Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 2

He sat, staring out the window at the people just living their lives in the city. He ached, deep inside, had since the last surgery. It didn't affect his functioning though, so it wasn't important. It felt stranger being back in Insomnia now than it had when he had first arrived last year.

Prompto moved away from the window and picked up his phone, hesitating, but in the end he sent the text to the Prince, letting him know he was back. School started in three days and he wondered if the Prince would want to see him before then. Sure enough, not ten minutes later he got a response asking to meet up the next day at the arcade, so he agreed.

He unpacked the bag he had taken, not that anything within had been used, it had been for appearances only. He checked out the food and made a list of what he needed, before grabbing his wallet, phone, keys, and bags for the shopping. He didn't have a lot to buy, it was mostly for when the Prince wanted to come to the apartment, but some of it was for him.

The last surgery had replaced something inside him, he didn't know exactly what, but he couldn't eat much food at all now, and the softer the better. They had given him a nutrient rich liquid while he was there as well as a list of things to avoid and what he could eat. He'd heard them talking, they had wanted to exchange it all, but he had to eat to appear human. No one could suspect what he was or else he would fail his mission.

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Noctis shifted in place as he spotted Prompto approaching, the blond weaving around the people on the street to reach him. "Hey," he offered, and Prompto smiled.

"Hey," he returned.

Noctis frowned slightly at his response. "You okay?" he asked, worried. Maybe…he didn't want to be there? But Prompto had texted him first…

"Yeah, sorry, guess I'm, more tired than I thought," he shrugged, running a hand through his hair. Then he smiled. "It's great to see you, I missed you."

Noctis relaxed at that and smiled back. "Missed you too. You sure you wanna do this? If you're too tired we can meet up later."

"Nah, I missed this. Come on, let's go beat some high scores."

Noctis laughed and led the way inside.

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Ignis watched the boys as they played games. The first week of school was done and while they didn't have much homework they were making the most of the time to just have fun. He glanced at the list he'd been given by a hesitant Prompto, making sure he only made something that used the ingredients on the list.

He was worried about the blonds' health; he shouldn't have just become unable to eat foods like that, to be incapable of eating most solid food… there had to be a reason behind it. Was he sick? If he was, he didn't look it…yet. Unless maybe he'd been hurt and didn't want to tell them? It was a long way to Lestallum and back, a lot could happen to a traveller, especially a teenager on their own. A bad enough injury to his abdomen could have affected his ability to digest food, at the least. Even after only a year of knowing the younger boy, he knew that Prompto wouldn't speak of it, because he wouldn't want to worry them, especially Noctis.

He was a little quieter too, which could indicate either injury or illness, although he was always happy to do whatever Noctis wanted. Prompto very rarely suggested what to do, going along with what Noctis wanted. A lot of people did that but with Prompto it felt different, that he wasn't 'sucking up' to Noctis but that he genuinely didn't care what they did together, that he just enjoyed spending time with a friend.

Ignis finished the food and went to serve it to them, catching the worried look Noctis threw at Prompto for the change in diet.

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Gladio watched Prompto, having been alerted by Ignis to the changes. He seemed the same to him, other than the change in diet. That first week or so he'd probably just been missing his family and getting used to Insomnia again. A few months in and he was fine, helping Noct keep his science grades up while also playing around, helping Noctis get time to just be a teenager. Prompto had even told Noctis no when the kid had tried to get out of training to spend time with him, had told him it was important so he would be safe.

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Regis took the list that he had gotten from Ignis and headed for the medical wing of the Citadel. He would not give them any information on the boy, on the first friend his son had ever made, at least nothing that would give away his identity. But he shared Ignis' concern for the teen and if there was something more that could be done for him, then Regis would see it done. It was thanks to Prompto that his son smiled more, that he tried harder at school, had become happier.

"Your Majesty!" the young nurse on duty leapt to his feet and Regis smiled gently.

"I am not wounded or ill, I need to speak with Doctor Albero about something."

"Of course Sire." He moved to summon the doctor and soon the elderly woman was walking down the hall towards them.

Marcia Albero had been one of his Father's physicians, had cared for him for much of his life, had kept Noctis alive after the attack when he was a child… everyone listened when she spoke. She no longer performed surgery herself, but she would watch over those doing so to give advice. He didn't know what they would do when she finally retired.

"Your Majesty," she bowed her head, grey hair cropped short for convenience sake, at least that was what she had told him when he was a child. "How can I help you?" there was no flattery or over deference that many showed.

He playfully offered his arm and she scoffer, walking better than he did despite being so much older. They went to her office and she locked the door as he took a seat.

"Well then young one, what is it?" she asked as she took her own seat and he passed over the list of dietary restrictions and allowed foods.

"Can you tell me what may have caused such changes to a teenagers diet? And no, it is not Noctis. The boy ate normally before leaving the city but has returned with these restrictions from a stay in Lestallum."

"The Prince's friend?" she asked, and he sighed, making her chuckle. "No need to confirm or deny. Noctis spoke of the boy with me when I last saw him, it is good to see him so excited over a friend. This is…concerning. Has this hypothetical teenager shown any symptoms of ill health?"

"Not to my knowledge, he was apparently a little quieter than normal for a few weeks but that could be attributed to the travel and return to school."

"Hmm…" she moved to her computer and he let her work. "All of the diseases or genetic causes would have either shown up younger or would be giving him more symptoms," she finally said. "The most likely cause is injury. You say he was in Lestallum?" she clarified, and he nodded. "That is good and likely how he survived at all. Lestallums' doctors are some of the best when it comes to traumatic injuries. The only difference in treatment would have been the lack of curatives which depending on how old the injury was when he reached help, could have healed him fully or have been of very little help."

Regis nodded; he knew very well how they lost their effectiveness the older an injury was. That had been the problem with Noctis' recovery. "How bad would the injury have been?" he asked.

"Very bad, abdominal wounds are tricky, with lots of organs. From this," she indicated the lists, "I'd say he likely lost an organ or two, none of the utterly vital ones obviously but some that help with digestion. There are ways to redirect the digestive tract and I know medical technologies from the Empire have made their way into Lucis that can help with organ damage and loss. If he's been discharged and allowed to travel then he's as healed as he'll get. If he's showing no signs of discomfort or illness then likely he truly is alright and will live a normal life. Though, if he is injured or ill, I'd suggest bringing him here rather than a public hospital since we have more knowledge of the medical practices used in the rest of Lucis."

It was a relief to hear and he would pass word back to the boys. Eventually, he would like to meet Prompto himself but there was no rush.

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Prompto grabbed his bag and glanced down at the street from the window, looking for the car. He still didn't really understand the point of celebrating the day a human was born but his had been listed as his production date, October 25th, M.E. 735. Noctis had insisted they celebrate, especially since it was a Saturday. He would be spending the weekend at his apartment…

He…something was happening to him that he didn't understand. He had always referred to Noctis as the Prince in his thoughts, because that was who he was. So why lately did he have trouble thinking of him like that? He had been warned, that continual exposure to the Prince would make it easy to begin to empathise with the enemy, and he couldn't let himself do that. He had to remember it was all a lie, they thought he was human. If they ever found out what he was, they would kill him at least, and there was a lot worse they could do to him.

He was an MT, the enemy, he had no place in their world, not really. He just had to remember that. His loyalty was to the Empire and his creator.

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"Happy Birthday!" they cheered, Ignis setting down an ice cream cake on the table. It wasn't the normal kind of cake he'd make for a birthday, but it was the best option so that Prompto could really enjoy it. hearing from the King that the Citadel doctors believed the changes due to a severe injury had been horrifying but also a relief as it meant he was alright now; he had been treated and would not deteriorate.

Prompto stared at them blankly for a second, as if he didn't know how to respond, but then he smiled. "Thanks."

"Come on, cake and presents!" Noctis grabbed his wrist, pulling Prompto further into the room to see a few wrapped parcels on the table.

"For me?" he asked, eyes wide, and Noctis grinned at him.

"Yeah Prom, for you, it's your birthday after all."

"Indeed," Ignis smiled kindly at him. Sometimes Prompto's reactions had him wondering just what his relationship with his parents was like. He had spent all summer with them which would seem to indicate they were close and yet when it came to things like Birthdays… maybe he was reading too much into it?

Prompto looked utterly shocked by the game system and games they had bought for him. Perhaps it was a little more than they should have spent, but he should have one of his own. Ignis had seen his apartment and while it had everything he needed, it lacked in any 'luxuries'. While Prompto didn't seem to be struggling for money, he also didn't have much extra and what he did have, he tended to spend out with Noctis. He was stubborn about money, insisting on paying his way, and while it frustrated Noctis at times, it was also good. Though there were times that it was okay to let Noctis pay and they were trying to show him that.

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Noctis lay in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Anyone who knew him would be shocked to find him in bed but awake with how much he loved sleep and yet…his mind was churning too much. It wasn't possible, was it?

Prom was his best friend, the person he could tell anything, and he couldn't be thinking of him like that. It would ruin everything! He'd watched Prompto, to see who he might be interested in, and his traitorous hormones and stuff had definitely noticed that he never paid attention to anyone…except him. He groaned and pressed the heel of his hand to his forehead. He did not have a crush or more on Prompto! He couldn't! It could ruin everything.

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Prompto was confused by Noctis. He'd caught him watching him and had been concerned but no, it wasn't suspicious at all. He was definitely better at surveillance than the Prince. He'd watched him in return, marked exactly what Noctis was paying attention to, and compared it to the behaviour of their classmates. It had taken time to put it all together, but he was pretty sure that the Prince of Lucis was attracted to him beyond just being 'friends'.

He wasn't sure what to do with that knowledge and…he hadn't reported it. He knew what they would say anyway, use it, act as if it was returned to get even closer. He just… he didn't want to do it, to hurt Noctis that way. And he should absolutley report that, but something stopped him. What was happening to him? He had his orders, keeping back intel would do nothing except get him in trouble, he knew there was a highly placed agent within the Citadel. If his information every contradicted theirs or left out something he should know that they reported… and yet he'd found himself leaving small things out or changing them slightly. Was that treason?

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Noctis high fived Prompto and his best friend grinned at him before they moved back into position. It was amazing how well they worked together in sport and it made him wonder if they'd work as well in a fight. He was one member short for his Retinue…would Prompto be interested? Would he want to stay for life? To learn to fight? Part of him really hoped he would while another wanted him safe and away from fighting. Which still meant staying in Insomnia would be better than living outside of the Wall.

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Ignis saw the two teens sprawled together, Noctis' legs over Prompto's lap, the blonds' head back on the couch, eyes shut, and body relaxed. They were fast asleep, one of Prompto's hands resting on Noctis' stomach. It had taken a while to realise what was happening, at least on Noctis' end, and he wasn't sure how to take it.

Honestly, Noctis having a crush on his only chosen friend wasn't entirely surprising. They were teenagers after all, such things were normal. But Noctis was a Prince, heir to the Throne, and that complicated matters. Prompto's mixed heritage would not go over well with many who believed Lucian meant Insomnia only and only saw Tenebrae as an Imperial province now. Then there was the fact he carried no noble blood either. The general population may actually like that, the Prince and the Commoner.

The biggest obstacle was Prompto himself. Ignis thought he was aware of Noctis' feelings but he seemed confused by them, and he had not given any indication of if it was one sided or reciprocated. Heartbreak was part of growing up, but he was enough of a romantic to hope that maybe Prompto would return Noctis' affections. At least he never pushed Noct away when he sought out physical contact, as proved by their sleeping positions.

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"Prompto," Gladio called out and the younger boy turned to look at him curiously. Gladio fell into step beside him, heading for the elevator.

"What can I do for you?"

"You're leaving next week, right?"

"Yeah," Prompto grinned, obviously happy to be going to see his parents for the summer, leaving them with a sulking Prince.

"There's a Glaive team heading out to Meldacio, there's a spot for you in their van, they can't take you all the way to Lestallum, but they can drop you at the turn off."

Prompto stared at him, blinking in shock. "What?"

"Look, I get you don't want to talk about what happened, but we're all worried about you on the road alone like that. That you got hurt so badly to affect…well. The King and Marshal agreed and Captain Drautos knows about giving you a life. When it's time to come back you just have to call, and we'll work it out."

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It took Prompto a second to work it out, they thought he had been badly injured last year when travelling and that was why he now had dietary limits. That…actually worked well as a cover. He would have to inform his superiors but at least they weren't dropping him in the city itself. "Are you sure it's no trouble?" he asked and Gladio clapped him on the shoulder.

"No trouble at all blondie."

"Okay, thanks."

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Prompto waved to the Glaive as they closed the doors and drove away. Once the van was out of sight he left the road to head for the pickup point. He boarded the dropship and settled in for the short trip. The debriefing went the same as the year before except this time…this time he didn't tell them everything.

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Prompto stared at his reflection, running a finger over the scars on his abdomen. They had liked the cover story the Lucians had assumed for his dietary issues and since no one had seen him shirtless, they had added in scars that would match such injuries and the surgeries needed to save his life.

The actual surgeries they had performed had left no scarring on the surface, but he ran a finger down the centre of his chest where he knew the incision had been. He felt strange but was it all in his head? He pressed his hand down, feeling his heart beating away except...it wasn't his heart. They had replaced it and his lungs this time to increase his physical endurance. He could hold his breath a lot longer, the new lungs making better use of every scrap of oxygen, the new heart far more efficient.

For the first time…the surgeries didn't make him feel better about his place in the Empire. He took in a shaky breath and yanked his shirt on, heading downstairs, almost running to get to Noctis' apartment.

Security didn't even blink when he entered the building and headed up the elevator. He got out on the right floor and knocked on the door, not even knowing if anyone was inside. Thankfully, the door opened, revealing a wary Prince but the wariness melted away and he grinned.

"You're back!"

He…he looked so happy to see him and Prompto half fell through the doorway.

"Prom?" he sounded alarmed now and Prompto wrapped himself around him, holding on tight, feeling Noctis' arms wrap around him in return. "It's okay, I've got you," he heard him murmur. Noctis shifted and Prompto moved with him, letting the Pri…letting Noct move them to the couch. "I'm here Prompto," Noctis whispered and Prompto lifted his head to meet his eyes. "What's happened? Are you okay?"

"I…" he couldn't say it, the words wouldn't come.

It would be suicide to tell him, either the Crown would kill him or the Empire. To see Noctis look at him in hate and disgust, the very idea hurt. So instead he leant in and pressed his lips to Noctis', feeling him freeze in shock before he kissed back. He didn't understand what Noctis made him feel but kissing was nice.

He wouldn't let the Empire hurt him, he would protect Noctis…and Iggy and Gladio too cause Noctis needed them. He would have to find a way to lie more in his reports, to leave things out or change them. Make them underestimate Noctis so if they ever attacked, Noctis would survive.

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Noctis held on tight to Prompto, feeling him trembling. The kiss had been a shock but a wonderful one. He hadn't said a thing to him, hadn't been sure what Prompto felt for him, if there was anything beyond being close friends, even though sometimes Prompto's actions had given him hope. There was no misinterpreting a kiss though.

Something had upset him, but he wouldn't push. Maybe he'd fought with his parents? Or seen something bad on the trip home? Noctis was just glad he'd gotten home early and been there to answer the door.

TBC…

So it took 2 years for Prompto to fully commit to Noctis' protection, to turn on his creators. I figure after 15years of brainwashing and training, then the vacation spent back in their hands, the knowledge of what they'll do to him if he disobeys, it would take time for him to be able to begin to disobey, to want to.