[personal profile] chlorhexidine
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Ignis sat primly in a chair, elbow resting on the morning table provided in their room. His head still pounded, but two painkillers and extra water had done their work to ease it to a dull throbbing. He had felt better, but he had most certainly felt worse, too. Messages had come through on his phone, one after another, most of the morning.

Gladio paused to press a kiss to Ignis's cheek as he passed, a gesture which Ignis met with a slight tilt of his head so that Gladio could reach. Then he put his foot up on the other chair and started pulling his laces tight. Ignis looked him over, admiring the line of the man's body before he said, simply, “Noct is awake.”

“Yeah?” Gladio asked, fixing his lace into a bow and pulling that tight with the sound of cord dragging over cord. “What's he had to say?”

Ignis smiled, faintly. “He asked how long it's been going on,” he said. Gladio dropped his foot to the floor, and then picked up the other to fix his laces on that one, too. “I told him since he was fifteen. I got back a 'wow'.” Gladio made an amused noise. “Then he asked me when we plan to wed.”

Ignis saw Gladio's grin even though his face was turned to his shoe. “What'd you tell him?”

“That such things are not possible in Lucis at this time,” Ignis said, and then placed his phone on the table and slid it towards Gladio. “That was his response.”

Gladio looked down at the phone, and then stood properly and picked it up. He saw the last few exchanges.

>> Whens the wedding
>>> A union such as ours would not be legally recognised in Lucis at this time.
>> Yea but 1 day Ill b king

Gladio grinned broadly and passed Ignis his phone back. “Least someone's rooting for us.”
Ignis's phone gave the tiny vibration to notify him of an additional message to a conversation, and he looked at his screen. “Just don't invite Nel,” he read aloud.

Gladio laughed aloud at that. Nel had made an impression last night, not least due to being one of those responsible for plying Ignis so heavily with wine. She'd given the same treatment to Cor Leonis, and a few of their guests who were of a more uptight nature, as if she'd taken it upon herself to ensure everyone loosened up for an evening. “I dunno,” he said, “I think we owe Nel.”

“You certainly do,” Ignis said, adjusting his collar pointedly. The red love bite Gladio had left him the night before bloomed, purpling and obvious against Ignis's pale skin, riding just above the reach of his collar.

Gladio grinned and hooked a finger against Ignis's collar, tugging it back into its usual position. “Let them see it,” he said.

“We gave everyone quite enough of a show last night,” Ignis replied.

Gladio's phone buzzed, the vibration rattling it across the bedside cabinet, and he gave it a brief glance. Ignis turned his attention to it as well. While Ignis's phone had received some messages of support, Gladio's father would not be contacting Ignis when he finally decided to voice his opinion.

Gladio moved, and picked his phone up, thumbing through it. “Iris,” he said, after a moment, tension slipping from his shoulders again, and a small smile crossed his lips. “She thinks we're a cute couple.”

“I was always under the impression she knew regardless,” Ignis said.

Gladio shrugged, “I never exactly said,” he answered. “I figured Noct knew too.”

“I expect he did,” Ignis said, softly, “and last night was merely confirmation.”

“Yeah,” Gladio said, “for everyone.”

Ignis smiled. It was a faint, sad smile as his phone buzzed again with another incoming message. “The important people seem happy for us,” he said, quietly. Noctis, and Iris had voiced their support. There was no word yet from Prompto, so either Prompto didn't yet know or was not yet awake, but in any event Ignis didn't expect any forceful objections to them bringing their relationship into the open to come from that direction. He couldn't remember if Prompto had been present when he'd kissed Gladio. He couldn't remember if Prompto had been present when Gladio had started it, pulling Ignis onto the dancefloor despite his protests at how it would appear, holding him close and whispering that he didn't care who was watching into Ignis's ear. Ignis could still remember the uncomfortable, stoic gaze of Clarus Amicitia on them both, eclipsing his recollection of how his Majesty, or the rest of the room had reacted.

Even if he hadn't decided that hell could take them all, that he was tired of standing in the shadows and trying to fight clandestinely to keep others from interfering, that here and now he may as well announce it to the world and declare his affections for Gladio the same way he had first declared them to Gladio. Even if he hadn't decided, in one carefully considered moment, to defy everyone and pulled Gladio down to meet his mouth, they'd have faced judgement today just for the dance. “We'll have to face the rest sooner or later,” he said.

Ignis looked at his phone then, and checked his new notification. He smiled at it. “Iris wants to know if she can still be a bridesmaid,” he said.

“Don't see why not,” Gladio said, with a grin and a shrug.

“Difficult to have a bridesmaid without a bride,” Ignis said, “or a wedding.”

“Groomsmaid then,” Gladio replied, ignoring the rest of Ignis's statement as if he hadn't heard it.

Ignis typed in a response and sent it. A moment later, Gladio's phone buzzed. He looked at it, read the message, and replied instantly, sending it off and then turning to Ignis and saying, simply, “Snitch.”

“You haven't,” Ignis replied, with a smirk. “You were quite clear about that last night.”

“Yeah, but setting my sister on me over it's a bit harsh,” Gladio complained. He took a step nearer to Ignis and held his chin in his fingers, urging Ignis to look up at him for all Ignis didn't need the encouragement. “When I propose to you, you won't be drunk,” he said, “and we won't be dealing with all this.”

Ignis smiled at him. “Take your time,” he said, “I'm in no rush.”

Gladio pressed his lips to Ignis's forehead, and then pulled away, letting go of his chin. “I've got a lot to try and fit into just the rest of our lives,” he said.

“You're doing admirably so far,” Ignis answered, reaching up to run his own fingers under Gladio's chin, brushing over coarse, short hair and leading him in to a sweet kiss.

Gladio's phone rang, and went disregarded as Gladio opted instead to lean in and take a deeper kiss, his tongue finding Ignis's own and meeting it with soft presses and the brush of lips. It continued to ring as Ignis slipped his hand around the back of Gladio's neck as he tilted his own head and took the kiss deeper still, so it lit fires in his core and made his skin sing with the possibilities.

Then Gladio pulled away, and Ignis let him retreat so he could answer his phone at last, which he did with a nervous swallow. “Hello?” Ignis watched as Gladio listened, and said, “Dad,” in acknowledgement. He scowled into the phone, as an indistinct voice spoke into his ear, and then he agreed, “Yeah, we do.” There was another, brief pause before he said, “I'll be there in an hour.”
Gladio hung the phone up, and dropped it back on the table. “He wants to talk to me face to face,” he said.

“Do you want me to come with you?” Ignis asked. Facing his father was going to be harrowing. They were the subject of rumour in the Citadel, had been the subject of rumour in the Citadel, and when Gladio's father had got wind of the rumours he'd challenged Gladio about them. At first, he'd urged Gladio to be more discreet in his affairs. A youthful dalliance with someone of the same sex was considered preferable to the accidental production of bastards, but such dalliances were kept quiet. As one grew, however, boys that were becoming men were expected to shrug off those relationships with the last of puberty, and submit themselves to fully fledged heterosexuality.

Gladio had not grown out of Ignis as expected, and that was where distant disapproval had started to turn into actual pressure. Gladio, as he had been reminded multiple times, was expected to produce progeny of his own and continue the Amicitia line. Ignis in his own turn faced similar pressure, but not to the same extent because the world at large viewed Ignis as an extension of Noct, and it was assumed that if he failed to marry now, he would marry once Noctis was securely wed and producing the next generation of the Lucis Caelum line.

Ignis had suggested, once, that Gladio simply marry and be done with it. Produce heirs as he was expected, and continue the Amicitia line. Ignis would love him no less if he did.

Gladio had simply grown angry with the suggestion. It wasn't merely the matter of unfaithfulness to Ignis, or the sense of disloyalty to their love that the very notion gave him, but the implication that he should wed and bed some poor woman under false pretences, his heart never belonging to her, all so he could produce children to quell other people's concerns. If he married, he had declared, he would marry Ignis and no other, and to hell with his father, and the Citadel, and all the rest of Lucis if they didn't like it because Gladio was not the only one capable of continuing the line. Iris had a mind and a heart of her own, and was not some political pawn to be married off to someone else's family to produce their children for them; she too was an Amicitia, and as stubborn, and strong, and proud as one.

Ignis had conceded the point, and found the sickening twist in his chest abated.

Gladio looked undecided, and Ignis offered, “I'll come with you, but you can decide when we get there if I come inside or not.”

Gladio swallowed, and nodded mutely, looking immensely grateful.

The bike was still terrifying when Ignis was in the later stages of hangover, but being in the later stages of hangover meant that Ignis didn't consider himself fit to drive, so it was the bike, or walk. Gladio opted for the bike. Ignis suspected this was because his father loathed the bike almost as much as he seemed to dislike Ignis these days, and Gladio was in the mood for an argument.

They pulled up outside the Amicitia household, and Ignis gave Gladio a gentle squeeze before he released him and dismounted. “Have you decided?” He asked, once he and Gladio had removed their helmets.

“Stay here,” Gladio said. “If you come, he'll only want to speak to me alone later.”

Ignis nodded slowly. “I'll be right here, no matter what happens,” he said.

Gladio nodded, and leaned in to take a swift kiss from Ignis, filling Ignis's nose with the scent of leather. “I love you,” he said.

Gladio didn't wait for a reply as he made his way towards the door, and Ignis watched him go. “Gladio,” he called, before Gladio knocked on the door. Gladio turned to look at him. “Whatever may happen, whatever may be said, we'll be far away from their judgement in a few days. We don't know how long it may take us to return, or even if we will. Bear that in mind.”

Gladio looked at Ignis for a long moment, and then he nodded, and turned to the door. Ignis watched him walk inside, and then settled in to wait.

Clarus Amicitia was stood in the drawing room when Gladio was taken to him. Technically this was still his house, but he felt like a stranger here these days, and the staff treated him like a familiar guest more than a resident. He wondered if that was because he hadn't spent more than a handful of nights here in the last five years, or whether his father had something to do with it.

“Dad,” he said.

“Gladiolus,” came the reply.

Gladio waited, looking around. The house was familiar and yet not, these days. It was full of childhood memories, of easier times. “You wanted to talk to me,” he said, challenge in his tone already, “go on and talk.”

Clarus stood with his hands behind his back, looking at his son, his expression unreadable. “Your behaviour last night disgraced you.”

Gladio shrugged. “The guests were doing it,” he said. Marluxia had dragged Lumi onto the dancefloor, Nel had danced with Fang before she'd managed to get Cor to cut a rug. They weren't the only pair of dancers that had been of the same sex.

“The guests,” Clarus replied, sharply, “were not making the spectacle of themselves that you and the Scientia boy did.”

Gladio's upper lip curled. Dismissing Ignis as just a boy got his back up. “He's a man, dad,” he replied.

“As are you,” Clarus answered, “yet you insist on pursuing this juvenile infatuation.”

“Ju--” Gladio began, outrage flaring.

“It is time you grew up, Gladiolus.”

“Is that what you think this is?” Gladio snarled. “Seven damn years I've loved him,” he spat, brow furrowed and nose wrinkled, “you hadn't even known mom that long when you had me.”

“I don't care how long it has gone on, Gladiolus, it is time for it to stop.” Clarus wasn't implacable, but he was stubborn, and less swiftly turned to anger than Gladio. Where Gladio's outrage hammered, Clarus's words were cutting.

“He isn't a hobby I'm going to drop at your say so,” Gladio replied, his volume rising.

“He is a distraction from your duty,” Clarus replied, a bite in his own tone.

Gladio sneered. “I fulfil my duty just fine. We both agreed Noct comes first.”

“Your duty is not just to Prince Noctis,” Clarus said, his tone biting, and his eyes like steel. “It is to the Lucis Caelum line. Your Prince will have princes and princesses of his own, who will look after them?”

Gladio bared his teeth. “Iris is an Amicitia too, dad.”

Something shifted in Clarus's expression, a frown crossing his face briefly before it was chased away. “The duty falls to you, my son,” he said, a little more gently than he had been. “It is the unfortunate reality of being the King's Shield, Gladiolus.” Gladio made to reply, but was cut off. “I knew before you were born that the life of one of my children would be dedicated to the life of another. I knew that child would love their King, as I love mine, and that they would have to make sacrifices for them, and those sacrifices may include their life, or their happiness. There is pride in being the Shield, my son, but there is pain too. The duty fell to you, and I know you love your Prince so that you would have it no other way. Would you now take away your sister's freedom in exchange for your own happiness?”

Gladio found his response died in his throat, and he huffed. “That's Iris's choice,” he said, after a moment, “not mine, and not yours.”

Clarus only gave a nod. “I don't pretend to understand your fascination with him, and I won't give you my support. I know soldiers find comfort in each other at times, and perhaps you are more akin to that than the usual,” he waved a hand searching for the right phrase and then plucking it from the air, “pubescent affairs of the Citadel. I do not begrudge you what happiness you can get while you may, but the time will come when continuing this relationship will hurt you, and your Prince. That is what I wish you to avoid.” He frowned at Gladio. “Last night's shameful display may have done irreparable damage to your reputation, and to his. He is the prospective Hand, Gladiolus, he will need his reputation even more than you when the time comes for the Prince to take the throne.”

“Don't pretend you're concerned for Ignis,” Gladio bit back, folding his arms.

“I am concerned for your Prince,” came the reply. “As you should be concerned for his eventual heirs.”

Gladio growled. “Noct's not even married,” he pointed out. “This stuff's a long way off.” A really long way off, if you'd ever met Noct. The kid still blushed at the mention of porn mags; if he ever got a girl naked, he'd keel over. Gladio would probably need Ignis to revive him from the shock, too. “We can work something out.”

“Perhaps so,” Clarus replied. “I ask only that you consider my words, Gladiolus, and the true nature of your duty.”

Gladio wrinkled his nose. “You done? 'Cause we leave in a few days.”

Clarus nodded, slowly. “When I see you next, we will not discuss this.” It was a promise, and it sounded like one. Gladio would be saying goodbye to his father, and his father would be saying goodbye to his son, and neither knew when they would see the other again. They didn't wish to part on bad terms.

Ignis greeted Gladio's return with a hand to his arm. “How was it?” He asked.

Gladio grunted. “Getting lectured is worse than arguing,” he said. “Duty, duty, duty, like I don't already know.”

Ignis gave Gladio a sad smile. “I expect I'll face a similar lecture from my own relatives, once they get wind.”

“So long as they don't try marrying you off again,” Gladio said, wrapping his arms around Ignis's waist and holding him close. They were in the street, in front of his house, and part of him hoped his dad was watching from a window. “He doesn't seem to think we can last,” he said, quietly, and defiantly.

“Well,” Ignis said, leaning back slightly so he could brush his fingertips over Gladio's cheek, “let's prove him wrong.”

Gladio grumbled, wordlessly. They were already doing a pretty good job at proving people wrong, as far as Gladio was concerned. “So what's on the agenda today?” He asked, changing the subject and leaning forward to press a nipping kiss to Ignis's lips.

“I'd rather like to find out what happened to Prompto,” Ignis said. “Noct still hasn't heard from him either.”

“Huh,” Gladio said, processing that information. “That's weird.” Then he thought about it, and about the fact that Prompto had been at the party last night. “Bet he's got his head in a toilet still.”

“In any case,” Ignis said, with a smile, “we should go and check on him. After that,” he said, “I believe we need camping supplies.”

Gladio grinned. “Today's getting better already.”
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