Ch.7

Noctis breathed in deeply as he stepped into a defensive position. He continued his deep breathing pattern as he stared across the long hallway to whom he was opposite of. Gladio glared down at him, still towering over him even if they were several feet apart. That wasn't going to deter him though, it never had after all. All he needed was the right moment, and then he could strike.

When he heard the bell, he lunged forward, wrapping across the hall in record time. He jumped up just as he was nearing Gladio, and prepared to kick. Just as his foot came close to Gladio's face, it was grabbed and before he knew it, he was being flung back across the room.

He landed, skidding slightly, before regaining his composure. He let out a sigh as he stood back up straight and shook out his arms. Gladio only grunted as he crossed his arms.

"Really? Wasn't that the exact same attack you did last time?"

"Hey I at least recovered better!"

"How you survive out there is beyond me," Gladio sighed.

Noctis growled. "Hey! I am out there every day taking down criminals all on my own! I can survive perfectly fine."

"On your own?" Gladio laughed. "Yeah not until recently."

Noctis sighed. "Okay so I let Spider-Man join up with me, so what? He is the newbie not me."

"Yeah but that doesn't mean you can slack off on your daily training. It has 'daily' in the title for a reason. Your dad said-"

"I know what my dad said!" Noctis interrupted. "I've been doing this for years and you haven't even been out on the streets yet!"

Gladio scoffed at him. "I haven't?"

Noctis loosened up a little as he looked at the scars on Gladio's face. "Yeah… but those weren't caused because of a superhero alias. Those were from protecting 'the prince that everyone thinks is weak' times."

"You'd rather blow your cover?"

"No! I just… Ah!"

Noctis flopped to the floor, stretching his arms out. "I don't get what the big deal is. I work alone so often, but you've been training to join me. I suddenly start teaming up with Spider-Man and now there's some sort of issue?"

"The only issue is the one you are making up in your head. I never had anything against Spider-Man. I just know you've been working with him."

Noctis lifted up his head, looking at Gladio who was finally walking over to him. "What? You want me to get you his autograph?"

"Thought you'd already have on, On your feet. We're doing the set again," Gladio said, kicking the side of Noctis's boot.

With a grumble he pushed himself back up and resumed his position. With a deep breath the two started into their training set, blocking and attacking one another. As he fought, Noctis tried to ask Gladio what he meant before.

"Why do you think I'd have his autograph already?"

"Thought you admired the guy," Gladio snorted as he ducked out of the way of Noctis's attack.

Noctis scrunched up his nose, trying to sweep underneath Gladio with a side attack. "Says who?"

"You tell me. You got a secret crush on the newbie?"

"I don't have a crush on the guy or anything! He's just another superhero."

"Oh right. You have a crush on Prompto, my bad."

With a glare, Noctis teleported above Gladio and tried to come down from above. Gladio barely had any time to realize where he was coming from and Noctis managed to tackle him down to the ground.

With his face burning red, he stood up and straightened himself out. "I don't have a crush on Prompto."

Gladio let out a laugh before he too stood back up. "Sure you don't."

"I don't!"

"Oh yeah, it's not a crush, it's a full on pine forest."

Noctis stuck out his tongue. "You suck you know that?"

"Just having fun. But I think you can take a break now. You did well in that last one."

"Good… I am about ready to crash for a nap."

Noctis headed out of the training room and to his room to shower off. Once there, under the relaxing warm water, he let out a long sigh. He rested his head against the wall as he let the steam pull his thoughts out into the open.

He hated when Gladio teased him about it, but he knew that he wasn't wrong. He did have a big crush on Prompto, though he had no idea how he was going to handle it. Deep down, he knew there was no way he could ever tell Prompto.

If he wanted to keep Prompto his friend, and keep him safe, he could never let him know about his feelings.

Aside from that, it wasn't just because he was afraid to be rejected. It was part of the reason, but the other half was concerning more of his safety and his trust. Prompto was just his amazingly positive best friend, who already trusted him so much. With how much Prompto already trusted it, it always hurt that there was still so much hidden.

Noctis knew he couldn't change that though. He was the prince and he was Nightwing. A royal figure and the city's superhero. It was a double danger zone for Prompto to be getting into. There was always a dangerous side to either life that Noctis had.

Whether or not Prompto ever found out about the superhero life, Prompto would always be targeted as a friend of the prince. There was always that risk that came with hanging with him, but Prompto didn't seem to care. He always said he would remain by Noctis's side even if there were threats against him, because he saw their friendship to be stronger than that.

On the other hand, if Prompto knew about Noctis's secret, it would only endanger him more. Prompto had never been in danger before where Noctis had to save him, but he feared the day where it could happen. As much as he would have liked to swoop in and save Prompto from danger, he honestly would prefer Prompto to avoid all danger.

"Dammit," Noctis cursed to himself. "Why do I have to have two of the most dangerous roles in life. Prince and superhero? I'll never catch a break this way…"

There was a chance he could tell Prompto. If he was willing to take the risks, but he wasn't even sure of it. Noctis's mother had learned the secret and still chose to stick around and eventually marry. That wasn't all too bad, but with Prompto? Noctis didn't even know if Prompto liked him back.

How could he risk everything with Prompto over something he had no idea was even there?

He had to put aside his feelings for now, at least until he could figure out a good way to deal with them. Maybe there would be a chance one day that he could talk to Prompto about it. He knew he could trust Prompto with the secret, but he had to be ready for the consequences.

Once he was cleaned up and showered, he changed into fresh clothes and flopped down on his bed. He picked up his phone and started reading through the various texts Prompto had sent him during training. Most of them were just him rambling about school work or the games they were currently playing, but it was a much needed distraction from everything else.

FishPrince: Hey!

FishPrince: Finally free from all the dreaded princely duties.

FishPrince: … Well for now anyways.

Chocoboy: Ooooh yay! Freedom!

Chocoboy: The dreaded prince duties are gone for the day and now you can play!

Chocoboy: OMG I can rhyme :O

Noctis laughed. Prompto could always bring a smile to his face, even through the simplicity of a text.

FishPrince: Yes. Yes you can.

FishPrince: You should pursue a career for it.

Chocoboy: Hmmmmmmm.

Chocoboy: Nah!

Chocoboy: Too much brain power to use.

Chocoboy: I'll just stick to video games and photos.

Chocoboy: Wanna get to playing King's Knight?

FishPrince: You know it!

The two logged on to do their daily missions and raids together on the game, playing it like they always did. It was just another thing Noctis loved so much about Prompto. With him, he could just be a person. He could pretend he was normal. When he was with Prompto, whether online or in person, he could forget all the burdens he had on his shoulder.

He could forget he was the prince of Insomnia.

He could forget that he was Nightwing, protector of Insomnia.

Noctis knew he could forget all of that because he had someone that made him feel like he was normal. He loved that feeling, and he never wanted to let it go. Even if those moments were just short bits throughout the days, it still made the biggest difference.

After they finished up their rounds, Prompto asked if they could video call. Noctis was still laying on the bed, and he didn't have the effort to sit up or make it to the couch by the time the call flashed up. Noctis just shrugged and answered it anyways.

"Heyas," Prompto said from the other end. He was sitting on his couch, bundled up in various blankets.

"Hey. You cold or something?" Noctis asked as he rolled onto his back.

"I just like being cozy," Prompto replied. "Why are you laying on your bed? It's not even 5 o'clock."

"You know me. Gotta sleep all the time I can get."

Noctis pretended to snore as he closed his eyes. He could hear Prompto chuckling softly.

"They should have named you Sleepy Lucis Caelum. Would have suited you better."

"Maybe I'll legally change it," Noctis laughed as he opened his eyes again.

"Oh! Can you also make a National Chocobo Day while you're at it? A day to admire chocobos would be so cool!"

Noctis started laughing again. "Name changing and creating an entire holiday are two entirely different things. I may hate listening to Iggy's lectures, but I know something."

Prompto stuck out his tongue. "Oh good! He does pay attention! Buuuut, can't you do it? For me?"

Noctis watched the screen as Prompto pleaded with his adorable puppy eyes. Those eyes with those adorable freckles made Prompto into a sight that was so hard to resist. Pursing his lips, he fought back the urge to agree, trying to think of how to come back.

"Well I'll consider it, but how about starting smaller? Like I can get you some of Ignis's signature oatmeal chocolate chip cookies for school? Whenever I am able to go back that is."

Since the explosion across town, Noctis as 'the prince' had to be kept at the Citadel for a few more days. It was just typical protocol to give the public the sense of relief that the prince was safe and protected. Though Noctis snorted at that though, knowing he was far from ever being safe. But he was also far from being the weak and defenseless prince the world saw him as.

"Yeah… do you have any word yet when that will be?"

"Nope. Nothing yet," Noctis sighed.

He could see that Prompto looked a little disappointed. He would have to go back to school without him for a couple of days. While he knew Prompto could make it on his own, it still felt wrong to leave him alone. He knew that he was Prompto's only real friend. There were others in class who talked to Prompto, but Noctis knew they were only doing it because they knew who he was friends with.

"But maybe I can ask Iggy if you can come and visit? I can't leave, but maybe you're allowed in?"

It was a shot in the dark, but if he could have Prompto near him, he would take it. He just had to hope that no disasters would happen if Prompto could hang out. Lately it felt like odd crimes were popping up all over the place, but it was just going to have to be dealt with later.

Prompto started to smile again. "Sounds like a good plan! Let me know if Iggy allows it."

"Can do."

"And then we can play all the best games!"

"Oh? You just using me to get early access to the coolest games?" Noctis smirked.

Prompto let out a dramatic gasp, resting his forearm across his forehead. "Noct! How could you accuse me of such a thing? I thought we were friends!"

"Maybe you should try out for theater instead," Noctis snorted.

"You think? I have thought about it before. I do like to sing after all."

"Yeah I've noticed."

"Oh come on! Make up your mind. Are you either going to support me or snark at me for what I like?"

Noctis hummed for a moment before smiling. "Yes."

"Ah Noct!" Prompto laughed. "You are such a goof."

"I've learned from the best," Noctis admitted.

He could have sworn he saw Prompto's face redden slightly. But it was probably just the lighting through the video call. There wasn't anything of note that he needed to over think and try and read in to.

"Thanks," Prompto said, smiling softly. "I try to be the goofiest guy of them all."

"And that's what I love most about you."

It only took a few seconds for Noctis to realize that the wrong word had slipped out. He could already see that Prompto was staring at him with wide eyes. No doubt he was extremely confused by Noctis's poor choice of words.

"U-Uh yeah! Love you too, bro!"

Bro.

They were bros.

They were just bros.

"Prompto's probably not reading into it weirdly…" Noctis thought as he sighed with relief. "Friends can say they love each other… just as friends. Yeah… love each other as bros."

"You know it!" Noctis said, trying to laugh off his big slip up. "The best of bros. Right?"

"Of course," Prompto answered. "You'll always be my best friend, and I'll be ever at your side."

Those words sunk deeply into Noctis's heart. He embraced them and accepted them, knowing that it was all he could take. He wouldn't ask anymore than what he had with Prompto. It would be enough in the end… right?