Disclaimer: Don't own FFXV
So this idea hit, no idea where it's going yet.
Regis walked quickly down the stairs; it would not do for a King to run after all. Cor was not happy but he wanted to see what had caused so much commotion first among the Hunters and then the team they had sent to meet with them. The whispers were of a new kind of daemon but then it never would have made it passed the Wall and into the heavily protected cell in the depths of the Citadel. If there was a new type of daemon that could survive the Wall, they were in trouble. He nodded to the Guards who stepped aside, lowering the barrier around the corridor the cell was in.
"Regis," Cor stared at him.
"I will be fine my friend, I am not defenceless, especially here." Not at the heart of his family's power, able to feel the Crystal above humming away, the Ring a cold weight on his hand. He stepped through and nodded, the Guards hesitating before raising the barrier again and Regis made his way down the corridor to the only occupied cell.
The cell wall was clear, giving him a good view of the inside of the cell, eyes taking in the standard cot bolted to the wall, the toilet and sink, the air grates welded firmly so that no one could rip them out and crawl in. He knew that while they pumped air in, they were also fitted to gas the cell if needed, if a prisoner got too dangerous. He saw no sign of the creature though and stepped closer to the wall, looking again and…there, crammed under the bed was something more than a mere shadow. How small was it? About the size of an imp perhaps? He tapped the wall with the back of his hand and it flinched, curling tighter, not typical daemon behaviour at all. Seeing how bright the cell was he went to the wall control and lowered the lights to see if that changed anything. He also activated the intercom, listening intently but it wasn't picking up any noise at the moment. He tapped again and froze as the microphone picked up a sound…so much like a terrified whimper that it hurt to hear.
"Can you understand me?" he whispered. The creature curled even tighter somehow, whimpering. "I won't hurt you, please come out. I lowered the lights so they shouldn't hurt." He didn't even know if it could understand him, some daemons could understand basic speech, but hopefully his tone might pacify it if it couldn't. The promise not to harm it is easy enough to make and mean, it was safely contained and when the time came, it would not be his hands to land the blow. "Come now, it cannot be comfortable under there," he urged and to his surprise there was slow movement, letting him make out what appeared to be a wing, and another, unfurling some and then he bit back a gasp as green eyes met his through the wall….human eyes.
What was this? He had never seen a daemon with such a human eye colour, they were usually red or yellow. He took a deep breath and gave what he hoped was an encouraging smile, without teeth. "Hello," he murmured and the creature flinched back, wary but Regis kept talking, gently, like he would to one of the Citadel's cats when it was a kitten or hurt. Ever so slowly, it began shifting forward, out of the corner, until it came to the end of the cot, hesitating, scared. Finally, after Astrals knew how long, it crawled into the open and Regis felt faint at the sight.
This couldn't be a daemon…it was a boy, a little boy, with dirty, ragged, long hair, almost glowing green eyes, and dirt covered skin. A boy with black leathery wings and green eyes and…yes, those were small claws. Or at least, the facial features looked more boyish than female but as he took in the scrawny body…there were none of the normal physical indications of gender, despite how human he appeared. Until the boy said otherwise, he would refer to him as male to make things easier.
Regis slowly knelt down so that he wasn't towering over him, feeling his bad knee twinge, the one the doctors kept threatening he would need a brace and maybe even a walking stick for within the next five to ten years. He slowly lifted his hand and pressed it to the wall, seeing the boy flinch back but then watch with wide eyes. He was obviously terrified but…there was intelligence reflected in those eyes, but to what level? "Can you understand me?" he asked softly and the head tilted to the side slightly so he was listening.
He needed a good wash, a haircut, and likely food and water. He did not doubt the boy could use those claws and if he didn't understand then he would likely not enjoy being bathed but for now food and hydration were more important.
Cor watched the footage, seeing Regis dim the lights and sighing mentally. What idiot had left them on so high if they thought they had a daemon in there. He couldn't hear anything but he could tell his King was speaking. It took almost an hour but finally, he saw something emerge from under the bed. He stared at the footage in shock, seeing the same emotion on Regis's face. It looked human…like a child…with wings. What was going on?
"Are you hungry?" he asked and then mimed eating as best he could, seeing the boy perk up slightly. The question was, what did he eat? The boy licked his lips, flashing sharp fangs, watching him closely, wary. He slowly pulled out his phone and called Cor, ordering water and a meal of lightly cooked meat chopped into bite sized pieces. "Can you speak?" he asked but the boy just continued to stare, it was a little disconcerting, his eyes very intense.
He looked over as Cor appeared with a tray, a plastic cup and bowl on it, no cutlery.
"Couldn't contain your curiosity?" he asked and Cor just stared at him before looking at the boy in the cell who had shifted back, wings twitching in agitation.
"You didn't think I would let you do this?" Cor asked, handing him the tray while he got out his keycard to open the small passthrough. He picked up the cup and carefully put it through, then the bowl, before re-locking it, the boy backed up against the wall, hissing and growling softly.
They backed away from the cell and the boy gradually quieted, staying crouched to shuffle forward slowly, sniffing at the cup and bowl. He lowered his face to the cup, tongue darting out, trying to drink and Regis winced in sympathy as they heard a distressed whine.
"Regis!" Cor went to grab him but Regis moved to the side, using his own card to open the door and slip into the cell.
The boy looked up, eyes wide, screeching in terror, flinging himself away, cowering.
"Shh, it's okay," he whispered, slowly kneeling down to pick up the cup.
"Regis get out of there!" Cor demanded, sword in hand.
"It's fine," Regis told him, holding the cup out to the boy. "It's okay, I won't hurt you, let me help little one," he whispered. He trusted his instincts and so far he had not tried to attack, he tried to get away, to keep his distance.
Regis began humming the lullaby Aulea liked, that she told him she would teach their children one day. He stayed still, not quite making eye contact as he hummed. He didn't know how long it took but the boy gradually quieted, except for a soft whine. He slowly held his hand out in offering, the cup in the other. He didn't know how long he stayed like that but then ever so slowly the boy began creeping closer, nose twitching, drawn by the need for water and food.
He held his hand still as the boy sniffed him, remaining calm and the boy looked up at him, torn, before a trembling hand touched his. Regis gently wrapped his hand around the much smaller one, stroking cold skin with his thumb and the boy shuddered, whining louder, obviously scared. Regis gently drew him closer, pausing every few seconds to let him calm. He then lifted the cup and pressed it to chapped lips, tipping it to let the water wet them and they parted so he carefully poured a little in, seeing his throat work as he swallowed. A clawed hand came up to try and clutch the cup as well.
"Easy, slowly," he murmured. The last thing he needed was to throw up from drinking too quickly. Daemons ate but to his knowledge, they didn't drink water. And…he felt nothing from the Ring or his magic the way he normally did near daemons, that shivery warning of danger. The cup eventually emptied so he reached out for the bowl and picked it up, the boy sniffing at the meat. "He's not a daemon," Regis commented for Cor, "there's no reaction to him at all."
"Then what is he?" Cor asked, barely loud enough for the microphone to pick up.
"I don't know."
Regis nodded to the guards who immediately lowered the barrier. "How is he?"
"Eating and drinking everything that's put in the cell, Sire. Hasn't slept that anyone's noticed though but since he spends most of the time under the cot it's hard to tell."
"Very well." He walked down the hall to stand before the cell, switching on the intercom. "Hello little one," he called and there was immediate movement, the boy scrambling out to see him. He tried to come down to see him every day, though it wasn't always possible. He opened the cell and went inside, moving to sit on the cot and the boy shifted closer until he was crouched at his feet, looking confused. "Would you like to sit here?" he asked, reaching out and the boy didn't move away or hiss. Carefully, he slipped his hands under his arms and gently lifted him, hearing a soft whine of nervousness but then he set the boy down on the cot, watching green eyes go wide.
The boy patted the thin mattress, looking confused. It seemed he had never seen a mattress before, likely part of why he hadn't tried sleeping on it. He leant back, watching the boy cautiously explore the cot. Despite everything, there was something…innocent about him. bright green eyes focused on him, the boy cocking his head to the side, staring at him. "Unn…Nggg…."
Regis' eyes widened slightly, that was definitely not just random noise….he was trying to talk! He put a hand to his chest. "Regis," he said slowly and the boy frowned. "Regis."
"Rrrrrr…ggggg…." He licked his lips, brow furrowed.
"Very good, there's no rush."
That got a slight pout and he was really becoming sure the boy could understand him.
Regis reached out and gently put his hand on top of matted hair, carefully ruffling it, making him start but not hiss or pull away. "You're very smart, aren't you?" he asked. "You'll get it."
A clawed hand came up to carefully wrap around his wrist, keeping his hand there, and he felt the boy pressing up into his touch. "Rrrr…eeeg…ssss."
Clarus watched the screen, wanting to scream at Regis for risking himself but then he heard the creature…child…..try to speak. He was intelligent, able to learn since he could now drink from a cup on his own. If Regis said he wasn't a daemon then he believed him, he would know better than anyone else.
Watching them, he was pretty sure the child was starved for touch, affection. It hurt to watch, imagining his newborn son in a cell. He wanted to go in there and hold the boy, assure him he was safe, which was crazy. Paternal instinct were apparently stronger than he'd ever imagined. But he had to keep his distance, it was his job to protect Regis, including from himself if necessary. The only good point was that Aulea had been kept away, so far.
Regis let his hand run down from the top of his head, gently touching his cheek before coming to rest on his shoulder, using the slightest pressure to urge him closer, drawing him into his lap, holding him and he felt the boy shudder, keening softly before going limp against him. He swallowed but held him gently, rocking him.
Grief, that had been grief, and he found himself wondering about where the child had come from, did he have parents out there somewhere searching for him? He knew what vets, hunters, anyone who regularly dealt with non-humans said, don't assign human emotion to the behaviours of other species but he knew grief when he heard it. Even Coeurl cub would mourn a slain parent, non-human didn't mean they didn't feel things too.
As human as he looked, he wasn't. For starters, his body didn't seem to produce waste, despite the fact he was eating and drinking regularly and he lacked all outward sign of reproductive organs, not to mention the soft glow of his eyes, especially in low light. The wings were the biggest give away. Regis was the only one the boy allowed close, perhaps because he had been the first to show kindness? Though Cor was allowed closer than anyone else who tried, he still couldn't enter the cell without the boy reacting defensively. As much as he wished they could move him somewhere else, it wasn't possible, not when he was so obviously other. Maybe, if he could learn to speak and interact they could at least move him to a less secure room.
They could also let him go, but without knowing where he came from, if he had a family somewhere, then sending him away would be as good as killing him. He was too young to survive out there alone and he would likely be found and killed as a daemon before anyone realised he wasn't. Based off human aging, he would guess him to be about five, but who knew how his kind developed.
He glanced down to find green eyes staring up at him, a small hand clutching his jacket, and he smiled at the boy who rubbed his cheek against his clothing, watching him the whole time. "I wish I knew what to call you little one. Do you have a name?" he asked and the boy blinked owlishly at him.
He grinned. "That was very good!" he praised, it was slurred but it was definitely his name, all letters included.
To his surprise the boy smiled back before frowning in concentration, determined to get it. He kept trying until finally, "Regis."
"Well done," he smiled again, surprised to find the boy had an accent, almost Tenebraean but not quite.
He sat quietly for a while and Regis knew he had to leave soon, but then he pulled back to look up at him, hesitant, before opening his mouth. "Ig…nnnni..s."
Regis blinked and frowned, going over the sounds mentally. All of them were found in his own name, except the one that had seemed to give him the most trouble. Was the boy translating another language? "Ignis?" he asked once sure he had the letters and that got a shy smile. "Hello Ignis, it's nice to meet you."
"You think this is a good idea?" Cor asked.
"He's shown no signs of violence, even when scared. The corridor is protected by barriers as well so it's not like he's being let out fully. It's not right to leave him in such a state."
"Alright, but if he claws your eyes out, I reserve the right to say I told you so," the Marshal warned and Regis snorted.
He entered the corridor to find Ignis sitting on the cot, eyeing the tub in the hall with suspicious confusion. Regis went up and tested the water temperature, finding it warm but not too hot, soap, shampoo, wash cloths, combs and scissors waiting. Ignis perked up immediately at seeing him and he smiled, walking over to unlock the door but this time he didn't enter and Ignis frowned in confusion.
"It's alright Ignis," he held his hand out to him. "Come on."
Ignis was obviously torn between staying where he knew he was safe and his trust in Regis to not hurt him but eventually he slipped off the cot and crept closer to him, eyeing the door. He didn't walk upright but in a crouch, often using all fours and Regis didn't know if it was because of his fear or if that was how he naturally moved. He took Regis' hand and he picked Ignis up, settling him on his hip, the wings made it more awkward than it would be with a human child but it was manageable. He stepped back through the doorway and he felt Ignis cling on tight.
"Easy, it's okay," he soothed, running a hand over wild hair. "do you know what a bath is?" he asked but Ignis stayed silent. None of them were sure how much he understood, whether due to his young age, not knowing their language, or a lack of language skills in general. He set him down beside the tub and put his hand in the water, Ignis holding onto him with a hand in his clothing, staring at the tub with wide eyes. He splashed water up his bare arm, rubbing the skin and Ignis bounced slightly, tugging at him. "Guess you have washed before." He patted the water and pointed to Ignis. "Let's get you in then," he held his hands out and Ignis willingly let him lift him up and into the rub.
Regis smiled when Ignis relaxed in the water, eyes closed in bliss as he lay back, head on the rim. He pulled up the stool and sat, soaking would help dislodge the grime of who knew how long. After a while he got to work cleaning Ignis up, the child helping as much as he could, even happily dunking himself under to wet his hair, washing his own wings when Regis was unsure how to do so without hurting them. Getting his hair clean and combed took forever and he ended up having to use the scissors. He was no hairdresser but it was mostly even when he was done, cut short when Ignis kept indicating he should cut off more. Once Ignis was dry he gave him the child's clothing that several staff had agreed should fit him and once he was dressed, he looked like a normal little boy…with wings.
Ignis seemed in awe of the soft cloth, continually touching it. Regis was just glad the whole thing had gone so well. "Clean," Ignis said and Regis nodded, watching him scamper back into his room and onto the cot, curling up, worn out from the excitement.
Regis ran his fingers through soft hair and then kissed his forehead. "Goodnight Ignis."
"G'nigt," Ignis yawned and closed his eyes. Regis looked around the cell as he left, wondering if Ignis would like to draw or colour like other children, it would give him something to do and decorate with.
Regis listened to the scientists and their theories about Ignis, hands balled into fists beneath the table, he could see Clarus' expression darkening too. All they saw was an exciting puzzle, not a bright child who just wanted affection. He knew he'd gotten too close but how could he not? "No, no invasive tests. You can keep monitoring the room but that is all."
"A child is a child, no matter the species. I would expect such callousness from Niflheim scientists, not Lucian," Clarus stated cold, causing several to flinch.
"It needs to be studied Sire."
"Have you paid any attention to him? He can speak, he has a name we did not give him and he is capable of learning. He is a sentient being even if he is not human. I will not allow this kind of testing; I would not let you do such things to a dog let along someone as intelligent and aware as Ignis is. That is all."
Ignis smiled as soon as he saw him, eyeing Clarus and Cor more warily. Regis opened the door and beckoned him over, Ignis scurrying quickly to his side and he picked him up.
"This is Clarus, Ignis, he is a friend."
"Clarus?" Ignis looked at the man who smiled gently.
"Hello Ignis," he greeted.
"Regis story?" he asked and Regis ruffled his hair.
"Not right now Ignis. We're giving you a new room where you'll be staying. It's much nicer than here and it has a bath you can use when you want." He was amused to see green eyes light up at that idea, he loved water despite being named for fire and having wings which should indicate he could fly or at least glide. The room was actually a high security suite for the occasional political prisoner, unused since his Grandfather's time. They would be a lot more comfortable and private while still fully secure. There was no reason to keep him in a cell when he had nothing after eight months with them.
Aulea smiled as Regis joined her, leaning against him. "How did it go?"
"Well, Ignis loves the idea of having his own bathtub," he chuckled. "He took meeting Clarus better than expected too."
"Good," she kissed his cheek. She hated the idea of a child locked in a cell and had been the one to remind him of the secure suite since it hadn't been used in so long. "I would like to meet him eventually. Actually, has he given any indication he thinks of himself as a he or she or anything like gender?"
"Not yet, for all we know his kind don't have them. I wish we knew more. Or that there was a way to hide his wings, claws and fangs, to let him have his freedom and safety."
"If there's a way, we'll find it," she assured him and he nodded. "Oh, we're babysitting Gladio tomorrow night, I promised Callaia to give her and Clarus a night of freedom."
"I don't think Gladiolus likes me; he always cries."
"He's a baby Regis, they do that," she laughed. "Besides, it's good practice for when we one day have our own," she kissed his cheek and he nodded. He liked the idea of their baby; it just hadn't happened yet. He knew it worried the Council, he would be thirty soon and needed an heir with the way the Crystal and Wall would shorten his life. They'd both been examined and told it was just a matter of time, though the doctors had said there were medications they could both take to increase the chances of pregnancy.
Between occasionally babysitting Gladio and working with Ignis, he should be well practised by the time they had their own child.