Would you look at that. I finally got chapter 2 done here! I AM so excited to bring you this next chapter!
Prompto and Noctis searched the entire train yard, and yet there was still no sign of anyone. They had managed to get over to an area where they could sit, but even then Noctis felt jittery. He didn't know what to do at this point, and the more time that passed, the worst he felt.
Their phones were still broken, and all phone lines had been cut at this train yard. There was no way he could get in contact with Ignis and Gladio. Not here, at least. They were miles from any place that was safe from the Empire.
"Gotta figure out something…"
Prompto headed back over to where Noctis sat, placing the sword he had been using against the bench. He flopped down next to Noctis and sighed. "No one's here. It's a complete ghost train yard."
"Well at least we don't have to worry about being jumped," Noctis sighed.
"But now we need to figure out what to do. We can't contact Ignis or Gladio, and I don't think there are any phones here."
"I guess the best thing we can do is either find a place to call them, or head on to where we were headed."
"By ourselves? Do we get, like, another train?"
Noctis thought about that idea. It was a possibility that another train could come by in the end, but it left open too many loose ends. So he shook his head. "Too risky. We'd have to wait a while for the train, but also we don't know who'd be running it."
Prompto shifted, looking a little less confident. "You mean it could be Ardyn?"
"Could be," Noctis spat. "Wouldn't put it past him at this rate. He's ruined everything!"
"Hey, hey," Prompto started to say as he placed a hand on Noctis's back. "I know he caused a lot of issues, some worse than others… but we'll get back at him. Right? We can do it together."
Noctis sighed, trying to give some more thought to the situation. He wished he could easily give an answer, but sadly it couldn't be that simple. "I know, but I'm personally going to get back at him for that train stunt."
Suddenly a cold gust of air blew through the area. The two boys shuddered, and Noctis pulled his jacket a little tighter. Prompto, on the other hand, couldn't do that. He always wore sleeveless outfits, and now being closer to Niflheim, which was covered in snow, probably didn't make it any better.
Noctis started looking around the area again, trying to remember what he had seen before. "There's a station store here, right? We should look and see if they got anything warmer we could use. It's only going to get colder once we get to Gralea."
"Wait! We're still going to head out there somehow?"
Noctis pulled out the map from the armiger. "If we can't get a train, we'll most likely have to walk."
"Walk? All the way to Gralea?! Isn't that a bit insane?"
Noctis thought for a moment before he gave a shrug. "Not entirely? Here, look at the map."
Noctis set the map down. "We're here at this little train yard. Now, walking all the way around to Tenebrae… it would take too long. Probably too dangerous since most of that land is elevated train tracks. We need to find a way to cut through to the other side that isn't too hazardous. Looks like if we head back in the direction of Cartanica there's a pass way through the mountains. Just a little past the beige area here, it looks like we can walk through."
"But dude, that still means we still have to walk through miles of snow! And going over the regular bridge area too!"
"Well it's either try and cut our way through to get to Gralea or head all the way back to Cartanicia to try and get in contact with Gladio and Ignis."
Prompto hummed, taking a moment to study Noctis's expression. "But what about Tenebrae?"
Noctis's expression wavered, his eyes drifting to the ground. "I doubt Ignis and Gladio would want me wasting anymore time. Should just get to where we were going, right?"
"Oh, you are right, indeed," a familiar chilling voice said.
Prompto and Noctis jumped to their feet, Noctis taking a few steps in front of Prompto to protect him. He breathed in deeply, looking in every direction, waiting for the moment when he could finally attack and get the revenge he wanted. His blood was already boiling, and as soon as he saw Ardyn, he knew he was going to pounce.
Only when Ardyn did appear before them, Noctis's blood decided to run cold. He thought he could have done it, but all that courage drained the moment he saw those golden eyes. Stepping back, he instead wrapped his arm around Prompto. He needed to never let Prompto leave his sight this time. Never again was he going to let himself be tricked by Ardyn.
Holding out his Engine Blade, he glared towards the taller man. "What the hell do you want?"
"Such hostility. So very unkingly," Ardyn taunted. "All I bring is information and I am met with disdain."
"There's nothing I want to hear from you!" Noctis hissed. "Now get out of here before I lodge this sword in your chest."
"Nothing? I find that hard to believe," Ardyn scoffed. "I thought knowing where you Adviser and Shield are headed would be of grave importance."
Noctis flinched, uncomfortable at just how Ardyn could make his skin crawl. "I have no reason to believe you."
"And what do you have to believe? Just going to wait and see if your friends will return? From what I heard they were heading onward to Gralea still," Ardyn said with a dramatic shrug.
"Because that's where they believe you're headed, of course. What other reason could there possibly be?"
Gritting his teeth, Noctis tried stepping forward slightly. He kept his grip tightly on Prompto, still unable to let him out of his sight. "How can I believe you?! What fucking reasoning would I ever believe you?"
Ardyn only smiled, stepping back. "You were heading there originally, yes? And now they believe you are still heading there. Wouldn't you say it's better to head to your original plan? Or would you rather take a shot in the dark and head in the opposite direction? I'll leave you to decide."
Ardyn then faded from their vision, leaving nothing but the barren train yard around them. Noctis was breathing deeply as he turned to face Prompto, staring into his wide and concerned eyes.
"Prompto, you still with me?"
"Yeah! Of course!" Prompto said. "That was just… were not just going to believe him, are we?"
Noctis sighed, feeling a mix of emotions. He couldn't tell which was way right and which way was wrong. Usually he had Ignis for this stuff, but he was on his own with Prompto. Neither of them were very good at dealing with these types of situations. It was always Ignis who knew what to do and lead the group. Without him, Noctis realized just how useless he really was on his own.
Noctis snapped away from his thoughts. "Huh? What?"
"You zoned out there for a minute. You okay?"
"Yeah I'm fine," Noctis said, probably a little too quickly, but it seemed that Prompto didn't catch it.
"Let's-" he paused, sucking in another deep breath. "Let's just start making our way to Gralea. We can't waste any more time."
"But that's still heading through miles of snow! Where are we going to get gear to stay warm?"
"This train yard has an outpost, right? Maybe there's some gear we can get before heading out."
The two moved on, heading towards the small outpost that was at the back end of the train yard. It was vacant like the rest of the place, but everything seemed to be well stocked. There was food and even gear for trekking through the winter weather.
Prompto and Noctis picked up snow suits and boots for themselves before headed back out. Noctis checked around again before pulling out the map. He checked again where they had to head and started to walk to the front of the area.
Turning towards Prompto, he held out his hand. "Ready to go?"
"I guess so. Not much else that we can do here."
"Right, so let's go."
Walking together, they headed back in the direction of Cartanica. Moving across the tracks, they moved quickly, not wanting to waste any more time than they already had. By the time they got to the bridge, they took the time to move a little more carefully.
It didn't take long before they had passed over it, and by then they could already tell that the temperature was dropping. Pulling off to the side after the bridge, they went to put on their new snow gear. Noctis looked over at Prompto when he saw that he was finished first. He never really had seen Prompto in long sleeves. Even in high school Prompto always had his sleeves rolled up, never once having them all the way down.
Now he was all in black, with a few minor other colors, but that didn't matter. It was just a sleek and comfy looking snow outfit, but it was making Noctis's heart skip a beat. Prompto was rather cute like that, all the way down to the winter boots.
"What?" Prompto asked. "Something wrong?"
"Oh, n-nothing," Noctis shook his head quickly. There was no time for thoughts like that, anyway. Whatever this feeling was, Noctis figured he could deal with it later.
"Hey! Would you look at that!" Prompto exclaimed rather cheerfully. "We're like twinsies!"
Noctis couldn't help but let out a snort. Prompto always had such a cute and amusing outlook that could help brighten the mood. "Twinsies?"
"It sounds more fun than just 'twins,' y'know!" Prompto laughed.
"Are you going to take a selfie of us or something?"
Prompto's eyes widened before softening. "Oh. Oh… I guess we could. With everything that happened, I almost forgot that I could do that."
"Hey, you don't gotta worry about it. Remember what I said? It's not your fault and everything I said was meant towards Ardyn," Noctis said as he placed a hand on Prompto's shoulder. "Besides, the winter landscape would be great for some good pics, right?"
"Yeah, you're right about that," Prompto said as he pulled his camera out from the armiger. "Now let's get this shot, okay?"
Noctis smiled as he leaned into frame, bringing his face in closer to Prompto's. Like usual, Prompto slung an arm around Noctis while extending the other. He smiled widely and clicked the button.
When Prompto's arm pulled away, Noctis swore that he felt five times colder than he did before. Being near Prompto brought warmth as it obviously would, but right now it felt more true than ever. Part of him wished he could hold Prompto right by his side, never letting him go again.
But, that was part of those thoughts again. Those pesky thoughts that had been invading his head ever since he jumped off the train. Maybe it was the adrenaline still kicking in him, amplifying his feelings. He was almost certain there had never been this much care and worry over Prompto. Then again, when he thought back on it, he had always cared for Prompto. Ever since they first properly met in high school, Noctis had taken a liking to Prompto.
Prompto treated him like a regular person, something Noctis cherished deeply. It was all genuine, too. Every word and action Prompto did around Noctis wasn't an act. He never was acting like that to try and get something from him. All of his honesty and friendship was truthful, and it really made the difference from the royal life. That was just part of the reason why Noctis was so in love with Prompto.
"Wait…" Noctis's thoughts hissed at himself. He was walking alongside Prompto, who thankfully was distracted by the snow that was starting to fall. With him trying to take some pictures as they walked, it gave Noctis enough time to let his thoughts run wild.
"Was I just…? Have I really been thinking about Prompto that way? This entire time? Fuck. Of course I love him." Noctis sighed deeply to himself. Part of him was surprised he hadn't realized it sooner. "It took a literal life or death situation that was caused by my own stupidity to realize I love him."
Trudging through the snow, Noctis reflected back on everything. Every moment he had shared with Prompto, trying to pinpoint the very moment his feelings must have changed. Had it been just recently? Since the start of the trip? Or did it start during their high school years and Noctis just denied any feelings because he didn't understand them?
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't figure out the 'when' of it. But in the end, he didn't see it as mattering. He loved Prompto, but there was no way he could ever tell him. He could never tell him how he felt, especially after that stunt on the train. He knew Prompto understood that it was Ardyn who caused him to act out, but that didn't mean the words were erased.
Even though those words were never meant for Prompto, he just accepted them and everything else Noctis had tried to do. He was too good of a friend to ever fight back. Part of that hurt, knowing Prompto was willing to let Noctis practically choke him as he spat hateful words.
To Noctis, Prompto was so pure and full of light. Prompto was his light. The one who saved him from falling into a dark and lonely place of people always serving him. Sure, he had Ignis and Gladio, but Prompto was that outsider that made him feel more human. Prompto was that piece of him that he needed to not lose his mind to his inner loneliness.
"I really love him, don't I?" Noctis asked himself. "I can't tell him. No. Can't let him know about my stupid, selfish desires. Just, I'll keep this to myself. As long as Prompto's by my side, even as just my friend, it'll be good enough."