[personal profile] chlorhexidine
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With Ignis sat over his hips, hands working against his back with a tenderness the man could demonstrate but never verbally express, Gladio's groan was lewd. His fingers curled into the sheets under his head as Ignis ran both of his hands up the centre of his back, fingers pointed together and only gently pressing.

“Oh, yeah,” Gladio growled, with satisfaction.

“Do be quiet,” Ignis said, a little sternly, “you're distracting me.”

“Don't care,” Gladio answered, as Ignis's hands passed along their tracked path in reverse, running down towards his hips. He could feel the shift in Ignis's position bent over him as he moved. “This feels amazing.”

“If you want it to continue you will let me concentrate,” Ignis replied. Gladio could feel him pull one hand away to tap his glasses back up his nose. “This is a tricky bit of magic.”

Ignis was, Gladio had learned, a bossy one. It was one of his more endearing factors once you were used to it. He mothered Noct, whether he was aware of it or not, and part of that mothering involved constantly being on his back about training, diet, and his studies, to the point of nagging. It was always, however, done with the sort of voiceless affection that was thoroughly unique to Ignis. The man could not say he cared about someone, but he could show it. He could show concern, and he could show that he paid attention, and in his private time he'd do things like try his best to recreate the Tenebraen pastry Noct had tasted but could never remember the name of, and, now, sit down and master curative magic and the difficult trick of holding a spell active on one's hands while he worked the magic into Gladio's recently tattooed skin.

The guy was, Gladio had decided, basically a genius. He also had a core of candyfloss lurking at the centre of his stuffed shirt, hyper-competent, stiff upper lipped studiousness. Candyfloss, Gladio had concluded one night as he held Ignis's back pressed to his chest and, thinking Gladio was asleep, Ignis had laced their fingers before settling down to do the same, because it was painfully sweet and also had a great big stick up its ass.

The tattoo was coming along well. It would take another couple of sessions to complete, but his arms and chest were done. It was the intricate back that Gladio had decided he simply had to have which needed filling in. The filling in was worse, somehow, than the detail, but Ignis had been able to help with the healing process, and the whole thing was nearly done now. Gladio was proud of it. Ignis had, after some prodding, admitted that it was visually effective, which was Ignis speak for 'cool', and also that the art quality was very good. Gladio had caught him eyeing the recently completed feathers that extended down his arms and had ribbed him about having an excuse to stare now.

He did his best to keep quiet as the sensation of Ignis's hands passing over a freshly inked patch of skin tingled pleasantly, and then soothed. It was a feeling like releasing a cramp, or drinking a cold beer, or waking up with Ignis in his arms; all cool relief and dazed satisfaction that he didn't really want to end. Ignis worked the freshest and most tender areas first, and then passed over to expend a little extra boost to the areas that were further along the healing process. Some areas were still scabby, but others had moved on to the stage of being flaky and itching like crazy.

Ignis pulled his hands away and shifted position, retrieving something, and then went to work again gently rubbing some moisturiser into those areas. Gladio groaned contentedly again, but this time there was no scolding to follow it. That only lasted a few minutes before Ignis climbed off Gladio and rubbed the last of the moisturiser into his own hands. He'd started developing calluses with his weapons training lately, and taken to wearing gloves while he trained to prevent them developing further, and between that and the regular use of moisturiser he'd managed to beat them back before they'd taken hold.

Gladio rolled onto his side before he sat up, taking Ignis's chin in his fingers and giving him a chaste kiss. Ignis turned his head to allow it, still focussed on rubbing the last of the moisturiser into the pads of his palms. He didn't react as Gladio brushed the freckle on his chin with his thumb before he let go, either. Such gestures had become part of a comfortable routine for them.

“So,” he said, “you're letting Noct have a night off next week?”

Ignis eyed him before he dropped his hands. “In my experience, Noct does as he pleases, but since it's the last week of school before his exams, yes, he's decided to go out.”

Gladio grinned like a coeurl. “Reckon we can get him good and plastered early and have the night to ourselves?”

Ignis opened his mouth to reply, and then closed it again, and gave a small huff of regret. “Unfortunately,” he said, “I won't be in attendance.”

Gladio felt his shoulders drop before he realised he was doing it. “Why not?”

“I have an appointment,” Ignis answered.

“Not all night, though,” Gladio challenged, disappointment showing in his face. He'd rather been looking forward to a night out with the four of them. Noct was as important to both of them as they were to each other, and that kid Prompto was good for Noct. He was the only friend Noct had that wasn't assigned to him; the kid had made the choice to get to know the prince as a person, not as a prince. Gladio kinda liked him; he was a breath of fresh air in the atmosphere of the Citadel. Noctis was gonna be surrounded by people like himself and Ignis for the next few years, and having a friend whose life hadn't been tailored to Noct in amongst them would only benefit the young prince.

Ignis looked as if he was making a difficult decision before he conceded, “I'll see what I can do. I may join you late.” Gladio smiled broadly at that answer. Of course, sometimes Ignis had to attend meetings and briefings, and sometimes they were at odd times of day because politics was one of those things that didn't stick to regular office hours. While Noct was in school, Ignis went in his stead, and passed the information on. Once Noct was officially done with school, he'd have to attend them with Ignis, but that wasn't just yet. “Until then, I'll have to entrust him to your care. Please try not to get him paralytic before I arrive.”

*****


The music was a bit too loud, and the room just a bit too warm. Gladio could feel the eyes of a gaggle of girls around Noct's age on him, and he stood up just a bit straighter, showing off. There was no harm in letting them look, after all. He caught the eye of one of them, as she leaned sideways to say something to her friend, and Gladio gave her a wink and a grin before he turned back to his beer.

Noct was arguing with Prompto over what shots to buy. Vodka was boring, but the multicoloured flavoured things were too sweet for Prompto's tastes. Sambuca involved setting things on fire, or there was the old reliable tequila, good for hangovers and vomiting in anyone in their late teens that needs a hard and fast lesson about respecting alcohol. The way the evening was going so far, either someone was going to throw up, or someone was going to lose their eyebrows, and if they were really unlucky, they might even do both.

“Maybe we should save the sambuca until Specs gets here,” Noct said, his voice rising above the music with just a hint of a slur.

“Wait, he drinks stuff that isn't canned coffee?” Prompto asked.

Gladio grinned to himself. Ignis had developed something of an Ebony habit in the last few months. “Dunno if sambuca's really Iggy's bag,” he said, looking down at his two charges. Noct was his charge anyway, but for tonight, his friend came under his wing too. Gladio was determined, once Ignis arrived, that he'd be charge number three, if just for one night. That guy seriously needed to take some R and R more often.

“Yeah, he probably won't like you playing with fire,” Prompto said to Noct, with a bright smile plastered across his face. He was slurring his words slightly more than Noctis. “Where is he, anyway?”

“He's got an appointment,” Gladio answered, casting his eyes to the door, just in case. “He'll be here.” Tonight might be about relaxing and socialising, and other stuff Iggy wasn't good at, but he'd told Gladio he'd see what he could do, which was as good as a promise to turn up.

“Tequila then?” Noct asked, looking at Prompto.

Prompto made a noise that was lost to the sound of the bar, but he nodded. Gladio grinned into his beer. Noctis was well on his way to getting good and drunk, which meant Gladio, if he paced himself, could see the kids home safely and make the most of the evening with Ignis, and then everyone will have had a good time.

“Gladio, you in?” Noct asked.

Gladio considered the options. A shot or two wouldn't make much difference to him, and the night was pretty young. “Double or nothing,” he said.

“Ooh,” Prompto replied, grinning at Noct. “Now you gotta.”

Noct gave a derisive snort. “As if I'd back down from that.”

He ordered six, holding his fingers and a thumb up to indicate how many from across the bar without having to raise his voice too much. They came served on a little tray. Gladio set them out, two apiece, and then asked, “You ever had tequila before?”

“No.”

“This should be good, then,” he said, picking up his first shot glass and holding it up. “Down the hatch.”

It tasted like tequila, which is to say like a terrible mistake with an aftertaste of future vomiting. Gladio swallowed, and shuddered. Beside him, Noct retched, and sounded horrified. “That's horrible.”

“Yep,” Gladio agreed, and his grin turned cruel as he slid the second glass in front of Noctis. Prompto had his head on the bar and his hand tightened into a fist, but he recovered without gagging, which put him ahead of Noct so far. “Now you've got another.”

“No way!”

“Yeah, I say we save them for Iggy,” Prompto said, looking distraught.

“Iggy's way too smart to fall for that,” Gladio informed them, cheerily, “unlike you two chumps. Last one to down their shot smells like wet chocobo.” With that, Gladio picked up his second shot, and swallowed the contents in one go with little more than a wince. It took a lot more out of him than he'd admit, but seeing the kids come a cropper because of their bravado and inexperience was amusing him.

Noct and Prompto shared a look, both steeling themselves. Prompto nodded, and Noct returned it before he grabbed his glass, a look of sheer determination on his face. Gladio picked his beer back up and washed the taste of terrible errors out of his mouth while Prompto counted them both in.

“There you go,” Gladio said, clapping Noct on the back as the prince coughed. “You've learned something.”

“Yeah,” Noct said, his voice strained, “never to trust you.”

“That's a little harsh,” Gladio said, and then he caught Noct's arm as someone stumbled into him.

“Watch where you're going!” The man slurred, heavily. He was taller than Noct, not that that was uncommon, but he had the alcohol induced stoop of someone that had started early and not paced themselves. He stood steadily enough, but the movement of his arms was a bit too expansive, and his speech a bit too loud.

“You watch it,” Noct replied, indignantly, straightening up to turn to the man.

The man looked Noct up and down, taking in his dark hair, and blue eyes. Black was the colour of royalty in Lucis, but Noct had eschewed it for the evening, which was probably fortunate right now. His white t-shirt meant he looked less than royal. “Who do you--”

Gladio put a hand, and then an arm, and then himself between Noct and this man, who was just the wrong side of drunk for Gladio's liking. “Hey, he's sorry, all right, now go on your way.” There was no arguing with someone this drunk; the best you could hope was to appease them until they wandered off.

“You don't scare me,” the man replied, looking up, and further up at Gladio. He stood nearly a head taller than the man, until they both pulled themselves straighter. Then Gladio became barely a head taller, and the man sneered at him.

“I'm not here to scare you,” Gladio answered, one of his hands drifting behind him to make sure Noct stayed out of this guy's sight for a minute. “Now move along.”

A look towards the doors told him no one had seen the altercation brewing yet. The bar was too busy for what was, just yet, a controlled but tense conversation.

It quickly changed from being a conversation when Gladio saw the movement as the guy withdrew something from the back of his trousers, spitting, “Make me.” Prompto had taken a couple of steps back, and in what was probably the smartest thing he'd done all night, was trying to get the barman's attention without also attracting the drunk's attention. Noct was still tucked safely behind him, a hand to Gladio's back as he did as he was silently instructed and stayed put.

The metal of the knife flashed through the air, and Gladio went to catch the arm holding it, but the movement the man made was too big, and the slash too wild. There wasn't any real control over it, and fighting against a completely random swing was harder than a merely unskilled one.

He grabbed the guy by the wrist as the glint of metal flashed up past his eye. Once Gladio was holding his wrist up above his head he became pretty easy to control, stretched out and unco-ordinated as he was. Gladio pulled the knife from his fingers before he heard the yells erupt around him, and he felt the burn in his face that had started before he'd grabbed the guy and was now demanding his attention. His face hurt, and felt hot, and wet. He squinted his eye shut as that began to burn and sting too, and then someone came, and grabbed the drunk by both of his arms.

He turned slightly to check on Noct, and saw the prince looking pale and wide eyed at him.

*****


Ignis entered the room with a tense stalk to his step. He'd hurried, while trying to walk at a pace decorum dictated, that much was obvious. Gladio could see he was pale, and his eyes were too wide, his lips held too tightly together as he stopped just inside the doorway and looked at Gladio.

Noct was standing to one side, his arms folded and his shoulders hunched. Prompto was next to him, looking pale and sickened. For a moment, for a bare moment, no longer than a heartbeat, Ignis hesitated, and then he turned and strode up to Noct, his hand falling to the prince's arm. “Are you all right?”

“Yeah,” Noct answered, unfolding his arms and turning slightly so he could see Ignis, and Gladio. “It's not me that's hurt.”

Gladio watched Ignis for a second, and then he took the damp cloth off the nurse who was gently cleaning the blood from his wound, giving her a lopsided smile. “Can you give us a minute?” He asked her.

She looked over at Ignis, and Noct, and Prompto, and then turned back to Gladio and nodded. “I need to go and get the stitches. Looks like you'll get away with butterflies,” she advised, but gave him a sympathetic smile as she added, “not without a scar, though.”

Gladio, despite the way his face hurt when he moved it, smiled at her. “I think I can rock a scar.”

Ignis turned when the nurse stood to leave, and Gladio saw the flicker of muscle in his jaw as it tensed before he walked over. He took the cloth off Gladio without so much as a word and refolded it to show clean surface again. “What happened?”

“Some drunk,” Gladio answered, tilting his head when Ignis's fingers pressed to his chin, directing him to expose the wound for examination. Ignis was fussing, Gladio realised, which was his default way to handle things when he was stressed. He cleaned the blood away from Gladio's eye with more tenderness than the way he stood right now would suggest before he spoke again.

“He managed to land a blow, are you sure it was a mere drunk?” There was a clipped, strained tone to his voice, and Gladio tried to catch Ignis's eye through his glasses, but he was intent on Gladio's cheek.

“Pretty sure. He wanted to pick a fight with Noct. He got me instead.”

“And he landed a blow,” Ignis repeated, quickly exposing another area of clean cloth as he dabbed and gently wiped at the edges of the cut over Gladio's forehead. “Did some mere drunkard get the better of the king's shield?”

Gladio watched Ignis as he talked, and worked. There was a little too much sharpness to that last line. “He's a crown citizen, I wasn't about to hurt him.”

Ignis paused in his ministrations, finally meeting Gladio's eyes. Gladio could see Ignis was fighting for every second of his composure, and in doing so, had decided to ram that stick up his ass so hard he'd be spitting splinters to stop himself collapsing in the next few minutes. “So you let him attack you? Despite the fact he was armed?”

Gladio felt the angry growl in his throat before he realised it was audible. “Rather than attack someone I'm meant to protect? Yeah,” he answered, with more volume than strictly necessary. “I did. Crown citizens are subjects of the King, we protect the King, the King protects them. If I go hurting someone for being dumb and drunk in the wrong place at the wrong time, I'm working at cross purposes to my King.”

Ignis was still looking directly into Gladio's eyes, and Gladio held his gaze, anger in his own. Then he saw the tremor in Ignis's jaw before the man blinked and broke the eye contact with a huff. “This is going to leave an extensive scar,” he said, changing the subject a little.

Gladio frowned, huffing himself before he replied, “Least it'll be a cool one.”

*****


Prompto was staying with Noct for the night. Ignis dropped them both off and saw them safely inside, making sure they settled and promising he'd be round in the morning to make breakfast, before he took Gladio back to his own apartment. Uncomfortable silence reigned between the two of them as Ignis led Gladio in.

“You're really angry with me for not hitting first, aren't you?” Gladio said, eventually.

Ignis sighed and pushed his fingers under his glasses, rubbing at his eyes with his fingertips before he resettled his glasses on his nose. “Somewhat,” he admitted, softly. “You're too noble. It's going to get you hurt.”

Gladio groaned and settled himself on Ignis's sofa. “I'm Noct's shield, Iggy. A few scars go with the territory.”

“Perhaps so,” Ignis conceded. His voice, like his expression, was quiet and tired. “But how would you feel if it was my face stitched together right now?”

It was as close as Ignis ever got to saying it, and perhaps as close as he ever would. Gladio didn't expend time considering how he'd feel if the roles had been reversed. That wasn't a reality he was about to let happen, ever. Gladio was the Shield; scars were his to bear. Ignis was the right hand; he had other purposes. Ignis could fight, and well, but Gladio wasn't about to let him take hits for Noct.

Gladio sighed, and reached his hand out towards Ignis, inviting him to take it. After a moment, and a sigh, Ignis did, curling his fingers around Gladio's and allowing Gladio to pull him near, and then up onto his lap. He straddled Gladio, slowly, and Gladio tucked his hands around the back of Ignis's hips and laced his fingers together, holding him there. “Difference is,” he said, his voice low, “I've got the right kind of face for rocking a scar or two.” Ignis didn't. Between his fine brow and full lips Ignis was too damn pretty to go marking his face up. If the studious battle butler gig didn't work out for him, he always had a future on the catwalk.

“Does it hurt?” Ignis asked, one hand resting on Gladio's shoulder, and the other ghosting along Gladio's jaw, brushing the short trimmed hair, while his eyes counted the little pieces of white tape. The cut wasn't deep, the nurse had said, but faces were difficult. The skin there was thin, and easier to damage. It did lend Gladio a rogueish look that he probably would wear well, but Ignis wasn't about to admit that to him.

Gladio considered responding with indifference and bravado, but decided against it. “Yeah,” he admitted. It felt like he'd picked a scab that wasn't ready to be picked, and his face felt raw and uncomfortable, and sore.

Ignis raised his hand and bowed his head. Something green and sparkling erupted from his hand, swirling around it gently, and then he pressed his palm to Gladio's cheek, the sensation was a familiar, soothing coolness. Gladio closed his eyes and sighed, letting Ignis hold his hand there for a while, enjoying the relief it offered. After a minute, Ignis shifted his palm, putting his fingers over the part of the scar that ran above Gladio's eye.

Gladio felt the magic ebb away as the spell ended. The wound still felt tight, and ached, but it was no longer raw and burning. He took hold of Ignis's hand, pulling his palm down so that he could press his lips into it before he offered, “Thanks.”

“You're welcome.”

Gladio looked up into Ignis's eyes, and tucked Ignis's hand over his shoulder before he tugged him in, hands sliding up Ignis's back as he pulled him close enough to kiss. His lips had barely brushed Ignis's when Ignis pulled back sharply, with a hiss. The mood was broken as concern overtook everything else, and Gladio's instinct was to pull Ignis closer and away from whatever danger had alarmed him.

Until Ignis squirmed, and pushed one of Gladio's arms away, shifting Gladio's hand from the back of Ignis's shoulder with a wince. Gladio let him, worry clouding his expression. “You okay?”

“Yes, it's,” Ignis began, and tailed off. He met Gladio's eyes, and then looked away again, his mouth tightening in that way it did when Ignis was steeling himself for something.

“What's wrong?”

Ignis's eyes met Gladio's again, and Gladio would have sworn his cheeks darkened as he pursed his lips and swallowed. “I had hoped you would see this under different circumstances,” he said, sounding more like his usual self, and he clambered off Gladio's lap to stand and begin undoing his shirt buttons. Gladio sat up, and forward, watching him release buttons with a clipped efficiency that spoke of nerves. “I realise I should have submitted this for your approval, as not receiving your approval now is going to be awkward,” he pulled his shirt back, exposing his chest, and then turned, and allowed his shirt to drop. “It was a notion,” Ignis said, his head only slightly turned. “It seemed fitting somehow.”

Gladio stood, his eyes wide as he looked at the mark on Ignis's shoulder, covered in protective plastic. It was a feather, a single one, draped across his shoulder as if it had been left there by a passing eagle like a blessing, and it was identical to some of the feathers on Gladio's arms. “I hope you're not displeased,” Ignis continued, as Gladio brushed his fingers over the reddened skin around the new tattoo. This had been Ignis's unmissable appointment today.

Displeased? Gladio didn't have words for what he felt, seeing his feather resting on Ignis's back. He must have planned this for weeks, Gladio realised. He had to have hunted down Gladio's tattooist, and spoken to her, and designed this with her, and chosen his placement. Ignis was of the view that tattoos weren't a hurried decision. How long had he agonised over this? How long had he considered it and done nothing? It was such a subtle thing, too, a small gesture that belied something so much bigger than Ignis had ever allowed himself to say, and if you weren't in a position to put all the pieces together to grasp what was meant, you'd miss it entirely. There were three people in the world that would know what this tattoo meant. One of them was the tattooist, and Gladio would have some questions for her about how long she'd been working with Ignis to keep this quiet, and the other two were in this room right now.

Gladio was filled with an overwhelming love for the man in front of him as he reached around to press his fingertips to Ignis's cheek. “It suits you,” he said, turning Ignis to face him again before he pressed his lips to Ignis's, and kissed him with every ounce of that love.

Date: 2017-01-07 08:18 pm (UTC)
azi: The brand of the Pulse l'Cie. (Final Fantasy - XIII - l'Cie brand)
From: [personal profile] azi
Why is Ignis so adorable, though. How is Ignis so adorable?

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