Jan. 26th, 2017 08:18 pm
[personal profile] chlorhexidine
chlorhexidine: (Iggy)
The box felt like it was burning a hole in Gladio's pocket. He'd tried to wrap it himself, and found the task fiddly and awkward, so he'd been forced to ask Iris. Iris, who was far too smart for her age, and a bit too precocious for Gladio's liking, had asked questions.

Who was it for was first. When he'd told her it was for Ignis she'd giggled in that unsettlingly knowing way of twelve year old girls and just said, “Oh.” The vowel had been drawn until it was almost a song, and Gladio had scowled at her, but hadn't dare ask what she meant by that.

The next question had been why. “It's his birthday,” he'd answered, gruffly.

Which was how, in exchange for wrapping the box for him, Gladio had spent an evening covered in flour, sugar, eggs, and wondering how the hell Ignis could bring himself to do this. He was such a tidy person, and baking was not. It sure as hell wasn't when Iris was doing the measuring and mixing, anyway. He'd needed a shower afterwards. There had been flour in his hair.

It had been worth it though, because Iris had a creative flair and the small box had been wrapped almost perfectly. The silver paper shone, the lines and folds were as crisp as if she'd ironed them, and she'd conjured a pale green ribbon from somewhere, wrapped the whole thing in it, and tied it off in a cute little bow. The knowing look she'd given Gladio when she'd handed it over, finished, suggested she knew exactly what she'd done in finding a ribbon that was as close to the colour of Iggy's eyes as Gladio had seen any material get. The ends of the ribbon fell in soft curls, and when the whole thing was put down it looked elegant as all hell. Iris had done a good job.

It gave Gladio a crippling case of second thoughts. Was it too much? The box looked too much, with all the care put into its presentation, but he'd put nearly the same amount of effort into what was inside it. He hadn't been able to find one, not of the right kind of size, anyway, and since he'd had to have it made, what was the point in having it made of anything but solid silver?

But it was just a tradition, right? It was a Crownsguard thing; they all had one somewhere, and Ignis was going to be official in them now. He'd been a marked man from a young age, of course. Gladio had been a marked man from birth; it was the lot in life of both of them, as determined by higher powers. It was, on reflection, an amazing stroke of luck for Gladio, and for Ignis. The machinations of fate and all her little coincidences had lined up just so to bring Ignis into Gladio's life, and sometimes he held the man in his arms at night and thanked the Goddess for that fact.

He wished he was sure that Ignis felt the same. He wished he was sure that Ignis wouldn't think too deeply on the birthday present, wouldn't realise how much work it had taken to make the thing exist, how much it had cost to make the thing exist, and the depth of meaning that went into it.

The cake, which Iris had decorated that morning with the words 'Happy Birthday Iggy' in a festive pink icing on the white background, was balanced in his left hand as he knocked on Ignis's door. It opened to reveal Ignis wearing an apron, and the unmistakeable smell of baking wafted out from behind him.

“Something smells good,” he said, and hoped that Ignis hadn't done something as heartbreakingly lonely as bake his own birthday cake.

Ignis just murmured, and he seemed to be in a good mood. “One last attempt at this mystery recipe of Noct's before we go to meet him,” he said.

Gladio had seen Ignis produce some really mouthwatering desserts for Noctis, but this one was a recipe that eluded them both. Noctis had tasted it, once, when he'd been in Tenebrae as a kid, and Ignis had tried, and tried, and tried again to recreate it based on the honestly unhelpful advice of his Highness. The pastry was flakier, then it was denser, then the filling was wrong, somehow, the flavour was heavier, then lighter, then the texture was different. He couldn't just say 'it tasted a bit like a strawberry filling, with a sweet shortcrust pastry, and a frangipane topping', as Ignis had lamented one evening. At the time Gladio had roughly understood the words 'strawberry', 'pastry', and 'topping', but he'd witnessed enough of Ignis's baking exploits since that he knew more than he had. Enough to understand that 'flakier' when it came to pastry could mean anything from 'needs more butter' to 'is in fact an entirely different kind of pastry'.

And still Ignis tried. Gladio suspected that Ignis was enjoying the challenge. “It's your birthday,” Gladio pointed out, as he followed Ignis inside and placed Iris's cake on the table as he passed it, “he should be baking stuff for you.”

“I'd much prefer to live to see my next birthday, thank you,” Ignis replied, without missing a beat. Gladio couldn't help but smirk, dimly aware that Noct's idea of cooking involved pouring hot water on something, when Ignis would let him get away with it. Gladio couldn't say he was much better, there was something about the taste of a salty cup of noodles that just sat right with him, enough that it was basically his comfort food., much as this pastry Ignis was trying to recreate was for Noct. “Besides,” Ignis added, as he knelt down in front of his oven again to watch the pastries turn colour properly, “if this one is right, I'll consider it a birthday present to myself.”

Gladio smiled, leaning against the wall to watch Ignis for a moment. He sat like he could do it all day, and the concentration lines between his eyebrows were mitigated by the faint upturn at the corner of his mouth. He was enjoying himself, though you had to know him well to really see it. “Had any presents yet?” Gladio asked, after a few seconds. The weight of the box in his pocket wasn't great, but the weight of it in his mind was huge. It hung there, hidden away, and just present enough that it dragged on his mind.

“None,” Ignis answered, but his eyes flickered to Gladio with a smile, “apparently Noct has a number to pass on to me. It's almost like people think I'm his keeper.”

Gladio felt his stomach slowly tying itself in knots. “You opening them at Noct's, then?” He asked, hoping the answer was no. He didn't want to give Ignis his present in private, in this one to one situation where the weight of it might make things awkward, and he really didn't want Ignis to open it in front of Noctis, who might be a little shit, but was a spoiled little shit and would probably recognise it for the expensive thing it was. If he did that, there'd be questions, and they wouldn't just be from Ignis.

“Absolutely not,” Ignis replied, to Gladio's relief. “Something would get lost. I'll either open them when I get home, or open them tomorrow.”

Gladio nodded slightly at that answer. That was an answer he could live with. He could go to Noct's with Ignis, come home with him, have birthday sex with him, and then make his excuses in the morning and bolt like a coward before Ignis got round to opening his presents. It wasn't the best plan, but it was a plan. “Well,” Gladio said, with a definite smirk, leaning against the wall, though the effect of stretching a little was lost when he wore the hoodie, “I know which present I'll be making you open first.”

Ignis fixed his eyes on Gladio through the corner of his glasses but said nothing. His expression was difficult to read, and then he turned back to the oven, and pulled the door open. “Done,” he said, happily.

The smell was, Gladio would readily admit, delicious, and it stayed delicious as the pastries were allowed to cool while Ignis showered and dressed. If their lives were different, there'd be something sad about an eighteen year old spending his birthday in the company of two sixteen year olds and his boyfriend, but it was, when Gladio had managed to get an answer out of Ignis, what Ignis wanted. He wasn't the bar type, wasn't really the drinking type, and Noctis, Gladio, and by extension Prompto were the only friends Ignis really had. Certainly the only ones he had any regular contact with, and as such, the only ones he'd be happy to spend time with on his birthday.

So the plan had been put in place to get Iggy over to Noct's for an evening of light drinking – Noctis was sixteen Ignis had pointed out and was not to be rendered inebriated while on his watch and the same went for Prompto – takeaway food, some cake, some films, and that dumb but enjoyable mobile game Noct and Prompto had started playing, and introduced Gladio to, and together they'd forced Ignis to download.

It wasn't a wild night they had planned, but it would make Ignis happy, and that was what counted.

The trip over to Noct's was uneventful. Gladio made sure to pin Ignis to his kitchen counter with a deep and lingering kiss that laid out the promises he had in mind for tonight, and then they'd set off with Iris's cake, and Ignis's pastries, and a companionably cheerful mood between them.

Prompto and Noctis were already there when Gladio and Ignis arrived. There was a bottle of champagne, and a few bottles of beer on hand, and enough food to feed a small army waiting to be shared out. Prompto waved at them enthusiastically as they entered, arms in the air as he all but shouted, “Happy birthday!”

Noct didn't bother, long since immune to Prompto's brand of infectious enthusiasm. He greeted the pair with a much more sedate, “Hey.”

Gladio planted his hand on Noct's head and roughed up his hair, an act which caused his Highness to squirm out from under Gladio's hand and fuss it back into place with his fingers. “Iris made a cake,” he said, putting the box down on the kitchen counter and going to retrieve glasses so he could foist a drink on Ignis before he made excuses.

Prompto opened the box to peek inside, and oohed appreciatively. Ignis put his own creations down and peered over Prompto's shoulder, giving the cake an appraising look, and then a nod. “Not a bad hand, for a novice,” he said, sounding genuinely impressed.

“I'll tell her you said that,” Gladio replied, his grin audible in his voice. “She'll be over the moon.”

“I bet it tastes as good as it looks,” Prompto said.

Noct, meanwhile, had his attention drawn by the pastries. He picked one up without asking and bit into it, wearing a thoughtful look while he chewed.

“Well?” Ignis asked, and then glanced at Gladio as the champagne cork popped loudly.

Noct murmured, undecided, before he swallowed and shook his head. “The flavour was darker.” Ignis picked one up and took a bite for himself. Darker... blackcurrants as opposed to blueberries, perhaps, then? “Still good, though,” Noct added, before he took another bite and went to obtain a glass of champagne from Gladio.

Gladio held the bottle out of Noct's reach, planting his hand on top of the Prince's head to hold him back. “This is for the grown ups,” he said.

“It seems we'll be hard pressed to find one of those here,” Ignis commented, watching Noct struggle against Gladio, and pushed the remaining pastries towards Prompto. “Help yourself.”

Prompto looked as if it was his birthday and picked one up. Behind him, Noct was protesting, “It's not like I haven't drunk it before.”

Gladio only grinned, putting the bottle tantalisingly close to Noct's reach, and then pulling it away again. “Yes,” Ignis said, his voice ringing across the childish scene, “with soda, which is how you'll have it now.”

Noctis made a noise of protest, and Prompto looked from his friend, to Ignis, who was his new best friend for the night, and back again. With his mouth full of pastry he said, “Dude, don't argue with your mother.”

Gladio snorted, and Ignis gave Prompto the same side eyed glance he'd given Gladio earlier, only this time he was looking down and had his eyebrows raised. “You can go off people,” he warned.

Prompto looked up at Ignis with the existential dread of someone who doesn't yet know him well enough to tell when he's joking, and offered a nervous smile as conciliation. What he got back was what Gladio liked to think of as one of Ignis's killer smirks, when he smiled like a knife, the sort of smirk that sent a pleasant shiver up Gladio's spine to watch, and then Ignis walked up to rescue Noctis.

The evening went on as it had begun. They somehow got through most of the takeaway food, although the pile of carefully picked out vegetables in the tray nearest Noct was large enough to constitute a meal in itself. Iris's cake was sliced, and eaten, and while Ignis told Gladio that the next one needed a little longer at the mixing stage, he should inform Iris that she was well on her way to excellence.

He nursed one glass of champagne all night, and it didn't matter, because what Ignis did do was smile, and laugh. Prompto was fun to tease, and Noctis was easy to pick on, especially since Ignis knew where Noct kept everything, and some of the things he'd got up to in the past.

Gladio had been fascinated to learn that he used to sneak out at night regularly, and that Ignis, loathing every second of it, had gone with him anyway. They were young, Ignis had defended, and in any case only heading to the roof to try and see the stars, or at least, Noctis had wanted to see the stars. Ignis hadn't objected to the stargazing part, it was the bit where it involved breaking the rules that he'd struggled with, to no one's surprise. They'd got caught as often as they didn't, and Ignis had claimed the escapades were his own idea to spare Noctis the trouble. Since they'd been on the roof to look at the stars, no one had really questioned why Ignis Scientia, child attendant, prodigy, and ultra disciplined as he'd been even back then, was encouraging the Prince to sneak past his guards at night.

They really should have, Gladio had thought, as Ignis had proceeded to remind Noctis of the time he'd got himself in trouble without being able to use Ignis as back up, and had drawn shooting stars on the floor in mud, since they had still yet to see a meteor shower. They really should have questioned why Ignis of all people, young as he would have been then, would have encouraged rule breaking. Unless there was a side to a younger Ignis that Gladio hadn't seen, though it didn't sound like it from what Noct said.

Gladio managed to slip his hand behind Ignis's back as they settled in to watch a film, Noct and Prompto sat on cushions on the floor in front of them. Ignis pretended not to notice the fingers easing their way under his shirt and paint circles on his bare back, and Gladio pretended not to be connected to his own arm.

They left, in the end, with an armful of presents, and Ignis firmly instructing Noctis on how to dispose of the rubbish in the appropriate recycling bins. The presents were abandoned once they got to Ignis's apartment, and Gladio made sure to strategically leave his present in amongst the pile, half hidden so as not to be noticed. Not that it would have been noticed anyway, because Ignis was easily distracted with a kiss that led him to the bedroom.

Gladio awoke the next morning to find his arms distressingly empty. Ignis rose early, too damn early for any normal human being, and that meant Gladio woke up alone in Ignis's bed more often than he'd like, which was ever. He grabbed the pillow with a frown and pulled it close, inhaling the scent of Ignis that permeated the fabric.

The noise of a cupboard opening made him crack an eye. It sounded like Ignis was still here, or at least someone was. Gladio made himself sit up, and then trudged to the bedroom door. He found Ignis dressed, in his kitchen, making himself a coffee.

“Morning,” he said, and ran his hand up into his hair as he moved to greet Ignis with a kiss.

Ignis gave him a sidelong glance. “Take one more step into my kitchen and you'll find out just how sharp my knives are,” he said.

Gladio was taken aback, his eyes wide. “What?”

“You're naked,” Ignis said. “I will not have you disgrace my kitchen with your nudity, go and put something on.”

Gladio looked down at himself, and then back up at Ignis. “You weren't complaining last night.”

“We weren't in my kitchen last night.”

Gladio thought about his options for a moment, and then shrugged and returned to the bedroom. He came back wearing yesterday's trousers. He kept a change of clothes at Ignis's place, but he needed a shower before he put something clean on. “Better?” He asked.

Ignis slid a mug of coffee towards Gladio and smirked at him. “Much.”

Gladio ignored the coffee, opting instead to enter Ignis's sacred stronghold of culinary expertise and wrap an arm around his waist. “So,” he said, “as I was saying before you threatened to stab me--”

“Oh no, kitchen knives are for slicing, not stabbing.”

“-- shut up.” Gladio grinned down at Ignis and repeated, once more, “Morning.” Then he leaned in and kissed him. He didn't kiss him like he did in the evenings, when it was all about intentions that lay further south, and shutting Ignis's brain off for a few minutes, it was a simple show of affection. His tongue met Ignis's, but didn't push for more, and didn't intrude further than necessary to show Ignis it was there, and meant to be there, and he pulled away after a few seconds to give Ignis a happy look and a smile.

There was a flash of silver around Ignis's neck, and Gladio felt muscles he almost never used tighten involuntarily. “Good morning to you, too,” Ignis said.

“You opened your presents then,” Gladio said, quietly, turning his head to look across to the table where he'd left them.

“I did,” Ignis replied. Gladio's hand loosened around his waist as he swallowed, and Ignis responded by fixing his own arms around Gladio's. “Noct got me a year's supply of Ebony, delivered to my door in thirteen instalments,” he said.

Gladio frowned. “I told that little shit not to enable your coffee habit.”

Ignis smiled, looking up at Gladio so that Gladio felt pinned like a butterfly on a corkboard. There was something entirely too clever about that smile. “Prompto got me quite a nice pen, my Uncle got me a pair of driving gloves,” he paused, and Gladio swallowed nervously, “and I know you got me the necklace.”

Gladio found himself wanting to take a step back, and that his feet weren't obeying him. “How'd you know that?” He asked.

“Because I showed Iris how to make ribbon curl like that.”

Shit. Gladio found himself struggling for something to say. “It's,” he began, and ended on, “uh,” and was unable to think of anything else to say, anything that might mitigate whatever Ignis was thinking, and he was so damn unreadable sometimes it was scary.

“It must have cost you a small fortune,” Ignis said, softly.

Gladio ran a hand up to the back of his neck, and fixed Ignis with an awkward smile. “Well,” he said, “you know it's, well, skulls are a Crownsguard thing, and--”

“Thank you.”

Gladio found himself silenced, and then Ignis stretched up and planted a kiss on his mouth. Gladio blinked, and then remembered himself and closed his eyes, and kissed Ignis all over again. If the last kiss had been to say good morning, then this one was a sweet hello. Ignis's hands made their way to Gladio's waist, and Gladio wrapped both of his arms around Ignis's back, and Ignis kissed him with an unusual tenderness that made Gladio's heart stutter.

It took him a moment to remember himself, once Ignis pulled away. “You like it then?” He asked, his eyes searching Ignis's face.

“It's not my usual style,” Ignis said, softly, “but I suppose I'll have to get used to the Crownsguard ways sooner or later. I do, however, like who it's from.”

Gladio swallowed again, taking in the details of Ignis's face, counting the freckles, and the flecks of colours buried in the pale green of his irises, and the curve of his lips. “Happy birthday,” he said, and then leaned in to take another kiss.

Date: 2017-01-26 09:45 pm (UTC)
alien_laughter: a sunset-lit tree-trunk in a winter forest (Default)
From: [personal profile] alien_laughter
AHAHA Gladio failing at fiddly box-wrapping, how precious =D

Have sex and then bolt like a coward before present-opening, bahaha Gladio, GOOD LUCK with that.

also LOL Noct and his unhelpful pastry hints.

“Dude, don't argue with your mother.” PFFFFFFFFT

And Gladio likes Ignis's killer smirks, because of course he does. But then Ignis goes unreadable on him and he's hilariously terrified, bahaha I love it.

Those fucking adorable losers! <3

Date: 2017-01-26 10:13 pm (UTC)
alien_laughter: a sunset-lit tree-trunk in a winter forest (Default)
From: [personal profile] alien_laughter
Why DID he open presents before his coffee? Not impatience, I assume. Was he expecting Gladio to try to run away? XD

And YUP, he is.

Date: 2017-01-26 10:55 pm (UTC)
alien_laughter: a sunset-lit tree-trunk in a winter forest (Default)
From: [personal profile] alien_laughter
Shh, he probably didn't WANT a ton of presents. I doubt he's the type who secretly wishes he had twenty close friends to invite to parties. /hugs him

And there was still enough of a pile for Gladio to hide his little box in it, so it seems like enough!

(Says the person who hasn't gotten birthday presents in I don't even fucking remember how long XD )

Date: 2017-01-26 11:40 pm (UTC)
alien_laughter: a sunset-lit tree-trunk in a winter forest (Default)
From: [personal profile] alien_laughter
He's such a liar. XD

(Eh, it's what I get for keeping most of my friends in a computer. XD )

Date: 2017-01-27 01:04 am (UTC)
azi: A concept shot of the Moonflow. (Final Fantasy - Spira)
From: [personal profile] azi
Yesss, you did it. 8D

And Gladio's as awkward as I hoped. c: Hee hee hee! This is adorable.

Date: 2017-01-27 01:48 am (UTC)
azi: Keep Calm and Appeal to a Supervisor. (Default)
From: [personal profile] azi
Such a boy. And a lamer. Omg. Best.


chlorhexidine: (Default)

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