Chapter 3

"Ignis?" Surprised, Noctis said the name out loud as he stood in his room. He just walked in to find someone already there. At first, he'd thought his room had been broken into but quickly realized it was just his friend. How had he even gotten in? Noctis was sure he'd locked the door when he left for classes that morning.

"Ah, there you are," Ignis turned to smile at his dark-haired friend. He was holding a quite full looking garbage bag in hand.

"What are you doing? And why are you in my room?"

"Your father asked me to look after you, Noct," Ignis said if that explained everything. And maybe to him it did. But Noctis didn't think his dad meant breaking into his room to… Clean? "And it seems like that was a wise choice."

Embarrassed, Noctis finally noticed then that his room was much cleaner than before. It was far from how he'd left it that morning. Prompto had come over for the weekend and they'd just binged on junk food and played video games after finishing their homework. There had been empty wrappers from fast food left on the small coffee table, a mess on the counters and the sink had been full of dishes. He'd meant to clean it Sunday night but he'd just fallen asleep instead.

"I was going to clean it, Specs," Noctis insisted, "you really didn't have to do it for me… Or break into my room to do it."

"Apologies, but your father worries, and so do I. The first year can be quite stressful for many. Your father was just telling me last night how he fared during his own school years."

"Wait," Noctis realized something, "how often have you been speaking with my dad?"

"We speak once or twice a week," Ignis responded as he tied the bag he was holding and set it on the ground.

"Oh," Noctis responded. He was a little surprised but he shouldn't have been. His dad and Ignis had been close. His friend had been over so often that they were basically brothers. And since Ignis's own parents had passed away when he was young, Regis had basically been a father figure to him growing up as his own Uncle was far too busy to be one. Ignis was a few years older than Noctis and far more mature for his age so he always got along with people older than himself.

Noctis snapped back to attention when he realized his friend was talking again.

"... and after that, I can help make some meals for the week so you are not constantly eating out. That is not healthy."

Maybe Noctis should be mad about all of this but he found he was not. There was a time this would have upset him though. But right now, he really was stressed. It was only the first day of the week and he was already feeling a little overwhelmed. And having someone care enough to help him out felt good though he did wish he'd spoken to him about this first.

"Thanks Iggy." Noctis said and meant it, "but next time please talk to me before you go doing all this."

"Again, my apologies Noct," Ignis did seem to realize that this was probably not the best way to go about this, "you were in class and I had a bit of free time. I promise to ask next time."

"Thanks," Noctis smiled. Together, the two cleaned up whatever remained of the weekend's mess and went out to the grocery store to shop for the meals they would soon prepare.

"Alright pretty boy, tell me the deal with you and the Izunias," the silver haired dean cornered Noctis in an empty hallway one day.

"Uh… What do you mean?" Noctis said, unsure of what the woman meant. He was backed up against the wall with her far too close to him for comfort.

"There is no way you two can look that similar to Somnus and not be related. So what is it?" The woman demanded with a smirk upon her lips. "Are you an estranged younger brother? Was there an illicit affair by a parent? Or perhaps you are in fact the abandoned child of my professor. You two do look eerily similar. Spill."

"None of the above?" Noctis said meekly, feeling like his personal space was being far too encroached upon. Aranea was rather intimidating.

The dean stepped back, giving Noctis some space, and sighed, "damn. At least make this a little more entertaining. Give me something, even if it isn't true."

"Sorry," Noctis found himself apologizing, rubbing the back of his neck. He didn't want to start any more rumours. He'd already heard everything the dean said being gossiped around and more.

"Well then, carry on," Aranea said simply and turned to walk away like nothing had happened.

Noctis was left looking after, a little unsure of what just happened.

"She said you were what?"

Noctis sighed, his blonde friend was far too excited at one particular piece of his story.

"Can we focus on the fact that this isn't the last time I'll be confronted like this? I hear this stuff so often that even I'm starting to believe the rumours. Maybe I am adopted and my dad hasn't told me the truth yet. Or maybe I really was switched at birth."

"You really think so?" Prompto asked.

"No," Noctis snorted. His dad would have told him if so. He would not keep that from him... Or at least he hoped. The young man quickly shook such thoughts from his head before he did truly begin to question his entire life.

"Right. Right. My bad." Prompto said. "... But I will just have to say I'm so jealous. I wish she called me pretty."

"Get out of my room, Prom," Noctis threw a pillow at his friend who just caught it with a laugh.

"Gladiolus," professor Gilgamesh called out, "please see me after class."

Gladio sighed. He was not in the mood to deal with whatever he must have failed at today. He was too exhausted for it.

"You wanted to see me?" Gladio waited until the last student left to approach his teacher.

"Yes," the professor responded, lowering the lid to his laptop and giving his student his full attention, "is something the matter?"


Gilgamesh did not say anything further, he just waited.

"Is it that easy to tell?" Gladio sighed, relenting and answering the older man.

"Gladiolus, your grades have suffered this past month when before you've always been one of the best in my class. The drive and determination I've always seen in you has faded. Something is the matter and I hope you can confide in me a little on what that might be."

"It's just…" Gladio began, not wanting to give out the full details. "I wasn't able to help someone. Not how I wanted."

The younger man didn't really want to get into it. It was still a sore spot for him. His first real encounter in helping someone in trouble and all he'd done was get his ass beat. Thankfully, someone had called the cops and everything turned out okay in the end... But could he really be a cop if was that pathetic?

"So you are questioning your capabilities because of this incident and it is causing you to lose focus?"

"Yeah…" Gladio said sheepishly. "I don't mean for it to. I've been training at the gym more often and I think I've just been exhausting myself a little too much. I want to be better but… Lately I've been feeling like I can't be. I enrolled to become a cop and to save others, not fail at it."

"Gladiolus. Please do not let one incident, however severe it might have been, destroy your self confidence. Sometimes, you cannot save everyone and that is the truth of this world. However that does not mean you should not try or that you should give up when such a thing inevitably occurs. Even the most venerated cop will fail at times." Gilgamesh advised. "It is admirable that you want to better yourself because whatever incident occurred but allowing your grades to suffer will not help anyone. If you wish, I can offer my assistance in helping you catch up after class. I will even allow you to make up some of the assignments you've done poorly on."

"Yeah… That would be great," the student responded with wide eyes, rather surprised at the offer. He wondered why his professor would do so much for him out of his own time... But maybe it was because he did see something in him. Gladio felt a warmth inside of him. A bit of the self loathing he'd been feeling began to ease. Not all of it but it was a start.

Somnus typed on his laptop as Sigil slept on his lap. The man occasionally stopped to run his fingers through her fur as he worked. His lesson plans for next month's classes had to be adjusted. The man liked to change his classes to suit his students. He'd found this year's class tended to lose focus when he played documentaries and seemed to work well on rather well on group assignments. He would remove the two other documentaries he'd planned to show them and replace them with his own lectures instead. He would also change their solo presentation assignment to allow for groups.

Ardyn was the same, even if he seemed like the person who would just wing his classes or did not have a plan in mind. His brother was quite adept at planning out things in his own head and adjusting them on the fly while Somnus preferred writing them in advance to have something to refer back to.

Both methods worked well for them and they were considered two of the best professors in the Insomnia University.

Somnus was distracted from his work when he heard the door open and shut. He then head his brother call out excitedly, "I'm home! And I've brought a lovely little treat for you Sigil!"

Sigil ears perked up at her name but she did not move from her owner's lap. The cat understood the word 'treat' meant something special to eat but since it was Ardyn saying it, she did not care enough to get up.

Somnus chuckled, "he tries so hard for your affections. I wonder when you'll relent enough to give him some."

Sigil just gave a sleepy meow in response, not moving even when her name was called again.

Another short part for this as I work on the final chapter of Switch. I have about 3.5k words written for that and already planned out all the scenes I want in it. I'm just struggling writing what I want in it. I hope to finish it sometime soon but I am unsure how much longer that will take.

Anyway, thanks for reading this!