily hopped over her out the door, after which he carefully helped her out. “You sure you gonna be okay?”

“Yes, Zidane, I’ll be fine,” she smiled. “And so will the twins.” Zidane merely chuckled as he led her toward the arcades, briefly waving to Ravus as they went, just because.

As they walked into the arcade, however, the man at the counter said to a fellow employee, “I’m surprised that runt by the dumpsters isn’t begging for change today…”

“Hmm?” Luna hummed, confused. Zidane looked at the men curiously, before he frowned as he slowed down enough to listen what they had to say.

“Eh, hopefully the brat’s learned his place by now,” the other employee said.

“What are you talking about?” Luna frowned, approaching the men with her hands on her hips.

Though the two men looked up in surprise, they quickly waved it aside. “Nothing important. Just mosey along, missy.”

Zidane glared as he stepped up next to Luna.

“It’s nothing to worry about,” the other man insisted.

“It certainly didn’t sound like ‘nothing to worry about’,” Luna growled, frowning darkly.

“Look, just mind your own business and go about your way,” the other man said with a dismissive wave. “Let those qualified to handle it deal with this.”

“Well in that case; Lu? You wanna check out these dumpsters?” Zidane asked simply.

“Sure,” the pregnant woman smirked, and the pair headed outside, much to the men’s chagrin. Once they were outside, Zidane looked around, before he nudged Luna and gestured for what he believed to be the dumpsters the men had been talking about. Luna nodded softly, before she and Zidane carefully headed over to the dumpsters, where there was pitiful whimpering sounding in between two of the large metal boxes. Zidane frowned slightly, before he glanced to Luna, before slowly moving over.

As he peeked around the box, it took him only a moment to spot the teen sitting huddled up in between the two dumpsters, black hair hiding the majority of his face. Luna bit her lip, trying to keep herself from calling out to him, not wanting to startle the teen.

Zidane, however, moved over slowly, before he crouched down and regarded the teen for a moment. Eventually, though, he reached out and tapped on his arm with a finger. Which, in turn, made the teen yowl and try to move back…though all he managed to do was press himself further against the wall.

“Hey, whoa, whoa! Easy, dude!”

“Easy, we’re not going to hurt you,” Luna murmured, giving the teen a warm smile. “Sorry we startled you.”

The boy was gasping for breath as he looked back and forth between Luna and Zidane with wide, frightened amber eyes, looking like he was on the verge of tears. As Zidane watched him, though, a sudden feeling of familiarity struck him and he frowned in surprise, his tail swaying slowly behind him.

“What’s your name, hun?” Luna asked kindly. The teen didn’t respond; he just moved back and curled up further, keeping his gaze trained at the pair shuddering violently. “I promise, we’re not going to hurt you…”

However, before the boy could answer, there was a rather loud rumble, and instantly, the teen froze and curled up even further.

“…Oh geez…” Zidane murmured.

“You’re hungry, aren’t you?” Luna guessed, giving the teen a sympathetic look. “We can get you something to eat, if you’d like.”

The teen looked up slowly to Luna, not daring to move or say anything. Zidane looked at the boy for a moment longer, before he sighed and moved over and grabbed the boy’s arm, standing up and dragging him up to his feet with a yelp. “Well, don’t just sit there! Let’s get some grub, shall we?”

“Be gentle, Zidane,” Luna cautioned, before she smiled. “But yes, let’s get some food.” Zidane hummed softly, before they started heading for the arcade again, with the blonde dragging the raven along behind him. When they walked into the arcade, however, the men who had been insulting the poor teen they now had with them looked at the trio in shock.

“Say anything and I’ll report you to your manager,” Luna threatened, and the men quickly shut their mouths.

Zidane glared at the two men, silently nudging the boy after them toward the snack bar. “So ‘s there anything specific you like?”

The boy blinked a few times, before shaking his head swiftly.

“Then we’ll get a variety,” Luna giggled.

“Right! You two just take a seat and I’ll be right back!” Zidane said as he gestured for the tables they were now standing next to.

“Come, take a seat,” Luna smiled at the teen, pulling out a chair for him once Zidane had left. The boy hesitated, before he slowly nodded and took the seat, though he remained extremely skittish. Seeing just how scared the poor boy was, Luna asked softly, “Did those men do anything to you?” He slowly peeked out from under his bangs, before quickly shaking his head.

“I certainly hope not…” Luna murmured, before smiling softly at the teen. “You’re safe with Zidane and me, just so you know.”

Slowly, the boy looked up, still fidgeting in place. Just then, though, Zidane came back over with a tray of all sorts of things. “They got a whole lot of different stuff here!” he quipped with a grin as he put the tray down.

“Something the twins will enjoy, I’m sure,” Luna giggled, before feeling movement in her abdomen, making her pause.

“What? What’s wrong, Lu?” Zidane asked, a little worried.

“I think…” she murmured, trailing off, before the movement happened again, and she smiled. “They’re kicking.”

“Really?” Curious, with his tail swishing, the blonde walked over and placed his hand on her stomach. Immediately, the twins kicked against their father’s hand, making Luna laugh.

Zidane managed a small laugh as well, before he patted her stomach and quipped, “Think they’re trying to say they’re hungry?”

“Probably,” she nodded, laughing lightly, before looking to the teen. “Would you like to feel, too?” she offered to him kindly.

The boy flinched at being addressed, but his gaze did flick to Luna’s stomach briefly…but in the end he quickly shook his head, his cheeks exploding in ruby.

“That’s okay, if you change your mind, they’ll be here,” she giggled, smiling softly at him.

“Anyway!” Zidane proclaimed as he took his own seat. “How ‘bout we eat and then we go play some games, huh?”

“Good idea,” the pregnant woman agreed, taking a little bit of the food from the tray and taking a bite. The boy looked back and forth between the two, before his stomach rumbled again and he pouted. After a moment more, he licked his lips and then reached out and slowly tugged over a plate of fries that had been set aside. When no one complained, he began to eat, rather quickly at that.

“A bit better, huh?” Luna asked him kindly when he had finished the fries. He hesitated for a moment, before he nodded his head. “Well, there’s plenty, so help yourself to some more if you’d like.” After a moment, the teen slowly nodded and began to take a few more things, munching quietly.

Zidane chuckled softly, but as he watched, he couldn’t stop himself from having this odd sense of familiarity…

When they had all gotten their fill on the snacks, the couple basically dragged the teen to the arcade’s gaming area to play.

“So, we tried the shooting game last time, but that was a fail compared to Prompto…” Luna remarked. “So, which should we try this time?”

“Hmm…” Zidane looked around for a moment…before blinking. "What’s this?” he asked, gesturing to a machine that clearly displayed “Justice Monsters V” on the top.

“I think Noctis has played this one, but he gets frustrated every time,” Luna giggled.

“Huh? Why??”

“Because it’s difficult for him. But we’ll see how you can do,” Luna smiled.

“Uh…sure,” Zidane said with a shrug, as he moved over and put in a coin to start the game. And the raven just watched from a distance, head tilted to the side curiously.

“You can do this, Zidane,” his bond urged. Zidane hummed as he started the game. He frowned at the first few misses, before he finally got a grasp on the game, his tail moving back and forth and coiling in his concentration. Luna watched him, pleasantly surprised to see he was doing better than Noctis ever had.

Zidane didn’t say anything as he kept on going for at least a good half hour…before he used up his last life.

“Ah dammit…” he groaned. “SO close…”

“Well, you did better than Noctis ever has,” Luna smiled.

“It’s not THAT hard…” Zidane said with a shrug, before he turned to the brunette. “You wanna try?”

“…!” The boy tensed, before he shook his head swiftly.

“It’s fine to try,” Luna soothed. “We’ve got plenty to spare as far as change goes.”

“Yeah, come on! Give it a shot!” Zidane quipped, tugging the boy over. “Maybe you can even beat it.”

Though the teen seemed unsure of that part, he did eventually step up to the cabinet to try it.

“Here you go,” Luna murmured, putting in a coin. The teen bit his lip worriedly, before his fingers began to move along the buttons as he tried to play the game. Luna looked at Zidane, hope in her eyes. She was hoping this teen would talk to them at some point, because she felt bad for him. She honestly wanted to bring him back to the castle, that way he could come out of his shell a bit.

Zidane caught the look and he nodded his head, before he crossed his arms and watched the boy as he got absorbed in the game, fingers beginning to move a lot smoother over the buttons. And then he blinked when he noticed the boy had just beaten the boss that had taken him almost ten minutes earlier. “Wow! Look at you!” he laughed. “You’re doing great!”

“Noctis would be very jealous,” Luna giggled.

“Bet he would be,” Zidane laughed as the teen kept his focus on the game, getting further and further as the minutes dragged on.

Eventually though…

“…Ah!” the boy yelped as his last life was ended by the boss that came after the one Zidane had lost to earlier.

“You did really good!” Luna praised, smiling.

“Nice one, buddy!” Zidane said as he gave the boy a friendly slap on the shoulder, making the brunette jump with a yelp.

“U-uh…th-thank you…” he squeaked out.

And that made Zidane freeze. ‘…wait…that voice was…?!’

“Zidane?” his bond frowned, noticing him stiffen.

“…” Zidane didn’t answer; instead he squinted and stepped up to the teen suddenly. But before he could stumble back, Zidane reached out and grabbed him by his head, swiftly moving his hair out of his face and looking at him for a long moment. And then his eyes widened in surprise. “…No way…”

“What’s wrong?” Luna asked, concerned.

“…Vivi?”

The teen’s eyes widened in alarm at the single word. “H-h-how di-did you…?!”

“Who’s Vivi?” Luna questioned, puzzled.

“He’s…” Zidane started, before he paused, thinking, before he turned back to the teen. “Hey, tell me something?”

“H-huh…?”

“When I say “Mikoto”…what do you think of?” Zidane asked firmly.

The teen blinked, twice, rapidly, before he squeaked, “I-I don’t…k-know a-any M-Miko’s…”

“Wait, how would you know her by Miko?” Luna frowned.

“Um u-uh…!”

“Oy Vivi!” Zidane said, grabbing him by his arms before the teen could try to beat a hasty retreat. “Look at me! For real; LOOK at me! Who am I?!”

The teen blinked, twice, before he slowly shook his head. “I-I don’t…!”

“Yes you do!” the blonde pressed, curling his fingers a little tighter in his arms. “C’mon, Viv! You know damn well who I am!”

“O-ow…! Y-you’re hurting me, Zidane!”

Immediately, Zidane let up, but didn’t let go entirely. “You were saying?”

“…!!!”

“What’s going on?!” Luna demanded, now bewildered and frustrated.

“What’s going on,” Zidane said, as he tugged the teen closer while pointing at him, “is that THIS is Vivi Orniter. Miko’s old mate.”

“I-I—!” the teen stammered out nervously.

“What? But…” Luna trailed off, before her gaze steeled. “We need to take him to Mikoto.”

“Exactly. Let’s go!”

“Right,” she nodded, and the pair left for the Regalia, Zidane practically dragging Vivi after them. When they got to the car, Ravus was surprised to see them, especially with Vivi.

“Who’s this?” he asked, curious.

“Not now, Ravus. We need to head back, now,” Luna told him firmly. “I’ll explain later.”

“Right,” her brother nodded, and started up the car once Zidane and Vivi were in the backseat and Luna was up front. Ravus hurried them back to the Citadel, and once there, he parked, letting them out. “I’ll talk to you soon, Lunafreya,” he murmured, and she nodded, agreeing as the trio climbed out, Zidane taking the lead. As they went, though, Zidane pulled out his phone and sent a text to Prompto.

‘Prom, get your ass to medical right now!’

There was a swift reply back. ‘I’ll hurry as best as I can with the triplets, sheesh!’

Zidane rolled his eyes, before he stepped into the infirmary, still dragging Vivi after him by his wrist. “Oy!! Miko!!”

“Not now, Zidane,” Mikoto said solemnly from where she was working, not even turning around.

Luna sighed. “Mikoto, we have someone here to see you.” Almost immediately after she said that, Prompto arrived at the medical ward, huffing for breath.

“What’s the…big rush…Zidane?” he panted.

Zidane looked at Prompto dryly, before he reached out and put his hand on Vivi’s head, making the brunette turn his head to face Prompto without a word said.

“Vivi…?!” the pregnant Genome gasped. Before anyone else could say anything, though, there was a loud crash, making them jump in alarm, before turning to the source.

Prompto and Luna looked at Mikoto, the latter surprised she’d dropped her glass of water.

“But how? How is he…?” Prompto trailed off, unable to finish his sentence.

“I don’t think that’s as important right now, right?” Zidane pointed out, before he grabbed Vivi’s arm and pushed him further into the room, making him stumble a bit.

And then he looked up just as Mikoto turned around, her eyes wide in alarm and surprise. And as soon as she saw him, she gasped, covering her mouth, as her eyes steadily filled with tears.

Luna watched them, hoping Vivi would respond to Mikoto in a good way. Prompto, however, was shocked. How had Vivi managed to come back? And where had he been all this time?

For a long moment, silence hangs around them so heavily that it was almost suffocating. But, finally, Vivi managed a small, almost squeaking word. “M-M…Miko…?”

Mikoto was breathing heavily now from behind her hands, her hands pressed down so firmly her nails were digging into her cheeks, and as she blinked, tears rolled down her cheeks as her body trembled and her tail coiled up tightly. She hiccupped then, and with what sounded like an almost anguished cry, she dashed forward and threw herself at the brunette, who just barely managed to catch her and keep them both standing.

“A-ah…!”

Prompto watched the exchange, a small smile curving his lips. Luna was just happy that Vivi seemed to be responding appropriately to Mikoto. Zidane, meanwhile, was fiddling with his phone, before he managed to hold it sideways and briefly tapped the screen, making it click, before he moved it upright to type something.

Prompto quirked a brow at his friend, before seeing that the shorter blonde was texting Kuja. After getting a reply back, Zidane chuckled softly and put his phone back into his pocket. Upon spotting the look on Prompto’s face, he quipped, ‘He’s got work; but he’ll come by later for sure.’

‘Good,’ the pregnant Genome smiled.

“…Dummy!!” they suddenly heard, making the trio look over in surprise. "How…how could you!? You jerk! Don’t do that again!” Mikoto wailed.

“I-I’m sorry!!” Vivi squeaked out, even as Mikoto started pounding her small fists on his chest, saying “Dummy!” with every punch.

“Oh boy,” Prompto sighed, but a smile was stuck on his face nonetheless. After all, Mikoto would FINALLY have her chance of having a baby of her own, after over 200 years.

Zidane allowed a small smirk of his own before he whispered to the others; “C’mon; let’s make ourselves scarce, eh?”

“Yeah,” Prompto nodded, and he and Luna followed Zidane out into the hallway.

Once they were away from the infirmary, Zidane allowed a laugh. “Well! I’d say that was a productive day!”

“Where the hell did you find him, anyway?” Prompto inquired, curious.

“At the arcades, believe it or not…” Zidane said, before he frowned darkly. “…next to a dumpster…”

“What?! What was he doing there?”

“Dunno…he’s still as skittish as he always was…so we weren’t able to get that out of him yet…”

“Geez…well, hopefully he’ll come around with some time,” the taller Genome sighed, feeling the triplets kicking a bit.

“Oh yes, Prompto?” Luna piped up.

“Hmm?”

“The twins are kicking,” she told him, a bright smile on her face.

“Nice! Well, it’s good to know they’ll all be active little ones,” Prompto grinned.

Zidane laughed at that. “At least we won’t be bored, eh?”

“Not at all,” Prompto chuckled.

“I take it Noctis is still studying?” Luna asked.

“Yeah, but he’s probably out by now. And he’s also probably wondering where I went…”

“Well don’t keep him wondering for long then,” Zidane chuckled, waving his friend off.

“Gotcha. I’ll catch you guys later, then,” the pregnant male smiled, before he headed back to his and Noctis’s room.

As he was about to enter, though, the door opened and Noctis stepped out, though he blinked when he spotted Prompto. “Oh hey.”

“Hey, sorry about disappearing like that,” his bond apologized softly.

“‘s Okay,” Noctis said with a shrug, stepping aside and letting Prompto in. “So what happened?”

“Zidane and Luna found Mikoto’s old mate, who had originally died during the events in Bran Bal. Seems he’s come back, too,” the blonde smiled.

“Really?” Noctis asked, before he smiled. “That’s good…I think Mikoto deserves to have someone there for her, too.”

“Definitely,” Prompto agreed, and pressed himself against Noctis. “How was studying?” he asked with a chuckle.

“Boring, what else is new?” Noctis chuckled softly.

“Fair enough,” the smaller male snickered, his tail waving happily. “Luna’s twins started kicking, too, she told me.”

“Really?” the prince murmured, before he smiled. “She must’ve been excited, huh?”

“Yeah, she was,” Prompto chuckled, before placing his hand on his own stomach.
“And these three just won’t settle down, the stinkers.”

Noctis laughed as he wrapped his arms around Prompto. “Guess they’re just eager to come out, hmm?”

“Can’t say I blame them. I want to see them, too,” the blonde murmured. At their father’s familiar touch, the triplets kicked.

“Hahah. Easy, there,” Noctis murmured. “It won’t be long now…”

“Yep, just another month,” Prompto murmured. Noctis allowed a smile and gently kissed Prompto’s forehead.

Chapter Text

X*X(1 Month Later)X*X

“Ugh, any time now would be nice…” Prompto grumbled, lying on Noctis and his bed while the raven checked on the nursery. The triplets were due any day now, and the prince wanted to make sure they were ready for their arrival.

Just then, Noctis walked back into the room. As he spotted the blonde’s expression, he smiled and walked over. “Hey…you okay?”

“Just…tired of waiting on them to be ready, I guess,” the smaller male huffed.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it won’t be long now,” Noctis assured him.

“Yeah, I hope s—ah!” Prompto gasped, as he felt a sharp pain in his belly.

“Prom?!”

“I think…they’re ready…!” the smaller male hissed, gripping at his stomach from the sudden waves of pain that coursed through him.

“Ch…! Speak of the devil…” Noctis snarled softly, before he pulled out his phone, quickly hitting speed dial and putting it to his ear. “Mikoto? It’s Noct. I think the triplets have waited long enough! Do you want us to come down? …Alright, please hurry.” He hung up then, and reached over to hold Prompto’s hand. “Mikoto’s coming…it’ll be okay, Prom.”

“Fuck…! It hurts, Noct…!” Prompto whimpered, a cry escaping him as another contraction hit.

“Sssh…it’s okay, it’s okay…” Noctis murmured softly, running his hand along his forehead. “Just bear with it for a little bit…okay?”

“Trying…” the blonde panted, grateful for his bond’s presence.

Thankfully, Mikoto walked into the room without bothering to knock barely a minute after, carrying a case with her as she did. Surprisingly, Vivi was following close behind, carrying a few towels in his arms.

Noctis nodded to Mikoto as she moved over, briefly moving her hand over Prompto’s stomach. “Definitely…” she mumbled, before she moved Prompto onto his back.

“Ah-haah!” Prompto cried out breathlessly as another contraction hit. Noctis moved over to sit beside him, holding his hand with his other arm wrapped around his shoulders, rubbing soothingly as Mikoto tugged the Genome’s underwear off, while Vivi put the towels to the side.

Prompto shuddered heavily at the next contraction, a pained whimper being the only sound to indicate it. “Wh-when do I start p-pushing, Mikoto…?” he asked through gritted teeth.

Mikoto kept one of her hands on Prompto’s stomach while she checked his dilation. Frowning, she shook her head. “Not yet…wait just a little longer.”

“Shit…” the smaller male whimpered, swallowing a cry as yet another contraction coursed through him.

“Sssh,” Noctis hushed him. “It’s okay…it’s going to be fine…”

Mikoto frowned as she felt the motion through her hand, before she checked him again. After briefly turning to Vivi and mumbling something to him, she turned back to Prompto. “Prompto, they’re ready; get ready to push!”

“O-okay!” Prompto stuttered through his pain.

Mikoto remained calm, even as Vivi moved over and wiped some sweat from Prompto's forehead. “Okay, push!” The Genome cried out as he pushed, putting forth every bit of energy he had. Noctis winced slightly when Prompto instinctively clenched his hands around his own, but he said nothing on the subject.

“Stop!”

Prompto complied, stopping as he breathed heavily, shuddering from the pain.

“It’s okay, Prom…you’re doing fine…” Noctis assured softly, kissing his forehead.

“Dammit…” the smaller male panted, but he was relieved Noctis was with him.

Mikoto gently moved her fingers along Prompto’s stomach, before she said: “Okay…and push!”

The pregnant Genome did as told, pushing as hard as he could.

“And stop!” Mikoto called out. Once Prompto had collected his breath, she said, “The first one’s almost out. Get ready…” Prompto gave a small whimper, feeling nervous for the first time since his labor had started. “Push!”

Prompto nodded weakly, before pushing hard, trying to help get his and Noctis’s first born out. Noctis held him tightly, shushing him gently.

“Okay stop! I can pull this one out now,” Mikoto said, gently tugging the babe out. The blonde watched tiredly as Mikoto carefully pulled out their first born, a little raven-haired infant, who was wailing loudly to clear its little lungs.

After snipping loose the umbilical cord, Mikoto passed the babe to Vivi, who gently dried the babe and then wrapped the little one in one of the blankets. Turning back to Prompto as Vivi carefully handled the babe, she said, “That was the girl…it’s just the boys now…”

“R-right…” Prompto stammered.

As Mikoto reached over and began to make sure that the boys were not getting in each other’s way, Noctis squeezed his hand firmly, whispering, “You’re doing fine… Just a little longer…” Prompto merely nodded, biting his lip to stifle a cry.

“Okay, the next one’s ready…take a deep breath, Prompto,” Mikoto told him. The taller Genome complied, taking a deep breath and exhaling after a couple of seconds.
“Alright…now push!”

And he did, a low scream tearing from his throat in the process.

“Okay stop!” Mikoto called then, and Noctis placed a comforting hand against Prompto’s forehead. The pregnant male did as told, another whimpering escaping him.

As Prompto caught his breath again, Mikoto rubbed his stomach, before looking up. “This one’s almost out already…one more should do it. Ready?” Prompto nodded weakly. “And…push!!”

The smaller male cried out as he pushed once again.

“Okay stop!” Mikoto called out. “I got him from here…”

“Is…is he okay?” Prompto asked breathlessly, watching as Mikoto carefully pulled out the blonde infant.

“He’s perfectly fine,” Mikoto assured him after cutting the child’s umbilical cord as he wailed, before gently passing the small boy to Vivi as well.

Noctis breathed a little easier, before he kissed Prompto to his forehead. “Home stretch…you’re almost there…” Prompto nodded weakly, leaning against Noctis for support.

Mikoto moved her hands around his stomach one more time, before she said, “Right. Looks like he’s ready… On three, Prompto…”

The smaller male cried out weakly as another contraction rolled through him, and he waited until Mikoto told him to push.

“One…two…THREE!”

And Prompto did, screaming at the top of his lungs as he pushed with everything left in him.

“Okay stop, Prompto!” Mikoto called. “I’ve got him…” Finally, Prompto flopped against Noctis, breathing heavily, his chest heaving with the effort.

Noctis shushed him softly, rubbing his bond’s shoulders, watching as Mikoto gently pulled the youngest of the two boys out. And after cutting the umbilical cord, she passed the boy to Vivi, allowing him to dry and bundle up the babe.

“You did good, Prom…” Noctis murmured softly. “You did real good…” His bond smiled tiredly, before he looked to Mikoto.

“How…is he?” he asked breathlessly.

“He’s fine, same as his siblings,” Mikoto said with a small smile as she moved over to the other two kids, as Vivi held the youngest of the three to Prompto carefully. Noctis smiled as he helped the Genome to sit up properly.

Prompto gently took the younger boy from Vivi, holding him close. As the whimpering infant began to settle in his mother’s grip, Prompto ran his finger along his cheek, helping him to quiet down, before he opened his eyes and looked up at his mother. The new mother was glad to see his eyes were blue, and he had blonde, fuzzy hair, meaning he was a true Genome, based off the feeling of the little tail moving under the blanket, through and through.

Vivi allowed a small smile, before he went to the other boy, since Mikoto was coming over with the raven-haired girl, who she passed to Noctis. As the prince adjusted his hold on the girl with just one arm, she gradually calmed down enough to blink open dark blue eyes at her dad, sniffling a little bit. Despite the different hair color, though, he could still feel her tail wriggling around under the blanket.

Noticing how Vivi had the middle child, the first born boy, Prompto adjusted his hold on the younger boy to just one arm before taking the other boy into his free arm. The little boy also had fuzzy blonde hair and blue eyes, and Prompto smiled as he felt this boy’s tail moving, too. The older Genome chuckled at the older boy’s curious little gaze on him, before kissing his sons on their foreheads softly.

Noctis chuckled fondly at the sight, even as he kissed their daughter on her forehead as well. Said small girl gave a small gurgle at the touch, before she gave a wide yawn and then cuddled up against Noctis.

“Someone’s a daddy’s girl already,” Prompto smiled, amused. The boys cooed at Prompto’s attention, though, as he held them closer.

This made Noctis laugh. "Look who's talking..."

Mikoto watched it all in silence, her tail swaying slightly behind her. However, as Vivi stepped up to her and wrapped his arms around her, she allowed a small smile at the brunette, before she turned to the other couple. “Did you have an idea for names already?”

“I’m thinking Cloud for the first boy, and Ace for the second,” Prompto replied. “You got a name for the girl, Noct?”

Noctis hummed in thought for a moment as he regarded the girl in his arm. Finally, though, he murmured, “I think ‘Regina’ is a fitting name for her.”

“Then Regina it is,” Prompto chuckled, leaning against Noctis tiredly.

Mikoto allowed a chuckle when she saw Prompto was starting to doze off. “You should get some rest, Prompto,” she said as she walked over. “We can get the little ones to bed and you can get some sleep. Okay?”

“O…kay,” the new mother murmured, yawning mid-word.

Noctis laughed softly as the two boys in Prompto’s arms yawned simultaneously, as if copying their mother, before Mikoto took over Cloud and Vivi took over Ace. Once his hands were empty, Noctis laid down Prompto on the bed. “Get some rest…I’ll be right back, I promise.”

“M’kay…” the smaller male mumbled, snuggling into the bed to get comfortable. Noct chuckled as he rose to his feet, nodding to Mikoto and Vivi and leading them out of the room to the nursery.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

When Prompto woke up, it was to the faint sound of crying, making him struggle out of Noctis’s grip around his waist and hurry to the nursery out of pure instinct. Fortunately, he didn’t see anything to cause the crying when he got there, but he did trace the source to Regina.

“Hey…” he murmured, going over to her crib and gently picking her up. Regina sniffled unhappily as she snuggled against Prompto’s chest, curling her hands in his shirt. “What’s going on, sweetie? You’ll wake your brothers like that,” Prompto told her, kissing her forehead. Surprisingly, though, the boys hadn’t started crying, but they were whimpering quietly, drawing Prompto’s attention. “Did you want your brothers?”

Regina cooed softly, her small black tail curling around Prompto’s wrist.

“All right, we’ll get all three of you in your crib,” her mother chuckled, and went over to Ace’s crib, carefully picking him up and kissing his forehead before heading to Regina’s crib. However, as soon as he came into range, the girl whimpered and then began to wail, kicking her legs as if she was trying to run away, her tail coiling around her mother’s wrist even tighter. Prompto blinked, surprised, before he realized there was something she did NOT like about her crib. It must be the pink, he reasoned.

“Okay, okay, we’ll put you with Cloud and Ace until we change the color,” he soothed, returning to Ace’s crib. “Is that okay with you?” he asked Ace with a chuckle, looking at the blonde boy. Ace merely cooed as his sister calmed down. “Good,” he smiled, placing the two into Ace’s crib. As an afterthought, he grabbed a black bear plushie and put it next to Regina.

Regina blinked at the plushie, curious, before she poked it with her hand. When its head bobbed at that, she tugged it in and closed her mouth around its ear. After which she pulled it out immediately and spat out the hairs in her mouth with a small whine.

“It’s to cuddle with, silly,” Prompto chuckled, wiping the hairs from her mouth. “You’ll learn soon enough.” Cloud then gave a whimper, as though he wanted to join in on the activities, and the older blonde laughed lightly. “All right, I guess you want to be with them, huh?” he guessed, going over and picking him up with his dog plushie. “Then I can make that happen.”

“Oh, so this is where you went,” a familiar voice chuckled from the doorway.

“Well, I heard Regina crying, and apparently, she hates pink,” Prompto replied, looking at Noctis.

“Really?” Noctis murmured as he walked over.

“Yeah, she stopped crying when I took her out of her crib, but when I went to take her and Ace to her crib, she freaked. She was fine with being in Ace’s crib, though,” Prompto explained, smiling down at Cloud when he whined. “You just want Mommy’s attention, huh?” Cloud gurgled as he snuggled up against Prompto.

“I guess that’s a yes,” Noctis chuckled out, running his thumb over Cloud’s cheek.

“I love having them so dependant on us,” Prompto whispered, holding Cloud close as he kissed the little blonde’s forehead. Noctis smiled softly as Cloud cuddled against Prompto, shutting his eyes sleepily as his tail curled a little around him. “Definite momma’s boy,” Prompto commented, an amused smile curving his lips as he leaned lightly against Noctis.

“I couldn’t tell,” Noctis chuckled. “C’mon, let’s let them sleep, okay?”

“Fine…” his bond conceded, and gently placed Cloud and his plushie into Ace’s crib with his siblings. “Sleep well, you three.”

Cloud gave a sleepy gurgle as he curled up with his tail around the plushie and his face pressed against Ace's back, who, in turn cuddled up against Regina, who was already fast asleep from the looks of it.

“You can coddle them all you want when they’re awake again,” Noctis murmured. “C’mon…”

“All right,” the blonde nodded, and returned to their room. As the bonded pair climbed into bed again, Prompto murmured, “It’s just so surreal to actually see and be able to hold them…”

Noctis chuckled softly, running his hand through Prompto’s hair. “Happy?”

“Incredibly so. Thank you, Noct,” the smaller male whispered.

“Anytime, Prom,” Noctis murmured softly as he kissed the blonde Genome.

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

It had been a few days since the triplets had been born, and everyone had practically fallen in love with them. Even Kuja was surprised to see Regina’s hair and tail color, despite the fact that he was a silverette himself. Joshua had been incredibly excited to meet his cousins, and Luna and Zidane just became even more excited for their own children to be born. There was just one person out of their friends and family that had yet to meet the triplets, though, and that was Regis. He’d been so busy as of late he hadn’t had a chance, though. Finally, however, he managed to make time for it.

“So, how have they been?” Regis asked Noctis as the father and son made their way to the nursery, where Prompto was with the triplets.

"They're doing well," Noctis said with a smile. "We did have to change the color of Regina's crib, though... she doesn't appear to like the color pink. Though to be fair, they mostly sleep together, anyway," he added the last part with a chuckle.

“Good to know they’re already so bonded,” Regis smiled, and then they went into the nursery. Prompto was seated on the rocking chair, holding Regina as she whimpered.

“She wants her daddy,” he explained, looking at Noctis in amusement.

Noctis laughed softly as he walked over. “Alright, alright,” he said mock-concedingly. “Come here, princess,” he said as he gently took the small girl over. This immediately appeased the small girl as she settled, gurgling happily with her tail wagging behind her.

“Told you,” Prompto chuckled, and Regis joined in.

“Well, she’s certainly a daddy’s girl,” he commented.

“That what everyone's been saying, even me,” the blonde smirked as he went over and picked up Cloud and Ace, the two boys cuddling close instantly.

“Those two, in the meantime,” Noctis chuckled as Regina curled her small fist in the prince’s shirt, “are real momma’s boys.”

“I can see,” Regis smiled. “But nothing’s wrong with being close to your parents.”

“True,” Prompto agreed.

“Do you want to hold one, Father?” Noctis asked after a moment.

“I’d love to,” the older man grinned, and Prompto carefully passed Ace to him.

"This one is Ace. He’s the youngest,” the Genome murmured. Regis held Ace close, chuckling at the infant’s confused look.

“It’s okay, Ace,” Noctis chuckled as he rubbed his fingers along the boy's cheek. “Grandpa’s real nice.” The small boy gave a cooing sound, his tail moving along the older man’s arm curiously.

“I think he’s warming up to you,” Prompto smiled as Cloud watched his brother and grandfather with wide, curious blue eyes. “Don’t worry, Cloud, you’ll get attention from Grandpa, too.” Regina, in the meantime, just watched it all, though she remained cuddled up to her dad.

“…buh!” Ace suddenly called out.

“…abuuh!" Regina ‘said’ in response.

Cloud blinked once at the ‘exchange’, looking back and forth between his siblings. “…muh.”

Prompto laughed. “You like Grandpa, Ace?”

“Buh!” Ace gurgled happily, his tail coiling around the man’s wrist.

Noctis laughed softly at the sight. “That seems like a yes.”

“Well, I’m glad. I’d be rather hurt if they cried at the sight of me,” Regis laughed.

“I highly doubt they would,” Prompto pointed out. “They’ve loved everyone they’ve met so far.”

“True,” Noctis said with a chuckle.

“...moh,” Cloud suddenly called out, tugging at Prompto’s shirt.

“Do you want attention from Grandpa, too?” Prompto asked the little blonde.

“...muh,” was all Cloud said.

Ace’s response to that was a cheery “Buh!” which Cloud seemed to be completely ignoring.

“Well, let’s switch you boys around, then, hmm?” Prompto chuckled, before gently taking Ace from Regis and swapping him around with Cloud. Ace gave a small gurgle as he cuddled against Prompto’s chest, while Cloud remained quiet as he looked up at Regis, his tail swaying slowly.

“Well hello,” Regis greeted the little boy with a smile.

“That’s Cloud. He’s the middle child,” Prompto told the King. Cloud didn’t make a sound as he put his small fist in his mouth, though he definitely kept his eyes on the older man.

“He’s also the least vocal of the three…” Noctis said with a chuckle.

Prompto chuckled as well. “What do you think of Grandpa, Cloud? Like him?” he asked.

“…mwoh,” the boy said around his fist.

“Buh!!” Regina suddenly called, her tail snapping around a little.

“…muh.”

Noctis looked between the two children for a moment, before he looked to Prompto. “Is it just me or do they seem to be communicating?”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if they were. After all, they ARE triplets. I’d think siblings that close would be able to understand each other,” his bond shrugged, and Ace giggled as he said it. “What, you keeping a secret from Mommy?” the smaller male teased, kissing the boy’s forehead.

“Aguh!” Ace gurgled. And Cloud just watched it silently, before he got himself comfy.

“Seems he’s happy and comfortable,” Prompto remarked, looking at Regis and Cloud.

“Good to know my grandchildren like me,” Regis chuckled. Noctis merely smiled as he looked down to Regina. The small raven was watching Cloud and Regis very intently, almost as if she was making sure that nothing would happen to her little brother.

“He’s not gonna do anything to Cloud, sweetie,” Prompto assured her, noticing the look.

“…Buh.”

Noctis merely laughed at the small girl's ‘response’.

“Seems like she’s very protective of her younger brothers,” the triplets’ mother commented, amused.

“And not a little bit either…”

“Well, at least they’re guaranteed protection by her when they’re older,” Prompto laughed.

“Nothing wrong with that,” Regis chuckled.

“Not entirely sure if she’ll agree, but…do you want to hold her as well, Father?” Noctis asked.

“I’d love to, as long as she lets me,” his father smiled, and Prompto took Cloud from him so the King could hold Regina.

Noctis managed to get Regina to let go of his shirt, before he carefully passed her over to Regis, though the little girl was less than thrilled by how her tail was curling around her dad’s wrist when he let her go. He managed to get her to let go, though, and the small raven gave a small pouty whine before she looked up to Regis quietly.

“Hello,” Regis murmured, holding her close.

“Her name’s Regina,” Noctis said with a small smile. “As you may have heard, she’s the eldest.”

“Hi Regina,” the King smiled warmly.

“…awuh…” the girl said softly, her tail moving slowly and cautiously.

Ace tilted his head curiously, his tail tip moving lazily, before he turned to Cloud and lightly bumped him to his shoulder. “Buh!”

“…moh,” was Cloud’s ‘response’.

“What are you two talking about, huh?” Prompto teased, nuzzling the two boys.

“…Buwuh!” Ace said, as if in response, while Cloud wriggled in his mother’s grasp.

“What, don’t want Mommy’s affection?” the older Genome chuckled, noticing Cloud’s reaction.

“…moh.”

“Well, you need to get used to it, ‘cause I love you all very much,” Prompto smiled.

“…abuh…!” Ace suddenly chirped, tugging on Prompto’s shirt. When he looked over, the boy opened his mouth and said, “Aaaahh.”

Immediately, Prompto’s face erupted in a crimson blush, before he looked at Noctis. “I think they’re getting hungry.”

Noctis laughed. “You think?” he asked with a chuckle. “I’ll order something from downstairs for them, then. Be right back. And be nice to Grandpa, Regina!”

“…Buh.”

“She’ll be fine,” Regis called after his son with a laugh. As they waited on Noctis, Prompto sat down in the rocking chair, smiling softly at the boys. “You really have taken on the role of a good parent, Prompto,” the older man commented, causing the Genome to look at him, surprised.

“Y…you really think so? I don’t even remember my own parents from my former life, so it’s kinda strange…but I’m just doing what feels right,” Prompto told the King.

“Well, you’re doing an amazing job,” Regis praised.

“Thank you,” the smaller male murmured, blushing shyly.

“Awuh?” Ace called out, reaching up to pat at Prompto’s cheek.

“It’s okay, Ace. Grandpa’s just saying I’m good as your momma,” the older blonde smiled.

“…wowa…?” the boy said with his head tilted to the side.

“Don’t worry about it right now, sweetie,” Prompto soothed, kissing his forehead.

As Ace blinked curiously, Noctis finally came back again, carrying the triplets’ food with him. “Right…how ‘bout we share this around, huh?”

“Yeah,” Prompto nodded, and held onto Cloud while offering Ace to Noctis. Meanwhile, Regis took one of the bottles of formula for Regina. Once Noctis had a good grip on Ace, who immediately tried to take the bottle from his father, Regina looked around hesitantly. Eventually, though, her hunger seemed to get the better of her and she accepted the bottle as well. Prompto then took the third bottle and offered the nipple to Cloud, watching as the little boy began to suckle on it, his mother smiling softly.

Like that they remained in silence for a while longer, simply enjoying their time together.

Chapter Text

X*X(10 Years Later)X*X

Ten years passed them by in what felt like the blink of an eye. And it didn’t take long for them to each develop their own personality properly.

Regina was like a mini-version of Noctis, almost to a fault. She tended to be rather lazy when it came to waking up in the morning, but once she was up she stayed up (usually WAY past her bedtime). On top of that, she was very protective of her two younger brothers, and while she wasn’t physically as strong as her brothers, they’d never actually beaten her in a fight (mostly because they didn’t dare beat up their big sister, which didn’t sit well with Regina). Studying was something she found to be a pain and a half, but she’d definitely push herself to it. She kept her hair cut short similarly to Noct, though she also had some of her hair resting on her back.

The one thing that Regina did different than her brothers, though, was how she called their parents. While Cloud and Ace called Prompto and Noctis “Mom” and “Dad”, respectively, Regina called them “Dad” and “Father”. Not out of disrespect, or anything, but she felt it fit them better.

Cloud was a lot like Noct as well in the fact that he was quiet and didn’t speak up much unless spoken to, but he seemed to take it a step further. One of his most common phrases by age 7 was “Not interested…” He hardly made time to study, unless his sister managed to drag him off to a session because he had to. He was more interested in fighting, and he spent a lot of his time training with Gladio. His hair stuck out in numerous spiked tresses, and his expression very rarely showed anything, unless he was in the middle of a training session.

Ace was the most like Prompto in that he spent the majority of his time with the Chocobos. Unlike Cloud, he was very studious and often spent time with Regina in the library, reading up on history and other subjects they didn’t have to work on just yet. However, he was a little lazy at times, as well; often ending up napping out in the garden on one of the benches there. His hair was as smooth as Noct’s, making him look more like a blonde version of Noct.

They were all unique in their own way, and yet they never seemed to stray too far from each other…

Aside from the occasional skirmishes.

---

Cloud silently made his way down the halls, carrying a hefty bucket in one hand as he walked. He didn’t bother looking up at anyone as he passed them, and instead made his way straight for the garden. Once there, the spiky blonde made a beeline for the far end of the garden. And before long, he stood beside the bench where, not surprisingly, Ace was napping, hands on his stomach and breathing softly.

“……”

His older brother watched him for a moment longer, as if waiting for him to wake up himself, before he sighed. Without a word, Cloud reached down for the bucket and raised it high…

SPLASH!!

GAAAAH!!” Ace howled as he bolted upright, soaked to the bone. “What the…? CLOUD!!”

“…You up now?” Cloud asked solemnly.

“What was that for, you jerk?!” Ace growled in annoyance.

Cloud didn’t answer immediately, before he sighed, one hand on his hip. “…did you forget?”

“Forget what?”

“…Kuja and Joshua?”

“…oh snap!” Ace hissed as he leapt up and hurried off.

And Cloud merely watched him go silently, before he snorted and shook his head, before he started back inside. As he walked by the entrance, though, he stopped as he spotted his sister leaning against the pillar by the entrance to the garden.

Regina didn’t say anything, but she did cock an eyebrow silently at him. Cloud regarded her for a moment, before he shrugged his shoulders and walked past her. And Regina merely watched him walk off, before she shook her head and headed off for her room to get changed for when Kuja and Joshua came. And as she did, she hoped that Mikoto hadn’t snuck in a dress (again!).

As she was on her way to her room, Prompto spotted his daughter, and smiled knowingly at her. “I took out the dress this time,” he told her.

Regina sighed in relief at that news. “Thanks, Dad… I don’t get why Aunt Mikoto keeps wanting me to wear dresses…”

“Probably because you’re a young lady, but I understand not wanting to keep to tradition,” the blonde chuckled, his tail waving in amusement. Regina merely hummed as she walked into her room to change. She left the door open for Prompto to follow her inside if he so wished.

And he did, trailing after her. “So, are you excited for Joshua and Kuja to come?” he asked.

“I’d be more excited if Josh didn’t constantly try Scanning us…” Regina said as she pulled off her shirt and tossed it on the bed for the moment as she rummaged through her closet. She spent less than a minute picking an outfit to wear, after which she moved to the bed to get changed.

“Well, it’s his specialty, so he likes to…play with it often, I guess,” Prompto shrugged. “Where are your brothers, anyway?”

“Cloud is probably back in his room to change,” Regina said as she tugged on her dress shirt. “Ace…well, he’ probably drying off, first.”

“Drying off…? Oh geez… Cloud dumped water on him again, didn’t he?” the blonde groaned.

“Yep,” Regina said simply as she shimmied out of her jeans to pull on her suit’s pants. After a small hop to get in them properly, she looped her tail through the belt straps. “To be fair; he did forget.”

“I’d scold Cloud, but…Ace really shouldn’t have forgotten…” Prompto sighed. “Well, I’m going to go check on them. See you at the entrance?”

“Yeah,” Regina said with a nod as she reached under the bed for her shoes. “Be there in 10 minutes.”

“Sounds good,” her mother smiled, and then headed off to Cloud’s room, which was just a short walk across the hall. Remembering to knock, since Cloud had pretty much locked the door in case of that, he waited for the call that he could come in.

“…‘s open,” came the disinterested call from inside.

“Hey,” Prompto greeted as he came in. “You almost ready?”

Cloud hummed an affirmative as he clipped his combat boots shut over his pants legs, stomping briefly to ensure they were on right, before he stood up. After a moment of stretching his arms over his head, he snagged his jacket from the bed post and solemnly pulled it on.

“Looking good,” Prompto chuckled, briefly ruffling the boy’s hair. Cloud didn’t respond verbally to the hair ruffling, but once Prompto stepped back, he ran a hand through his spiked tresses to smooth them out again. “Come on, let’s get your brother. I hope he dried off in time…” the older Genome said, giving his middle child a pointed look. Cloud didn’t even flinch at the look. He merely hummed and put his hands in his pockets as he walked after Prompto.

“Ace? Can I come in?” Prompto called through the door after knocking.

“In a minute!” the youngest boy called out…which was shortly followed by a thud and a pained yowl. “Dammit…!”

Cloud didn’t even respond; his tail merely swaying slightly behind him.

“Are you okay? And watch your mouth, mister!” Prompto chided, sighing.

“Bumped my toe…ow…!” Ace hissed out.

“Here, let me in,” Prompto told him, frowning at the locked door.

“I’m almost…!” Ace called out, before the door was unlocked and the blonde almost stumbled out, his shoes in hand and only one arm in his jacket, his favorite red scarf/cape half-secured around his neck and his hair sticking out at odd angles.

Though Cloud didn’t say anything, he did snort softly at the sight. Sighing in exasperation, Prompto steadied his youngest son so he wouldn’t fall.

“Easy, Ace. Here, let me help,” his mother said, taking his shoes from him.

“Sorry…” Ace mumbled, though he shot his brother a glare around their mother’s head.

Cloud merely stared back evenly. ‘…what are you looking at?’

‘You’re an ass!’

‘…whatever.’

‘Both of you, knock it off,’ Prompto scolded, cuffing them both over their heads. ‘Cloud, don’t dump water on your brother anymore. And Ace, you need to keep track of things better.’

Ace whined a little at the hit and the scolding, but Cloud didn’t even respond aside from a single side glance.

“Now, behave when we get there. Both of you. Now, Ace, let’s hurry up and get you ready,” Prompto said firmly, fixing Ace’s hair for him before helping him into his jacket properly. “Get your shoes on, and then we’ll go.”

Ace nodded quietly as he leaned against his door to pull his shoes on. After he was finished with that, he briefly adjusted his cape and nodded. “Kay…ready.”

“All right, now let’s go. Regina and your father are probably waiting on us,” Prompto told them, and led the way to the entrance, his tail waving in slight excitement at seeing his friends again.

Sure enough, as they reached the entrance, Noctis was already there, quietly helping to fix Regina’s hair for her (since she’d been trying to style it the same way he did to the best of her abilities). As they approached, Noctis looked up, before he smiled and finished up with Regina’s hair. “There we go, princess.”

“Thank you, Father,” Regina said with a nod, before she turned to regard the others as well.

“Hey sweetie,” Prompto smiled. “Thanks for fixing up her hair, Noct. I know she likes it how you do it.”

Noctis nodded with a small smile, as Regina tucked a few loose strands behind her ear (which fell right back out, of course).

“Sorry we took a while,” the triplets’ mother apologized. “But we’re here now. Where are the others?”

“They should be here…” Noctis began to say, before he caught movement from the corner of his eyes and he smiled. “Ah, there they are.”

“Lan! C’mon!!” shouted a young girl with peach-blonde hair and bright blue eyes, her tail swishing behind her as she went.

“H-hey hold on, Reynn!” called out the boy running after her, very nearly out of breath.

“Hey, you two,” Prompto chuckled in greeting as the twins joined them. “Where are your parents?”

“Taking it easy, that’s where,” Zidane called out with a chuckle as he and Luna walked over casually.

“Hey man,” Prompto smiled as he saw his friend.

“Hello, everyone,” Luna greeted. “How have you three been?” she asked the triplets.

“Well one of us has been wet,” Regina said with a small smirk.

“Siiiis!” Ace whined with a small pout, even as Cloud hummed softly.

“Regina, be nice,” Prompto chided.

“I take it Cloud dumped water on Ace again?” Luna guessed.

“Yeah…” Prompto sighed.

"I'm just pointing out the facts," Regina said with a shrug. Before the conversation could continue, there was a familiar roar coming from outside.

“Ah! They’re here!” Reynn called out with a smile. Prompto smiled brightly as they watched the familiar form of Nova appear on the horizon, and the dragon was soon landing before them. The blonde, wanting his family together, gathered the triplets close to himself and Noctis.

The silver dragon flew in a circle around the plaza, roaring down to the group waiting for her and her passengers, before she descended, landing easily and almost soundlessly. Once she had steadied herself, she lowered herself down, allowing her passengers off.

Kuja was first to slide off of her back, and he then turned to help Aranea off. Joshua, now 14 years old, followed shortly after, absently patting down his pale purple pants as his tail coiled around his feet. The once small boy had turned into an almost perfect replica of his father, only he’d decided to keep his hair cut short to curl around his face rather than let it grow out.

When he spotted the group, he smiled and gave them all a small wave in greeting.

“Hey Josh! Hey Kuja!” Prompto called, smiling warmly.

Kuja merely chuckled as he nodded in greeting, turning to Nova and murmuring something to her, even as Joshua walked over calmly.

“Good morning,” Joshua said with a half-smirk.

“Good morning, Joshua,” Noctis said with a nod.

While Cloud didn’t respond, his hands still in his pockets, Ace nodded in greeting, and Regina said solemnly, “Hello, Joshua.”

“Hm? Something wrong, dear?” Joshua asked curiously.

“I would appreciate it if you would stop calling me that,” Regina mumbled. Prompto chuckled; Joshua was definitely his father’s son. Calling everyone ‘dear’ had even passed on with the teen.

“How have you been, Joshua?” Prompto inquired, ruffling the boy’s hair.

Joshua allowed a small chuckle as Nova flew off again and Kuja and Aranea approached as well. “I’ve been well, thank you,” he said, twirling a lock of his hair around his finger.

Kuja smiled softly as he stepped up beside his son, before he hummed softly. “I assume Mikoto and Vivi are busy, as usual, hmm?”

“Yeah…they said they’d be over later,” Zidane said with a small shrug. “You know how she gets sometimes…”

“Good point,” Prompto chuckled, leaning lightly against Noctis.

Joshua hummed, before he glanced over to Ace…and then he smirked. “Had a nice shower, Ace?”

Ace’s eyes widened, before he frowned and almost shouted, “Stop Scanning me!!”

“Joshua, please don’t antagonize your cousins…” Prompto chided, sighing. ‘Already it starts…’

Regina frowned lightly, but she bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from saying anything.

Meanwhile, Aranea chuckled at the exchange, before she said, “In any case; shall we head inside, hmm?”

“Sounds like a plan,” Noctis said with a nod. Prompto then helped Luna in herding the kids inside, where they headed to the massive living room.

Once they arrived there, everyone took their preferred seats. Regina settled on the couch next to her father, who was sitting next to Prompto. Ace took one of the armchairs, while Cloud leaned against its back, deliberately facing away from everyone. Reynn and Lan were sitting on the floor in front of the chair their mom had taken, with Zidane leaning along its back, hands hanging a little about Luna’s shoulders.

Joshua took one of the remaining armchairs, while Kuja and Aranea settled on the other couch.

“So, how have things been in Treno, Kuja?” Prompto asked.

“Considerably quiet,” Kuja said simply as he leaned on the armrest. “Compared to the situation 10 years ago, in any case.”

“Finally got around to rebuilding the auction house entirely, huh?” Zidane quipped, his tongue flicking out to the side.

“Rebuilding that damage doesn’t take 10 years, dear.”

“Well, you never know…”

“How have you been yourself, Aranea?” Luna inquired, smiling at the woman as she sat with Kuja.

“Oh I’ve been enjoying myself plenty,” the pale-haired woman giggled as she leaned herself fully against Kuja’s side, who didn’t seem the least bit bothered by this (no surprise there), “We still have plenty of wannabe rule-breakers that need a firm talking too~” she giggled out.

Lann and Reynn blinked curiously in question, before they regarded each other, not understanding what she was talking about. Cloud, however, snorted softly from where he stood.

“Hm?” Joshua hummed as he looked over to Cloud. “Something wrong, dear?”

“…” Cloud briefly glanced over from the corner of his eyes, but he said nothing else.

Regina remained silent for a moment longer, regarding her two brothers quietly, before she resisted the urge to sigh in aggravation. “…What of yourself, Joshua?” she asked finally, trying very hard to stay civil. Prompto frowned curiously, wondering just what Regina was up to.

Joshua hummed in slight wonder at the question, before he chuckled with a cheeky smirk. “Oh I’ve been keeping myself busy, so you needn’t worry, darling.”

Regina resisted the urge to growl, clenching her fists against her knees.

Spotting the gesture, Kuja hummed softly in thought... before he allowed a small smile. “So you have, dear…speaking of; I’ve noticed you’ve been spending quite a bit of time with that boy that drops by with his family to the auctions recently…” he murmured, which actually made Joshua flinch in alarm. “Is there something going on we should be aware of?”

Joshua didn’t respond immediately; he instead coughed a little before he said, “I don't believe so, Father,” but it was clear from his slightly twitching tail that there was definitely something he wasn’t saying.

“Oh? And what’s this boy’s name?” Prompto questioned, also taking notice. He knew it would make his children happy to see Joshua squirm a bit, especially after all of his aggravating teases towards them.

Ace and Regina were, naturally, watching him quite closely, and Cloud was looking out from under his bangs with one eye,

“Ah, can’t say I know that one,” Joshua said with a small shrug, obviously trying to play it off as unimportant.

Zidane, however, smirked softly as he looked to Kuja from the corner of his eye. ‘This ‘bout that kid you mentioned a little while ago?’

‘Correct, dear.’

‘Okay, cool.’

Smirking, the blonde quipped cheekily: “Now that we’re on the subject…didn’t you mention this kiddo that’s been vandalizing your walls, Kuj?”

“Such a crude word, dear,” Kuja said with a chuckle, well aware that Joshua flinched at the mention. “It’s actually quite unique. I’ve just not had the chance to speak to the boy properly, yet.”

“So what’d you say his name was again? Like…Nicko…Sarasassla?”

Joshua looked at Zidane dryly before he sighed and said without thinking, “It’s Neku Sakuraba, actually.”

Which, of course, made Zidane grin. “I thought you didn’t know him?”

“…!!”

“Nice, Zidane,” Prompto smirked, high-fiving his friend before he looked at Joshua. “This might be a wise reminder to behave and not antagonize your cousins, Joshua. Or else we’ll continue to ask you about this Neku boy.”

“And you know how your Uncle Zidane is about getting answers,” Luna added.

Joshua actually pouted at those words, to the great amusement of both Regina and Ace. Hell, even Cloud cracked a small smirk at the exchange before it was gone and he shut his eye again.

Lann looked around in question, before he asked of his sister, “What the honk is going on??”

Reynn merely shrugged, just as confused as her brother.

“Don’t worry about it right now, you two,” Luna giggled, lightly ruffling her twins’ hair. “You’ll find out eventually.”

 

X*X*X*X*X*X*X

After dinner, once their guests were set up in the guest rooms and all the kids were put to bed, Prompto returned to his and Noctis’s room after having to remind Cloud (once again) he would always show the boy affection, even as an adult since Cloud was his son. As he sat on the bed while he listened to the sounds of Noctis in the shower, he couldn’t help but want to try for more children.

Yes, they had the triplets, but he couldn’t help wanting to feel that sense of being needed by dependant infants again. Or even one infant. He just wanted to have another baby, if not more than one. After all, Regina, Cloud, and Ace were growing up, and eventually wouldn’t need their parents any more. Sighing, he bit his lip, debating on how he could bring up the topic to Noctis.

As he was deep in thought, though, he hadn’t noticed the running water of the shower stop, so he was quite surprised when Noctis approached him, concern on his features.

“Oh, sheesh! Scared the hell out of me, Noct…!” he whined.

“Sorry,” Noctis apologized, before he moved over and sat down next to him. “What’s wrong?”

“Just thinking, is all,” the blonde tried to assure his bond.

“About…?” Noctis murmured as he used the towel around his neck to absently dry his hair.

“U-um… About…trying for…more children…” the smaller male mumbled shyly.

At those words, Noctis raised an eyebrow and cocked his head with a small, playful smirk. “Really? With everyone we have running around now, you want to add even more?” he asked.

 

“W-well, the triplets are growing up, and I m-miss having them depend on me so much… I miss that feeling…” Prompto admitted, stuttering.

Noctis allowed a slow chuckle. “Prompto.” When the blonde looked up, Noctis beckoned him over soundlessly. The Genome scooted over to be closer to his bond. As soon as he was in range, Noctis snapped his hand out and pulled Prompto into a kiss by the back of his neck. This drew a startled yip from the smaller male, but he was quick to respond, kissing back eagerly.

Chuckling into the kiss, Noctis wrapped his other arm around the blonde’s waist, pulling him firmly against him as he nipped on the other man’s bottom lip. Prompto parted his lips immediately, sliding his tongue alongside Noctis’s with a moan as he wrapped his arms around the raven’s neck.

After a long moment, Noctis finally pulled away, murmuring, “What am I going to do with you, hmm?”

“Ravish me senseless,” Prompto purred back, smirking.

“Careful what you wish for…” Noctis murmured, a wicked grin playing over his face, right before he abruptly threw Prompto back onto the bed. The blonde yelped, startled, before he looked up at Noctis with wide blue eyes. Still smirking, Noctis moved over and climbed over the blonde Genome, just hovering over him for a few moments.

Prompto shivered lightly as he felt Noctis’s hot flesh against him, as the towel he’d had around his hips had slipped off in his movements. Noctis noticed, of course, if his smirk was any indication, before he leaned in and locked their mouths together. However, he purposefully didn’t lower the rest of his body just yet. The Genome’s tail slid around and between them, though, and wrapped around Noctis’s cock firmly, teasing him.

Noctis groaned as the furry limb coiled around him, before he reached down and pulled the tail away. “Sneaky little devil, aren’t you?” he chuckled out.

“Can’t blame me. You’re amazing,” Prompto whispered.

“Then be patient,” the prince chuckled softly as he leaned down and nipped at the blonde’s throat, as his hands began to tug on his clothes. Prompto tilted his head back, giving Noctis more room while moaning softly. Once Noctis was sure he’d left a very sizeable hickey, he pulled away briefly so he could pull off Prompto’s shirt. The smaller male leaned forward, assisting his bond in removing the article.

Once it was gone, Noctis immediately leaned back in and began to kiss a path down the blonde’s collarbone, biting and sucking at random. Prompto whimpered softly, arching into the touches. Just as he did, Noctis closed his mouth around his right nipple, lapping and sucking at it.

“Ahh-ha!” Prompto panted, shuddering at the feeling. Chuckling softly, Noctis closed his teeth around the nub, licking at it as his other hand came up to play with the other. The Genome’s tail twitched and writhed beneath him, the sensations of pleasure coursing through him as he moaned.

After a moment more, Noctis moved back and switched sides, while at the same time moving his free hand down the blonde’s sides. Prompto whimpered with need at the warm wetness on his chest, and his fingers laced themselves in Noctis’s raven locks. Noctis moaned softly at the touch in his hair, before he smirked and let his fingers play along the blonde’s hip.

Prompto shivered at the touch, and his tail coiled around Noctis’s leg possessively.

“Tell me…” Noctis murmured as he moved back, whispering in Prompto’s ear. “What do you want?”

“I…I-I want you…i-inside m-me,” the blonde stuttered.

“How much do you want it?”

“I want you so bad, Noct, please!”

Smirking, Noctis hooked his fingers around the blonde’s waistband. “Be more specific, Prom…”

“Fuck me, Noct! Please!” the smaller male begged.

With a small chuckle, Noctis pulled away entirely. But before Prompto could complain… “On your front.”

Prompto was quick to comply once the command registered in his head, and he shifted to lay his stomach. Once he had, Noctis pulled him up by his hips, both to remove the blonde Genome’s pants and to move him up to his knees. Once he had him there, Noctis moved up to his own knees, but spent a few moments fondling his bond’s ass, with his thumbs spreading him open at the same time.

Prompto shuddered heavily at the feeling and out of anticipation, eager for more. Eventually, though, Noctis pulled one hand away and spat into it, as his other hand moved and slowly eased open the blonde’s entrance by its edges. The Genome whined pitifully, eagerly awaiting Noctis’s fingers.

Finally, Noctis pressed two fingers against the twitching muscle, just barely not pressing in. Prompto gave a pathetic whine.

“Nooooct…!” he pleaded. Noctis smirked—right before pushing his fingers inside easily. This drew a startled gasp from the Genome, his tail curling up against his back in response. The raven gave him only a few moments to adjust, though, as he pulled his fingers out and then pushed them back in again, setting a swift rhythm. Prompto moaned and trembled at the teasing, his breath coming out in harsh pants.

Just then, Noctis altered his angle just slightly. This caused a startled yet pleasured moan to escape the blonde, and he cried out, feeling those fingers hit his prostate.

Chuckling at the sound, Noctis pulled his fingers out entirely. “Ready?”

“Yes, just hurry before I cum too soon!” Prompto pleaded. Noctis smirked with a chuckle, before he slowly moved closer, pressing his straining hard-on against the twitching muscle. But before Prompto could complain again, he grabbed him by his hips and pulled him back. Prompto gave a choked cry at the penetration, before the sound shifted into a drawn-out moan.

Noctis groaned for a moment as he held himself as still as he could, which wasn’t easy at all. “God…Prom, you’re so fuckin’ tight!

“And you’re fuckin’ huge!” Prompto panted, before he managed to adjust enough to look back into Noctis’s dark blue gaze and breathe, “Move…!”

Noctis nodded breathlessly, adjusting his grip on Prompto’s hips, before he began to move slowly. The smaller male moaned softly as his bond began to move inside of him, feeling the prince’s amazing cock rub along his inner walls. Eventually, Noctis curled his fingers a little more around Prompto’s hips, before he picked up his pace, nearly slamming into his bond.

“AH!” Prompto cried out, not expecting the sudden slam against his prostate. He moaned loudly as stars danced across his vision from the intense pleasure. Noctis laughed breathlessly, just before he repeated the motion, slamming in as he coiled over Prompto’s back. The Genome’s tail curled around Noctis’s waist as he did, the blonde himself crying out in pleasure.

With a small smirk, the prince curled one arm around the blonde’s hip to grasp his neglected cock and began to stroke it in time with his swift thrusts. This drew a guttural moan from Prompto, and he flushed crimson from the noise, not having intended to be that loud.

“Feels good, huh?” Noctis panted as he nipped on Prompto’s earlobe. All the smaller male could manage was a weak nod and breathy moan. Chuckling breathlessly, Noctis murmured, “Do you want to cum?”

“Please, Noct! Please let me cum!” Prompto begged shamelessly.

“Then do it,” Noctis purred out deeply, as he slammed particularly hard into the boy then, “Come for me, Prompto.”

And with a scream of his bond’s name, he did. His cum spurted in the sheets as his entire body trembled and clenched around Noctis. Noctis groaned at the sensation, hissing a litany of curses, before he came with a moan of the blonde’s name. Prompto shuddered heavily around Noctis’s softening cock as the raven’s cum filled him, before he felt his arms about to give out on him. After moving back, Noctis helped Prompto to lie down, before he joined him and pulled the blonde up against him.

“…I hope this works,” Prompto murmured hoarsely as he cuddled against his bond, his tail slowly coiling possessively around Noctis’s leg.

“Hmhmm…we’ll know soon enough if your appetite increases again…” Noctis teased.

“Fair enough, just give it two weeks,” Prompto chuckled, nuzzling Noctis’s throat with his nose.

The prince allowed a warm smile as he wrapped his arms around his bond a little firmer. “Yeah…well, either way; I bet Shirma and Chroma are going to be thrilled they won’t be the youngest for long.”

“Good point. Mikoto and Vivi will probably try for more of their own, though, now that we are,” the blonde snickered. “And maybe even Zidane and Luna, too.”

Noctis chuckled. “We may have to start a daycare then if they are,” he joked.

“Nah, I’m sure the older kids would love to help,” the Genome whispered, smiling softly. “Though Cloud may have some trouble…”

“I can just hear him saying he’s not interested already…” Noctis agreed with a smirk.

“And then he will be once they’re born.”

“Not sure on that one, yet…but we’ll see.”

“Give him some credit, Noct. He’ll come around, I know it.”

Noctis merely chuckled. “If you say so, Prom.”

“I do say so,” the smaller male giggled. “I love you, Noct…” he murmured then, kissing the taller male’s jaw.

Smiling, Noctis kissed Prompto’s forehead, murmuring, “I love you, too, Prom.”

With that said, the couple fell asleep together, knowing they would be expanding their family even further.